Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year, New Beginnings

i'll be honest, the holidays haven't exactly been the easiest. i didn't realise how much i'd been looking forward to celebrating Christmas and the New Year with Tummymuffin, until those days actually arrived and the sadness snuck up on me.
the week's retreat in the mountains was wonderful; very healing and restorative for both Thomas and me. i was able to really have time to process, cry, pray, and grieve honestly. i learned that grieving with fear is not good -- this doesn't mean i'll never have a child, or that the next pregnancy will end the same way, or that i'll never get pregnant again. it is a unique event that should be recognised as such. i realised that grief and gratitude is a better combination; every thanks i could give felt like one step more through the murkiness towards a clearer peace. and at the end of the week, i felt like i'd gotten to a much more peaceful place of acceptance and hope.
then, a few days later, a close friend of mine was killed in a car wreck. it's felt like i'd just struggled to my feet again, only to slip on the ice of painful emotion and crash on my back again. a lot of time and energy has gone into the aftermath of this event; the memorial service is in a few days and then maybe i'll feel like i can actually think about all of this.

don't get me wrong; there have been lots and lots of good days though; there has been much more happiness than otherwise. we had a quiet Christmas week and enjoyed decorating our home & celebrating the coming of the Prince of Peace. we've seen some friends and have been thankful for the famous Southern California mild winter weather. we've treated our time off like a real holiday, which is a good thing for two freelancers with unorthodox schedules. and the continued support and love from you has been absolutely key; your words of hope have made it so much easier to not stay in the shadows but start each day as a new beginning.

i'm hopeful for what 2009 will bring -- perhaps only because the end of 2008 has been so difficult. but regardless, the new year always brings out a longing in everyone for things to be different, to be better... and i am no exception. here's hoping your new year is filled with gratitude and blessing.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Week Ten: Coping

thank you, everyone, for all of your calls, e-mails, and comments expressing your prayers, support, and love for us. it has made an immense amount of difference in getting through this last week.

i will admit, although each day gets easier, it has been a challenge to know how to honestly acknowledge the loss and yet also move forward. it is difficult to move into the holiday season and realise that our expectations for what it would've been like, as expectant parents, are not going to happen. and because this experience has so colored every hour of the last week, it has been odd knowing how to answer the question "how are you doing? " or "what's new with you?" from people who didn't know about Tummymuffin at all. it's been also interesting for me to realise that i am, by default, a fairly happy person, and that processing grief is a complex experiment in emotional volatility. this isn't the first crisis/bad times i've ever had -- but i think it may be the most personal, by far.
i've returned all the baby books to the library, put the maternity clothes into the garage (yes, i already had some), and have started to accept that i'm back to the hopefulness/waiting stage again for getting pregnant. Thomas & I will be taking a "personal retreat" next week to the nearby mountains, thanks to the generosity of some friends who have a cabin there, to recharge and regroup. one of the positives about this whole experience is how much closer it has brought us together, and we feel like it has strengthened our relationship already.

even though it's quite premature, i've already -- for my own sanity, anyway -- already started wondering what i should do/will do with the next pregnancy: i guess i won't be so "innocent" anymore. i wonder if i will want to tell more people about it sooner, or if i will be gunshy until the 9 week mark has passed. if any of you have experienced the loss of a baby, and then had a successful pregnancy afterwards, i'd like to know how you navigated what seems to me might be a possible emotional minefield.
again, thanks for all the notes of encouragement, love, support, and prayer. we are so blessed to have you in our lives.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Week Nine: Goodbye

sometime between Monday (24th) night and Tuesday morning (25th), Tummymuffin quietly disappeared. the grief is crushing and primal, but still there is this deep peace of God that is keeping us afloat. the image that brings me the most comfort is that my grandmother must even now be cradling her (yes, i think Tummymuffin was a her).

i'm deliberately posting this on Thanksgiving Day, because we have so much to be grateful for. we are thankful that we know i can get pregnant. we are thankful that we were parents for nine heady, wondrous weeks. we are thankful that i am physically okay, with no complications. and we are thankful that we have a strong community of friends and family that can and will support us -- and already are.

i have no regrets about sharing the happiness of Tummymuffin with all of you when i did; i'm sorry i now must share the sadness too. i know miscarriage is not uncommon; very likely many of you have had this experience, and i need your feedback now more than ever. as for this blog, i'm not going to take it down -- i may continue to post, and we definitely have faith that there will be a Tummymuffin II. it's hard for me to think too far ahead; right now life is moving on, but only a day at a time. sometimes just an hour at a time.

oh my little Tummymuffin, you brought so much joy in your tiny life to so many; for this i will be forever grateful to you. you were this glowing, amazing, invisible reality within me, and i hope to never forget what astonishing wonder that was. goodbye...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Week Eight: Remembering

first, a quick Muffin update:
-Tummymuffin continues to demand raw vegetables and fruit. and has still not started making me barf. i continue to plead with God to allow this no-nausea trend to hold.
-the Muffinoven, me, is still feeling pretty healthy except for a total reset of my body clock. i was always a night owl, but now i fall asleep early and wake up early. and some nights i feel like i did a 20-mile hike, i'm so tired. i believe this is VERY normal. also in the normal category: constant bathroom trips. fun.
-the Muffinman, Thomas, is excited about all of this but it's still not quite as real to him as it is to the one who has to seemingly pee every 2.5 minutes, had to get new bras, and is starting to find jeans that will alarmingly not button anymore.

right now, we are in the Washington, D.C. area for Erika's grandmother's memorial services. it has been a good time of reflection and celebration -- she was 99 years old (100 in Chinese years; you are considered 1 yr. old at birth) and had an incredibly rich, amazing life. we were all able to say our goodbyes; she left us peacefully, from her own bed, and not in the hospital. even though Tummymuffin won't meet her in this life, her legacy of spunkiness, good cooking, faithful care, and love will certainly be communicated, not just through me, the granddaughter, but all the other surviving Chans who have already made it quite clear how much Tummymuffin is already loved and welcomed.
parenthood obviously makes you start thinking a generation ahead -- amazing how things you might have thrown away suddenly become potentially interesting for your potential children -- but right now i'm really feeling the importance of inheritance, legacy, etc. we've been going through Bobo's things (Bobo is the English transliteration of "grandma" in Chinese) and it's interesting how objects that might have seemed to be trash before are now infused with meaning and importance. if these blurry, faded photos that i'm now seeing are becoming so significant to me as a record of a life well-lived, suddenly all those unsorted photos in the box in the garage become The Possible Tummymuffin Treasure Trove. pieces of jewelry, decades-old letters, an old change purse, an almost-finished crochet project...all this stuff makes me realise my parents were right when they would tell me not to throw everything away, for heaven's sakes, your KIDS might want to see that old yearbook! when you're a teenager, this seems to be silly...and now suddenly i'm a mom and it all makes way too much sense.

so! my question is sort of twofold: first, many of you said in the last post to enjoy every moment of this first pregnancy. i can understand that: this is a very unique time of transition that won't ever happen again, not even if i get pregnant another time. but specifically, how did you do this? or perhaps more to the point, what specifically did you NOT do that you wish you had? i feel like one part of the "enjoy" is in savouring the small things we'll be giving up: sleeping uninterrupted, getting in the car and going somewhere without having to have major tactical maneuvers, etc.
but perhaps another part of "enjoy" is "remember & recognise" -- this is the second part of the question: what things did you do to mark the time? did anyone do certain things to create or document memories or milestones before the kid arrived? what were they? i've heard of "pregnancy journals" that have prompts/questions for the mom-to-be to answer -- anyone have any experience with these? were they fun or tedious? i'm not a scrapbooky kind of girl, but i could always try...no, who am i fooling? i am not going to ever buy those wacky ruffle-edged scissors. the most i'd do is tape stuff in a book. maybe...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

happy muffins!

WOW! i thought a few of you might wander over and comment, but we're so excited about the response so far! THANK YOU! this is already way more fun than expected...especially because now Thomas, the resident Muffinman, is eagerly reading too.

for those of you who are having some confusion about how to comment, here's a basic rundown:
1. read the post. underneath, next to the timestamp, it says "(some number) comments." click on it. a new screen opens.
2. type your 2 cents' worth in the box that says "leave your comment." knowing some of you, this could be 2 dollars' worth. hooray!
3. underneath that, where it says "word verification," type whatever letters you see above it. this is to verify you are a human and not a spammer.
4. under "choose your identity" pick "Name/URL." boxes will open underneath. fill in "Name." leave URL blank. of course, if you want to be "Anonymous," you may pick that option, but really, i'd rather know who you are!
5. click "publish your comment."
that's it!

in any case, me, Tummymuffin, Thomas -- the whole dang Muffinpan (am i going overboard with this?) are so happy you are all jumping right in. thank you for your excitement, love, stories, and advice. we'll be out of town this weekend, but hope to have a new post in a few days.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Week Seven: Eating

here i am at week seven... and still no morning sickness. i'm sure some of you are shaking your heads and saying "you don't know how lucky you are..." -- i do feel very, very happy to have dodged that bullet so far. i'd rather be in pain than nauseated, and you all know how much i LOVE eating. i've been able to continue eating pretty much the same as usual, but with some adjustments. just to put everyone's mind at ease, i am not having any raw meat or fish, and no coffee or wine. (this was severely tested during my recent job in Italy...no cappuccinos, no Umbrian wine, no carpaccio...) i haven't had any cravings for pickles or chocolate...yet. mostly, i am drawn to eating raw fruits and veggies, but i wouldn't say it's a raging, overwhelming desire that is forcing Thomas -- i guess he's the Muffinman -- to go foraging at the grocery store at 3 a.m.
i'm wondering, though...can morning sickness start later? i can't find anything definitive about that. and do the cravings come later? also, are there any foods this early in the game that would be especially beneficial for me to be scarfing down? and while we're on the subject of food, do you think it's true that whatever i eat during pregnancy will affect Tummymuffin's likes and dislikes later? what did you find to be true with your kids? i'm really curious about this last question -- and i think anecdotal evidence is often the best!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Welcome to Tummymuffin!

yes, it's true...i have a Tummymuffin!
(i think that makes me the Muffinoven.)

in any case, here i am, all knocked up for the first time. of course we're really excited, extremely happy, and humbly blessed...and also freaking out. mildly. we hear the real freaking out comes AFTER pregnancy.
but of course i'm curious, with plenty of questions, so who better to turn to than you, friends and family? the community i'm a part of is made up of people all over the world, and so i hope this blog becomes a virtual village made up of some of the strongest, smartest, most amazing women i know. some of you are brand-new mothers; some have been mothers for many, many years; many of you fall somewhere in-between. i know every mom, child, and pregnancy is different and unique, but i think that you all have much wisdom to give. i can't sit down and have tea & scones with all of you, so i guess this is the next best thing.

my plan is to post questions, updates, and other bits, and then ask for your responses. it's easy; just click on the word "comments" below the post. a new screen will open up, and you can write however much you like. you will have a verify that you are a person and not a spammer by typing a few letters you see -- it's very easy. when you're done, just click "publish your comment." the tummymuffin community will then be able to see what you've written. i'll be checking often and responding whenever i can.
i look forward to hearing from any or all of you; participation is of course voluntary, but i wouldn't have asked you to come check out this blog if i didn't think you had an opinion to share! your input is really valuable to me.
if you don't feel comfortable posting answers publicly, you can always e-mail me directly at that address you've known and loved for years, hadashi at hotmail dot com.

thank you for all the support, love, and friendship you've shown to me over the years, months, or days. each of you has a special place in my life, and your journey into motherhood has given me a lot of encouragement already!