Thursday, June 30, 2011

I'm Practicing!

Tonight was my mom's weekly 'Ladies Night' group get together. We try and meet once a week for drinks, food and girl talk. I brought Carter tonight along with my camera because I wanted to get in some practice time with my camera. One of my goals this year is to learn more about my camera. I've taken millions of photography classes, but unfortunately I didn't retain much information (and this was back when we had to develop actual "film").

I've finally been reading my photography and camera books, and I can happily say these were all taken with my auto switch off! I'm looking forward to my vacation (leaving Saturday) so I can snap a bunch more, and hopefully I'll confidently stay off the auto button for good!!

Here are my faves my my little photo session at Ladies Night last night:

I know the lighting was a bit off, but I kind of liked the effect it was giving me. I haven't edited any of these yet.

One of my main reasons for getting some "practice" in is that my friend Lauren (from Lauren West Photography) and I are starting a 31 Day Photography Challenge for July! More on this later. Lauren is such a great photographer and I am so excited for the opportunity to challenge myself and learn more about my camera. 

Anyone can join so keep an eye out!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Birthday Invitation's!

I need some help with Carter's 2nd Birthday invitations.

Here's what we did last year for his 1st:

Sorry for the crappy picture of it.

I LOVED the invitation (mostly because I got to include 11 pictures of him on it) and I wouldn't mind doing something similar this year for his 2nd (including one picture for each month) but then again it is probably overkill.

We've decided on the Mickey Mouse theme so if you have any cute Mickey Mouse party ideas to throw around, I'm all ears. Haha, all ears..get it? Ok cheesy Mickey jokes will stop here. Promise.

Here are some Mickey invitations that I like from Etsy. They come as a digital file and I can  print them myself on some nice matte cardstock.




4. Similar to last years.


6. I think this one above is my favorite.



Right now I'm leaning towards #6. I could probably create one myself and make it exactly how I'd like, but it'll take a lot of work and time that I just don't have. I'll play around a bit when I get back from MA to see if I can come up with something I like better.

What are your favorites? Any ideas? I'm all EARS. Ok, seriously, stopping.

I've also decided that I'm baking his cake and possibly some cupcakes too (or I might buy those). It'll save money and it's fun! I want to top the cake with some adorable cake bunting like this. I think I could easily make that too, or I could just buy it from Etsy.

From this Esty seller: Jaime Mancilla.

And I love this cake topper with a felt "Happy Birthday Carter" or just "Carter" on top. I think I might try and incorporate both the bunting and his name if I can.

From this Etsy seller: Steph Loves Ben

Don't you love?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Did ya know?

I feel like spewing off some random 'Did ya knows' about me for fun so you can get to know me better. I'm in a weird mood. Here goes..

Did ya know?

-I work full-time as a Commercial Insurance Broker and have clients all over the U.S.
-I was four months pregnant when I got married.
-Both of my pregnancies were planned.
-I've been with my husband for eight years, but married for two.
-I only took 6 weeks off of maternity leave.
-My favorite food is sticky rice and soy sauce.
-I used to be obsessed with the band N'Sync.
-Every other night is bath night for Carter.
-I worked as a waitress for 5 years.
-I was born via emergency C-Section due to Toxemia. I wasn't breathing and had to be resuscitated.
-My husband has a degree in Fine Arts and is a REALLY amazing artist, but he also works in insurance.
-I'm scared of the dark and sleep with the TV on every single night.
-I made a River Phoenix fan website many years ago (and it still exists somewhere but hasn't been updated in 10 years).
-He was also the primary reason I was a vegetarian for 10 years.
-I've always wanted to be a screenwriter, but never finished a screenplay.
-When I was born, my mom thought I looked Japanese and said if she didn't see me come out of her, she would have insisted she was given the wrong baby.
-I've always been asked if I was Asian. I have small eyes.
-I was an extra in a Britney Spears music video many years ago.
-I thought my son was going to be a girl.
-I always crave orange juice when I'm pregnant. Both times.
-I cry way too easily.
-I know all the dance moves to 'Baby One More Time' by Britney Spears. ALL of them. Don't ask me to prove it.
-My favorite clothing stores are Ross, TJ Maxx, Target and Kohls. Anything over $30 is too expensive for a top.
-I have a weakness for purses.
-And cake.
-And Diet Coke.
-I never interviewed Pediatricians before my son was born. I just picked one because they were close by.
-My parents were both born and raised in Massachusetts and I was born and raised in California.
-I failed my drivers license test the first time and my permit test twice.
-I dislike the beach.
-But I only say that because I dislike bathing suits.
-But I only say that because I dislike my body in a bathing suit.
-But I'll lie and just say that I don't like the beach.
-I prefer rainy days over sunshine most of the time.
-Going to the movies is my favorite thing to do.
-When cooking, I believe a little honey makes everything better.
-And onions.
-I don't eat fish. Or shrimp. Or any ocean creatures.
-I lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for a year of my life when I was 7. And I loved it.
-While living there we had many crawfish boils, and I tried crawfish. And I hated it.
-I love wrapping presents and am very selective about wrapping paper. I believe the packaging should be just as good as the gift.
-I am the happiest when I am helping others.
-I care too much about what others think of me.
-I'm very observant.
-I live for Christmas time.
-Being a mom is everything to me.

Carter a few weeks old.

Carter and I, Oct. 2009

I think that's it for now. I'm having trouble hitting the publish post button because this is all a bit personal and some of it's kind of embarrassing for me. Do I really want the world to know these things?  Isn't that part of having a blog? It does feel a little empowering to let this all out there and not care what anyone thinks. And publish.

This makes me feel like the luckiest girl ever

In the spirit of sharing videos (I shared my first video yesterday), I'd like to share my favorite video ever. Carter was about 5-6 months old and I snuck up on Andy playing guitar and singing Carter to sleep. Andy loves playing his guitar and when we discovered that Carter would doze off in his swing while he did it, we were thrilled! Andy got to release some creativity energy and Carter would nap.

Watching him do this made me fall in love with him all over again. I love my boys! I can't wait to make you a Daddy again someday.

Photospiration Time!

I love posting fun quirky little sayings that I find around the Internet. Here is another edition of my "Photospirations!"

All of these I found on Pinterest - if you are a pinner, you can follow me here. Or if you'd like a Pinterest invite - comment or email me your email address and I'll send you one. I love hoarding everything I find beautiful or amusing. Usually you see something once that inspires you, and forget about. Nope, not with Pinterest! I "pin" all my favorite photos from around the web and get to go back and look at them all the time for more inspiration. Love it!

Hope you enjoy these as much as I do:

Monday, June 27, 2011

First Day

The mood on my blog has been heavy today and I wanted to lighten it up. Plus I need to share more videos on my blog so I'm starting with this one.

This is a wonderful little video my hubby put together of Carter's first day of life.

Isn't he something else? My heart swells with pride and love when watching this.

What we wish you knew about pregnancy loss....

I found this posting on the Miscarriage, Stillbirth, & Infant Loss Support board on Baby Center. It's such a great board but I usually end up sobbing hysterically each time I visit. The stories are painful and each one get's me where I hurt the most. But it helps me to remind myself that what happened to my was very, very painful and it's ok to grieve. And that I'm not alone.

I found this original post here.


A letter from women to their friends and family

by Elizabeth Soutter Schwarzer

I assert no copyright for the material. Please use it as you see fit to help women who have endured this terrible grief. Thank you.

Date: Sat, 23 Mar 2002

When women experience the loss of a child, one of the first things they discover they have in common is a list of things they wish no one had ever said to them. The lists tend to be remarkably similar. The comments are rarely malicious - just misguided attempts to soothe.

This list was compiled as a way of helping other people understand pregnancy loss. While generated by mothers for mothers, it may also apply similarly to the fathers who have endured this loss.

When trying to help a woman who has lost a baby, the best rule of thumb is a matter of manners: don't offer your personal opinion of her life, her choices, her prospects for children. No woman is looking to poll her acquaintances for their opinions on why it happened or how she should cope.

-Don't say, "It's God's Will." Even if we are members of the same congregation, unless you are a cleric and I am seeking your spiritual counseling, please don't presume to tell me what God wants for me. Besides, many terrible things are God's Will, that doesn't make them less terrible.

-Don't say, "It was for the best - there was probably something wrong with your baby." The fact that something was wrong with the baby is what is making me so sad. My poor baby never had a chance. Please don't try to comfort me by pointing that out.

-Don't say, "You can always have another one." This baby was never disposable. If had been given the choice between loosing this child or stabbing my eye out with a fork, I would have said, "Where's the fork?" I would have died for this baby, just as you would die for your children.

-Don't say, "Be grateful for the children you have." If your mother died in a terrible wreck and you grieved, would that make you less grateful to have your father?

-Don't say, "Thank God you lost the baby before you really loved it." I loved my son or daughter. Whether I lost the baby after two weeks of pregnancy or just after birth, I loved him or her.

-Don't say, "Isn't it time you got over this and moved on?" It's not something I enjoy, being grief-stricken. I wish it had never happened. But it did and it's a part of me forever. The grief will ease on its own timeline, not mine - or yours.

-Don't say, "Now you have an angel watching over you." I didn't want her to be my angel. I wanted her to bury me in my old age.

-Don't say, "I understand how you feel." Unless you've lost a child, you really don't understand how I feel. And even if you have lost a child, everyone experiences grief differently.

-Don't tell me horror stories of your neighbor or cousin or mother who had it worse. The last thing I need to hear right now is that it is possible to have this happen six times, or that I could carry until two days before my due-date and labor 20 hours for a dead baby. These stories frighten and horrify me and leave me up at night weeping in despair. Even if they have a happy ending, do not share these stories with me.

-Don't pretend it didn't happen and don't change the subject when I bring it up. If I say, "Before the baby died..." or "when I was pregnant..." don't get scared. If I'm talking about it, it means I want to. Let me. Pretending it didn't happen will only make me feel utterly alone.

- Don't say, "It's not your fault." It may not have been my fault, but it was my responsibility and I failed. The fact that I never stood a chance of succeeding only makes me feel worse. This tiny little being depended upon me to bring him safely into the world and I couldn't do it. I was supposed to care for him for a lifetime, but I couldn't even give him a childhood. I am so angry at my body you just can't imagine.

-Don't say, "Well, you weren't too sure about this baby, anyway." I already feel so guilty about ever having complained about morning sickness, or a child I wasn't prepared for, or another mouth to feed that we couldn't afford. I already fear that this baby died because I didn't take the vitamins, or drank too much coffee, or had alcohol in the first few weeks when I didn't know I was pregnant. I hate myself for any minute that I had reservations about this baby. Being unsure of my pregnancy isn't the same as wanting my child to die - I never would have chosen for this to happen.

-Do say, "I am so sorry." That's enough. You don't need to be eloquent. Say it and mean it and it will matter.

-Do say, "You're going to be wonderful parents some day," or "You're wonderful parents and that baby was lucky to have you." We both need to hear that.

-Do say, "I have lighted a candle for your baby," or "I have said a prayer for your baby."

-Do send flowers or a kind note - every one I receive makes me feel as though my baby was loved. Don't resent it if I don't respond.

-Don't call more than once and don't be angry if the machine is on and I don't return your call. If we're close friends and I am not responding to your attempts to help me, please don't resent that, either. Help me by not needing anything from me for a while.

If you're my boss or my co-worker:

-Do recognize that I have suffered a death in my family - not a medical condition.

-Do recognize that in addition to the physical after effects I may experience, I'm going to be grieving for quite some time. Please treat me as you would any person who has endured the tragic death of a loved one - I need time and space.

-DO understand if I do not attend baby showers/christening/birthday parties etc. And DON'T ask why I can't come.

Please don't bring your baby or toddler into the workplace. If your niece is pregnant, or your daughter just had a baby, please don't share that with me right now. It's not that I can't be happy for anyone else, it's that every smiling, cooing baby, every glowing new mother makes me ache so deep in my heart I can barely stand it. I may look okay to you, but there's a good chance that I'm still crying every day. It may be weeks before I can go a whole hour without thinking about it. You'll know when I'm ready - I'll be the one to say, "Did your daughter have her baby?" or, "How is that precious little boy of yours? I haven't seen him around the office in a while."

Above all, please remember that this is the worst thing that ever happened to me. The word "miscarriage" is small and easy. But my baby's death is monolithic and awful. It's going to take me a while to figure out how to live with it. Bear with me.


Baby Rose, Part V

Want to catch up? Read Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV.

First off I want to say that I really didn't intend for my story to be so long. I was having a moment the other day and wanted to tell my story in one blog post with more detail than I had given previously. I started to write. And write. And write. Next thing I knew, my story was pages and pages long. Writing it out has been therapeutic for me, but it has also reminded me of how horrific the whole experience was. I needed to re-live it. I needed to be reminded. I'm not going to heal emotionally if I bury all those details and feelings deep down. Bringing them out is allowing me to process them with a fresh perspective. And I'm glad I'm getting everything out of my head while I still remember. I never want to forget my baby girl.

I left off the night prior to my surgery, and I had taken my prescribed doses of Cytotec that was causing my body to go into labor. I was experiencing extreme pain and bleeding so I called the doctor first thing in the morning. He told me what I was feeling was normal (oh, great) but that I could take painkillers with a small sip of water (yay for narcotics) through-out the day. And you bet I did. I packed a mini over-night bag in the morning and headed to my parents house to spend the day with my mom. I planned on sleeping over after the procedure. Anytime I have a medical procedure (including my c-section), I'll stay at my parents house for a few days. My mom was a registered nurse for many years and having her around makes me feel so much better.

At my parents house, I laid down all day while fasting and going through painful contractions and bleeding. Every time I went to the bathroom and wiped my heart sunk a bit. What if they made a mistake? What if my baby was still alive and I was killing it? As much as I wanted the D&C procedure over, there was a part of me that yearned to keep my baby inside of me. When the baby was still with me, it wasn't over and it kept my peaceful. And seeing all that blood made things much more real.

I tried to numb my mind from what was happening and lose myself in mindless television. I think the fasting all day really took my mind off of what was happening - I was starving and super thirsty! I tried focusing on my starvation and even teased myself by watching Food Network. Pretty soon all I could think about was food. Glorious mashed potatoes with gravy, roasted chicken, biscuits - I told my Momma to have it ready for me when I returned home that night. I wanted a home cooked meal!

Around 5pm, Andy returned home from work and we started to prep for the hospital. I had to be there by 6pm and I wanted to leave at 5:30pm. We arrived at the hospital on time, and headed over to Admitting. At admissions, I had to sign a bunch of forms that say "Missed Abortion" all over them, as well as endure a million questions about "how far along I was," etc. And then we had to pay for the procedure. Yes it was covered by insurance, but my out of pocket portion was 25% of the procedure which was still well over $1,000. It's one thing to prepare financially for the costs associated with actually HAVING a child, it's another to fork over a lot of money just to leave without our baby. It made me sick actually.

After checking in, I was led to the surgical prep room. Routine vitals were taken and I put my gown on. I was asked a million questions a 2nd time about my surgery, due date, etc and then the nurse tried to start an IV. This is where it gets REALLY fun (as if it wasn't a blast already). I'm a difficult stick when it comes to drawing blood or starting IV's. I was hospitalized for 10 days once with a really crazy meningitis like virus and I learned then that it's VERY difficult to get blood  or start an IV in me. It's also much more difficult to get blood or start an IV from someone who has not had anything to eat or drink all day. When you are nourished your veins open and your blood flows. My nurse spent about 15 minutes trying to get my IV going. She stuck me in both arms several times and then went for my wrist and hands with no luck. Minutes later the lab tech shows up to get blood because my routine blood work didn't specifically test for something that they require prior to surgery. The tech also joined in the fun of trying to get a needle in a vein - and it wasn't working. I'm still bleeding and cramping heavily, and now I have two nurses poking me with needles - and it hurt. I started to cry from the pain. And they continued poking me with needles. Eventually my nurse got an IV in a small vein on my hand, but it was too small to take blood. She started the IV and within minutes it blew. Ugh! They started to call the ER doc's to tell them they couldn't get an IV or blood. I asked what would happen if they couldn't get my IV going or get blood. She said that never happens. They will eventually put an IV anywhere there is a big vein. They always find a way. I cringed and pictured an IV coming from my forehead. Finally another nurse came around to give it a go. She found a deep vein in my arm and stuck me, it hurt like hell but they were in - hallelujah!

A few minutes later the anesthesiologist up. Um, can I just say he looked over 90? Serial. I was terrified. He went to shake my hand and his own hand was trembling. This is the guy that is responsible for my life?? What if he puts me too far under? What if, what if, what if? Could I ask for someone a bit younger? I felt bad saying anything, but then again this is my life! I would hate to die because I felt bad insulting someone. But of course I did not. And I put my life in the hands of this elderly man who couldn't keep his hand steady.

I was wheeled in to the surgical room and met my surgery nurse. She was super sweet - blond, bubbly, and cheery. I had to ask her what I should do about my underwear and giant pad I was wearing. I couldn't take it off before because I was gushing blood, and now that I'm in surgery they needed to be off. She helped me remove them. I'm a pretty modest person. And I no longer could be. I had to surrender my body to my doctor and nurses, and my 90 year-old anesthesiologist. And I cried. Blondie nurse inserted my catheter. I have no idea had they do that, and I don't want to know. Then I was introduced to the doctor assisting my doctor. He looked about 30 and was drop-dead gorgeous. I wanted the very old man to put me so far under that I wouldn't wake. And that's the last I remember.

I woke up very roughly. I couldn't open my eyes and my throat burned but I could hear muffled voices around me. I kept trying to open my eyes. It felt like I was coming out of a deep coma. I was able to open one eye but it stung so I closed it. My mouth was on FIRE and had never felt so dry in my life. They had a tube in my throat, and because your mouth is open for an hour or so, it is completely dry. The weirdest feeling ever. I cried for water and kept trying to open my eyes. No, they couldn't give me water, they said, because they didn't want me to vomit. HELP I CAN'T BREATHE BECAUSE MY MOUTH IS SO DRY, I'M DYING. NEED WATER. And they finally did. Andy came in just a second later and he was terrified. My face was completely white, I couldn't open my eyes and I could barely speak. Because I had bleed more than expected during surgery my doctor prescribed a blood clotting medication that would also help my uterus contract back to it's normal size faster - and they sent Andy off to fill the script before I could even talk to him.

After several glasses of water, and several injections of delicious pain medication I was alert. And I had to pee very, very bad. One of the nurses walked to me to the bathroom and sat me down. And I couldn't pee. I tried so hard. I sat there for 20 minutes. I turned the water on, everything. I couldn't go. The nurse led me back to my bed and told me that I wasn't allowed to leave until I peed. Great.

Finally Andy returned and he saw me giggling and smiling while I was making my way to the bathroom a second time. I started speed walking because I really felt like I had to pee. The nurses laughed and told me I shouldn't be walking so fast yet. Andy said I was a complete 180 of how he had left me 30 minutes earlier. He was relieved to see color on my face and a smile. But back in the bathroom I still couldn't pee and begged for them to let me go home. So they did after my doctor allowed it.

Once home I ate my chicken dinner and mashed potatoes and headed for bed. But before I tried to pee again, nada. And then again, nada. Around 2am I started to get freaked out. They told me if I didn't go by midnight I had to come back to the ER right away. I decided I wasn't leaving the bathroom until I peed. I sat for what seemed like forever, but I eventually did and it hurt. It turns out the catheter had done same damage "down there." But within a few days I was fine.

The entire recovery took a few days - I always recover quickly from most medical procedures. The bleeding subsided within 2 weeks, and my regular period returned within 6 weeks. I've recovered physically but emotionally the scars are still there. We opted for genetic testing of the fetus and were told it could take up to a month. We didn't know the sex of our baby at this point. I was told the baby probably had a chromosomal abnormality and that this was the leading cause of miscarriage. I wanted to know. Another 6 weeks later and I had my answer. The baby was 46xx. No missing chromosomes or abnormalities that the testing revealed. According to the report, the baby girl was a perfectly formed fetus of her age. I still have no answers to why my baby girls heart stopped beating and this terrifies me.

The last part (I promise), coming soon. Emotional healing, life after miscarriage, and how some people react inappropriately.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Week in iPhone pics 06/18 to 06/24

Wow, another lovely week. I'm a lucky girl!

Britney Spears

Last night my sister and I went to the Britney Spears Femme Fatale Concert in Anaheim at the Honda Center. I'm an avid Britney fan so it was incredible! I love watching her perform, love her old songs, I just flippin love her. Her fans are an eclectic group, let me tell you - but we share a common love for Brit.

We had dinner and a drink before hand at the Elephant Bar (so yummy). It was actually kinda funny because my sister and I were stuck in 2.5 hours of insane L.A. traffic when we decided to stop for a bite to eat. We were only about 7 miles from the venue at this point. We pulled off the freeway and after about 5-10 minutes of navigating the side streets we see the Elephant Bar. At this point we were SO hungry and ready to get out of the car. My sis gets in the lane which we thought was turning into the Elephant Bar parking lot, but nope, it actually was the lane to take us back on the freeway in the opposite direction of which we just came! Ugh. We were so aggravated but at that point all we could do was laugh. Another 20 minutes later and we finally made it to the Elephant Bar.

When we arrived there a very obnoxious drunk girl sitting directly behind me. She was actually beyond the point of obnoxious and I was more concerned that she was either going to vomit on me, or that she needed serious medical attention. Her friend kept dancing like nothing was wrong when everyone around could only stare and question what was happening.

During Nicki Minaj's entire set I couldn't focus. I was so worried that I would be covered in vomit and I would have to leave before Britney even came out. She was trying to drink her beer but instead she poured it all over her face and all over my chair. Um, thanks. At one point she leaned over and started spitting on the chair next to hers as if she was going to vomit, and that's when security stepped in. It took a few minutes for her to find her shoes (she was barefoot and walking in her own spit and beer), and for them to get her out. It was actually a little scary. She had to be on something other than alcohol, this was more than just really drunk. Also, these were super expensive seats and she was forced to leave before Britney even came out. Sad. I don't get how anyone could have "fun" like that.

The actual concert was amazing, mostly because I just love Britney so much. I've been a fan of hers since the 'Baby One More Time' days. That song came out when I was 15 and my friends and I learned all the dance moves to it. I've been known to bust out those moves on occasion since (including my wedding!).

I've actually been able to meet her twice in my life. Once after an N'Sync concert (more on my N'Sync lovin' days another time), and then again when I got to be an extra in her 'Sometimes' music video. I also bumped into her at a kids play place in February of this year. She lives in a nearby city. I think were destined to be best friends; don't you agree? No? :)

Here are some of my pictures from the night:

Loved it and love her! I think this is my 3rd or 4th Britney concert, but I can only handle them every few years. The crowds and the craziness of it all kind of gets me claustrophobic. It's a bit overwhelming honestly.