13 weeks

Today I am 13 weeks pregnant.  I thought it might be fun to start documenting what’s going on each week.  I’ll try to use the same format each week.  I will also try to include pictures – I actually have a little bump going already!

What’s new with the babies: The babies are 3 inches head to tush.  If we’re having a girl or girls, she already has 2 million eggs in her ovaries.  The babies now have finger prints.

How I feel: Great, but tired.  I still have some weird aversions to herbs and spicy foods, which is killing Frank.  I haven’t gained any weight, but I definitely have a bump starting.  It’s especially noticeable when I lie down.  Frank likes to talk to the babies, usually just saying, “Helllllloooo???”

Other thoughts: It’s still very surreal to me that I’m pregnant.  I go through waves of acceptance and disbelief.  Most of the time I am able to say, “OK, I am pregnant, this is really going to happen for us!”  But then there are times where it’s just more than my little brain can fathom.

Our experiences with fertility treatments has made me abundantly aware of the fact that life is fragile.  I know far too many women who have lost babies at various stages of their pregnancy, even well into the “safe” period.  I don’t take for granted the fact that we are 13 weeks along. I treasure that we have seen our babies on five separate occasions and they were always developmentally where they should be (or measuring big… which is another post for another day).  I love that Baby A was super active, propelling himself (or herself) across the sac, flipping over and sucking his thumb.  I love that Baby B was chill – stretching out, waving his arms over his head and relaxing.  I hope these sweet babies keep growing and thriving – we are looking forward to meeting them in person in less than 6 months!

from the history books: enchanted

Last night I watched Enchanted, one of my favorite movies to watch.  It’s one of those movies that when it’s on, I can’t help myself.  The movie reminds me a lot of Frank.  No, it’s not because Frank channels Patrick Dempsy with his dashing good looks and pragmatic approach to life.  Nor is it because Frank often introduces me the way Prince Edward introduces Giselle – “Giselle is my love, my heart’s one true desire!”

Enchanted reminds me of a truly K-Fam Thanksgiving experience.  Back in November 2007 Frank was a jet Captain on the Dornier at the now defunct Skyway Airlines.  As per usual, Frank was at the bottom of the seniority list, meaning that he was working holidays.  I decided that I would accompany him over Thanksgiving on his trips so that we could spend Thanksgiving together.  On Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, we went to Cleveland. Skyway actually put the pilots up in a somewhat decent hotel which was close to a very nice mall.

One of Frank’s favorite things to do is walk around a mall. This is surprising because he does NOT like to shop.  He enjoys stopping at stores that have nice smells or kitschy items with limited uses (ie. Brookstone, Spencers).  We walked around the mall for a while and then decided to go see the movie Enchanted. We thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  I remember walking out of the theater holding Frank’s hand, feeling light and free.  We had dinner at the Macaroni Grill and drew fun pictures on the paper table cloth and enjoyed being together.

The next day, Thanksgiving, we flew back to Milwaukee and then up to Appleton.  We stayed at the Raddison Paper Valley in downtown Appleton.  We arrived at the hotel at 2:30 in the afternoon and saw, to our amazement, a huge Thanksgiving buffet set out!  Victory!  We approached the hostess stand, all of our bags in tow, and asked the hostess for details on the buffet.  She told us they were taking it down.  Oh, the looks on our faces!  We pleaded with her – can we just go through once and get some Thanksgiving food – we are far from home and won’t get a real Thanksgiving!  Nope.  She wouldn’t budge.  As we walked by the buffet on the way to our room, we watched them throwing out entire cakes and pies.  Oh, how we wanted to weep right there!

Slightly disheartened, but determined to have a lovely Thanksgiving anyway, we went to the hotel bar, hoping that they may have some Thanksgiving fare.  No such luck.  I think Frank had a hamburger and I had a chicken sandwich.  Regardless of the lack of Thanksgiving themed food, we had a wonderful time watching football in the bar and talking with his First Officer.

Later that night, we decided that we wanted dessert, but room service didn’t have anything good, so we found a vending machine and shared a Three Muskateers bar and a Rice Krispy Treat.  Oh, it was bliss!  Almost like having French Silk Pie… but not quite…

It is one of my happiest memories of us.  We had such a nice time celebrating Thanksgiving together and I am so glad we did it!  Considering that Frank is back at the bottom of the seniority list again, perhaps we will try the adventure again this year, but maybe in a more exotic location, like LA or Puerto Rico!

the one where i use an aviation metaphor

Physically, mentally and emotionally, it’s been rough.  It hasn’t been a crisis of faith, per se, but rather a crisis of HOW to have faith.

I believe in God, check.

I believe that His son Jesus is my Savior, check.

I have found, though, that I sometimes have a hard time figuring out how to look at our recent heartbreak and ongoing struggles to become parents and understand how to deal with it as a Christian.

When I am worked up about everything, I find myself tossed about by these storms and unable to find my bearings.

Which brings me to my aviation metaphor.  Ahem.

As a pilot, Frank has trained extensively.  When he first trained, he learned how to fly visually.  Flying visually is exactly what it sounds like – he would fly only in conditions (clear days, generally) that allowed him to identify landmarks and (most importantly) airports by sight. Flying on clear days is lovely, especially in small planes.

But as a committed pilot with aspirations to fly for airlines, Frank had to take his aviation training to the next level.  He had to learn to fly using only the instruments on the dashboard of the plane.  As part of his training, he actually wore a hood that didn’t allow him to see anything except the instruments in front of him.  He had to do this for two reasons: 1) because sometimes what you think you are seeing is not the whole picture and 2) because sometimes he has to fly in conditions where he won’t be able to visually see landmarks.

One night Frank took me flying.  It was a gorgeous night with a layer of low white clouds under a dome of shimmering stars.  Since there are controls on both sides of the plane, Frank let me take the “wheel” and instructed me to orient the plane so that it would be level with the horizon.  After a few minutes, Frank pointed at one of the instruments that showed how level the plane was relative to the earth.  Even though I thought I had the plane level with the horizon, I was very wrong.  The horizon I thought I was following was really a cloud, not the actual curve of the earth.

It is not enough, sometimes, to fly on sight alone.

Frank’s aviation training is a great metaphor for the grossly uncomfortable position that I am in right now.

Most of the time I can walk in my faith by “sight” alone; I either hear from God or I see landmarks from Him that point the way.  The answers are, for the most part, obvious.

Right now, though, we are stuck in the midst of storms and can’t see the ground or familiar landmarks.  Flying visually is not an option.  We have to rely on faith and the tools that God has given us.

I guess it’s a good idea to keep my seatbelt securely fastened, eh?

the stories our lives tell

Donald Miller spoke at church Sunday. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, since unlike most of the world and my husband, I had not read Blue Like Jazz.

The thing is, and perhaps I hadn’t admitted this to even myself, I hadn’t expected to hear from God on Sunday. From the loss we experienced this week, I was still feeling a little alone and a lot sad. I didn’t think that God would speak to me. That he could speak to me.

The first thing that Donald Miller said was that basically God has a general purpose for us – that we would know Him and share His love – and that God helps us figure out our giftings and talents, but that if we are choosing between a becoming a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher, that is pretty much our own decision.  It takes a lot of the “rightness” and “wrongness” out of the way that I sometimes look at those decisions. I am free to be me and to figure out who I am.  That was pretty cool (although, kind of a “duh” moment too).

Donald Miller spoke about stories and how our lives tell a story. That all stories are essentially about a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.

He said that what we want tells our story.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:34)

If we want material things, that is what our life story is about.  Some people choose to make their stories about pursuing the next best car, the next best fashion, etc.

His sermon made me take a step back from our loss this week and think about it in the context of a larger story. And it made me wonder about the story that Frank and I are telling: what is that bigger thing that we are constantly moving towards and wanting?

Where is our story going?

All along, one of the greatest things for Frank and I is that we’ve just wanted eachother. Time together. Every week is the saga of making, finding and fighting for time together. The greatest feeling for both of us is falling asleep together.  That is why, when Frank is gone, I just don’t sleep as well.  I have to talk myself into going to sleep.

For us, having children was not just the next logical step in our marriage, but over the progression of our fertility treatments and related successes and disappointments, we realized that having children was truly an extension of our love for eachother.

I remember when we were dating Frank texted me after an early morning flight and said, “looking at the sky, I realize that my love for you is even bigger than that.”

To be able to say that almost 8 years later that our love is bigger than it was when we first fell in love sounds almost ridiculous – how could that be? I can’t even believe that it is possible, and yet it is.

And it is the biggest desire of both of our hearts that this story that we started together would continue. That future generations would be blessed by this big love that we have for one another.

That is what helps us move forward.

There have been little signs and big signs in the past week that life goes on.  Just this weekend, the sun came out and the world warmed – spring is just around the corner.  I’m not totally convinced we won’t have one last blast of snow, but the worst of the winter is behind us.

It will get warm again.  The sun will shine.  Frank and I will go on long walks.  I am going to start running again.  (seriously – once I get the green light from the doc… more on this later)

The point is, even though it felt like life stopped for a while, it continued on for the rest of the world.  That’s what happens.

On the day I had my D&C, I woke up from a nap and made a few work related phone calls.  Nothing major.  The people I talked with had no idea what had just happened that day.  I took care of what I needed to and then I snuggled up against my husband.   It’s ok that those people don’t know what was going on with the girl on the other end of the phone, but as I was having the conversations, I thought, “how many times have I spoken with someone whose heart was breaking while we were speaking – and yet, I had no idea.”

And there is strange comfort in knowing that life continues on, even when my heart is broken.  Life continuing is God’s way of reminding me of a few things: first, that I will be ok and second, to be tender with all of His creation because I don’t know what kind of day or week or month someone else has had.

But most importantly: our story is not over yet.

the tick tock of the clock is painful

all sane and logical…
I want to tear it off the wall!

This morning we went in for the IUI.  Well, Frank went in first.  Then I showed up about an hour later.

Before we began the procedure, the doctor let us know that our odds, because of some of my weird test results, are about half of what a normal couple’s odds are with IUI.  And those odds are pretty slim to begin with anyway.

Hey, it’s a lot better than what we would have had on our own.  I won’t turn my nose up at any chance.  I will embrace it and hope that I am on the good side of those odds.

The procedure was quick and pretty painless.  Just a little bit of cramping and then we sat and waited and prayed. 

And then Frank tried to take his forehead’s blood pressure and check my heart rate with the stethoscope.

The only thing that stopped him from following through was that I reminded him that the stethoscope had been in other people’s ears.

Moving on.

We won’t know for quite some time whether or not this worked.  I take great comfort in knowing a few very important things:

  1. God is sovereign over all things.  This means my life is under His authority.  He has control of this situation – all of this is in His hands.
  2. God has a plan.  It may not be my plan, but it is a plan.  And that plan is to give us hope and a future.  It may not be the way I want it, but it will be the right way.
  3. My husband is awesome.  He is a tremendous partner and friend.  But – I swear to you Frank – if you don’t put away the exam light that is attached to the exam table, I will make you sit outside in the lobby.  Ok?

So that’s it.  Praise God that we’ve made it this far!  Praise Him that we are not out of options! 

And now we wait and hope and pray.

Tick. Tock.  Tick.  Tock.

one week from today…

is our 6 year anniversary.

Six years ago one week seemed like an eternity.  The minutes and hours didn’t seem to go fast enough.  I could not wait!

Five years ago, we were moving up to Milwaukee.

Four years ago, we were in New York visiting the set of the Today Show.

Three years ago, we were in Colorado, traveling up to Pike’s Peak and enjoying a lovely dinner in Colorado Springs.

Two years ago, we were living in Milwaukee, enjoying our home and our life.  Frank had just finished his upgrade to Jet Captain.

One year ago, our life was in upheaval.  We were selling our home in Wisconsin, living with my parents, Frank had just been laid off (again), I was in the midst of planning season at an ad agency and in the midst of it all, we were trying to figure out what our new normal was going to be.

And today, here we are, settled in our home in Illinois.  Frank is back at an airline.  I am at a new job.  We have been blessed beyond anything we could have imagined, six years ago.  What a crazy adventure.  God has been so gracious with us.

I love you, FK.  More than you know.

TM,A.

in just about one month…

we will celebrate our six year wedding anniversary.

SIX. YEARS.

our first kiss as husband and wife

our first kiss as husband and wife

It’s at this point I’d like to just point out we were 16 when we got married.

Ahem.

So six years ago, Frank was texting me, telling me that he broke his arm (he didn’t) and that he would need a cast (he didn’t). And I was thinking, “Crud, he’s going to have to hide his arm in all of our wedding photos.”  Good thing that Frank was just playing a joke (good thing…).

And we were having our bridal showers and final dress fittings and getting our marriage license.

It was such a rich, vibrant time in my life – but also fast and busy.  So many things in my life were changing at break-neck speeds, it was hard to keep things organized.  And often we didn’t keep things organized.

In the midst of Frank and I starting our new life together, my grandfather passed away.  My grandfather gave me a great appreciation for strong male personalities.  I find myself drawn to men with bigger-than-life-personalities and even larger opinions.   Meanwhile, my dad’s strong, but very diplomatic and wise personality was a nice balance for my grandfather’s influence.  In many ways, Frank is the perfect blend of the two men.

While my parents’ marriage is it’s own great love story, and I love it, my grandparent’s love story was legendary.

They met when Nani was 11 and Papa was 14.  Papa’s mom made him share part of his candy bar with Nani.  Knowing Papa’s sweet tooth, this was no small sacrifice.

When Papa was a teenager, he went off to fight in World War II.  He didn’t speak much of his time there, but when he did, he was very emotional.  When he came home, he went to a New Year’s Eve party and Nani was there.  Nani was a model and I always imagined that there was a halo of perfect lighting wherever she went.  That night, several young men were vying for her attention and it wasn’t until midnight that my grandfather finally won the battle for Nani.  He wasted no time – that night they set a date for their wedding and they were married on June 12 of that new year.  (6 month long engagements are genetic, I guess)

Their love affair never faded.  Vibrant, passionate – their love affair simply evolved and grew over the years.  They loved to have a good time, throw a big party, surround themselves with friends and family.  As a little girl, I remember catching them smooching in the kitchen and holding hands.  It always seemed fresh and sweet.

They argued, absolutely.  I don’t know any couples that don’t argue.

On June 12th, 2003, they celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary.  I was in another room while they ate breakfast together and heard Nani say to Papa, “How did you love me all of these years?”  And he answered back simply and plainly, “Because I just do.”

Less than a month later, Papa passed away in his sleep.  I had dreaded that moment for years and years prior to it actually happening.  As a little girl, when I became aware of their intensity for each other and then became aware of death, I always hoped that they would die together so that they wouldn’t have to know any days separated from one another.  I know that sounds horrible, but it’s true.  They were each other’s entire world, and when Papa passed away, Nani’s heart was totally broken.

She made it another three years and just around Valentine’s Day, she passed away.  I suppose, as my Uncle Steve pointed out, it was only fitting.

And so what does their love story have to do with Frank’s and my love story?  Oh, many things I believe.  They made a decision, every day, to love one another.  They managed to do what so many others fail to do: turn around previous generations’ issues of alcoholism and infidelity.  Their love was powerful enough to clean the slate of what they inherited from their families so that their children wouldn’t grow up in a broken home.  They taught my mom what to look for in a mate and she, in turn, passed that along to me.

It wasn’t perfectly executed, but it was love.

In the midst of Frank and I planning our wedding, we stopped to remember Papa and Nani’s marriage and love story when Papa passed away.

My father-in-law likes to talk about the giants in our lives.  The people who came before us, on whose shoulders we stand.  The people who taught us to love big or go home.  The people who courageously, bravely, and selflessly made daily sacrifices because they thought more of their legacy and future generations, than of themselves.

Frank and I have been married for almost six years.  We faced some difficult challenges together.  We enjoyed some of the sweetest times.  We argue and snuggle – often within the same 15 minutes.

Frank is an amazing husband.  He is kind to me when I am upset.  He is gentle, even when I am fiery.  He is strong when I crumble.  He is generously affectionate, even when I make myself busy to enjoy it.  He is wise and seeks to be wiser.  He is a great leader, yet he often just walks alongside me.  He is my favorite person, my best friend, and my lover.

Six down, forty-four to go.  I hope we leave the kind of legacy in the lives of our family and friends that would make God and the giants proud.

This much, always.

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Missin' FK.

So, the planner/doer in me is kind of happy that Frank is back to flying. I get a lot more done when he isn’t home. I multi-task (ie. sobbing while folding laundry) and I go out with girlfriends. I talk on the phone for a remarkable amount of time (yesterday: about 1 hour with my mentor LH and about 1 hour with my sisterinlaw KK). I can fill my time and my life with lots more stuff and I stretch myself to the max. I plan to do five or six things in one day – something that FK would wisely stop me from doing! – and then I race around town.

But all the “stuff” that I think I need to do, doesn’t replace hanging with FK. When he is home, he graciously does a lot (makes dinner, does laundry, cleans the house…) for me. So I squeeze in phone calls on my way home from work, I email during lunch, I shop online. And what do we do when he is home? Sure, we still hang out with friends and we watch movies and we do all kinds of things together, but we do a more reasonable amount of things. We pick one or two things instead of ten. We take snuggle breaks. We watch TV on the Internet. And my soul is happy.

So I don’t think that I am bored when he is gone, because I have many wonderful friends who keep me occupied. It’s just that I would gladly trade in some of the fluff (do I realllly need to make a salsa garden? really??) to take a snuggle break with FK.

Hurry home, FK! We’ve got lots of snuggling to do!