1.23.2017

What I Didn't Know About Pregnancy After Loss: Guest Post by Natalie Brenner

I feel so grateful to introduce you all to my friend Natalie from Natalie Brenner Writes. Natalie has quite the story of loss and redemption, one I have looked to continually for hope throughout our journey with miscarriage and pregnancy after loss. Some of you probably remember that post I wrote about not writing about pregnancy on this blog. Well, I'm setting that conviction aside because miscarriage and pregnancy after loss just aren't talked about enough and while I don't plan to continue writing about these topics for much longer, I'm so happy that I can bring another perspective to the issue via Natalie's heart. I know you'll love her.
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Natalie is a full time Work At Home Mom. She writes for various publications and is building her photography business all the while caring for and tending to her babies. She is a wife to Loren + a mom by love [adoption] + blood [biology] to two boys not quite 5 months apart and couldn't feel more undeserved of the story she is living. They live in Portland, Oregon and are continually uncovering the scandalous grace of Him in the chaos.

When I saw the clumps of blood so red and the cramping and contracting started months before it should have, my heart fell into the toilet right with my baby.

The early days of that first loss were a tunnel of darkness, consumed by grief and a loneliness I wasn't expecting. I didn't spend much time reading about pregnancy after loss as much as I did reading about loss and miscarriage. I didn't know the vast emotions to come if I were able to conceive again.

The moment that second line revealed itself positive on my pregnancy test just seven months later, I heard a distant voice saying, "No, no, no, no, it can't be." As I realized that voice was mine I blacked out and collapsed on the bathroom floor.

What I didn't know about pregnancy after loss was how gripping seeing that positive test would be. It felt like a giant hand had grabbed ahold of my torso, like a little girl grabbing a barbie, and squeezed all the air right out of me.

I didn't know that I would be consumed by fear or anxiety, that I would walk through the days constantly wondering if I would have to say goodbye to this baby too. I expected to be just as gleeful, just as hopeful, just as ignorantly confident and excited. I expected to jump into every pregnancy with joy, cherishing all of the moments.

I didn't know that I would feel guilty. Guilty for being pregnant when so many others weren't able to be. Guilty for celebrating a life after recently losing one. Guilty for being afraid and fearful instead of purely excited. The guilt laid itself thick into my daily life, covering me like butter on bread, everywhere I went. I didn't know whether to celebrate and share the news of our newly-discovered-baby or to withhold it; I didn't want to perpetuate someone else's ache and pain of desiring pregnancy.

I didn't know that people didn't like talking about your loss, after you became pregnant again. I wasn't ready to stop acknowledging the baby we lost, just because I was pregnant again, and yet I was perpetually feeling the need to quiet the need to talk about him.

We were adopting domestically as well, and I didn't know that our pregnancy after loss would incite so much worry about not being chosen by a birth mama. I was constantly worried no birth mama would choose us, choose a pregnant couple. I felt guilty for how badly I wanted to be chosen and fast, before our biological baby arrived.


I didn't know it was okay to feel MANY emotions, that it was okay to give myself permission to just be.

I remember vividly the day the gripping emotions of fear, guilt, and worry shed themselves. It was January 6th and it was my 20 week mark. It was Wednesday and it was freeing. Up until that day, that point where I breathed air so fresh, I was bogged down battling whether or not to allow my heart to fully celebrate and hope.

I think it takes us time to get to new spaces, spaces of healing and through the stages of grief. Loss is unquantifiable. Grief is unquantifiable. And because of this, He walks with us each on our journey as our stories are being written. I believe that He was sitting with me right there in all of the emotions, wiping the tears that fell so frequently, as I battled whether or not to fear or hope. I believe He used His presence as salve to my soul during my pregnancy after loss and day by day, I was able to hope a little more.

Something beautiful that I don't want to ignore is that my first son, joined by adoption, was born January 6. I did not know at the time that he was our son; as my heart left the tunnel of gripping-guilt and fear of losing our womb-baby, our other son was waiting for us. You never quite know how beautiful your story will be until it unfolds and you can look back.

Here I am today, with two miracles, not quite 5 months apart.

And friend, if you are walking in your own tunnel of loss or feeling gripped by guilt during pregnancy after loss, I want to give you permission to be where you're at. Be tender and be gentle with yourself. I am confident you will make your way into the freedom-joy that is available, in due time.

I am so grateful that Natalie could be here to share a bit of her story with you all. Be sure to check out my guest post, which goes along nicely with this one, HERE

1.18.2017

Sedona Marathon Event Guide


The 2017 Sedona Marathon is quickly approaching and, as always, I am getting super excited! It should come as no surprise by now that Sedona is one of my favorite places in the country. I wish we never had to move away from Northern Arizona! As the event gets closer, I thought it might be helpful to create a big of a guide for the event, including important things to know about race day, some of my favorite Sedona activities, where to get good food, and so on!

PLANNING YOUR TRIP TO SEDONA:

Let's start off with WHY you should run in the Sedona Marathon Event: the scenery, altitude, hiking, art and prickly pear margaritas! Not to mention the promo code BIBRAVE2017 gets you 20% off any distance! 

Where to stay: Sedona Rouge (has a shuttle stop right out front) or stay at an Air B'n'B (use our referral link to get $35 free!).

THINGS TO DO/EAT/SEE IN SEDONA:

Some things to do in Sedona on the weekend of the event include: visiting Oak Creek Canyon, shopping, getting a massage, eating all the food, and visiting Flagstaff. I'm full of suggestions if you need more!

My favorite places to eat/drink in Sedona include: Oak Creek Brewery, Cucina Rustica, Mariposa Latin Grill, and Picazzo's. If you make it up to Flagstaff definitely check out: Pizzicletta, Criollo, The Cottage Place, Diablo Burger, and Josephine's.

THINGS TO KNOW FOR RACE DAY (February 4th, 2017):

Packet Pick-Up: Friday, February 3, 2017 2:00 - 8:00 pm at Elks Lodge, 110 Airport Road, Sedona, AZ 86336 OR Race Day 7:00 - 9:00 am

Parking: The event has a free shuttle you can ride from various parking locations, including some of the local hotels. You can find more information, including maps, HERE.

Schedule:
7:00 am        Venue opens for gear drop, etc.
8:45 am        Welcome
9:00 am        Marathon start
9:10 am        Half Marathon start
9:20 am        10K start
9:30 am        5K start

10:00 am      Massage tent opens
10:30 am      5K awards presentation (top 3 male and female overall)
11:00 am      10K awards presentation (top 3 male and female overall)
11:00 am      All Half Marathon participants must be through turn-around
12:00 pm      Half Marathon awards presentation (top 3 male and female overall)
12:30 pm      All Marathon participants must be through turn-around
1:00 pm        Full Marathon awards presentation (top 3 male and female overall), presentation for T-Shirt Design, and Best Aid Station Contest
3:30 pm        Finish line closed


You can access course maps HERE. Watch out for that elevation!

Don't see the information you're looking for? Check out the Sedona Marathon Event Website


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1.16.2017

2017 Reading Challenge Update I


I am currently participating in the 2017 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. Throughout the year, I am hoping to do monthly(-ish) updates on my progress. I might also decide to do a few book reviews along the way, but, if you're interested, you can always find my reviews by following along with me on Goodreads.

2017 Reading Challenge
A book recommended by a librarian:
A book that's been on your TBR list for way too long: Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
A book of letters:
An audiobook:
A book by a person of color: Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly 
A book with one of the four seasons in the title:
A book that is a story within a story:
A book with multiple authors:
An espionage thriller:
A book with a cat on the cover: A Man Called Over by Fredrick Backman 
A book by an author who uses a pseudonym:
A bestseller from a genre you don't normally read (horror): The Teacher by Katerina Diamond
A book by or about a person who has a disability:
A book involving travel:
A book with a subtitle:
A book that's published in 2017: Are you Sleeping by Kathleen Barber 
A book involving a mythical creature:
A book you've read before that never fails to make you smile:
A book about food: Delicious! by Ruth Reichl (Completed in January; 4/5 stars)
A book with career advice:
A book from a nonhuman perspective:
A steampunk novel:
A book with a red spine: Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey (Completed in January; 2/5 stars)
A book set in the wilderness: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (In progress)
A book you loved as a child:
A book by an author from a country you've never visited:
A book with a title that's a character's name:
A novel set during wartime:
A book with an unreliable narrator: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
A book with pictures:
A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you:
A book about an interesting woman:
A book set in two different time periods:
A book with a month or day of the week in the title:
A book set in a hotel:
A book written by someone you admire: Adnan's Story by Rabia Chadry 
A book that's becoming a movie in 2017: All the Bright Places (Completed in January; 2/5 stars)
A book set around a holiday other than Christmas: The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty (Completed in January; 4/5 stars)
The first book in a series you haven't read before: Vampire Academy y Richelle Mead 
A book you bought on a trip:

Advanced*
A book recommended by an author you love:
A bestseller from 2016:
A book with a family-member term in the title:
A book that takes place over a character's life span:
A book about an immigrant or refugee:
A book from a genre/subgenre that you've never heard of:
A book with an eccentric character:
A book that's more than 800 pages:
A book you got from a used book sale:
A book that's been mentioned in another book:
A book about a difficult topic:
A book based on mythology:

*I still haven't decided if I plan to complete the advanced portion of the challenge.

Books read in 2017: 4
Progress towards reading goal for the year: 4/50 (8%)

As you can tell, I haven't been able to find books for every prompt yet. I would love recommendations if you have any! I hope to keep coming back to this space to update you all as the year progresses.

Would you consider joining me for the challenge? It's not too late! Get a printout of the challenge HERE

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