dave and abby

ANACORTES SUNSET

Fridays were just made for blogging, ya know? Or so it seems in my world. 

I'm sitting here feeling like a grandma... Trying to download the new iOS update for my phone, but I don't have enough space (it's freaking HUGE), and so I'm trying to backup photos to the desktop. And I can't figure it out. So I have to wait for Dave to come home. 

Normally, I could figure out something so simple, but for some reason, I can't right now. Is this the beginning of the end!? Is this what they call pregnancy brain?!

Funny side note: I thought pregnancy brain was silly. Is that even real? It sounded made up to me. But last week, during our very first birth class (which we both love — it's hilarious and super helpful), the teacher brought up circumcision, and how it's one of the decisions parents have to make about birth. Since we're going to a birth center with midwives, I wasn't sure if they do that procedure, and made a note to ask about it at my next appointment. I continued to think/stress about it for the rest of class — "Will we have to go to the hospital the next day? Or a couple days after? I know that's important to us, so we should figure that out ahead of time..."

Umm... TOTALLY FORGETTING THAT WE'RE HAVING A GIRL SO IT'S A TOTAL NON-ISSUE. Hahahaha. I had a good laugh at myself. 

Anyway, back to my phone/photo issues. I was going through old photos, and found these from Anacortes that we took sometime last year. Since we're headed up there this weekend (only a few weekends away from finishing the kayak!), I thought it'd be fun to post them. It's such a beautiful place. 

2 YEARS TODAY :: WEDDING FILM

Today is our second anniversary, so I thought I'd post some film from our wedding to celebrate. Thanks to the lovely Roxanne Turpen for snapping these on my Holga!

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Two years has just flown by. In some ways, April 14, 2012 feels like yesterday, but I also feel like we've been married for much longer. So cliché... does everyone feel that way?

 It's funny, I remember thinking on our first anniversary that we truly did have a whole honeymoon year. Everything was easy, we didn't have too many challenges, we only had a few conflicts (epic, but few), life was pretty smooth. And literally on our anniversary trip to Cannon Beach, things started to get more intense. Not bad, not crazy hard, it's like the heat just got turned up a little bit. The second year together has definitely been more challenging than the first. I don't know why people always say the first year is the hardest, because that certainly wasn't true for us. 

But it's the best kind of challenging — the kind that pushes you and makes you better and knits your hearts closer together. The kind that builds trust. I'm thankful for all of it. Marrying Dave was the best thing I've ever done. He's my dearest friend, and I love sharing life with him. 

Last year, Dave surprised me (after I had a particularly rough trip to Sierra Leone for work) with a weekend at Cannon Beach, which was so restful and lovely. We decided that we'd alternate planning years, so this year is my turn to plan our trip.

Originally, I wanted to go to Zion National Park in Utah, but we ruled that out for expense and time (but we still totally want to go together!). So we've decided to go to Vancouver, BC instead. In five years of living in the Northwest, I still haven't been! And everyone raves about the food. So we're headed there, but we need suggestions.

I considered shutting down my Facebook account a couple of weeks ago, but crowdsourcing is the number one reason I decided to keep it. I can do without people's political/social/health/theological rants and opinionated status updates (including my own!), but when I have a question and need input (housebreaking a puppy! we need a place to live! where to eat in BC!), Facebook never fails to deliver. 

So, if you happen to have suggestions for travel to Vancouver and its environs, feel free to leave them in the comments here. I'd so appreciate it. : )

Two years! Here's to many more, B. xo

PS : Just for kicks, here's our wedding video, shot by We Are the Hoffmans (thanks Zach and Jenny!)

MONDAY RAMBLINGS

A few disjointed thoughts for Monday... It's starting to feel like spring in Seattle, and I kind of love it. 

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First off, the outpouring of support and encouragement that we received after my blog about our miscarriage was incredible. Thank you so, so much to everyone who commented/emailed/texted/called or had a personal conversation with us about this experience. It meant a ton to me, and I'm so grateful to have such a wonderful, loving community.

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We moved last weekend. A friend told me that as far as stressful life events go, moving ranks up there with divorce and death in the family, statistically speaking. I don't know how true that is, but it was certainly stressful. But it's over! And we're settling into our new place, which feels sooooooo good. 

So... much...

So... much...

...stuff!! We need that green couch outta here. 

...stuff!! We need that green couch outta here. 

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Dave built me a standing desk out of a door this week, and I am looooving it. I have to treat it this weekend, and then I can hang prints above it and get it all completely set up. Then I'll share another photo. 

We bought the supplies at an awesome store called Second Use in SODO. Seattle DIY people, this place is your JAM. We accidentally bought tempered glass for the desk top and then couldn't cut it... whoops. Lesson learned. 

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Old place

Old place

New place!

New place!

My lovely Jordan was SUCH a huge help on moving day. 

My lovely Jordan was SUCH a huge help on moving day. 

Requiste Ikea assembly. Pretty proud of ourselves for this one. 

Requiste Ikea assembly. Pretty proud of ourselves for this one. 

Tutta Bella on our new PORCH next to our new YARD!

Tutta Bella on our new PORCH next to our new YARD!

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We were also puppy sitting the same weekend that we moved, which was a little crazy, but Boda is the CUTEST. 

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Dave has a heart-to-heart with Boda about feet biting. She respected him. 

Dave has a heart-to-heart with Boda about feet biting. She respected him. 

the SNUGGLIEST. 

the SNUGGLIEST. 

Watching Boda for our friends was a good puppy reality check (read: puppies are a ton of work!), but also so fun. Boda is a great dog — makes me look forward to bringing our little puppy home soon (hopefully)!

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Dave says I'm a good "finder" when it comes to interesting links and factoids around the interwebs... really, I think I'm just good at procrastinating. Here are a couple of links that I've liked/been amused by/said "hmm" at recently... 

This webcomic (from a local Seattle artist) about creating content for the web is SO TRUE. And so funny. And a little bit obscene (sorry). 

+ This I am Second video from Scott Hamilton... so good. 

+ This girl who does Crossfit, even after losing an arm in a car wreck last year. Truly inspiring. 

+ I was listening to this classical piece the other day while drinking coffee, and realized that it is a perfect musical expression of how I feel when drinking coffee... particularly at 1:28. 

+ 10 Japanese travel tips for tourists to the USA. Hilarious and insightful, for both cultures. 

+ And some more travel tips, written by Russians, for Russians coming to the US. Fascinating. 

+ Celebrities reading tweets about themselves written by webtrolls. Tom Hanks had me rolling. (again, sorry for the obscenities)

+ Whenever I'm tempted to think we live in a small place, I will remember these Hong Kong apartments. 

+ If you haven't seen this video I posted on Vine and Instagram of my brother when he was 2 or 3, watch it. It's 6 seconds of hilarity from an old home video. 

+ A really great photo series about the new neighborhood we're living in. This post features our friends and their Crossfit gym!

+ Been listening to The Brilliance on repeat since Ash Wednesday. They really have written the perfect music for Lent. 

+ Also been listening to this country music sister duo, Lennon & Maisy. Their cover of Ho Hey is so good — their voices are pretty impressive for how young they are. 

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Happy Monday to you!

A NEW CHARM

When you're a married woman in your 20s, any time you say you have a big announcement or talk about moving into a two bedroom house or the fact that you want a puppy, people immediately jump to one question —

"Are you pregnant?"

Well, I was. 

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We took baby announcement photos here the day after Thanksgiving. This was the spot where Dave proposed to me in 2011. 

We took baby announcement photos here the day after Thanksgiving. This was the spot where Dave proposed to me in 2011. 

We had a miscarriage, right after Thanksgiving. We found out a week before Thanksgiving, told our families on Thanksgiving day ("We have one more thing to be thankful for!"), and then miscarried almost exactly a week later. 

All of it was unexpected. We were still adjusting to the idea of being parents when we found out it was ending already.

Telling everyone about the new little Stalsbroten was far more emotionally exhausting than I thought it would be. Because we have family members kind of spread out all over the place, we had to have at least eight separate conversations, some in person, and some over the phone. After each one of those eight times, I felt like we had lived our whole wedding day over again. It was that tiring. Weird. 

And so when we were certain that this baby wouldn't be coming into this world, I just couldn't make all those phone calls over again. So we sent an email. 

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Back to "the" question. I used to ask the same thing, and often. It wasn't until November, when I saw those lines on a little plastic stick that I resolved to never ask it again. You just never know where people are in the process. It's all so tenuous — people just need to be allowed to share when they want to share. It's joyful, but also frightening. Or if you're having trouble conceiving, terribly sad. Or if you've just lost a baby, even sadder. It's just never a good question to ask.

Who knew?

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There were etiquette things I didn't know about miscarriage. Medical things. Emotional things. Spiritual things. There were many things I learned. It changed my life. 

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Helpful hint: if you miscarry, it's important to know what your blood type is, so find out now. It's complicated, but if your blood is Rh- (negative), and your partner's blood type is positive, it's possible that your baby could have a positive blood type. In this case, it's also possible that your body will attack that pregnancy, because the pregnancy is an "invader." This makes it harder to conceive and sustain pregnancy in the future. It only works this one way — if your blood type is Rh+ (positive), it's not a problem. If your partner and you both are negative, it's also not a problem. 

Lucky me, my blood type is negative, and Dave's is positive, so it was unknown but possible that our baby could have had a positive blood type. But there's a "cure," if you will. It's a shot of treated blood called Rhogam. You get it in the booty (yay), and it has to be administered within 72 hours of miscarriage. I made it in the window, and my oh-so-wonderful, caring midwife ensured that I did. So thankful for her. 

Side note, I'm not a medical person, so if you want to read about this for real, check here

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On the subject of midwives... I am going to get a little opinionated here. Forgive me. When I found out I was pregnant, I called my normal OB/GYN office immediately (maybe the next day). I've never been pregnant before — I needed some info! Exactly how much broccoli and kale should I be eating so that my baby will go to Harvard one day? Which books should I be reading? What prenatal vitamins should I take? How many bourbons can I have after dinner tonight? Kidding. But seriously — what do I know? 

I called, and they blew me off. "Oh, we won't need to see you until you're at least 8 or 10 weeks along." Right. Okay, when's that? "Here's your appointment three weeks from now — see you then."

Zero instruction about anything at all. No vitamins. No books. No diet. No exercise. No prohibition of alcohol or cigarettes. They should assume I'm a brainless bimbo, right? Shouldn't they warn me about SOMETHING? 

I hung up and thought of other options. I have many friends who have seen midwives for their pregnancies, or are midwives themselves. I found a few offices in the area and scheduled my appointments. All the midwives I spoke with were so friendly, and so congratulatory. They agreed to see me as soon as they could — my appointments fell a few weeks later, but only because their schedules were already full, not because they put me off because it was "unnecessary" to come in earlier. Thank God for midwives. 

When I suspected I might be miscarrying, I called both midwives back, and both were extremely prompt in their follow up with me. They expressed so much concern and empathy, along with the appropriate medical urgency. I was urged to come in immediately so that I could be examined and we could find out about my blood type. 

Where I was sitting when I had my first phone call with the midwife while I was miscarrying.

Where I was sitting when I had my first phone call with the midwife while I was miscarrying.

Taylor, the midwife I ultimately saw, opened her office to me at 8pm on a weeknight — completely outside her normal work hours. I protested this, in consideration for her time, and she reassured me and insisted that I come in right away. She also agreed to waive all the fees if my insurance wouldn't cover the labs she did on my blood draw. She hugged me when I came in, and when I left. She reassured me that this miscarriage wasn't my fault, that I hadn't done anything wrong. She gave me permission to feel sad, even though I was so early on and had only known about this baby for two weeks. She prepared me for what my body would go through in the next week. She gave me all her contact info and said to call her if I needed anything else.  

A few days later, I called the OB/GYN to cancel my first prenatal appointment, because I had already planned on sticking with the midwife, and because I had miscarried. They didn't ask why I was canceling my very first prenatal visit, they just told me to call back if I wanted to reschedule. 

No thanks. Not ever. 

Midwives for life! 

We picked out a Christmas tree right after we left the midwife's office that night. 

We picked out a Christmas tree right after we left the midwife's office that night. 

Moving on. Why am I writing about this? This is the time we probably would have made news of our pregnancy public. I'd be entering my second trimester, and would be starting to show.

It's obviously really personal, but I wanted to write about it, because I've felt the most support from women who have miscarried themselves. If you've miscarried, I think it's really important to know that you're not alone, and what you're experiencing is far more common than you think. 

I cannot say how this experience has changed my life, my heart. My marriage. My faith. My family. My body. My calling. In effect, it has touched every part of me. And I'm thankful. 

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For the few Crossfit classes I took while I was pregnant, my mantra during the most intense parts of the workouts was, "It's you and me, Baby. You and me." I felt like I had a superpower — there was a little human growing inside me, helping me, preparing me for the hardest physical thing I'll ever be asked to do, nine months from now.

The morning that I started to suspect that I was miscarrying, Dave and I went to Crossfit. Florence and the Machine's "Shake It Out" came on during the most intense part of our workout. And the mantra went through my head one more time. "It's you and me, Baby. You and me." I cried, right in the middle of the WOD. 

I can't explain this — there's a bizarre sort of hope and thankfulness that has grown in me since the day I miscarried. It echoed through that song. (It's hard to dance with the devil on your back // So shake it out). The longing to have a baby has increased, and mercifully so. I see babies and pregnant women everywhere (it's kind of weird), which is sad, and hopeful. Like they're all in a secret club that I have to have the right password to get into. But it renews my faith that this joy will be given to us one day.

It makes me think of the word "esperanza." This word was meaningful to me and Dave throughout the long part of our long-distance relationship. In Spanish, it means both "waiting" and "hope." Beautiful. It's what I feel in this season — a two-sided coin. Longing and hope. 

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A while ago, I was reading Luke 1. The book opens with the story of Zecheriah and Elizabeth, who have waited their whole lives to have a child, and have probably given up hope. But an angel appears to Zecheriah and tells him that his wife will conceive. He's astonished. I'm guessing she is too, although the Bible doesn't say that. 

It's a really fantastic story, especially because the story of Mary's immaculate conception comes directly afterwards. I was reminded while reading it how much God loves barren women, and how prominently they are mentioned in the Bible. Sarai. Rebekah. Hannah. Elizabeth. And remembering that, I felt less alone, and so loved. 

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Miscarrying linked me to my mom in a new way. She's had three miscarriages, each with their own particular weight and complexity. She understood me immediately and completely. How thankful I was for that. 

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When I was 7, Mom gave me a silver charm bracelet. Every few years, she gives me a charm to represent whatever season in life I'm in. At 7, it was a ballerina and a nutcracker, to remember the first time I danced in The Nutcracker. In 8th grade, it was a dog bowl with "MOLLY" engraved on it, to remember the dog we had to give away when moving overseas. At 24, it was an airplane to remember the years I traveled around the world for my job. At 25, it was a ring, a heart, and a "Just Married" sign, to remember the grand romance with Dave. 

And this Christmas, it was a little gift. She gave a charm to each of the girls in our family, and mine was this one. 

I was puzzled when it dropped out of my stocking. "Thank you! What's it for?" I asked. 

"That's for the baby you lost," my mom said. "To always remember that you have a baby in heaven that you'll get to hold one day."

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Esperanza.