Learning to breathe again

This post is going to fall squarely into the “ramblings” category. Sometimes I’m tempted only to post the things that I feel are going to be popular – my crafty projects or recipes I like, the kind of things that make you feel good. This post might not make you feel good. But this is my blog and I started it as a place to write about my life. This is my life. And it finally feels like the right time to write about it.

The last few months have been hard. Extremely hard. Our family had relocated to the east coast for a year while my husband finished up grad school. While there I became pregnant and we were under the gun to not only find a new job for Ben back home by the time we moved but we were also looking for a new home to buy. And taking care of almost three year old twins… and oh yeah… did I mention the pregnant bit? We were extremely busy. That’s about the time that my blog fell off the map and posts became less and less frequent (before stopping all together). In the end of July, while in escrow for our new home and almost two months before my due date, my water broke. I was 33 weeks pregnant. Our daughter Edith was born one week later at 34 weeks on the dot. The day that we took ownership of our new home and the day before we were scheduled to move. Miraculously she was completely fine and required no NICU time. She was just small and needed help to learn to nurse. Since our twins were born at 34 weeks and spent 2 weeks in the NICU, getting to bring Edith home with us when I left the hospital felt like winning the lottery. It was both exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time. Really?! You’re going to let us take this teeny tiny brand new baby home with us? Are you sure?

The first few months at home with the new baby were rough. Since Edith was early she wasn’t big enough to nurse effectively and it was a never ending cycle of nurse, pump, bottle feed, repeat. She wasn’t nursing well until she was around 2 months old. We were also in the process of trying to settle into a new house. We had just started falling into a routine at home when our whole world was turned upside down yet again. My sister, who was pregnant and due in December was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia and put into the hospital for monitoring. After a few days of monitoring she was discharged home, only to return to the hospital a day later to hear the devastating news that her son had passed away. He was born sleeping on October 25th, she was 33 weeks pregnant. There just are not words to describe the loss of an infant. Cruel, gut wrenching, life changing, indescribably unfair. There just is no way to explain it and no good way to deal with it. He was a living breathing human being, one with a whole family waiting to welcome him to the world and show him all of its wonders. And yet suddenly he was gone.

I literally feel like time stopped that day when I heard the news. I was sitting at home on the bed in my room with the baby. I heard Ben walk into the house and wondered what he was doing home so early from work. “What a nice surprise” I thought. And then he opened his mouth “Allison lost the baby”. I screamed. I sobbed. I didn’t stop screaming or sobbing as I ran around the house throwing things into bags. We had to head up to my parents house, up to the hospital, we had to be there and we had to be there immediately. I didn’t know what or why I was doing anything. I was just doing. And sobbing. And screaming. I don’t think I’ll ever get the images of those next few days out of my head. Of seeing my sister and her husband in the hospital. Of the sign they put on her hospital room door. Of all the crying and all the sadness. I don’t know how we survived.

I literally just went through the motions of living for months after that. I would get up and get dressed because I had to get up. I had to get dressed. The kids needed a mom and the baby needed to be cared for. If it had been up to me I would have buried myself under my covers and never come out. I literally don’t know how my sister was able to continue carrying on. She is an amazing woman. She continues to live and breathe because she has no other choice, but she does it with such grace and such composure for someone who has been through so very much heartache. After a few months I started realizing that something wasn’t right with me. I literally kept thinking that things were the same as the day that I heard the news… I wasn’t mentally moving on. My world was still in October. Still back in that day. I was still the mother of a three month old baby… but time was ticking on without me. My baby was now almost 6 months old. I just didn’t know because I was totally numb. I went to a doctor, I started getting help. Figuring out what was wrong with me and how we could make it better. I started doing yoga again and seeing an acupuncturist. And slowly, bit by bit, I started feeling alive again.

I’m finally now starting to see bits of my old self coming through. It has been a long and rough road to get to this point, and I know that there is still a long way to go, but I now feel like I will be able to get there eventually. I can now laugh and smile and enjoy my children and do it without guilt or sadness overshadowing my joy. I don’t believe that we have entirely arrived at our “new normal” but I feel like we are getting there. And I can see myself returning to a life where I can start doing the things that I love. I want to start blogging again. I want to start working more and crafting more. I want to start living more. What is the point of life if it’s not to live it?

A few weeks ago we went to the beach at sunset with the kids. Nothing will make you feel more alive than spending a golden afternoon in the California sun… it’s truly invigorating.

I finally feel like I’m learning to breathe again. And I really, really needed the air.

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Learning to breathe again

I’m so terribly busy and important…

I know I haven’t blogged over here in a while. It’s just because I’m so … well … busy. We’re moving in just over a month (how is that possible?! a month already?!) and pretty much life is chaos right now.

I have a few new things I’ve been making that I really just need to go ahead and finish so I can take pictures of them and pack away the supplies before we go. I’m almost done with Paul’s quilt and I have another quilt I’ve been making as well. I also just tonight finished up Amelia’s party outfit for Sam and Tai’s wedding which, if I do say so myself, is pretty fabulous. I think I’ll take pictures of that tomorrow so I can show it off. Because really who doesn’t want to see pictures of Amelia in her new party dress and matching bloomers. Oh, and did I mention I made two of them, one for her and one for her cousin? Yes, I am that crazy. Crazy. Busy. and Important 🙂

I’m so terribly busy and important…

A serious dose of nostalgia {ramblings}

Ben and I just got back from a trip to Texas. Not just Texas, but Houston specifically. And while we were there we went and visited our alma mater, Rice. Now – we graduated (the first time) over 5 years ago and haven’t been back since our second graduation which was 4 years ago. I knew that a lot had changed in the meantime (new dorms on campus, a new coffee house and new gym) and I was prepared for those changes. What I think surprised me was how unprepared I was to see the things that HAVEN’T changed.

When we landed in Houston it was a bit like having deja vu. You know you’ve been to this airport before, down this freeway before, on these streets before. Everything is just a little, well, hazy. We went straight from the airport to one of our favorite cheap sandwich shops in midtown where the banh mi was (thankfully) just every bit as delicious as we remembered it to be, and then headed off to Rice’s campus for a quick peek before meeting a friend for drinks. Had I known how disorienting the trip to Rice were going to be I might have voted to put it off until we had a bit more time to decompress. I’m really not sure what I *thought* it was going to be like walking back onto the campus – and I have been trying to come up with a succinct explanation of the feeling I had when I got there ever since it happened, but I’m still not quite sure how to describe it.

The first thing I noticed was that Houston (and the campus in particular) is so much more lush and beautiful than I remember. When I first moved there as a freshman I remember thinking how ugly it was (and I still don’t think it’s as beautiful as San Diego) but a few years in Los Angeles have put it into an entirely different light and I can now see that it’s just overflowing with gorgeous old trees and it really is quite striking. We didn’t have much time so we parked on the loop and put on our flashers outside of Anderson. Just stepping out of the car into the sticky heat with the sound of blinking hazard lights brought back a flood of memories and I hadn’t even stepped foot in the building. We walked up to the back door, expecting it to be locked, but it easily swung open when we pulled the handle. Inside the school was in a state of transition – half of the studios looked as if they’d been cleared out for the summer while the other half looked like at any minute they might be filled with students, working and talking and generally creating chaos. Seeing it all again was like waking up an old part of myself that had been somehow sleeping for the last 4 years.

When we moved out of Houston back in 2006 it was hectic to say the least. We had just come back from a semester abroad and were planning our wedding. We were finishing up our final semester of studio and looking for our first “real” jobs after school. We were doing all of this while subletting a small apartment from another student and looking for a real home in Los Angeles. All of my energy was focused on getting out and moving on. The crazy pace continued after the wedding – I quit my job and started my photography business, we decided to try to have kids and I ended up getting pregnant with twins. The last two and a half years have been filled with more insanity than the rest of my life combined and I guess I just never stopped to look around and see where my life was going. It’s not that I think that my life went in the wrong direction – I’m quite happy with where I am right now – it’s just that I had never really stopped to glance back at where I came from. Being in that building was like all of the sudden being the 20 year old version of myself again. Remembering what it was that I loved about being an architecture student and how many hopes I had for the future. It was a bit of a shock to the system to say the least.

I didn’t really know what to do with myself. I started rambling at full speed (much like I’m doing now I’m sure) and telling Ben how I wanted to come back and take pictures when we had more time. He said “oh yeah because the last time you were here you didn’t know anything about that” to which I gave an insulted harrumph. I had taken photography classes in high school, didn’t that count for anything? He graciously reminded me that while I may have known how to use a camera, my life didn’t at that point revolve around the camera. My lenses hadn’t yet been a way for me to see and express my views on the world. Fair enough. I’ll give you that. So on Sunday afternoon, just before heading off to dinner and the airport, we revisited the campus with camera in hand. I wanted to make sure to remember all of the little things that had become fuzzy in my memory after all of the years I had been away.

Like the shape of the handrail as you walked up the stairs

Or the way you always saw people across the way on that funny little balcony landing.

The way that people always stopped to look down into the jury room from above

Or all of the gorgeous natural light that flooded into that room

The crazy mishmash of chairs that were always floating around the building and the way they sat in a huddle, like a critique just let out and everyone was in such a hurry to get to dinner that they couldn’t be bothered to put them back

That funny motion detector light that someone installed as part of a project, and the way that all the students after all of their years left an impression on the building

The weird spaceship lighting in the long white halls

And the porthole windows

To go with the round nubby floors

I also wanted to remember the things I hadn’t ever noticed, like how the color of the overhead lighting was so warm compared with the crisp cool light streaming in through the windows. So deceptively cool in tone that you might actually forget that it was sweltering hot outside.

And the brick hallways

Or tree lined walkways

How many countless times I’d walked up them and never stopped to think about how pretty they were. I was always so BUSY

A serious dose of nostalgia {ramblings}

clear as mud {ramblings}

This is going to be rambling. Bear with me.

My poor old cell phone is dying. It won’t hold a charge, it likes to turn itself off and sometimes (just to be fun) it holds voicemail or text messages hostage, not letting me know that I have them for days at a time. I think it’s time for a new one. So Ben and I happily trotted off to the sprint store this weekend (as happily as you can when you know you’re about to attempt a cell phone purchase with two toddlers in tow) to check out the options. We have been off of our cell phone contract for a few years now and actually like not being beholden to anyone. We always say “we could switch any time”… so we walk into the store with two options in mind. Either we resign our contract (hopefully for the same price we’re currently paying) and get free phones out of the deal (sweet!) or we just pay out of pocket for the phone and carry on our merry contract free way.

Of course Sprint had other plans. No, you can’t just get a new phone for your current plan because your current plan is OLD and we want you to have the NEW one… so if you get a new phone you have to get a new plan. Ok, so basically the options are A) keep awesomely priced plan and trade in my smartphone for a dumb old regular phone or B) get a new smartphone and change plans to one that costs almost $50 more per month (grr)

Not satisfied with either option I went into a flurry of research. Comparing plans within Sprint, comparing Sprint to other carriers. I even made a spreadsheet with costs of different plans per month and cost of phones up front and how it all pans out across two years of use (no, I’m not kidding, how sad and nerdy am I?) Try to figure in things like possible AAA discounts (which are always sketchy and some people think they exist and others don’t) and varying fees (some companies have activation, others don’t, some places waive the fees if you purchase from them and others don’t) and at the end of the day all I have to show for hours of research is a big old headache. And I’m still not sure what we should do.

I know they do it on purpose, if it were simple or easy to understand and choose then what would be the fun in that? But come on. I just want a phone. I just want it to work and I don’t want to go broke paying for it. Is that so much to ask? Apparently the answer is yes.

clear as mud {ramblings}