Tuesday, March 30, 2010

We have a church!!

People – we have a church!!

I guess I haven’t posted about this much before… but we have really been struggling with finding a place for our wedding ceremony. I contact a church in December, when I threw myself into wedding planning to give myself something positive to think about after losing Olivia. Because our wedding date is shortly before Christmas, our church will be doing construction on their huge Christmas pageant set. Our Church also holds thousands of people, so we needed somewhere a little bit smaller, so that our small wedding wouldn’t look ridiculous with all of the empty seats. In addition, Sunday service is filmed every week for a local TV station, so the alter area is really a stage with a plain black background. Not very wedding-ish. Our pastor told us that he would marry us pretty much wherever we liked, and we will still be going through all of the pre-marital things through our own church.

Anyway…To make a long story short, I started working with that church’s wedding coordinator. I e-mailed her multiple times trying to get her to send me the information that I needed. I made it very clear that we were not members of her church, that we would be going through counseling with our own pastor, and that we live together. Every time, she would tell me that she had to meet with someone, and would send it “this week”. Then, sometime in February, I received an e-mail from her saying that she had re-evaluated her membership with said church, and she and her husband decided to leave… therefore she could no longer be the wedding coordinator. Wonderful. She gave me the e-mail address of the person I should contact to help me. I e-mailed. And waited. And got no response. Finally, I decided to call the church. They gave me the phone number of someone else to contact. I guess she was the person who did the wedding stuff before this lady quit, and would be helping again until they hire someone.

FINALLY, we received the packet in the mail from this church. I ripped open the envelope, and read the letter on top of the stack. It said that this church is not a wedding chapel, it’s a community of people who follow God. Which is good. Don’t get me wrong. I continued to read, and to summarize… the letter said that non members must go through counseling with THEIR pastors. [I was told that going through our own counseling would be just fine]. But they only require 3 sessions, so I thought that was doable. Then… It said that they will not allow two people who live together to be married under their roof. The next line said something to the effect of, “However, if you do live together, we will work something out with you”. And what will they do to work with us, you ask? They will help us move into separate residences until our wedding date… OR… perform an immediate private ceremony that no one has to know about, before they will allow us to proceed with the planning process.

I was irate. I mean… every church has the right to subscribe to certain beliefs, and to make sure that everyone involved in their church follows their rules. That’s fine. I get that. I know that living together before marriage is looked down upon by lots of churches. I was just COMPLETELY upset about the fact that I had been waiting for the information from this place for FOUR months, all because the woman I was working with said that all of these things would be “just fine”. I was so frustrated. I couldn’t think of any church that would allow non-members to marry there, that wasn’t huge like ours.

But I found one! As long as we don’t run in to any problems, we will be married at Chambers Protestant Chapel at Boys Town! I couldn't be more excited, and seems like a much better fit for us than the other church anyway.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

crazy week ahead!

Aside from my little mini-breakdown on Monday night, the last couple weeks have been really, really good. We have been under less stress now that we've finally gotten most of our things unpacked and are all settled in with Kurt's parents.

But, I'm gearing up for this to be a really long, stressful, and hard week. I interviewed with two different adoption agencies to see about doing my practicum there next school year, and I will be hearing back from both of them by Wednesday. I have a preference, and I'm nervous that the one I want to offer me the position won't be the one that actually does! I know I will be stressing about getting those phone calls until one of them actually calls me!

I have a pretty big paper due tomorrow afternoon. It's almost done, but I still need to put the finishing touches on it after I finish writing this post. I have a genogram and ecomap assignment due (more about that in a minute) on Tuesday. A quiz to take on Tuesday morning.... ugh. At some point this week, I have a make-up quiz to take from a day that I missed a couple of weeks ago. I have to finish a paper by Thursday that was actually my final project from last semester, but my professer graciously allowed me to take an incomplete and gave me a huge extension. I have totally put off finishing it up completely. Also, I have some assignments to complete and turn in for my statistics class from last semester, which I took an incomplete in, too.

This genogram thing really stressed me out. It's not a complicated assignment. Basically, it's just a really precise family tree that includes relationships between the family members, any mental illnesses, drug or alcohol problems, etc. It's used to depict the relationships and the appearance of issues across generations. Social workers use them when doing a family assessment on a client.  I had to make a VERY complex one for my family science course a few years ago, so I knew this assignment would be just a scaled down version of the one I've already done.

As I was drawing it out I realized something that really disturbed me. To represent someone who is deceased, an "X" has to be drawn over that person. In order to include Olivia in my family, I had to cross her out. I realized this while I was driving over to my parents' house to get the big posterboard version that I made a couple of years ago. I cried the whole way there. I worked on the assignments for a few hours tonight, and drew her symbol first. I didn't cross it out until I was all the way finished though. I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

I know it was just tiny symbol on a piece of paper... and it means nothing. I just hate how I will be fine all day long, and then the smallest little thing sends me over the edge. I will feel happy all week, and be extremely at peace with everything. Kurt and I will have fun, I will think of Olivia only in happy ways... and then a little one inch mark on a piece of paper turns me into a complete wreck! ugh.

Anyway.. As for the rest of  the week. Kurt has an assignment due that I promised I would help him with. I have work on Wednesday night. Friday is my sister Katie's birthday, and my mom and I are planning on going to visit her at her cemetary, and also  to visit Olivia. Easter is on Sunday. I have to find shoes to go with my easter dress, and figure out something to bake to take to my Grandma's brunch that day. Kurt and I are also going to visit Olivia after church on Sunday, so I need to stop at the store at some point and buy a lily to take her.

Somehow, I have to find time to eat, sleep, eat, actually GO to school, and work out! and eat :).

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I had a pretty rough night on Monday night. I'm not sure what it was that triggered it, but all day I had been feeling kind of off.  I had a paper to work on and another assignment due Tuesday morning, but I couldn't bring myself to work on anything. At all. I kept motivating myself, and then I would sit down at the computer and I would just stare at the blank Microsoft Word screen.

finally, I forced myself to get everything finished - I think I was finally done 2 or so. I felt restless, and I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep if I went to bed, and Kurt was working over night so I was all by myself. Usually when this happens, I rest on the couch and read a book, or catch up on the latest posts of the blogs that I read. I settled onto the couch with my laptop - reading the blogs of women who are dealing with similar struggles always makes me feel better... or at least less alone.

Angie Smith had a new one - I posted about her blog before, Bring The Rain. Anyway, I think I mentioned before that I have pre-ordered her new book, I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy which is all about the loss of her baby, Audrey, and how the Lord has helped her and her family through the pain of it. I had read that she was traveling with her Husband's band and doing some speaking engagements. They are from Nashville so I guess I just assumed that they would just be hitting some Southern cities, I don't know why. Ugh... I can't even believe that I'm writing about this - it seemed so awful at the time, and now it seems kind of silly. Anyway, over on the side of her blog, she has a feed from her Twitter. I don't use Twitter, so I never really pay attention to it - but Monday night, it caught my eye. She was re-tweeting her husbands post, which said "Concert tonight with Angie Smith, near Omaha, NE. Tickets Available!".

WHAT!? I clicked on it and read more, and found out that they had been @ Lutheran Church of the Master... THE night before. LCM is a mere 15 minutes from my house. Her husbands band was doing a concert, and Angie spoke about their experience with Audrey. It didn't help that someone posted beneath that one, "So, I've heard Angie's story before because we are friends, but I've never heard her tell it to an audience. Someone pass the tissue!"

Seriously, I realize that this probably really does sound ridiculous... but I was so upset!  I immediately started crying at the computer. Is that stupid? To get so upset about something that doesn't really matter? I honestly believe that I wouldn't have gotten through these past few months, or even my hospital stay if I hadn't been able to read her story. I learned so much about how to deal with grief and how to hope for the future through her writing. I was elated when I found out that she wrote a book. I've watched interviews with her online... she's awesome. I have been really feeling like I need a pick-me-up lately.. and there it was. For $10, fifteen minutes away from my house. And I find out ONE day too late? What are the odds, right? You have to be kidding me.

I guess that's really all I have to say about it... I don't really know what I'm trying to get at here. I am just missing my girl and trying to grab ahold of every opportunity to feel close to her, and it hurt to know that I missed such a big one.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Baby Liv would be four months old today.

I can’t believe how fast the time is going. If I close my eyes, I can remember every second of the day Olivia was born like it was yesterday. I was never more happy, proud, and scared in my entire life. It's amazing to me that it's already been one third of a year since her birth. That sounds like such a long time... but I guess it's really not.

I have read about other women who say they want to put the events out of their mind because they were so traumatic. They want to remember their child without remembering all of the scary circumstances. In that regard, I feel like we are very lucky. Aside from hearing the horrible news that she was dying, we didn't really have any scary circumstances. The three days that Livie was with us were very peaceful. We were calm, and we smiled and laughed a lot. I remember being in the cafeteria at the hospital, just a few hours before we were going to remove Olivia from her ventilator, eating my first meal in days out of my hospital bed and we were surprisingly (now that I look back on it) in good spirits. Okay, I guess being rushed into emergency surgery was traumatic and scary... but thinking about it doesn't bother me. I guess I just feel like... I can't afford to try and wipe those moments out of my mind. Livie only lived for a few short days on this earth. If I forget any of those moments, then I will be forgetting the moments that made up her life. And that's not something that I'm willing to do.

I read a few blogs of women who have little girls. I started following them when I was pregnant, and they were about as far along as I was. I don't know why I still read them, I guess it's because I saw their ultrasound pictures before they were born, and I love to see what they've grown in to. But I do have to say, I get insanely jealous when I read the "month" posts, where they write a letter to their child telling them about how much they've grown and what kinds of milestones they've reached. I know, I know - you're probably thinking, "are you insane! Why are you torturing yourself!?" I have no idea. Its strangely comforting for me to read about these things and imagine what Livie would be like now. Is that weird? Don't get me wrong... it's painful. I guess there aren't really words to describe my feelings about this. I just think about her little face, and it's hard not to imagine what it would look like smiling and laughing. She would have been so adorable. I'm hoping that I'll be able to see a little of her in our future children, even if I won't be able to recognize it... because I won't have gotten to see her do those things. Does that make sense?

For the most part, I feel like my "old self" again - it's easy for me to talk about un-related things, to joke around and laugh, see babies without getting upset. Sometimes, a few hours go by that I don't think about what happened... and then something will remind me that feels like a punch in the gut.

Sometimes, I feel bad that I'm doing so "well". I've been reminded so many times though, that there is no timeline for how I'm supposed to feel. When I first had to go back to school and offically ended my "maternity leave" (what the heck am I supposed to call it? I've said "recovering from my surgery" before... because I guess that's technically what it was. But then I feel guilty for making it sound like I had my appendix removed or something, instead of giving birth to a beautiful little girl), I had done nothing but work on my scrapbook for 6 weeks and read infant loss books. I felt horrible for moving forward. At the time though, I guess I must have felt like I was abandoning her - because if she hadn't died, I wouldn't be getting on with my normal life. I would have been doing normal things.... and caring for our daughter at the same time. I guess I felt like I didn't want to give that up.

I've gotten past that though, and I now know that it isn't healthy for me to dwell on the loss and let it take over my life (thank you, therapist). I knew that all along, actually. But what you know "logically" in your head, as we all know, isn't always what you feel or know in your heart.

Happy four month birthday, Sweet girl. Mommy misses you so much. I love you.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Favorite Charities

Show us your life On Kelly's Korner this week is all about favorite charities. I had a hard time deciding whether ot not I should even write this post, because I've already talked about some of the ones that mean the most to me at length on this blog. I decided to do it anyway, though. Click on the button below to check out some of the other blog posts about charities - I read through quite a few of them and learned about some that I'd never heard of that are doing some serious good!

Show Us Your Life with Kelly's Korner
Click on the title of each organization to view their websites!

March of Dimes
I suppose this is the perfect opportunity to do a little public service announcement for our March for Babies event! As I've posted about before, we will be walking on April 25th at Mahoney State Park. So far, our team has raised $330, and there's 42 days left until the walk. If you would like to donate, or join our team for the walk, you can click HERE.
I am so excited about this. It's such a great way for us to raise money and awareness for prematurity, birth defects, and infant mortality while also honoring Olivia's sweet life. If money that we raise can help even one family avoid the pain that we've had to suffer, then I'll be happy.

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep
Everyone who knows us knows that NILMDTS is extremely close to our hearts. Without them, we wouldn't have such beautiful pictures of our family together, or of Olivia. While our photographer was shooting our session, I remember feeling so at peace. I remember knowingthat it was one of the only "normal" family things we would get to do, and it was so wonderful. Whoever thought up the idea for the organization is a genius, and must have such a wonderful heart. I've spoken to lots of women who have had NILMDTS pictures taken, and I've never heard of a less than fantastic experience. This Christmas, my Grandma decided that instead of receiving Christmas presents from all of her kids, she wanted to make a family donation to a charity. They chose NILMDTS and donated in Livie's name. We also used them as one of the memorial options in lieu of flowers at Olivia's memorial service.

Freedom is Not Free
Freedom isn't free is a charity that supports fallen and wounded service members and their families. It's a common misconception that the family members of these men and women are completely taken care of by the military. Well, usually they are... but in a lot of cases, it takes months and months for those benefits to finally reach the family. What are they supposed to do when their sole provider can't work anymore, and they can't pay their mortgage etc. for year? That's where Freedom Is Not Free comes in. They help families meet their immediate financial needs, including the expenses associated with medical care, travel, home modification and every day bills. They also provide support and healing activities for children of wounded service members. I love what they do.

Operation: Love ReUnited
This one is just seriously awesome, and if I were a photographer, nothing would make me happier than to be apart of this. It's similar to NILMDTS in that professional photographers donate their services and time. They offer photography for deploying, deployed, and returning service members. It was created to be a moral "boost" for those overseas. Basically, they photograph the service member with his/her family before they deploy, the family while you're gone, and again at your reunion. All the pictures have a patriotic edge and are just absolutely beautiful. They show SO much emotion. God forbid anything like this should ever happen, but in the event that that person does not return home, those pre-deployment photographs are something that his/her family will cherish forever (I guess that's probably why this reminds me of NILMDTS). The person who is deploying receives a free album to take with him/her overseas. The reunion pictures are AMAZING - many times the photographer comes to the airport or wherever you'll be meeting the person whose returning home for the first time. Honestly, lots of military families just aren't well-off, and professional photography, especially at this skill level (their photographs are basically art, not just pictures) are something that lots of them wouldn't even think about trying to afford. I love that this opportunity exists for them - especially because we will more than likely be one of those families in a few years.
Check out their website just for fun - the pictures of the little kids wearing their daddies' uniforms and boots just kill me. so precious.

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Show Us Your Life with Kelly's Korner

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My daughter, is beautiful.

Just a few minutes ago, Kurt and I were sitting next to each other on the couch with our laptops, listening to music and looking at pictures (yeah I know, we have a real exciting life!), and I started looking at pictures of Olivia. After just a few, I was completely in tears. I look at pictures of her all the time, and I rarely cry while looking at them because it's just become such a part of my daily routine. We have her picture in frames everywhere, and I have one on the dashboard of my car and some in my purse.

I realized after a few seconds, that I wasn't crying because I miss her, or for any reason other than... she is just so beautiful. I see her pictures so often that I've just grown accustomed to looking at them and I don't really think twice as I pass by them a thousand times each day. But when I really sit down and look at them, her beauty takes my breath away.

And now, I just keep thinking, if she was this beautiful at 6 weeks premature, how breathtaking would she have been at two, or five, or fifteen?

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Oscars Tonight...

I love Sandra Bullock!

Can you get more down-to-earth? She has always been one of my favorite actresses... I just think she seems like one of those people that you see in a film and you think "I bet she's a really nice person in real life". After listening to her acceptance speech tonight for the Blind Side (which I still haven't seen, by the way...), it is completely apparent that she has such an amazing heart.

It amazes me that she is so beautiful, classy and talented, yet such an amazing person. I think she may be one of the very few actresses in Hollywood that has remained un-jaded by the lifestyle.

She even took the time to acknowledge all of her fellow nominees... and she really sounded like she meant every compliment that she gave them.

I was in tears by the middle of her speech when she was thanking her mother for teaching her daughters that "there's no race, no religion, no class system, no color, no sexual orientation that makes us better than anyone else, we are all deserving of love". Then at the end when she thanked all the mamas who take care of their babies and children no matter where they come from... I lost it. That was such a beautiful moment. If only those things were true of every mother/woman, this world would be a much better place.

Plus: I think it's totally awesome that she made her husband almost start crying.
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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Typical day!?

Show Us Your Life with Kelly's Korner

This week on Show Us Your Life... we're supposed to write about our "typical day".

I just started participating in Show Us Your Life a couple of weeks ago, and I have been looking forward to seeing what the topics are for each new week. When I saw this week's topic, it really made me realize... I am aching for some normalcy my life!

Part of it just comes with the territory of being a full time student. However, one of the things (there are many... but that deserves a whole post of its own) that really angers most of us in this program, is that our schedule is not consistent. Mondays, class is at 2 until 4:45. Tuesdays, its all day long from 8:30 to 3:45. Wednesdays and fridays there's no class, and Thursdays, class is from 8:30 to 12:45.

Okay, yes... it's nice to have 2 days "off" during the school week. But this class schedule makes it essentially impossible to establish any kind of routine. At all. I don't work full time, but I know that these times make it impossible for some of my classmates who do work full time to set up their work schedules. Maybe this is especially wearing on me because this is my 5th year of college due to lots of major-switching, and I'm just so sick of the lifestyle right now. I'm totally ready for a 9-5ish job that will allow me to actually have a life.

Kurt's work and school schedules are kind of weird too, so both of our stuff together makes it hard for us to figure out when we can hang out. We usually have to turn down plans with friends because one or both of us has something work or school related at an odd time.

I guess I'm just saying... I would like to press the "fast forward" button to the last day of the semester next May, so that I can be done with this!  We moved a week ago, and our place is far from being set up yet. Mostly just because I haven't even had enough time to sleep and do homework let alone organize shelves and unpack boxes.

The last year has just been a crazy whirlwind. Getting ready for a baby takes up a lot of time. Anyone whose gone through a pregnancy will tell you that even if you aren't doing anything at that given moment to prepare for the arrival of your little one, your mind is focusing on it, making plans... etc. Then, we've been going through all of the things that come with losing Olivia, which doesn't make school or work any easier. We have moved twice (once in september, and now this time), and anyone who has moved will tell you that that's stressful and time consuming. Planning a wedding takes a lot of time... I'm just ready for a break! I'm ready to be married, for both of us to be done with school and working.