I Did It!

I ran a 5K.

Me, the most unathletic person in world.

The night before the race, I tossed and turned because I was so nervous.  What if I get last place?  What if I can’t finish?  What if I’m slow?  I was so nervous that I even worried about actually crapping my pants while I ran.  I worry about everything so it came as no surprise that I was anxious about doing something new that I did not feel confident about.  This mindset is exactly why I never made it in sports.  I can still vividly remember shooting an airball from the free throw line when I took my first stab at basketball back in elementary school.  The older boys made fun of me and that was all it took for me to give up on sports for life!  I would much rather feel safe and unembarrassed than risk taking a chance on something.  If you just avoid it, you can’t fail, right?  Oh wow, that is so pathetic when I say it out loud.  Now, it’s not like I never did anything…I have lots of musical talent and did very well in competitions in that arena…but sports, well I just never could get into it.

I was scared.

When I woke up on Memorial Day, I thought of at least 20 million excuses that would get me out of running.  Some of them were pretty creative (like I could make myself vomit and, therefore, convince everyone I was sick), but I have a good husband who wouldn’t let me give excuses and wouldn’t let me give up.   So what if you’re last place?  So what if you can’t finish?  So what if you’re slow?  What matters is that I tried.  I took a chance.  I faced a fear.  So, I sucked it up and put on my sneakers.  (I also used the port-a-potty more times than I’d like to admit to try and prevent the crapping in my pants scenario I had been so worried about.)

Best coach ever!

Before the race, I looked around trying to take in my competition.  Although there were plenty of really buff, in-shape people around, I was pleasantly surprised to see that most people participating looked like me.  And they were so relaxed, so at ease.  For the first time ever, I actually wished that I was older so that I could be in a different age group and not have to be lumped in with 20 year olds.  I will guiltily admit that I was selfishly glad to see an elderly couple was participating by walking the 5K.  At least I wouldn’t be last!  Or at least, I better not be!

As the race began, I fell into the easy rhythm that I had begun to develop over the course of my training.  Slow but steady.  I let my mind wander to the day, four months prior, that Callie died.  When I felt like stopping, I thought about how much she went through in the short time she lived with us here on Earth.  I thought about her tiny heart beating again after it had stopped and then been revived.  It motivated me to keep going.  Somewhere along the way, I remembered the woman at the gas station who had asked if I was pregnant.  I felt so much pride at how far I have come in only four short months.  30 lbs. down, 8 more to go!  In your face, gas station woman!  Someone ahead of me wore a shirt that reminded me of Dory, the lovable, charming and really forgetful fish, from Finding Nemo narrated by my favorite person in the world, Ellen DeGeneres.  I love Ellen so much.  She reminds us all to laugh, to be kind to one another, and to dance and have fun.  The shirt said:  Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

That is what John and I have been doing in life… we have kept swimming.  And that’s what I did during the race too…kept running, one foot in front of the other.

Before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line.  And I was proud of myself.  So proud.  I never stopped once.  I ran my first 5k in 34:26.  I had secretly hoped to do the race in less than 35 minutes but didn’t think I could actually do it…but I did!  I wasn’t the fastest, but I didn’t come in last.  I did it!!  And I didn’t even crap myself!  When John read me my time, I burst out in tears, totally overcome by my emotions.  Every bit of pain I have felt over the past four months came rushing over me, but in a different way.  I felt like I was defeating something, jumping over hurdles, and overcoming boundaries.  I faced my anxiety and fear.  And I won.

1 month postpartum vs. 4 months postpartum

yay! project unpreggify is working!

Many of you have asked where I have been lately.  Why haven’t I been posting?  I am touched that I am surrounded by such caring and thoughtful people.  To put it simply,  I’ve been having a rough time lately and I just needed to grieve a little more privately.  So I took a little “time-out” and it has helped me so much.  Thanks for asking, thank you for thinking about me, thank you for including John and I in your prayers…and thanks so much for reading.  xoxo

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What Makes a Mother?

Yesterday was hard.  But I had my helmet on and I did okay.  This is largely due to the fact that we spent most of the day in the car on our way back from a really fun and beautiful wedding…my head was pounding and I am lucky that I didn’t throw up in the McDonalds in Maryland.  Or on the side of the road.  I was worried about that.  After returning home (and a glorious nap), we went to the garden where we found little drops of sunshine by the cross…presents from friends who were thinking about us.  It really cheered me up.  The rest of the evening was spent catching up on DVR and lounging around.  It was peaceful.  Not exactly the Mother’s Day I had envisioned, but I think I am beginning to accept more of the reality of what has happened to us.  It is what it is.

A friend of mine sent me (and some other baby loss mamas) a video that tugged at my heartstrings, entitled “What Makes a Mother?”.  Good question.  I have been mourning what I thought makes a mother…changing diapers, cleaning up spit-up, singing lullabies, nursing, and rocking a baby to sleep.  I realized though, that what makes a mother (or a father) is so much more than this.  It is caring about someone else’s well-being above your own.  Nurturing and caring for another.  Making hard decisions in one’s best interest.  When it comes down to it, I believe it boils down to one simple word:  love.  Mother love.  Father love.  There is nothing stronger on this earth.  I have experienced this love and it has forever changed me.  I hope that one day, we will be blessed with more children to share our love with.  But, for now, I must find peace and contentment in the love we shared as a family in the 35 hours Callie blessed this earth, the love that she shines down upon me, the love I continue to have for her, the deep, strong love in our marriage, and God’s love.

**Guess what?  Callie was with us this weekend.  In the picture above, we saw the most beautiful sunset…which always reminds me of Callie.  When my friend, Elizabeth, stepped back to look at the picture she had taken, she pointed out the little sunburst on John’s shoulder…right where he has a tattoo of Callie’s initials.  Crazy, beautiful, love.**

Dot Com

Thanks to my thoughtful hubby, this blog is now officially oursunshineangel.com 🙂  What a sweet Mother’s Day gift…along with a new ‘nifty fifty’ lens for my camera!  Love him SO much!  I am thinking of having business cards made with the blog address on it so that I can pass them out when people ask about my story…like the sweet older lady at Zumba today.

I saw her coming at me and started to self-consciously put my arms in front of my tummy just in case she was going to ask me if I was pregnant.  Instead, she told me I had a great figure-  ha!  and then she asked if I was in college…I instantly felt young and skinny!   After thanking her and telling her that no, I wasn’t in college, she asked the natural question…”Do you have kids?”  Why else wouldn’t I be at my day job like everyone else?  So, I told her I did have a daughter and tried to explain Callie’s story.  In between gyrating and hip-thrusting Zumba moves.  Oh, and poor thing was hard of hearing (and possibly blind, from her earlier comments) so I had to explain VERY LOUDLY.  Yes, business cards would be very helpful indeed.  I need to get on that….with my new dot com address!!  Woohoo!!

Many thanks for the sweet messages on Mother’s Day.  I feel fortunate to have so many wonderful people in my life.

xoxo, Kristin

Mother’s Day

I am posting a poem that a friend sent to my online support group.  I hope that all of the mothers out there today enjoy their special day.  Whether it is a day of somber remembrance or joyful celebration, live this day with emotion…whatever those emotions may be.

To my mother and grandmothers, I love you.

To Callie, I miss you sweet girl.

MOM

A few little letters arranged just so…
A word that means much more than
you will ever know.

In hopes you feel a special joy,
if only for awhile…
and perhaps for a moment, 
you will find a way to smile.

This title is now indelible
upon your immortal soul…
in hopes you forever feel
special in this role.

Even though our time was short
from the moment of my birth, 
you are honored in heaven 
and you are honored on earth.

Separated by a little time,
our loves grows strong,
and when we look back,
it won’t seem very long.

When someday we are joined
where we are meant to be
you will truly see, MOM
you are still everything to me.

I Can’t Run Away From Mother’s Day

I want to run away.  Far, far away.  Maybe my new home will be a lush tropical getaway.  I will listen to the waves crashing.  My body (obviously, it will be super-hot with six-pack abs in my dream world) will get kissed by the sun.  My husband and I will drink fruity drinks through a fun curly straw.  And everything will be perfect, right?

Wrong.

I have encountered a flaw in my happiness project.  Originally, I wanted one of my goals to be to “Stay Happy”…see below:

May Goals:

  1. Create a visually happy environment (Project Micro-Makeovers!)
  2. Eat right & exercise (Project Un-preggify!)
  3. Focus on the “here and now” (Project No More Flashbacks and No More Flashforwards!)
  4. Spring clean (Project Declutter!)
  5. Avoid “baby bombs” (Project Stay Happy!)
  6. Maintain the right attitude (Project Pooping Butterflies! ha, can’t wait to explain this one!!!)
  7. Accept the One who really has control (Project Let God Do His Thang!)

And I would achieve this goal by avoiding what I would like to call “baby bombs”.  What is that, you ask?  A baby bomb is something baby-related that serves as a trigger for sadness.  If you are a grieving parent, you know what I mean.  Like when I get an advertisement in the mail for Enfamil, for example.  It serves as a little “baby bomb” by creating an explosion of grief in an otherwise happy day…or maybe a crappy day that gets a lot crappier.  When I originally wrote my goals, I had firmly resolved that I was going to avoid baby bombs at all cost.  Realistically, I knew I wouldn’t be able to avoid them all…but again, I am trying to focus on the things I can control.  Do I have to watch Grey’s Anatomy when I know that taking an infant off of life support is the main story line?  NO!  I am now only watching completely brainless television like American Idol.  Do I have to read books with a sad plot?  NO!  Thanks to a good friend who loaned me the whole series, I am now currently plowing through the safe and magical world of Harry Potter.

But like I said, my plan was flawed.  You see, I wrote these goals in April…before the calendar marched forward and reminded every marketing company in the world  that Mother’s Day is on it’s way.

It.  Is.  Everywhere.

TV commercials where happy parents cuddle babies.  Radio ads promoting flowers for Mom.  Junk mail and emails flood my mailboxes.  Social media- don’t even get me started.  Baby bomb cityyyyyyyy!  I thought I could stay happy by avoiding all of these things…but I’m pretty sure the only way to avoid it would be to travel to my make-believe land, close my eyes, stick my fingers in my ears and scream LA-LA-LAAAAAAAAAAA.  For 3 weeks.  Clearly, this is not an option…tempting as it is with the fruity drinks and lure of a sun-kissed tan and all.

So, I am revising my goal.  I realized that running away from hard things is not the answer.  And neither is seeking the hard things out and trying to tackle them James Harrison Steeler-style.  Nope.  Instead, I am changing my goal to:  “Accept the baby bombs as they come and try not to get blown up.”  When I encounter a baby bomb, I will take a deep breath (or two), conjure up some feel-good imagery, and I will recite a few different mantras depending on the situation (mantras are my new thing).  I will use the mantras like a safety helmet to protect me from the crash.  I have accepted that the bombs will come, they will make impact, but I can try and prevent it from creating deep trauma…more like a bruise.  Still hurts, but doesn’t interfere with the rest of my day.

My mantras?  Well, that’s between me, Callie, and the Big Guy.  Most of them involve me sending Callie a little message in heaven or a short one-line prayer like, “Give me strength” or “What Would Jesus Do?”.  But I will tell you that sometimes I whisper “Poop butterflies” to myself.

I have accepted that Mother’s Day will be hard.  I also know, after reading some tips at my therapist’s office today, that one way to get through this day is by telling everyone what I need since friends and family often do not know how they can help.  Hmmm, what do I need?  Acknowledgment that I am a mommy even though my baby is in heaven, but space to get through the day.  Don’t ignore me, but just know that I will probably ignore you.  I hope that is not mean.  I hate being mean.  Just trying to survive…  John and I are going to a beautiful wedding at the beach this weekend and then we will visit Callie in the garden on Sunday.  Annnnd I think I will most likely enjoy a nice bottle of wine and some funny movies.  I hope that visiting Callie on this day becomes a tradition even in happier times.

Acceptance of the sadness actually makes me feel less sad.  I have realized that this avoidance dance I was doing really just made everything worse.  There is no running away from grief.  It catches you and suffocates you if you do not DEAL WITH IT.  So, I’m dealing.  My helmet is on.  Just praying that I land in the grass instead of the concrete…

Lord, give me a soft landing, a safe place to fall.  And, oh if you could throw in a hangover-free Monday that would be great too!  😉

Project Pooping Butterflies

May Goals:

  1. Create a visually happy environment (Project Micro-Makeovers!)
  2. Eat right & exercise (Project Un-preggify!)
  3. Focus on the “here and now” (Project No More Flashbacks and No More Flashforwards!)
  4. Spring clean (Project Declutter!)
  5. Avoid “baby bombs” (Project Stay Happy!)
  6. Maintain the right attitude (Project Pooping Butterflies! ha, can’t wait to explain this one!!!)
  7. Accept the One who really has control (Project Let God Do His Thang!)

Ok, so I am skipping a few because I really can’t find it in me to write about decluttering my closets right now.  And I’m pretty sure, you guys won’t care about me alphabetizing my pantry (just kidding!!!!  I’m not that crazy!).

All of these goals are aimed at one thing:  Focus on the things you can control.  

There are SO many things right now that have been interfering with me doing just that.  My silver lining has a few holes in it and I’m trying my very, very best to patch them.  So, today I thought I’d refocus on my attitude by writing about Project Pooping Butterflies.  Just writing that makes me laugh and I feel so much better.  Let me explain…

My good friend, Mabby, sent me this video a while back with no real explanation.  As soon as I saw it, I knew exactly why she sent it to me. (If you cannot view the video below, please click here)

Ha, I have had so many moments like this with my students.  Goofy.  Silly.  And that is exactly how I want my world to be.  Everyone is a pony.  They eat rainbows.  And poop butterflies!  Ok, so the real world obviously is not always filled with ponies, rainbows, and butterflies.  But I can dream, right?  There is nothing wrong with envisioning the kind of world you wish to live in…and then creating it.  Losing Callie was AWFUL.  I wish I could invent my own word that captured how terrible it was and still is, because “awful” just doesn’t cut it.  But there was so much beauty in her short life and the aftermath of her death.  It is natural for me, in my grief, to focus on the bad parts, the things that make me sad, and my empty arms.  But if I put on my “Everyone is a pony!” glasses, I can shift my thinking to the good things… that I got to meet Callie and she changed my life, that I got to hold her, the fact that God chose us to be her parents because He knew Callie needed us (and only us), that God sent us signs of his love (umm…hello Maggiano Angel and the Yellow Balloon??), the generosity and kindness of others, and the fact that tiny Callie has had a tremendous impact on the lives of so many.  I have to keep reminding myself of these things.  Because, let me tell you, it ain’t easy.

“Pooping butterflies” is now my mantra.  It symbolizes the attitude I would like to have.  Positive.  Rosy.  Optimistic.  Focus on the good.  The here and now.  This one moment.  Birds chirping.  Cheery music.  Yellow rain boots on a dreary day!  I hope you will poop butterflies with me.

😉

I’ll leave you with some pictures of our team “Celebrating Callie” at the March for Babies this past weekend.  We raised over $2000 for the March of Dimes to help babies have a better start.  Yay us!

My favorite pic. Look at that sunflower balloon 🙂

Marf Mom

Hi all!  My friend, Maya, has allowed me to share Callie’s story on her blog, Musings of a Marf Mom.  I appreciate her sharing her space with me and opening me up to the family of people who are affected by Marfan syndrome.

Here is my guest post on her page.

The past two days have been such an improvement for me!  Yay for good days!  🙂  Now, if you’ll excuse me…I’m heading out to dance my butt off (literally!) in Zumba!