Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reflecting on 2014, Family-building, and Possibilities

With the new year on the horizon, I've been in a little bit of a panic. I am no stranger to anxiety and panic attacks, and while this hasn't risen anywhere near to the level of panic attack (with work over the years, those appear to have mostly been dealt with), the anxiety is nevertheless present. I just cannot believe 2014 is over! Where did it go? I've been feeling like I must not have done anything with it because it barely seems to have existed! 2013 was by far one of the worst years of my life - I lost a baby and my dad, among others. I remember being at the end of 2013 and thanking God for both the blessings 2013 had brought (my sweet, silly kitty, for one), and that it was OVER. But this new year's eve, I feel so desperate for MORE of 2014! 
Then someone reminded me of some of the great pictures I'd posted through the year, and I decided to go back through them and make a collage for myself of a handful of amazing moments and memories from the year. I am SO glad I did!
Of course this year wasn't perfect. I lost a grandfather. And amazing experiences don't just fall into your lap (98% of the time). You have to work for them, persist, and be ready for the unexpected. That's exactly what I did. At the beginning of the year, I had several goals: Become a life coach by taking and finishing the UC Davis program (done), incorporate my business (done), become a public speaker (not yet), finish a first draft of my first novel (not yet), put our house on the market so we can by our dream home (done), pick an adoption agency (done), finish our adoption agency application (not yet), plan and take a 3-4 week trip overseas (done), visit my husband's side of the family (done), work on a few close friendships (ongoing), and lose 15 more pounds or 1 more clothing size (LOL).
You can see that some goals were met while others weren't. To be fair, though, it was a bit ambitious. Probably unrealistic. But OMG, what an amazing year it led to! I made incredible friends in my coaching class, and got to see things out in the world that so overwhelmed me, I was overcome with tears of joy while in their presence. No wonder I want MORE of 2014!
On the one hand, my list, as a set of goals, was unrealistic and overwhelming. People ask me why I haven't made more progress on the adoption paperwork - why I seem to be putting it off. Some of it might be that I'm procrastinating from a fear of failure, but honestly, it's because when it comes to building my family, well, I have more control over the outcome of other things. Admittedly, we need a better support community for us to move forward through the adoption process, so that's something I'll be looking for in 2015.
But if, instead of viewing my overwhelming, unrealistic list as one of goals, we view it as a list of possibilities, then WOWZERS! Anything can happen!
People are different, and while some do well with goals, some of us, including myself, thrive under a looser construct. We need space for creativity and bounce back faster from the unexpected when we aren't constricted by what we see as boundaries and rules that our Gremlins tell us we should be following and make us feel bad if we don't.
My resolution for 2015 is this: Instead of goals, I will have possibilities. Because that's really what they are anyway.
Are you more motivated by goals or possibilities? How did you do with them last year? How do you think this applies to building your family or coping with infertility?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wave of Light 2014

I am the mother of 4 children who will never have a birthday.

Every year on this day, people like me who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss, and others who support us, light candles in acknowledgement of our losses and to help spread awareness. I learned of this and began my participation after my first two miscarriages, in 2010. That was the year I discovered an amazing community of bloggers and tweeps who shared my struggles. I hope if you have this in common with us and haven't reached out, that you will. We are here for you. 

Here is my Wave of Light for 2014. This year is a little different - we have an overly curious kitten, so no open flame this year.  Nevertheless, here's to my babies in heaven, Athanasios, Barbara, Cecilia, and Diomedes. My prayers are always with you, and I hope you're surrounded by the love of your grandpas, too.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Hello my loyal and lovely readers! In case you hadn't noticed, I've been on a bit of a blogging hiatus. A lot has happened in the last year, since my last post. The last time I blogged I talked about things happening in my life and feeling like clay being shaped by unseen forces. Since then, my dad died, a kitten showed up at our house and adopted us, I traveled to three other countries, I started a new business, another friend died, and we are moving forward with choosing an adoption agency!
But, none of that is what this post is about. Because you see, Thursday is the start of BlogHer 2014! It's being held in San Jose, where I partially grew up, and driving distance from where I now live. That fact has inspired me to reboot this blog, and start a couple of others to support my brand new website going live any day now! I hope you will all do me the honor of reading what I have to say over there as well, when those blogs are up and running.
One of the primary hotels conference attendees are staying at is the Fairmont in San Jose. I just stayed at the Fairmont for my 20-year high school reunion this weekend. And yes, I will be back on Wednesday for BlogHer. But after my stay I have a few tips to share! 1) Join the President's Club to get free WiFi. 2) The in-room minibar is very thorough, and of course also very expensive, and very sensitive! If you move anything you will be charged for it as well as a room service fee. 3) The Fairmont hotel parking is valet only. 4) If your car is a hybrid, you pay half for overnight guest parking. 5) At least some of the valet parking is out in the sun. When I got my car back it had clearly been sitting in the sun all morning. My plan on Wednesday is to tip a valet a few extra dollars when he takes the car, show him the sun visor and ask him to put it in the windshield when he parks the car. 6)The valet/bell hop system is poorly managed and understaffed. My experience this weekend was that when a conference is checking out on Sunday, they do not have bell hops available to come to your room and get your luggage at check out time. The wait to have your car retrieved gets very backed up. Maybe it's better if you check out earlier on Sunday, but I would give yourself plenty of extra time if you are on a schedule on Sunday and need to get a car out of the Fairmont's hotel parking.
Also, regarding transportation: if you are driving around the Bay Area, make sure to carry cash for bridge and road tolls. The lowest I know of is $5. And, if you are planning on using public transit, please research it first. Ours is not as convenient or thorough as many back east.
Let me know if you have any other questions about the Fairmont or anything related to San Jose. I will do my best to answer them!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


There are so many things I could write about right now, and I plan on addressing them, one by one, in the near future. Some of you know what we went through earlier this year. Some of you don't. It suffices to say, I have come out the other side feeling changed, awakened. For the first time in my life, I feel as clay must feel, soft and pliable, ready to be shaped by a master potter into something miraculous.

Master Potter Spins His Wheel, from Nagarjun
I have experienced much loss in my life. The death of loved ones, born or unborn, and other, less critical losses that still manage to carry a certain amount of trauma. But never have I had so many losses occur in such a short amount of time. I read somewhere that the average person experiences a serious loss once every three or so years. From the end of last year, into the beginning of this one, in about seven weeks, we had seven tragic and scary events: Two deaths of loved ones, a miscarriage, an attempted burglary, an out-of-town hospitalization, a loved one’s cancer diagnosis, and a complicated situation of being trapped while pregnant. 

Many people recognize some of these as losses. But others are not as obvious. So, as I tell you about them, I intend to include some analysis of my own grief. I'm sure this process will leave me feeling vulnerable. I can only hope to continue to receive the same compassion you have shown me in the past.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness

This is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and today was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. To commemorate our lost babies, many in the community participate in the Wave of Light, lighting candles at 7 PM in our own time zones. Here is mine:

I am the mother of three lost babies, Athanasios, Barbara, and Cecilia. So I light three candles, one for each. They are on our household altar, an Orthodox Christian tradition. Here's another picture so you can see the Icons a little better:

We have an Icon for the patron saint of each of our babies. the largest one, in the center, is Saint Barbara. The smaller one to the left is Saint Athanasios, and the tiny one to the right is Saint Cecilia. There is also a glass Icon of Jesus, and part of our Icon of King David in this photo (David is the Wacky Wicketeer's patron saint.) We have others on our household altar and in our home, but these are the ones the help us grieve our babies. Each saint has a name/feast day, and it's on these days that we memorialize that lost child and all that happened or didn't happen centering on their part in our lives. In this way, we can remember them and pray for them once a year, without obssessing over the exact dates of events.

My first two losses, Athanasios and Barbara, were "missed miscarriages". This means that fetal death was diagnosed while they were still in the womb. I then waited for my body to push them out. Athanasios took a week. Barbara took two and a half weeks. When people ask what date I had the miscarriage, or I have to fill it out on a form, this always befuddles me. What date do I pick? The date when I had that eight-week ultrasound done and the heartbeat that had been there two weeks before was gone? Or the date I went into my mini-labor? Or the date I passed the fetal tissue? Having one day each year to grieve these events, and the term milestones and due date that were never reached, and the day of my BFP, helps me cope. It helps to keep my life focused on living.

I want to note here that in our theology, humans do not become Angels. Angels are another type of being entirely. So, though I may occasionally use the term to describe my babies in Heaven, I use it loosely, not under the belief that they are actually Angels. The more accurate term to me is "Lost Babies". I prefer to be called a "Baby loss mother" or "Mommy of a lost baby" than "Mommy of an angel". But, for my loss to be acknowledged at all is both an honor and a rarity, so I really don't mind the use of the term angel in doing so.

Thanks for reading this post. And to those that go so far as to acknowledge my losses, a big thank you for your compassion and respect. One in four women of childbearing age experience pregnancy or infant loss, yet it is still a taboo subject. This means many parents are left to grieve alone. I hope you'll help me change that.