Saturday, December 22, 2012

Winter Song.

January 17th 2012. Olivia's due date. Why do doctors even give you a due date? To make you nutso, that's why. We spend our entire pregnancy looking at that circled date on our calendar thinking that's the EXACT day we should expect a baby in our arms and when it doesn't happen that way we rely on Google to give us 674 ways to induce labor. I drank raspberry tea until my eyes turned red, all while WALKING 5 miles to the nearest Mexican restaurant. Aside from being sure that Miss O was a boy, I was also sure that she was going to be early. Like before Christmas, early. Why I thought this I'm not sure. My doctor appointments would last no more then 3 minutes because there never was any progress, and they never even mentioned feeling a head. But still, she was coming early. *For those of you who have missed it, she is a GIRL and was born on January 26th.

Towards the end of your pregnancy they stress the importance of feeling the baby move. This is something else to get ya all jazzed up about (like worrying about an 11th toe isn't enough). Is she moving? Did she move at all today? What's going on? We live in constant fear as pregnant women, and it's a fear that never goes away. We worry about our kids until we're dead. Our motherly instinct kicks in as soon as those two lines turn pink. However, when my two lines turned pink I went to go "run it off." Motherly instincts can wait. There were some days that Olivia wouldn't move very much. BW would often ask throughout the day if she was moving, and if I could feel her. Sometimes I'd lie and say I did, when in fact I hadn't felt a single thing in hours. Other times I'd tell him there were no movements and we'd scurry into the bedroom where I'd lie down as still as I could and wait. BW would sometimes sing to her, we'd play her music, or I'd bang on my stomach (yes, you read that right). Then being the diva that she is was, she'd kick...I'm pretty sure she was telling BW to cut the crap, he's no Michael Buble.

When Winter came around I obsessively asked BW to play Christmas music. Miss O loved Christmas music. This soon became my 'go-to' tactic to get her moving. She'd be dancing, and singing all day and night. I knew that the following Christmas Olivia and I would be missing something.Things were going to be hard. They were going to be different. Olivia wouldn't really know any different, but I would. While listening to our music one morning, we found something special; something that was ours. Her and I listened to it a lot. The words weighed heavy on my heart. We listened to it while he was at work. We listened to it while we laid in bed. We listened to it while he was away.Winter Song by Ingrid Michaelson. I cried....and she danced.

BW and I had Olivia's middle name picked out just as soon as we agreed on her first name. We wanted to take the traditional route and give her a family name. But unexpectedly came the days and nights of dancing and singing; and it felt right.These moments warmed my heart. They made me feel as though we would be okay. She was telling me that the next Christmas, when Daddy is gone, that we'd be singing and dancing too. I decided on one of those nights that her name would be Olivia Winter. Want to know the part that still, now, brings me to tears? He never questioned it. Never wanted to know the reason. Never asked which ridiculous gossip magazine I was reading. I think the certainty behind my decision said enough.

I started looking at the holidays a little differently this year. Each holiday we made it through, survived, crossed off the calendar, was one step closer. When we celebrated last year I took in each moment, devoured into each memory, and held my breath hoping we'd celebrate many more. I hate to wish for time to fly as Olivia celebrates her first Halloween, Thanksgiving, and now Christmas. Nobody WISHES their baby's first birthday to come faster then it should, but I do. This crazy thinking is the only thing pushing me forward. I promise to Olivia that we will make each and every holiday magical for her. This year we just have a little part of US that's missing.

When this deployment started, I told myself, "I just have to make it through the holidays. Then it will all be a DOWNHILL slope." Christmas is 3 days away. I'll go dust off my sled.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012


There are a lot of things people don't tell you when you have a baby. You understand the obvious; your table for 2 is now a table for 3, you are never going to sleep again, and Friday night takes on a whole new meaning. A few things that Google doesn't tell you is that taking a shower is now a luxury (hell, if you even have time to loofah your ENTIRE body then you're having a good day), you will wear jeans from 4 season's ago while your infant child is wearing the latest trend from Baby Gap, "Nap when they nap" is a phrase that will send you into a wild tailspin of emotions and you might even headbutt the person who spewed said these insightful words. The biggest, hardest, most mind blowing thing to understand after you have a baby is how it will change your marriage or relationship. Did I say change? I actually mean test, destroy, F with, and basically have you contemplating a quick stop at your attorney's office on your way home from Target. No one tells you this.

I had a quick maternity leave, a whole 6 weeks. And every day of those 6 weeks I was on the phone with someone asking, "Is this normal?", "Are you sure this is okay?" And by THIS, I mean wanting to strangle the living daylights out of BW. The lack of sleep was just pure insanity, and the power struggle was frightening. I will not sugarcoat the first few weeks of Olivia's life. We struggled. We argued. We cried. We slammed doors. I couldn't believe what was unraveling. Not even the best Mothers in the world should have to do this alone. This is hands down a two person job. But at one point, I believed that doing it alone might have been easier. It might have been less stressful. There would be no right or wrong; there would be no arguments. However, as I live each day without him by my side, with no one to challenge me, and no one to argue with, I've been blessed with a little perspective.

When he insisted on consoling her when she was teething, it was because he'd never see her first tooth. When he told me he wanted to take her out for the day despite my uneasiness, it was because it would be over a year before he could do it again. When he laid her on her belly right after she ate, it was because he'd never see her crawl. When he woke her up late at night after drill weekend, it's because he'd never again be able to hold her without waking her. When he sat for endless hours googling 'nonsense', it's because for the next year I'd be the one googling. When he insisted the Science Channel was good for her, it was because he'd never get to see her first dance to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. When he strapped her to his chest to play video games, its because he knew I needed a break. When he worked late, it was so Olivia could wear those Gap jeans. When he argued that her newborn legs could hold her up, it was because he'd never see her first steps. When he insisted on untwisting her car seat harness even when we were running late, it's because it was his chance to keep her safe. When he held her too tight while in his uniform, it was because that will be her closest memory. When he spoke too loud during bath time, it was because she needs to remember his voice. When he told me to trust him, it was because he knew what he was doing.

Today,as I listened to a woman complain to her friend about how her husband had to work on Thanksgiving, I looked over at Olivia. She was standing. She was standing all by herself. Not holding on to anything; not leaning her little belly to maintain her balance. As these women bla bla bla complain about their husband's absence I look over at my little girl achieving a milestone; this is something that can't be microwaved, it can't be put in the fridge, and can't be served as leftovers. These are the things my husband is missing. I can't put these things on hold, and we don't get do-overs. There is ONE first step, there is ONE first word, and there is ONE first birthday. Be thankful that your husband was home at all that day. Because you know what? Mine was not here yesterday, today, or tomorrow.

For every 50 Thanksgivings, Christmases, Birthdays and New Years, there is a celebration that only comes around once. Tomorrow we celebrate our first wedding anniversary, 8000 miles apart.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Daddy's Girl

"It's a G..I..R...", are the letters the ultrasound technician typed on the screen.  Tears welled up in my eyes. Shocked. For the past 4 months I was convincing myself that the results would read otherwise. I was actually disappointed about this appointment because I already knew it was a boy. Statistics would say there was no way that this baby was a girl. I was convinced that after 'she' was born we would be running to the store to return all of our pink onesies and animal print blankets in exchange for dinosaurs and footballs. I had anxiety every day leading up to delivery that this baby would surprise us all. With each doctor's appointment the doctor would ask if I had any questions... "Are we sure this is a girl?"  "How many times has the ultrasound technician been wrong?"  We even had our boy name ready just in case.

I wasn't prepared to raise a girl.  I imagined a little mini me running around with a big attitude and demanding her nails be painted. How in the world would I handle that? I worked with children for almost a decade and always found myself forming a closer bond with the litttle boys and really devouring in their senses of humor and toughness. I couldn't imagine a girl being funny. I couldn't imagine letting her borrow my makeup. Heck, what if she didn't even like makeup! I couldn't imagine meshing with my own daughter.

I believed 'she' was a 'he' until the actual big reveal.  I kid you not that my first question after she was gracefully (not) ripped from my womb was "IS IT A GIRL? ARE YOU SURE?"  Her lady parts were confirmed and I entered into a tailspin of emotions. The first 6 weeks of her life were a blur. I am not even sure I even changed a single diaper. Nobody warns you about the 'baby blues.' They talk about PPD but not the little (big) thing called the baby blues.  I wanted to cry that she was a girl. I wanted to cry I was fat. I wanted to cry BW was gone. I wanted to cry that Starbucks didn't deliver. I wanted to cry because breastfeeding was going to drive me to drink.  I wanted her to go back to the hospital. I wanted the nurses to take care of us all.  No one talks about this.

I always imagined cuddling with my baby, holding her til she fell asleep, kissing her boo boos, and squeezing her til she popped. Olivia wants no part of this. Never has. I often hear of mothers talking about how they can't stop co-sleeping (their baby is 3), breastfeeding, baby wearing, etc etc LA LA LA... Huh? What? Where is that baby? I certainly don't have one of those. BW and I were fortunate, I think, to have never let Olivia sleep in our bed. However, we lucked out and she never wanted to. Even when we tried to force her to at 3 am to sleep next to us, she wouldn't.  As she becomes more mobile she is also becoming more clumsy. I will scoop her up just as fast as her head hit the floor and she will push with all of her might to get down as if she's saying, "Ma, I got this.'  Even with tears streaming down her face, the last thing she wants is to be held and consoled.

I often wonder if things would be different if the ultrasound read differently. Boys always want their Mamas. Don't they? I sometimes wonder if it would be different if BW was around. Maybe she's a Daddy's girl who hasn't had the chance yet to realize that.  I wonder if she would hug him a little longer, let him kiss her boo boos, or let him sing her to sleep.  There are moments when she is so tired at the end of the day that she'll rest her head on my shoulder.  In this moment I can sing to her, rock her, sniff her hair, do all those weird things moms do.  Every time this happens I cry.  Every time.  I hold her a little bit longer, and a little bit tighter. She is my angel.

I truly believe she is a Daddy's girl.  She is patiently holding all of her hugs inside. She is being tough for him. She wants him to be proud of her.  She wants to teach me not to cry all the time. She wants her Daddy to know that we're doing it. We're okay. She's saying, 'Ma, we got this.'

Olivia said her first word the other day.  Da Da.  And she hasn't stopped saying it since.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A few days..

"These guys have the most dangerous job in Afghanistan."  Not the words an Army wife wants to hear. Chills ran through my body as I gripped his hand a little tighter and whispered, "I am so proud of you." My tears were hidden by sunglasses. He tells me I need to be strong. I need to show no fear because we are an example; an example for the first timers, the mothers and fathers, the wives and girlfriends ... He has earned the position to lead, and with that comes the biggest responsibility; the responsibility to bring these soldiers home.

The few months leading up to deployment we filled the DVR with Bomb Patrol Afghanistan. This was going to be a true and honest depiction of what we were facing.  We snuggled up to watch what we recorded as if it were a movie we were dying to see; when in fact it was our reality.  As we continued to watch, BW would explain to me what was happening. He would often use words and abbreviations that I was not familiar with.  I knew he was doing this to give himself a peace of mind. He needed to prove to himself that the training paid off; that he knew what he was doing.  It was the kind of reassurance that would ease his mind before a mission. He made sure I knew how safe the vehicles were. He made sure I knew that these missions could take days. He made sure I knew that he knew everything.  I listened to every word. 

While BW paid close attention to the logistics of each mission, I watched other things. How long are they gone for?  Were there snacks in the Truck? Is anyone talking on a cell phone? What do the sleeping quarters look like? Will he have a pillow? There is nothing safe about what he does. There is no denying that, but knowing that when he kicks off his boots and lays his head down at the end of his day it is comfortable...that's the kind of reassurance that I need. 

He says he's tired; I know that means he hasn't slept in 3 days. He says its hot; I know that means the dust storms are blinding. He says he sleeps in a bunk; I know that they are on top of one another.  He says he paid for internet; I know that it cost a small fortune. He says everything is okay; I know that means everything is tolerable. Even from 1000s of miles away he keeps me safe. He keeps my mind safe. 

We spoke today. He said he'll talk to me in a few days. I've seen the show. I know what that means.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


When we found out there would be a 4 day pass while BW was training in El Paso, Texas there was never a question of whether or not we'd see each other. I was getting to Texas one way or another; even if that meant strapping Little O in a carseat and driving. (This really is not true- she's a devil in the car; horns and everything...I might as well drive straight to the looney bin). I'd have to fly. Don't get me wrong- you can't put a price on love but SWEET JESUS it's expensive to fly to El Paso. They must have good salsa.

We decided to keep the Little O at home; as much as BW wanted to see her, we both knew that there wasn't a chance she'd let him hold her... and to be completely honest here, Mama needed a vacation.

When I first arrived in Texas I hopped in my rental car, fired up the GPS... and immediately started cursing BW's name.  In my (sheltered) opinion I don't think El Paso is good for anything other then an efficient military training facility and maybe sweet, extra large margaritas (reference photo).  However, the whole point of my trip never slipped my mind and I could not WAIT to see my solider, for it had been a long 2 months. I will suck it up and just laugh (cry) when I enter the 'Exit Only' lane into Juaraz, Mexico....for the 3rd time.

'Reuniiiited and it feeeels soo goooood.'  It was like a scene from a movie. You know, like that scene when the guy comes running up to his girl, scoops her up, spins her around, and they make out passionately? Minus the scoop and the make out. We did hold each other for a long time, looking at each other longingly just to simply remember what one another looked like.  He had to spend the night on Base so we had to spend the night apart. What's one more night when you've had several. Right? In an exhausted, emotional wreck of a stuper, I went back to the hotel room, got in bed, looked at the clock...6:30pm.  DAMN YOU 2 hour time change.

We wanted to be normal; pretend there wasn't a clock ticking. I was extremely emotional the entire trip. All I wanted was to lay in bed. I thought this was the only thing that would make time stand still. Every time he would suggest doing something, I'd have a breakdown and didn't have the exact words to tell him how I felt. If I tried to explain it it sounded selfish and just bizarre; like I was being some antisocial, obsessive, possessive crazy lady. And?  I didn't want him talking to anyone but me. I wanted every single moment of his time. Every breath.  I didn't even want to waste time taking photos (the only one I took is the one above). I may have shed enough tears to get him to stay in bed, watch a movie and drink Skinny Girl margaritas.

Well, needless to say, time does not stand still...So eventually the day came.  For most of the trip I kept thinking and dreading the moment I had to bring him back on Base, drop off the rental car, and walk into the airport alone. I imagined a sobbing disaster of a person trying to function through an airport. All of that never happened..okay, maybe the sobbing part did. BW came to the airport with me and took a cab back to Base. Hero anyone?  We sat at the airport bar and had a cocktail (while I cried...and cried..and cried). I need to mention something that is a bit strange.I've always had this weird emotional thing about soldiers. They get me. Even before I found my own, I had one serious soft spot. Sometimes seeing random soldiers say goodbye to their loved ones hits me harder emotionally then saying goodbye to my own solider. I always try to imagine their story. And if the girl is pregnant...forget it! Cry Fest 2012. With that being said, our view from the airport bar was of the spot that people say their goodbyes. We had front row. There was one soldier who watched his expecting girlfriend go up the escalator to Security checkpoint...and watched... and watched... he must of stood there for 30 minutes.  We both knew she was no longer in sight. Walking away makes it final.

"Don't watch me go up that escalator. Just turn around and go." I told him.  That is exactly what he did. I didn't turn back either.  I held back from an emotional breakdown my ENTIRE trip home. I am pretty sure I looked like a complete crazy person with a constant quivering lip, and clutching tissues so hard that my knuckles were white. He texted. He called. I couldn't function. I was sick to my stomach. This was it... There was no turning back. We both have no idea what is about to happen. We don't know how this story will end. We trust his training. When you're married to a solider you have the kind of conversations that are unthinkable to most young couples but its the reality of the situation. Prepare for the worst but hope for the best, he tells me. All we can do is love strong and pray hard.

I can't stand that for months we haven't been able to start our 9 months. "Not til my boots are In Country" He always told me that no matter what they can't keep him for more then 400 days... 400 days!? Lord give me the strength, grant me the serenity....

We spoke last night... 351.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Nature's paternity test...

O might grow up confused into thinking her name is Bobby. I probably should save her the identity crisis and start calling her by her real name. Not to mention her imaginary, not in existence yet, Baby Brother's name will be BW Junior. I can see it now; the two of them in therapy together.

It's hard not to curse his name when she fusses, and to blame him for when she is moody. How about the truck driver farts? Those have DaDa written all over them. Its like the high heavens knew about deployment so decided to deliver me a mini BW that would remind me of his presence each day. She is my little angel; my little BW.. Who sometimes goes by 'BW OW' or better yet 'Baby Bobby.'

Aside from being blessed (uh huh)with his good looks, I hope for her she acquires his loving heart, generosity and motivation. Lord knows that motivation gene doesn't come from her Mama.

BW always immediately clicks with new fathers; I always laugh when I hear him in his macho tone talking about 'nature's paternity test' and that a baby will often resemble its father so the father will instinctively stick around...Sometimes the crowd laughs, sometimes the Dad looks at their baby panic stricken hoping to see a similar dimple or scowl.

My last effort was to rummage through some old baby photos of myself and hope so see similarities. Nope. Nada. Nothing. Wait, hold on...damnit. If it weren't for the fact I carried her for 9...shoot, 10 months, then I wouldn't even be sure she's mine.

We do know one thing Little Miss BW.. There will never be a Maury show, and there will never be an if, and or but..

Hurry up and wait...

I guess its a military motto. They hurry up...and wait. I think a lot of time is spent sitting on buses, waiting in Chow hall lines, waiting on orders, etc..

BW has been training for deployment since little O was born. The timeframes he was gone varied; sometimes weeks and sometimes months. Needless to say, we haven't had a moment of normalcy since..uh, ever. We've been 'hurrying up and waiting' for about 6 months now.

Bittersweet feeling to finally say that he has deployed. Left the states. Boots in Country. Mark your calendars...counting downnnn NOW.

This morning was my first morning waking up to a blank phone. No text message. No 'good morning beautiful.' No message telling me how awesomely wonderful of a Mom I am (you know all those things we want to hear). I laid in bed thinking about this simple fact and the lack of communication that is about to come. Tears welling up. Then I heard it...'gooo goooo gaaaa gaaaa'.. Emotions shut off and I put my Mommy cape on. There is a little lady in the next room who doesn't wait.. not for bottles, not for binkies, not for Daddy and certainly not for Mommy to get her crap together. With every day that passes is another day closer... until then, we will hurry up and wait.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Coming or Going...

When you see a soldier in an airport you can't help but wonder if they are coming or if they are going.

I'd be lying if I said there weren't any perks to flying with a man in uniform. Airlines go out of their way to make a soldier and his family comfortable. It doesn't matter what your story is or where you're headed. There is a perk that shines brighter then any free checked bag, first class seat or extra room for baby. It's the young girl running to catch up to him to thank him for his service. It's the lady hanging up her business call and thanking me for what I do back home. It's the other service men nodding their heads at one another; like saying to one another "good to be home." As he rocked our baby girl to sleep an old man approached him and said it was like a Norman Rockwell painting. Soldiers are modest. Mine is. I told him he is a hero to these people. He said heroes are the guys that don't come home...

It was our first family vacation. He wasn't coming and he wasn't going. Not this time.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Face of a hero.

Olivia Winter wanted to come into this world feet first; ready to run.  The weeks after an unexpected c-section he was my hero.  Our hospital stay was a blur.  I don't remember feeding her, changing her, or rocking her to sleep. Simple. That's because I didn't.  He took over the way any soldier would. They are trained that way. They take care of their families; both this one and the one in uniform. I watched him from my hospital bed with Olivia and its as if he'd done this before.  He hadn't. But like any soldier- he was prepared- in every way possible. Ready for battle.

As we prepare for deployment we can't help but think of all the milestones in Olivia's life he'll miss. Her first words, her first step, her first birthday, her first first first. The military doesn't care about these things. "These things" don't wait just because duty calls. We promise to talk about Daddy all of the time so she begins to think of him as some fictional character, like one on tv, that she'll get to meet one day. She needs to hear his voice so she doesn't fear it. She needs to smell his smell so she doesn't hide from it. She needs to find comfort in his warm nature so she accepts it.  She needs to know him.  And I promise with everything that I am that I will make this happen. She needs to know there are two of us.

Olivia Winter looks just like her Daddy.  She was born with the face of a hero.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Forever & A Day...

Soldiers need reassurance. Reassurance that when they get back from war their lady will be waiting, their home will be just the way they left it, and that everything will fall back into place. He often says that a soldier needs this reassurance in order to maintain a clear head to stay out of danger.

We expected a deployment. He signed up for this; as did I.  With a promotion to Sargent came a quicker deployment date. I promised to call him Sargent at home if he promised not to go. Duty calls. The calendar is like a ticking time bomb.. Just watching the weeks go by until that day comes; when the bags get packed, the uniforms washed, and the checklists checked.

As my soldier gets ready to deploy to Afghanistan he often asks me, "promise you'll wait?".. I respond, "Forever and a day..."

The reassurance he needs to bring him home to me...

Soldier in disguise

They don't have it stamped on their foreheads. They don't wear their dog tags as jewelry and it's not something they tell you on a first date... They are soldiers in disguise; and this one wore jeans and a red polo.

The tough exterior was unbearable. The closed mindedness was getting old. And the "I'm not looking for anything.." was persistent and agitating.  This is the mindset of a soldier who just got back from Iraq. This is understandable when you put things into perspective and consider what they've gone through. For a girl who was falling in love...this was unacceptable.

Walls were broken and hearts were left open. "My" soldier had let me in.  The night we moved into our first place together he asked me to be his wife. Without reservation, I accepted. I accepted this soldier in disguise. For everything he was and everything he stood for... I said 'YES' to the Army...