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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wisconsin Dells: Baseball

I wasn't going to go to this part. Leo and I weren't getting along that great and I was feeling pretty stressed out with the kids. Gia all of a sudden hates her stroller and hates eating out...two things I was going to need her to do. I went because it was the easiest thing to do since we were meeting my family up there when the tournament was over. It sounded like a good idea at the time but I remember after Spring Break saying there was no way I was going to go and I think I should have just stuck with that. First, Leo had given up our two bedroom for a one bedroom. When we went to Disney, we did fine with a one bedroom. Gia slept in the one bedroom with Leo and me and I could put her down and shut the door and she would go to sleep. We had the kitchen so I could feed her before we'd go to restaurants and it worked very well. When I walked into our "one bedroom" I saw that it was actually ONE ROOM! Not good. Second, the baseball part was so hard with Gia. I only saw Nico play one of his three games and though the highlight was going to the waterpark, a family vacation, it was not. Nico was pushing the limit on what I was comfortable with him doing and after being at a waterpark for a few hours before his game, he didn't put out his best performance. He didn't do horrible but just not his norm. Third, we stayed at The Wilderness and it really was the wilderness because I had NO cell service! I think we are all waaay too dependent on our cell phones but this hotel was enormous and part of the luxury of having cell phones is that I can keep tabs on my kids (only Nico has one but Tommy was with him and Isabella was with some older girls that had them). Mine wasn't the only one and I want to know why we don't get a text bounced back when it doesn't go through? All talking was through texting so either you felt ignored or left out. So frustrating. Third, I was pretty sure Belle had 5th's disease. Her cheeks were really red and by by day two, she had a rash on her arms and some of her back, like Nico. If you know Belle or if you have read previous posts, you know that there was nothing but drama that followed. Once you have the rash, you are no longer contagious and I made the mistake of telling her that the sun would probably make it worse so not to worry...big mistake! She drove me absolutely crazy with worry. "If I stand in the shade over there, what if a little sun gets on it? Is it supposed to itch? It doesn't itch...oh, wait...I think it kind of itches. Is my stomach supposed to hurt? My stomach hurts." Last, it is a tradition for the men to go to the casino which I was fine with but the women decided to go to dinner before they went. Leo was fine with it but forgot about giving me some time to get ready. He wasn't back from Nico's game and I had to take a shower before dinner so...Gia had to shower with me. Not fun. Then I couldn't really wash my hair so I had to straighten it. The result was cotton candy hair. While I was getting the cotton candy hair, Gia was trying to grab the flat iron. I had to stop every couple of minutes to move her away from burning herself. After Leo got back, he was very concerned with his phone not working and how was he going to hook up with the other guys. Guess what? I didn't really care. I just wanted him to leave so I could finish getting ready. I HATE being the reason why people are late. I was getting more and more frustrated. The conversation we had went like this:

Me: Today when you showered did you have anyone in there with you? Any of the kids?
Him (looking at me like I had two heads): No.
Me: And when you shaved, did you have anyone trying to grab the razor?
Him (again, looking at me like I was crazy): No.
Me: And when you go to the bathroom, do you get to be alone?
Him (still not getting it because he was so preoccupied with trying to text the other husbands): Yes.
Me (not being able to resist raising my voice): Well, I had to shower with Gia, try and do my hair with Gia grabbing at it and haven't been able to go to the bathroom alone in 2 days!

He apologized but proceeded to ask me all of the things that he needed and what he should do and so on. All the while, I was texting a friend but wasn't hearing back. Meanwhile, a different friend came to pick me up but of course I wasn't ready so I started yelling at Leo, who insisted on putting Gia into the stroller that she hates, to just leave so I could get ready. We ended up in a huge fight right in front of her and he left mad and I finished getting ready crying. I couldn't shake the fight and there were other issues I couldn't shake so I tried very hard to get through the dinner. When in doubt, tell funny in-law stories. One of the women we were there with confirmed that I did indeed have cotton candy hair. Leo and I made up during the dinner (over texting...using someone else's phones). I apologized for yelling at him while I was stressed and he said he understood why I was mad. The kicker came when the men asked us to pick up food for all the kids. Had I gotten the call, I would have told them to order or figure something else out. Part of getting the break is not having to worry about what everyone is eating. When Leo goes out, he doesn't come home and feed the kids first. I did not get the call so I was just along for the ride. It was painful. The McDonald's we went to was the worst. It was a 20 min wait for our food. We ended up talking people out of eating there because it was so ridiculous. When I got home, Gia was still awake and the kids were running around the halls of the hotel.

So basically, I got a 2 hour break and came home to chaos. Leo went to the casino and I had to round up the kids and deal with the crying that I am the meanest mom ever for not letting them stay out late. The whole thing was exhausting and then I had to wake up at the crack of dawn to pack everything to move to Chula Vista to be with my family. They wanted to meet for breakfast. I was having a hard time talking to them with limited phone service and getting my family to move so we could meet them was stressful. There was a lot of yelling and what do you know? Tommy couldn't move. At all. We were convinced that it was because he was at the waterpark from 9am-9pm the day before. We missed breakfast with my family and instead had it at the Wilderness. Gia hated every minute of it and let everyone know by screaming the entire time so I had one bite of the delicious french toast thingy before taking her outside. It made me wonder for the 100th time, why am I not skinnier??

After that, there was a ton of fighting in the ten minute drive to Chula Vista, me crying because I hate vacationing with my kids and Tommy and Belle crying that they didn't feel good. I could not wait to see my family. Gia loves my mom and I knew that I'd get somewhat of a break. The kids all have a cousin that is their age so I knew they'd be busy with them and I'd get to catch up with my sisters. My enthusiasm was very short-lived. It pretty much ended right after the delicious margarita at the wave pool. Tommy was going downhill fast.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Quick Preview

I don't have time to write much. We got back an hour ago, Leo left for his business trip and I have to get Tommy to baseball practice which I am pretty sure he can't do.

It wasn't great. To give you an idea, the highlights of the first part was going to the waterpark and Gia sleeping on me instead of watching Nico's team lose and the delicious french toast casserole thingy they had for breakfast.

The highlights of the second part was going into town with my dad to wait for Tommy's prescription to be filled and doing the laundry with my mom and sister. We pretended that it was too difficult for one of us to find and then find our way back so that we could get a small break from the kids.

Once the kids go to bed, I'll try and get back online. I did figure out that without being able to blog, the thoughts clutter up my head so I couldn't write all week in the books I am working on.

Friday, June 24, 2011

I Hate Saying This: Feelings That Resurface

Sometimes being a mom to my kids is really hard, exhausting and overwhelming. I know being a mom is hard, exhausting and overwhelming in general and I am not at all saying mine are worse than others. I am just putting it out there that on this day, this is how I am feeling. If you are feeling this way too, then you are not alone. There is that old saying about if everyone put their problems in a pile, people would pick their own problems back out but I would say it depends on the problems in the pile. Today, I would pick someone else's. Not someone else's kids. Someone else's problems. I still want my kids. Sometimes with all we deal with, it is easy to lose sight of the actual people in the bodies that roam around here. We are trying to get ready to go on a small vacation. The first part is with the baseball team and I am trying to prepare myself for the feelings that always creep in. The isolation of having my kids with their issues. It takes a stronger person than me not to let it get to them that their kids are different than everyone else. It's actually easy to forget until they start to dehydrate or are eating pretzels in the dugout or can't do something right away because they have to do their treatment. Even taking their pills is a small reminder that they are different. Of course all of the feelings go away when I think about how lucky they are that they are even playing. Some kids with CF don't have that luxury. Maybe that is why I am feeling so melancholy about the whole thing today: there is a tug of war between my brain and my heart. My brain knows how fortunate they are and how to stay that way, they have to take their meds but my heart hurts when Nico and Tommy cry that they are on vacation and don't want to do their treatments. That we can't even escape CF while we are on vacation.

The second part is with my whole family and I want to look forward to that part. My mom has spent the better part of the week saying it will be fine so I am going to trust that it will. It is easier to travel with family but the stresses are still there. In all honesty, I am jealous sometimes that my family is the only one that didn't dodge this bullet. I would NEVER want or wish that my nieces and nephews had CF. I only wish that mine didn't.

I have to do a sidebar here: I know we don't see everything but I think the reason I like the Sister Wives and even Jon and Kate Plus 8 better than the Duggars is because when all the families went on vacation, the Sister Wives and J&K showed how stressful it is to get a family ready to go. The Duggars make me feel like crap that I am screaming at my kids to give me their clothes and leave me alone for 5 minutes while I try and throw things we might or might not need in a bag that will inevitably be too big to fit in our van with the pack and play, stroller, golf clubs, diaper bag, kids' bags and pool bag. I never saw any screaming and while some argue it is because the older kids help the younger kids, the only thing Nico has helped the younger kids do is reach a tone or pitch in their voices that only dogs will hear. And yes, I could have been more organized (but then I wouldn't be the Queen of Chaos, would I?) but I didn't think I was going to the first part until 11:00 last night. Still not sure it is a good idea but we'll see.

Another sidebar: I have found a site: www.sparkpeople.com that is like Weight Watchers but it is free. You put in your goals and then track your food and exercise and I did that and was feeling pretty good that I followed it and even exercised (have I mentioned how much I HATE exercising). I know it takes awhile to see results but I GAINED a half a pound!!! Ugghhh....so frustrating.

I am pretty sure I will be offline until next Wednesday. I am going to go through withdrawal (okay, I just figured out that this whole time I was spelling this word wrong) but I am sure I will have tons to write about when I get back.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

When I'm Done, I'm Done

There comes a point in the day, usually around 5, when I can feel myself wanting to be done with the day. I am either trying to get dinner on the table or trying to get out of the house for a baseball game (and at this point in the baseball season, usually begrudgingly) but all I can think about is crawling in bed and relaxing. By the time 8:00 rolls around, I am done. I mean really done. I feel bad but I just want my kids to go to bed so I can have an hour or so to decompress, read or watch tv. Instead they fight sleep, they fight with each other and they fight with me. I become the mean, mean mom that resents the fact that they won't just go to bed. Nico thinks it is some status symbol to stay up late. Like he can't be a teenager without staying up until 11 every night (nevermind that he has camp at 9:00am every morning). The twins still view bedtime as a punishment so anytime I say, "It's time for bed," it's met with, "NOOOOOOO!!!!! I'm sorry. I'll stop." You would think, at nine years old, they would understand that no matter what, bedtime is going to come every day.

It's getting bad (and I know it will only get worse) with Nico and his social life. He thinks every night is a party and that they should be allowed to stay out until 10 or 11. Luckily, some of his friends' moms are also getting tired of it so we can band together and shut it down. I'm okay with one late night during the week and God knows the weekends are late nights but c'mon...give me a break. There should be time in there to just be a family. When I am complaining about the school year, you all have permission to remind me of this silver lining: During school, it's a given that there is no hanging out after dinner so things get shut down a lot earlier. Though Nico did share with me that sometimes he just likes to stay home so maybe my mindset is rubbing off on him. Like I said, when I am done, I am done. It's not bad once in awhile but all the time gets to be too much. Am I alone in feeling that way? In my old age, am I becoming anti-social?

An update to my anniversary woes: Leo brought sushi for lunch which if he wasn't fishing (he had to leave right away so he just dropped it off so we didn't even eat it together) would have been a really sweet gesture and a Cookies by Design basket which normally is my most favorite thing in the world but since I have gained 10 pounds (obviously the chocolate and strawberries and hot chocolates caught up with me), I am trying to eat healthier (read lose weight, which I had told him the night before). That surprise was lovely in thought but missed the mark. A great gift/gesture would have been getting up with the kids so I could go to Lifetime (I could bring the kids but we are going on vacation tomorrow so I don't want them getting sick and Gia usually does) but intramural "old man" basketball took priority. I went to my mom and dad's for dinner and it was a really nice time. Nico stayed home with me all day (I think he felt bad that I was bummed) and so it was nice having him at my parents and I think they were happy that he kept asking to stay longer. Those are the times that make the best memories so I am thankful that the whole day wasn't a bust.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

When Will I Stop Being Mad?

On this day, 15 years ago, Leo and I got married. He is going fishing. He left at 5:00 this morning to play basketball and won't be home until 11:00 tonight. I can't help think: no birthday gift or special way to celebrate, no anniversary gift or special way to celebrate. As we get older, do special days and celebrations fall by the wayside? Fifteen years sounds and feels like a big accomplishment but maybe it isn't. Maybe I am making more out of it than I should. My feelings are hurt. They have been since my birthday and when he went to Vegas. I hesitated about whether to say anything on here about it but now maybe people will understand where my frustration in some of the post comes from. I could have written a post about how much I love him because I do or the things we've shared over the years because there have been many but I can't write it, if I am not feeling it. I could have put that mask on that so many do that everything is perfect and wonderful and rainbows and balloons all the time but I can't do that. If, for nothing else, this blog is an honest one. And the truth is that marriage is hard. Just because you are happily married doesn't mean that there aren't bumps in the road. We are human and we screw up and we hurt each other and we become lazy and we take each other for granted. I know that there will be decades of more love and good times mixed in with the bumps but for today, I will not think about that. I will only think about how much I want to take the fishing pole and shove it up his ass. I think he forgot how mad I can get and I will take great pleasure in not doing his laundry until he remembers.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Bachelorette and Other Shows

I am way behind with the shows I watch so this will be just my thoughts on a few.

The Bachelorette:While I don't enjoy all the drama with Ashley having such strong feelings for Bentley (the biggest jerk that has graced this show ever), I am enjoying the rest of this show. I read somewhere that the producers didn't want to show Ashely all the negative things Bentley said about her behind her back because it would interfere with the natural (Hah!) process. I disagree with that. If he was still there, maybe but he left and she can't stop thinking about him (which I do NOT get at all) so I think in all fairness to her and the remaining guys, she should be shown what a jerk he was and move on. I miss Trista and Ryan's season. There were no exotic locations, there was only drama with one guy and watching him get kicked off was satisfying (remember Russ the stalker guy?) and we got to see a love story unfold. I'd like to see that again. I think the lack of that happening in the last few seasons is covered up by the traveling all over the world. Anyway, I am probably in the minority but there is something about Ben F. that I am liking (now that I can tell him and Constantine apart). I can't put my finger on it but he reminds me of someone I know. I like that he is straight forward with how he feels and doesn't have a bunch of walls up. I think that is attractive in a guy. I once had a guy ask me who I liked (okay, I was probably 13) and when I said I wasn't sure but obviously liked him, he said, "Well, I like you." I fell hard for that one. I think Mickey is hot but I think his days are numbered. I was really liking J.P. and loved their stay at home date and then the kissing on the beach but there wasn't much of the two of them in this episode. Still see him as a front runner. Like the guys in the house, something about Ryan gets on my nerves too.

So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD): I love this show. It's too early for me to have a favorite. I do like Tadd, Clarice and the girl who had to dance with Robert because her partner was injured. I hate when the dancers try to be overtly sexy. I wish they would just dance. The one was one step shy of dancing on a pole.

The Voice: I have no idea what Blake was thinking except that I read somewhere that he felt that Jared Blake and Patrick didn't need The Voice and that the girls did. Did anyone else think it was strange that Cee Lo picked "Sex is on Fire" for Nakia and he has a lisp?

Housewives Franchise:b I don't even know what to say other than it has been a terrible display how women act. Orange County: I cannot stand any of them with Gretchen, Alexis and Tamra being the worst. In Alexis' attempt to stand by her man, she looks like a complete, delusional idiot. Gretchen and Tamra cancel each other out. New York: I am not caught up on this one so can't say much except I think the exposure that these women have gotten has made them all crazy. New Jersey: I'm sorry but Melissa and Joe have made it so that anyone that is on screen with them (with the exception of her sisters) look like decent, normal people. The whole singing Amazing Grace in the closet...give me a break...if that wasn't a shameless plug for a wanna-be singer, I don't know what is. She might have been pretty in the first episode before she opened her mouth but after that...a whole lotta ugly. What is with Joe's staring off into space look? I don't believe for one second that Melissa wants them to make up for the family. I think she sees Teresa as her ticket to stay on the show. Without their relationship, what is there?

I am watching Friday Night Lights but have a hard time commenting since I have already seen it on DirectTV. I hate the Tim is in jail storyline and can't believe they couldn't say he went to be with Lyla and then when he came back say it didn't work out. C'mon writers! Help a fan out!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Gia's Story Pt. 3

I could not get a grip on what was happening. I had prayed for six years that I would get pregnant on my own and the baby wouldn't have CF because those were the two things that broke me and God answered that prayer. I felt like the devil himself had his claws in Gia just waiting to claim her. Waiting to steal all of our joy. I felt like he was near, mocking my faith saying, "Did you really think you were going to escape? Did you really believe you deserved this gift?" I think I cried for three days straight before we brought her in. While I was crying (I was much worse this time around with hiding it from the kids), Tommy asked why I was crying. I told him that they were making Gia do a sweat test and that he had to have one, too. He asked why and I explained that he never had one and they just had to confirm the results. He got very excited and said, "So I might not have CF?" (He's smarter than I give him credit for.) He started yelling that over and over again and then Nico caught wind of it and started crying and said, "So I might be the only one that has it?" I didn't even know what to say to either of them. My heart broke for Tommy because my gut told me that the test was right (why I didn't trust my gut in thinking that Gia's was right too, I don't know) and that his test was going to come out positive and he was going to be devasted at having his hopes up. I consoled Nico and told him that even if it turned out Tommy didn't have it, look at how CF wasn't stopping him from doing anything. I remember in my panicked state of not knowing about Gia, I had a hard time coming up with anything meaningful to ease his worry. I hated CF and I hated the state for making us retake the test.

It was a long day because we had to go to Lutheran General and the sweat test takes awhile to do. Afterwards, we had to go home and wait. Again the wait was agonizing. I couldn't put her down. I felt like if I just held her, I could will her not to have it (if it were that easy, I'd never let Nico and Tommy go). The results were in. Gia didn't have it! Tommy did. When I told him, he took it like a champ. He was sad but said that nothing really changed. Nico said it was probably better that Gia didn't have it. He said he loved her and didn't want her to go through what he and Tommy had to. I spent the rest of the day thanking God and staring in awe that she was there and that she escaped CF.


Gia's story, whether you are religious or not, is one of an absolute miracle. Against all odds she is here. Every doctor told me it was never going to happen. Every doctor told me my body just wasn't cooperating. I was told I had one good tube and one good ovary (sorry TMI) but they were not on the same side. I heard that I was too old. I heard that I had "old eggs". I heard that it looked like most of my eggs carried the DNA that led to CF. I heard that even if I did get pregnant, they didn't know what killed my baby before so they couldn't prevent it from happening again. I heard that my only option was to use an egg donor or adopt an embryo and yet, I got pregnant on my own and she does not have CF. I believe that if you are given a dream, you are also given the ability to make it come true. After Rocco died, I was angry and confused so I prayed to God and said, "You have put this dream in my heart for a baby. Thank You for making it come true." I don't know why I thanked him before it happened but I remember my mom telling me and reading in the bible that, "Faith is believing without seeing and that God wants us to pray something and then thank Him because it is showing that we have faith that he will bless us with what we are asking." When my faith would falter, I wanted Him to know that if it wasn't meant to be and the answer was no (because sometimes the answer is just no), I wanted Him to remove the desire in my heart. That was the last prayer I said about having a baby. Instead of removing the desire, my prayer that I prayed for six long years was answered and He gave me Gia. Do I think that Rocco had something to do with it? Yes, I do. Do I think that He told God that his mom was sad and that sending me a baby would make me happy? Yes, I do. In The Shack, it said, and I am paraphrasing, "I do not make bad things happen but I do try and find good that can come out of it." That comforts me. Gia didn't replace Rocco but she is definitely the rainbow that came after the storm.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Father's Day Tribute

I looked back and saw that I didn't really do this for Mother's Day so I am including my mom in this one, too since she is a Father Maker.

I am thankful for my mom for making everything special. Sundays, holidays, birthdays...she effortlessly makes things better than you expect. She is a wonderful grandmother who my kids adore. She has shoulders the size of Mount Olympus to shoulder all of my sisters' and my problems. She is the first one I go to when I need a prayer because her faith is unwavering even in the worst of circumstances. She loves her family so fiercely that she isn't afraid to shout it from the rooftops. She never makes us feel like she is too busy to talk or just listen (I need to find out how she did that because when my kids are going on and on about something..."and then she did this and then she did that and, like....", I am screaming in my head, "Make it stop!") She is beautiful and I hope she knows how much I love and appreciate her (she doesn't read the blog).

I am thankful for my dad because he is the most reliable man I know. If I need him, he will drop everything to help me out. He is easy to talk to and I appreciate his stories of when he was younger because it helps me know the man he is today. He loves his family fiercely but unlike my mom, he does it quietly. He listens to us and then chimes in only when we ask. He gives great advice and has a way of making you feel like any problem is not as big as you think. He is a great grandfather and makes the kids feel special by going to the games they cheer at or play in. When Nico or Tommy have a good game, the first person they want to talk to if he wasn't at the game is my dad. I love and appreciate him and am thankful that he worked so hard so that my mom was able to stay home with all of us.

I am thankful for my gramps because he's always been my biggest supporter. I love that nothing stops him (except flooded streets or blizzards) from coming over on Sundays and I love hearing how it was in the "old days". When I was in college, he would send me letters and I cherished every one of them. He has a great sense of humor and I love that when he goes to my kids' games, he tells anyone that will listen that, "That's my great grandson out there! He's the best one out there!" I love him with all my heart and when our family gets together and it gets loud like it often does, we love to tell him, "See, look what you started!"

I am thankful for my mother-in-law's husband. He is a great grandfather to my kids. I am thankful that he takes such good care of Leo's mom and that he goes out of his way to make every visit a special one.

I want to mention here how thankful I am for a dad that is no longer with us. Leo's dad. I am thankful that Leo is just like his dad who was a man that loved his family and whose son meant the world to him. He was a private man that I didn't get a chance to know very well but I loved him all the same. He passed away in 1993 from stomach cancer and it was one of the hardest years for Leo. I know he looks down from Heaven and sees Leo being a great dad and he sees his grandkids but I wish all the time that he was here so the kids could know him. I think he would have gotten such a kick out of Leo, being and only child and having 4 kids. I think he would have gone to all of the kids' activities and I am sad that I missed out on being his daughter-in-law.

Last but not least, Leo. I know I give him a hard time (much of it is deserved) but I love him with my whole heart and I am so thankful that he is such a great dad. He takes an interest in all that they do and has coached them since they were 4 years old. He helps with homework and makes each one of them feel special and loved. I am thankful that he works so hard so that I can be a stay at home mom. I knew he'd be a good dad when I married him but he has far exceeded my expectations. With everything we have been through, the one thing that always remained constant was how much he loved his kids and would go to the ends of the earth to protect them and make sure they were okay.

Happy Father's Day! And for all the women that read this: Happy Father-Making day! (I stole that from my dad.)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Surprise of a Lifetime: Gia's Story Pt. 2

While enjoying every moment of being pregnant, I tried to love the baby while being semi-detached. I was really afraid of getting my heart broken again. After finding out the baby was a girl, all plans of remaining detached until she was born flew out the window. I was surprised at how fiercely I loved her. As her due date drew near, I was consumed with fears of something being wrong with her. I didn't regret not having the testing done but as the negative thoughts took over, I spent most waking moments forcing myself to imagine a healthy baby. I imagined this dark-haired baby with blue eyes and the biggest smile. As a gift to us, close friends transformed Tommy's room into a room fit for a princess. The only stipulation I had was it had to be pink because when I had Isabella, I also had Tommy so I had to go with the neutral color of light green.

As a family, we decided that if she was born with dark hair, her name would be Gia Nicole (after two of my sisters...my other sister already claimed the name Angelina which has all of our names in it). If she was born with blond hair like Belle, she would be Elyse Nicole (because I loved the name). Leo wanted Jessie or Jenna or something like that but there was no way I was backing down. I loved both those names and since we decided as a family, they both felt right.

Looking back, giving birth to Gia feels like it happened to someone else. You know when you have a great dream and it stays with you? It feels like that. I look at her and I don't remember the pain or the actual c-section. I just remember one minute she wasn't here and the next she was. I was so afraid to see her because I was afraid they were going to say, "You should have had the testing. Look at all that is wrong with her." When I saw her, she had this really dark hair and she was so big. She ended up being my biggest baby. She was absolutely perfect. We stuck to our original plan and gave her the name Gia Nicole. Even at birth she hated eating. Breastfeeding was a joke. I had one lactation consultant gasp at what Gia did to my breast and another put me in a strange position and told me to sing her lullabies. I was done breastfeeding after that.

We brought her home and instantly we couldn't remember a time without her. The sleepless nights didn't bother me, the dirty diapers didn't bother me. She didn't eat very well but what really worried me is that they tested her cord blood for CF and we didn't have the results yet. I looked for every sign that she didn't have it but couldn't see past my fears. When we took her for her two week appointment and the wait for the doctor to come in and tell us was agonizing. When he walked in and said, "She doesn't have it. She's a carrier," I hugged him and started crying. The relief washed over me in a flood. After that, I would spend the days just staring at her in awe that she was actually there. I couldn't believe that after all that time, God gave me this beautiful gift. He finally answered my prayer. When she was about 2 months old, we went in for her check-up and very casually the doctor said, "She looks great so I think it is time to get that sweat test (standard test for CF) done." WHAT??? My heart fell. I became confused and scared and a little mean. We had the genetic test done and it came back negative! Why did we have to have the sweat test when that was the test you do before the genetic testing? He explained that because she failed the screening (because she is a carrier), the state demanded proof that we had the sweat test. They weren't satisfied with the genetic testing. He left to get the paperwork and I looked at Leo and started crying. Leo, being the hero of the day told the doctor when he came back that we were not going to have the testing done. That we already did and that was that. I was petrified of having her retested. As it was, I felt like at any moment someone was going to pinch me and I was going to wake up from this wonderful dream. I felt like as long as I didn't retest her, she'd stay okay.

While thoroughly enjoying Gia, I had the state calling me (3xs) and saying in a cheery voice, "Hi, your baby tested positive for the Cystic Fibrosis screening so we are calling to make sure that you are going to have a sweat test done." I knew she was just doing her job but I hated her. I argued with her three times about how we already followed up on it and they were so stuck on their protocol of "fail the screening, have the sweat test, do genetic testing" that they didn't make any allowances for the fact that we already had two children with it and we tested the cord blood and SHE DIDN'T HAVE IT! Correct me if I am wrong but aren't there crack whores who have issues that they could have bugged them about? Why were they so concerned about my baby having CF?

When we went in for her 3 month appointment, the doctor said the state wasn't backing down. We had to have her retested. On top of it, cord blood lends itself to inaccurate results because it could mix in with the mother's blood and since I was a carrier of one type of mutation, they might have misread the results. This made no sense to me because if that was true, she wouldn't even be a carrier and that would mean Tommy was only a carrier and wouldn't have it. When I brought that up, they decided both kids needed to be tested. I was devastated and the fear was mounting that the original test was wrong and that Gia had it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sidebar

I have time to write only a few sentences because someone thought it would be a good idea to start a baseball tournament at 3:00 on a Friday afternoon. Nico has to be there by 2:00 so I have to leave here by 1:30. It is times like this that I am reminded that I live in a community where life revolves around sports and I do not enjoy it. What I will enjoy is dropping Nico off at the field and finding a margarita to enjoy for an hour before the game because baseball is much more enjoyable after an alcoholic beverage.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

CF Appt Update

Another short post because...GREAT APPOINTMENT!!!!! Isabella kept Gia occupied for the most part with the help of the staff. The nurses made me feel better without even knowing it because when my kids acted up, they laughed and said how cute they were. The doctor thinks Nico is battling some residual effects of the 5ths Disease and that, with basketball camp and baseball games, is why he is so tired and nothing more serious than that. They both gained weight (7-8lbs) and grew (an inch or so). Their lungs were clear and pulmonary function tests were off the charts normal and I heard the words I long to hear at every appointment: You are doing a great job so keep doing what you are doing. They look great! (It really takes so little for me to be okay.)

I will be able to say "Kitchen closed" at a normal hour and I will sleep like a baby tonight. Thank you so much for all the prayers.

Short Post: CF Appt

This is going to be short because going to the CF appointment is stressful. It is far and we have to bring all the kids so that alone will not be fun. It just makes for a long afternoon with two kids having to be checked out. Thankfully, Leo is going with me (one of the reasons I am no longer mad at him about Vegas). I am afraid Nico has mono. He missed camp today because he hasn't been able to keep his eyes open longer than an hour and is really sore. He's done this camp every year and has had no problem. Maybe because he was just getting over being sick, he is having trouble or maybe something is going on. I hope we figure it out today. These appointments are hard. I don't know if I have said it here or not but it feels like judgement day. If they are doing well (gained weight, no issues) then it feels like I did an okay job of keeping them healthy. If not, then I failed them somehow. I didn't put enough fat in their food or feed them enough calories. There was that week that I was sick that I wasn't as diligent about their vitamins. I don't know. I think there is always the fear that they aren't doing as well as I think they are. If you could spare a prayer that everything is okay, I would appreciate it. I'll update when I get back.

A little funny that I will think of all day when I am stressed out: We were in the car and the song "Need You Now" by Lady Antebellum came on and Isabella yelled, "I LOVE this song. It's my favorite right now. Please keep it on!" I also like this song so I did and before I knew it, Belle was belting out very much out of tune, "It's a quarter after one. I'm a little drunk and I need you now!" Something so very wrong with a 9 year old singing that and yet, it makes me laugh every time I think of it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Few Words About Summer

I AM NOT GOING TO SURVIVE IT!!!! If you have been reading, I know you were expecting a heartfelt post about the birth of Gia but before I do that one, I have to get this off my chest.

OMG, we are only two days into the first week of summer and I am not kidding. I am not going to survive. I want to go on record as saying that I don't give a rat's behind if my kids are social or not. I don't care if they ever play. From the time they wake up until the time they go to bed, they are driving me crazy. Nico is a money vacuum and can someone explain to me how a kid that has always had chores all of a sudden thinks he doesn't have to do anything and get money every time he goes out the door? For some reason, he seems to think because he goes to camp in the morning and has to play baseball at night, it is MY fault he is sore and tired. I also want to go on record as saying I don't give a monkey's behind if he EVER plays another sport again. Or rather, what activity can he do where he is gone from the moment he wakes up until the moment he goes to bed and his muscles won't hurt or he won't be exhausted? My absolute favorite is when he is hanging out with friends and because he was so exhausted, we want to shut it down earlier so he can go to bed at a decent hour and he spends the rest of the freaking night complaining and begging for his friends to stay later. How about...don't drag your ass all day and cry about how tired you are and I won't care how long they stay. I love when he thinks he's threatening me by telling me he might quit one of the sports he plays. I want to say, "I have news for you, Pal. Anytime you want to give me my life back, be my guest." The other thing that is getting old is the moodiness and disrespectful way of talking and then feeling bad a half hour later and coming up and hugging me and saying I'm sorry. While I appreciate the apology, this is a roller coaster I am not riding all summer.

Where do I even begin with the twins? When one has a friend or friends over, the other is up my butt wanting to do something or call someone. That would be fine but if it is always even, I could end up with 8-10 kids here. I don't mind having kids here. A lot of times it is easier because Gia naps and it's not always easy to bring them places or get them home. I want to stress that it is NOT my children's friends that are the problem. They have great friends that are very respectful and enjoyable to be around. It is MY CHILDREN that are the problem! I don't allow my kids to play games where they have to go door to door. It's not that I think there is anything wrong with these games. It's just that I don't know all of my neighbors and I don't want to bother them. So, if you are reading this and are a neighbor or have talked to a neighbor about that annoying kid going door to door, I am sorry if Tommy bothered you yesterday and if you need anything back, let me know. Tommy also thought while having friends over that he would ride Nico's long board. Nico wasn't even allowed to ride one until the summer before 6th grade and only with a helmet and yet, there was Tommy in the middle of the street, no less, on Nico's long board skating away, showing off for his friends. He was in his room from the time his friends left until dinner. He has suddenly grown an attitude that even the most mild-mannered mother would want to squash like a bug.

Isabella's new favorite thing to do is bake which is lovely and something to keep her and her friends busy but I am either going to lose weight from the sauna that the oven makes my kitchen or gain 300lbs from eating everything she makes because God forbid I take a pass.

Knowing I had kids coming, I went to Target and bought a sprinkler and a bunch of squirt guns. I wanted my kids to have a fun summer day. I have said it before and I'll probably say it again. The appreciation factor should equal or exceed the inconvenience factor and if it doesn't, I am done. It will be a long time before I do that again.

Do I even need to say what summer has done to Gia's nap schedule, our grocery bills or my house? It is DAY 2!!! Someone is not going to survive this summer and I think it is me!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Surprise of a Lifetime: Gia's Story

When I went to my doctor, he was not as excited as I was but just as shocked. He even joked and said, "Weren't you just in here telling me you were closing this door?" That first week was a blur of activities. Ultrasounds to make sure it wasn't in my tube and blood tests to make sure my numbers were doubling and my 39th birthday where I was going to breakfasts and lunches before going on our annual trip to Vegas (which I no longer wanted to go on because I just wanted to stay home and make sure I stayed pregnant). The worst was on my birthday, I was hoping that the best gift would be a good report at the doctor. Nope. Instead on the blood test form were the words: possible spontaneous abortion. Now, I know that means miscarriage but seeing those words on the paper really upset me. My doctor, after seeing me through some of the worst "fertility" times, was not hopeful and didn't want me to get my hopes up. I wanted to be excited but was afraid it was going to lead to more heartache. Right before we left for the airport the next day, the nurse called with my blood results. The number more than doubled. That was the first time I got good news since the test came up positive. I spent the whole plane ride worried I was going to miscarry on the plane and went to the bathroom at least 10 times on the plane. I spent a lot of time praying on that trip and allowed myself to tell every stranger that I was pregnant. I figured even if it ended badly, at least I was able to be excited in Vegas.

When I got home, I decided I needed to switch doctors to a more positive one. I went for an ultrasound and saw the heartbeat. With all my kids, seeing the heartbeat made it real but this time, the relief I felt was overwhelming. The doctor, who knew me and knew all that had happened, didn't make me feel like this was impossible. She was very matter-of-fact and acted like this was any other pregnancy. She even said to me, "Why would there not be a heartbeat? You are 6 weeks pregnant." That was exactly what I needed and decided she was who I was going to see from that point on. That changed when she started making me feel bad about not doing any prenatal testing. I would love to say that I didn't do any testing because I wasn't going to do anything different but really, I didn't do any testing because I didn't want to know. I wanted to hide for 9 months and then deliver a healthy baby. I didn't want to do anything that I did with Rocco. I thought by doing that, it would alleviate the worry. It didn't. I spent nine months praying and imagining myself delivering a healthy baby. I bought a heartbeat monitor (what a sanity saver that was) and after switching back to my original doctor that supported the "no testing" rule I had, went every two weeks to do a heartbeat check.

With my other pregnancies, there were milestones that I reached that each time I breathed a sigh of relief. The first was the positive test and then the heartbeat and then 12 weeks. This time, there was no sigh of relief. There was not only the worry that the baby would die again but there was the worry that there was a high chance (1 in 4 but with two kids that had it, the odds meant nothing to us) that the baby would have CF. I felt like I was holding my breath the whole time. Every time a negative thought would enter my head, I would force myself to picture a healthy baby (with dark hair for once...maybe I'd get one that looked like me). All the worrying aside, I LOVED being pregnant. I did a great job, for the first time in my life, of living in the moment. It was hard to be pregnant with the kids' schedules but Leo knew I needed to not be stressed out so he picked up a lot of the slack. I knew it was going to be my last time so I really enjoyed every moment of it. We went at 16 weeks for the anatomy ultrasound. I opted for a basic one in the office instead of the high tech one at Maternal-Fetal Medicine in the hospital. I could not bring myself to go back there. I didn't want to ever talk to the genetics counselor and I didn't want to lay on the same table I did with Rocco and wonder if ten days from then, I'd end up making burial arrangements again. Leo went with me and it was the absolute best experience. The tech was super fast so I wasn't that uncomfortable and she asked if we wanted to know the sex of the baby. We said yes and she announced, "It's a girl!"

Monday, June 13, 2011

Two Bad Mood Busters

I found two things that finally broke the bad mood. One was that my blog reached over 10,000 hits! Never in a million years would I think that people would tune in to read what I have to say or that my life is that interesting. What started out as venting or sorting through some thoughts and a way to get some experience has turned into a very fulfilling hobby. I haven't lost hope that it might turn into something more but for now, it warms my heart to have people stop me at Target or at baseball or cheerleading and have people say they love the blog or that they can totally relate. Thank you so much to all that read! It has also given me the confidence to send in my two children's books. I'm going to do it this week. No excuses!

The second bad mood buster is Gia. If you are on Facebook, you've seen the first video but I can't help it. It makes me laugh every time.
Sorry if these aren't clear. They are from my phone.
video
video

Okay and I admit, I bought FNL season 4 on ebay, too. :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Surprise of a Lifetime

As I filled out applications, I started to get excited about going back to work. It did occur to me that the weeding out process was computerized and if one of your dots didn't match up, your application wouldn't even reach a real person so I had a feeling my chances were small. I didn't care. I was in the complete mindset that if it was meant to be, it would be and I didn't give it another thought.

Nico was playing in a tournament on Memorial Day weekend and though I am not proud of it, we spent a lot of that weekend drinking. The games were sometimes brutal. We won our first game but then went on a losing streak. It wasn't the "getting blown out of the water" losing streak. It was the kind where we were up the whole game but then had one bad inning and ended up losing the game. After those games, a drink felt necessary. By Saturday, I realized (sorry, guys if it is too much info) I was "late". I had been "late" before and it meant nothing so the furthest thing from my mind was that I could be pregnant so I kept on drinking. It was a fun weekend to say the least. After a day of drinking and baseball on Sunday, I was really tired. My friend called and said they were having people over and to come over. I hesitated because I was tired and still late. If you are trying to get pregnant or are dealing with infertility, the fastest way to not be "late" is to take a pregnancy test. I figured, I'd take one and when it was negative, I'd be able to have a drink without worrying.

I took one and after the three minutes, got the shock of a lifetime. It was positive! What the????? How in the world was it positive? I stared at it in disbelief. I stared at myself in disbelief. I couldn't move, or smile or cry or anything. I was in complete shock. I yelled for Leo to come up and not to bring the kids. He said he thought by the way I was yelling that I either saw mouse or was pregnant (I didn't know I had a certain yell for either). He looked at the test and this was our conversation:

Leo staring at it: What is that?
Me: A pregnancy test.
Leo: Why'd you take that?
Me: I was late.
Leo: It's positive.
Me letting myself feel excited: I know!
Leo: How'd that happen?
Me (remembering that it was a month filled with no alone time for Leo and me): I don't know.
Leo: That's not real.
Me, my bubble bursting a little: Yes it is. I am pregnant.
Leo knowing me so well: We don't know for sure. Don't say anything until you go to the doctor.

I felt a little deflated from that conversation but was still in awe of how in the world that could be happening. We were in the car on the way over to our friends' and I asked what he was thinking and to burst my bubble further, he said, "We could have saved $20,000." We really did know each other so well because I knew that was what he was thinking. I thought he'd surprise me and say something else but being the practical man that he is, that was what he was thinking. I went to the party for about 20 minutes. I couldn't stand to be in the same room as my good friend and not tell her so I had to leave. I woke up in the middle of the night and took another test and it still said positive. The next few days, I don't remember the order of who I told when but I couldn't hold it in. I called my sister when I woke up. I felt like I was going to burst and wanted someone to be excited with me. If you tell me a secret, I won't tell a soul. It will go in the vault but ask me to keep a secret about myself, I can't do it. Before going over to my aunt's house for a Memorial Day party, I went to my mom's, peed on a digital test and when it came up positive, I showed her and she was just as shocked. The thing about having sisters is that once one knew, I felt bad that the others didn't know. I took one aside but couldn't get the other one alone (one wasn't there). I started to mouth it to her and she couldn't understand and when it became obvious that we were whispering, everyone wanted to know what was going on. I blurted it out because I am a terrible liar and couldn't come up with a lie that fast. The only negative was someone yelled, "You're pregnant!?" right in front of Tommy and we hadn't told the kids yet. Leo wasn't very happy with me because everyone knew and he wanted to wait. My dad's face registered worry and I knew it was because he had a hard time watching me go through what I did. My mom did, too but she was and is always an optimist. So the kids didn't find out quite the way we wanted but then the whole family knew. I called my best friend and shocked her and then each of my friends came over and I had the tests (by that time, I think there were 5) lined up. Looking back, it was a little gross to have 5 tests of my urine on display for people to see. Everyone was happy but I think in the back of their minds was that things didn't always go well just because we had a positive pregnancy test. I have to admit, as excited as I felt, that same thought was in the back of my mind as well.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What Do You Do?

Okay, here's a question that I would really like to know: What do you do to get out of a bad mood or what do you do to feel better when you are in a funk?

I know the last few posts were not happy, cheery posts and I am working on changing that (my birthday, school being out and Vegas are not helping) but I think I need help. I'd love to hear what others do because maybe I need to change up my normal, "get out of a funk" routine.

Some of the quirky things I do is if I feel like things are too much (too much drama), I start looking at realtor.com for houses. We are not moving. Ever. Leo doesn't like to move. Really, I don't think Leo likes any change at all which is why we live in a house that you can't ever change the furniture. There is one way for it to be and that is it. Personally, I think I would like this house better if I could change things around because it makes me feel like it is new again. I'm convinced it is also why every time I bring up repainting or changing window treatments or carpets, he nods and says "Hmmm...maybe." I also think he secretly would like to live in a jungle because that is what our backyard looks like right now but that is for another post. Anyway, I like to look at the houses and imagine picking up and starting over, sometimes out of state (I don't think I'd ever really be able to do that because of my family and friends) or sometimes just a few miles away. It's not the moving away that appeals to me. It's the starting over.

As every man that reads this cringes, shopping is another one. While that is not abnormal or quirky, I am only talking about online shopping which when you see what I buy, you'll see it is sort of quirky. Ebay is probably the quirkiest. Two of the strangest things I have bought while in a bad mood was an old Sears catalog because it brought me right back to all of the Christmases that we used to look at and circle what we wanted and the old Fisher Price Desk that I had when I was little. From BarnesandNoble.com, I bought an old romance series set that I read when I was younger but had gotten thrown away before I could save any. I reread a bunch of them so far and have surmised that things were a lot more innocent when I was a teenager and they are the reasons why I had unrealistic expectations of falling in love (though, maybe not because all three times there were moments of sweeping off my feet). Shutterfly is a good one to help me be thankful for what I have. It is time consuming and feels good to look at the pictures of the kids growing up. Just to give you an idea of the funk that has taken up residence over here, I made a Gia book, Nico (basketball) book and a Family book. I'm working on a Belle book and a Tommy book and a Nico (football) book.

Barnes and Noble is another one. I just walk through those doors and a feeling of peace comes over me (the same thing happens when I go to church, however, church isn't open at 9:00 at night). I get my hot chocolate, look for books and then sit down and escape into one of the books I am writing. I wish it was open later than 10.

Strawberries and chocolate and wine are nice escapes too but since I threw them up (sorry) three weeks ago, I still can't eat them and I don't like to drink even a little when I'm by myself with the kids. Mostly because of Gia since I have to be more "on".

As I write this, it doesn't take a genius to see that there are underlying themes of escaping and revisiting my youth. I get it. I am okay with it since the escape is only online looking at houses and the neighborhood Barnes and Noble. As far as revisiting my youth, I can't help but remember how much easier things were when the biggest decision I had to make was what I was going to wear that day. If that means I am headed for a padded room somewhere, so be it.

So if you feel like sharing, I'd love to know what you do to get out of a bad mood. It might help me expand my horizons a little.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Short Post Because I Promised

I promised that I wouldn't write angry anymore so I can't write right now. Let's just say I said awhile ago if this happened, there wouldn't be a blog big enough for how mad I would be and it happened so today I am just going to leave a video of my favorite song at the moment, a video of the show that makes me laugh so hard my stomach hurts and a Friday Night Lights video that is a glimse why it is the best show on television (or was since I've already seen the finale on DirectTV). My in-laws are coming to babysit tonight so I can get a little break. I am headed to Barnes and Noble for the evening (unless someone has a better idea) so I should be ready to write tomorrow (a lot less angrily, hopefully). Edited to answer the question of why so angry: Vegas.







Thursday, June 9, 2011

School is Out!

Today marks the last day of school for my kids. I am torn about how I feel about this. I would love my kids being out of school if they didn't drive me so crazy with all the unrealistic expectations of summer. Nico feels that everyday should be a party and that I LOVE having 20 kids over and that hanging out should last until midnight every night. Tommy wakes up every day and asks "Can we go to Great America today?" Isabella is the queen of, "I'm bored." In a perfect summer there would be children that wake up around 9 or 10, help me around the house, play for a couple of hours (with not too much inconvenience on my part or the part of their friends' mothers), some work in their summer workbooks so they don't lose all they learned and in bed by the latest 10 so that I get some down time at a decent hour. I laugh even as I write this. The reality is that for some odd reason, my kids jump out of bed ready to go at 7:00am, there is complaining at the slightest request of help, just playing doesn't satisfy them, the summer workbooks remain blank because I am too tired to fight that battle and I like not having to help them with it and since we will be running around to baseball games until the end of July, bedtime will be after our 9pm dinner. Then as soon as that is over, football will start and it will be the same thing.

There is a subject that comes up around this time that has many people split. Should the kids be in school all year? I have several opinions on this. I am pretty vocal about not liking the pressure that teachers are under to cover all of the standards they need to. I think that higher-ups forget what kids are developmentally ready for and I think the fall-out from that is too much homework, overwhelmed teachers and overwhelmed kids. Would being in school year round help with that? On the other hand, I think that kids need a break. I do like having three months to not think about homework and projects and grades. By this time of year, I admit, I, myself have checked out. I just want to be done so I'm not sure year round would be good for my kids. I might not be the best person to talk about this, though. I am still not that thrilled with Nico's school and I know I couldn't handle three more months without a break. The icing on the cake of this year was that they put his name in the yearbook as "Nick Gubenko. Not Nicholas, which I would understand since that is his birth name but Nick. First, they tell him I don't know how long he has to live and then they don't answer emails. The least they could do is get his name right in the yearbook.

Now, if we had to send them (meaning it was required and not a summer school program that was optional) for a few hours and there was no homework, sign all of my kids up and could we find somewhere for Gia to go to maybe get a jump start on her alphabet and numbers?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

This post has a religious theme. I am not preaching or saying this works for everyone. I am just saying that it worked for me. That it was my light at the end of the tunnel.

Two things happened that changed my life. I went to a Christmas Tea at Drury Lane with a dear friend who had talked me into going and I read the book, The Shack. The Christmas Tea was hosted by Ginger Creek Church and I loved every minute of it. I loved that I felt that they were speaking right to me. I loved that they talked about trying to steer our way through life when it is God who should be steering. It's exactly what I was doing. Trying to control things I had no control of. Suddenly while sitting there listening to the music, I felt a huge weight lift off of me. I wanted to just give all of what was hurting me and all that my heart wanted to God. I didn't know what to do with any of it anymore and it made me instantly feel better to just say, "Here God, You take all this sadness. You show me what I am supposed to do. You put the dream in my heart, so if that is not meant to be, then what is?" I felt a peace come over me that everything was going to be okay and that I could open my eyes to the possibility that I could be happy doing something else besides having another baby.

I decided that I wanted to go back to my roots and look for a job as a preschool teacher. I put in applications everywhere. I went on an interview and felt uncomfortable and at odds with everything they were saying. When did preschool become so cut-throat? I could feel the pressure just in that interview of what they expected from those kids. It made me sad that things had changed so much since I last taught preschool and I wondered for the first time whether I would fit back in with the education system. I got called to sub for Isabella's first grade class and it was like a light bulb moment. Thankfully it was just that preschool that I felt uncomfortable with. I loved being back in the classroom. I loved teaching! I missed teaching! How could I be so afraid to go back to something I loved? I started applying for elementary positions and I felt really good about moving forward. I remember a prayer that I said over and over again during that time. I asked God that if it wasn't meant to be that I have the baby that I still really wanted, please could I get a teaching job that would make me happy.

The thing with moving forward was that I was still sad. As much as I prayed to God, I still didn't understand why it happened. If He loved me so much, how could He let me keep getting hurt? Where was God in all of this? How could He give me a baby and then let the baby die? It was almost like I was testing Him. I was praying and giving him a big "either/or" ultimatum. Either You give me a job or You don't exist. Then our book club picked the book The Shack by William P. Young. Now, if you haven't read it, it is one of those books that you have to "buy into". It's a story that you can choose to believe or choose not to. I chose to believe it and in doing so, it changed my way of thinking completely. Some of my favorite quotes (from God speaking to Mack, the main character who lost his daughter) that helped me were:
Don't ever assume that my using something means I caused it or that I need it to accomplish my purpose. Grace doesn't depend on suffering to exist, but when there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.

The person who lives by their fears, will not find freedom in my love.

The real underlying flaw in your life, Mack is that you don't think that I am good. If you knew I was good and that everything--the means, the ends, and all the processes of individual lives--is all covered by my goodness, then while you might not always understand what I am doing, you would trust me. But you don't. Trust is the fruit of a relationship in which you know you are loved. Because you do not know that I love you, you cannot trust me.

As I read, I saw that when Nico and Tommy were diagnosed with CF and Rocco died, I lost all trust in God. I didn't believe He loved me and I didn't trust that He had good things in store for me. I had an image in my head of what my life was supposed to be like and it kept me stuck from feeling His love and seeing His plan. It might be corny but that book set me free from so much sadness and so much pain and more importantly, it set me on a path to trust and feel loved again.

Don't get me wrong. I miss what could have been with Rocco and I never know when I'll get hit with that gut-wrenching pain(looking at Gia and knowing her older brother should be here so she'd have someone closer to her age to play with hurts). I will never forget and the pain of losing him will always be tucked in my heart but I am okay. I have come out of it with stronger faith because now I don't feel like God did it to me. I feel like it happened and He was by side the whole time making sure I was okay.

When it happened, Tommy had a lot of questions and I looked for a book to help me help him and nothing really fit so I wrote one which proved to be very therapeutic. Of course it is so personal that I am having a hard time sending it off to possible publishers. Tommy asks me from time to time to read it to him so knowing I have at least one fan, who knows...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Life after Rocco

After something like that happens, life becomes a series of time lines. First it was this time a week ago, I found out he died. Then it was this time a month ago, I found out he died. The 7th of every month was like a black cloud of reliving what happened. As his due date drew closer, I had a hard time keeping it together. My sister was getting married and when I went for the fitting, the dress was for someone that was nine months pregnant. I had all this baby weight but no baby. I left the fitting shaking and crying. I worked out more than I had ever worked out in my life so that I wouldn't have to look at pictures of myself looking pregnant but not or looking like I just had a baby when I had no baby.

I thought it would be a good idea to go on a girls' vacation (that trip could be a post in itself...we missed our cruise ship because our flight was delayed, just to give you an idea) and it was a complete disaster. I thought I could go and morph into someone else. I'd drink and laugh and be free so that I could for just a short time forget who I was but then I'd see myself in the mirror and think, Nope...still there...still this broken, sad person. I avoided mirrors after that which wasn't good because there were pictures where to me, I was unrecognizable. I spent that whole trip with my iPod and sunglasses on, crying. It became painfully clear that I could not escape myself. I know I brought the others down so I spent a lot of time alone so that I wouldn't ruin their trip. Just like life does or Murphy's Law or just bad luck we ended up sitting at our table on the cruise with a woman that was 5 months pregnant. I could barely get through the meal without breaking down. Being in the middle of the ocean with no way to get in touch with Leo, who was my rock or my kids, who I couldn't stand to have out of my sight was a terrible idea. I thought by going away, I could run away from myself and what my life had become but no matter what I tried to do, I was trapped.

After that trip, I was so lost. I knew I wanted a baby so we did another IVF. Even as I write that, I can't believe we did another cycle. I was exhausted mentally, emotionally and physically. I don't know where we got the money. I think Leo didn't know what to do to pull me out of the terrible depression I was in. I'm sure he just wanted his wife back. IVF is hard in the best of circumstances but after burying your baby, there is no way to describe the pain. Every time I had to have a blood test, I would think, I shouldn't be doing this. I should have a baby. The ultrasounds were the worst. To see an empty screen reduced me to tears every time. I remember thinking that I couldn't do it. I was tired. There were times when I had to do the shot and I'd look at my stomach and it looked like a pin cushion with bruises all over it. I wasn't surprised when most of the embryos had CF or that I only had 1 to put back. I felt cursed so again, I wasn't surprised when the pregnancy test came up negative. We toyed with the idea of using an egg donor but it was too expensive and seemed too extreme when we already had three kids. Again, I felt at a loss.

I went back to therapy and joined a prayer group but honestly, I was just going through the motions. I felt like I was beyond help. I was stuck between wanting to crawl in a hole and not come out and having to be a mom and wife. I wanted to pray to God but I couldn't. I wanted to believe that He was a good God that loved me but how could I? First CF and then the baby died. I couldn't help but ask, "Why?" I racked my brain trying to find out what in the world did I do to be punished through my kids? Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a rule follower (to a fault) and where did that get me? I wanted to break every rule that I had for myself (of course, I didn't) and shove it in the face of God. I wanted to scream that I was sorry for whatever I did but please stop taking it out on my kids.

I did not know what to do with myself and since the twins were going to be in school all day, I went back to work. I started subbing in the kids' district. It was a big mistake. I should have known I wasn't ready when I had to get a physical and broke down in the doctor's office. I subbed a few times but mostly said no. I would get the kids off to school, Leo would go to work and I would crawl back in bed and stay there until a half hour before the kids came home. It was the darkest period in my life and I didn't see any light at the end of the tunnel. There was but I didn't see it yet.

There is a song out right now that reminds me of Leo during that time:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Just Wondering

I'm not going to beat a dead horse here but for those of you that read or have read the blog, can you think of a way that I would have liked to spend my birthday? It's not a test or anything but I am just wondering if I am that hard to figure out because I think that I am an open book. If you can comment here or on Facebook, I would love to know what you think.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Rocco Joseph: Part 2

Suddenly I was making decisions about burials and funeral homes and looking at blurry pictures of my baby and I remember pressing the button for the nurse, wanting it to be the stop button. I wanted to freeze everything and not make any of those decisions. I wanted to hold him again and take better pictures. The nurse came in and said it was too late. He was already sent down for the autopsy. I was absolutely devastated. What was I thinking giving him back? Why didn't I hold him while she took the pictures so I could make sure they turned out? Why didn't I understand that once he was gone, he was really gone? I didn't want to go home. I couldn't bear to leave him. Once I left, that was it. I would have to face my kids and life as this person I didn't want to be. I didn't want to be the daughter, friend, neighbor, wife, mother whose baby died. Every part of my identity was overshadowed with this new identity and I hated it.

When I got home, my kids' faces registered relief. I had asked my mom and sisters to get rid of anything maternity or baby-related and my mom took it a step further and organized my whole house. I found out later the reason my kids were relieved was because when they were getting rid of things out of my closet, Nico and Belle walked in and with a scared face, Belle asked, "Is my mom not coming home?" Just the thought of what she might have been thinking guts me. How quickly something like death changes how you think. They probably never thought their mom would die but because the baby did, maybe moms sometimes die too. The worst part of losing a baby so late in the pregnancy is that your body doesn't know the baby died. When my milk came in, I lost it. It was the beginning of a postpartum depression that I had not experienced before. Thank God for my parents and my sisters for being there for my kids when I couldn't be. They came over any chance they could to help me with them or make sure I was okay. My neighbor and friend organized meals for us for almost two months. It was the biggest help with something I didn't know I would need at the time but ended up saving us. Another good friend had a bracelet made with Rocco's initials on it. How I treasured that bracelet because it was the only thing I had that I could outwardly show that he existed. So much support.

While making the arrangements for the memorial, I started feeling pretty bad. I was still in a lot of pain and I couldn't walk from the bed to the bathroom without feeling like I was going to pass out. I went back to the doctor who sent me back to the ER for an ultrasound (which after delivering a baby two days before should be considered torture) and they found that they had not removed all of the placenta. WHAT?? All I could think was, Are you freaking kidding me? I needed to have emergency surgery. I did and of course it couldn't just go smoothly. I had to have a breathing treatment after because I was having a hard time breathing and then I had to stay in the hospital. All I could think about was how scared my kids had to have been when they got home from school and I wasn't there.

We decided to cremate Rocco and the best decision I made, because I was having a hard time with the whole thought of having to bury him, was to keep some of his ashes in a ceramic heart with "Rocky" written on it. On December 23, 2007, my family piled into the house of a priest who had been a family friend of ours since I was little. He said the blessing or whatever priests say when they do a memorial. We left there and decided to bury his ashes on a baseball field (named after my dad). Our thought was that Nico and Tommy both played baseball so most likely Rocky would have too so it seemed fitting for his ashes to be buried there. Of course it was the coldest day of the year so letting go of the balloons that we all had was rushed because we were all freezing. I gave everyone a name card that said "Rocky" and a ceramic angel to remember him by. I hate that memory. I hate when you have something planned in your head and it seems like exactly the right thing to do but then when you actually do it, it is all wrong. I have come to terms with it because no matter what I did that day, it would have felt wrong. It wasn't supposed to be happening. A big funeral seemed like too much to put my other kids through. Doing nothing and willing it to all go away wouldn't have worked either so that was the best I could think of. I have never appreciated being from the tight knit family that I was from more than during that time.

I didn't want to be Sad Mommy. I didn't want my kids to look back and have Rocco dying be a defining moment for them. I didn't want them to say, "My mom was happy and then the baby died and she was never the same. Nothing was the same after December 7, 2007." I put a smile on my face and tried to keep things normal. We decided that we weren't going to go crazy for Christmas but then the baby died so to compensate, I bought them a lot more useless stuff to fill the void (thank God for internet shopping and express shipping). Christmas was hard to get through but on Christmas Eve, when we drove up to our house, we saw about 50 luminaries on our lawn. It was absolutely the most beautiful sight I had ever seen. I cried as I saw how many people were praying and thinking of us and watched my kids' faces as they read who they were from. I had very little faith in anything at that point and knowing I had all of those people believing for me helped me feel at peace for the first time since I went into that ER.

I was always on the overprotective side with my kids but after everything that happened, the overprotectiveness was at an all time high. Kids would call and want to have playdates with them and I'd make up some excuse but the real reason was that I was afraid to let them out of my sight. I tried to go back to my normal life but several times, I went to Target and had a panic attack and had to leave. I couldn't pass the baby clothes or the maternity clothes without my chest tightening up, my feet feeling like lead and the room spinning. I would be fine and then the thought of how the last time I was there, I was pregnant would come into my head and I'd have to leave. I left many carts filled with things in those first few weeks. I was terrified of running into people for fear I would have to explain what happened, so I avoided going out.

Between my friends and family that wouldn't allow me to crawl under a rock and not come out and an old friend that I was back in touch with, I was able to be a mom to my other kids. I hope they all know how much I love them for that. For either the help or the distraction, they helped me through one of the worst times in my life.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Rocco Joseph Baby #4

On the way home, Leo said not to google what any of it meant and to wait the two weeks and worry then. So immediately, I googled it and saw that there were a lot of shadows that meant nothing and that it was common for the shadow to be there at 21 weeks but gone at 23 weeks. What were the odds that the shadow that was a marker for CF, which two of my kids have, was nothing? When the twins came home from school, I told them we were having a boy and Tommy said, "Yes! I am going to have a little brother." Belle burst into tears. She cried and cried that she wanted a little sister and didn't God hear her?

Only thinking that I'd have good news to share and thinking the days of bad news were over, I scheduled the ultrasound a week before the big fundraiser we did every year. So, not only was I living with the fear that the baby I was carrying had CF, I had to get up in front of 250 people and talk about how CF was interfering with our lives. I had to discuss how I needed their help to stop it from stealing more of the joy from our lives. To say I had a hard time getting through it is a huge understatement. Plus, I was coming down with a cold so getting through the night was tough. By Thursday, I was sicker than I had ever been with a cough and fever. I called the doctor and they couldn't fit me in and said I needed to go to the ER so they could check me and make sure the baby was okay. I hadn't felt the baby move in two days or so but that wasn't that unusual because of what they told me at the ultrasound. I went and they diagnosed me with a sinus infection and went to write me a prescription. The nurse came to check the heartbeat of the baby and was having a tough time. I told her that happened a lot. She wasn't worried and said she heard something but couldn't get a read. She called in another nurse and another and then a doctor who all said the same thing. They finally agreed to do an ultrasound and I was so happy that I was going to see my little boy again. I called Leo and one of my friends to tell them I was in the ER and that they were sending me upstairs because they were having trouble getting a reading on the heart rate.

Once I was upstairs and the doctor was doing the ultrasound, I had no idea that I was about to be blindsided again. I was in no way (are we ever?) ready to hear, "I'm so sorry, AnnMarie. It appears the baby died a few days ago." I started to cry. I was in complete disbelief that what was happening was happening. I wanted to scream, "Are you freaking kidding me?" I wanted to scream that I hated him. To take his stupid ultrasound machine and shove it and bring one that worked because my baby was alive. He was a miracle and a gift from God. He couldn't be dead. How did he die? What happened? Did I do something? When I prayed to God after the last ultrasound and said I couldn't handle anything else, was this his way of "fixing" it? Because I didn't mean it. I could handle it. Just let my baby be alive.

Leo walked in and while crying on his shoulder, I remember thinking, how in the world did I end up there? Again, I was in a bad dream willing myself to wake up. The baby died. That couldn't be real. We were dealing with CF. That was painful enough. Now I had to bury my baby? The doctor went into my room and gave us our options. Did we want to deliver the baby? Did we want to be put under where they do some procedure and you wake up and it is over but we wouldn't get to see him or hold him? If that was the case, we'd have to go somewhere else because they didn't do that (there were technical terms but that was what I heard). Did we want to go home and wait for labor to naturally start or stay there and be induced? I wanted to be put to sleep and have them take the baby and wake up and hold him and show them that they were wrong and that he didn't die. They asked if we wanted an autopsy and we said yes. We wanted them to test to see if he had CF even though we knew that wasn't what killed him. I asked what she thought happened and she said she didn't know if I was leaking fluid and then he died or he died and stopped making fluid. I thought back to a party I went to and danced. Did I do something that caused me to leak fluid? In the end, we decided I'd be induced and deliver him. I wanted to get it over with. Leo was worried that I went in because I was sick so would I have the energy to labor? In a nice way, she said, I wouldn't labor long because the baby was so small.

Leo said he wasn't going to hold the baby or name the baby and didn't want a funeral or anything. I think emotionally he shut down and was afraid it all would hurt me too much. My best friend was there and we started talking about what to name him. When he was alive, we said we'd name him Johnny but my heart felt like it would burst from the pain of naming my dead son what I was going to name him when he was alive. I don't know why. I can't explain it. It just did. Leo was very against naming him so he wouldn't offer his opinion so I said I was going to name him Dino, one of the names I liked but Leo didn't. He suddenly had an opinion and started giving me other names. I had a little boy that I loved when I worked in the daycare named Rocky. I always wanted to name my son that but we got teased every time I mentioned it. We decided that was what we were going to name him because no one was going to say anything. Rocco Joseph.

That night, I had to call the kids and tell them. I wanted them to hear it from me. Tommy was the hardest to tell. I explained how I went in the hospital and they checked the baby and found out that he had died. He asked, "So the baby died?" I said, "Yes." He asked if I was crying and I said, "Yes, because it is sad." He asked, "So I am not going to be a big brother anymore?" I sadly said, "No." He replied with a shaky voice, "Yeah, that is sad."

Labor is labor and it hurts no matter what. I labored all night and by 8:00 the next morning, I got an epidural. Leo left to go shower when all my sisters showed up. While he was gone, I started to deliver him. Thank God my sisters were there so I wasn't alone while delivering him. Having had only c-sections, I was scared that it was happening and Leo wasn't there. They had to call him back and he got back just as I delivered the baby. Then the roles changed and I didn't want to hold him and Leo did. I sobbed while the doctors did what they had to do and then they gave us some time alone with him. To this day, that was the hardest thing I have ever done. I looked at him and his face and hands and feet and arms and legs looked perfect. I thought he looked just like Tommy. His stomach was scary...not developed so I kept him wrapped in the blanket. He was dark and as I held him and cried, I didn't want to ever let him go. I tried to memorize everything about him. My family went in and held him and looking back, it was just the saddest, most unnatural thing I have ever been a part of. We had a mini baptism in the room which made me feel better and then everyone left us alone again. I remember kissing his head and feeling how cold he was and telling the nurse she should take him because he was cold. Do you believe that? I was worried that he was cold? She asked if I was sure and that I could have more time and I said no. She said she'd take a lot of pictures. I thanked her and gave her the baby. One of my biggest regrets is not holding him longer. What was I thinking? Not that I'd never see him or hold him or touch him again. Just that I didn't want him to be cold.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Birthdays

I know a lot of you were wanting to hear the next part of the baby #4 but that will be tomorrow's post.

I really don't want to be one of those people that hates their birthday. I have a sister who would announce at the beginning of the month of her birthday, "It's my birthday month!" Then, "It's my birthday week!" and then, "It's my birthday!" I admire that genuine joy she had for her birthday. Mine (shockingly) is more dread than anything. Is this what happens when you get older? When did it get that way? When did it become more of a "What did I accomplish this year?" instead of "Look at all I accomplished this year!" When did it start hurting my feelings when people forgot? At what point did I realize that the anticipation for how it would be spent or the birthday gift would far outweigh the actual way it is spent or the gift? I could say right now the right thing to say which is that it isn't about the gift but you know what? We don't get each other a gift for our anniversary anymore, we don't usually get something for Valentine's Day. Mother's Day and Father's Day are usually a wash (although this year he got me a great gift) and each year we say we aren't going to exchange for Christmas so birthdays are the only time we get a gift and who doesn't like getting a gift? Am I shallow because I like getting gifts? They don't have to be big gifts, just thoughtful ones.

Leo has come up with some wonderful gifts (my Mother's Day ring, when we had the three, he designed a ring with their birthstones, my engagement ring, Tim Riggins gear...though I emailed him the stuff, my iPod with 4 CD's of all my favorite songs...that was one of the most thoughtful ones) and some gifts that I knew he tried really hard but fell short but for the most part, a lot of the gifts were afterthoughts or last minute. For example (and these are not necessarily for my birthday), for awhile, every time he came back from a trip, he would bring me a coconut person. You know the ones you would see at an airport gift shop where it was a person made out of coconuts. Yes, I wondered why he got them too and finally I asked him, "When you are walking through a shop, what about this says, 'I bet AnnMarie would really like this? I think this is something that she has to have?'" He looked at me and said, "I don't know. I just thought you'd like it." The translation for that is that he forgot to buy me something on the trip and this was the first thing he saw. For my 21st birthday, he planned something special. A Lake Michigan lunch cruise. The theme was New Orleans or Jambalaya or something where all the food was spicy. My least favorite food...spicy. I was seasick the whole time because boats make me queasy. At that point, we had been dating for 3 years so not knowing really wasn't an excuse. Another time, and he swears this wasn't meant to be a gift, I asked for a new walkman (God, we have been together forever). When I opened it, it looked oddly familiar. It was my old walkman. I said that and he said, "Yeah, I found your old one." He said it wasn't a gift but if you put it in a gift bag and you put it under the tree, it is a gift. My favorite is when he clumps something in with my birthday, like when my phone contract is up or when we are buying new faucets for the bathrooms or when my family has planned a vacation and he tells me for months we can't go but then on my birthday, he says we can. That's not really a gift. Planning a girls' weekend or surprising me with me going to Vegas with him, those are both awesome gifts.

I know I am being a big baby about this but it goes deeper than the actual gift. It's about feeling special and having a grand gesture (not grand gift)to show it. Not all the time but especially on the day that is meant to be all about you.

Instead of dwelling on the negative (wishing I was getting paid to write and that I could lose the last of this baby weight), I am going to turn it around. This is the year I am going to send my work out to publishers and get in the best shape of my life. I can't really feel bad about my 40th year of life. It was a great year, first watching our family grow and be blessed with the joy of having a baby in the house again and then with finally taking a step to get my writing out there. Besides Tommy's leg thing, everyone has had continued health and besides Nico's math drama, everyone has been relatively happy. I would call it a successful year. Didn't someone say that the 40's are the new 30's? I think I am going to enjoy my 40's much more!

I was done with this post but had to add the following:

Nico told me last night that, "It sucks that your birthday is on a Friday." Sorry that the day of my birth has inconvenienced him. Tommy woke up crying that he can't move (he slept funny) and that he can't go to school and Leo left me hanging this morning to go play basketball. It's hard not to get aggravated. Belle just threw the biggest fit because I said she couldn't go home with a friend and "Why does Nico get to?" He's 13! She's 9! I explained that it is my birthday and I don't want to spend it picking everyone up or driving people places (that would be a real gift). She was so rude about the whole thing and then I tried teaching her how not to be selfish and I ended up being mean instead. On the flip side, Gia slept all the way through until 7 which was the best gift ever after only having a 2 oz. bottle so we might be on our way to being bottle free. I want this year to be a more positive one but my family is already making it so hard.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Path to Baby #4: Pt. 5

Anything that could go wrong with that cycle, did. Tommy was in the same hospital that the IVF doctor was out of so when someone came to visit him, I could jump over to the office building and see my doctor. I got the go ahead to start taking the meds. After one of the blood tests and ultrasounds, the nurse forgot to leave my instructions of what I was supposed to do with my meds (continue the same dose or increase it) so on the way to the Tim McGraw concert, I had to have the nurse paged and then shoot myself up in the stall at the concert. Nico was on a tournament team so I had to sneak taking my meds when we went to a tournament out of state. It wasn't public knowledge what we were doing and I knew some wouldn't understand. In their defense, it did seem a little crazy to be starting all over again but I welcomed it. I couldn't wait! I didn't care if I was the "old one" with a baby. When you do IVF, two days before the egg retrieval, you have to do a "trigger" shot and it has to be at an exact time. Wouldn't it figure that Nico had a game and Leo wasn't going to be there and at that time, I couldn't stand to miss any of his games or at least have one of us there cheering for him (times have totally changed, by the way) so I had to shoot myself in the stomach in a "porta-potty". So gross. It was hard enough but I was gagging the whole time. Being at the game with friends made it very hard to not say anything and I figured, maybe if I tell a few of them, they would pray that it would work. We went through the same drill of waiting and this time when I got the call to go in for the transfer, I couldn't get in touch with Leo. I dropped off the kids at one of the friends I had confided in and the running joke was that if I got pregnant, I could say I did and he wasn't even in the room. When I got there, I learned that 3 of the 5 embryos had CF. I had little time to be upset about that because it meant that I could implant 2!

I was happy that I ended up telling my friends what was going on because when I was on the 3 day bedrest that my doctor required, they had a little party for me in my room. I knew there was a chance that it wasn't going to end well and that I wouldn't be pregnant but after breaking my nose with the twins, all of the mishaps with that cycle made me think that maybe...just maybe, it would happen the same way. Ten days later, I found out it did! I was pregnant! I was over the moon happy. So relieved that it worked again. So relieved that this baby wouldn't have CF, that we took the guess work out of it. We beat infertility and CF. We were going to have a baby! God was blessing us with a wonderful, beautiful gift of a baby to fill our hearts that were so heavy with sadness for so long. I couldn't wait. I remember that after we told the twins, Tommy couldn't contain himself. He told the mailman, every lady or man at the cash register at Target, Dominick's or Jewel and a few strangers at the pool that his "mom had a baby in her belly." I explained to him that we were not telling anyone yet and he needed to ask first before he told someone. We were at a football practice sitting on the sidelines with some neighbors that we were friends with and very loudly he asked, "Can I tell them about the baby in your belly?" My point is that I don't remember how we told people. I just remember that suddenly everyone knew.

I had to go to genetic counseling before my level 2 ultrasound. I HATE genetic counseling and if I never have to go again, I'd be okay with it. If you have never been, you have to answer a lot of questions and from there, they determine what tests you should have. After I was done answering the very perky genetic counselor's questions, she looked at me with wide eyes and said, "Your history is fascinating!" To be fascinating in some way is great. I'd love my writing to be fascinating. I'd love my parenting to be fascinating. What I do not enjoy is that my genetic make-up is fascinating. I felt like a freak with screwed up genes (which I have already mentioned took years of therapy to get past) and having that woman sit and gawk at me was setting me back some. Of course with that history, there were a lot of tests they wanted done. I put my foot down when they "highly recommended" an amniocentesis. I had a history of low fluid when I was pregnant with Nico and Tommy and didn't want to take the chance. I wasn't going to do anything about it with the information they were going to give me and I was still in the camp of "ignorance is bliss."

All of the tests for Down Syndrome came out normal so when we went for the level 2 ultrasound, I naively thought I'd only find out the sex of the baby and was so excited to get to see my baby for longer than 30 seconds. The ultrasound went okay. It is always uncomfortable to be flat on your back with a full bladder while the tech tries to get your baby to cooperate. I remember thinking, "Ouch" as she pushed harder and harder and I even asked her if that was hurting the baby because she was hurting me. I was watching my baby squirm and kick and I couldn't feel a thing. I asked why I couldn't feel any of that. I had felt the baby move and kick but not to the extent that it was moving on that screen. She said I had an anterior placenta so there was essentially a wall between the baby and feeling it. Once the baby got bigger, I'd feel it more. Then she announced that we were having a boy! I admit, one of the thoughts that ran through my brain was, "Oh, no! If this one was like his brothers, more travel sports!" Leo and I were happily discussing this new information when the doctor went into the room and said there was a shadow that she didn't like and did all of my Down Syndrome testing come out normal? I said yes, starting to panic. Well, he doesn't have any other markers but this shadow is a soft marker for Downs or Cystic Fibrosis. WHAT??? We did all the testing and it all came out normal. Were they wrong when they did the tests? Were they wrong now? What? What? What? She said not to worry, too late, and go back in two weeks. We walked out and immediately, Leo said, "Don't get upset. It is probably nothing." Too late.