The Fifth

Overall this has not been an “emotional” pregnancy, which is super weird. Anyone who really knows me know that I cry with ALL the feelings, but not this time. If anything, I’ve been kind of an angry and annoyed pregnant lady this go round… that is, until the last week or so. I can feel the fear creeping in, and I’m fighting it with all I have.

It started the other day when my oldest asked me, “so, what do you mean when you say you want the doctor to pop your baby out and then you want everyone to leave you guys alone?” She has overheard me say this multiple times, and I understand her confusion. It’s a weird thing to want. This will be my 5th delivery, and all of my babies were taken from me after they were born except for Dylan. Harper (my 2nd) was taken to the NICU and I couldn’t go see her for 24 hours. Annie was taken to the OBICU, and luckily I got to join her, but then she left this earth forever. Iva was taken to the NICU and I couldn’t go see her for a few hours. So yeah. I want them to “pop my baby out”, give it to me, and leave. It’s traumatic to be with your baby for it’s entire existence, and then it’s gone.
I have no control over how delivery will go, other than planning a c-section. I have no control over my health post delivery, or the health of our baby. That’s what scares me so much. Rob and I were talking about this the other night, and along with the fear comes waves of guilt, because we have been sheltered and provided for every step of the way on our journey of parenthood. How dare I be afraid.
I have been fighting some dark thoughts as well, for example, even though we have had two ultrasounds and been given a clean bill of health for this baby so far, there is no guarantee that everything will be fine. Then, I read the recent articles about the musician and his sweet wife who died just hours after giving birth to her first baby. My heart shattered for them. This will be my FIFTH C-SECTION. When I think about what could go wrong, and possibly leaving Robert alone with what will likely be four little girls I just start sobbing. I know they would all be ok, but still.
I don’t even really know why I’m writing this. I think thoughts like this are given a far greater power when kept in secret, so maybe admitting them will strip them of that. I want to be free of them.
There are some things within my control, though. Robert and I have asked our families not to come to the hospital the day the baby is delivered. We have never had time alone to bond with our babies after they are born, and obviously that is something I desperately want and need. That is a very difficult thing to ask (and to be asked of, I’m sure) but we have been so grateful for everyone’s unwavering support.
This has been an “uneventful” pregnancy, thank the lord, so I know that all of these thoughts and feelings are products of an overactive mind. I am trying not to worry until there is something to worry about, and keep my hope, faith, and trust in the one who has never failed me. And God willing, they will pop this kid out and leave me alone. ❤


The News

I can’t hold it in one more second, not that I’ve done the best job of keeping it a secret… We are expecting our fifth baby in September! 

I’ll just address some things right out of the gate.

-Yes, we know we’re nuts, but I think we’re the good kind. Like pecans. ❤ My goal has always been to get a TV show like the Duggars but with beer and dancing, so we’ve still got a ways to go. 

-No, we aren’t “trying” for a boy. Our camp is pretty divided on who wants what, and I think we are going to wait and be surprised on baby’s birthday. Im assuming it’s a girl, but in the off chance it is a boy, please send brochures or manuals or something. I’ll have absolutely no idea what to do.

-I’ve already deflected too many questions about the logistics of conception while living in a travel trailer with three kids. Obviously it’s possible. 😂 We are finally living in the house, although it’s still a major construction zone, so stress levels have gone down a bit. 

-I’m personally hoping for a new hair color to add to our Neapolitan girls… Blue would be cool.

-Pregnancy after loss is just plain difficult.

The last one is the reason I’m blogging instead of just posting our news. My first pregnancy after Annie was with Iva. That time was so stressful, dripping in fear, and I was still actively grieving. I had hoped this one would be different, more joyful, and so far it really has been. Our first prenatal appointment went so well. We were able to see our tiny new one, heart beating perfectly, and I was so at peace. 

Today we had our second appointment, and the Nurse Practitioner student who is working with my doctor started looking for the heartbeat with the Doppler. We had all three girls with us, so Robert and I were trying to get them to stay still and listen, then we realized she wasn’t finding anything. My doctor took over and time slowly ticked by. My heart was pounding and Robert came over and took his comforting spot at my head stroking my hair. After a few minutes I lost it. I panicked and started crying, Iva was asking why, Dylan and Harper seemed confused and concerned, and Robert continued to stroke my hair. Our doctor sent for the ultrasound machine and was quickly able to show us a wriggly little baby with a beautiful beating heart. ❤❤❤ The baby’s position plus how small it is made it difficult (impossible) to find a heartbeat via Doppler. God bless our doctor who is so patient and kind. He has been with us through a traumatic early delivery with Harper Lou, a tragic loss with Annie, an emotionally difficult pregnancy with Iva, an early miscarriage, and now this. He and Robert are a very good and calm team during my more animated moments. ☺️

I still feel emotionally “lighter” compared to my first post-loss pregnancy, but I still feel super braced. This world is not perfect, and I will continue to pray for Hallelujah Spaghetti O’s (because of course that’s what Iva named it) and for us to be able to handle whatever comes our way. ❤🙌🏼🍝

The Chaos 

Disclaimer:: This is not a political post. This post is my commentary about the chaos I am seeing unfold on social media after late term abortion was discussed at last night’s debate. I am honestly shocked at the hate, judgement and condemnation that has spewed forth, mostly from believers, and I felt led to say something.

The option of a late term abortion was something that was available to me after we received Annie’s diagnosis of anencephaly. This is obviously the option most women in my position choose (around 95%), but after discussion with my husband we decided against it. I am fortunate enough to have an incredibly selfless and supportive husband, a large and local extended family, a faith that kept me going when I wanted to fall apart, and two healthy and vibrant daughters to hug when I couldn’t stop sobbing. I was also fortunate enough that even though my unborn daughter’s diagnosis was incompatible with life (terminal), doctors also told us she was unlikely to be in any pain.

I stand firmly by my choice to carry Annie to term, and the 14 hours and 58 minutes she was on this earth were some of the very best of my life. I will tell my story to anyone who will listen, I will support any and all women who are or have ever been in my position, and I will advocate for life all the live long day.

What I will not do is stand in judgement of the 95%. I will not assume their story looks just like mine and criticize their choices. I will not hate them for their heartbreak and pain. I will not lump all women seeking abortion into a hurtful and judgmental catagory.

I recognize my privilege, and Annie’s story is beautiful in large part due to that. My husband had a terrifying near death experience in the middle of the ocean in Guam 30 days before we got Annie’s diagnosis, and we often discuss how different this story would be if he would have died. I imagine our story would be different and our decision would have been far more difficult if our baby would have been in unbearable pain. If I didn’t have more sisters than I can shake a stick at to cry with, friends upon friends to pray with, so much help with our living children, who knows what would have happened. I guess I will never know. Carrying a child with a terminal illness to term was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. Each day brought forth new and unexpected gut wrenching experiences, and without my support system it would have been impossible.

This post is really just a message to the church. Last night I had a discussion with friends about those believers who are shouting condemnation (before the debate, actually) and we were talking about what to do about it. It seems so simple. We stop the judgement. We stop shouting at each other. We recognize that every story is not the same. The only way to understand someone else’s story is to stop yelling and actually LISTEN, to CARE about them, and to LOVE them. We need to be the support system to those without one. And most of all, it’s time we all take a moment to remove the log out of our own eye before we worry about the speck in our neighbors.

May the Lord bless and keep you.


The Truth

I was really convicted a few days ago at church. The kind of convicted where you stop dead in your tracks and are just like, WOAH… I have admitted from the very beginning of this blog that I don’t have any idea what I’m doing. In fact, this entire thing is basically me trying to figure it out. (“It” being grief, love, faith, life, whatever.)  Every time I have posted a blog entry, someone somewhere has either commented, texted or told me in person they admire my strength… Uh… Say what? Are you reading the same crap I’m writing about?? What strength?!

The message on Sunday was based on, in my opinion, one of the most hopeful passages in scripture.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed;”

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

The passage basically guarantees that as believers, life is going to suck sometimes. The good news is that no matter what, God will not allow the things of this world to crush us, we will not despair with Him, He will never abandon us, and we will never be destroyed.

The pastor went on to compare us as human beings to tree roots. Tree roots do what they have to do to get water and survive, and nothing more. If there is water on the surface, that’s where the roots go. If the only water is down in the depths of the earth, the roots fight and dig and plunge down to get what they need to survive. The difference in these two types of trees is, the tree with shallow roots can be easily knocked over by a strong gust of wind. The tree with the deep roots, the roots act as an anchor and that tree cannot be moved.

There have been several times in my life, beginning in early childhood, where I felt completely broken. Trying and difficult times, that in the moment felt like I would never recover. Looking back, each and every struggle has guided and steered me down deeper and deeper, to where I needed to be.

My marriage to my husband is far from perfect. I am nowhere near the wife I want to be for him, and I’m sure he would say the same about himself. We have struggled from the very beginning with the constant ebb and flow of marriage. Two months after we were married there was something that happened between us that sent us waaayy off track. From here on I will refer to this event as “the incident”. I’m not super comfortable sharing all of the details, but the details don’t really matter. All that matters is we lost our trust, our home was broken, and we were lost. During that time I thought that was the lowest I would ever be. I wanted so badly to forget that time, just scrub it from my memory. No matter how distant Robert and I felt from each other, we knew we were supposed to be together. I can honestly say that was the first time I knowingly felt the Holy Spirit’s guidance. We made the choice together to dig in and do the work, reevaluate how we were walking out our faith, and start over. It did not happen overnight, but we have a level of trust and intimacy that we would have never experienced had it not been for “the incident.” Today I am grateful for “the incident” that I tried to pray away so long ago.

That is just one example of how good can come from despair, and I have several life experiences to draw from that prove this truth. During the sermon, I just kept reliving moments during Annie’s pregnancy, life, and in the wake of her death where people had told me they admired my strength. It finally made sense. They weren’t seeing me. There was very little of me to even see at that time, much less admire. They were seeing Jesus. They were seeing the Holy Spirit move through me and do things I am not capable of. “God doesn’t give you any more than you can handle.” LOL. 😂  I couldn’t handle ANYTHING that had come my way, so I completely and fully surrendered, and man oh man did the Lord do great things.

I am so unbelievably thankful for every awful thing that has happened in my life to lead me to the place where I was able to step back and let God do His thing. I am proud that He used my daughter to spread His word and bring others closer to Him. I am humbled that He chose us to be her parents because we knew that no matter what, Annie was protected and so were we. I felt hard pressed on every side, but in no way was I completely crushed. I was perplexed, but not in despair. In no way did I ever feel abandoned by my god, and I am still here. I am not destroyed.

About a year ago, I was in the midst of the worst depression I had experienced to date. My husband, even in the most difficult phase of his professional career, took excellent care of me and made sure I got the help I needed. Now that I have emerged from that fog, I can see so clearly. I still struggle, often in fact. I find that I’m not always 100% present when I want to be. A piece of me belongs to a special group of women who are just like me. They have all said goodbye to one or more of their babies and we share each other’s pain. Some of them I know in “real life,” but most of us have found each other online. When an anencephaly mom is drawing closer to her delivery date, my heart is in my throat and my stomach is in knots. I pray constantly for her. When a mom who all she knows of pregnancy is the pain of miscarriage announces she is pregnant, I worry, cry, and pray. When a mom of loss is about to deliver her rainbow baby, I’m full of every emotion possible alongside her. When a heartbroken momma is celebrating the day her baby was born or the day her baby left her, my heart breaks with her. Any woman who is just starting her journey, I weep for her knowing the exhausting and rocky road of grief and self discovery that lies ahead of her. I know there is a balance to be struck here, but I’m not sure I want to find it just yet. We are part of an exclusive club of women who really understand each other. It’s a shitty club, none of us want to be in it, but the company is divine. I don’t know what I would do without these women who know the right thing to say on those special days. I thank God now for roots that have delved into the deep, so when a new momma joins our ranks she can grab on to me for support.

This may seem like a prideful thing to say, but I’m with Paul. I will boast all the live long day about my weaknesses.

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:8-10

CAN I GET AN AMEN?!?! These past few days as I have looked back on all of my weakness, I am humbled as I see the Lord’s perfect power. I see the strength that others have seen. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about all He has done for me and mine, and I strive for less of me so I can have more of Him.

Now here is another picture of my girls because they’re adorable.

May the Lord bless and keep you all,


Home Sweet Homa

Over the past few years (yeah, that’s right, YEARS) many of you have asked me how our friends Eric & Kylie have been doing in the process of adopting their little boy from the Congo. I have always answered with a sigh, a shrug, and a shake of my head. “They’re still waiting.” It has been an incredibly long, excruciating process for them to be seperated from their son. They have had countless people known and unknown to them praying for them and their sweet boy for so long. Robert and I have felt oddly connected to them from the beginning, as two sets of parents just longing to hold their babies. 

Several of you have donated to them in the past, and as the days, weeks, and months have slowly passed by, expenses have added up. I am BEYOND thrilled to share that in less than 2 weeks they will be headed to the Congo to FINALLY get their son!!! If you would like to contribute to them and help lighten their financial load a bit as they finally end their adoption journey, it would be greatly appreciated. It has been so beautiful to watch these two rally the community around them, hold steadfast through their pain, all the while leaning on the Lord. God bless you, Eric & Kylie, and your precious boys. ❤️
UPDATE: Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all who donated and prayed for this sweet family! My heart melts when I see Joah’s gorgeous bright smile, and watching him play with Iva was the most beautiful thing. Praise the Lord, he is home.

The List


I have been deluded about grief from the very beginning. It started back when I was pregnant with Annie and there were times when I found myself wishing it was over so I could just get on with the grieving process. I thought, “when she is finally born and if she actually dies, then we can really grieve.” After she passed away I felt trapped. The grief and pain were welling up in me and I remember thinking “once we have her funeral, then we will be able to move on.” That didn’t happen either. The thoughts continued to morph; once we get through the holidays… once we honor her at the rose parade… once we celebrate her birthday… once Iva is born…

After this past Christmas I noticed that these feelings are still very present. In a tearful conversation with my husband I realized that a part of me is always going to feel sad and empty. Since apparently my expectations have been so unrealistic up until this point I have some work to do. I found a grief support group here in town and have been attending for the past couple of weeks. There are only 5 of us in the group, and I am the youngest by over 40 years. At first I thought that because of this I was likely wasting my time. It slowly became clear however that even though every person’s journey through grief is different and everyone’s individual story is different, the feelings are usually the same.

We were given “homework” this week, and I am going to do it here. It has helped to pull me out of myself to hear that other people have these thoughts and feelings, so I decided to be open about it in the hopes that it might help someone else. Our assignment was to list our feelings and thoughts about our loss. I’m hoping that this helps because I often feel lost in a fog of my thoughts. I think actually naming these thoughts and feelings might help clear that fog. Here goes…

  • I feel like I am misunderstood by even the people closest to me.
  • I feel like I’m failing my girls.
  • Dylan tries to help, and I hate that she carries that on her tiny little shoulders.
    • The girls and I were snuggling on the couch and Dylan said “aww, mom! You’re holding all of your girls!… because,.. you know… you are always holding Annie in your heart… Right?” Moments like this happen fairly often, and it makes me happy and proud that she talks about her sister and has a protective heart for her momma, but it breaks my heart when I see her worried and feel like she has to include Annie.
  • I have trouble concentrating on even the smallest tasks.
  • I feel like other people think I should be further along in the grief process.
  • I WANT to be further along in the grief process.
  • Since I have realized that this will never be “over” I have felt so completely EXHAUSTED
  • I am having a hard time accepting that this is part of my identity now
    • Every part of who I am I have chosen. I chose to join the military. I chose to marry my husband. I chose to have a large family. I chose to become a nurse. I chose this life. I did not choose to have a child with a terminal birth defect. I did not choose to be the mother who lost a baby. I struggle greatly with accepting this as being who I am now. When I get an email or message (which has happened often) asking for advice because someone knows someone who is going through a similar situation, or someone just lost a child, it almost paralyzes me. I have been in complete denial that this is who I am. I am unfortunately qualified to give advice on these awful situations, and I endeavor to become better at this. It usually takes me weeks (if ever) to respond to these messages, and it is because I feel these people’s pain so deeply I don’t know what to do.
  • Actually, you know what? Advice is the last thing people need. (well meaning friends and family, please take note)
    • The main reason I blog is not because I just really enjoy telling the world all of my failings and insecurities. Although that part is super fun… It is because when I write, my computer doesn’t try to fix my problems. It doesn’t talk back. It allows me to purge these feelings and the only things it fixes are my spelling errors. If someone you know is hurting in any capacity, I encourage you to overcome your own feelings of being uncomfortable and awkward, and ask them how they are doing. Then, just listen. Don’t offer suggestions, or even worse, a platitude. Most of the time people just need an outlet for their grief. There is no easy solution, no quick fix. This can be incredibly difficult to do. It is hard for people to see someone they love hurting. It is in our nature to try and help them. My suggestion is that a great way to do that is not to try and “fix” them but to let them know you care and just listen.
  • These past few months I feel like I have been dishonoring Annie’s legacy. She taught me so much, and undeniably changed me. Her legacy is one of love and light, and it makes me grateful for each and every day. A lot of those days have been heavy lately, and I have been swallowed in my own grief. I don’t want to waste this precious life…
  • It really sucks that this is who I am.
  • It really sucks that I will be dealing with this grief for the rest of my life.

Even though this sucks, I am grateful for it. I am grateful that Annie was born. Her birthday was one of the best days of my life. It’s amazing that such a tiny little life changed the world. I am unbelievably proud of her. I will always love her and praise God for giving her to us, even if it was only for a day. I am a fallible human being, and am trying to figure things out day by day. I’m so honored by my husband as he loves and helps me, even when he is in the most stressful and demanding season of his Air Force career. (Here he is taking all 3 girls for a jog on a freezing February afternoon so I could have some time alone. He figured out how to fit them all in a double stroller, so he’s smart AND good lookin.)

I am beyond blessed by my daughters. Dylan has grown up much faster than I have wanted. She is patient with my unpredictable emotions and is quick to forgive me when I fail. Harper Lou is hysterical and goofy and brings such joy to my life.

image image
Iva is the most precious little toddler, and she melts me with her pigtails and her giggles.

I have so much joy in my life and this part of my journey is my attempt to actively focus on that joy while acknowledging and attending to my grief in a healthy way. I’m doing the best I can, and it’s really nice to know I’m not alone. The grief support group has taught me that. It’s strangely freeing to actually list these feelings. These past few months have been confusing, and actually seeking help has started to bring some clarity. Thank you for letting me purge here for the past few years. Writing has been the most productive thing I have done in my healing process, and I’m so grateful for this outlet.



The Comfort & Joy

I continue to be surprised by the grief process. I should know by now that I can’t anticipate these powerful feelings, but I find myself caught off guard ALL THE TIME. The holidays are such a challenge. They are steeped with tradition and family and love and joy, but they are also constant reminders of our missing piece. I really thought that this blog was complete, but as my family has entered the Christmas season I realized that I still need this outlet. It has been such a relief for me to have a place to sort and document my feelings, and really to process. Many times I have started a blog entry and by the end of it there has been a clarity that has surprised me. I guess I’m hoping for that now… My mind is in a fog, and I guess I’m hoping to clear it out.

Can I begin by stating a few positive things? I have a really great life. I have a husband who loves me, who works tirelessly to better our family, and who loves our daughters in a way that brings me to tears. I have the most incredible girls. Dylan is growing up WAY too fast, she is “addicted to reading”, loves everything girly, and she has been a lifeline for me with her perfectly timed hugs and her meaningful and truthful words. Harper Lou is a little spitfire who is so comfortable in her own goofiness I envy her. She is able to truly be herself without a single thought as to the opinion of others and I PRAY she never loses that. Iva Ray is the most darling little thing you ever did see. She is morphing from a precious, sweet, mild mannered baby into a straight up RED HEAD. Everyone told us when she was born that redheads are firecrackers and they have that reputation for a reason, but Iva defied the stereotype. She was the most calm and gentle baby, until she recently turned one. I feel like someone flipped a switch and now she is making it VERY clear that she has a mind of her own. We are loving every minute of it.

I wanted to start with the good stuff because when I write these blog posts I feel like they are heavy, and I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. We all have good in our lives and we all have the not so good. I give Robert a hard time because when we discuss ANY issue in life, from family to our marriage to politics to religion, his contribution to the conversation almost always ends with him saying, “well, it’s a balance.” (which is followed by “the look” from me) Duh. I know it’s a balance. He knows it’s a balance. Life is about finding the balance. This blog helps me do that.

Last year Iva was born a week before Thanksgiving. I felt like I was thrust into the holiday season riding a wave of hormones and endorphins. It was pretty awesome. Of course there were tears when we decorated the Christmas tree, there always are. There are Annie’s precious handprint and footprint ornaments made by the loving nurses who took care of our family in so many ways. There is her birthstone ornament given to us by friends who share our pain in a way that only grieving parents know. There is the ornament Robert bought me while he was deployed during the Christmas before Annie was born, a month before her diagnosis, and on the back is written “I love you Abbey, Dylan, Harper, and ?” So. Many. Memories. These memories are always tucked safely away, but when we open the box and physically touch and lay eyes on these precious things, it’s so intense. Last year was different, because I was cuddling a precious sleepy newborn while unpacking these memories, so there was a beautiful balance. I was so grateful.

I guess I mistakenly thought that it would always feel that way. The first Christmas after losing her was ridiculous, I was a big ole sloppy mess but I gave myself grace because it was the first. I really figured that the second year would be a more accurate depiction of what it would really be like. Now I know that that may not be the case because of Iva. I made this realization last night, and I told Robert that if this is true we just need to keep having baby after baby after baby because apparently babies fix things and that way I can always be happy and snuggly… Cause that’s healthy…

One of my very favorite Christmas traditions we do for the girls is every year we buy them an ornament. I got the idea from my best friend’s mother, and the plan is beautiful. We get them a new one every year and when they are an adult and move out they can have a box full of little trinkets from us to adorn their first tree. We try to find an ornament that speaks to that previous year for them. It started out kind of silly because the girls were really little, Dylan got a sparkly little cupcake because her favorite game was a cupcake decorating game and she called them “pupcakes” and it was adorable. Harper always seems to get some sort of animal, because, you know, she is one… The BEST part of this tradition is that we write a little note and tuck it inside with the ornament so decorating the tree is a walk down memory lane for them and for us. I cry during the reading of almost EVERY note because I’m the mom, because they are growing up so fast, and because I’m also a nut job. I still like to be the one reading them, and I think the girls like to see me cry. It seems to make them feel special to elicit that kind of emotion from me. Also, they are REALLY good at humoring their momma. The ornaments and the notes have gotten more sentimental with passing time. I think there are several reasons for this. The girls are getting older and life gets more complicated with age. Another reason is that our lives aren’t sparkly little cupcakes anymore. I remember buying that cupcake for Dylan, and all I felt was happiness and love. It seems so absurd now, looking back. I was completely unaware of the bliss I was living in. Have you guys seen Inside Out? I saw it with the girls recently and towards the end when Riley’s memories start being multicolored and they realize they need Sadness to get to Joy… HOLY CRAP DISNEY. YES. ALL THE FEELS. I was crying so hard Dylan paused the movie for us. I don’t know if she did it so she could comfort me or because my sobs were tainting her cinematic experience, so I’m just going to claim the former. Ever since Annie was born I feel like all of my memories with my family are multicolored. Dylan’s ornament for that year is a little angel. I took one look at the note, the only note in the box written in Robert’s handwriting because I couldn’t even bring myself to write it, let alone read it aloud, and I passed it to him. First of all, it’s written on a thank you card. I don’t know if we did that intentionally or if that’s all we had on hand, but how perfect. The note reads: Dylan, We had a tough year this year. You were so great, so many times you reminded us of God’s simple truths. You read Annie the book Heaven Is For Real, so she would know where she was going. You hugged Mom when she cried. You were our little Angel. We love you. Mom & Dad.

So simple. So true. So multicolored.

I have been in such a down place for a few weeks now. Decorating the tree just compounded these feelings because there was no one to snuggle. Iva is one, she’s walking, she’s ripping ornaments off the tree faster than the big girls can carefully place them on, and I’m really loving the chaos. But is this how it’s always going to feel? It’s so strange, I was watching the beautiful chaos, crying of course, and Robert sat next to me, put his arm around me and asked me if I was crying because I missed her. My answer was sooooo multicolored. Yes, I’m sad because I miss her. I miss her so much it hurts. I also have so much joy because I have the beautiful peace of knowing I will see her again. I have joy in the ornaments being chucked across the room by my baby. I have joy in the argument over who gets to place the star on top of the tree by my big girls. I have feelings of being completely unworthy of the blessings surrounding me. I have fear that I’m going to screw this up. I have feelings of overwhelming anxiety when meeting new people who haven’t heard about Annie…

That last one is a biggie these days. We moved to Enid in August and Robert is currently in USAF pilot training. I didn’t realize the bubble I was living in until we moved. Robert and I had been in the Oklahoma Air Guard together for our entire relationship. I ended my career right before we moved so I can be here for him and our children, and he is starting this completely new career field. It’s new and exciting, but I didn’t really think about all it entailed. The guard is different than Active Duty in that people don’t move around. We joined the unit as teenagers, we went all over the world with the same people every time, did some really stupid things with these people as well as some pretty incredible things. It has been a second family to us in so many ways. Our Guard Family rallied around us during our season of heartache and it was exactly what we needed. Now, we are in a new place making new friends with people who weren’t there during that time. They don’t know. It’s hard because I have been in the aforementioned bubble so long I don’t have a lot of practice organically bringing up and sharing this huge part of my life with people who don’t already know.

There are a few men in Robert’s training class that are married as well and we have gotten together a handful of times with all of the couples and  the kids. (Sidenote: we are the only ones with kids and these people are absolutely wonderful to our girls) I really like these get-togethers, because we all are living this same life right now. Our husbands are all trainees and they are exhausted and depleted and giving it all they’ve got. We never get to see them, we want to help but can’t, and we are all struggling to find the balance during this temporary period. It is really nice to sit and talk and feel like, Yeah! You GET me! We invited them all over for Iva’s birthday, and although we only invited family and these few couples, the house was packed. The wives were standing together and visiting next to a beautiful matted picture of Pistol Annie that our friends had made us while I was pregnant with her and people had signed during Annie’s memorial service. 

As I was walking by I thought I overheard one of them explaining our story to the others in a whisper. I have replayed this over and over and over in my mind. I should have stopped, walked over to them and said “Oh, you noticed our lovely gift? We have the best friends. That was such a difficult time in our lives and we were supported and loved by so many people. Have I told you about Annie?…” Instead I was overcome with anxiety and walked by as quickly as I could. I HATE that I didn’t say those things. I had been waiting to tell them so I wouldn’t feel the weight of the “do they know? Should I say something? Will it be awkward? What do I do?” anymore. I HATE that these wonderful women were unaware that we proudly and lovingly speak her name in this house, and I didn’t allow them the comfort to do so. I will get better at this, but it’s a process.

I think the main reason I feel so heavy these days is the balance is totally skewed right now. Being a parent is hard, losing a child is hard, pilot training is hard, being the spouse of a pilot trainee is hard, and Robert and I are in this together. Together we made the decision for him to be a pilot. This season is temporary, but difficult. He is burning the candle at both ends and the last thing I need to do when he gets home is to unload on him. We both know that this is wrong, I need to be able to talk to him about everything, but this is just kind of how it has to be right now. There is an end in sight. It’s a long way away, but it’s there. I am grateful for a husband who even when he is overwhelmed, notices that I’m not okay. I’m grateful for the support system I have in family and in friends, new and old. I’m grateful for the mental health resources that the Air Force provides. (I haven’t contacted them yet, but I have made the realization that I need to talk to someone who isn’t begging me for food or needing snot wiped off their face in order to attempt to restore the balance) I am grateful for the many colors and many emotions that make up this life. I’m also grateful for long morning naps from my little red tornado so I can sort myself out here… I’m so grateful for the Sadness, and I’m ever so grateful for the Joy.

Merry Christmas.