Losing a pregnancy this far along has been all around sucky, but I'd have to say that one of the worst parts has been the fact that we have to get a funeral home involved.
I'm twenty-seven years old. In my opinion, I should have to make trips to The Gap, the Dairy Queen, and that damn freaking office where you beg them to cancel out your parking tickets--not the funeral home.
We walk past this particular funeral home often--as you may recall--and every time I do I think, "Gosh, I hope I don't have to do business with them for a looooong time." Or "Jared's gonna be a crabbiest old man in the world when he dies. It probably won't be so bad to drop him off."
But yesterday evening, when we pulled in and actually parked in the lot, all I could think was, "Oh my word, this isn't really happening."
But unfortunately, it was.
I actually walked up those steps with my own two feet, into the corridor, and took a seat in the very outdated office. I listened hazily with my own two ears as words like "cremation" and "medical examiner" and "complimentary flower arrangement" lazily bounced from wall to wall. All the while, I tried to listen, I honestly did, but my brain could only seem to make sense of my own repeating thought: Why didn't I take an Ativan before we came here?
But as the conversation progressed, I couldn't help but notice something. That very sore muscle, otherwise known as my heart, slowly began to unclench. As the conversation evolved from final arrangements into common people we know, my breaths deepened and my fingers, which had been pried to the sides of my folding chair, found their way to lap. Maybe it was the comfort in knowing that all of the formalities of this situation would be over within twenty-four hours, or maybe it was the fact that the owner of the funeral home seemed to treat his career as more of a calling...
Either way, I felt okay.
And when Jared asked how much we owe, and I heard the owner say, "Nothing. We don't charge anything for children," I think I felt myself smile for the third time in a week. As much as I hate to admit this, the happenings of this week--minor as they might seem--have the real potential to leave us in financial shambles. We have high deductible health insurance, we seem to owe a check to every healthcare provider on this planet, and don't forget--we just opened up our own practice.
If I had the money for a Greyhound Transit ticket, I swear to Buddha that I'd hop a bus to Washington, put on a pant-suit, sneak onto the Senate floor, and somehow work "The Lawson Family" into the nation's financial bail-out plan.
...Lehman Brothers, AIG, The Lawsons, Washington Mutual--I don't think it calls too much attention to itself, do you?
The real point of this story is that the hard work, compassion, and generosity of the funeral home director touched my heart deeply. So much, that when I picked James up, the first thing I said to my father-in-law as he rounded the corner into the kitchen was, "You know, when you die I'm definitely taking you to Robertson's Funeral Home. And I don't care what you say, I buying you the fanciest casket they've got." Then I turned to my mother-in-law, pointed my finger at her chest, and said, "That goes for you, too."
We all laughed.
Then they booted me out of their house with an armful of hot food and a chocolate cake made from scratch.
In closing, I'd like to thank everyone who has lightened our load with a cake, a call, a gift, a kind word, or a "put your checkbook away." If I haven't had the chance to thank you personally, please know that it's only because the world is a very good place, and I'm absolutely overwhelmed with the outpouring.
This entire experience has left me yearning to be a gentler, kinder, more generous and thoughtful person. So if you need anything--anything at all--call me. I owe the universe approximately 10,001 good deeds, and I'd like to give one to you.
I won't lie. The last couple of days have been horrible. Physically, I feel like I've been hit by a bike, or a scooter, or a Prius traveling at a very low speed. But emotionally? Emotionally, it kind of feels like I've been run down by an 18-wheeler with two trailers that was traveling over the speed limit.
In other words--it hurts. Badly.
But I will say that my readers are very tricky--and very, very kind. Even though I turned off the comments on Tuesday's post, you still managed to find me. I've received several hundred emails, dozens of Facebook messages, and a handful of comments on my "Mother of the Year" post.
Apparently I have people who care about me all over this planet, and I won't lie, it feels nice. So thank you, thank you, thank you for tracking me down. Your words, thoughts, prayers and personal experiences all mean a lot to me.
A lot of you, including Vanilla, let me know that if I need anything at all, I shouldn't hesitate to ask. Well, I do need something. I'm completely out of toilet paper, and I really don't feel up to going to the store. So Vanilla, buddy, if you could overnight mail me an eight-pack of one-ply toilet tissue, it would certainly lighten my burden.
Thanks in advance.
And in case you're curious, James handled the news really well. I bought him a bag of chips, sat him down on a park bench and said, "Buddy? Do you remember the baby that was in Mommy's belly?"
"Well," I continued, "the baby came out of Mommy's belly and went straight to live with Jesus."
James thought for a moment, and I watched an imaginative smile spread across his chubby little face. "Oh yeah," he said with all the confidence in the world. "That baby just crawled, and crawled, and crawled, and crawled to Jesus!"
He said it with all of the enthusiasm and enunciation of an evangelical preacher. It was really cute, and seriously--how could I not crack a smile at that one?
So thanks again for the thoughts and prayers. They mean a lot right now.
And just so you know, I think I'm going to be okay.
I know this is meant to be a humor blog, but sometimes there is absolutely nothing to laugh over in a given situation. You'll have to excuse me for this sharp divergence from my regular light-hearted topics, but there are only two things I know to do when I'm forced to cope with heartache--run or write.
Since I'm not allowed to run just yet, I'll do the only other thing I can....
Yesterday, Jared and I unexpectedly lost our unborn baby boy. And while I hesitate to share too many of my personal details, I will let you know that I was well into the second trimester of an uncomplicated, healthy pregnancy. My husband and I have been through more than I want to remember in the last 48 hours, and needless to say, we're both "functioning" in a shocked state of being.
I am 100% confident that I had nothing to do with the outcome of our little boy's shortened stay on Earth. I took my vitamins, I exercised regularly, I ate well. I prayed for my baby, I anticipated my baby, and I loved my baby as much as any waiting mother could.
Even though I know, through and through, that I had nothing to do with my untimely passing of my little baby boy, I'm still finding reasons to kick myself.
Why was I so reluctant to pose for belly shots? (I wish I had more tummy pictures, because in retrospect, I looked great--I never looked fat.)
Why didn't I ever take the initiative to start a baby book? (I really wish I had a sadly incomplete baby book--at least it would be something.)
Why was I so difficult and moody and hormonal? (Well, because I was pregnant. I guess it's as simple as that.)
Technically speaking--you know, by Earthly standards--I never really knew this little boy. But trust me when I tell you that this little boy knew me--his Mother--inside and out.
I was his warm, quiet & comfortable place. I was the one who gently bounced him up and down and sang him love songs as we ran together three or four times a week. I patted him. I rubbed him. And I fed him all kinds of crazy food combinations as I told him about my ridiculous meetings at work.
He knew me then, and I think he still does.
And even though I don't have the immediate chance to get to know my guy's little quirks, I know how much I love him.
And trust me....words can't do it justice.
I love you so much, baby boy! I miss you really badly.
Pictured below is James's favorite mode of transportation--his wood-panelled cozy-coupe mini-van with the built in car phone. Sexy, no?
As you can see, if has its very own parking space in our two car garage. And in my mind, a vehicle as stealth as this one totally deserves that caliber of care and treatment.
Oh, who am I kidding? If I don't let the kid park his van in the garage he trows a rousing tantrum right between the snow blower and the lawnmower. I'd be pretty upset if James lost a finger in a moment of rage (or broke my yard equipment), so I'm like, "Fine. Park yer damn van in my spot. I'll be out here in the driveway scrubbing the bird poo off my windshield."
Last night the weatherman broke the unfortunate news that we'd have our first frost and should plan on scraping ice off our cars in the morning (also a good reminder to get the dog's coat out of storage and refill your Prozac prescription because, darn it, the winters up here are very freaking long).
Obviously I wanted my covered parking space back, so I did what any authoritative parent would do. I waited until James and Jared were fast asleep, tiptoed into the garage, moved Jared's car into the driveway and parked the sassy plastic van right in the middle of my husband's spot.
When I was pushing James's van across the garage, I noticed he had stocked a few toys inside of its pretend trunk. I was like, "Oh, how cute! What a boy! He packed his Lightening McQueen baseball glove (smile), a big ol' stick (gush), and...wait...hold on....an enormous pile of rusty screws and nails?!?!"
Holy bananas, folks. I think I'll go ahead and call CPS on myself. I'm sure a confession will move the process along.
I found these pictures on my memory card this morning and thought they were super cute. No--not funny or crude or terribly entertaining. Just good old-fashioned cute for the grandmas of the bunch. *Hi Mom!*
This first picture is quite obviously James wearing a life preserver. He smiled for about eight tenths of a second, quickly realized that his head was literally stuck inside of a block, and tried to bite me for the remainder of the two hour sailing excursion.
If you look closely, you can see Jared waving enthusiastically to the crowd of people gathered on the shore. For a moment there he fooled himself into thinking we were going on some kind of round-the-world voyage or something. Thank goodness we weren't, because our guests from Dallas were retching from sea-sickness after fifteen-or-so minutes at sea. Would have been a long old trip if we were headed to India or some crazy place like that.
This is a picture of me and James. It's probably the last cute picture of me that will be taken during this pregnancy--and that's why I felt compelled to share. Right now my calves are six inches thicker from my frequent trips to Dairy Queen, I've gotten a questionable (at best) haircut, and that cute little sweatshirt doesn't have a prayer of zipping up. And my self-esteem? It's never been better!
I've also taken to lying.
If you've noticed a lot of pictures and a lack of writing lately, it's because I'm saving all of my very best ideas for my chapter of Sometimes Life is Funny. For more details about this future best selling book (that will probably raise five zillion dollars for the Nielson family), click here. And just so you know, the deadline for contest submissions has been extended to September 30th.
Everywhere I turn, people are blogging about this Sarah Palin character. Have you heard of her?
Just kidding. Of course you have.
And everywhere I turn, people are asking for my opinion about her, too. If you've been a reader of my blog since the primary, then you know full well that I'm not about to divulge my thoughts about this Vice Presidential candidate publicly.
I like to keep my political opinions personal. So personal in fact, that just last week, in a strange moment of weakness, I told my husband which candidate I'll be voting for in November. But seriously, don't bother trying to get it out of him. Jared is completely sworn to secrecy, and knows full well that if he spills my political beans I'll write a detailed account of the time he was delivered to church by a state trooper, sporting a pair of handcuffs. Or the time he sharted in his pants while taking some lady's order at a restaurant.
So, while I'm not willing to discuss my own thoughts and feelings about Sarah P., I'll gladly let you in on my husband's.
To put it lightly, Jared wants to make out with Sarah Palin--a lot. Believe it or not, she has nudged Jennifer Anniston out of the #1 spot on this "People I'd Make Out With Even Though I'm Married List."
I'm like, "Jared. Please don't forget that she's 44. That kind of makes me feel bad about myself."
And he's like, "Amy, please don't forget that when I hear a woman utter the phrase 'free market' I get so twitterpated I forget which way is up."
You see, to a man like mine, nothing says sexy like a moose-huntin' Republican female with a lifelong membership to the NRA. Unfortunately I'm just a cupcake-lovin' swing vote with a lifelong membership to the children's museum.
But I might join the NRA--you know, just to spice things up a bit.
Last night, in a moment of envy, I said to my husband, "Jared. If Hillary had the same political ideals as Sarah, would you automatically think that cankles* were mad sexy?"
And he replied, "Probably."
So I asked, "If I gained 200 pounds and changed my facebook profile to say that I'm 'very conservative' would you still think I'm mad sexy?"
And he said, "Yes."
And so it goes--life with a man like mine.
Pass the nacho chips.
*Cankle noun; the meeting of the calf and the foot where an ankle is not present due to lack of ankle definition.
Thank you Urban Dictionary.
We live just around the corner from a very active American Legion hall. I drive by often, and always slow down a bit to read the marquis sign announcing their latest events--usually a chicken barbecue or a poker tournament.
But last night, I sped past the sign as usual and surprised myself when I slammed on the breaks and threw 'er into reverse right there on High Street.
I had to see if I read this correctly:
Yes indeed, I read that right. Tonight, in my adorable little town, there will be a dance that either features a local band called "Colon Blow," or there will be a dance that doubles as some sort of a farting contest.
What can I say? Life just keeps getting better and better.
In case you haven't caught on, I'm seriously swamped with work. (I know! Totally out of character for a girl like me--right?)
I've been assigned the job of designing a new website for my organization and it's seriously consuming all of my spare minutes--which really isn't a surprise, considering the fact I have no frekkin' clue how to build a website.
This project has also opened my eyes to the fact that my true calling in life is definitely not as a graphic designer. My brother-in-law, my two favorite friends in Texas, and my new favorite friend in Maine are all seriously talented designers--and let me tell you, each and every one of them make it look so easy.
Then there's me. As much as I'd love to be the catchy creative type, I pretty much blow beach balls when it comes to computer graphics.
The President of the Board is all, "Amy. What is this?"
And I'm like, "It's a little turtle, wearing blue Converse, and holding a balloon, Jeff. And it's animated," with my voice trailing off. "....Can you see the little guy kicking?"
"Amy," he'll continue, "what does that have to do with the mission of our group?"
And I stop, and I think, and I say, "I think it makes us look fun, and friendly, and approachable. Not to mention the fact that we have many types of turtles in our local lakes."
That's when he usually pretends that his phone is ringing, excuses himself from my office, and counts to ten before kicking each of my car tires with his snappy little prescription shoes.
Then there's the organization's logo. We're an economic development group, so of course I picked a canoe to be our front and center. When the Board of Directors asked me why I selected the canoe graphic, I paused, offered a quick shrug, an upside-down smile, and replied, "Well, we have some very nice lakes and rivers in this part of the state. Indians used to like canoes, you know. And I guess it also suggests slow and steady movement in the right direction?"
One woman said, "I think we should find a graphic that speaks more specifically to this region."
And I pursed my lips and nodded in agreement as the following though ran through my mind: You want a logo that features an '88 LeSabre with a snowplow attached to the front? Then consider it done.
Except I don't know how to do that either.
I have one and a half tons of work to do today--so I might be able to post. But on the other hand, I might not.
Keep your fingers crossed, because I had my most serious moment of pregnancy brain yet yesterday evening. It made me laugh, and sob, and kick the garage door all at the very same time. Totally sexy.
It involved a personally historical mix-up with the US Postal Service, and I really want to write about it.
Maybe today. Maybe not.
Contrary to popular belief, I actually do feel great joy when I encounter the cuter things of the world. Like my three-year-old son, James.
And here he is in full effect.
Two hours ago, a tractor, a crane, and a pick-up truck with a trailer pulled into my neighbor's yard to do some kind of a complex landscaping project. James dragged this stool over to our front window, carefully climbed up for the view, and has been enjoying the man-action ever since.
He's all, "OOOOHHHHH MOMMY!!!! Dat man es usin' a so cooo CHAIN SAW!!!!" And then he gives me his very best impression of gas-powered machinery.
I might just sneak across the street tonight and pull up everyone of my neighbor's new bushes. That way these guys could entertain James again tomorrow--and I'd have some nice, new shrubbery.
FUN FACT: I almost never have my cell phone with me.
Jared and I have been cell phone carriers for approximately two-and-a-half years, and within that span of time I'd estimate that I've had my phone on my person for--I don't know--7% of the time?
If it's not lost, then it's fallen in the toilet. If it hasn't fallen in the toilet, then I probably backed over it. And if I haven't backed over it, then I simply have no darn-freaking clue where in the crap it is. It's as simple as that.
People are like--Amy, How can I get in touch with you?
And I'm like--You can't.
And they're all--But what if we need to talk?
And I'm all--We don't.
Currently, as you might have gathered, my cell phone is lost--it's been gone for about two weeks now. Three days ago, when I was playing with James in the driveway, I heard it give off what seemed to be it's last low battery signal.
After carefully processing that clue, I deducted that my phone was either A) in my car, or B) in the garage.
Except it wasn't. I looked and looked and cleaned and cleaned and it didn't turn up in either place. I think the old girl is gone for good, and I'm totally, completely okay with that. The socialphobic part of me never liked it much anyways.
I have an irrational fear of phones, like I'll pick it up and say--Hello?
And the person on the other end will be like--I was just calling to let you know that you look like a fraggle with your new haircut.
It's needless to say that I've been enjoying my time without a phone and without my intense and unexplainable fear of rejection creeping up everytime it plays the Charles in Charge theme song.
So if you need to reach me, please use my email address. I'll return your message just as soon as I come back from my Improving Self Esteem workshop.
For some mysterious reason, I was feeling particularly productive this holiday weekend.
Yesterday for example...I sent Jared off for a day of fishing, painted the den a fabulous shade of blue, organized our 2-car garage from top to bottom, sifted through some hand-me-downs, prepped dinner, baked a dozen banana-nut muffins from scratch, picked an armful of veggies from the garden, and washed, dried & folded six loads of laundry--all before 2 pm. The television stayed off, the laptop stayed shut, and James was particularly well behaved. I should also mention that I maintained a very perky disposition throughout the entire course of the morning.
That last paragraph could have been hijacked from almost any Mormon mommy blog on the internets. And get this--none of it was a lie! I was actually productive. It was so fabulously out of the ordinary that I honestly wouldn't have flinched if a handsome set of missionaries swung by my immaculate house, slapped a pink bow on my head, and shipped me off to Utah!
I have no idea where the firecracker up my arse came from last weekend, but it must have been hormonal--because normally on my off days I spend the hours between 7 and 2 lying on the couch, fake moaning, and pretending to have a roaring case of morning sickness. Then, somewhere around 3:30, I roll myself over and I'm like, "Hey, I think I feel better. We better go get some onion rings."
But not yesterday.
Yesterday I ate organic cucumbers and hummus for lunch.
Yesterday I paraded James up and down the street in his wagon so he could show all of our neighbors that he dressed himself (in pajamas, a baby-sized neck tie, and winter boots).
Yesterday I OOOHHed and AHHHHed over pictures of my husband with a twenty-inch salmon on his line. And then I OOOHHed and AHHHHed some more. And then some more.
But today is a new day, my friends. And today I slipped out of my office, taped a MEETING IN PROGRESS sign to my door, and drove twenty-two miles in my hubcapless car to buy an Egg McMuffin sandwich.
It's good to have me back. Well--kind of.
A few weeks back I convinced my husband to join Facebook. Initially, Jared was reluctant to join another online networking site, claiming that they're too hard to navigate and always changing.
I've got to admit that the man has a point. There was nothing simple about changing a background on MySpace, and now whenever someone tells me to check out their updated MySpace profile I think to myself, "Awesome. Did you just buy a tight pair of Guess jeans and some Pop Rocks, too?"
Because seriously--MySpace is about as hip as the thirteen extra pounds that I'm lugging around.
After a great deal of cajoling and convincing, Jared finally took the plunge and created a shiny, new Facebook profile complete with quotes, links, applications, and 4,000 or so friends.
He also added photos.
Like this one:
That is me, hopped up on morphine and Buddha-only-knows-what-else, minutes after my cesarean delivery of James "Sorry Mom, but I Prefer to Sit Head Up" Lawson.
When I asked Jared why on earth he would ever dream of posting such an atrocious picture in a public forum he replied, "That's our first picture together as a family. I think it's beautiful."
"Right," I said. "Well come over here and we'll snap our first picture together as a divorced couple. Because I SWEAR I'M GONNA LEAVE YOU!"