29 January 2012

My First Half-Marathon

As I am sitting here, trying to wrap my thoughts around the fact that I just finished my first half-marathon this morning, I have to admit that I am pretty whiped out. But I am definitely happy that I did it and it was for a good 'cause'. But let me start with the reason why I did this massive race today.

When we started talking about Beth carrying our baby last year, she had issues with her legs that afflicted her running. She had to stop and that was hard for her. Now, today, I DO believe that it was God trying to get her ready for a pregnancy where her focus would be more on growing a baby inside of her, and less on her running. I also believe that once the baby is done 'baking' and ready to enter the world, God will give her full healing, so she can go back to what she liked doing: running. So last year in January, she ran this half-marathon..... this year she is not able to do so.

So I made a 'deal' with her: on the day of our pregnancy test, I would sign up for that race, and either we run it together (in case of a negative test), or I would run it for her! Yep.... I thought of it as my (little) sacrifice of my body for what she is doing with her body right now..... We got a positive pregnancy test, so I had to run it by myself, for her. It's a great cause!

I knew I wanted two things to happen on race day: run the entire time, no matter how slow, and make it to the finish line. I did both!
So I ran the entire 13.1 miles from start to finish! No water breaks, no bath room breaks, no walking. I ran slow, NO, really slow! But I made it. I made it to the finish line at a decent time. Also, I like to convert it to kilometers, just because it sounds like so much more; so 13.1 miles are 21.08 kms - awesome! I am pretty proud of myself for accomplishing that today.

Now I said I ran it for her, right? So in advance, I made a sign that I was going to wear on my back on race day. I am sure you all know, when you do cancer runs and walks, there are always lots of pictures 'in honor of' or 'in memory of' someone. Well, I ran for a live person, I ran for my best friend because she couldn't do it because she is busy 'baking' a little blessing. Here is my sign:

I got lots of encouraging words throughout the run, words that blessed me and reminded me of why I was running and that I needed to keep going. "That is so awesome." or "That's cool." or "Congratulations." were most of  the reactions. One lady said that she "really liked my best friend" - well, I agree. Later in the race, I saw her again and she said: "That baby is going to be so proud of you." Well, I hope so. When I met Beth at the finish line, I told her about her and sure enough, we saw that lady again and I was able to introduce her to Beth. It was beautiful.

I had seen the route before, I knew that it was mostly downhill, and I knew that I could make it. What I didn't realize was that we ran along a lot of "icons" that play a big role in my life, and foremost that play a huge role in this entire process. The first building was our fertility center. When I saw that I started to choke up.... it took my breathe away and I realized that being 6 miles into the race, there was no room for crying. I had to stop and concentrate on NOT crying but running, or I would have fainted. Right next to that building is my oncology and I was silently thanking God for the people working inside that building. A little later, we ran past my favorite Vegan restaurant - for those that don't know, I became a Vegan after the cancer. Then we ran past the Hubby's university building and the local football stadium. It was a bit emotional at times. The best part was coming up the last hill and turning the corner to sprint to the finish line. Where Beth was waiting for me. It blessed me greatly that she agreed to come see me finish the race. Thank you.

Usually, when I run, I need some upbeat music, but I knew, for this particular race, I needed God right with me, so I played worship and praise music and it was a great comfort. Knowing that God designed my body to do this and knowing that He wanted me to run and finish this race today gave me strength and endurance. Beth had texted me the same bible verse that I saw on a sign that somebody was holding up on the sidelines during the race: Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." How true!

It was perfect timing, too.  We are 18 weeks pregnant today.

Also, I saw this race today as my "Labor and Delivery", a small token of my appreciation of what Beth will do in about 5+ months. I come a long way from being able to finish a 5K to this now! Also, or especially, as a cancer survivor! So, I consider the first ten miles as my 'labor'. I was barely aware of running the first five miles at all. It was easy to keep my pace and enjoyed the attention I got with my sign. Then it got just a tidbit harder, but I still enjoyed running. I had thought that the hardest mile would be Mile Nine, because it said that there was some uphill, but it wasn't. The hardest mile was ten - as it had been before in my practice run. I would call that mile my 'transition'. I started hurting just a bit, mostly on my left hip. Mile eleven and twelve were a piece of cake, seriously. We were really going downhill and I just ran as fast as I could, knowing I still had a bit to go. Miles 13 was my 'pushing', because it was really hard to get to the finish line. It went uphill again and I was just so tired, and hurt enough to want to stop running. Then there was a big uphill right before the finish line, I barely made it up. The thought of Beth waiting for me and God wanting me to finish this kept me going.... and I made it up really, really slowly! Turning that corner for the last 0.2 miles was like seeing the end of the tunnel. Baby's head is out, the rest of the body is 'easy'. So I sprinted to that line that would be the end of 'torture' and that made me real happy. I crossed it with a big smile on my face! "Baby was delivered and Mami happy.'
(My timing was much better than anticipated: 2 hours and 39 minutes.) and 2 seconds.)

It was hard and yet oh so worth it. Something that Beth anticipates with the birth of our child.Why am I even trying to compare the two? Well, for one, I can not do it myself - I mean the pregnancy and delivery - but I wanted to show my appreciation of what Beth is doing. Also, when she is in labor, she can not just stop and walk away, she has to finish it. Well, I wanted to treat my race the same way: I could not walk away or stop running, I had to finish it! It was worth every pain to be blessed with the encouragement of others and seeing Beth's face when she saw the sign at the finish line - it was priceless! This was for God's glory. He brought us together, brought us to this place, and has a plan for all of us! He deserves all my praise, especially today.

More pictures are right here - enjoy.
Ann right before crossing the finish line. (The time is the clock time, not MY chip time.)
Tired but happy.
My back.
Ann and Beth after the race, filled with drinks and food and happiness.

Added by the editor:
It felt more like a warm-up, but I thought this was way too funny not to share!

Sharing a song

I heard this song on the way to my race this morning. Listening to the lines, I wish I would have listened to this song three weeks ago, when I was going through some real tough days. It is so encouraging. Next time, when I need to grieve some more, I know I will listen to this song and things will be alright. It's part of healing. After the pain there is a light! After the valley comes usually a hill or a mountain where things are brighter. One day, I will show off my scars to the world, as a tribute to God's love and grace.

Josh Wilson - Before The Morning

Artist: Josh Wilson

 Songwriters: Ben Glover, Josh Wilson

 Do you wonder why you have to,
feel the things that hurt you,
if there's a God who loves you,
where is He now?

Maybe, there are things you can't see
and all those things are happening
to bring a better ending
some day, some how, you'll see, you'll see

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

so hold on, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the dark before the morning

My friend, you know how this all ends
and you know where you're going,
you just don't know how you get there
so just say a prayer.
and hold on, cause there's good who love God,
life is not a snapshot, it might take a little time,
but you'll see the bigger picture

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

so hold on, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the dark before the morning
yeah, yeah,
before the morning,
yeah, yeah

Once you feel the way of glory,
all your pain will fade to memory
once you feel the way of glory,
all your pain will fade to memory
memory, memory, yeah

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

com'n, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the hurt before the healing
the pain you've been feeling,
just the dark before the morning
before the morning, yeah, yeah
before the morning

27 January 2012

Appreciating the blessings around me

It is easy to feel blessed when things are going well. It's not hard to praise God when the light is shining right in front of one's eyes. But God is our comforter in all circumstances, and He urges us to pray and praise Him in all those situations. I knew, while going through my tough days, He was walking right next to me.
"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without fault, and it will be given to him." (James 1:5)
I did pray and have trust, and I found comfort in knowing that my scars will be for His glory and that there is a purpose for me. Also, I finally gave up wanting to know why this had to happen, to me, and I found peace in God's presence, knowing that HE knows what is best for all of us.

My feelings-post had rendered me vulnerable to the public, BUT I would have never imagined to find support and comfort through it. So thanks to all of you that have brought me kind words, encouragements, and other blessings. I really appreciate them. I was blessed by all of you. It was a necessary scream that just had to come out, and now I feel like I can move on. God is helping me to heal and I think He is showing me who He wants me to be - carrying those scars as a tribute to His mercy and grace. My relationship with Him is much deeper and I am so thankful for that.

So things are going much better these days. Beth and I are both in a much better place, a place of closeness and trust, of honesty and servitude for one another. We talked about how we feel and what we each need, and we are both trying to honor that. Our commitment will ensure the well-being of all involved. It will make this a positive experience - after all, this is a testimony to celebrate.

We are now 17 1/2 weeks. Beth has a pretty little bump - she truly looks beautiful. She feels great and has enough energy to feel comfortable and be active. The baby is doing great; at five ounces and five inches, it is still quite small, but it has been very active inside of Beth. She feels lots of little flutters. I have been able to 'feel' the baby but not when it moved. So I am very excited and am trying to be patient for the coming of the day, when baby will give me 'high five' with a kick through the belly.
The kids are getting more and more excited, too. They have seen the pictures, have heard the heartbeat over and over, watch movies about babies on a website, and they have been saying 'hi' to the belly a few times. Peanut seems more interested in touching the belly now, which is awesome. I love to share that with my kids. So thank you Beth for allowing us to bond with the baby. 

Beth wrote a post yesterday - about how smooth we are sailing now. And I want to add to that post:

Dear Beth,
I am blessed by your friendship, blessed by the person you are, blessed by the gifts you are giving, and blessed by your willingness to share all this with us. Thank you for not giving up on me and thank you for each and every prayer. Thank you for taking such good care of our baby, for loving it and for praying for it. I appreciate all your sacrifices. Thank you for the privilege to partner with you in this extraordinary experience of a shared pregnancy. It's awesome and oh so exciting.
I love you.

26 January 2012

New bedtime routine with lots of thanksgiving

Most of the time, I am the one putting the kids to bed. First Peanut, then Coqui. Peanut goes quick, her stories are not as long yet. Coqui's stories become longer and longer, and even though some nights I wish he could read them himself, I would really miss it if he would start tomorrow with it. So I am enjoying it for now. Actually, I really like bedtime and the closeness we have during that time. No schedule or agenda, where I need to rush the kids, but just relaxed time together to end the day. It's my favorite time of day. (Also because after they are in bed, I get to have some hubby-time, some time to blog or watch TV; time to be an adult.)

Well, some nights, it just had to asked for some help from the Hubby, so he would put Coqui to bed. Peanut just doesn't like anybody else but me. It's actually pretty exhausting. At least for each and every evening that I am in the house. Because when I am not at home, she is fine with Daddy putting her down.

Lately, Peanut has had the attitude that only I (me) was allowed to serve her! Now I do that once, or maybe twice, but when it happened over and over again, I had to put a stop to it. And while applying it during the day, I knew I needed to make a big change in the bedtime routine. So I told the Hubby that from now on, he is in charge of HER bedtime. There was much objection from her of course, at first, but now she seems to be okay with it.

So now, that I am spending real good time with Coqui alone, I wanted to incorporate a new routine into HIS bedtime, something that I am surprised we have not been doing regularly. Bedtime prayer! So now, every night after lights-out, he has me pray first, and then he prays. I love his attitude about it, too, because he doesn't ask for much, it's more being thankful. So tonight, he had this real cute prayer that I wanted to share:

"Dear Lord heavenly Father, thank you for this wonderful day. Thank you for the weather, for the rain and for the sunshine. Thank you for you, thank you for my Mami (I am being hugged at this moment!), and my Daddy, thank you for my sister, and for my Munchkin. Thank you for my grandma and grandpa - hey, Mami, I have two of those, right? (Yes, Coqui.) So Lord, thank you for both. I praise, praise, praise you, God. I love you, God. Thank you for friends, and playing at church (we went to our church this morning). Thank you for the food we eat, and thank you for my toys, thank you for my school books. I love you God. Watch over me at night. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for having me not cough so much today (his cough had been quite bad that we had to call of our field trip tomorrow). Thank you for taking it away. Can you just take away the whole cold that I don't sneeze so much anymore? make gone by tomorrow afternoon. I love you, oh Lord. Amen."

Yes, I know, his prayers are quite lengthy but I love them. I love that he puts those 'big' words in there and I love that he is so thankful. His heart is so tender and it melts my heart. But I guess I am a bit bias here. It's also funny that he gives God an 'ultimatum' - but I know that he is sick of being sick.... so I guess that's what it going through his mind when he ask to be healed. He will learn that things happen on God's timing not his, but for now, it's just too cute.

Hope you all have a good night. May God bless you.

22 January 2012

A great invention

My photo on Saturday comes with a story today.

Yesterday, we went out for dinner. A simple dinner at an Asian place was just what everyone wanted. We walked in, got a table, got the menus handed over, and the kids got theirs. If you have kids, you know, that most child-friendly places have coloring pages (with the kids menu on the back). If there is a coloring page, you need crayons. ALL the restaurants we have ever been in have crayons that are - this might come as a surprise but it's a fact - round. Yes, round as an can be. And if you ever sat with your (very active) children, you know that those round crayons can fall off the table. Yes? Are you with me?

Well, this was a surprise, because I was handed this:
Yep, these are crayons that are not round, they are triangular. They can NOT fall off the table, as the design on one side advertises:

Well, they felt nice in my hands when I drew pictures with Peanut. Coqui liked drawing with them when he played Connect with Daddy:
And here is a picture of Peanut. Her attention span is much smaller, so she still gets bored easily.
It is amazing that such a simple invention can make a Mami so happy. It was a nice family outing after a hard week of work and just 'stuff' happening. I am thankful for those times.

15 January 2012

Ten Things About Me

My friend Tiffany started these themed 10 random facts about me, and I think it's a fun idea that doesn't involve writing an entire novel. Lately, I have written a few posts that were kind of lengthy, so this will be short and (I hope) still entertaining. Happy Reading.

1) I am learning that writing can heal. It helps me sorting my thoughts and feelings, it brings order to the things that are important and that bless my life. I learn to be more open, hence more vulnerable, but with that, I also find that people can relate better and bless me with a hug or a kind word. It's pretty liberating. SO thank you for being my audience and please keep reading. (and commenting)

2) I don't own a single jeans, no pants, no jacket, nothing made out of jeans. It might come as a shock to you, but I didn't grow up with them (or at least, they were not the real deal), and I don't like the material. I haven't worn one in over a decade, if not even longer than that.

3) I love to watch Hallmark movies. I know. I am totally outing myself right now, but it's the truth. Other kind of movies have become so violent in words and action, it's really not fun to watch it. The other night, we were watching a movie, and a thought hit me: what if one of the kids are coming down the stairs? (You know, the-woke-up-and-couldn't-fall-asleep-again-kind-of-thing.) I wouldn't want them to hear those kind of words, not to talk about the pictures shown! So sorry - I want nice words and a happy-end. Otherwise, I rather leave the TV off.

4) I have a photographic memory. It helped me in school to memorize definitions, and entire pages. For example, it helped me with my French baccalaureate - I memorized 13 texts of French writers from the 19th century - so round about 30 pages, by heart. I recited it on the day of the exam, and got my straight 'A'. So it's a good thing. But there is also a negative side to it - I had to stop watching CSI because I was keeping those images in my mind, and that was not good for my sleep.

5) I really don't like any Thanksgiving food, at all. Don't eat the turkey or ham or chicken. I never liked gravy, even when I still ate the meat. I don't like this cranberry sauce - it's just really gross. Never had stuffing in my life and I don't think I am going to start now. I don't like sweet potatoes in general, no matter in which and what way you are trying to present it to me. I don't like any kind of squash or yam. The only things that I would eat from a traditional meal would be the corn on the cob and the green beans. I am not a pie person, never knew what a pie was until I got to this country.

6) I don't like messes - not a surprise after this post. But what might surprise you is the fact that I just don't want to clean it up! Call me lazy, but I am a clean freak just so I wouldn't have to do the work of eliminating the mess. So it's kind of a hobby to find ways to reduce the damage before it happens. There are some things that I don't mind doing, like laundry, but there are other things that I really don't like at all, like dusting.

7) I am a total java addict. I love the smell of coffee - my dream is to wake up every morning to this intoxicating aroma, but unfortunately I have to make my own before I can sit down and enjoy it. I love it as ice cream flavor or in any candy. Sadly, due to health reasons, I have to limit my brew intake to one (big) cup a day, that I am determined to enjoy to the fullest before the craziness of the day takes over. 

8) My favorite season of the year is spring. Winter is too cold and gray. Summer in Texas is too hot. Fall is pretty, but not my thing. I love Spring. I love to see the green in general - it's my favorite color. But after a cold winter, I just love to see the green spring all over the place. I love when the days are getting longer, and I love the hope and excitement that seems to come with spring. It's beautiful.

9) I am a good speller. I discovered this when I was living in France and was correcting the native-French in their spelling. Sometimes I didn't even know what the word meant, I just knew it was spelled wrong - and to 95%,  I was right..... hahaha. Now with the English, it's the same. I believe it goes together with that photographic memory.

10) It comes natural to me to learn other languages. Just throw me in a crowd of people that all speak the same language and I will pick it up like a baby.... So in the past, I have learned Russian (which was less of a choice rather than mandatory at school), I have learned English and French and Latin and Italian and Spanish. I have tried myself in Slovakian and Lithuanian - but to no avail. Today, I am fluent in German, English and French. And I could survive in Spain. But there is one language on my 'bucket list' (or rather Lifelist) that I would love to learn, though I don't think this is the right time now: Hebrew. I find it intriguing and drawn to it. One day, I will learn it (along with some other languages).

11 January 2012

Accomplishments 2011

I am sure you all remember my New Year's resolution post from last year, right?

Well, this past year has been a very busy and turbulent one. Lots of things have happened, and I can truly say that there was a lot of growth. So I wanted to go down memory lane and see if I put into action what I had promised:

I wanted to grow in my spiritual life and I can say that I have taken some amazing steps in the God-walk. I had some battling to do and some soul searching, I had to do some grieving and I had to have unconditional trust in the Lord, I had to forgive and it felt so so good, and I received mercy and grace. So definitely, I grew as a Christian woman, having faith and hope. And I like the Better Me. I am looking forward to this new year and what it will bring.

I know I grew as a wife, and we grew as a couple, we are communicating on a deeper level. There is more understanding and a willingness to give grace for each other.
I definitely feel like I have grown as a mother as well. I might not spend alot of time with the kids, but it is quality time. Homeschooling automatically makes us spend a big chunk of time together in the morning. We go to a co-op and do field trips. But I also see how well the kids play with each other and that makes me a happy Mama. Through the year, Peanut has really come around with sharing, taking turns and understanding boundaries. It's amazing, and I believe that Coqui, being a good example, is playing a major role in her progress.

I gained a best friend - that is a major enrichment to my life, and makes my life more complete. It feels like that was a part that was always missing. I have gained a person that understands me as a woman, on a different level than my husband can, and that feels so right. Beth is awesome and kind and so encouraging, she is an inspiration to me and I love her so much.

I have run 300 miles this year in total - that is 5 miles per week on average. Those 300 miles translates into 121 single workouts, and I burned a total of 12 pounds. My strongest months was September when I ran a total of 38 miles. If I recount it correctly, I ran a fun music race in February in NYC, walked 19 miles for the American Cancer Relay for Life in May, ran the Ovarian cancer race in late August, which was the worst one of all because it was so hot that day, I ran the Superhero Race for Abused Children in September, and ran the Komen Race in November; a nice total of 5 races in one year. Well, I am very proud of that. In general, I lost round about 20 pounds from January until December. Pretty cool.

Remember my post about being a clean freak and not liking people in the house, taking baby steps in throwing a baby shower at my house, and how nervous I was? Well, this house has become more like a hotel over the last year, and I absolutely loved it. I have had many, many play dates here, we had tons of people over for dinner, couples and entire families, or even multiple families at once. The last five weeks, we had visitors constantly, and yesterday, the last one left. I enjoyed having so much company and having so much life in our house. It's gonna be quiet for a while here, which is not bad (for homeschooling), but we won't be waiting long for the next visitors, I am sure of it.

After all this, we had some pretty big news to announce: expecting our little Munchkin! It has been long since we started this process, we are now 15 weeks pregnant, and it's been a roller-coaster of emotions, but it also has been so very exciting. We are awaiting his or her birth impatiently, and hope that this will make our family complete. In the meantime, we will enjoy this ride of a shared pregnancy - a wonderful experience for the both of us. I feel like we have overcome major obstacles and are now bonded to endure this adventure together as a team and as best friends.

Several people have told me that they feel this year will be a great one for our family. Well, I am very much looking forward to it. I am expectant of great things. Our God is awesome and deserves all our praises. Through Him, all things are possible.

09 January 2012

In Good Times And In Bad Times

My pity-party is over, at least for now. I am thankful for that.

"I cry out to the LORD; I plead for the LORD's mercy. I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles. When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn." (Psalms 142:1-3)

This journey is a true roller-coaster of emotions. I do prefer it when I am 'on top' of the world filled with thankfulness, rather than a dark place of negativity.....

I am glad that I can report this victory. Bi-polar has many faces, and this is one of them. I thought I had conquered it, but the enemy just knows when and where to get at us..... I know it was a pity-party, because I became self-centered in my own misery and stopped praying and became introverted, which is not my natural habit. I let the enemy take away my joy; the joy of my family, the miracle of having such a loving and caring community around me, the comfort of a loving God, and the excitement for the blessings that are to come my way.

There is so much to be thankful for, there is so much to look forward to! On the side of my blog, it says, 'count your blessings'! Well, I did not focus on that last week, and that is why I could stray away and get lulled into a dark world.

I had a very good talk with Beth, my best friend, who is also carrying my baby. She pointed this out to me: without women like Heather and her, I would NOT have any additional children at all. And even if it hurts tremendously that I can not 'feel' certain things, I am blessed to have these women in my life to give these precious gifts. They are not the ones that took away, God allowed that to happen; they are the ones that give back to me! Without asking something in return. So thank you, dear Beth, for putting my focus back into place!

With my focus on the beauty of this adventure, I reminded myself of something that I 'saw' one day during a prayer meeting. It's more like a parallel. When God brought His son into our world, He needed a womb to grow Jesus. He found a woman that had His favor, Mary. When I pray for my baby, often times I envision it inside the womb, how it turns and stretches inside it - it helps me to connect to the baby. Then I envisioned baby Jesus, swimming inside of Mary and how beautiful that picture is. Thinking about that (with Christmas approaching) I was taken aback by the similarity of the circumstances. I needed a womb to grow my babies, and God had found two extraordinary women that had His favor. I truly believe that in both cases, God 'tapped' them on the shoulder and said: "that's you! She needs your uterus to grow her babies." The amazing thing is that they both decided to obey. I heard Heather's story of how she felt like God telling her to do this, and Beth has shared 'her calling' with me as well. The miraculous thing about both times is that we had two embryos, and both took, first try! If you don't think God's hand is in this, I don't know.... I see it all over this endeavor.

Though, I am still trying to figure out why God had to take away, but it seems more 'bearable' this week. I want to focus on the positive things. Like the family that I have right here with me. Like the husband who loves me and cares for me and supports me. Like the best friend who is talking me through my hurts. Like the beauty of her growing belly. Like the joy and excitement this entire process brings for all involved. Like the love I feel from my church family. Like the comfort that God gives me when He tells me personally that He is always by my side, even in my darkest times. A God that wants to bless, not just me, but also the two women that followed His plan.

So I want to lift them up in my prayers for the sacrifices they endured in order to give us these little blessings that our family longed for for so long. I want to shout out a thank you of gratefulness to them. They are heroes in my eyes! I am so thankful that the God that took away also allowed to give back to our family. The God that hears my cries and the God that loves each and everyone of us. I am praying that He showers these women with many blessings.

I am praying for all of you! Mothers-in-waiting like me, for your healing; and for all the carriers that give something so precious, and for their protection. I am praying for peace for all of you. Thank you God.
"Father, I am so glad I can come to you and share all my burdens. I am so grateful for your mercy and faithfulness. Thank you that they never cease. Praise You Lord. AMEN."

07 January 2012

The Joy Of Giving

After a somber story, I do have a happy one to tell, that includes a great teaching moment with Coqui.

So Monday, December the 19th, Coqui tells me that he doesn't want it to be Hanukkah tomorrow. I was very surprised and asked him, why. His explanation was something along the line of "wanting it to be Christmas already". So I asked him why he doesn't want to wait, it was only five more days. So he tells me that he was ready to receive his gifts.

Oh, all the red flags went up and I knew this was the moment to bring out my teaching tools...

So I told him that Christmas is not only about receiving gifts, but foremost to give gifts and joy. (Besides that it is about Jesus anyways, but he knows that part very well - we had been working on the nativity story half the month of December.) We had talked about the 'joy of giving' before, especially when it comes to someone else's birthday and Coqui doesn't get a gift but has to buy one for the friend. The sound of those 'greedy' words scared me enough to want to make this one stick... until next year.

When I asked him if he has brought any gifts for the family, he had to deny. I told him that he needed to give, too, not just expect gifts. I made him pull out his piggy bank and told him that I would take him shopping the very next day to buy a gift for each family member.

Tuesday came and he was actually very excited to go on a 'Mami-date', buying gifts for the people he loves. Leaving the house, he actually already told me that he had an idea for his Mema (grandma) and Buelo (grandpa) - which made me happy, because I knew then that he had actually thought about what I had told him.

We left the house and went to the first store where he found easily what he wanted for the two mentioned-above family members. Standing at the cash register, he put the two items on the counter and asked how much it was. He then pulled out his money. It was about $9, 86 (or something close to it) - and we started counting his pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. Yes, only coins! It was a Christian store, so I loved that the lady working there was very supportive and asked Coqui lots of questions. He made him feel proud and it was worth every penny that was counted - which took about two minutes to count those nine dollars and some change.

By now, he was so psyched. He told me where he needed to go next and I brought him there. There, we looked around quite a long time. It was hard to find something suitable for Daddy, but at last he made a decision. Finding something for his sister was so much easier - I think it was hardest to make a wise decision, money-wise. Again, I helped him pay for the items purchased. He was so excited - it was contagious for me.

Now, I told him, he had to find someone else to take him shopping, because, obviously, I couldn't be around when he was buying me a present. So a few days later, Daddy went out and got him something for me - but he took Coqui's money.

Arriving home, Coqui yelled into the house for everyone to hide, so we could carry in our 'loot' and bring it upstairs, where we went to work on wrapping it right away. He did this mostly himself as well. Then we made name tags and he wrote out each name all by himself. It was so cute. All four presents were wrapped in four different papers, that were then hidden in our bedroom.

On Christmas morning, he brought them out and watched all of us unwrapping his presents - it was beautiful to see him so joyful. Mema cried when she opened hers, but that was a giving.....

I am so glad that this happened - what a great way to teach my boy about the joy of giving.

04 January 2012


If you are into reading 'happy' blog posts about a 'perfect' life, then you might not want to read on. My life is for sure not boring and I am not perfect, and perhaps, sometimes, steam just needs to come out. Especially the other day. I know, nobody wants to read sad stories.... I wouldn't want that either. So after thinking it over and over, I decided to post what I wrote down the other day, because this is my life right now and life is not always that pretty anyways.

January 1st - the new year did not start with a bang or a bunch of resolutions, for me, it started with resentments:

I am resenting today.

I resent that I am not pregnant, but someone else is carrying my baby - I am 'just' an expectant parent, or merely a mother-in-waiting. Actually, on the paper work, we are referred to as the 'intended parents' - like someone can change their minds. It sucks.

I resent the fact that for some reason, God thought it needed to be this way, when I really just want to scream "why"? That question has not popped into my head for a long time, and suddenly, it's back. Why cancer? Why can I not be the one pregnant?

I resent that I won't feel the first kick of the baby. There are no butterflies in my tummy - but someone else gets to feel that. Why? It rips my heart out just thinking of it.

I resent that I can not spend any alone-time with my baby; I can not just sit in a rocking chair and speak with it, because there are always (at least) two extra eyes and two extra ears! I can not bond with it the way I would want to, and the woman who is carrying it doesn't want to bond, for her own sake! (and it is good this way!) It sucks to be the baby, I guess....

I resent that I was robbed of a nice birth story with all of my children. Why do others get to do it over and over when they already have one beautiful story to tell? It hurts.

I resent that I even forget sometimes that there is a baby on the way, because it is not here with us. I am not saying that the family feels complete, but the baby is not always topic number one of our lives, and it should!

I resent that the Hubby doesn't get any time with the baby at all, that he can't sit next to me, put his hand on my belly and talk to the baby. (Because as a man, you just don't do that to someone else's wife!)

I resent that my children will not witness the miracle of a normal pregnancy. They can not just sit with me and talk to their sibling. They can not bond with it either. So this is a fear of mine, that reality will just hit them so much harder than in normal growing families.

I even resent that the grandparents get robbed of their experience as well.

I resent that everyone only sees the 'beauty' of this process and the sacrifice that the 'other woman' is offering. I did not ask for this! I would have preferred to live without miscarriages, cancer and hysterectomy. I would have preferred to carry my own babies. At times, it feels like, nobody sees the sacrifices I had to endure to even bring us to this place. Don't get me wrong, it is a beautiful thing, and yes, she is giving up so much, for us, just because.... and I appreciate it! I DO. It is a very selfless gift that this family is offering us.

I resent that if you ask me which of the three tragedies were harder on me, that I have to say: infertility. By far, it was harder than cancer and miscarriages; as devastating the loss of my children was, and as scary as cancer is still today, infertility seems so final. 

And I resent that I have to write this down. Because if I don't, it will eat me up inside. If I don't, I will scream one day for sure, because it all seems so unfair. If I don't, I will not be free of these emotions one day, to ONLY see the beauty of it all. I feel misunderstood by everybody, so maybe this will help....

I resent all of it.

So, it's out. If you are still there - kudos to you!
I believe all those feelings are actually okay. The Hubby is trying to understand me and my feelings - he knows what I have been through. He is my light in the tunnel, my rock in the storm. He also said that he is a person that would not see the things that we lost but the things gained. Well, good for him, because I am just not wired that way. I do have to grieve over all the things that I lost, that is just who I am.

BUT I do want to say that he is right! Our joy is still dominating the entire process, a very complicated process.  A process that involves two families: two women and their feelings, lots of hormones; husbands that are supporting us and encouraging us when we need it, and that are patient. To add to all that, we have each children that need tending to. It's called life. And isn't there a saying that we have to do the best out of what life presents in front of us? Well, that is what is needed in this very special circumstance. It might just not always be pretty.

So these last few days and weeks, I have spend many hours around my family and just enjoyed what I have at the moment. Giggles and laughter from Coqui and Peanut are like balsam to my soul. A hug and an encouraging word from the Hubby are like huge band-aids. Being surrounded by the people who have seen with their own eyes how hard it has been for our family the last seven years, it helps! I love them and I thank them for their support, emotionally, spiritually, and in so many other ways. I know I am blessed..... I just have to 'earn' this next blessing, too.