WHATEVS…

Sierra's online journal

Some Pretty Huge News October 19, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — sierrak83 @ 5:20 pm
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A few people have pointed out to me that I haven’t written in a while. “I’ve had a hard time getting back on track after vacation,” I claim. In fact, the same could be said about not only my blogging but also my diet…. Sure, Chris and I took a trip to Las Vegas in mid-September along with our friend Jen, her parents, and my mother-in-law. But that’s not really the reason why I’ve been hesitant to post a new blog entry. The truth is, I’ve been a bit distracted. By some pretty huge news. News that I wasn’t ready to share until now. If I may be honest…it’s because Chris and I are getting a roommate.

Our new roommate will be moving in with us on or around May 1. And the crazy part is that so far, that’s all we know. Not whether it’s going to be male or female and certainly not its name. We’re not real picky, though…we’re just psyched that the roommate is coming. Psyched but scared, too. We’re not sure what to expect. How will this affect our social life? Our budget? Ah, yes. I didn’t mention. This roommate will not only be living with us rent-free but we’re also obligated to provide him or her with all sorts of stuff…clothing, food…diapers.

Yes, we’re pregnant!

If you know me, you’re probably scratching your head right about now and asking yourself, “But, I thought she said they weren’t ready to start a family yet” or even, “Sierra always said she didn’t want kids.” And now that I’m to this point (almost 13 weeks!) I feel ready to be honest about something else. Something that only three people (Chris, my sister Bree, and my friend Frankie) have known about me all along is this: I’ve always wanted a family. But since I was about 17 years old, and for reasons about which I will spare you the details, I have questioned my ability to have children. I had never tried to conceive. But I was certain it would never work. And rather than admit to friends and family that I may not be able to have what I wanted so desperately, I found it easier to proclaim that I just didn’t want children. That way, every time someone asked us, “No babies for you?” or “When are you two going to start a family?” it made it a little less damaging.

And the question got asked. A lot. I have come to learn that different phases of life bring with them stock questions that everyone seems to ask. During our engagement, it was “did you set a date yet?” And during the first year or so of our marriage, it was “when are you guys going to have a baby?” On that note, I have to interject here. When a couple doesn’t have kids, there’s a reason for it. And that reason is really none of your business. No amount of asking them—regardless of how politely or “cutesy” it may be phrased—will impact the decision that is ultimately up to the couple. Maybe they don’t want kids yet. Or at all. Maybe one (or both) of them can’t have kids. Either way, it’s rude (and often upsetting) to ask! I digress.

Shortly after our third wedding anniversary (in January of this year), Chris and I made a long weekend trip to where we honeymooned in the Poconos—Cove Haven…love them! And the purpose of that trip was to mark the official start of us trying to conceive. We had talked about being ready to start trying. But I needed “an important starting point” to make myself feel okay mentally. After all, we had spent the past 12 years trying NOT to conceive. I couldn’t just wake up one day and suddenly try to do exactly what we’d avoided for so long! Chris didn’t understand my logic but still he packed up the car and off to the Poconos we went.

And January turned into February turned into March turned into April. And, sure, we were having fun. But with each passing month I became more and more disheartened. All the while, we watched as friends and family around us continued to announce pregnancies, have babies, and post photos of their little ones all over Facebook. And we were happy for them, of course. But at the same time, I was left tearily exclaiming to Chris, “Everyone gets to be pregnant except for me!”

In May, Chris decided that we needed to get away. So off we went to spend a weekend in Providence at a quaint little bed-and-breakfast that Chris picked out. It was just what we needed. Time away. Time to just be us, without worrying about anyone or anything else. We came home relaxed and ready to keep trying. And May turned to June.

In June, I met a woman who had a profound impact on me. We were strangers when we both received invitations to the wedding where we met. She was a high school classmate of the bride while the groom is a friend of Chris’. But the seating chart said we were sharing a table and I, fortunately, ended up sitting next to her. Over dinner, we started to chat and I learned that she is the mother of triplets. I asked her if multiples run in her family and her candid response floored me. “No, they were fertility babies.” She told me that her and her (now ex) husband were having a hard time conceiving so she went through treatments to make her family. By the end of the conversation, I had admitted to her that I was afraid I can’t conceive, either. She had given me hope, though, that if I wanted a family, it was possible. Someway, somehow.

In July, I felt run-down…just not myself. And I said to Chris, “I bet it happened.” But the test said no. And I cried. I came to Chris and said, “I’m going to give it until January. That’ll be one full year. And if it hasn’t happened by then, we’ll go see a doctor.” The prospect of needing to go to that length seemed daunting. But if it’s what I had to do to have a family, then I’d do it. I tried to remain optimistic in the meantime. “I bet it’s going to happen soon, though. I just feel it,” I had said to Chris in August.

With our trip to Vegas looming within a few days, I decided to take a test “just in case” before leaving. I didn’t tell anyone—not even Chris—that I was taking it because I didn’t want to deal with the heartbreak of having to tell anyone that it was negative again. So on Saturday, September 15, I woke up bright and early and headed to the bathroom. And I couldn’t believe my eyes. Was that a plus sign?! I immediately burst into tears—happy ones—and asked Chris to come downstairs. I handed him the test and said through my tears, “Everyone gets to be pregnant!”

He took the test from me and immediately went into consoling husband mode, as he’s done after so many tests in the recent past. “Honey, don’t get upset. It’ll happen someday.” Then he looked at the test. “Am I reading this right?!” He asked. I nodded. “You’re pregnant?!” I nodded. And he wrapped his arms around me and squeezed. It was finally happening!

So let me catch you up on what you’ve missed over the past 35-or-so days…. We had our first ultrasound on 10/6; The baby looked like a shrimp and since has been dubbed with the nickname Scampi. And we shared our news with a small handful of people. My sister cried. Frankie said, “God is good!” Chris’ mom’s eyes crinkled with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on her face. Chris’ dad held my hand across the breakfast table while we waited for the waitress to deliver food. My sister’s boys asked if it was planned (yes, DeShawn) and if they could choose the baby’s name (no, Anthony). I’m told that Chris’ twin brother Dave said, “Dude, this is a pretty big deal.” Our closest friends cheered and congratulated Chris on “getting the job done!” But the best reaction of them all was my dad’s.

After leaving the ultrasound appointment, I texted my father to ask if I could stop by to talk to him. And within about 30 minutes I found myself in the living room of the home I grew up in. I asked him to put on his glasses and turn on a light, which he did. I then handed him the ultrasound photo. He stared at it, smiled, and asked, “Uh…where is this?” I got teary so my sister lightened the mood. “Well, it’s not in Chris!” He teared up and said, “This is wonderful news, doll. Seeing you have kids is one of the things I still had to accomplish in my life and I’m so happy for you.” (Unbeknownst to me until that night, my father had been asking my sister for a year or so if she thought I’d ever start a family. And knowing my fears about conceiving, she has been telling him not to pressure me.)

And over the past month or so, as we began to divulge the news to a select few, I came to learn the question that is associated with this phase of life: “How are you feeling?” It’s the first thing people want to know when when they hear the news. And then again every time they see or talk to me again. My typical response is, “Good.” But by that I mean, “I have to eat all day to keep myself from feeling hungry because that’s when I get nauseous. And I cry all the time and for no good reason; Chris is LOVING it. I feel huge and often wonder if I’m visibly waddling, despite the fact that my sister insists I’m neither. But other than all that….Good.”

I’m told the second trimester gets easier. And I do hope that that’s true. But at the same time, I am choosing to see this pregnancy as a blessing. I never thought I’d be here—preparing to be a mom—because I thought it just wasn’t in my cards. And I have spent a long time empathizing with the women who are unable to conceive because for so long, I thought I was among them. I realize that there are lots of women out there that would give anything to be in my shoes so I’m not going to take a second of this experience for granted.

Bree: “Look at the arm moving!”
Me: “THANK GOD THAT’S AN ARM! I thought it was the nose!”

 

Weekly Writing Challenge: A Few of My Favorite Things September 5, 2012

Filed under: Weekly Writing Challenge — sierrak83 @ 1:04 am
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The Daily Post’s weekly writing challenge this week was “A Few of My Favorite Things.” We were encouraged to tell a story about our favorite possession. If you’d like to read more about the challenge check out their blog post:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/weekly-writing-challenge-a-few-of-my-favorite-things/

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Worth a Thousand Words

I’m a sentimental person so when I first read this week’s writing challenge, I was stumped. There are lots of things in my life that mean the world to me. Things that make me have a minor panic attack to think of them missing. But there has to be a way to narrow it down to the one thing that matters most. Immediately, I started dreaming up worst-case-scenarios….a ravaging house fire, a break-in, a zombie apocalypse. What would I save?

Chris and our kids

The first thought that came to mind, of course, was my family. Certainly if the zombies were knocking on the front door I’d want to sneak Chris and our two furball kids out the back door, right? But people—and yes, my dogs are close enough to count as people—aren’t possessions. And I’d like to think they’d be helping me pack, not requiring saving.

So then important documents came to mind—my birth certificate, our mortgage paperwork, my college diploma. But if only ashes remained of our home, would those things really matter in the grand scheme of things? Couldn’t they all be replaced?

Which led me to the things with the most sentimental value—the hope chest my mom bought me as an early wedding gift a few months before she passed, the urn holding her ashes. But no burglar could possibly lug that hefty piece of wood furniture out without getting caught and who in their right mind would target my mom’s urn before the electronics, anyway?

Our inscriptions: “Always & all ways”

“What is my most prized possession?” I asked Chris on Monday night, wanting to hear what he thought. He held up his left hand, smirked, and grazed his finger over his own wedding band. He was surely remembering our recent fight when a whole day passed without us knowing where his ring was. For the second time this year, mind you. I had cried. I had lectured him. We both tore the house apart. And lo and behold it was found on the floor of his closet; it had literally slipped off his finger while selecting his shirt the night before. We learned that day just how important our wedding bands are to both of us. Because even if we paid a visit to our jeweler and bought an identical ring, it would never be that ring. The one I gave him on our wedding day. So, yeah, my wedding ring is important to me. But I’m a logical person. And I know that my ring is never not on my finger. So if I’m escaping tragedy, it’s coming with me by default.

And then it hit me. The family photo albums.

The albums themselves call certain memories to mind. I remember the lazy summer afternoons of my childhood when mom and I would spread photographs out across the dining room table as we organized them and prepared them for albums. Each photo would get a tiny caption—handwritten by my mother—including the date and name of everyone in the photo. I remember scouring family albums when loved ones passed away, searching for photos to contribute to the photo boards prepared for the funeral home. I remember mom and dad lugging the albums out to show off baby pictures of my sister to her first few boyfriends, regaling them with only the most embarrassing stories from her earliest years. I remember my mom wearily issuing a decree the summer before she passed away: “Someday, before I croak, I’ll finish putting all these photos into albums for you,” she promised, waving her hand over the pile of boxes containing our yet-to-be-archived family history. She was always so eloquent…. (Sadly, the boxes have simply been moved from her office to mine since then.)

When the albums are opened, the photos inside tell their own stories. Immediately, I am transported to a time and a place where I didn’t even exist yet. A simpler time. When my dad was a long-haired bassist for his band Whiskey River and my mom was a cigarette-puffing flower child. When the kitchen walls were as bright as the living room upholstery was floral. When now-divorced couples were in love and late family members were still with us. Browsing through the family albums allows me to experience memories I had forgotten about and events that happened before I was born. Here are some of my favorites that capture the era and/or my childhood the most vividly for me.

Uncle David & my “Grammy Dunham” (Edith) dance on his wedding day

This photo was taken on June 2, 1979 at my uncle David’s wedding reception. Here, he dances with his mother, my grandmother Edith Dunham. This photo (along with the others from that day) make me wish that my generation had weddings like this….semi-formal functions full of family, including kids. Instead, weddings today have turned into $50,000+ productions that often lose sight of what should be the focus of the day—love and family.

My sister Bree does “acrobatics” with dad

My dad and us girls were often the subject of family photos because my mother preferred to be behind the lens. I love this photo because it shows a typical night at our house; When dad got home from work, his job as “dad” began. That sometimes meant letting us climb all over him and other times it meant he had to change our doll’s diapers. But I also love this photo for the gaudy floral curtains, the console TV, the brown-and-mustard decor, and the record player resting on top of the stereo speakers. If this photo doesn’t scream ’80s then I don’t know what does.

Cousins Paula and Alysia (close friends of our family)

This photo was from two years before I was born but it features two people I call my “pseudo-family.” This photo helps remind me just how long our families have been as close as we are to this day.

Uncles Johnny, Kevin, DJ plus Aunt Debbie

Uncle Kevin and Aunt Debbie are divorced now but here they were when they were just starting their marriage. I love how relaxed and happy they look in this shot. The other thing that speaks to me in this photo is the clock on the wall in the background. Its face is yellowing here but I’m told it was “white as the driven snow” when my dad bought it. Today, it hangs in my father’s finished basement. And its face is a dark brown shade. He told me that the color change was due to years of him smoking in our old apartment. And he said he hung it in the basement when we moved into our house (around 1990) as a reminder of why he vowed to not smoke in our new place.

One of the very first pictures of me and my mom

My mother hardly ever agreed to be the subject of a photograph. But here she is. Just two months from giving birth to me. Smiling and happy. The dark wood paneling and pop culture reference on her t-shirt are just added ’80s bonuses.

Cake batter!!

Remember when licking the beaters after mom made cake was a privilege—not a cause for concern that you might contract salmonella poisoning? It was also around the time that kids played games that didn’t require chargers or a screen. And you might pause from washing the car on a hot summer day to take a swig from the garden hose. I was barely older than two here but miss those simple times.

Daddy’s girls wrestling with him

This is one of my favorite photos of my sister and me. Bree was 10 years old. I was almost 3. Dad had his hands full.

Back (left to right): Me and cousins Josh and Sasha plus my grandmother Jeanne Beltrandi
Front (left to right): My sister Bree, my cousin Nicole, and Aunt Kelley holding my cousin Fawn

There was never a question as to what we’d be doing on Easter Sunday. At noon, we’d be at Grammy Beltrandi’s house for her annual Easter Egg Hunt. She’d enlist her boys (my uncles), all swigging off their Budweiser cans, to hide a slew of plastic eggs for all us kids. Some were filled with coins. Others were filled with candy. And the special ones—the ones that earned you a prize at the end—were wrapped in tin foil. Clearly the prizes in 1986 were sunglasses.

Uncle Pat and Aunt Janice get married

I didn’t know that they didn’t get married until their first-born Nicole (holding the bouquet behind them) was about 5 or 6 years old. I also had no idea that my great aunt Sandy was the one who married them. I love this photo because, again, it depicts a simple wedding focusing on love and family rather than on glitz and glamour. And check out that car in the background….I may be mistaken, but is that a Chevy Nova?

Pop-Pop fixes my shoe

Grammy Dunham in her glory with family all around

These two photos were both taken on Christmas day in 1986. I may have been too young to remember this particular Christmas, but I remember that Grammy and Pop-Pop always had a huge pot of spaghetti warming on the stove along with all sorts of other homemade dishes and desserts. Their house was a gathering place for family. No one needed to wait for an invitation. No one needed to RSVP. They knew you were coming. And it didn’t matter what time you showed up. Us kids ran throughout the house all day, including up and down the creaky spiral staircase. The adults sat around chatting. No one had anywhere to rush off to. All we had to do was sit and enjoy our time together. Where did these days go?

It seems that every time I open one of our family albums, I discover a new memory I never knew I had. Looking through the photos keeps me grounded and reminds me of what’s important in life. I’d be devastated to lose that ability. And, yes. Someday, before I croak, I’ll finish putting the pictures in albums.