118/365 - Mother's Day

118/365 - Mother's Day
Originally uploaded by anngenue

March 2010

March 2010
Originally uploaded by anngenue

2008 gets off to a promising start. Our 3rd show is well underway and the show is in good shape. It is an unusually mild winter and we are beginning to furnish the house. We have a bed in the guest room now, and I am keeping the little bedroom vacant as I expect it to be my nursery. Willis has just taken a new job at NCC which means that he no longer works in a job that he hates and as a bonus we work together again and that is really exciting.

In January I go in for that test. We have to go to the practice’s surgery center in Rockville. The day is gray and cold – traffic is terrible which affords me twice as long to stress out about the procedure. When we finally get to the office, Willis and I smirk about the form that we are given at check in-that lists all kinds of different services offered by the center. Willis raises an eyebrow and points out one line item in particular and I laugh and remind him that it always rains when you get a “sperm wash”. In general, sitting in this waiting room, I am reminded that Willis and I can find the humor in anything. We realize though that most of the people in the waiting room are there under entirely different circumstances and probably find very little to laugh about. Many of the couples were there to plunk down their savings and their second mortgages and God knows what else on a chance to have a baby. Who knows how many times they had been in this waiting room before?

The procedure is slightly less unpleasant as I expect it to be. I go back to the tiny recovery area to wait with Willis for the all clear but when the doctor comes back to see us he has different news. Stay on the hormones and make an appointment with your RE – something doesn’t look right. I go back to my doctor for ANOTHER unfortunate test and find out that I have developed a ton of polyps in the time since my surgery. He is baffled by how quickly they have grown and he decides they should be removed and biopsied. I am scheduled for another surgery. This time I am just not able to take time off to recover so I have my surgery and go back to work and rehearsal the next day even though I can barely stand. It’s worth it though – we are finally given the all clear to start trying for a baby in March.

Its leap year and opening night is February 29th, which I think is really fun. Hell Week however is not fun at all this time and I have an exchange with the youth minister that makes me question if I will continue on with this ministry in the future. I make an emotional decision to forward an email to my husband because I am hurt by it and unable to process it on my own. I expect him to give me a hug and a shoulder to cry on, but instead he responds by sending an escalating email back to the youth minister. The tension is so thick I can hardly breathe so that evening I go in armed with a speech for the cast that I expect will get their attention. It does, and we have a great rehearsal.

The next morning while Willis and I are walking into the office I remark that I can’t believe we had almost made it through all of Hell Week without having to miss any work. While I am recording my voice mail message for the day, the red light comes on. I think I mutter something about not even having a chance to boot up my computer and someone is already bothering me. I listen to the message and it is from my Mom. She was calling to tell me that my Granddad died that morning.

He’d been sick for a long time, so it should not have been the shock that it was. I guess because he had rallied and was doing so well I figured he might live forever.

We gathered in his home and I tried to figure out the role I was supposed to play in this scenario. His body was still sitting on the sofa in the spot where he died – in a position that I’d seen him in so many times before merely sleeping. I passed up and down the hall gathering things as people came and went – I’d see his knees out of the corner of my eye and had to keep reminding myself that he was gone. He doesn’t need a drink. He doesn't want a snack. He isn’t coming out into the living room to visit. When they do come for his body, I watch as they take him down the hall and into the elevator. I am overcome as I realize that this is the last time I will ever see him and I slump down into the doorframe. The day is full of decisions and phone calls and by the time we make it to the final dress rehearsal that night I don’t have the energy to do anything but take pictures. All I can think about is the day that we went to decorate Granddad’s Christmas tree - we listened to the soundtrack for the musical and he told me that he would be sure to live long enough to see it.

The show goes on, as it must.

His funeral is a week later on a Saturday with the strangest March weather I’ve ever seen - rain, sun and wind all at once. Willis plays the piano and I sing, because we don’t know how to do anything else. We bring the urn home to my Mom’s house to wait for the internment at Arlington and surround it with all of the flowers and the pictures from the funeral. We begin the long and painful process of settling his estate and end up with a house full of furniture before long.

Willis and I sign on to chaperone a trip to Disney with a local high school. Willis is accompanying the choirs anyway, and we need a break. While I am in Disney, my work life implodes. I start getting messages and texts to let me know that all hell is breaking lose in the office and I know I am coming back to something horrible. I get back in time to enter the eye of the storm and spend the next several months bolting things to the ground before finally being able to come up and survey the damage. Many priviledges and opportunities are laid to waste in this period of time and the jobs that are left behind are so burdened with policies and procedures that I wonder if it is worth it.

Soon after we return our sweet and loving little dog, Snowball, dies. We have always been very attached to our animals in my family – they are members of the family and we love them with our whole hearts. Snowball was 17. We struggled with how to do right by her in the end – was she suffering badly? Was it time to have her put down? She answered the question for us, and died peacefully at home in one of her favorite spots. I sit and cry at my desk looking at pictures of her sweet little face.

In May, a dear friend’s Father dies. We travel for the funeral – we play and sing again. I wonder what is wrong with the world.

We are still actively trying for a baby though I am frustrated because the further away I get from hormone controlled cycling the longer and more wacked out my cycles get. Months go by with no idea where we stand – I drop more money that seems possible into pregnancy tests because what else can you do when your cycles are 60+ days long?

They are all negative or course. Until June.

I just about jump out of my skin. I run down the stairs and wait impatiently for Willis to get off the phone so that he can squint at the stick and tell me I’m not crazy. I take test after test unable to believe the results. I do the math – a February baby. Pregnant for the Winter with a new baby going into Spring. We don’t tell many people – we are waiting for my birthday dinner to tell the family. I have my first appointment with the doctor. I’m already so sick, it has to be a good sign.

One night I have a dream and I am sitting in the living room at my Grandparent’s house – the house my Mother grew up in, the house I grew up in. Granddad is sitting in his La-Z-boy and Grandmom is on the couch, alert and smiling. I have a baby with me, a little boy. We sit and talk for hours – about the baby, about life - until eventually, I realize that it’s time for me to go. I reach down to take the baby and my Granddad stops me. He tells me that I need to leave the baby there – that he is going to take care of him for me. I kiss the little boy on his head and place him in my Grandfather’s arms as I wake up.

I call the Doctor in the morning but I already know it’s over.

A couple of weeks later a friend that had been marooned in Colorado for the last two years finds her way back to Northern Virginia and moves in with us. We get the guest room ready for her and I break my rule about the “nursery” and start to get it ready for her son. We receive a ton of warnings from friends and family about the million ways that this situation can go badly but in the end, it is just fine. Actually, for most of the time it is pretty great.

In the fall it’s time to audition another musical. I can’t seem to pick one because every time I nail down an idea I talk myself out of it – coming up with tons of excuses why shows won’t work all the while ignoring the obvious reason: I don’t want to do one. I am tired. It’s been an awful year and I just don’t have it in me. I refuse to let myself go down that path, though, so I announce that I think we should do Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
That family surfaces again with rage over the casting. This time…well, this time it’s bad. It’s really, really bad and involves almost every leader in the church, and actually the leadership of the entire District conference, before it is eventually settled. I attempt to reach peace about it but have a difficult time because, while I have certainly been attacked by parents before due to casting, these insults are being hurled at more than my decisions. My morality, my compassion, and my Christianity – the very foundations of my being – are being attacked. I am running out of cheeks – I have nowhere else to turn to get away from this situation.

In October I go to my doctor – I am done with the endless cycles of trying. She suggests Clomid – a fertility drug that I fear will cause me to lose my mind. She wants to start with a lowish dose and see if that helps me ovulate. If I ovulate, I should cycle, and that should help with the guessing game. I fill the script and put it on my dresser so I can start it on my next cycle. And I wait.

In November I start getting migraines. One day I get one that is SO bad I go to the doctor and they force me to take a pregnancy test before they can give me the drugs to help with the pain. The doctor asks me how late I am and I tell him I'm on cycle day 50 or so. He laughs, assuming that I have migraines because I am pregnant. He tells me all about the different drugs he can give me to help even if I am while we wait for the results. I am not surprised they are negative. He helpfully asks if I have talked to an OBGYN about my cycles.

December rolls around and the Clomid is still sitting - unused - on my dresser. I've had enough. I am swollen and uncomfortable - 76 days into my cycle. I call the doctor to get an appointment to end this nonsense, but I have to leave a message and wont hear back until the next day. That evening, I see a pregnancy test in the cabinet that somehow survived my last testing binge. I go ahead and take it so that when the doctor calls me in the morning I can tell them that I'm not pregnant. I am so sure that I don't even watch the test develop.

I'm brushing my teeth when I feel like I can maybe see a second line. By the time I finish brushing my hair, I don't even have to squint.

The next day I make an appointment for an entirely different reason, and on Christmas Eve I find out for sure - I'm pregnant.

2007 begins in the dark. I am still grieving the loss of our daughter, her due date having just passed in December of 2006. I have begun the dirty work of sorting through what it means to go on without a child instead of focusing on the loss of a pregnancy. I spend a lot of time going to baby showers and celebrating pregnancy announcements. Smiling, nodding, wondering why I am just still so incredibly sad all the time.

Our pastors family cat has kittens. We meet a little black one at their Super Bowl party, and suddenly we have two cats.

Willis and I are also working on a musical at our church - the follow up to our first production with the church the previous year. All of the meetings we had to prepare for this show took place while I was in some kind of delirium, or they must have, because somehow I suggest a show easily twice as large and complicated as the first show. I guess because my friends are so eager to see me smile they support me in this nonsense. In December we held the auditions and they were clouded by the fury of a family whose son had auditioned for the production and did not end up with the part he wanted. Fortunately by the new year the chaos of that had died down, but we were still left with a show just beyond our capabilities that was already in motion.

Every month we write a check to the apartment complex for the expensive apartment that we’d moved to when I’d been pregnant. Our lease is going to be up at the end of April, and we decide that we simply can’t continue to sink this much money in something we don’t own. We start looking at houses - the idea of homeownership both completely insane and deliciously attainable for the first time. We see a couple places before seeing the townhouse we would eventually buy - nowhere is “love at first site” but we visit many places where we can see building a family.

In April, good friends of ours announce that they are pregnant. It is fantastic news, but it sends me straight over the edge. I write a LJ entry about how depressed I have become because I can’t hide it anymore and I want people to tell me that I’m not crazy. No one tells me I’m not crazy, several people suggest I get some help. We close on the house April 16th, the same day as the massacre at Virginia Tech. We don’t have a TV or internet connection so we hear about the horrors via uninformed people trying to make sense of what they’ve heard. When we finally do hear the news its even worse than we thought.

Later that month My Great-Aunt Ruth dies. She was a wonderful woman, full of strength and grace. She loved the Lord and I am at peace with her passing. I sing at her funeral and do just fine until my Uncle mentions the music of her voice. Then I cry. My Grandmother gives us money for playing/singing at the service and we use that money to place a non-refundable deposit on a mission trip that we end up not being able to attend because of my job.

In May the church show goes up and by the Grace of God it is wonderful. The night after the successful opening of the show I sleep through the night for the first time in about 10 months. I sleep all weekend actually, and wake up on Monday with a new mission. Its time to call the doctors, its time to fix me, its time to have a baby.

I go and see a new doctor - someone who supposedly specializes in the kind of surgery that I need. I go for an MRI and we find out that my problems are more pronounced than we had feared. She suggests I see someone else - a fertility doctor. She tells me that only a reproductive endocrinologist has the right specialty for the surgery, so even though I find that option humbling and scary, I call and make an appointment that afternoon. He turns out to be a lovely man who schedules me for surgery at our first appointment based on the information from the MRI.

In June I realize that a dear friend of mine is serving his second tour of duty in Iraq. I found out that he was in the Army while he was serving his first tour and he and I reconnect in that period of time by talking online. We talked about trying to get together while he was in the states but because I am lost in pregnancy land I totally miss his time at home. I am filled with dread about his being there and start logging into IM in the hopes of seeing his name - I never do, of course, because this mission would be different. I pray every day and refresh the website that his family keeps - waiting for word.

On the 4th of July Mom, Willis and I take up my Granddad on his offer to watch the fireworks from the roof-top tennis courts of his community. We see some really spectacular fireworks and I take a ton of pictures - so many that I have to actively remind myself to put down the camera and just LOOK at the spectacle. It is one of the few truly happy memories of the year, and I am so glad we stopped making our typical excuses and just went and watched the sky.

On August 13th a friend of mine pops up on IM and asks if she can call me.

My friend was killed in Iraq. I was surprised by the news but I shouldn't have been. I knew. I just knew. I was surprised by how ferocious my grief was, how raw and unyielding the pain of the loss. I spend weeks looking at nature and listening to music and watching children and thinking about all the wonders of life that were denied to him - to his widow. I cry and cry and try desperately to write something. I can't.

In October, I have a 2 hour surgery to remove a 7cm septum from my uterus. I am derailed a bit by the pain of the recovery but I am encouraged nonetheless. I pronounce myself cured and decide that after the follow up appointment I will still have time to get pregnant before the end of the year.

Eventually I have my post op appointment and find out that it will actually be January before we will be able to try for a baby - there is another test procedure to be done. I take the news poorly even though it isn't specifically bad.

The holiday season is crazy stressful as the health of my maternal Grandparents continues to decline. For Thanksgiving in 2006, Willis and I drive 3 hours back and forth from Sterling to Lansdowne and back again so that we can all be together and the meal is tense and uncomfortable because my Grandmom is in pain and would rather be at home. I tell my Mom that I don’t know how many more holidays we can do like that, but we do it again for Christmas a month later.

I tell my Mom that she can’t go on acting like every holiday is their last because it is unfair to burden herself with those kinds of expectations. There was no way to know that Christmas would turn out to be our last together, but I still feel guilty. By now, Christmas of 2007, Grandmom is in a nursing home since she can no longer walk. She is developing a phobia of the outside world, of even the halls outside her room, and holidays together are not an option. On Saturdays we all cram into her room - Mom, me, and Granddad and his walker - and try to keep her interested in our visit at least until her lunch comes. Christmas was just another day for her, despite our best efforts.

80/365 - details

80/365 - details
Originally uploaded by anngenue
I've been trying to keep up with a 365 project - a photo a day for an entire year. I've tried this before and failed so this time I decided to work towards an "iPhone 365". That way the camera is always with me and I don't have an excuse to give up!

This little turtle was yesterday's photo. That is my desk at work - he is sitting between my printer and my 10-key.

is this thing on?
Apparently my new posting schedule is once a year. I really need to work on that. I really think this outlet is important. So, without further delay -

I had a baby - a little boy. He was born September 2, 2009 and was 8 lbs,4 oz. He came into the world after 11 hours of labor and an emergency c-section. We named him Daniel Luke - Daniel after my late Grandfather, Luke for the Christmas story in the Bible since I found out I was pregnant on Christmas Eve. The pregnancy was horrible, the labor and delivery were a nightmare, the baby is perfect and wonderful and a precious gift from God. We call him Danny.

I could fill the entire internet with my feelings about him - how he has changed us, how he was worth every painful minute of the wait to have him in our lives, how I feel like I know who I am for the first time in my life - even though most days feel like I don't know anything else. I certainly have taken a ton of pictures.


A lot has happened since my last entry - even more has happened since my last entry of substance. I considered starting a new blog on a new platform, but ended up back here because I'm just not sure what I am looking for out of this. Maybe it will be another year before I post anything at all. All I know is that I miss writing and the simple answer is to write. So here I am.

16 weeks, 1 day.
In July of 2006, I lost my first pregnancy at 16 weeks and 1 day. After an early miscarriage last June I got pregnant again in December. I am 16 weeks and 1 day today. Everything looks great, so much better than even the best hopes that we had in 2006. God willing, we will have our baby in our arms in August.

I hope to write more soon. So much time has passed, it seems overwhelming and I don't even know where to start. :)


Originally uploaded by anngenue
I realized that I have posted one of these mosiacs for every show I've done at SUMC, so Honk! should be no different - even if it was different in every way.

An old friend updated recently and reminded me that it is worth updating this thing on a semi-regular basis, if for no other reason than to let everyone know what I am up to.

So: hi! This is some of what I have been up to...the happy part of what I have been up to. Honk! is the 3rd show that Willis and I have directed at the church and it was another great success - if only by the Grace of God. The show was actually 2/29-3/2, so I am a bit behind the curve in posting this entry. Considering that I didn't even mention the show here until now, I wont feel too guilty about that.

tissues for my issues
This morning I woke up and took out two things that could change the course of the next few weeks: a pregnancy test and a thermometer.

The good news (ironically) is that I am not pregnant. The bad news is that I do have a fever, and I'm not sure how much of a fever I need to have before my surgery - my hard fought, expensive, year in the making surgery - is postponed.

Postponing would be a terrible option - the timing here is just about perfect and moving it back at all would bump right into the auditions & subsequent rehearsals, maybe even Thanksgiving.

*sigh* 99.6 this morning when I woke up - 2 advil and a breakfast later and I was down to 98.9. I am fairly confident that anything under 100.4 will still be operable, considering that was the level fever they asked me about in my phone registration.

My appointment with the Doctor is at 1, and then an appointment with the hospital intake nurse at 4. Wish me luck - I am really hoping I can get some specific answers about the process and the recovery time. And, of course, hoping that my plans don't need to change...

Goodnight, Hamlet

goodnight, Hamlet
Originally uploaded by anngenue
you were gone before anyone could tell me you were hurt.
before I could say
good-bye my friend

-Elegy for Marco, Scott Kirkpatrick, 1995

You wrote that poem so many years ago, and I will never as long as I live forget how you looked, how you sounded as you read it. 

I know, now. 

I hope you are with him, perfect and unmarred by violence. Free at last where there is no pain, no cold, no desert heat.

I don't know what to say. You always knew what to say.

My God, why didn't I take more pictures?

Scott's guest book and website

Go check out the NPR piece - it has actual recordings of Scott performing his work.

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