Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sorry Behavior

In fair disclosure (fair to the kids at least), they tend to behave okay in church.  I've seen MUCH worse and, for their age, I'm rarely disappointed in them.  We sometimes have to lean forward to remind them to pay attention or we have to sit them up if they become infatuated, say, with a hymnal instead of what is going on at the altar, but for the most part, all is well.  The first half of Mass, the Liturgy of the Word, is usually the part where we have an issue (if we have one) because it is when the readings take place.  They love putting their little envelopes in the collection, and they are usually saints among us during the Eucharistic prayers and Communiion.  The Liturgy of the Eucharist usually makes me think I'm raising a priest and a nun.

Today? Not so much.

Yes, my son is the one who had a mini-pee accident (when I no longer carry clothes for them because they are pretty good like that!) but, for the most part, was fine.  Yes, it was my daughter- my usually prim daughter who LOVES church- that decided she was competeing with the Lectors, Deacon, and Monsignor.  I gave her warning after warning and, on the third one, told her that the next time, we were leaving.  She must have thought I was joking.  We had just put our envelopes in the collection basket (we sit in the front, so the announcements were still going on) and she decided to smart off again... as loud as she could... and that was it.  She refused to put on her coat, so I grabbed hers and mine, then picked her up (in a very uncool way, I'm sure) and, in front of the entire church and with her screaming "NO!!!! I WANT TO STAY IN CHURCH!!! DADDY!!!!" walked her out of the building and to our car.  She sobbed and screamed about missing Jesus and wanting to go back, and really, I felt kind of bad... for about 2 seconds, when I realized the reason I was in the car and missing the second half of Mass was because she wasn't behaving.

She begged and pleaded to go back and, several times, I really wanted to... But, three chances is three chances.  I explained that she'd had chances to behave (even though she promised, this time, she would really behave) and didn't, so sadly, we weren't going back.  More crying.  (Bobby was fine; Peter said he participated in the prayers and was perfectly fine, so yay for 1 kid!)

As Mass was ending, I explained to Maya that we would be putting on our coats but not going back to church.  Instead, we were going to stand outside and apologize to Msgr. when he came out to greet people.  She seemed to understand. "I wasn't nice so I say I'm sorry."

"That's right.  You were disrespectful in church, and disrespectful to Msrg. T- while he was trying to talk.  Next time will be better, right?"

"Next time will be better.  Sorry, Mama."


"Sorry, Jesus."

"Okay, Jesus loves you still."

To this, she was smiling (thank Goodness-  I dont want her to think Jesus is pissed at her.)  So, I got her out of the car and we walked over to where the pastor was and I lifted her up so she could be eye level.

"I'm sorry."  Says Maya, giving his outstretched hand a high five (because, clearly, he is captivated by those curls too!  Even when she's crazy!).

He looked confused at me.  "Really?"

I smiled, embarrassed.  "Maya's sorry that she was disrespectful during Mass.  She promises to be better next week."

He chuckled, explained it happens all the time, and not to worry.  I apologized again, and we let him get back to greeting the rest of the parish.  Maya high fived our other priest as we waited for Peter and Bobby, and then we went back to the car.

It dawned on me, that the oor priests proabbly do have to put up with way worse, even though I was mortified.  When I was a kid, the fear of God was in church.  I didnt want my mom to look at me funny, let alone have to tell me to behave.  I wasnt a great kid, but church was church.  I was continually waiting to be struck down.

Hence the problem, maybe.

I was scared of church, and, as time went on, I hated it.  Not because of my parents or anything, but because the theology was harsh and God was always angry and mean and Jesus probably secretly hated me, seeing as I was the reason He was tortured and hung on a tree with nails.  The church I grew up in, which was a very hardcore, concervative Protestant mixture of Southern Baptist and Holiness.  We were all damned and, most likely, going to hell, so pray a lot and hope for the best.  I remember being told, when the pastor's wife saw me (in the HOT summer) in a pair of shorts (and they were modest- my mom didnt allow any hoochie wear) and with short hair (freshly shorn in the back yard courtesy of my mom's skill as a mom/barber/stylist), that I was going to hell because I had short hair and was showing my legs.  So, in reality, there were a lot of things that led me to my hatred of church-going in my youth, but we can agree that I was miserable.  When my paternal grandma died when I was 10 and we didn't go to that church anymore (or any church, actually), I was grateful.

At 16, I became Catholic and was introduced to a different theology, and it's the theology that Peter and I have built our home around: that God is a God of love, that Jesus loves humanity and is your friend (not someone who is waiting for you to slip up so He can toss you in hell), that the Church is a place where you can feel the Divine's Love and find that love reflected in your parish family.  I'm happy that my kids want to go to church, that they ask to go.  That they are excited to get dressed up and go.  I love that they know what Adoration is, and that (Maya especially) will ask to go "visit Jesus".  I love that they pass by the icons and statues and say "Hi Mama Mary", "Hi Papa Joseph", "Hi Baby Jesus", "Hi etc.", that they believe the saints and angels are a part of our family and not something far fetched and far away.  That they know their prayers and pray them when they want to pray, not because we tell them they have to.  When their preschool teacher tells me that they stop and go to the classroom altar and pray on their own, my heart overflows.

I want that love for them.  I want them to be happy and feel at peace there.  And, if not in our Church of choice, I hope that they will one day find their place of peace with the Great Spirit, wherever that leads them.

For today, I'm grateful and thankful that they seem to have found it with us, and that we are together as a family.  And, after today, I hope that the behavior goes back to normal!  I miss my well behaved churchgoers!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Summer and Fall 2012

I'm late, I know... And in Peter's defense, he's had the photo files ready for me to weed through since November, but you know how it goes!  Without further postponement, here are the links for photographs from the Summer and Fall of 2012...

June 2012

July 2012

August 2012  (vacation photos)

September 2012 (3rd birthday pictures)

October 2012

November 2012

If for whatever reason the links above dont take you directly to my Facebook albums, just go to my facebook page (or go to and search for "michele haytko", it will bring you to my page) and click on Photos, where you can then navigate all the albums. The links should work, but just in case....

It took forever to post all of these to FB (which is what I get for waiting and posting a billion at once).  Pictures from December haven't been uploaded yet, so who even knows when I'll get those sorted and posted!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The End of the World

*Just a fun note, this is my 1100th post*

According to some folks, the world was due to end on Dec 21, 2012.  Just like the people who thought the world was ending a few May (then October)'s ago, I'm sure there were some really upset folks on the day of the Solstice, when the end was nowhere in sight.

I didn't liquidate my bank accounts or charge up my credit cards.  Because, really, the world wasn't going anywhere.  (On that note, I should pay bills today...)

What better way, though, for the world to end?  Snuggled with Peter and Bobby and Maya... snuggling this new little one in my belly... Happy, content, (well, sick, but you get it).

Waiting to be reunited with the children not here.

Come the morning of the Solstice, as we snuggled with the peanuts and watched cartoons, I found my chest heaving and I began to sob.

I never believed the world would end... But oh, how there was a small piece of my heart that was ready.  A piece of my heart that wanted to have the world leave on my terms, so that I could hold all my children once more.  As I sobbed into Peter's shoulder, trying to voice words that made no sense, the hot tears chilled my fevered face.  "I just wanted, for one moment, to hold them all again..."

I'm sure I'm not the only one who didn't fear the Reaper, if indeed, the world was falling apart.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who, even without believing, wasn't afraid of the minor chance of 'what if'.


Double digits now... Wow.  10 weeks of pregnancy down, about 28 weeks to go and over a quarter of the way there!

The last 10 days or so should be called "the week that FLU by".  A week ago Sunday, Bobby wasnt feeling well.  By Tuesday, he seemed okay so we sent him to school... and then I had to pick him up.  He seemed fine at home and then with his grandparents on Wednesday, so back to school on Thursday... and picking him (and Maya) up early.  By this point, I was sick.  After a weekend of not being able to eat and awful vomiting, I, too, had caught the freaking flu!  And I'm still sick!

Both kids were, thankfully, feeling a ton better by Christmas Eve- not this girl.  Still coughing, still sneezing, still achy.  Still sleeping on the couch. :(  Last night, I slept half the night on the couch, half in bed.  And I still feel bad.  My ears still hurt and are clogged, and my head hurts so much that my teeth are hurting.  This sucks!  To the point that I found myself getting frustrated and angry because Bobby was taking too long to nap.  (I know... This sounds awful and I feel awful now for even thinking it, but I felt so awful and all I wanted to do was put the kids to bed and lay down myself, and he decided he needed mama time.  Trust me, I feel awful now for how I felt at the time, just wishing he'd close his eyes and go to sleep... for 45 minutes.  This is unheard of!  He just needed some extra love but because I still feel like a car ran over me, I just wanted the couch.  Thankfully, I snapped out of it and enjoyed the snuggles and then, it was done and all was well...  And I'm guilty.  But I digress...)

Did I mention I still feel awful???  UGH!

I think I mentioned that Dr. B. prescribed Zofran because I was a pukaholic.  It seems to work for the most part.  I was fine Wed-Sun; I felt nauseous even with it, but no throwing up.  Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday, I wasn't so lucky.  But nothing today, so I'll take it.

A coworker of Peter's was lovely and sent him home with some Indian tea biscuits last week when I wasnt eating anything.  When she was pregnant, she said these were some of the only things she could hold down at times.  They're perfect.  When I feel really nauseous, they help calm my stomach and when I dont feel like I can eat anything, they put something in my stomach.  She was so sweet that she sent him home with three more packages!  I think we'll have to stalk our local Indian market to see if we can get them there.  Othewise, Peter's going to have to go grocery shopping with S to get me more! :)

All in all, we're well.My belly is visible, which is a cute reminder of where we are.  From an anxiety standpoint, still doing well.  Just trying to stay relaxed and hopeful.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!


May the love and hope of the newborn King fill you with a joy and a peace that surpasses all understanding.  May you see the face of God in everyone you meet and feel inspired to do unto them better than you wish done to yourself.  May the sun warm your face and may all your hungers be met. May all the blessings of the Great Spirit be with you and yours this blessed, holy season.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

"Real" Teachers

This morning, the kids had their "Happy Birthday, Jesus" party at school.  There was a little cake, and today I sent in the gifts for the teachers and aides.  I was also the Christmas Gift Mom, so I collected money from the other parents and bought a gift for each of teachers and aides on behalf of the students.  (It was optional; about half the class participated).  For the aides, I got some chocolate with a gift certificate to a local restaraunt.  For the teacher, I got a giftcard for Starbucks, which I put on a bag of Christmas Blend, because she enjoys coffee.  (I tell you... If we ran into each other in another life, she and I would be buddies...)

As I wrote out the Christmas cards for them, I found myself choking up as I wrote in Miss M's, thanking her for all that she does for the kids.  To say that she is a gifted teacher who goes above and beyond the call of duty is an understatement.  She's amazing.  There's always a smile and a word of encouragement, regardless of how rough the day has been.  There's always the "We'll get through this" and I've never seen her lose her cool.  An ex-teacher friend of mine, when I talked with her about leaving the profession, said, "Real teachers are born to be teachers.  Being in the classroom taught me that I wasnt, and I'm not going to change." If that's true, then Miss M is a "real" teacher.  And how lucky we are for that... I think that this journey with Bobby's special school needs could be soooo much more difficult without an understanding person like her standing at the front of the classroom ship.

And then, she tops it by emailing me this:
"Your card had me tearing up because I really do feel like I'm the lucky one to have your children in my class. Maya's sweet smile is a constant reminder to me of why I love children so much...and Bobby has become one of the biggest reasons I look forward to each and every Tuesday and Thursday. He has such a light inside of him, you just can't help but be happy when he is around you!"

She's a gem.  It's a shame that not every child can start their preschool journey with her.


Sometimes my good intentions of blogging every day (or every other day) are just railroaded by life.  This is true, as well, of my desire and intention to write in this baby's journal.  I really want to, but sometimes.... 

Casa Haytko should be called Casa Haytko Infermo because sickness abounds.  At least part of the sickness has been taken care of thanks to Dr. B.  Apparently my constant puking and inability to hold anything down crossed to the level of "Take Zofran. Every morning."  The weekend was rough, but Tuesday was by far the worst day.  Bobby wasn't feeling well at school (although he was fine when he came home) so I got him home early, but by the middle of the day, I was feeling feverish and really awful... To the point that I called my mother in law and asked her to come over.  She was great and was here in minutes, and I promptly went to bed.  Where I stayed.  I hadn't eaten since Sunday without tossing all my cookies, so I was tired, weak, and now, it seemed, sick with a cold of some sort.  In between throwing up (and I wasnt eating, so that was fun), I was passed out.  Peter tried to get me to eat something but I couldnt and, come midnight, I was up every hour throwing up violently.  It was AWFUL. 

Now, if a client said to me, "Hey, this is how I'm feeling- is this normal?" I would have said "Call your care provider."  But, because it's me, I though, "Oh, this must just be morning sickness and since I'm a wuss, it seems much worse to me."  Peter said call the doc, my MIL said call the doc, but of course, I didnt call.  I was seeing him Wednesday, so I figured I'd just wait.

Well, I guess I should have called.  I would have felt SO much better sooner.  I still have the remnants of a runny nose and cough, but the nausea and vomiting are, very thankfully, gone.  AMEN!

Baby is doing well.  We did an abdomnial ultrasound instead of a TVU, which was nice (for me at least!).  The u/s image isn't as clear as a TVU, but we were able to see developing arm/leg buds and hear a strong beating heart!  The baby, at 8w6d, was measuring 9w1d, and everything looked great.
So, hopefully, I'll be feeling better soon, the kids will be healthy, and my good intentions will turn into actual actions!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Loss of Innocence

The human mind is an interesting thing.  I cant tell you what I ate for breakfast yesterday (or, honestly, if I even did eat it... Sometimes, I eat at like 3am then some sort of brunch like time, depending on how I'm feeling).  But I can tell you where I was, what I was wearing, what I was watching, and the exact words my dad said to me on the telephone on January 26, 1986.  I remember watching, with a child's eyes, the colors that flashed across the sky, of not clearly understanding what I was seeing, of the horror in my father's voice as he told me "I'm coming home right now", after calling to remind me to turn on the television to watch the launch of the space shuttle, Challenger.  I can close my eyes and see the sweater- it was navy blue, I think, or black- that President Reagan wore, as he mourned with the families of those heroic astronauts who left this world to 'touch the face of God'.  I don't remember what I wore to church last weekend, but I remember asking my parents if the astronauts were hurting when the shuttle exploded, and how they tried to explain that they were probably asleep.  At the time, people thought they may have lost consciousness; of course, as an adult, I realize that may not have been the case and that they may have known exactly what was happening as they were hurled into the ocean.  Even now, it gives me chills to think about.  Even now, 25+ years later, I still think about those people on the 26th of January.  I can't help it.  It's just a part of my psyche, of who I was, of who I am.

I don't remember what I wore on my first day of high school, although I'm sure at the time, I put so much work into that outfit, and how I wore my hair, and whether or not I was able to wear makeup.  (I dont think I was... I think my parents made me wait until I was 16, but honestly, I'm not sure...)  But I remember the look of horror on my mother's face in May of 1986, when the television show showed what, back then, would be thought of as some sort of freak, never happens event: a school shooting.  Although I had to dig to find out the details (it was the Cokeville Elementary School Hostage Crisis), I remembered the parents lining up outside the school, as their children were held by a husband-wife gunman team with a bomb.  I remember the sorrow on my mother's face as she wept and said that these things dont happen... That schools are the safe place where you leave your children... I was ending Kindergarten, Jimmy was still a baby.  How much it must have terrified her to know that she would have to take me back to a safe place that maybe wasn't so safe after all.

I don't remember the taste of my wedding cake or how long we stayed at the reception before we left for our honeymoon.  (Pictures and a dress/veil combo in my basement keep my memory fresh on the outfit, of course).  But I remember my own horror as I watched the news, broadcasting the screaming parents as they ran towards Dunblane Primary School, begging the police to let them in, pleading for information about their children.  Praying and hoping beyond all reason that their child was not among the 5 and 6 year olds slaughtered.  I remember the news mentioning that the teacher, who died trying to protect the young children in her care, was pregnant.  That her family lost them both.  I wasn't yet 16 years old.  My mom and I were watching the television together and, again... That look of sorrow and grief.  I didn't understand her tears.  It was awful and tragic, yes, but I couldn't understand her tears.  In my head, I wasn't imagining one of those children as my own.  I wasn't watching the news with my daughter and having the flash of what if it had been her school go through her head.  My brother was 12 and still in primary school; could it have been his classroom? 

I was preparing for my own high school graduation on May 22nd, when the news that a high school student shot another in a town a few hours away- a town we drove through everytime we went to see my great-grandparents.

April 20, 1999: I was in college, at a student prayer group.  We were all blown away by the bullied kids who opened fire on their high school in what would be known as simply "Columbine".  I remember holding hands with the other students and praying for all of the people killed and injured and their families.  I remember the feeling of coldness that spread through my body when I realized that my little brother was in high school.  Was he being bullied?  Was he one step away from something like that?

September 11th: I was wearing an orange sweater with white cuffs and collar. Peter was supposed to go to Columbia University in NYC for work.  We didn't have cell phones and all the lines between our PA home and his NJ office were busy.  Hours waiting... Hoping they hadn't gone... Praying that, if they had, they were trapped on the highway and not in the City.

It was an unseasonably warm day for early October.  I was at work but decided to leave and grab a cup of coffee because what I'd made just wasn't doing it for me.  The radio was on when I got into the car.  At first, the words didn't make sense.  Amish. Shooting. Children dead.  A shooting at an Amish schoolhouse? Not the Amish- they wouldn't... No, of couse not.  The children hadn't attacked each other; an outsider had attacked them.  In spite of their grief, however, they turned to forgiveness instead of anger.  I remember my shock at the situation and my amazement at how an entire community could find so much love instead of the anger that many of us would have found.

And now, there's a new day. December 14, 2012. The day before my brother's 29th birthday.  The day that I became my mother.  The day that I sobbed for the other parents because, for once, I really got it in a way that I never had before.  They day that I mourned that innocent belief that my kids were safe when we dropped them at school because, they are... Right?

A simple email from Peter, forwarding me a link from a coworker that said "I dont know if you've seen this" and, a moment later, my wishing that I hadn't, my wishing that I could not just take it back but undo the day and somehow stop Sandy Hook Elementary School from opening. 

I read the news in sheer horror.  I couldn't breathe.  My chest began to heave, my stomach to recoil.  I started sobbing uncontrolably.  In the faces of those parents, I saw myself.  In their children, I saw my own innocent, sweet, perfect three year olds, being dropped off at a school they enjoy with a teacher they adore- a teacher that, I'm sure, would throw herself in front of any one of those kids to try and save them, regardless the cost to herself.  But the idea that she would have to... That someone might... I can't even dare speak the words.

I dont want to remember yesterday.  I dont want to think those unthinkable thoughts as I hold Bobby and Maya close and pray to God that I'll never have to fathom a life without them. 

For now, the tears are still close to the surface and my heart continually aches for our neighbors in Connecticut that are facing the unknown and painful road ahead as they bury and mourn their children and loved ones.  May God have mercy on them and hold them close.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


The last of my miscarriage milestones has been passed and we are off... 8 weeks.  So here we are, still nauseous and raring to go! :)

There's not much to see yet, but here it is...
8 weeks... I know, I know: it's only there if you are reaaaalllly looking for it, but I swear my belly made an appearance!

Still tired, still nauseaus, still sick...  Nothing new to report on that front.  Perhaps the 12w update will have some different news on that front, but so far, still the same.

And Daniel Craig must still be on pregnancy dream vacation!  Which is sad for all of us, especially me!  (Peter, not so much, I'm sure... :)  Yesterday, I saw a movie with some friends and as we were leaving the theater, passed a Skyfall poster which has DC laying down with a gun.  It was probably a good 5-6 feet long.  I asked if they thought I could get away with pilfering it and putting it on the wall in the bedroom, but none of them thought I'd get away it (not from the theater or with Peter!)

All in all, I feel very busy with so much to do and not enough time to get it done!  I'm the Christmas Mom for Bobby and Maya's class (meaning I'm in charge of collecting money and buying a gift for the teachers) and because I'm me, I've been trying to really personalize them, which means ordering things from here and there and trying to tie it all together in a nice little gift bag/basket...  Plus getting out the AWFUL Christmas cards (which I still haven't done yet)... Plus ordering gifts for my neices and nephews... Plus shipping down the gifts to my parents in TN... Plus, plus, plus....  Just seems like there is SO much to do and not nearly enough time!  The tiredness isn't helping...

Well, I finally feel able to hold down breakfast (PB&J anyone?), so off I go!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I'm tired, folks.  Like, really, in-my-bones tired.

What else is new!

Well, the sabbatical of puking is gone.  Turns out, I had a 3 day hiatus and then, on Saturday, the whole at least 2x a day, came back calling.  Nothing says fun, either, like having company and, in addition to skipping dinner, ending up in the bathroom making the vocal perfomance for the evening.  Nice.  I'm nothing if not classy, I tell you.  I think Maya has had enough of this too.  The other day I was having a mommy-daughter breakfast with her and ended up running to the bathroom to get rid of said breakfast.  When I came out, the look on her face spoke volumes, the least of which was Did you just diss me for breakfast??? What the heck, Mama!  She has taken to telling me, when I don't feel well, "Don't worry; it will be over in the summer."  Girlfriend, if you curse me to morning/all day sickness until this child is delivered, I'm going to curse you to the same... with all your pregnancies... :)  In fairness, she's quite cute and very motherly as she gingerly tells me to suck it up and drive on.

Other than the return of Ralph, I officially have become one of those people who stops and looks at themselves in the mirror.  I swear, there is a pooch that wasnt there before.  Now, I know that I'm not even 8 weeks yet (on Thursday... and there will be a picture to document the months...), but it is there- I swear! Not enough that it will hold up a pair of maternity pants or anything like that, but enough that if you paid attention to my midsection under the shirt, you'd think I'm either a runner who realllllllyyyy likes donuts (which, hey, no lie there) or I could, maybe, possibly, be pregnant (but not enough that you'd dare say anything).  But, hey, to me... It's a freaking billboard!  And, as my mother-in-law says, I swear that my butt became some sort of shelf overnight.  She always said she could tell when I was pregnant because of how my butt looks (which means she must have been looking! :) ) but now, as I gaze at myself too much walk by the mirror, I can totally see it.

While I was looking at eBay for some special gifts, I mentioned I picked up a couple of very cheap maternity pieces, including a dress for Christmas.  Other than yoga and running clothes, though, I wasnt planning on investing in anything before the second trimester.  Because, let's face it, I have a pretty nasty m/c history but also, my yoga and running clothes are comfy and will get me through!  But I am very fortunate for some lovely ladies in my life via playgroup and yoga who have offered me some maternity clothes.  One of the moms brought a bag of some really cute things (especially some adorable tops) that are already in my closet.  At this point, I think I'd look like a poser in them (and, like I said, it's not like my fat pooch belly can even hold up a pair of maternity pants at this point) but I might wear one of the shirts on Saturday when I meet a girlfriend for coffee...  Just because it is so darn cute!

Another fun thing?  Boobs.  Apparently with my stomach and butt, my tatas got the message.  Not only are these things sore, but they dont want to fit comfy in my bras anymore!  If these things are growing already, then I am going to be in for a world of hurt come summer.  Not going to be fun...  I'm a 38D (down from a 44DD when I was heavier) and I know it's dumb, but I'm really hoping they dont get too much bigger.... (My mom is reading this and laughing her butt off right now, I just know it).

From a symptom standpoint, just the nausea and a return to TIREDALLTHETIME.  But, otherwise, I feel good.

I received an email from Dr. Haney at UC, telling me he spoke with Dr. B. and that he thinks Dr. B. is a good choice. They talked about the TAC, c-section, etc., and apparently all went well.  I'll have to bother Dr. Bailey for more info next week when I have my next appointment.

I'm trying to keep positive still and, suprisingly, it's fairly easy.  I just try to believe that things will be different this time and that things will be easier.  I still have the moments where I am terrified of bedrest or, worse, hospital bedrest, when I have Bobby and Maya to take care of, but for the most part, those feelings stay at bay and I just keep telling myself we're going to be fine.  One of my prenatal clients, who lost twins as well, told me, at the start of her pregnancy (and she's almost done!), that she was still making plans.  She wouldnt be able to control is something awful happened, so why not?  I'm trying to embrace that mantra.  I've scheduled some prenatal workshops with another local studio for the first quarter, and I'll be teaching prenatal yoga for the school district in the spring.  We're going on vacation in April.  I'm looking into summer camp/preschool for the kids once the term ends in May.  Although we havent bought/done anything yet, we've been discussing getting the kids their 5-point boosters, which will make the transition to a third carseat in the second row of the XC90 a bit easier to manage, and we're debating new bedroom arrangements, since the baby would bunk with us for a good while.  Just talking about it, but at times, that is a big step. And it feels that way.  So that's where we are.

I'm not as diligent as I was in writing in my pregnancy journal, not for lack of wanting.  I'm just so tired and I feel like I'm always rushing to finish this or that or do this or that.  In trying to keep up with just this space, I at times feel rushed!  But I keep it handy so that I cant jot things down.  And, of course, when they want, the baby would always be able to read their journey on the blog! :)

Well, 2 more weeks til Christmas and, I think, my FB reveal.  I'll be about 10 weeks, so it's not quite the end of the first trimester, but I'd like to post a photo Christmas card (since the ones I'm mailing are awful and very plain/storebought/no pic ones), and it just feels wrong to not share the news there... We'll see how I'm feeling in two weeks! :)

The Benefits of Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga for Bereaved Mothers

I wrote this as part of a required coursework for my certification as a prenatal yoga instructor, and wanted to share it here, as I think it is extremely applicable to many of us on the pregnancy-after-loss and bereaved parent journeys.


The Benefits of Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga for Bereaved Mothers

Whether you have taken yoga before becoming pregnant or your growing belly has encouraged you to embrace your inner yogini, studies have shown that prenatal yoga has a variety of positive benefits both for mothers-to-be and their babies.  According to an article published in the Journal of the Indian Medical Association, children born to mothers who practiced yoga during pregnancy were reported to have higher birth rates, less risk of preterm delivery, and a reduced risk of intrauterine growth retardation.[i]  For mothers, in addition to a decreased risk of premature labor, yoga during pregnancy can reduce stress, improve sleep, ease pain, and assist in a more positive pregnancy and delivery experience.[ii]  The physical postures of yoga are a great way to prepare for birth and they provide a low-impact way to get back into shape after birth; the mental exercises of meditation and relaxation can provide you with focus during pregnancy and delivery, while the physical asanas can help tone and strengthen the body for the marathon that is labor and life after birth. Yet, there is a subset of pregnant mothers for whom yoga may offer many, yet untold, benefits: bereaved mothers and mothers who are pregnant after a loss.

Pregnancy loss, defined as the loss of a child at any gestational age, and neonatal loss, defined as the death of a child from birth through the first year of life, impacts a staggering number of parents.  As many as one in three mothers will experience a loss.  In the U.S., approximately two million women will experience a miscarriage or stillbirth, while almost 28,000 infants will die before their first birthday.[iii] For these orphaned parents, the grief they experience can be overwhelming and their sense of “parenthood” distorted. After loss, couples may experience long lasting grief, which may be compounded due to a lack of family support or a poor birthing experience.  During a subsequent pregnancy, mothers may suffer from depression, mood swings, and a general sense of fear.  They may approach their pregnancy with indifference at times, intense anxiety, and may be unable to enjoy the time of their child in-utero.[iv]  In addition, mothers who suffer loss are also at a risk for postpartum depression in the postnatal period surrounding a loss, as well as after a subsequent successful delivery.  Research has shown that clinical depression is more common in women who have suffered a miscarriage than in women who have not been pregnant, and the risk for depression greatly increases if there is an associated perinatal loss or other trauma.[v] For this subgroup of parents, yoga in the prenatal and postnatal periods can help bond with a new baby, while assisting in the grieving process of a child or children who have passed away.  It can also help a mother deal with feelings of inadequacy or anger at her body, and may assist in working through depression and anxiety.

Postnatal Yoga After Loss

Pregnancy is one of the most exciting and wonderful experience in a woman’s life. When a pregnancy ends in loss or a child dies within the first year of life, the grief can be overwhelming. Parents feel alone in their sorrow and, many times, have their sadness downplayed by those around them.  When birth trauma is present, these mothers may feel even more isolated. As they work through their feelings of denial, anger, and sadness, they struggle to cope with the same physical differences a mother with a successful pregnancy experience is going through, yet they may not feel that they have the same options of postnatal support that typical mothers have. A postnatal yoga class that is open only to bereaved parents is beneficial to these mothers.

For many, the image of a postnatal yoga class includes asanas that focus on bonding with the new baby; in addition to this, there are many benefits of yoga for the new mother. After birth, a mother’s body changes; after loss, the mother’s body still goes through these changes and, often times, will prepare for a baby that is no longer here.  Depending on the delivery, there may be new physical changes to adapt to as the body heals. The abdomen muscles will need to be strengthened and the pelvic muscles must be toned. The physical pains that can be associated with the postnatal period may be magnified by the grief that accompanies child loss.

Postnatal yoga after loss can also be a factor in the risk of postpartum depression (PPD). Research suggests that mothers after loss be monitored for the first month, as the risk of PPD is high, regardless of the gestational age of the loss or maternal age.[vi] In a society where loss can be overshadowed and the grief of losing a child can be overwhelming, a postnatal yoga class can help a mother by bringing words to an unspeakable situation; her pregnancy experience can be validated, her child(ren) can be discussed openly, and her tears can be shared. Such a class can also begin a new trust relationship between a woman and her body at a time when she has such negative beliefs about a body that has failed her, her baby, and her partner.

Prenatal Yoga During a Pregnancy After Loss

Pregnancy after loss is an extremely stressful time.  Women who experience high stress during pregnancy are at a greater risk of premature delivery, postpartum depression, unplanned cesarean delivery, and low birth weight infants.[vii] Depending on when a mother’s loss occurred, whether or not the cause of the loss is known, and the risk of loss in a subsequent pregnancy, expectant mothers can find themselves full of anxiety and angst, unable to fully enjoy the new pregnancy because of the heartache of their previous experience.  Although research is lacking on the development of the unborn child, there is much research advocating reduced maternal stress in the prenatal period. The limited research available on antenatal child development shows that the more relaxed the mother is during pregnancy, the better child temperament and emotional regulation will be for the infant.[viii] In addition, many mothers feel unable to fully bond with their new child while pregnant, for fear that they will suffer a repeat pregnancy loss or neonatal death. Because prenatal yoga focuses on building the bond between mother and child, it can help create a bond when a mother is fearful of connecting to her child during pregnancy. Yoga, with its proven result of improving mindfulness, may provide a deeper awareness to mothers with insecure attachment and be able, in the postnatal period as well, promote a more positive mother-baby connection.[ix]

Although stress and fear are common complaints of mothers who are pregnant after loss, these mothers also experience the same physical discomforts of other moms-to-be.  While meditation helps to calm the mind and lessen their fears, the natural antidepressants effect of endorphins, released during the physical asanas, can ease their physical discomforts. Mothers need to prepare for the physical rigors of giving birth, as well as cope with the physical discomforts, like back pain, nausea, and headaches, that pregnancy can bring.  Many mothers also struggle with insomnia, and prenatal yoga can help promote and improve sleep.[x]

Preparing for labor is important for all mothers, but in a situation where birth trauma occurred, it can be even more vital to a positive, healing pregnancy experience.  Whether the birth setting, delivery interventions and method, or a combination of such with the loss of a child was the trauma, if it is not resolved it can remain with the mother.  It can result in severe physical disabilities which significantly limit development and capability. It can result in psychological and emotional trauma which determines the whole psycho-emotional development of the individual.[xi]  Prenatal yoga can help a mother discuss, remember, and work through the trauma of her birth, while giving her a positive expectation for a future delivery. Especially by utilizing relaxation methods, yoga can teach a mother to listen and truly hear her body, and give her the techniques to respond calmly.  It can teach the practice of birthing lightly: making use of breath to control the muscles of the body and increase the efficacy of contractions while the rest of the body remains relaxed.[xii]

Many mothers who are pregnant after loss report a fear of attending "typical" pregnancy activities, like childbirth education classes and prenatal yoga, thereby missing out on the benefits. They feel out of place with "first timers" when they have no living children at home, feel unable to share their previous pregnancy or parenting journeys without discomfort (both for them and for their classmates), and are afraid of how they will be perceived around, whom they view as, “normal” pregnant women. Gearing a prenatal class specifically towards mothers-to-be who are in a pregnancy after loss can allow them to not only experience some normal pregnancy activities, but also give them the opportunity to meet other mothers in similar situations.  Because many parents feel alone in their grief, this can be almost as beneficial as the noted benefits of yoga and meditation.

Postnatal Yoga After a Successful Pregnancy After Loss

Previously, in discussing how prenatal yoga may influence the mother-baby bond during pregnancy, it is possible that because of the prenatal connection, a more caring infant-mother bond is created post-birth that will facilitate healthy child development.[xiii]  However, there are more benefits to a postnatal yoga class after a successful delivery. Many parents feel that their new baby overshadows the memory of their child(ren) who died. Family, without malice or ill-intent, may gloss over their previous pregnancy or child(ren) with phrases that can be hurtful or by ignoring their loss(es) at a time when many parents need the validation of their parenthood even more. With perinatal loss, many parents already feel a sense of exclusion because, for most, the only people to really "know" their child(ren) who died were the parents themselves.  In addition, because many people may expect bereaved parents to "get over" the death of their child(ren), especially in light of a new baby, their grief and mourning may be stunted.[xiv] This could have a negative impact on their parenting, increase the risk of postpartum depression, and negatively effective the relationship of the parents together.

Postnatal classes specifically geared towards those who are parenting after a loss can help by further facilitating the bond between the mother and her new baby, while also validating her feelings of loss that are intertwined with her feelings of fulfillment in light of her new child.  The grief of perhaps never holding the child(ren) who died, or of never being able to experience typical mother-child behaviors, can be worked through during the asanas and meditation, and rather than having feelings redirected onto the new baby, the individualism of the new child can be embraced as a public acknowledgement of that child’s older sibling(s) helps the grieving mother work through her feelings.

After the Yoga Class

It is important to realize that the grief never goes away; a new child doesn’t replace a child who has died and the parent of a child who has passed away is still a parent with feelings that need to be validated and a grief that needs to be accepted. Prenatal and postnatal yoga are one of many lifestyle choices that can help grieving parents come to a place of acceptance with their loss and facilitate a positive integration of their loss(es) and grief into their lives, while preparing them for the physical and emotional challenges of bringing a new baby into the world.  When caring yoga instructors incorporate bereaved mothers into their scheduling of prenatal and postnatal yoga classes, they can share the benefits of yoga with a subgroup of parents who may need it most and be unable to find comfort in a traditional prenatal or postnatal class.


[i] Narendran, S., et al. Efficacy of yoga in pregnant women with abnormal Doppler study of umbilical and uterine arteries. Journal of the Indian Medical Association. 1/2005

[ii] Neumann, Devon. Prenatal yoga: the right choice for mother and baby.  Grand Valley State University. 1/2011.

[iii] American Pregnancy Association. Statistics. 2012.

[iv] Lamb, Elizabeth. The impact of previous perinatal loss on subsequent pregnancy and parenting.  Journal of Perinatal Education.  Spring 2002.

[v] Andor, Csilla. Postpartum mood disorders after perinatal loss. The Fourth Trimester. 2007.

[vi] Kleinman, Karen. Pregnancy loss and depression: understanding the trauma of fetal loss. Psychology Today. 2/29/2012.

[vii] Meinzer, Chet and Toriggino, Marisa. The effects of prenatal yoga on the unborn child, attachment style, and mindful parenting: a call for research. The Yoga Garden. 2010.

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] Ibid.

[x] Harms, Roger, et al. Prenatal yoga: what you need to know. Mayo Clinic. 2012.

[xi] Attlee, Thomas. Birth Trauma. Caduceus Magazine.

[xii] Freedman, Francoise Barbira. Yoga for pregnancy, birth, and beyond. New York: DK, 2004. pg. 8

[xiii] Meinzer, Chet and Toriggino, Marisa. The effects of prenatal yoga on the unborn child, attachment style, and mindful parenting: a call for research. The Yoga Garden. 2010.

[xiv] Callister, Lynn. Perinatal loss: a family perspective.  Journal of Perinatal Neonatal Nursing. July-Sept 2006.

Prenatal Wellness and Yoga Series

For my local, Philadelphia area folks...

Prenatal Wellness & Yoga series
with Michele Haytko
at Anahata Yoga & Wellness Center
703 Harleysville Pike in Harleysville/Lederach
Spaces are limited so sign up today! Register for all 3 and save 10%!
To Register: [email protected] or 215-740-1354
[email protected]

Whole Pregnancy, Whole Baby Workshop
Join us for this two hour workshop that will
cover the basics of prenatal well-being and health.
Nutrition, exercise, choosing a care provider and birthing location, and a timeline of pregnancy will be discussed.
Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 3pm…...$25.00

Prenatal Yoga
This five session prenatal yoga series is perfect for those in weeks 13-32 of pregnancy. The 60 minute class strengthens the bond with your baby while relieving stress and common pains associated with pregnancy. It combines a few minutes of centering breaths, a slow and gentle progression of asana and finishes with guided meditation and relaxation. (A note from your care provider is required.)Tuesday evenings from 7:30pm-8:30pm…...$70.00
2/12, 2/19, 2/26, 3/5, 3/12

Preparing for Birth Workshop
Prepare for the final weeks of pregnancy and learn
techniques to help you as your deliver your new baby! Childbirth preparation techniques, methods of pain relief, and a discussion of what to expect the first week
postnatal will be discussed.
March 30, 2013 at 3pm…………$25.00

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Holidays After Loss (TAN: Dec BC)

For those who may be unaware, The Amethyst Network, a nonprofit organization that supports and advocates for those who have lost a child through miscarriage, pregnancy loss, stillbirth, and neonatal death, is hosting monthly Blog Circles.  This post is written as a contribution to the December Blog Circle, with the topic of Holidays After Loss.

I remember Christmas 2007 really well. I was pregnant with Nicholas and Sophia.  A friend of mine bought be a "Baby's First Christmas 2007" ornament because she was so excited, and the gifts under the tree were all baby focused: maternity clothes, onesies, you get the idea.  We were so excited as we talked about it being our last Christmas without little ones in the house.  We knew we were having twins and our family guessed at genders and how we would do the nursery.   My in-laws splurged and bought us the crib of our dreams, and we debated the best month for a baby shower.

By Easter, it had all fallen apart and I lay across the floor of my church with tears in my eyes at the Pieta, the Blessed Virgin Mary cradling the lifeless body of her beaten and rejected son.  How I felt like I was there with her... How I knew what it felt like to hold not one, but two, beloved and dear children in my arms as the breath of their lives drifted away.  Nicholas and Sophia, born in the middle of the second trimester due to my unknown incompetent cervix, had lived an hour and five minutes, respectively.  At that Paschal celebration, my life as I knew it was over; a week later, we held their Memorial Mass and although the cycle of life and death felt complete, I knew that my life would always be empty... always be missing.

By the time Christmas 2008 rolled around, I had delivered three children, miscarried another (on top of a miscarriage very early in my marriage), and felt as though my world was falling apart.  Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander, had each been born alive, only to die a few minutes later, their little bodies simply unable to cope with a world that wasnt yet ready for them to be born.  First the twins in February, then Alexander just before Thanksgiving in November.  Putting up the tree the day after Thanksgiving was a much-needed distraction that ended with exhausted tears and wondering why the hell this was the turn our life was taking.  Why were we planning a second funeral, instead of snuggling all three of our children in our arms?  Why was I sitting in an empty nursery watching the snow fall instead of nursing my babies to sleep?

We had the same tree but with three new ornaments. They were clear glass hearts, each etched with a baby bottle and the name of our children. Peter Nicholas IV... Gaea Sophia... Nathaniel Alexander. The names of the three most precious people who wouldn't be crawling towards the tree in our library, who wouldnt keep us awake at night longing to hear sleighbells, who wouldnt be sleeping soundly through the carols of Midnight Mass. The names of the three most precious people in our world who wouldnt do those things because they werent here... Instead of hearing the wind whistle around Santa's sleigh, they had become the wind.

Christmas morning was filled with attending Mass and seeing all the happy families, the new babies, the smiles and the joy.  My heart was breaking.  As I watched the nativity unfold, baby Jesus resting in the arms of Mary, my arms ached to hold the babies that had only been held for so short a time.  It was a crushing grief, made complete the following spring at Easter, when Mary's arms now held her dead child, a feeling I knew all too well.

But, like Mary, I had a ray of hope, too.  She knew her Son would be reborn; I knew that I was carrying two new lives within, news that had been revealed to me on Holy Thursday.  There was hope in the grief, light in the darkness.

I carried those children until I was just shy of the third trimester, when even bedrest and a transvaginal cerclage couldn't hold back the beast that is an incompetent cervix.  While we spent Halloween in the NICU, both Bobby and Maya were home in time for Thanksgiving and we'd had the ups and downs of 6 weeks by the time Christmas rolled around.

On that tree, we saw a bevy of ornament for our children.  Bobby and Maya now had a few, but each year, we added one for Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander.  This is something that has continued over the years.  As I have had 4 miscarriages in addition to 3 children who passed away and Bobby & Maya, for whom I have the greatest gift of raising, we have a lot of ornaments!  Last year, my mother made red balls with the names of each child, and the initial of each miscarried baby.  A local bereavement group made stockings, one each for Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander, and one carrying the names of our four miscarried babies: Peter, Dimitri, Zoe, and Grace.  I contact a Greek Orthodox monastery each winter and spring, asking that the souls of our 7 departed children and of our 2 living children be remembered in the Christmas and Easter (Pascha) prayers.  Our holiday traditions... Not the same as everyone else's, but sacred to us just the same.

We also celebrate and honor our children, those here and those in the Other World, on their "name days", the days of their special saints for whom they share a name.  Nicholas (Dec. 6), Sophia (6/4), Alexander (3/18), Bobby (9/17), and Maya (7/28).  These are special days where we honor those special saints that we ask special blessings from for our children: St. Nicholas, St. Sophia of Ainos, St. Alexander of Jerusalem, St. Robert Bellarmine, and St. Eirene of Chrysovalantou (Eirene is Maya's middle name).  We light a candle to the saint and celebrate the evening with each child's special/favorite meal.

This year, we have a new blessing to celebrate.  After a suprise, miracle pregancy just after Halloween (now my favorite holiday for yet another reason :) ), we had the pleasure of being pregnant on Thanksgiving (the real pleasure was in not being able to eat all of the delicious food I would have made myself sick on by eating too much...morning sickness and nausea held that at bay!).  Fingers crossed, I'll be just shy of 10 weeks pregnant when we celebrate Christmas this year (and 11 and a half weeks when the 3 Kings visit our house!).

Each holiday, especially each Halloween (when I was pregnant was Nicholas and Sophia, and then with Alexander, and later had Bobby and Maya in the NICU) and Christmas (when I remember that first "pregnant" Christmas and all the hope and joy), the memories, both happy and sad, come to light.  Keeping the memory of our children who have gone on before us alive, while also embracing the lives of our children on earth, is a balm on the scars of my heart. 

May your special traditions and holy days be sunshine for your darkness and hope for your despair.


"7" weeks down, 31 more to go until July 10th!

I'm sleeping well and waking well rested, so I'm counting that as a milestone!  I may actually be able to start running again in the morning if this go-to-bed-and-actually-sleep-all-night stuff continues.  Woo Hoo!  This is great since I suck at arranging running times in the evening (except when J babysits on Tuesdays).  The nausea is there but...wait for it... I havent thrown up in 2 days!  (I'm counting today thus far, but still...)  Yay!!!!  Yesterday, I was lightheaded and wanted to hurl, but I think it was due to the pine sol I decided to use.  I'm back to vinegar for cleaning from now on... lesson learned.  (Or maybe I just wont clean for the rest of the pregnancy... that could work too...)

I also feel like I can actually hold some food down without chasing it with a ginger ale.  Today, I ate some scones (thank you G!  this baby's godfather makes the BEST scones and always gives me extra to freeze so I am never without!)  This morning, I woke up with the NEED for scones.  I actually thought I'd eaten all I had, but imagine my joy when I found a bag.  (Seriously, I had the phone and was ready to text G's wife, B, to beg for scones...)  A few minutes at 250 in the oven to defrost them and warm them up, a quick slather of some homemade blueberry goodness and lemon curd, and....yummmm....scones....  Oh, sorry.  I'm still here.

Yeah, so scones for breakfast.  Great.  I'm kind of hoping the peanut decides s/he needs scones every morning.  :)

On another note, pregnant women with nausea grocery shopping may not be the best idea... Half the stuff I passed was revolting, the other half was a MUSTHAVENOW (hence 2 containers of meringue cookies...).  Perhaps shopping wasnt the best idea for the morning...

But, all in all, feeling good today.  Feeling more normal (with the exception of the ever present nausea) and able to do things during the day.  Less than 2 weeks until I see Dr. B again (and see the little one again), so that's always a fun news.  And (I dont remember if I posted or not) my bloodwork from my first prenatal came back perfect, so that's another round of awesome.

So, good things.

If fun (if a bit far out) news, Sarah and I are running a 5 mile race on Sophia's birthday.  :)  Sarah ran this race on Sophia's original entry into the world, and always calls it the "Sophie 5 miler".  It seems especially fitting that this year it is on her fifth birthday.  Since I try to do the mileage for the year for each child, I'm pretty excited about this race.  What I'm not excited about?  There are hills.  But hey... It may end up being a run-walk, and that's okay with me.  (Another running mom-to-be posted "miles while pregnant".... Maybe I'll try that.  Could be fun.)

Well, time to pick the kiddos up from preschool!

Happy St. Nicholas's Day!

Today is Nicholas's feast day.  Our little soon-to-be five year old would probably love this day almost as much as his own birthday, I think.  His name fit him so well.  Nicholas...Defender of Men.  Defender of his twin sister, no doubt.  Watcher over all his siblings and his parents.  And, like his patron saint, a giver of the most sacred of sorts.

St. Nicholas was known for his giving to others, whether it was leaving something handcarved outside a door or dropping a coin or treat in a child's shoe.  The patron saint of children (among other things), he was orphaned as a child and raised by his uncle.  He followed in his uncle's footsteps and became a priest and, later, a bishop.  There are countless stories of his goodness, from helping a widower with a dowry for his three daughters to resurrecting murdered children, but regardless of the tales surrounding him, he's known and loved all over the world for watching over the youngest of ours and surprising them with treats on his feast day.

When I think about our Nicholas, the one thing that never fails to come to my mind is what he gave: to us, to his sister, to the paramedics who tried so hard to give him just one more breath.  To never have held him or to have him hold my finger... My life would be incomplete.  While every moment of his existence outside the womb was a struggle, he fought nonetheless and gave us what should have been impossible.  He gave hope to the emergency personal, hope that they, in future situations, would be able to respond and help other parents have memories like ours, on a day that no parent should ever have to face.  And his twin sister... He gave Sophia two more weeks to live and grow.  Somehow, I think we do have a voice in the role we play, be it while we are still in a soul state before conception or be it just something subconscious.  I believe he knew his time would be short, but that he would have a choice.  And that he chose us... And he chose that birth to give her a bit more time.  To give us that time with her, and with each of them alone.  To let us know that we would someone survive the agony and the pain.

We were so busy getting off to school that the kids didnt get their candy and cash stuffed shoes (I used their more dressy shoes for the day), so we'll do it after Peter gets home.  And for dinner?  Nicholas's meal of course! Pork chops, rice, and beans... What else!

And so, today, we celebrate. Not just for all the things we wish he would have done had he stayed with us, but for all that he did do. For all that he was- and is. Happy St. Nicholas's Day! St. Nicholas- especially our sweet little Saint Nicholas- pray for us. Pray for the world.