Pregnancy after miscarriage

Goodness.

To start, I’m going to steal some words from a food blogger I intensely admire who has been sharing about her pregnancy and infant loss for the past 5 months. Thank you for your story and your words, Lindsay from Pinch of Yum. (The following statements were used in Lindsay’s posts about her pregnancy and her son, Afton, and I always found them to be so loving and respectful of all her readers, regardless of their current situation. I hope I can do the same for my readers.)

To you mamas who have been there – I’m so glad we can share our experiences. and thank you for creating a space that is non-judgemental and welcoming of all.

To you mamas who are pregnant – I’m glad you’re here. Please love those precious babies the very best you can.

To you mamas who are still trying to get pregnant or recovering from loss – we see you, we love you, we’re cheering for you and your babies.

To you mamas whose journey includes loss of a pregnancy, a child, or a dream  – I now stand bravely among you. I see you, I love you, and I’m hopeful for us and our babies.

To you readers who are in a completely different life space altogether but still show up to be friends on the internet – umm, you’re the best… You are amazingly cool. We’re lucky to have you here.

img_4164img_4165img_4172There are so many things I could write about pregnancy after miscarriage.

I could write about the decision to try or wait after our miscarriage cycle, running through practical (“If we wait, we can go on our Alaskan cruise in May!”) and emotional (“Are we ready to put ourselves out there again?”) reasons to wait or go for it.

I could write about the first agonizing weeks after a positive test, just waiting for the shoe to drop.

I could write about the numbness I tried to hide in, not getting attached to this pregnancy, before my emotions took over and I allowed myself to feel the full extent of fear and hope.

I could write about the interminable wait at the first doctor’s appointment and the rush of joy from actually seeing a beating heart.

I could write about my hesitation in sharing good news because I now know what it feels like to have pangs of grief and jealousy when someone makes a pregnancy announcement.

I could write about how weepy I got last week, re-realizing my complete lack of control even if we do not have another miscarriage, when an acquaintance posted a picture of their newborn, likely diagnosed with Down syndrome and other health complications after a seemingly normal pregnancy.

I could write about how now, even a week after my doctor said chances of anything happening to this baby were less than 5% after seeing its little heart flutter at 10 weeks, that I still feel myself on guard.

Basically I have a lot of feelings, not surprisingly. Hesitation, grief, jealousy, anxiety, impatience, joy, hope, excitement, fear, doubt, empathy, sadness

Oct 3Thankfully the negative feelings are decreasing with each week as my little rainbow baby hope rises. I’m marveling at the way my body is already changing and how different pregnancy symptoms can be from one to the next. I’m starting to imagine my little fall season with Little Bamboo (it’s a long story, but might make sense if you’ve watch an obscure Japanese animated movie called Princess Kaguya).

And I’m making Mean Girls jokes because, yes, our due date is October 3rd.

 

You have no control

There’s a line from Hamilton: An American Musical that’s been playing itself over in my head lately that doesn’t exactly fit with what I’m about to share, but it’s worth mentioning.

“You have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story.”

A few weeks ago, just a days after she shared the news that she was expecting a baby boy, a food blogger I follow delivered her sweet son, Afton, at just over 23 weeks. He died the next day.

I was crushed for them. Although I feel closure and healing from our miscarriage in October, the empathy still flows fresh. I grieved for these people I’ve never met, knowing I’ve only tasted a hint of what they’re going through.

This experience of watching this loss unfold online solidified what I’ve been learning the past five months: adding children to our family is so absolutely beyond our control. This woman lost her baby at 23 weeks. A coworker of mine went into labor around the same stage of her pregnancy, but ended up delivering a healthy full term baby months later. Who was in control of one baby’s life and another’s death?

We got pregnant without hardly trying. Others try for years and never get pregnant. We lost our baby. Teenagers have babies they don’t want. Some babies are born perfectly healthy while others have rare genetic disorders or die from SIDS when they’re a few months old. International adoptions fall though. Some couples are shocked at how quickly they are paired with an adoptive child and scramble to prepare. Foster placements that seemed for sure end abruptly. People who were told they were infertile are surprised with good news.

It’s all. out. of. our. control.

Sure, we can chart and time intercourse and take supplements and eat the right diet and avoid the wrong things and fill our applications perfectly and make enough money and pass the home studies … but ultimately, we can do all these things and still not have a child. It’s ultimately not up to us.

Honestly, it sucks. We may never understand why one baby lives and another dies, while a couple desperate for children can’t have them, and someone who doesn’t want a child ends up with one. It’s not in our control to know. It’s complicated and can be confusing.

At first this seems so negative, so futile, but as I think of it more, it frees me. This is beyond my ability to control or even understand; it is in God’s hands and in His plans entirely. We will bring a child home in Him timing alone. I don’t have to worry and fret and cry and wonder. I just have to trust Him.

“I am Yours, do what you wish. I am Yours, I am Yours, and I know this: whatever happens next is in Your hands, in Your plans, nothing less.”

I’m not saying this is easy; heck no, it’s not easy! But I am saying it’s true. And it reminds me of something else that is out of my control.

There is nothing I can do to make God love me more, and there’s nothing I can do to make God love me less. Nothing. He loves me just the same. And that’s freedom.

There’s nothing I can do to bring a child into our home any quicker than God will allow our family to grow. Nothing.

So I can relax. I can practice trust and patience and remind myself of God’s perfect plans. It’s not easy, but it is good.

rejoicing & mourning – a miscarriage update

rejoice-mournAs I drove to HEB yesterday morning in the chilly rain, it struck me how strange the next few hours would be. I was driving to HEB to pick up some flowers and a sympathy empathy card for some friends who had just found out about their own miscarriage. My next stop after HEB was to grab some breakfast tacos to serve another couple of friends who had welcomed a new baby into their lives just three weeks before. The contrast was jarring. Even more significant: both these families live on the same street, literally across the road from one another. I was instantly reminded of God’s call for us: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” On the south side of the street, I teared up and expressed my sorrow for the couple who had lost their child. 15 minutes later, on the north side of the street, I laughed with the new parents as they tag-teamed a pee-fountain diaper change. It was a morning of rejoicing and mourning.

It’s been seven weeks since we found out about our sparrow, about a month since I last wrote. Seven weeks: we’ve know our loss two weeks longer than we knew our child’s life. It feels long ago and yet so fresh at the same time.

Since I last wrote, we’ve done a lot of healing. I feel a lot of closure. I’m sad, but less frequently and somewhat less intensely. But certain things over the past two months have definitely triggered that weird mix of mourning and rejoicing.

I went to Target a few weeks ago to purchase a baby gift for a coworker’s baby shower. While I was there, I picked up a little white bird ornament to commemorate our baby. I made it through the store okay, but after I got home and talked with Greg some about how we were doing, we both cried a little. I was happy for my coworker but still reminded of our lack.

Last week, in the span of 24 hours, two couples, one a little more distant and one a little nearer to my heart (mentioned above), shared with me about the miscarriages they had experienced since we had ours. I was crushed to hear both stories. I felt deeply for them and deeply felt my own sorrow for our loss. Before I had a miscarriage, I knew it was a sad thing, but since having one myself, I feel the sadness fully for the first time. I mourn for us, for them, and for the broken world that allows such loss.

At the same time, I currently have several close friends who are pregnant, and I’ve felt so joyous and happy for them. My love for those women outweighs the sadness and pity and impatience I feel for myself. But when baby announcements from acquaintances on Facebook seem to become a weekly occurrence, I have to walk away from my phone and computer and take a moment to collect myself.

Healing from miscarriage is a journey of rejoicing and mourning, highs and lows, hope and sorrow. Most days, I have a lot of hope. Some days, I don’t. And that’s okay; there’s room for both in God’s kingdom and in His community. I feel privileged to rejoice with my friends and their new babies, and I feel honored to share my sorrow and mourn with others in empathy. And so I am content with where we are for now.

On a personal note, we’re taking s few weeks off from family planning to rest and enjoy the holidays with family. We will see what 2017 brings, but we’re hopeful for more life. Thank you for allowing me to share my heart with you all.

our little sparrow – our miscarriage story

 

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It’s been 12 days since I was told the little life inside me that had barely begun had already ended. It was was shocking and as cliche as every movie, every TV show: “I’m sorry, but there’s no heartbeat.”

I know people don’t talk about miscarriage, but I want to because I like talking about the things no one wants to. I’m all about open communication. I’m the girl in the church who asks new married couples how their sex life is going. I’ll tell you all about our budgeting and savings goals. I blurted out “We’re pregnant!” to one of my close college friends just days after we’d taken a test, when we were just four weeks along. They say not to tell many people until you’re out of the first trimester, in case you miscarry, people nearly whisper, as if saying the word brings it about, like it’s Lord Voldemort or something. But we couldn’t keep it a secret; we were too excited. So I want to share our story of loss for the same reasons I wanted to share our news of life with friends right away — because I can’t keep it inside of me. And because October is Infant & Pregnancy Loss Awareness month, ironically enough.

Honestly, I never thought a miscarriage could happen to me. Sure, we’d always end the announcement by saying, “Yeah, we hear not to tell people so early just in case something happens, but we’d want support from you even if something did.” But it never crossed my mind that something might actually happen. My mom never miscarried and I knew my maternal grandmother had had 10 successful pregnancies out of 11 (I was later told she actually did have a miscarriage at another point, taking her “success rate” to 10 out of 12). We got pregnant basically without hardly trying, which I know is a huge blessing, and one I don’t take for granted, but all these factors made me think I was untouchable. It wouldn’t happen to me. Actually I didn’t even think it wouldn’t happen to me, I just didn’t think about it at all.

So that Monday morning when I wiped and saw just a little brown blood, I told myself not to panic. I’d known for reading every pregnancy website that spotting was fairly normal and half the time meant nothing. The blood was old and brown, not fresh and bright red. I didn’t have any cramping. I actually felt extra sick that morning, and they say if you feel pregnant, and I did, it’s a good sign. It’s when you stop feeling pregnant that things go south. But we were leaving on a multi-state road trip in three days, so I decided to call the nurse and just check to be safe.

The nurse called me back and said what I expected: it’s probably nothing, you can wait a few days to see if it goes away or gets worse, or you can come in just to check. I mentioned the trip and she asked if we had heard the heartbeat at our first appointment two weeks earlier. We hadn’t. At the time, the doctor said it was still fairly early (six and a half weeks), but we’d hear it the next time. (Now I wonder if it ever did beat…) So we decided to go for peace of mind so we could go to Missouri unworried.

I picked up Greg and we drove to the clinic in New Braunfels, and although I kept trying to tell myself it was fine, I started getting uneasy. What if it wasn’t? We prayed outside the clinic, checked in, and waited. We went back to the exam room and saw our doctor,  who seemed quite hopeful. She did a pelvic exam and confirmed I wasn’t “actively bleeding,” which was a good sign, and I still felt pregnant, which she also deemed a good sign. So she started up the ultrasound to finalize all the good signs, but  that’s when things changed.

For whatever reason, my body just never got the news our baby had died. It kept on going, pumping out hormones and blood and growing placenta, all while the life had gone from our child more than two weeks before. That’s why I still felt pregnant, why I wasn’t actively bleeding. They call it “missed miscarriage.”

They brought in another doctor just to confirm what the ultrasound was showing. I bawled. Greg held it together but only until the car. Our doctor assured me it wasn’t my fault and explained what could happen next. For various reasons, we chose to go with a dilation and curettage, better known as a D&C, a procedure in which the doctor dilates your cervix and removes the contents of your womb in a surgical environment while you’re under general anesthesia. We set the date for two days later, the day we had planned to leave on our trip.

Our trip. The timing. My lack of actual miscarriage symptoms. The only signs that something was off was the spotting on Monday. I had no symptoms of miscarriage at any point, not even spotting on Tuesday and Wednesday. I can’t help but attribute the whole timing scenario to the Lord. I almost feel like He said, “I’m so sorry. I’m going to let you in on this now so you use this trip and this planned time off to grieve and heal.” I fully believe had I not spotted on Monday, we still might not know we’d lost it. Our next appointment wasn’t scheduled until two weeks later. Finding out your baby passed away two weeks ago without your knowledge sucks. Finding out it died a month ago… I can only imagine it would be even worse. Or maybe my body would have gotten a clue, and we would have naturally miscarried hundreds of miles from home while on vacation. The alternatives horrify me, and although this is the saddest thing that’s happened to me, I’m grateful for the way in which it happened. I see the Lord’s hand in it.

On the drive to the hospital, as cheesy as it sounds, God spoke peace and comfort to us through some Christian contemporary music (Jason Gray’s “Sparrow”).

“If He can hold the world, He can hold this moment.”

I think He has our little sparrow in his hands. A few weeks before we found out about the miscarriage, I had spent some time journaling with God, and He shared with me His love for me and for our baby. I know He has our sparrow.

The D&C went fine. The worst part of physical pain was the six sticks it took the nurses and staff to get an IV and blood drawn. Our doctor even let us do one final ultrasound, just for peace of mind, just to check that God hadn’t allowed a miracle to happen. She was so kind and compassionate. I went home that afternoon, and after resting for a few hours and finally getting to eat something, with our doctor’s blessing, we left for Arlington.

It may seem crazy they we went on vacation literally hours after leaving the hospital, but I think it was what was best for us. We saw family (including my parents, grandparents, and two of my three siblings) and mourned with them. We spent a lot of time together as a couple. We checked in on each other’s emotions. We held each other as we cried. We laughed and had fun. We enjoyed amazing weather and beautiful scenery. We accepted feelings of sadness when we saw adorable babies in Mizzou clothing everywhere, but also started regrowing our hope that one day we will have adorable babies in Mizzou clothing. We worshiped in the church where I started to fully cultivate my relationship with God. We ate breakfast with the pastor who married us, who has mentored us throughout the years. We cuddled a fat cat. We ate amazing food. We wrestled through the complex thoughts of grief (Am I sad because we lost this baby, or am I sad because we lost the possibility of a baby? Or both? Or does it matter? Should I be more sad? Should we start trying again right away?). We drove through four state capitols. We saw one of Greg’s favorite musical artists. I bought a candle from the Fixer Upper Silos. I posted a lot of happy pictures from that trip and felt conflicted about it. I didn’t want to paint the picture that we were fine because we weren’t. But it’s not a lie to say we enjoyed the trip and we did have fun. The trip was a gift I am forever grateful for.

I’m also forever grateful for the man I married, my best friend, my rock of a husband, Greg. Many times over the last two weeks I have been overwhelmed to tears with love for him. Seeing his heart for our baby and for me through the last few months is astounding. I know I wouldn’t be in this situation without him, but I also know I couldn’t make it through this situation without him. I know he’s hurting, too, but even in his pain he serves me and puts my needs first. He watched the Middle Tennessee Nobodies just decimate my Tigers instead of watching the biggest game of the week (maybe season?), Alabama vs. Texas A&M. A&M ended up losing, too, but the fact that he went to that football game with me instead of watching his (actually pretty good) team, is just one of the thousands of ways he’s shown me love lately.

On our honeymoon, Greg I went to see the Seattle Symphony play a Pixar concert. They performed music from all the Pixar movies, accompanied by clips from each film. Right before intermission, they played the score from the opening montage from Up!

If you haven’t cried while watching this opening montage, you are a robot. And for the newlywed couple who’s marriage was less than a week old? You better believe we both cried like little babies! After the symphony finished their piece you could audibly hear the entire audience sniffling, which was pretty hilarious actually. Greg even overheard a college-aged girl on the way out for intermission proclaim, “Why didn’t they show the part with the goofy dog??”

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On the Tuesday after we got the news, I scrolled through the “miscarriage” part of Pinterest for whatever reason, looking for hope, other people’s stories, a chance to cry, something. I saw this image from Up! and I couldn’t contain the tears. I remembered our honeymoon and our first few days of marriage. I remembered watching that montage thinking it was sad, but it was life, and hopefully none of the hard things in that montage would happen to us. But even if it did, at least we could have each other. And we still do. And that is something I thank God for every day.

We’re back home now. The first day back at work was rough. While I was out, a few things happened with coworkers at my office and now we’re down two staff members for the next few months. It’s stressful, but my boss and coworkers are kind and understanding. Greg came back to one of the biggest church events bearing down on him, just about a week out. It was hard to go back into our normal routine when we’re feeling anything but normal.

God continues to meet us here, though. He gives us friends with listening ears and big hearts. He reveals other couples who have walked this walk before. He speaks hope and comfort to us. I know He grieves with us. He is here, and He works all things for the good of those who love Him. He also lost His own son and knows the pain of death. Thankfully He has conquered it, and we have hope in eternal life with Him.

Thank you for letting me share our story.

I’m no Merida

I have been told by many people this summer that I am incredibly brave. People are amazed that I would just pick up and move to Oregon without knowing anyone. They’re astounded I just picked up and moved to Missouri for college without knowing anyone. They think I’m this confident, independent woman who just makes friends at the drop of a hat and isn’t afraid of being alone. In some respects, part of that is true. I like to think I’m somewhat confident and independent (though I think that sentence just negated the “confident” part). I do make friends fairly easily, and I enjoy my alone time.

But y’all, if I’m being real, what you don’t know is that I’m homesick right now. I’m sitting here missing Columbia. I haven’t truly been homesick for Columbia in ages! I’m missing Colorado, and LT was two years ago. I’m missing College Station and Texas A&M. I’m missing my beautiful roommates and their daily friendship. I’m missing my homegroup and our crazy antics and shenanigans. I’m missing the dudes at the Dudeplex. I’m missing the people I play worship with on some Sunday mornings. I’m missing people able to play music with others in general. I’m missing people who would get excited and care that Mizzou and A&M are now both members of the SEC. There, I just word vomited all my homesickness out.


And I hate admitting this.
I want to be brave. I want people to think I’m independent and confident. But that’s just my stupid pride. And that actually isn’t so good. So here I am telling you. When it comes down to it, I’m just not that brave.

(I am, however, a fiery redhead with a Scottish background, so in that sense, yes, I am like Merida. The blog post title is mostly a play on the movie’s title.)

Going to Mizzou wasn’t that big of a deal because it was college. Everyone picks up and starts a new life in college. You’re encouraged to break away from your high school friends and meet new people. Even though I knew no one going to Mizzou, I also knew lots of people would know no one at Mizzou. And we could know no one together. Plus there were all sorts of instruments in place to help me meet people at Mizzou: my Summer Welcome group, my residence hall, my FIG. That doesn’t count.

As for Oregon, yes, I moved here not knowing anyone, but I also knew it would only be for nine weeks. You can do anything for nine weeks. I also did a lot of research to ensure I wouldn’t be totally alone here. I friended the two ACUHO-I interns on Facebook before I even got to Oregon after I asked my boss if there would be other interns here. I researched churches before I left so I could start meeting people right away. People saw that as be just being a planner, but it was also me not wanting to be alone.

And even though I’ve met some great people here and really never run out of things to do, I miss my friends. I miss my home(s). I miss CoMO. I miss Colorado. I miss CStat. (I even miss Arlington a little, but actually not all that much. Sorry Mom & Dad and Blair and grandparents! I’m not used to seeing you that much… that’s the only reason why! I promise it’ll make sense by the end of this post.)

Ever since I moved to Mizzou, I have never truly been without friends. I had my Mizzou friends at Mizzou. I stayed in Columbia with friends for two summers. I went to Colorado for a summer, but I went with Mizzou friends, and in fact, it was nearly all my close Mizzou friends that went! I moved to College Station, but I also already had friends there. I went to Italy for two weeks, but that was only for two weeks, and I at least was starting to become friends with most of my teammates.

This summer, this Oregon summer, is the first time I have truly moved somewhere without knowing anyone or having a group of other newbies to cling to. This is the longest I’ve been apart from my CStat friends. (This is not even close to how long I’ve gone without seeing my family, hence not missing them as much. This is somewhat normal for how we function these days.)

This is quite possibly what post-grad-school life is like. And that terrifies me. People say I’m brave and can just move somewhere without knowing anyone, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I don’t want to do that when I graduate.

Searching for a job is like a big scary black unknown for me right now. Thank God it isn’t happening for 10 months. If I had my way, next fall I’d working in College Station, Austin, Memphis, San Marcos, the DFW, Mizzou or Pitt. Where I know people. Or where there are GCM churches. Where I would not be alone. I see these SAAHE second years recent grads who are off starting their lives in totally new places. They are the braves ones.

I dread starting over. I don’t want to have to share my life story with a new set of strangers. I don’t want to have to re-explain who people are when I tell stories from my past. And I realize this will happen even if I stay in CStat or move to another GCM campus church or back to Mizzou or whatever. I’m going to meet new people, and I actually enjoy making new friends. But only if I have some constants. Even moving to CStat was hard in that aspect because even though I had a few close friends there, I still had a support system to rebuild. I remember thinking to myself, “Crap. I have to find my new Amanda Craven (one of my closer female friends, peer discipler, and confidant).”

Anyway, now I’m just letting my fears out all over the page, which is silly because I know God is going to take care of me wherever I go. I will be okay if I stay in College Station. I will be okay if I end up moving to Montana or somewhere equally as random and far away. In fact, I will be better than okay. I will be great because the Lord’s plan for my life is more than my tiny, homesick mind can fathom. And if this post makes me sound miserable, don’t worry, I’m really not. I’m just excited that in five weeks I’ll be back in Texas. I’m going to enjoy my last five weeks here, but I’m also glad it’s only five weeks.

I just wanted to dispel this myth everyone keeps believing. I’m not that brave! I am only able to do this, to have this experience, because I trusted God with my summer. I know I’m supposed to be here, and it’s been really, really good for me. It’s been restful. It’s been professionally helpful. And it’s been revealing, socially and professionally, about what I want in the future. Just think. If I hadn’t come here this summer, this whole new experience might have been at my first job, which hopefully will last more than nine weeks. At least now I won’t be surprised by my homesickness in the future. I’m coming to terms with it. I don’t have to hide it out of my pride. I’m learning to accept my inherent need for true community, unconditional support, and deep friendship. And that’s worth nine weeks of missing.

Thoughts on Easter via Little Women

I can’t not blog about this.

This semester has been the worst.There has been a lot of good things, but there have also been so many things slowly chipping away at me.

Classes are overwhelming. Work has been stressful the past few weeks. My grandma, who has lived with my family for the past 8 years, is about to pass away. My apartment flooded. Trying to figure out apartments next year was a huge pain. I have been itchy for 13 weeks because I’m allergic to my detergent or A&M construction or GOD KNOWS WHAT. I raised support for the first time. I interviewed 20 times for a summer internship. I’ve tried to hide from so much stress, which has only increased my anxiety.

To quote one of my dear roommates, “Jesus told me I’m despondent.”

And sometimes when I just feel so tired and stressed and despondent and  I just want some comfort, I turn to my favorite movie, Little Women.

I don’t know why this is my favorite movie, but it is. I love the family, the warmth, the innocence and simplicity. And I love firey, independent, writer chacters like Jo (and Skeeter from The Help, which I recently finished reading), even though I get upset every time Jo says no to Laurie, even though it’s probably best for them in the end.

Well, last night I couldn’t turn to the movie because it’s in College Station, and I’m in Arlington. So I turned to the book instead, which I have recently started rereading on my new Kindle. (Side note: I love my Kindle so much even though I swore I’d never want one. At some point I will write a whole blog post on it.)

I read Little Women once in high school. but it had been so long, and it was free on Amazon, so I started up again a few weeks ago. And tonight I came across this quote that I had to share. I’ve already read it about ten times tonight.

“…I have a better friend, even than Father, to comfort and sustain me. My child, the troubles and temptations of your life are beginning and may be many, but you can overcome and outlive them all if you learn to feel the strength and tenderness of your Heavenly Father as you do that of your earthly one. The more you love and trust Him, the nearer you will feel to Him, and the less you will depend on human power and wisdom. His love and care never tire or change, can never be taken from you, but may become the source of lifelong peace, happiness, and strength. Believe this heartily, and go to God with all your little cares, and hopes, and sins, and sorrows…”

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Word, Marmee.

So it’s Easter, and honestly, I haven’t specifically thought much about Easter recently. I haven’t really given Jesus the proper reflection he deserves lately. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve spent most of this semester calling out to Jesus to save me from this spring. But I haven’t paused to think back on why I can call on him, what he did for me at the cross.

So thank you, Louisa May Alcott and Mrs. March, for pointing me back in the right direction this Easter. Because of Jesus, I don’t need to be despondent, even when the site of my planner gives me a panic attack. The Lord is faithful.

Meanwhile, back in College Station…

It’s been a while since I wrote anything of significance about myself personally. So here’s a little catch up of what’s been going on in my life.

Must love dogs
In the past, I haven’t been the biggest supporter of dogs, mostly because my family dog, Molly, ruined all dogs for me. So it’s taken some time, but over the past year or six months, I’ve begun to warm back up to dogs.

This process was significantly sped up by the arrival of my friend Barclay‘s husky, Cobalt. It’s not that Cobalt isn’t somewhat cute, it’s just that Cobalt is the dog of one of my good friends, so I pretty much have to like him. Luckily the obligation part of liking him is slowly giving way to almost near genuine affection.The change in my feelings towards dogs has also been accelerated due to the fact that A&M’s mascot is a fluffy border collie, and I desperately want to meet her and take a photo with her.

Cobaltimore Bartlesby Bell, aka Cobalt

Reveille, the First Lady of Aggieland

*baby voice*
I have recently been surrounded by babies, which has been pretty heavenly. I love babies, so it’s been great to play with Ezra, Eva, Jackson and the babies in my church nursery. This weekend I get to go home and meet another baby, Elliot! (What’s with all the E-names this year? Must be this year’s trend.)

New and improved
I updated my “About Me” page and got a new header! You like? Now I just need to adjust my Twitter background…

Pass it back, Ags!
I met the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Yell Leaders and took a photo with them. Perks of my job/perks of my boss’s brother being a yell leader.

Thanks and gig 'em!

Awaken your wine
Today my friend and coworker Nick and I went to the Messina Hof Winery in Bryan because he likes wine, I want to learn more about it and he’s leaving Texas to go back to the Midwest in three days. $7 got us a tour of the winery, a sample wine glass and four wine tastings, though our tour guide ended up letting us try six wines since there were only four of us on the tour. The only bad thing about this whole deal was that the tour guide asked Nick and I

  • if we were married
  • if we were engaged
  • if we wanted to get engaged
  • if we wanted a room at the bed & breakfast

It was all in jest (I think), so it was more funny than awkward. I’m not entirely sure if the tour guide ever realized there were no romantic feelings between Nick and I, but despite all that, I still feel like $7 for the evening was a sweet deal. And I found out I like Port. Yum!

It all ends… 7.15
Tomorrow night I’m going to see the last Harry Potter movie. Crazy. We had a Harry Potter movie marathon and watched the first seven moves last week. It was a long 28 hours, but it was really fun.

Harry Potter was such a huge part of my junior high and high school identity. I went to several midnight book and movie releases, dressed up as Ginny Weasley more than socially acceptable, listened to Harry Potter podcasts on a weekly basis, studied for vocabulary tests using Harry-Potter-related sentences (It took me way too long to find that link)… I was a Potter-head if there ever was one.

My high school friends and I at the midnight release of the seventh book four years ago

It’s funny to think about what I did for the last several movies that came out. It’s definitely indicative of what stage of life I was in at the time…

  • Order of the Phoenix: Midnight release with Caleb and Angela
  • Half-Blood Prince: covered the midnight premier for the Columbia Missourian
  • Deathly Hallows Part 1: watched it the Saturday after it came out and immediately left town to visit College Station when it was over
  • Deathly Hallows Part 2: midnight premier with my new A&M friends

Dearly beloved
It seems that I might be reaching the life season of weddings. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of two people in my new A&M homegroup, and this weekend I’m heading back to the DFW for my dear friend Angela’s wedding. I wonder who will be next in this season of life! (Probably Thomas & Shelby in January… but after that, who knows!)

Rocky mountain high
In just a little over a week, I will be en route to the Rocky Mountains to visit my sister and all my friends working out at the YMCA of the Rockies: Estes Park Center for Colorado LT 2011. I am beyond pumped to escape the Texas heat, hang out with my favorite (i.e. only) sister and catch up with my dear, dear Mizzou Mark Twain Canvas Group loves!

So in the end, that was still somewhat of a lame post, but at least it wasn’t about the Ambien Walrus. Maybe I’ll write something of spiritual depth and fortitude soon. Until then, this is what’s been up with me!

Play clothes

So all during the time while I was growing up, my family would go to church every Sunday. We wore our Sunday best, which wasn’t super fancy, but usually included a skirt and blouse for my sister and I and a polo and khakis for my brothers.

Every Sunday when we got home for lunch, my dad would remind us to go change into our “play clothes,” which essentially meant  changing out of our “nicer” Sunday clothes into our everyday clothes. The term “play clothes” has been a part of my vocabulary ever since then.

(Is that what everyone calls them? Or was that a just-our-family thing? I never know with family vernacular. For instance, my parents call loud church music “whangy-bangy” music, but I know that’s just our family. I can’t tell with other terms, though.)

Anyway, I now work at a semi-professional job that requires me to wear a maroon or white polo and khaki or black shorts almost every day. I only have three polos and a few pairs of shorts, so I am very conscious about keeping them clean since I have to wear them more than once between washings. This has led to me changing clothes as soon as I get home from work in order to decrease the chance that I spill something on my work clothes.

But every time I change out of said polo and shorts, I just think of my dad telling me to change into my play clothes. And I feel silly because I’m 22, and I’m obviously not going on a play date or going to run around a playground or anything in my “play clothes.” Usually I just change into a T-shirt and jorts (because they are forbidden at work).

But yeah, that’s just something that’s made me chuckle to myself over the past few weeks, and I wanted to share somewhere.

Does anyone else use the term “play clothes”?

There’s a spirit can ne’er be told

It’s official. I love Texas A&M. I mean, I know I’ve been gushing about this silly school for months, but after Thursday night, I’m hooked. (But not in a t.u. “hook ’em” way… Sssssssss.)

Thursday was our first full day of freshman student conferences. It was a long day (I worked from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.), but I got a good feel for most of the activities freshmen go through during their orientation here. One of the last events students go to is a session called “Being an Aggie & Yell Practice.” During this session, representatives from across campus (the student body president, the director of the Aggie Orientation Leaders Program, members of the Corps of Cadets, etc.) talk about different opportunities at Texas A&M and what makes it a unique and special school. After those speeches, the iconic Yell Leaders come on stage and tell the stories behind all of Texas A&M’s traditions before leading the new freshmen in their first Yell Practice.

The traditions of A&M, Yell Leaders and Yell Practice are somewhat difficult to explain if you don’t go to A&M. If you click that link above, that will at least give you some context for Yell Leaders and Yell Practice. Just know that all of these things contribute to more school spirit than I have ever seen and a loyalty to Texas A&M that is passed down through generations.

Such as in my family, where my cousin Peter Mack is a direct 5th-generation Aggie. I’m technically a 4th-generation Ag, but my parents didn’t go here, so my line’s a little indirect. But think about it: my great-grandfather went to the same school I go to now. Holy cow.

As the Yell Leaders led us in the “Aggie War Hymn” and the alma mater, “The Spirit of Aggieland,” I have to admit I got a little emotional. Here I was singing “We are the Aggies, the Aggies are we,” thinking about my grandfather. I never got to meet Granddaddy Bruce, as my older cousins call him. I mean, technically I did meet him, but he died shortly after I was born, so I obviously have no recollection of it. But as I sang this song for the first time, I felt this weird connection with him, knowing he had probably sung this song many times many years ago.

I really want to talk to my grandma about my grandpa’s time at A&M. I’d love to see pictures and hear some stories from back in Old Army. It all really goes back to what my grandma told me before I left to move down here: “I hope you love Aggieland. There’s just a spirit there.”

Yes, there is.

Taking a tear-stained leap of faith

It is amazing how being late by 10 minutes can cost you hundreds of dollars and force you to make life-changing decisions in minutes.

Today I was supposed to fly out of College Station at 7:05 a.m. I arrived at the airport at 6:45 a.m. where I was promptly told that because I was not there 30 minutes early, I couldn’t get on the plane. Obviously I burst into tears. I would have never gotten to the airport so late if I weren’t in tiny, teeny College Station. I was told you don’t really have to get there that early. Apparently you need to be there more than 30 minutes early, though.

It normally wouldn’t have been a big deal to push my travel plans back to accommodate stand-by flights, but I had two connecting flights and a shuttle connection on Detroit. Things were not looking good. The ticket worker told me I could easily get on stand-by flights to Dallas and Chicago, but getting to Detroit would be tricky. The flights were oversold, and it looked like I’d be spending the night at the Chicago airport.

It didn’t help that interviews for A&M this past week were mentally and physically exhausting. I had to be “on” for three days on top of suffering from sleep deprivation. Last night I burst into tears again, dreading having to repeat the same “look perky, meet tons of strangers, pray people hire me” scenario in Ohio with just a day’s worth of plane rides separating the two conferences.

So it came down to two choices: get to Chicago, sleep there, somewhere, and get to Bowling Green on Sunday; or forget the whole thing and go home. I called my mom in tears, looking for comfort and guidance.

Being 10 minutes late forced me to look at the situation and ask really hard questions: Do I even want to go to Bowling Green? Would I actually be happy there knowing I wasn’t at A&M? If I don’t get into A&M, would I be happy with Bowling Green instead? If I don’t interview at Bowling Green and I don’t get into A&M, what will I do next year? Stay at the Y? Get an internship? Move home? Move to College Station and try to find a job?

Do I sleep at the Chicago airport, furthering my exhaustion, only to try to put myself together for Bowling Green interviews, or do I just throw in the towel and go home, trusting that God, after putting A&M on my heart for six months, will get me there?

Of course, it’s totally easy to make these decisions on fewer than 5 hours of sleep in an airport in the middle-of-nowhere Texas with mascara running down your face  and an empty stomach. Right.

There were many scenarios considered, and none of them were cheap. If I took my stand-by flight to Dallas, I would need to get from Dallas to St. Louis. I could change my Southwest flight originally for Detroit to St. Louis, but that would cost money. I could get a hotel in Chicago, but that would cost money.

Finally, after crying and thinking in the airport for an hour, I decided to call Bowling Green to see if they would allow me to do phone interviews; good news: they would. With that, I decided to take my stand-by flight to Dallas, spend some time recovering from the ordeal with my family, then change my Southwest flight to take me back to St. Louis.

That’s when I discovered the absolute ridiculousness that is American Airlines. I could fly stand-by free of charge, but if I wanted to get my checked bag anywhere other than their final destination in Detroit, I’d have to buy an entirely new ticket. Don’t ask me to explain why. It was something about “contracts” and how I was late, so it’s my fault and they were doing me a “service” to even let me fly stand-by. I lost it at the ticket counter. I later apologized profusely, but I might have said something to the extent of “I WILL NEVER FLY AMERICAN AGAIN.”

Fortunately, I have a gracious, generous family who was willing to help me fix my costly mistake. And so my checking account remained at it’s precarious “I have fewer than $200 to my name until payday on Wednesday.” level. PTL for my parents and grandparents.

So here I sit now, waiting to go through security, absolutely yearning to hug my mom and dad, eat something and then sleep for a very long time in my own bed, not someone’s couch.

The truth is I want to be at A&M. I’m going to be happiest there. I already have an apartment lined up with a community of Christian girls from the two homegroups I want to join (which will actually probably make that decision of having to pick one of them even harder). I want to be closer to my family. I feel like God has put this place on my heart, and so I’m taking the leap of faith to trust him completely with abandon. I felt like my interviews went well, even if the 27 candidates all lead campus tours, were RAs and ran orientation. It’s competitive, but I feel like I’m supposed to be here, and if I am, I will be.

I’m still going to do phone interviews for Bowling Green, and if I get in there instead of A&M… well, I’ll cross the bridge when/if I get there. I should know about my College Station fate by Friday, and until then, all I can do is hand it all over to God, get some sleep, love my family and do the best I can.