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Pregnancy By The Numbers

I hate math.

But lately, I’m obsessed with numbers.

It’s been 112 days since I got my first positive pregnancy test.

And it’s been 60 days since I had to have a D&C to remove the baby that didn’t thrive.

My period should arrive in 2 days.

But I’m waiting 5 days to test, because I promised a friend we’d test together.

She’s gone through this too.

I’m constantly counting days, averaging them out, marking my calendars, and keeping track.  Who knew trying to get pregnant would become my new full-time job?  I spent so much time trying not to get pregnant, and now that I want to?  Well, so far, it hasn’t been easy.

A friend of mine is due the day before I was.  It kills me to know this.  All the other February mommies are finding out the sexes of their babies, marveling at their growing bellies, buying clothes, furniture, and picking out names.

And I’m back at square one, thinking about things like mucous levels and peeing on sticks.

Trying to get pregnant is so sexy.

So here I sit.  This week could change things forever.

Or not.

I hate waiting…

Not All Anniversaries Are Happy

{sigh} Yesterday was the 6 month anniversary of Robert’s death ~ he was 14 1/2 months old when he died. The past 6 months seem more like a year. I thought time dragged on when my husband Joe was deployed in Iraq, but that flew by in comparison to this. Not a day goes by that I don’t think to myself “Oh no, I forgot Robert at home.”

Or I look in the backseat of the truck & my heart stops because I think “I lost Robert in the store!!!”

Then I realize that he’s gone.

I flash back to the moment I found him laying so still in his crib, I knew in my heart he was already gone. There was nothing I could do.

6 months ago was the hardest day of my life.

Harder than saying goodbye to my husband while I was 9 months pregnant as he drove off on a bus late at night to get on a plane to go to war.

Harder than the day I had to go to the hospital, alone, straight from my OB appointment because they couldn’t find Robert’s heart beat.

Harder than the day Robert was born and the phone connection Joe was on in Iraq sucked and I couldn’t hear him half the time.

Harder than giving birth to Robert, without an epidural because he came so quick it didn’t take.

Harder than the 9 months I was home alone with 3 kids and a husband who was at war and having near misses at death almost everyday.

At 7:55 am on Sunday December 14, 2008 I went to get Robert up and ready for church. I picked my baby up out of his crib and I knew he was dead. I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t. Brianna was in our bedroom watching Playhouse Disney. She couldn’t know what was happening. I carried Robert into the living room, called 911 and pleaded for help.

I gave my baby CPR, knowing it was useless, waiting for what seemed like hours for the police to arrive, it was barely 3 minutes.

I handed Robert to the first officer through the door who actually was in Joe’s unit. He took Robert and another officer and paramedics came in. They tried to work on him, but I knew from the words they were saying it was too late. As soon as I had handed Robert to them I called Joe’s cell phone. He didn’t answer and I didn’t know where he was.

He had left at 4:45 am to take Kameryn to his hockey game. Joe’s phone was ringing, but then I realized, that I didn’t know what to say. I handed my phone over to another officer and said, “I can’t tell my husband. You have to talk to him.” I don’t know what he said, but thank God Joe was only around the corner. Joe barreled through the front door to find me sitting on the floor, sobbing.

Joe called his family to come over and they were at my house within minutes. I couldn’t get in touch with my parents, but finally, my best friend Heather and the police went to my parents’ house to tell them.

All I wanted was to get to the hospital to be with Robert but I had to answer questions. Joe called his LT at work, his 1Sgt from the unit. “God, we need to get to the hospital. Why are we still here?” was that all I could think.

Finally, they let us leave for the hospital.

They took us into a waiting room where we had to wait while person after person from the hospital and police talked to us. Thankfully, not long after we got to the hospital so did numerous people from Joe’s unit, our church, and people from Joe’s work. I was so overwhelmed by how many people came to help us. Much of the rest of the day at the hospital is still a blur. I remember pits and pieces of those hours but mainly I just remember being numb.

My Robert was dead.

What had happened? All the questions the coroner was asking me, that I had to tell the detective the same things I had told the police at the house, I just wanted to see my baby. “When can I see Robert?”

Finally, Joe & I could see him. Our sweet baby boy. All I wanted to do was lay next to him, my head next to him, smelling his hair. Bubby had the best hair, he was supposed to get a hair cut on Friday. I just rubbed his hair with one hand & held Joe’s with the other. Kissing my baby’s head, tears wetting it.

That is how I spent the day 6 months ago


Ever since 2000 when our daughter Elli was born with life-threatening heart defects and nearly died three times the first three weeks of her life, I’ve experienced blindsides.

I wish I referred to the movie.

Blindsides are swift and completely unexpected emotional breakdowns, often experienced when sharing your story with a stranger or a group of strangers.

As the parent of a child with special needs, I have shared Elli’s story countless times with medical personnel, school staff, new acquaintances, and random strangers we’d meet out in the community. I have had the opportunity to share our story for some college classes for special ed teachers and therapists, and for potential donors to our hospital.

I never know how those presentations would go. Will a blindside slam me into a teary mush pile this time? Or will I be able to communicate clearly and strongly?

When Elli passed away a year and a half ago, the blindsides changed. They began striking at any time, in any place, doing anything or nothing at all.


A wisp of a memory… her sister’s laugh that sounds exactly like hers.

A glimpse of a familiar-but-no-longer-visited place… driving past her aquatic therapy pool.

The scent of the hospital’s blanket warmer, so comforting after yet another general anesthesia.

The discovery of a long-buried personal item… her bath towel.


…sitting at the piano in church on Sunday.

…driving down the highway.

…laying in bed, drifting off to sleep.

…watching a movie with my husband.

…waiting for my son’s school bus.

At first, they assailed me daily, even hourly. With time, less frequent and more unexpected… except in the fall near the anniversary of her death and in the winter near her birthday. Those are memory minefields.

At first, the pain was bitter, cutting deeply, exposing raw wounds. Now it’s more of a wistful dull ache, a pain of long separation, hidden under scar tissue and wrapped in hope of heaven one day.

Have you seen me? The random weeping girl in front of the yogurt at the grocery store? If you do, would you spare a tissue? I promise, if I run into you, eyes red, face puffy, I’ll dig one out for you.

Where’s the craziest place you’ve ever been blindsided? What helps you get through it?

The Funeral

A year ago a limousine sent by Mike’s company showed up in front of our house to take us to our daughter’s funeral.

I climbed in the back, carefully smoothing my purple dress so it wouldn’t get wrinkled, and then realizing how ridiculous that was. I stared out the window and thought, “I can’t wait to take Maddie in a limo!” And then I remembered.

I wore a set of gold bracelets that she loved to play with, even though they clanged and made lots of noise. In the pocket of my dress I had the first hat she ever wore from the day she was born.

We arrived at the church early, and looked at how the pictures and Madeline’s things had been arranged.

Maddieshrine Three


Maddie's Piano

We then sat in a room in the back while we waited for everyone to arrive. We walked out right before the service started. I stared at my feet as we walked to our seats in the front row.

I looked up when I heard chuckling, and I realized the laughter was at a funny picture of Maddie from the pre-service slide show.

The service started, and I listened to the celebrant, then my dad, Mike’s dad, my brother, and Mike. As it came closer to my turn to speak, I started to feel sick to my stomach. My body felt cold and my legs felt like jell-o. I clutched her Abby doll close and walked up to the podium.



I looked out at the crowd and was amazed by all the people.

Front Chapel Wide

four purple ribbons

Somehow I managed to address the crowd.

After the service there was a beautiful balloon release. The wind blew right when the balloons lifted into the air.

Gathering for Balloon Release

maddie's purple balloons.

As my balloon floated away, I wished that it could take me with it.

The reception after was a blur. So many people came, people I hadn’t seen in years, wonderful people. I didn’t eat, the food smelled both delicious and awful. There were a lot of hugs and tears. I didn’t cry. I couldn’t.

Many people told me how beautiful the reception was, and I wanted to say, “well, we don’t get to throw her a second birthday, or a sweet sixteen party, or a graduation, or a wedding. This is it.” Instead I said thank you, and gave credit to my wonderful friends that had handled everything.

We stayed until the sun was down, the cold wind blowing steadily. We stayed until the last person left, and then we got back in that limo and returned to our empty, quiet home.

all photos by the wonderful Casey