I was more than happy to say goodbye to 2009, but I really have no opinion about saying goodbye to 2010. It was a busy year, but it was actually pretty quiet in terms of big events. Some of the ups and downs of our 2010 include....
- We took advantage of the new year holiday, the full moon and the blue moon (and a little alcohol) to make a rainbow baby...it was the very first thing we did! :-P
- My BIL and his wife adopted a 4 y/o and 6 y/o brother/sister duo that they had been fostering for about a year.
- My DH turned 40.
- We gave a loving home to a pooch rescued during a raid of a local Amish puppy mill. (Carley was a 'pet' on the farm, not in the puppy mill cages...but she came to us after suffering pretty substantial emotional trauma at some point before being rescued.)
- We attended monthly baby loss support meetings and made some friends there. This has become a very important part of our coping and healing.
- We participated in the March of Dimes March for Babies, and were later asked to be an ambassador family for the 2011 walk.
- We observed most of our 'year of firsts' without Gracie and celebrated her first birthday in Heaven.
- We welcomed our rainbow, Jenna, who is sleeping on my chest as I type this. :-) She rocked my world right from the get-go by arriving after a brief 2.5 hour labor the evening before induction was scheduled.
- A former co-worker of mine became a BLM after her second child lost a 16 day fight with congenital diaphragmatic hernia, and a brother firefighter became a baby loss grandpa. :-(
- DH's oldest nephew, with whom he is pretty close, graduated from high school and enlisted in the Navy. He has finished boot camp, and his first step of A-school (he is now a sworn Naval M.P.), and is currently training to be a K-9 handler.
- We said goodbye to my BIL's wife, who is perhaps hanging out with Gracie and waiting for the rest of us.
- My MIL had surgery to successfully remove colon cancer.
- Jeff and I now own 3 burial plots that are part of the larger family plot...the one that Gracie is buried on, and one for each of us. 33 is much too young an age to own burial plots.
- We organized a collection of baby items to donate to the local NICU/PICU as part of remembering Gracie during the Christmas season.
- I completed about 16 months of life with my sister living on a different continent.
So there it is, 2010 in a nutshell. Some ups and some downs, but overall, it was better to us than 2009 was.
I certainly wonder what the coming year will bring for us. But more than that, I wonder what the new decade holds in store for us. As we move into the new decade, I can't help but reflect on the last 10 years...almost in awe. Ten years ago I was fresh out of college, and still living in a fairy tale land...completely naive about the curve balls that life could (and would) potentially throw my way. Since then I have survived more ups and downs than some people endure in a lifetime (but certainly less than some others...) In addition to the events of the last year, my last 10 years look a little like this (not necessarily in chronological order)...
- My aunt succumbed to cancer and was the first of my father's 13 siblings to die.
- I made my first independent car purchase (without input or financial help from my father). I bought a Durango that is a deep purple color, and was consequently dubbed the Pur.ple Peop.le Eater. I am still driving that car, and as it turns out, it's really the Purple Deer Eat.er. I have hit and killed 3 deer with it in the last 5 years, and the only damage sustained has been on tiiiiiny ding in the bumper. I suspect that, eventually, my luck will run out unless I get a big grill protector installed soon.
- I became a homeowner, and subsequently a landlord. We no longer rent, but are instead working on changing the house from two apartments back into a single family dwelling. It has been the most slow-going process of my life, as each project reveals 5 other projects that must be completed in order for the original project to be completed properly...and each additional project costs money that we didn't plan to spend (and usually didn't/don't have to spend) when budgeting for the original project.
- I forged a friendship with my first tenant...a friendship that would eventually take a most unexpected turn...a turn that would lead to a likely unbreakable bond understood only by BLMs. (Debbie lost her daughter, Sophie, on her due date not quite 3 years before we lost Gracie)
- I visited Costa Rica after my sister finished a semester of college study there. It's a beautiful country, and I hope to return there some day to see the things that I missed the first time.
- A long-time childhood friend left my life for unknown reasons. We have not spoken in about 9 years, and to this day I have no idea why. I miss her lots, but have decided that it's probably not worth the hurt that would come in trying to reestablish contact.
- I fell into a pretty deep depression that, to this day, I have difficulty figuring out. Despite meds and counseling, it hung on for a couple of years, and ultimately almost cost me the love of my life. Luckily, when it was all said and done, it resulted in only being apart for about 6 months. Eventually I started to pull out of my downward spiral and we were able to fix things.
- I became part of PA's statewide Urban Search and Rescue system, and spent a few hundred hours cross training as a Rescue Specialist, Technical Search Specialist and a Haz-Mat Specialist.
- I quit my first P.T. job (with nothing else lined up) during a confrontation with my boss after months after months of documenting ethical and legal concerns about the practice for which I was working.
- I opened a private physical therapy practice. Since physical therapy is a professional, and relatively specialized service, I honestly thought that I would never have to think about disciplinary action with my employees; since having that thought 6 years ago, I have had to fire two employees....by far, two of the most humbling experiences of my life. Overall, it has been a super-challenging, but rewarding experience. Sometimes I wonder if I am financially going to live to seen another day, but it's been 6 years now and the doors are still open and the lights are still on.
- I worked my way up through line officer positions in the fire department, ultimately reaching Deputy Chief. I have 15.5 years (plus 1.5 years as a junior member) in as a member of the department, and I have been an officer for the last 11-12 years. 2011 will likely be my last year as an officer; I will likely return to the 'lowly' status of plain old firefighter in 2012. This makes me sad, but it's time. I'm tired, and I am ready to be a mom. I don't have the time necessary to dedicate to running a business, raising kids and being an active department leader...and of the three, the being an officer is what will have to give.
- We said goodbye to a friend who suffered from severe bi-polar disorder for most of her life. She has been gone for 3 years, and we hope that she is free of the agony that filled her life.
- We welcomed 2 new dogs and 4 new cats came into our lives, primarily as a result of losing 3 dogs and 3 cats along the way.
- I was named as Pennsylvania's Rescue Technician of the Year in 2007.
- Less than one year later, the friend/mentor who nominated me for that award succumbed to a sudden aortic dissection caused by Marfan's Syndrome and died at the age of 44. Coincidentally, his widow is one of our midwives.
- I married the love of my life after 14 years (minus the above noted 'break') together. After finally tying the knot, we took an amazing honeymoon cruise along the coast of Alaska. I cannot wait to return to Alaska - to hopefully celebrate our 5th anniversary. While there, I hope to visit my friend Dawn.
- I carried my first born child in my belly through 36 weeks of pregnancy, and she was born directly into heaven on August 1st, 2009. She was buried next to her great grandmother on August 5th.
- My relationship with my mother and step-father continues to be estranged, although honestly, it's probably better this way.
- My only sibling left US soil on August 18, 2009 for a 27 month Peace Corps assignment in Namibia, Africa.
Looking at this list makes me wonder what the next year and the next decade will bring. The following is my wish list for the next year.
- BFP some time in September or October so we can make Gracie and Jenna big sisters in June or July of 2012.
- Continued forward progress on the house, with the hope that we can inhabit the second floor by the end of the year, or at worst, by the time baby number three arrives.
- Continued forward progress for my business, which might financially allow more forward progress with the house.
- Healthy growth and development for Jenna.
- Good mental and physical health for my family and pets.
- Completion of all projects that have been assigned to me at the firehouse, so whoever assumes my position in 2012 can start with a clean slate.
And the next decade? I anticipate that my life will be substantially different by the time we reach the end of the next decade, so my hopes and expectations for the next 10 years are really quite simple. Most importantly, I hope that we have two or three healthy living children that are running us ragged with sports and other activities, and that Jeff and I still have our health and our sanity.
It is my hope that we continue to recover emotionally from Gracie's death, but at the same time keep her memory alive within our family. I hope that I am able to continue to find ways to reach out and offer support to other BLMs, and maintain the friendships that I have developed with other BLMs over the last year. It is also my hope that no one else we know will endure the pain of baby loss.
It is my sincere hope that all major/structural renovations on our house are complete and that it is relatively the way that we want it. Even better would be completed renovations, the purchase of a parcel of land somewhere that we can build the house that we really want, and sale of this existing house. This would really make my DH happy.
It is my hope that we do not suffer the loss of any close relatives over the next ten years, but realistically speaking, that seems like an impossibility, since grandparents, aunts, uncles and parents are aging.
It is my hope that DH and I are able to return to Alaska at least once, but preferably twice...to celebrate our 5th and 10th wedding anniversaries. I would also like to be able to start traveling with our children, as I would like to show them as much of this country, and possibly places outside of this country, as possible before they go off to college.
I hope that my business is able to survive all of the health insurance changes that will be proposed and enacted as part of 'balancing budgets' and 'regaining control of the out-of-control' American healthcare system.
My wish to all of you is a peaceful transition into 2011. I wish you all much love, friendship, prosperity, health and healing in the new year and the coming decade. My thoughts and love are with all of you.