October 1, 2013

On the Other Side

"Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall."
-The Great Gatsby

There have been so many balls in the air chez Smith - family, work, pregnancy, staying semi-sane, attempting to keep my children clothed despite their desires to the contrary - that I've neglected this little online scrapbook in an effort to keep juggling.

I've been touched and taken aback by the response to our experiences in the last year and a half, though. People pull me aside at tailgates, after church services, by email or Facebook message and talk to me about transparency in the face of struggle. It's inspired me, loudmouth that I am, to keep talking. And to thank each of you who've shared your story with me.

If you've landed here because you love us or you're curious about how we are, I'm happy to give you a peek into our lives besides, "We're great; how are y'all?" If you're reading because you've walked a similar path and want a window into how we're dealing with it, well, here it is.

Last Friday, September 27th, was our due date for the baby we lost in April. As it approached and friends who had been expecting alongside us began to deliver, the reality of what was missing felt weightier.

When I stay in motion, I can glide through life without processing it; sometimes that's a valuable skill. There are times, though, when you've got to face facts, and last week was one of those times.

Leading up to the due date that wasn't, I felt oddly empty - as if my arms should be holding something, someone. I don't know if it's biology, hormones or the fact that I've never carried a baby past 39 weeks, but my body knew it was time. I was waiting on a baby that wouldn't arrive; that made my heart ache.

Thankfully, as with many things in life, anticipation was worst than reality. The days before I had flashes of what would have been, of a happy ending; on the due date itself I felt peace. I'd certainly never have chosen to lose our baby, but we see the Lord's hand in the way our lives are coming together in the wake of our loss.
Happy Tiger fans

Bradley and I spent the remainder of the weekend celebrating Clemson's Homecoming and eating far too much of his mom's fabulous cooking. I tried to focus on all I'm thankful for - our little family, the incredible support we've gotten, the opportunity to help others who are hurting.

I can't ignore the fact that, unlike many friends of mine who've lost babies, I am expecting another. It made the day bittersweet, realizing our future valentine wouldn't be on the way if we hadn't lost our third child.

Knowing I can't control the timing of any of this, the fact that it happened, the way it did - it could be paralyzing, but it's actually quite freeing. I have no hand in this; I'm along for the ride. I didn't create these lives, I can't control them and I believe the One who did has a plan far better than my own. (Even if there are spots that feel like nothing could be worse, in all honesty.)

I'm praying the Lord uses all of this for His glory, that He lets our family be a testament to His faithfulness, to the power of hope. I don't take for granted the promise of a new life, the fact that we can dare again to love a little person we haven't met yet.

I'm thankful we'll meet our third baby one day, that someone who is a part of us is already in heaven; it brings me great joy to imagine meeting the child we didn't get to hold here.

I'd dreamed of late September for months, and dreaded it since I saw our still baby on an ultrasound screen. September 27th came and went, and we're still here. We're thankful, hopeful, moving on.

We'll never forget this baby; I'll never wish I wasn't holding her, never stop imagining her face.

The pain of the due date is behind me, though, even if the whole experience may never quite be. I'm on the other side, and it's not as scary as I imagined.

If you're not on the other side - if you're right dab smack in the middle of the not peaceful, not healing, not putting one foot in front of the other, flat out wretched and absolutely not okay part - my prayers are with you. These verses were shared by a wise friend who's been there, too:

"Though the fig tree does not bud,
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord. 
I will be joyful in God my Savior."
-Habakkuk 3:17-18

August 14, 2013

Here We Are

I'm a talker; I narrate my way through life. I'm never at a loss for words, but I'm still terrified to type this. It doesn't make any sense, but my heart is pounding all the same.

I've been silent for three-plus months, and it's time now to say what I've been too hesitant to vocalize. It's especially time to absorb and be fully grateful for what's going on in our lives.

We're having a baby.
Baby Thumbsucker at 12 weeks

I'm fighting the urge to follow that sentence up with: "It looks like we could have a baby in February." or "All signs point to a new member of our family in 2014." or "We might hold a second baby valentine in our arms six months from now."or "Mary Brooks could have a new sibling at her second birthday party." It feels more like a possibility than a fact.

I'm not at a point where I can accept congratulations graciously or process the magnitude of the gift we've been given. I know it's tremendous, and I'm beyond joyful in theory, even if it hasn't gotten down into my bones just yet.

But I am pregnant - 14 weeks along, to be exact. Our baby looks strong and healthy, and is by far the most active little Smith I've seen yet.

I'd be overcome with sheer gratitude and exhilaration if there wasn't a literal and figurative gray cloud hanging over me (and my insides).

I have had an implantation bleed for the last three weeks. A middle of the night scare that looked something like a Law & Order crime scene led me to a disastrous early morning ER visit; I felt certain this must be what a loss looked like. (With our third baby, I never had any signs of what was to come, so these symptoms were all new to me. And I still can't quite bring myself to say the "m" word.)

Praise God, baby looked beautiful and removed from the bleeding I was experiencing, and what I continue to have. Everything baby-wise looks perfectly positive.

At the start of my second trimester, we're in a safer spot developmentally for baby, but my body still needs to get it together. This large bleed could pose a threat as things progress; it really needs to go away. As it stands, my symptoms could continue for weeks, and I'm okay with it being a nuisance or an unsettling factor to me - that's no problem.

The crucial aspect is that it decreases in size quickly, that it doesn't "take over" the space and resources baby needs. I can't think about or discuss what happens if that's not the case.

I believe in my heart that this is our "take home" baby, that it will be in our arms and in our home come 2014. It's difficult, though, to remind myself of that sometimes given what we've been through - and given the crazy things I hear on occasion from otherwise well-meaning folks. (That's a whole separate post altogether. Grieving mamas and pregnant ladies should be given earmuffs, y'all.)

While I am excited, I am also fighting a kernel of anxiety that threatens to suck the joy right out of this experience. I'd love your prayers for my peace of mind, for my body's cooperation, for the doctors' wisdom and for this "gray area" to just disappear.

Once this lifts, we'll be in the clear as far as anyone can tell. In the meantime, we have more pictures of our unborn bean than my parents likely have of themselves throughout their entire childhoods. That's the silver lining, I suppose, watching every last miraculous development week by week.

We're glad for the reassurance that baby is thriving, but oh how I'd love this scary part to be over.

So there it is, all the stuff I haven't been saying. It felt very personal, like both a vulnerability and a TMI situation I did not care to share with the world.

But I needed to. I'm making my pride a concern here, wanting to maintain some level of Mary Poppins perfection and cheer when the truth is, life brings with it some less than perfect moments. Even in those, we rejoice - but we do need each other.

Each of you played a role in my healing earlier this year (and last year with Mary Brooks), so I hesitate to ask for one more thing from you. But if it crosses your mind, your prayers for our little peanut would mean everything.

The Mouth of the South, once again unmuzzled

May 21, 2013

The Last Month

Pretty much. 

I've been in full on turtle mode: pulling my head back into my covers shell when my to do list gets too long, pretending I can press "pause" on life. (The bad news: your tasks wait for you. Time keeps passing even if you're horizontal, Anne.)

It's been work from bed, wrangle a teething toddler, feed a giggling three-year-old, make the simplest supper possible, sleep, rinse, repeat. God bless Bradley.

Back tomorrow to regale you with royal gossip, life updates, red carpet chit-chat and other generally deep thoughts.

Thanks for the prayers and love! Hopefully my super artistic shots on Instagram have shown I'm alive and well - just napping.

April 17, 2013

Goodbye Before Hello

Our little bean.
It’s been two weeks since we lost our third baby, fourteen of the fastest days in our marriage. (We wish we’d experienced this sensation of time hurtling past us when Mary Brooks was hospitalized. Where's the fast forward button when you need it?)

I spent that Tuesday, the morning I saw our baby without a heartbeat, alternating between fog and clarity. I held myself together at the doctor and called Bradley from the parking lot, losing myself at the sound of his voice and breaking the news between sobs. I kept telling him how sorry I was. 

He thought I believed I'd done something wrong; he wanted me to stop apologizing. That wasn't it - it really just broke my heart to break that news to him: Bradley, you lost your baby, too. I doubled over at the pain of hurting my husband that way; I didn't want him to feel what I was feeling.

I got home and went straight to bed in crisis mode, propping myself up to text, email and make all the necessary calls. I felt compelled to spread the news, respond to loved ones and rest in between as I could.

Then I needed to be up, to be busy and out of my usual space. I had no idea what to do with myself; I wasn't pregnant anymore.

I left the house to grab lunch, call clients and speak with a poise that escapes me even when I'm trying my hardest. Thank you, Lord, for moments when I'm outside myself.  And for their kind, caring, far-beyond-professional reactions at the news I'd be out of pocket - and why.

I called my OB to schedule the surgery and praised God that our favorite doctor was on call to do it. She's yet to deliver one of our children, but at this point an orderly could catch my newborn and I wouldn't care - it's such a happy time. This was something I was both heartbroken about and terrified to have done; I needed her in that OR, and I'm tremendously relieved she was able to take care of me that day.

That night I barely slept; I stared at the clock, continually swallowing a growing lump in my throat, fighting back fears of a surgery I never wanted to have.

I've never been under that kind of anesthesia, never been intubated, never been in a hospital gown except to welcome a perfect, crying baby into my arms.

The surgery itself was much easier than I anticipated, and the compassion and care we received was unparalleled. Our doctor teared up over us before she took me back; I knew she felt this, too. I'm not sure how Bradley managed to stare at the walls for the hour I was gone, but he did. I'd have crawled out of my skin.

I came home and slept all day Wednesday and most of Thursday, making up for lost time and avoiding the "what do I do with myself now?" thoughts that were all I could manage when I was awake.

The house was too quiet with Mac and Mary Brooks gone, which made my waking hours difficult, but I was glad for the time to focus on me. To sleep and be waited on hand and foot by a man who has been far too good to me since the day we met. We did little but talk and rest that day, skating by on the bare minimum of activities, save a mall walk (senior citizen style) to fend off cabin fever on Friday.

That Saturday we went to a gorgeous wedding out of town that reunited us with friends we hadn't seen in a while. It was a last-minute decision, putting on my gold wedges and choosing to dance (er, sip and chat) the night away. I'm so glad we did.

Sorority squat, anyone?
As for Bradley? Our loss is the same, but we're dealing with it differently - just as we did with Mary Brooks. This time around, I'm not letting that make me feel crazy or too emotional or hypersensitive. Bradley stays busy to process things, and I just process them. Full time.


We're both okay, though, and I wouldn't be standing if he wasn't right here with me. I wouldn't be standing without my faith, my family, and the knowledge that I've lived through something agonizing and survived to see the other side. I can do this.

The searing pain in Mary Brooks' situation (my euphemism for what we lived through last year) was watching her suffer and feeling I should do more, do something to help. It felt like dying, watching her hurt.

This baby didn't suffer. She was a delight to us from the moment we knew she was coming, even in my sickest moments. I felt thankful all the way through, and I am filled to my brim with joy at that knowledge. This baby has brought me happiness, even though I won't see her sweet face in our nursery.

What we're working through is sadness for US, not our child. 

Our baby is healed, whole and healthy. God answered the prayers we all have for our babies: take care of them, keep them safe, make them healthy, let them know they're loved. He's answered each of those, just not in the way I wanted. His ways aren't mine, but they're perfect; I'm at peace with that right now.

People ask how I am, and I don't know if anyone believes I really am well. As well as a girl can be in this situation, truly. I haven't cried since the day of the surgery, which is a small miracle given my overactive tear ducts.

My heart is mending; it's focused on the many splendid parts of my life. Working in yoga pants, laughing with my husband, enjoying long overdue spring weather, kissing my newly-chubby daughter's cheeks, giggling as Mac tells me I'm the "sweetest sweetheart" he "ever had."

My heart is full. I am trying so hard to be in THIS moment, in THIS day. Not reliving the blank faces and sad eyes in an ultrasound room, not wondering when our baby stopped growing or if I should have noticed at the time.

My heart is with our two children here, soaking up the moments I might have glossed over or even been exhausted by a few weeks ago. It's with the baby I won't meet on this Earth;  I wonder what our family would have been like with that addition.

I cringe opening Mary Brooks' closet door, seeing the dresses I left without monograms, hoping they might be reused by a baby sister sometime next year. (Cue Bradley's logic: "Aren't they just as pretty without monograms? Do we have to put her initials on EVERYthing?" God bless that man.)
One of my sweetest blessings
I'm startled by pregnant bellies on Facebook and Instagram, by girls who were due when I was or even later. I scroll quickly past those pictures, wishing them well but knowing it's best for me not to linger on what others have right now. I have been given so much, and I need to count my own blessings.

The thing is - other people having babies has nothing to do with my loss. It's wonderful for each and every family, and we are excited for them. That spot is a bit raw for me, though, so I'm giving myself breathing room and avoiding things that cue unnecessary sadness.
The other
Happiness (and pregnancy, for that matter) is not a zero-sum game. Someone else having a beautiful experience does not take away my opportunity to do so - and boy, am I thankful for that. I am so giddy for others' happy news, but I'm in a spot where joy and gratitude mix with sadness - that earns me a bit of grace.

I lost a baby. That's so bizarre to say, even now. It feels foreign, surreal, impossible. Empty, sometimes. I was pregnant, and then I wasn't. How could a life change so much that quickly?

But I did lose a baby, and I've got to treat myself with kid gloves, if just for a moment. Not opening MB's closet or commenting on Instagram gender announcement doesn't hurt anyone - but it might spare me a wince or two in a delicate time.

I have received support and sympathy from our loved ones, and also from a variety of unexpected sources. The further I get into this, the more I realize I've joined a club no one wants to be a member of - but many are. 

My experience, though my own, isn't entirely unique. The emptiness isn't unfamiliar to people who've gone before us. I'm both comforted and saddened by that - I want to make everyone's time in this space easier.

I've learned to show grace to people who mean well but express it poorly, even using words that hurt or sting or confound. I've learned there's no sliding scale for grief.

If never becoming pregnant is the worse thing that's ever happened to you, your loss is the same as mine. If you lost a baby the very day you discovered you were carrying it, your hurt is no less deep than this. There's no degree of grief that doesn't hurt, and categorizing losses by how far along or how deeply felt does no one any good.

If you've ever been here, I'm so sorry. I hope you never have to return. I hope none of us ever has to return.

I thank you for your prayers, your advice, your encouragement - and I apologize for not having had the time to respond.

I've devoted myself to resting, recuperating and working my way through this. There's no time left to spare to denial or "powering through" sadness; I lost nine months of memories to that and I just can't do it again.

I'm feeling what comes my way, moment by moment. Mostly I'm feeling grateful, loved and ready to get back to "normal," whatever that is. But if I have sad spots, I feel those, too. (How New Age-y am I sounding right now?)

I sure wish this hadn't happened. Or that it had happened far, far sooner than it did. 

But it did, and I'm here. I'm swimming along, pushing my way through this and hoping I can be the shoulder or ear to someone who joins this unfortunate club one day, should she need me. So many of you have been there for me; it's remarkable the bond that forms between two people who've hurt the same way.

Turns out there are no free passes for crappy things, even if feel you just put one behind you. This world is broken and this life is not easy, but we aren't alone. You've been the Lord's arms and shoulders (and bread and wine and flowers and cookies) these last two weeks; I'll never be able to repay you for that.

I awoke the day after surgery believing all this was a bad dream. It isn't, but what I'm waking up to is still beautiful.
God is good; I am carried and being made whole. 

This is what grief looks like when you stare it in the face; this is a do over in which I let the Lord in right where I am. I'm sad. I'm thankful.

I'm at peace. Truly, and in a way I can't explain.

It's bittersweet, but I'm not going to fight it this time. There's too much wonder here to waste.

My loves.
"I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for the Lord." 

-Psalm 27:13-14

April 2, 2013

A Big Surprise, A Bigger Loss

After last year, my prayer for 2013 was that it would be boring. Uneventful. Nothing to report.

That wasn't to be the case at all - in wonderful (and not so wonderful) ways.

As I rounded the corner in my post-race recovery and fended off the flu, Bradley and I got a pretty big surprise: two pink lines. A very unexpected, wholly undeserved blessing.

Mary Brooks was only 11 months old at the time; after running the numbers we realized our third (third!) baby would be born just eight months later. Whew.

The day before MB turned one, we heard a gorgeous, perfect, super fast heartbeat and confirmed we'd be meeting the third baby Smith in late September.

By then Mac would have been a week or two shy of four years old; for a brief moment we'd have three under four this coming fall. We were overwhelmed, overcome with gratitude and excited beyond words.

It felt like getting away with a bank heist, like winning the lottery. We got something wonderful for nothing! My heart had healed just in time, and we were wide open to the joy a new life would bring.

We celebrated Mary Brooksie's first birthday knowing she'd be a big sister this time next year. We giggled and dreamed and joked.

I went back a month ago, at just over 11 weeks, to hear that tiny heartbeat again and be reassured it was safe to tell the world. A veil of cautious optimism lifted, and it felt safe to set things in stone.

There were plans for an SUV, as our Altima couldn't squeeze in another car seat if it tried. There was talk of sharing rooms.

A date the week of Mother's Day was circled, and we hoped to confirm baby's gender by then. What an unforeseen gift.

This morning I got a peek at my tiniest baby, just about of four months along, and saw that she no longer had a heartbeat. Our little bean, our third child, was gone.

There will be no baby in September.

There will be no SUV for now, no moving Mary Brooks into her big brother's room as he has fervently requested for months.

Tomorrow morning I will go into the hospital for a procedure to do what my body has not yet done itself.

I'm sad. I feel guilty for being embarrassed at first about our tremendous blessing, at how close our babies would be in age. For putting off telling clients and the "world." For worrying about insurance and paperwork and the lack of sleep to come.

I'd do anything to give this baby a heartbeat back, to fill that empty third car seat in my mind.

The moment we found out two and a half months ago, we added a fifth member to our family. We planned names, we envisioned three Smiths growing up, we laughed at how we never saw this coming - the unanticipated joy of a new baby so soon.

I never saw this coming either, but I'm thankful all the same. Thankful for the time we had dreaming about this baby and the blessing she was to us. For a life that now turns our hearts heavenward; we know that's where this child is.

I know there's a plan here, that a God who works miracles (and we are living proof) didn't create this child - the one we didn't even think to pray for - for no reason.

We are sad and shocked, but we are held.

This morning, amidst the flood of emotions, I was terrified - my heart had just mended. I didn't want to spend another year as a zombie, muddling through a field of heartache to get to the other side.

The post I had written for today was about Joel 2:25, how the Lord had restored my wasted year. How He had healed me, brought beauty from ashes. I'll post it another day, and I'll add a new chapter.

I know the Lord will do that again, that He'll heal us and make something glorious out of what we're living. Out of what feels wretched and aching and awful this minute.

I'm asking for His peace in the meantime - and your prayers.


March 19, 2013

A Birthday and a ReBirthday

Just over a month ago, our valentine turned one year old. And, as I did with Mac, I looked back and wondered how twelve months had rushed past me in an (insanely emotional hurricane of a) blur.

Unlike my first go-round, however, I didn't cry in the days leading up to her big moment. I felt relief, almost - something telling me I could stop holding my breath and start putting those months behind me.

It will no longer be the "first" Valentine's Day, sunny spring afternoon or otherwise notable happening, but the days ahead will be the first I remember. The first that really count.

A fashion show in her last "baby" days.

This year, my darling girl's second, is a fresh start. She's growing fast, becoming a tiny girl instead of a squishy, happy-to-snuggle bundle of baby. She's a whole new creature. 

Valentine's Day mornings, 2012 and 2013

We're inexpressibly thankful for our little valentine and for the friends and family who came to celebrate her! (We kept it sweet, intimate and extra small because, while mama adjusted beautifully, B was not keen on a big ole party. Denialville, party of one.)

Throwing together a party the weekend after Valentine's Day is easy as pie. Toss up a few pink and red decorations, lay out a table of food and another (even larger!) one of sweets and voila: a lovefest.

This beauty tasted even better than she looked!
We had a few desserts leftover for small group that Sunday...
Our best attempt.
She refused to eat a bite! How is she mine?
The best gift for every occasion!
While her birthday a party, we counted down to her ReBirthday with mixed emotions - and we didn't want to gloss over it.

Twenty days after her birthday, March 5, marked a year since Mary Brooks' surgery. I anticipated a flood of emotions, of difficult flashbacks - but they never came. From dawn to dusk that day I rode a wave of gratitude with every memory, every attempt at recalling those hours, every text message I reread that I never remembered writing in the first place.

It was an out of body experience, replaying the day in third person, feeling only a down-to-my-bones kind of thankfulness. After an excruciatingly long season of heartache, it was miraculous to feel just the upside of things - to see what the girl living that experience last year couldn't yet know.
What a difference a year makes.
It was a joy - an absolute privilege - turning a day marked by devastation into one centered on counting every last little (and big) blessing in our lives. It was an occasion that deserved cupcakes if ever there was one!

Mac and I ventured over to our favorite bakery just before a monsoon kicked off downtown that evening. We had no raincoats or umbrellas (mom fail), so I found a fleece of Bradley's and put it over his head as I whisked him down the sidewalk.

Mac couldn't stand the idea I'd get wet in his place, so he kept tossing the fleece over my face; I nearly ran into a brick wall with a forty pounder on my hip as a result.

We couldn't stop laughing, and the pair of us arrived home soaked to the bone, with four delicious cupcakes safe and dry in their box. I hope I never forget that little excursion with Mary Brooks' big brother; it epitomizes the utter giddiness I felt all day long.

After the birthday cake boycott at her party, I didn't anticipate Mary Brooks' reaction to her ReBirthday cupcake:

Her enthusiasm brought me back to Mac's very first cupcake, and it was just one more way March 5 felt more like an actual birthday than some medical anniversary. I hope we always celebrate it so whole-heartedly! (And with cupcakes, obviously...)

Mary Brooks' surgery gave her a new lease on life; medically it was considered a "near miss" with an uncertain outcome. We praise God with every breath that our story has a happy ending, and that all four of us have healed from the experience.

Thanks for celebrating with us, y'all!

March 4, 2013

Hurricane 2013: Mickey, 13.1 Miles & the Flu

The last two months have (insert cliche about time flying here). In a Rip Van Winkle kinda way, I feel as though I took a quick nap mid-January and woke up browsing for Easter baskets. If only I felt as if I'd gotten that much sleep...

Instead, we've been either in "fast forward" or "full stop" mode all year long. SO much has happened!

The survivor in the top left was my coach!

On January 12th, Bradley and I joined Greenville's Team in Training to run the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. Yes, that's right! We raised a total of $2500 to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society;  it was an unspeakably empowering, surprisingly fun and absolutely enjoyable experience - start to finish.

I worried so much about the 2:30am wake-up call that I couldn't sleep past 1:00!

For a couch potato, nap-loving supporter of the Great Indoors, running 13.1 miles at the crack of dawn and living to tell the tale was enough of an accomplishment for all of 2013. I should start writing "run a half marathon" at the top of each day's to do list, just so I can cross one big, fat item off without breaking a sweat.

B and I in our corral, just minutes before he left me in the dust.
After the trauma and craziness of 2012, I needed to channel my energy into something positive, something outside myself. In August I began training with TNT, and despite an injury in December, I was able to cross the finish line upright and proud.

Cue tears.

The support of onlookers and other runners meant so much during those long miles, especially the miles eight through ten, which felt interminable!

And more tears.

Wearing my purple Team in Training jersey got me a lot of attention - coaches, participants, supporters and survivors from across the country called out, cheered, gave high fives and even ran alongside me for a time. It was invigorating and just what I needed to get me to the finish line.

So ready to be done!

I ran the last half-mile of the race listening to Mary Brooks' laugh over and over again. My feet hurt, my ankle was killing me, and I was ready for a plate full o' carbs. Her angelic little giggle, though, saw me through.

She taught me a lot about what it means to fight, and I was proud to feel like I'd made a difference in cancer patients' lives (through our fundraising) as so many people poured into our family last year. 

B and I walked off the effects of our (very early) morning "jog" by spending the next day and a half in WDW's parks. It was a refreshing little break from our everyday lives, and a very welcome one.

I was achy and tired on the way home, but after 13.1 miles, another 15 or so over two days in the parks, and an eight-hour car ride, it was to be expected.

Not 24 hours after we made it home, though, I started feeling much, much worse. The achiness grew into a full body hurt; I felt like I'd been on the losing end of a bar fight with a raging cold, to boot. I woke up the next morning and dragged my unhappy derriere to the doctor, The diagnosis: flu.

Both babies had gotten the flu vaccine, thank goodness, but we sent them to their grandparents' nonetheless. After a weekend in Orlando and the most contagious days of the flu quarantined, I spent three hours in direct contact with my children over the course of eight days; it was wretched.

After a full week of bedrest, I felt human enough to venture out into the world and, a day or so later, to have Mac and Mary Brooks come back home. It was a joy to see their sweet faces, change little diapers, fill hungry mouths, and hear their noises in the house again.

The energy to shower, if not apply mascara, was something to celebrate.
Turns out "they" are quite serious about the importance of getting your flu vaccine, peeps. And the muscle soreness that typically follows a 13.1 mile stroll can mask the early achiness of flu symptoms. Who knew?

With any luck, this will be my first and only run in with the flu - there aren't enough words to describe the un-fun-ness of that experience.

Just as soon as I got rid of my feverish flu symptoms, it was time to plan Mary Brooks' birthday party at last. It was late January, and my "V Day is D Day" motto had finally come to life. No more time for denial...

I promise to catch up more soon, but this online scrapbook doesn't do me much good if I don't use it. Many of you may have caught up with me via Instagram, the Twitter of 2013, but I'm going to prove to myself that blogging is not an outdated mode of communication chez Smith. Promise.

Hope each of you are well and keeping up with the real world a bit better than I am! Go get that flu shot, y'all - it's worth your time, trust me.


January 8, 2013

In the Meantime

Last year was our hardest yet, but there were unbelievably sweet spots, too.

Bradley rolls his eyes at the iPhone growing from my right arm, but that faithful companion records moments my addled brain can't recall. I'm so thankful to have captured the lighter bits of 2012!

It doesn't seem fair, after unloading my heavy, healed healing heart, not to point out how much joy there is here, too.  Enjoy an overload of Smith snapshots!

Sibling sweetness as Bradley read Luke 2 on Christmas Eve.
Trying out his new "drinking glasses."
Testing out some gifts in Columbia.
In the glow of Mimi's Christmas tree.
All my favorite little people in one place.
There was a fire in the living room...
I can't stop laughing about this!
MB, with a sinus and ear infection, lost over a pound and went back to the 1st percentile. But that reflection!
An ornament from halfway around the world! One of my favorite gifts.
After a year without movies, B and I saw two in one weekend: Skyfall and Lincoln.
(Ask me how we left Anna Karenina after 90 seconds and went to watch ol' Abe...)
If I ever put my phone down, who would capture this?
A second Smith baby makes friends with Curious George.
If I'm feeding MB her lunch and one of us is dressed, it's a victory.
An ornament for my little fireman.
Mac and I got matching tats.
(Ask B how the one on the right, inside my forearm, came to reside on his ribcage.)
The handsomest boys I know.
MB learned to sign "more" and is just as proud of herself as we are.

Christmas night we snuck away for our third and final movie of the year: Les Mis. One of us bawled through half of it.
We rang in the New Year, after a big Tiger victory, with our best friends in Atlanta!
Baby hands - those dimples never get old.
Mary Brooksie wants to stand. Break my heart already!
For I am about to do something new,
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness,
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. 
Isaiah 43:19


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