October 15th – Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

As most of you already know, last year was a rollercoaster for us as we tried to grow our family.

I shared in September the news that we’d lost our second pregnancy and in November, that the loss had been determined a partial-molar pregnancy, putting us on hold for a minimum of three months. After a third loss in January, we decided to see a specialist to determine if there was a genetic or other underlying cause for these repeat losses.

Somewhere in the neighborhood of a million tests later, we found … nothing.

Finding nothing wrong gave us no answers, but it did give us the go ahead to continue trying on our own and, in March, we discovered we were expecting the son who’s been growing inside of me for the past 34 weeks.

This November, almost a year to the day of our first estimated due date, we’ll get to meet him.

We’ll get to meet the child who has softened the grief we’d felt so sharply all last year.

But today, October 15, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, a day for all families to remember their children gone too soon, either through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, still birth or as an infant. It’s something that affects so many families, and yet very few people speak about it openly.

Since first sharing with you about our losses, dozens of friends and family have opened up to me about their stories, too. People have reached out with condolences, questions and sympathies, and even gratitude for starting the conversation – proving that pregnancy loss is something that happens to so many, while so few feel comfortable talking about it.

That’s why today is so important.

While all of October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month, this day in particular is set aside for remembering those we’ve lost. At 7 p.m., families around the world will light candles in their memory, keeping them lit for an hour to create a Wave of Light around the globe.

Once again, Darrell and I will be one of those families, remembering ours as well as those of our friends and family.

For us, the passage of time and the impending arrival of our son have made this year much less melancholy.

For others, the grief is still very real.

Let today remind us that we don’t have to suffer that grief alone.

Stitch Fix Review: Fix #4 (Maternity Fix)

It’s been a while since I posted one of these, but since my lovely sister ordered her first fix last week using my referral link, I had $25 to spend and a dwindling closet that could use a few new pieces, so here we are…

My first Maternity Stitch Fix!

I updated my style profile to let the folks at Stitch Fix know I’m expecting in November, and asked for a few pieces I could wear on the regular, either to work in my casual office or out running errands.

I’m pretty lucky in that my sister gave me a ton of great stuff (thanks Kim!) from her maternity days, but her style and work environment differ a bit from mine.

She’s fancy. I’m not.

So aside from a few of her tops and jeans, I’ve been relying pretty heavily on the two pairs of shorts I bought, along with a handful of Old Navy tank tops that are nearing their limits.

Sorry, tank tops. I’m gonna wear you til you wear out or you’re no longer long enough to cover the belly, whichever comes first.

OK. Back to the box.

My Stitch Fix arrived yesterday and when I first opened it, I was pretty excited. There were some awesome colors and the fabrics felt nice, always a good start to a fix. Per the husband’s request, I started my fashion show with the dresses.

Up first: Abilene Printed Maternity Dress by Leota Maternity.

Bummmmmp.

Bummmmmp.

This dress is cute, light and comfortable. It also gets bonus points because (I think) you could potentially continue wearing it post-partum, as the wrap-style collar gives you a bit of leeway for nursing.

That being said, though, it’s a bit expensive when I think about what I’d actually need it for. I don’t HAVE to wear dresses to work, though I can, so I filed this one away into the if-I-keep-the-whole-box, box.

Spoiler alert: I don’t keep the whole box.

Cost: $98. Verdict: Sent back.

Next up, the Gabre Maternity Dress by Eight Sixty Maternity.

Cute dress, terrible picture. Sorry guys.

Cute dress, terrible picture.

Alright, I have to admit, I really love this dress. You can’t tell from the picture (because I’m a terrible selfie-taker and am way too lazy to make someone else do it), but it’s a very pretty navy blue dress with a cut-out overlay. The back dips down a bit (not too much), there are pleats over the bump and overall, it has some really cute details and it’s even comfortable, like a big T-shirt.

But again – when am I going to wear this? For the price, I couldn’t justify it on it’s own, and again, it fell into the maybe, if I keep everything, category. It also doesn’t help that my sister gave me a maternity dress (in gray) with a very similar style/cut, so if I were going to wear a dress like this, I’d probably stick with the one I already have.

Bummer. Sorry, adorable dress. You deserve someone who wants you as much as you want to be wanted.

Or something.

Cost: $94. Verdict: Sent back.

Maternity shopping is so weird. Clothes are expensive, but you’re only going to wear them a few times before you’re back in regular clothes. I think had this been a non-maternity purchase, I would have shelled out the cash. But seeing as how I won’t be this size and shape forever, it doesn’t make much financial sense. Le sigh.

Alright, next up, the laughable Azalea Cold Shoulder Maternity Knit Top by Loveappella Maternity.

Seriously. Why?

Seriously. Why?

My face in this picture pretty much sums up my feelings on it. Why. WHY would you make this shirt for maternity?

I feel like I can see gears turning for the men (obviously, men) who designed this shirt:

“Hey, guys, girls get fat when they’re pregnant, right? But like, what part of their body doesn’t get fat, so we can show that off?”

“Uhh, derr, her shoulders.”

“Bro YES – CUT OUT THE SHOULDERS!”

Pair those unattractive shoulder slits with a tight (why?) but loose (what?) knit fabric that highlights the fact that my belly button is flattening and widening, and you have this perfectly hateable shirt.

Gross.

Cost: $48. Verdict: Sent back.

Now this one. This one, I’m bummed about.

The Anaheim Roll Sleeve Maternity Top by Loveappella seemed at first to be awesome. I mean hey, I’m even smiling in the picture!

Aww, prematurely happy.

Aww, prematurely happy.

It fits my basic style (half-sleeved tees, ftw), is a good length and simple enough to go with any number of pants/shorts/leggings to get good use out of it.

And then, it started. The itching. Dear lord, the fabric on this thing itches!

Now that I’m writing this, I realize it’s those guys at Loveappella again.

“Hey man, pregnant ladies aren’t like, constantly uncomfortable, right? Itchy fabric is NBD, right?”

“Totally. Totally NBD.”

If I’m going to drop money on a comfortable T-shirt, it needs to be that: comfortable. I couldn’t get this thing off fast enough.

Cost: $58. Verdict: Sent back.

Alright, before you think I’m just a big, pregnant hater, not everything went back.

The lone survivor from my first maternity fix was this pair of Kiley Maternity Ankle Zip Leggings, by Rune.

Oh hey there, fancy zipper.

Oh hey there, fancy zipper.

Again, it may be hard to tell in the picture, but they’re a deep navy (almost purple?) and the zipper detail is in gold. Seeing as how we’re coming up on fall – hooray! – and the supportive maternity waist on these means I’ll probably actually wear them post-partum to hold in all the jigglies, they seemed like a legit purchase.

Plus, since this box was free via a referral, the final cost was totally reasonable. And they’re super stretchy, thick and comfortable. Win, win, win.

Cost: $58 ($33 after $25 credit). Verdict: Kept!

Ultimately, this fix was a total mixed bag. Two things went back gladly, two more I’m a bit reluctant to put into the mailing envelope. But I just can’t justify the expense on something I know I won’t get much use out of, and unfortunately, I just don’t wear dresses all that often.

I was really hoping to see more inexpensive basics, considering the short lifespan of maternity clothing. I should probably update my style profile to reflect that.

My bad, Stitch fix; my bad.

Oh, what a difference a year can make

It’s crazy, how a little bit of time can pass and everything starts to look a little differently.

Take today, for example. Today, I went in for my routine pre-natal checkup. I’ll be 24 weeks tomorrow and everything today looked great — Baby Manet’s heartbeat was chugging away and I’m measuring on track (actually, a week ahead).

Everything is as it should be. And did I tell you, Baby Manet is a boy? A beautiful, healthy baby boy.

Baby Boy 20 weeks

Baby Manet 4 weeks ago at our A/S.

In fact, I’ve been blessed this time around by a completely boring, run of the mill pregnancy, and the incredible miracle of that fact isn’t lost on me. I’ll never take a boring appointment for granted, because I know too well what a non-routine appointment looks and feels like.

So today, I smiled throughout my boring appointment. I gleefully reported the “All Good!” to my husband, my mom and my sister.

When I got home, I turned on the TV and scrolled through the usual stuff on my phone to catch up: Facebook, Instagram and Timehop.

There, one year ago today and stored on my camera roll, was the picture of the positive pregnancy test that told us we were expecting what would turn out to be our second loss.

One year ago today, I was going through the ups and downs of excitement and fear, not knowing whether this would be it (but thinking, surely, it had to be).

That loss turned out to be more devastating than I could have expected. We had tempered hopes — we’d been down that road before — but never had any inclination anything was wrong until our first appointment at almost 11 weeks.

That was nearly nine weeks of blissful ignorance; nine weeks of thinking it was our turn. Nine weeks to find out it wasn’t, to discover that boring then wasn’t what boring is now, followed by months of waiting for the all clear to try again. Months of being tormented by anger, grief, sadness and helplessness.

All of that started, one joyful moment, one year ago today.

Yet, as I sit here typing, our baby boy is bouncing around inside my belly, reminding me this time that boring means everything is OK. That boring is a good thing, a wonderful thing, and I can’t help but be so incredibly happy.

I’ll never forget the past year, of course, but being only 16 weeks away from meeting this little guy is making it sting so much less. Blurring the edges. Making it all worth it.

It’s only been a year, but oh, what a difference a year can make.

Holy crap, it’s really happening.

I guess now that I’ve been out in real life for about a month now, it’s probably time for me to announce it on here…

I’m pregnant!

I almost can’t believe I’m finally writing a happy post about this topic, but here I am. I’m 14 weeks today and feeling pretty great, aside from some lower back/hip pain over the last few days.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me give you the lowdown of what’s been happening the last few months, and I apologize in advance for being a bit wordy.

How we got here

If you’ve read any of my other posts about our history, you know it’s been a bit of a bumpy road over the last year as Darrell and I tried to grow our family. We took some time off from trying after our loss in September (per doctor’s orders) and in January, unfortunately had another loss.

Since we reached the medical standard for recurrent pregnancy loss (3 consecutive losses), we decided to reach out to a local Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) to start recurrent loss testing.

Recurrent loss testing, at least in our case, consisted of several blood tests for common concerns like blood clotting disorders and antibodies, a full genetic karyotyping, and a saline sonogram to check the shape of my uterus and the general health of my reproductive system.

After being poked and prodded (me much more so than Darrell), everything in our bloodwork and ultrasounds came back completely normal.

The doctor was disappointed to not have a problem to fix, but Darrell and I were both thrilled that nothing was wrong. As we’d always assumed, our losses were simply attributed to bad luck, and the doctor told us to call when we were pregnant again.

In March, we very happily (and anxiously) made that call.

Our RE had me come in for blood draws to check my beta-hCG levels (aka the pregnancy hormone) and brought us in around 6 weeks for my first ultrasound.

6 week ultrasound

6 weeks!

Perfect! Everything was perfect and we were even able to see and hear the baby’s heart beating. It was the most amazing feeling as we’d never been able to see a heartbeat before, let alone hear one. We were over the moon, almost in disbelief that everything seemed OK.

Of course, it was still very early, so the feelings of relief and happiness didn’t last long. Luckily, we had another appointment just two weeks later, where we once again saw baby, who was measuring slightly ahead and had a good, strong heartbeat of 174 bpm.

8 week ultrasound

8 weeks!

The RE said he saw no cause for concern and “graduated” us, updating my due date to November 24th and sending us off to be monitored the rest of my pregnancy at my regular OB.

Baby Manet is really on the way!

Since leaving the RE, I’ve been able to see my OB, hear the heartbeat again and go over all the standard paperwork and bloodwork. My doctor, being the awesome person she is, even offered to let me come in for a heartbeat check any time I wanted, something I took advantage of once and have since reined in the crazy on.

It’s such a relief to finally be considered just a normal pregnancy patient, but the wait between appointments is torture! We won’t get to see the baby again until we go in for our anatomy scan, which seems so far away. But, all I’ve wanted was for this pregnancy to be normal and boring (meaning no scares, no issues), so I guess I can’t complain that I’m getting exactly what I asked for!

Tomorrow I have my 14-week checkup, which I assume will be just another heartbeat check with the doppler and a quick review with the doctor. Even so, I can’t wait for the reassurance that everything is fine, baby is growing, and we’re getting closer and closer to meeting him or her!

Thank you all for your kind words and thoughts as I’ve shared most of this story with you. It’s been a long, hard path, but I know in the end it will all be worth it. I know I’ll never be able to fully relax, to just enjoy being pregnant like someone who has never gone through the pain of loss, but at the same time, I think going through everything we have has brought us closer together and has prepared us to be the best, most loving parents we can be.

Or at least, I hope that’s true. I guess now is when I start freaking out about actually becoming a mom, right?

Oh boy.

Or girl.

I guess we’ll find out.

November baby announcement

Can’t wait to meet you, baby!

Stitch Fix Review: Fix #3

Yep, I’ve been MIA so you’re getting two Stitch Fix reviews, back to back.

Last month, after I returned all five items from my last fix, Stitch Fix reached out to me and offered to waive the styling fee if I gave them another shot.

Didn’t have to ask me twice! I thought it was super generous of them to offer, so I jumped on the opportunity. And I’m glad I did — I managed to get a couple great items out of it!

A quick reminder for anyone not familiar, Stitch Fix is an online service where you set up a profile, pay $20 and have a personal stylist send you five curated items they think will suit your needs/wants. Once they arrive, you get three days to try things on, mix-and-match with items from your own closet, and decide what you want to keep. It’s super easy and, if you’re like me and hate to shop, easy is what you need when you need new clothes. Plus, referral links (like the ones in this post) get you $25 credit for each time someone orders a fix.

So now, onto the clothes.

For this fix, I opted not to get any jeans (or at least, didn’t specifically request them). Instead, I asked for fun, bright tops I could wear this spring. Specifically, I mentioned tank tops that I could layer to wear to work, or wear on their own for a night out.

First up, the Renesme Geo Print Faux Wrap Dress, from 41Hawthorn. In profile, I really liked this dress (despite the lame Twilight reference for a name). Hopes, you’re getting high.

Show me that side view, honey.

Aww, pretty dress.

And then, from the front … well. I mean. Isn’t the wrap part supposed to help define your waist? Why do I look so huge?!

Am I really that wide?

Am I really that wide?

While I loved the bright blue color and the geometric pattern, just really didn’t do me any favors. I felt like it was nowhere near as flattering as it should be, and for the price, just couldn’t justify the purchase. I think if the neckline were a little lower, or if there was something to break up the solid pattern, it may have ended differently for the two of us, but this one just wasn’t meant to be.

Cost: $78. Verdict: Sent back.

Next up, the Bowie Solid Dolman Sleeve Top from Laila Jade. This one I was pumped about as soon as I saw it in the box, because I loved the color and already have a couple shirts in this same style.

My camera is a fool. This is coral, not pink.

What do you mean, pick up the sweatshirt from the chair before you snap pictures?

And, I was right. I loved the way this top gives you a bit of space around the middle without being completely shapeless. It’s a nice, lightweight fabric for spring, too, so that’s definitely a bonus.

Cost: $58. Verdict: Kept!

Another item I really thought I was going to love when I first took it out of the box — this Phelan Blouse from Collective Concepts.

Whaaaat are those sleeves?

Whaaaat are those sleeves?

I was wrong. The sliky soft material and the fun print were not enough to excuse those horrific puffy sleeves. What is that about? And what about the cut of the shirt itself? It was strangely too large and too small at the same time — boxy around the middle but short in the length. There was no hemming and hawing about this one, it was definitely going back.

Cost: $68. Verdict: Sent back (with pleasure).

This next top kind of surprised me. It’s the Priya Abstract Floral Print Knit Back Tank (say that 10x fast) by Brixon Ivy.

Flowers. Because spring, obviously.

Flowers. Because spring, obviously.

Typically, I don’t wear many floral prints. I’m not really a girly-girl and they can often come off too frilly for my tastes. But this shirt, for whatever reason — the gray knit back panel? The abstract look to the flowers? — I actually really liked. It’s feminine without being in your face, and I love the bold colors in lieu of traditional pastels. It made for a pretty perfect Easter look, too, so timing was pretty good on this one.

Cost: $48. Verdict: Kept!

Finally, the last tank top in the box was the Fulham Embroidery Detail Top by RD Style. Once again, I knew I would want to keep it as soon as I pulled it out of the box, and I was right.

I'll keep this one, tank you very much.

I’ll keep this one, tank you very much.

Sure, it’s a little on the thin side, but for a fun, light, summery tank top I couldn’t resist. I love the neckline, and the super simple embroidery detail is spot on for my style. I can see this getting plenty of use for sunny days outside this spring and summer.

Cost: $48. Verdict: Kept!

Overall, this was a really solid fix. I wanted so badly to love that wrap dress, but knowing it wasn’t really a great fit for my figure and that I could likely find something better suited to my style for the price, I had to pass.

That blouse, though. That one couldn’t get out of my house fast enough.

If you’re interested in trying Stitch Fix, and if you’d like to see more reviews from me, I’d love for you to use the links in this post. These referral links do nothing to the price of your first fix, but they give me a $25 referral credit.

Everybody likes free money, right? Even when it goes to other people?

Stitch Fix Review: Fix #2

It’s time for another Stitch Fix review!

A quick reminder about what Stitch Fix is and how it works:

Stitch Fix, for those who don’t know, is an online service where you set up a profile, pay $20 and have a personal stylist send you five curated items they think will suit your needs/wants. Once they arrive, you get three days to try things on, mix-and-match with items from your own closet, and decide what you want to keep. If you keep anything, your $20 up front goes toward your final total; if you keep everything, you get a 25% discount on the entire box. It’s super easy and, if you’re like me and hate to shop, easy is what you need when you need new clothes. Plus, referral links (like the ones in this post) get you $25 credit for each time someone orders a fix.

Since I loved a couple items in my first fix, and because I had a referral credit in my account, I went ahead and ordered another. The three items I returned last time were more of a fit issue than a style issue (except that terrible mauve sweater), so I had high hopes for this box. When I opened it, I was excited to see they sent a couple casual tops, just like I asked.

There was also a really great pair of jeans I couldn’t wait to try on: Henry & Belle, Abana Coated Ankle Length Skinny Jean. The stylist card they included mentioned they should fit better than the last two they sent, so I had high hopes for these guys! Plus, they have this really great sort of metallic/shiny look to them that makes you feel a bit rocker when you put ’em on.

So shiny, so fancy.

So shiny, so fancy.

So like I said, high hopes. And they fit *almost* perfectly.

Super skinny skinnies

Super skinny skinnies

Yeah, my lighting is terrible. Whatever. Anyway, what you can’t see in this picture so much is that while they fit great through the hips and legs, the waist was a bit … tight. I’ve got a bit of dunlap (done-lapped over my belt!) going on here, and no one needs to see that muffin top.

Especially not at $114.

Cost: $114. Verdict: Sent back.

What you can also see in the above picture is one of the tops I was excited about: Market & Spruce, Sam Hi-Lo Short Sleeve Tee.

Super soft, super comfy

Super soft, super comfy

Ugh. Muffin top, visible through that thin tee. Stupid jeans.

This shirt though. It was super comfortable, soft and a nice casual shirt you could wear just about anywhere. I liked the fact that it had a lower hem in the back, making it perfect to wear with leggings if you’re down with that sort of thing. The only downside here is that it feels a lot like some other shirts I own, and that I could probably find something similar if I wanted to for a lot less.

Cost: $44. Verdict: Sent back.

I can’t be too mad that the stylist found something that basically already exists in my wardrobe.

Speaking of which …

The Pixley Abriella Waffle Knit Cardigan, while awesome, is a near replica of a cardigan I already own. I probably actually like this one better, but I’m not trying to buy duplicates.

Exhibit A: The Pixley cardigan.

Such a great staple item!

Such a great staple item!

Exhibit B: Cardigan I already own, purchased at Old Navy like a year ago.

So great, in fact, I already own one.

So great, in fact, I already own one.

You see what I’m saying. Again, the stylist nailed my style, but since I already own something nearly identical, I’ll be passing on the cardigan.

Cost: $48. Verdict: Sent back.

I think you’re probably starting to see a pattern here, and unfortunately it continues. This cuff? Already own one.

Dorothy Layered Hammered Cuff, by Zad

Dorothy Layered Hammered Cuff, by Zad

So I guess, good job Makela for hitting my style on the head?

Well, almost. This shirt. What do I say about this shirt? It looked so cute in the box; the material so soft, the color nice and saturated, flowy like I like a lot of tops to be, and long enough in the back to pull it off with leggings.

Oh and also designed to make me look like a small house.

Pitchin' a tent up in hurr.

Pitchin’ a tent up in hurr.

Seriously. I know I made fun of my muffin top earlier, but in no way does this shirt help make things better. I look huge! My husband asked if there was a circus going on under this tent. I think the verdict is pretty clear; the only way I could see keeping this thing would be if I were in the market for maternity clothes.

I’m not.

Cost: $58. Verdict: Sent back.

So there you have it — I won’t be keeping anything from this fix, but mostly because I already own similar items. I’m also still trying to figure out the right size to ask for in jeans, but I’m not giving up hope on them. There’s something just so much better about trying jeans on at home, with your shirts and your shoes, that it’s worth trying again and again to get it right.

Better luck next time, Stitch Fix.

Passion, Shmassion.

You remember that writing course I told you guys I was taking?

A quick glance at today’s assignment tells me it’s going to be a doozy. Why, you ask?

Because it’s all about finding your passions.

You see, I’m a person of very few passions, if any. Certainly not many I could fill a whole blog writing about. I care about plenty of things, sure — the environment, social welfare, common freakin’ decency — but I don’t think I know enough about or am passionate enough about any of them.

What does passion even really mean, any way?

People say that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. That if you follow your passions, you’ll always be happy. But that assumes that you’re passionate about something you can make money doing!

True enough, I’ve followed what I guess you could call my passion for proper grammar (yes, I’m that weird) and I’m making a living as a writer, proofreader and copy editor. I often think I should spend more time writing about how to become a freelancer; to help other people with creative minds take the leap from corporate cog to sole proprietor. But if I’m being honest…

I have no idea how to do that.

I mean, I’m doing OK, don’t get me wrong. But I have a lot of cushions that many others don’t, and I haven’t felt the fear of missing rent because I was unable to secure enough work. I have a husband with a good job who values my happiness higher than any income, and a good network of former coworkers and friends who send work my way. How can I sit on my throne of lies telling people how to make it as a freelancer? I’m not making it on my own; I have a tremendous amount of help and support.

And the real truth is — I wouldn’t know how to pitch a publication or other service to save my life. I’m a terrible sales person, particularly when it comes to selling myself. It’s part of why I’m taking this class in the first place, to figure out what exactly I have to offer and how to offer it.

Maybe that’s how everyone figures out this freelance gig, who knows. Maybe I’m not the only person who has no idea what she’s doing 80 percent of the time.

But even if that’s the case, do we really need another case of the blind leading the blind?

So I turn away from freelance advice, and back to the drawing board. What else do I care about?

It’s not an easy question to answer.

I love dogs, but no one needs another person rambling about how dogs are awesome.

I love food, but I would never even attempt to enter the food blog arena. Talk about shouting into a void.

I love beer, but you can only write about that so many times before your family tries to stage an intervention.

I suppose you could say a growing interest of mine is female health education. Call it a symptom of what I’ve been going through for the last year, but it’s truly appalling the amount of misinformation out there about the female anatomy. Girls who are lucky get a quick gloss over it all during sex ed; girls who aren’t so lucky, who don’t even have sexual education in their schools, are often left clueless as to how their bodies actually work.

It’s embarrassing that we leave such important information out of our education. That because it has to do with a woman’s insides (EEK! GASP! CLUTCH PEARLS!) it’s best if we don’t talk about it at all and just hope for the best down the line.

So yeah, maybe I’m passionate about that. But I’m not a physician; writing blog after blog about female reproductive education isn’t going to boost my business in any way. Hell, depending on the person, it might even chase some clients off. That’s certainly not what I’m going for.

Back to the drawing board, again.

Most likely, this blog will always be a place for these random musings to come out, a place where you’ll just hear me blab (and therefore will never get many hits). But I’m working toward finding the right voice for my business blog, and it’s not been easy.

That’s freelancing for you. Too much time to think and not enough direction.

Heh. Maybe it should be a freelancer tips blog after all.