Dear Angel

Our Angel

Such a pretty little girl

On Friday night, I thought about washing the blankets on your dog bed. I tried again Saturday and they remain untouched. Before Friday, I wouldn’t even consider washing them. I wanted to keep you here, even in the smallest way possible. I guess I still do.

I call it your dog bed even though Fred enjoys it too. But you loved that bed, and while he would insist on being at the foot of our bed, under the covers and on top of my foot, you curled up alone. We would call your name and give you permission to jump on the bed. You stayed put. You needed your independence and that was okay.

I stared at the blankets and cried. I remembered telling Aunt Karen that I felt I would never stop crying. She said, “You won’t, but the time in between will become longer.” She was right.

I don’t want to stop crying when I think of you. I want to remember that you were that awesome, and you deserved to have someone mourn your absence. I still tend to dwell on the sadness, so I repeat my friend Khristina’s advice in my head: Think of everything we did do for you and don’t focus on the things we couldn’t.

But I miss you. I wish I could actually tell you that. Instead I’ll just write it here and hope it changes someone’s mind about pit bull type dogs. Maybe they’ll wonder how something supposedly so vicious could touch someone’s heart enough to make them write this letter on a blog.

If (when) we get a second dog, it will be in your honor. You were here for far too short a time but you enriched our lives and completed a happy family. Thank you for letting us be your humans.

I will miss you forever.

Smiling in her sleep...

Smiling in her sleep…

“They live and die for us. The pit bull deserves our utmost respect to be that loyal. We should all aspire to be more like the pit bull. Wearing our hearts on our sleeves, loyal to a fault and willing to die for those we love.” Unknown

Evil, Stinkin’ Mommy Guilt

If you have a child and you work, you have Mommy Guilt. If you have a child and you don’t work, you have Mommy guilt.

Maybe you formula feed and have Mommy Guilt. Maybe you breastfeed and have Mommy Guilt because you can’t give as much attention to your other children. Maybe your child has colic, and you have Mommy Guilt. Maybe everything is going relatively smoothly and you still have Mommy Guilt. Sound familiar?

Moms are amazing. This is a pretty well-known fact, but it’s reiterated when you actually have a child. Men start to see it in the mother of their child, and women start to feel it after they carry and nourish another life, and then continue to nourish that life.

So why do we beat ourselves up? This has been on my mind for a while. I feel that, at almost 15 weeks old, Baby Anna and I have settled into a good routine. She randomly sleeps through the night (yay!), only gets up once a night if she doesn’t, eats like a champ but still has her slender, girlish figure, and is the happiest darn baby I’ve ever known. She is my traveling companion, my partner in crime, and my biggest reason to take care of myself, because I want to do my best at taking care of her.

But sometimes at work, I get a familiar pang and wish I could see her right. now. Not when work is done, not after I sit in traffic to go to daycare. Now. That thought almost always leads to, “You know, you really should just be home with her anyway.”

Wow! Where did that evil nugget come from?

Here’s some background; I have a good job. Actually, a really good job. My boss is flexible and doesn’t micromanage. He lets me leave early often and I pretty much run the schedule myself. Even if we could afford for me to stay home, I would be crazy to let go of a good job that pays well.

Plus, I remember the last few weeks before I returned to work. I was tired, overwhelmed and majorly lacking in vitamin D.

I have a chronic pain condition. It hurts to get out of bed. Carrying around my little pork chop takes a toll on my back. If I don’t have a reason to leave my house, I won’t…especially in winter. I also think I deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Truth

Truth

I’m a better mom because I work. Having a reason to set the alarm early means I feel better because I’m up early. Returning to work has helped me get (almost) back to my normal weight range, and sometimes it’s refreshing to be outside in the cold (don’t tell my husband I said that).

Yet, I still beat myself up for the things I don’t do. When Angel passed away, I did the same thing. I sang the “Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda’s” and cried until I practically made myself sick. It took a conversation with a friend to point out what we did do for Angel. Her last memories weren’t of a shelter, or abuse, or a cold, wet floor. They were of love, a warm and comfy bed, good food, and the best fur-brother anyone could ask for.

Fred is a good helper when it comes to organizing laundry.

Fred is a good helper when it comes to organizing laundry.

Maybe we all need to do this more when it comes to our kids. Feel bad because your husband works  longer hours so you can stay home? Don’t. You’re home with your child. Feel bad because you’re at work and your child is at daycare? Don’t. You’re providing for your child. And if you’re blessed enough to have a similar situation to mine, you have an awesome day care and your little one loves going.

Healthy and happy...must be doing something right!

Healthy and happy…must be doing something right!

So stop beating yourself up. Creating a child, delivering a child and raising a child is a pretty big deal. Odds are, you’re awesome at it. Heck, maybe the most anxiety-ridden moms really are the best, because the crazy voices in their head make them try harder.

Wouldn’t that be nice? Shoot, I would deserve a medal.

Oh Yeah, I Have a Blog!

Oh heyyyyyyyyyyyy!

It’s been a hot minute since I blogged. So long, in fact, that I’m now using grammatically incorrect phrases like the one you see above. Once you have graduated from “Preggo Brain” to “Mommy Brain,” you basically are grateful you can still form a sentence in English. You better get used to it.

But Baby H is here!

Anna Leigh, aka, Master of the Stink Eye

Anna Leigh, aka, Master of the Stink Eye

Er, well, she’s technically been here a while actually. Almost 3 whole months!

Fuzzy haired and quite happy about it

Fuzzy haired and quite happy about it

She is an absolute joy. We are very blessed with a baby who is a good eater and a good sleeper. What more could a mama ask for?

And even when she’s not at her finest, she is still relatively happy and easily comforted. I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty tired. It’s worth it though, because she makes everything better.

Are YOU looking at ME?

Are YOU looking at ME?

But in the midst of all the happiness, we’ve also been dealing with sadness. Our female pit bull dog, Angel, was put down several weeks ago. She was increasingly losing weight and suddenly got very sick. She had always been a high-energy dog, but there was a change in her anxiety over the past month or so.

She was a little intense when Baby Anna came home, but not in the way you would think. I’m pretty sure Angel thought Anna was her baby. It was precious to see how much she cared. Unfortunately, I think her anxiety was just too much for her. If Anna cried, Angel cried, and sometimes when Anna was calm again, Angel still seemed to worry. But we still found our routine, and Angel was Mama’s little helper.

My girls

My girls

This increased anxiety combined with her sudden and alarming illness left us with a huge decision to make. She rapidly went downhill at the vet and started showing signs that sealed that decision for us. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, even with the knowledge that it was the right thing. Her anxiety had now changed her quality of life, and we couldn’t be selfish anymore.

It’s been less than a month and I can finally say that I feel some peace. I welcomed my beautiful baby into the world and within 2 months had to kiss another baby goodbye. I thought Angel would be with us for many more years, running next to her baby sister and always keeping her safe.

Safest baby on the block

Safest baby on the block

Some things are not meant to be. The day I picked up her remains, I cried harder than I had in days. It felt like she had passed all over again, but it gave me closure at the same time. I placed the beautiful wooden urn on our mantel and breathed a little easier. The pain in my heart had been so palpable, I thought with each passing day that it would finally explode. Now, Angel was home once more. Maybe not in the way I would have preferred, but it was the best it could be, and I accepted the peace it brought me.

Forever in our hearts

Forever in our hearts

Since then, I still have my moments, but I am thankful for the short time we had with her. Her last memories were not of a shelter, or of being abused and neglected. We used to joke that our dogs are better taken care of than a lot of children, and the truth is, we love our dogs as if they really were our kids. I will never stop missing her or loving her, and this ache in my heart will never fully disappear.

Thankfully I have this face to wake up to every day.

Anna5

When she’s old enough, she will hear story after story of the big sister who had to leave us too soon. How she diligently sat by her swing and alerted Mama to her cries.

And I will forever be grateful that we did this:

Fred, Anna, Angel.12/13/12

Fred, Anna, Angel.
12/13/12

Our forever babies.

When Everything Changed

My blog post about Maverick has been on my mind this week. For some reason, I couldn’t shake the image of him malnourished, neglected and mistreated. I know he is now healthy and happy, and his story has the ultimate happy ending; a human who loves him like family.

The concept of “family” has been on my mind as well. I’ve been thinking about how humans can neglect and mistreat each other to the point where you wonder how they ever could have loved you at all. Sometimes reading words that “family” has used to communicate with me leaves me almost gasping for breath, thinking “Do I really mean this little to them? Am I really deserving of this treatment, this disrespect?”

Then I look at my dogs. We don’t know much about Fred’s history, but we’re pretty sure he wasn’t abused. He was very skinny when we adopted him but he also has severe food allergies. Our thought is his previous owners couldn’t “figure him out” and didn’t put the time and effort into the attempt. As hard as those first few months were, we never considered giving him up. He was and still is our baby.

Angel’s story is a little different. She was bred at ten months old, which alone is animal abuse, in my opinion. After a week (?!?!) she was taken from her puppies and dumped at the shelter. Three weeks later, her puppies arrived at the shelter, weak, malnourished and dying. They were all euthanized. With Angel’s skittish behavior (it’s pretty apparent that she was neglected, starved and probably abused) it’s a miracle she wasn’t euthanized as well.

Fast-forward to today, and she is loving, loyal, happy and a completely different dog. She loves people, children and dogs alike. She bonded with my aunt during her recent visit and proved that love really can conquer all. She had every right to turn inward, hate all humans and lash out at anyone who tried to touch her. Instead, she shows me unconditional love every day and has restored my faith in that concept.

Unconditional love. I’ve written about it before because honestly, when I do feel it from those who truly know how to show it, I almost don’t know how to receive it. I feel like I’m always waiting for something bad to happen, for someone to walk away, for those nasty words to find their way back to my ears and my heart.

Maybe one day I’ll be like Angel and my faith in humanity will return. Maybe I’ll be able to read a story of an abused dog and not feel that rise of hatred toward the human who caused all that pain. Maybe I’ll fully receive that unconditional love without waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The Truth about Pit Bulls ~ Facebook

What I know now is, the day Fred came home was the day I was forever changed. Adding Angel to our family just made my heart grow bigger. The lessons I learn from my dogs make me want to be a better human, a better wife and a really good mom. They make me want to pick up the broken and tell them there is hope, even when that concept seems impossible. Sometimes you just have to open your heart for the impossible to become a reality.

Just ask Angel, who is finally home, finally loved, and finally free.

“There’s nowhere else I’d rather be…”

And so am I.

Just . . . Stop

I am a self-proclaimed-crappy-journal-writer. When friends post blogs and pull lines or pages from previous journals, it makes me sad. Sometimes I can’t even read the blog. I have a few journals with scattered thoughts, tucked away in a box somewhere. But I do not possess notebook upon notebook. I have more than one, but only one or two that has actually been filled. Instead, all my thoughts are crammed into my head, and it’s no wonder I have a hard time shutting off my brain.

For background, I started out at a young age, writing anything I could write. I copied definitions from the dictionary, just to feel the pen or pencil glide across the paper. I started silly stories, wrote down the things that made me angry, and scribbled other nonsense that only an eight-year-old can dream up.

My scribbles were found, read and scrutinized. My stories were mistaken as a reflection of my real life, my angry ramblings were criticized, and my nonsense was taken out of context and almost ridiculed.

It was hard for me to write again, for a long time. And even though I have worked through a lot of the issues (although, not with the person who gave me the issues), I hesitate to journal.

I know my husband won’t go through my things or read my words, but someone else might, someday. What if I am brutally honest and write the things I am feeling while being pregnant, and my child reads it one day? What if I’m gone, and my words are found, but I can no longer defend my feelings or choices?

I was 14 when my aunt passed away, and her parents read her journals. I remember my mom telling me how upset everyone was by her words. That only increased my fear and anxiety.

I carry my journal in my purse but rarely try to fill its pages. I ache to write more, and the more I write little nothings, the more I want to write blogs, or dabble with the two main books in my head, or try to find a “real job” where I can write (in addition to, not instead of, my current job).

Yesterday I started to write more. It was glorious. I had started lugging my laptop to work again, but I know this will not be feasible when my stomach prevents me from seeing my feet. Sometimes I’ll send myself an email, filled with blog ideas, book excerpts or quotes I want to expand.

Maybe I should email myself my journal. Maybe that will help squash the fear until it’s completely gone. Will it ever be gone?

I won’t know until I stop being afraid. If I wake up every day and tell myself, “You are not afraid of your words being read,” perhaps I will start to believe it. Maybe it’s the same principle as “Choose to be happy, and you will be happy.” My inner snarky self is already laughing at me, knowing it’s hard for me to change.

I’m going to try anyway. I want to write about everything. The beach, working in bridal, basketball, being pregnant, my dogs, my loves, my life. The things I want read and the things I want to keep hidden. The good and the bad, the issues and the triumphs, the family who stayed and the family who flew away.

So I will. If someone reads it and gets offended, oh well. I will never be truly happy with all these thoughts in my head.

And maybe these darn headaches will finally give me some peace.

Weird, Wonderful and Mostly Weird

 

Fact: Women’s bodies were made to have children. Lesser-known-fact: Some bodies are just more “made” than others.

You know who I’m talking about. That pregnant friend you had, the one who glowed, smiled, laughed and giggled for the entire 9 months. Maybe she had morning sickness, but in the midst of wiping the vomit from her chin, declared things like “Even though I feel like crap, this is a miracle and I’m enjoying every minute. I wouldn’t change a thing and life is frickin’ amazing.”

Pregnancy is all about weird stuff happening to your body while amazing things are happening to your body. It’s awesome, strange, confusing and pretty cool. But mostly, in the beginning, it’s just weird.

I’m currently in the four-month-funk. Otherwise known as “constantly wondering if people know  you are pregnant or just think you had too much fun at Chipotle over the weekend.” I don’t really feel pregnant, except for all the yucky stuff. I feel sick every day, walking up stairs is equivalent to a 5K, and I just want to know if it’s a boy or a girl, darn it!

I know when I start showing for real, can finally paint the baby’s room and settle into the “everyone is going to touch my stomach” phase, I’ll probably feel a lot better. For now, at least I can have some fun with all the weird.

Every woman is different, so I’m sure there are some who have never experienced what I have, and there are so many factors I will never experience. But somewhere, I know there is another woman who can say “YES!” about one of my weirdnesses (I am fully aware that is not a word, but I like it) .

Eyebrows

What the crap happened to them? This isn’t an entirely new issue, since my eyebrows started rebelling around the age of 28 (I’m currently 31). However, hormones have turned them into a full-blown-experimental teenager. Some of them want to go up while others want to go down, and they never seem to want these things at the same time. I use my Revlon-eyebrow-wax-stick thing every day, but still find myself running to a mirror to check them out. Who runs to a mirror to check their eyebrows?

Pains

I read that you can feel the baby move extremely early, but most women aren’t aware unless it’s at least their second pregnancy. The closest thing I have felt to movement has been pain. The problem is, when the body feels pain, the brain immediately thinks “Something is wrong!” Since I have fibromyalgia, I have tried to distinguish between “normal” pain and “call the doctor” pain. When you’re pregnant, every pain is the latter. In order to not get blacklisted by your ob/gyn, learn to become BFF’s with Google and Babycenter.com.

Hair

I’d like to file a formal complaint on this one. I have said before that God gave me good hair because He knew how hopeless I would be at styling. Maybe my unborn child is testing my skills, because what was once easy peasy hair is now “Where’s my husband’s razor, because it’s all coming off!”
*Note* DO NOT do anything drastic to your hair while pregnant. You. Will. Regret. It. Thankfully I heard this advice before I hit the second trimester, and my hair remains ugly yet unscathed.

Face

I’m one of those strange women who longs for the complexion of her teenage years. Right around the time my eyebrows went on strike, my face started to become difficult. Again, the hormones have jumped the weirdness into high gear. But, it’s nothing that an expensive online “professional” skin care purchase didn’t fix. Who needs a college savings fund? *sobs*

Nails

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about the good weird stuff! My nails are amazing. They are strong, grow like weeds and cling to nail polish like never before. Downside? I feel the “need” to take advantage and keep them looking their best at all times, but I royally suck when it comes to at-home-manicures. My nail salon couldn’t be happier.

All these fun weirdnesses have left me feeling rather abnormal. I know that the happy pregnant girls probably experienced something similar, but somehow managed to continue strumming their harps while they braided wigs for children with cancer. They never would have complained non-stop via blog.

The truth is, I’ve never been normal. But normal is boring, right? (That’s what weird people tell themselves to avoid crying into a pint of Phish Food.)

Mmmmmmmm. . .

Overall, I may not be the best pregnant chick, or have the best attitude about pregnancy, but I know I’ll be a good mom. Anyone who stresses, agonizes and obsesses over all this crap has to be good at the final product, right?

Don’t answer that.

Fear the Pregnant Woman, Not Her Pit Bulls

I had hoped this funk would have passed by now, but the more I read about Maryland’s new stupid poopy law, the bigger the funk becomes.

Mom, why so sad? Just look at me, I iz irresisti-bull

This new stupid poopy law (official term from now on) states that all pit bulls are inherently dangerous. Period, done, no questions asked. If two dogs are in a fight and one is a pit bull, the dangerous nature of the other dog doesn’t even need to be questioned. One is a pit and is immediately at fault.

When the you-know-what hit the fan on Friday, I was grateful that my handsome Fred isn’t even a true pit bull. He is half American bulldog and half mutt, with only .44% of that mutt-ness being pit bull.

I'm a lover, unless you taste like bacon ~ then I might lick you to death

Stupid poopy law states the dog must be at least 1% pit bull. Angel, in all her obedient, sweet glory, falls into this category.

Hide yo' kids, hide yo' wife, because a pit bull is learning a new trick!

Let’s think about that one for a second. I wonder how many black labs are walking around with 5% pit inside them? Or Boston terriers? German shepherds? ANY dog can be a mix of a dozen different breeds. One would think that this little tidbit of information would prove how ludicrous this ruling sounds.

I’m mostly German, does this mean I’m going to open a concentration camp? For my Jewish husband’s sake, I hope not! Are all black men in hoodies a threat to our safety?

If a man breaks into my home, I better hope I shoot him before Angel can get a hold of him. Because if she causes him any harm, I am liable for his injuries and he could sue me. Someone could attempt to rape me, but if my pit bull bites him in the ass, I, as the victim, become the bad guy. The dogs that make me feel safe in my house, when I’m walking after dark, or when Alex isn’t home, just became a liability?

Can we eatz a humanz now?

The first thing we did was cancel our dog walking service. I cried. In my current with-child state (and even before), the dog walker was a huge blessing. I didn’t have to worry about being stuck at work after 5, because I knew the dogs had a mid-day potty break, some play time and even a few treats. They learned how to walk well and behave well with someone else. They were socialized, exercised and tucked safely back in their crates.

Now? We can’t trust anyone with them besides us and a few close friends. The risk is just too great. And to be honest, I don’t trust other dogs. There are several neighbors who think they are above the Maryland leash law and let their dogs roam free. If that dog attacked mine, it wouldn’t matter how dangerous the dog was. Mine is guilty until proven . . . guilty.

Between this and the GOP’s war on women, I find it hard to believe we are living in the year 2012. This law was passed because of one pit bull with an irresponsible owner. Interestingly enough, the incident happened five years ago. Five. Funny, something else happened that year that should have proven that maybe humans are responsible for their animals’ behavior. (Cough-Michael Vick-cough) I want to know when people are going to be held accountable for their Chihuahuas, which are some of the nastiest, nippiest little dogs I have ever encountered.

So to all my neighbors, don’t take it too personally when you try to walk near me and I hightail it across the street. Kids? Don’t ask me if you can pet my dogs. They are great with kids, but I don’t know if your kid is great with dogs. Honestly you could probably punch Angel in the face and she wouldn’t even care. But your kid’s fun at the expense of my dog? I don’t think so.

This new stupid poopy law makez me sad

You shouldn’t be afraid of pit bulls. You should be afraid of the people who own pit bulls and see them come under attack. Add in some hormones and you end up with an angry, indignant pit bull lover. We won’t be silenced until you educate yourselves on what is really dangerous; ignorance, hatred and prejudice.