Monday, January 24, 2011

I'm Pregnant!

Two simple words that change your life in an absolute instant. Goes a little something like this for me.

I remember the first time I found out I had a little bundle of joy in the works. There I was, sitting on my toilet in our little ghetto-ized one bedroom apartment. I had something like five or six pregnancy tests all around me, the contents of the boxes strewn about the bathroom floor. All were positive. I was a mess. A crying, hysterical mess. Pink lines, plus signs, what the heck?! We had only been married a few months! I was only 19! This wasn't supposed to happen! They all said, oh, you've been on the pill for years, a couple of weeks will be okay. Yeah, well, they were wrong. I remember in my panic we drove to a clinic for an additional test, only to later figure out it was a clinic that counseled women who were not wanting to continue with their pregnancy. My intention was to just have a professional tell me it was real. It was just very unexpected for me, that's all. 40 weeks, at least that many gallons of ice cream, approximately 100 packages of gummi bears, and a very healthy, pregnant, chubby 176-lb Asian marshmallow looking Erin later, along came a little angel, Kassidy Noelle. Just two days after I turned 20, there she was. The sweetest little baby, with a head full of pitch black hair. 7 lbs, 11 ounces of nothing but pure love. My entire world was placed in my arms. I never knew that love could feel like that. So simple. So bundled. So her. She gave me love, crazy love. From that moment on, I could finally say I knew what unconditional love was.

The second time it wasn't nearly as charming. It came at a much more volatile time in my life and I knew I was pregnant, so it only took one little test. The pregnancy was tough with a sit-down talk in the depressing, messy office of my obstetrician looking at me with a furrowed brow. I still remember him looking down at me (I remain haunted by feeling like he was perched on his desk) telling me I would have to decide if I would want to terminate my pregnancy. Terminate. Really? Dude... I'm a little country girl from Nebraska. Don't use those big words with me! He had his medical reasons for telling me this. There was a very high likelihood that there were going to be very serious medical issues with my little one this time around and that he/she would have permanent problems. Wow. Talk about heartbreak. Not the news you want to hear when you're sitting there, alone, and you know your marriage is unraveling fast. Continual ultrasounds, tests, attorney visits, tears, a separation, a move, going into labor alone, being in the hospital alone. Not the way you dream what should be the happiest moments of your life should be. But, a happy, healthy little Kayden James was born, and my life would be forever changed, and only for the better. Unconditional love, round 2.

Seems like people all around me are pregnant. So, I can't help but wonder what my third time around will be like.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010 Year In Review

I now fiercely regret not keeping better record of things; journaling, blogging, whatever it may be. Now that I'm getting older and realize that my children may someday enjoy reading this to understand what was going on, or to make fun of me, I wish I had done better. I will do better in 2011, but here's a recap of what went on in 2010.

January : Ah. Classic New Year. 2010, already? What will you have in store? Guess January was so far ago that I don't remember a lot. I was training for my first ever half marathon, the Disney Princess to be held in Orlando in March. That consumed a lot of time, and by January I was really beginning to look forward to getting out of bed at 5:30 to go run. Really? This was taken after one of our training runs. Still smiling... it's a miracle!

February: The month of my sweet little boy's birth. He would be the big 4 this month! Seems hard to believe that it's been that long, and he is growing like a weed. A funny, funny kid, he never ceases to make me laugh, smile, or fuss! Here's a shot of me and the birthday boy.

March: The month my life would be forever changed, one happy, one very sad. I finished my first half marathon. March 7th, 2010, I was a participant in the Disney Princess Half Marathon at Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida. The best part of this race was being a member of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training (TNT). The world's largest endurance athlete training program, I can't begin to tell you the benefits this gives people. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised for vital research to help save lives. I didn't know it, but being a TNT participant would be a turning point in my life. Later in the month, my high was forced to a low as I saw one of my friends suffer the effects of cancer. Janet was a sweet 14 year old girl I had met through the Make-a-Wish Foundation and we became fast friends. Loving her like a younger sister, it was so incredibly difficult to watch her suffer as I knew she was leaving this earth. I visited her as often as I could, even if only for a few moments. I knew her days were numbered.

April: Early in this month I said goodbye to Janet. The first time anyone near to me had passed, and I struggled with it. I didn't understand why anyone so innocent and pure should go through so much pain and have to leave this earth. I know now that I shouldn't question it that it was God's plan, and someday it'll all be revealed and make sense.

Towards the end of the month, I completed my second half for the year, the Country Music Marathon. I remember hearing Janet's favorite song "The Climb" by Miley Cyrus before we started running. Of course I burst into tears, as it was the first time I'd heard it since she passed. But I had great friends right there beside me, and it was a moment when I realized how lucky I was to have such good friends.

The family at Leela's graduation reception
May: My sweet little sister, Leela would graduate from high school this month. It didn't seem possible. Just years earlier her and her two biological sisters Audie and Josie had joined our family, and our lives would be forever changed. Leela is the other pea in my pod; she reminds me so much of me and I'm so proud of her.

Unfortunately when I was home, another tragedy would take place as a close family friend would lose their young son to an accident. Within weeks, I had seen two children be put in the ground. It makes you wonder what on earth God is thinking sometimes, but I guess that is what faith is all about.

In May, Nashville would be devastated by a flood that would make the phrase "We are Nashville" famous. Torrential rains would flood our city and cause millions of dollars in damage. The Volunteer State pulled together and would help strangers and friends rebuild. Today, although effects of the 500 year flood are still evident in some places, we have come so far.

June: Somewhere in this month I was given more responsibility at work, and really began to settle into my job. I realized that I didn't want just a job, but a career. I ended up in court at the end of May, only to finally work things out with my ex-husband and then change almost everything. Kassidy questioned why her dad and I weren't friends; we both decided it was time to do better, and ever since then we have. Life gets so much easier and more fulfilling when you have peace. I'm so very thankful for this.

July: This month must have been relatively quiet, I don't really remember anything major. The fall was a very busy time for me, and I was also preparing for my daughter to start the second grade. No longer a baby, but a very perceptive little girl who can read, write, and is just plain too smart for her own good.

August: New Orleans! I had never been and my awesome and very cool friend Chris lives there, so I thought why not? It had been a couple of years since I'd seen him and it gave me a great excuse to go on a little weekend trip. Little Bourbon Street, little seafood, little craziness. By the way, that's water I'm drinking... 

September: I would turn 27 this month! My late 20's. I never thought that I would be upset to grow older, but this birthday hit me like a ton of bricks. Maybe because I realized I was on the downhill slope to 30, maybe because my little girl would be 7 just two days after my 27th. Either way, though, I didn't have much time to wallow. The weekend before my birthday I made a short weekend trip to Las Vegas. I was able to see the "O" performance of Cirque du Soleil, which is truly unbelievable art. Then, just days after my birthday I would participate in my 3rd half marathon, the inaugural Nashville Women's Half Marathon. Kassidy was at the finish line, which was a great thing to see after crossing, with a new PR. The next month would be insanely busy, with another half marathon in just one more week. My team had spent months training for this event, and I couldn't be more proud to be their team captain.

October: The 2nd of this month would be Disney's Wine and Dine Half Marathon in Orlando, FL. This race would benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. All of us had spent months preparing and fundraising for this event which was my second event with TNT, and my first in a leadership role. How special to see other people putting their best foot forward and achieving things they never thought possible. To encourage fundraising and participation, I asked my boss to help out. He agreed that if the employees of Churchill Mortgage donated at least $2,000 he would dye his hair purple for a week. It created incredible feedback and awareness for TNT and LLS. Maybe in 10 years, instead of every 10 minutes someone dies from blood cancer, and every 4 minutes someone is diagnosed, these stats will be decreased.

The following week, I would participate in the Susan G. Komen 5K in Maryland Farms. The largest race series in the nation, Susan G. Komen raises millions of dollars for breast cancer research. The Brentwood race would raise over $1 million. I know many women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. This disease is much too common and takes too many lives. In this picture is Anna Brown, the wife of a co-worker who was diagnosed this year. They took the obstacle in stride with grace and finesse. The employees at Churchill came through again with a huge participation showing support for the Browns.

At the end of the month, here goes Churchill Mortgage again supporting another well deserving cause. We were a corporate sponsor for the 2nd Annual Run for Mercy 5K, benefiting Mercy Ministries. We had a huge turnout and this picture is just a part of our team. Our owner is incredibly generous and I am lucky to be employed amongst such wonderful people there. Working there is like having another family.

November: Run. Drive. Sleep? Repeat. Oh yes. Ragnar Relay, Tennessee! A proud member of the Holes and Poles team, I was excited to participate in such a wild and crazy ride. Here, I would learn to HTFU and make some great new friends. A 195 mile relay race from Chattanooga to Nashville - I will never be the same!

I also was able to be a volunteer with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light the Night. I felt lucky to help out and walk with Team Tanner, which raised over $24,000 for LLS. Tanner, a beautiful little 7 year old girl was diagnosed with leukemia. She's a champ, and I met her through Make-a-Wish. Next up for Tanner is being the "Girl of the Year" for LLS. I don't know what this little girl is going to be when she grows up, but I know she's going to make everyone who knows her proud.

Also this month I worked the Team in Training booth for the I Run for the Party 10K and 5K. A few friends helped me throughout the afternoon, but the man of the day was my friend Daryl, who is currently undergoing treatment for lymphoma. These cancer survivors are fighters... they are something else. Amazing people with incredible will. They inspire me. I hope they all know how much of a difference that they make in my life. It reminds me to always count my blessings, to not complain; someone out there always has it worse, and is probably handling it better.

December: The end of the year is already upon us, but that doesn't mean it slows down! The first weekend, I participated in the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon. What a great experience to run through the campus of St. Jude and see the encouragement along the course. I managed a new PR by 12 minutes and 49 seconds, so I was thrilled! My cousin flew in for the weekend so I drug him to Memphis with me and then we took in a very cold and disappointing Titans game.

This month Kassidy and I cut our hair off for a program called Beautiful Lengths. They make wigs for cancer patients. Kassidy had asked me quite some time ago if we could do this; a little girl she knew had done it and she decided she wanted to as well. I was so proud of her for wanting to, but the selfish part of me wanted to say no, but how can you discourage her? So, we grew it out and finally took the plunge in December. Here are the before and after pictures. I honestly had no idea that my hair was so long. I dreaded getting it cut in the beginning, but now am so happy that we did it. It will be a memory to last a lifetime.

A little over a week after the race I had to go to the doctor for a pain in my foot and found out it was a stress fracture. So, I was stuck in a boot and am now not able to run for 6-8 weeks. I was seriously disappointed that I had a little hiccup in my training and that the full in February 2011 I had planned on completing would not be happening, but this is a good time for me to slow down and rest. Here's a picture from our company Christmas party of my boot and my refusal to not give up wearing my new heels! (Or heel).

So, I've been reflecting, relaxing, sleeping, and recovering from a nagging cold. I had Christmas with the kids over New Year's, and now I'm ready to face 2011.