To read the story of our precious Harlynn Renae, start here and follow the "next" links at the end of each post. Thank you for coming and sharing with us in this journey.

Monday, July 28, 2014


Two days after I delivered Harlynn in that all too dark and quiet hospital room, Brent and I were sitting in our living room with one of the pastors from our church. His Bible in his lap, and him sitting back against our sofa, he said, "People are going to say stupid things. They mean well, but they will say stupid things. The hard part is, you're going to have to let them." You're going to have to let them. Those words still echo in my mind. The truth is, no matter if you've experienced a serious trauma, a minor bump in the road, or a great day - people will say stupid things. And you're going to have to let them. I've said stupid things. And people have been gracious enough to let me. I am more aware, however (or trying to be, anyway), of the things I say to others in varying circumstances.

It's in our nature to want to take the hurt away from others. We aren't accustomed to, or equipped, to handle suffering, especially in other people. Just take it away, make it better, out with the bad in with the good, as quickly as possible so we don't have to be miserable or uncomfortable or stretched to any kind of new territory. So we do our best to encourage.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, 
just as you are doing.  ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11

I know I can't be the only person wired the strange way I am, so I'm going to assume some of you reading this may feel the same. Encouragement doesn't always mean "find the good in everything." I can be encouraged without frills, fluff, or other f words (see what I did there?). 

We as people seem to be so hard-wired to "look at the bright side". Anything else makes us uncomfortable. Talking about dead babies makes people uncomfortable. Go figure, right? But there is no bright side some days. And the days I find hope or my heart fills, it isn't because someone gave me a cliche remark or a postcard phrase. It's because of something that happened that was so personal, so unique, I know it was the right time and situation for God to reveal that peace and hope to me.

Let me unpack this a little bit. Let's say you're driving to work and you get a flat tire. You're over an hour late, because you had to wait for AAA to come change your tire for you because you didn't think you'd ever need to know how to use a torque wrench, let alone carry one in your trunk. Driving around on your spare tire, you make it to the tire store where you now have to buy a new set of four to replace the one, so that the tread wears more evenly. Cha-ching. You finally make it to work and daycare calls because little Emily spiked a high fever. You can't drive your vehicle to go get her, so you borrow your co-worker's, who happens to have a child the same age so you can use their car seat, to go get Emily. Poor little sick Emily has to wait at work with you until your husband can come pick both of you up and take you home. After he arrives and you start to head home, she throws up in the car, and you decide to take her to the ER. Walking in to the ER with your sick child, the heel breaks on your shoe and you nearly take a spill in the parking lot. After waiting to be seen for a couple of hours, you finally get to see a doctor, who tells you it's a virus, and keep her pumped full of fluids. Husband takes you back home but you get a headache from the ride, because of the scented car cleaner he used to get the vomit out of the backseat. Once home, you decide to throw a frozen pizza in the oven for dinner. Your mom calls, and you're telling her about your day and you realize about ten minutes too late you forgot to turn the timer on. Dinner is burned to a crisp. By the time you crawl into bed, you are physically, emotionally, and mentally spent. You post as much on Facebook. Or you call your friend to tell them. As a response, you're met with a barrage of, "Tomorrow is a new day!" or "Stay strong!" or "Hard times call for harder prayers!" or "Someone always has it worse, be grateful for what you have!" Shudder

But...they're just encouraging you, right? After all, we're called to encourage! I'm here to tell you, friends: Encouragement is not synonymous with dismissing the awful. That day I described above is a sucky day. I mean really sucky. If that day happened to me, the encouragement I would love from someone would be, "You had a crappy day. Beyond crappy, craptastic day. I am so sorry. What can I do?" Acknowledgement. Validation. Justification. Help. No platitudes, no cliches, no fake-it-to-make-it remarks. Genuine encouragement, for me, is a simple act of acknowledgement. It doesn't even have to be verbal. One of the greatest examples of encouragement that immediately comes to mind, is when one of my dearest friends locally found out we were having a boy and when I got home from work that day, she had hung a gift bag on our door. Inside that bag was a stuffed blue elephant with a little card. All the card said was, "Boys are awesome!" I wasn't distraught we were having a boy, but she knew it would be something that was different for us, especially after losing our daughter, and instead of sitting down and telling me all the reasons I should ditch princesses and pink, she offered a simple but invaluable method of encouragement. Acknowledgement.

For those of us who take a more spiritual approach to our encouragement, know this: There is a distinct difference in trying to restore the faith of someone who is suffering versus trying to encourage it. So often I'm offered statements as if I've lost my faith altogether. "God wants us to come to him and give him our troubles, bless your heart." I know that. I've done that. I'm doing that! Don't offer up a "I know this is hard, but give thanks it wasn't any worse!" Are you being serious right now? Is that honestly what you do when you experience something horrific and awful? How about instead, a "God's got this. You know He does. I'm gonna pray tomorrow is a better day for you than today was. He's listening to us, let's pray for that now." Don't give me chapter and verse simply because it's the only thing you can bring to mind. Give me real, applicable, relational conversation. Don't preach scripture at me, pray scripture with me. 

Giving someone encouragement doesn't give you magical powers. You can't automatically make things better, take away the pain, make the day un-sucky, or whatever else. Encouragement is to build a person up, not make them feel guilty for being bummed or upset. Their day sucked? Buy them a Butterfinger blizzard with chocolate ice cream. They just found out their little baby has to have an operation, and they're scared to death something might go wrong? Don't tell them how many people you know of who have had nothing bad happen to them in the same situation. Acknowledge their fear, and offer up a prayer of protection over their baby. Pray for peace and reassurance and no complications. And buy them a Butterfinger blizzard with chocolate ice cream. They didn't get that promotion, or that committee appointment, or that big business deal they were hoping for? Tell them you think it's as much a bummer as they do, and ask them how you can encourage them to achieve the goals they've set for themselves. If they don't have any goals, offer to help them make some. Cheer them on in the life-race they're running. Hold them up in their faith battles. And by all means, buy them a Butterfinger blizzard with chocolate ice cream.

Looking back on your experiences, what encouragement have you appreciated the most? Was it the simple act of acknowledgement and friendship, or was it the phrase suggesting you see the positive? Maybe it was both.

And maybe this post was me doing nothing but saying stupid things....but you'll have to let me.

My "Jar of Sunshine" that was made to encourage me when I returned to work after losing Harlynn. Each piece of candy was wrapped in scripture, or a personally written message from my friends and family members.
One of the best things ever.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Under Attack

Your house is a mess. Not just a mess, but actually, it's pretty gross. How could you let your kids run around in this filth? Serve your family dinner in the midst of this mess? How long has it been since you changed the sheets?

Your baby is crying. Again. It's like you don't even know what you're doing. Can't you calm him down? Don't you love him? Or maybe, he doesn't love you. You did take a long time to bond with him, after all. You know - because you lost Harlynn. Why did you lose her, anyway? Was it your fault? Can you be sure it wasn't?

Your daughter sure is sassy. I think it's because your parenting is terrible. She seems spoiled or disrespectful. Sometimes both. Better parents wouldn't have sassy children.

Your husband thinks you're crazy. Interrupting isn't his habit, it's because he couldn't care less what you have to say. What you say bores him. You bore him. 

Your life is out of control, Val. Out of control. You have nothing in order, you can't make decent decisions, you can't even get showered before noon some days. You All the time. What good are you? What good are you to your family? What good are you to yourself, even? All this work you're trying to do, all these people you're trying to befriend/influence/help/love - you're not helping them. You're annoying them. Remember how the other day, you made that remark and thought how aggressive it sounded? That's because you're a snot. A self-centered, arrogant b***h. That's how they see you. That's how everyone sees you. Because you are.

Give up. Just quit trying. It's not worth it. You're so far removed from who you want to be and where you want to go, you shouldn't even be trying to get there. You won't make it. You can't. Look how you keep screwing up! Just give up.

He's in my head. Day, night, in between. He constantly tries to attack me. When the lies won't work, he tries to scare me other ways. I feel watched. I feel confined. I feel like I am, or my family is, in the way of danger. He can't touch me, so mind games are his weapon of choice. And oh how he cuts me down. How he weakens my defenses. How he knows the tender buttons to push that bring me to my knees. He slashes, he swings, he pulls out all the stops. He constantly berates me. Constantly fires these fears of failures into my psyche. He is relentless. He is smart. And he is suave.

The last few weeks have been a definite struggle. When I refocus and center on God's promises and truths, I hear this little voice telling me I'll never measure up. I start to question why. I find answers - whether they be mistakes from my past, thoughts I harbor, judgments I pass, my unkempt home. When I find answers, I start to believe the reasoning behind the question even being asked. When I start to believe the reasoning, I credit the lie. When I credit the lie, I let it wear me down. When I let it wear me down, I feel like such a failure. When I feel like such a failure, I feel like more of a failure for allowing myself to fail and/or even feel like a failure to begin with. And down and down it goes, and takes me right along with it.

Then I wise up. I reclaim my home. I reclaim myself. I reclaim my property. This street. This neighborhood. We are Christ's! Anything not of Him is not welcome, and does not belong in my head. In my home. In my heart. Be gone already! And it goes. But eventually, there's a little tiny chip in my life, that becomes his gateway. He tries to make it bigger. Scarier. Worse. Sometimes he succeeds. And I get to repairing it. Reclaiming it.

I don't know where you stand in your belief or your experience with spiritual battle and warfare, but it is real. It is very, very real. It is happening every single day. And lately, I have been under serious attack. I sometimes nearly drown in the waters of doubt. Of fear. Of failure. 

Then, thank God, I remember truth. I remember promise. I remember redemption. I remember salvation. And I take hold of freedom. Freedom from my iniquities. Freedom from my shortcomings. Freedom from my mistakes. Freedom from myself. Freedom from the weight of the lies that have been cast upon me like stones. Freedom to hope. To love. To forgive. To get up and try again. 

The lies. They may be based in honesty, or real experiences, but he twists them into convoluted, barbed-wire laced hurdles. When I jump, he raises the bar. All it takes is one little snag, and the cycle begins again.

I don't have it all figured out. I don't have the wherewithal to stop and question, "is this the voice of reason or the voice of hell?" I don't have the strength to treat the snags sometimes. 

But I do have faith. Whatever shreds of faith I've pieced back together after everything we've been through, I can cling to that. And all it takes is one simple cry of "help" and I'm lifted out. Battered and bruised, but safe. And one day there will be no more battle. There will be peace. And rest. And Harlynn in our arms. One day, everything He has promised will be tangible. "And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Perfect Sunday

Saturday night I did something I haven't done in a very long time. I re-read the post from the day we lost Harlynn. That post is so hard for me to read. I still wish it were a dream. I still hope I can wake up and she never died. We could have saved her, if only we had known. How could I not have known? How could no one have known? I read the post. I cried. I went to sleep that night with an intense ache in my heart for missing my daughter.

Sunday morning I woke up with a different kind of ache. A plugged duct. *sigh* Sometimes a mommy can't catch a break. I debated whether or not I should even go to church. I didn't feel very churchy. I was still reflecting on what I had read the night before - a total recap of the worst night of our lives - and didn't think this physical nuisance in addition to my emotional fragility warranted me getting out of bed. 

Then I smelled pancakes. It made me hungry, and I needed to get up to eat something. It turns out I didn't smell pancakes at all. Brent had made himself an omelette, but there were no fresh pancakes. Dangit. I made myself a favorite Trim Healthy Mama smoothie and begrudgingly started to get ready for church. I felt something within me that somehow gave me a sense it would all be worth the effort.

For the first Sunday morning in...ever...we were all showered, fed, dressed, and ready to go with plenty of time to spare, and without a single argument. I looked around at us and asked, "Can every Sunday morning be like this?" We were parked and sitting in a pew seven minutes early instead of late. This in itself was a huge accomplishment. I took Little Man out of his car seat and fed him, and he fell asleep in my arms. Someone asked how it was going. I jokingly made a comment about not getting enough sleep. They jokingly replied (us) "newer parents need to pay your dues!"  I've paid my dues, I thought. Oh how I've paid. It pained my heart, but at the same time - for the first time - I didn't feel like they were an idiot for having said that. I extended a little grace, and it went a long way. My heart wasn't discouraged. Little Man contentedly sighed. Eventually I handed him to Brent to hold so I could write a prayer request to hand in.  The songs made me choke up, but I powered through and sang every word. I even lifted my hand for one - something I haven't done since we lost Harlynn. In over a year, I haven't felt compelled to outwardly express any form of worship. This Sunday was different. 

The sermon was powerful and encouraging. I was so glad to have heard it. I was so glad to be a part of our church and church family. The message was so poignant and so well-delivered, I found myself closing my eyes and just reveling in the presence of the Lord. He was with us in His house. It was worth it. To get up, get out of bed, and go - it was worth it. 

Afterwards, we went and got our new-found-traditional after-church lunch and headed home. Sundays after church we eat Taco Bell. I know, it's completely anti-Trim-Healthy-Mama. It's so nostalgic for me, though. Not only did we eat Taco Bell all. the. time. growing up, but it was special on Sundays. Most Sundays after church, we would end up with a group of fellow church-goers at a Taco Bell in the Madonna Plaza in San Luis Obispo. Either our "adopted" older brother would treat us to lunch, my friend Mary would treat me, or a whole host of other people would join us and I would eat my bean burrito and cinnamon twists. To have Taco Bell after church on Sundays takes me back to a little blast from the past. And I love me some cinnamon twists.

After lunch, every last one of us laid down for a nap. Oh glorious nap! I was awakened after about twenty minutes, however. Someone was squeaking in his sleep and needed to be snuggled. After taking him out of his bassinet and snuggling close, I couldn't get back to sleep. At first I was frustrated, but then, one look upon his little face, and I went from frustrated to grateful. What a sweetie. In my arms. Squeaking away in his little baby snores. Harlynn, your baby brother sure is a cutie.  Eventually, Little Miss came down from her room and joined us as well. She snuggled with her daddy. Each of us had a snuggle buddy, and it made the afternoon all the more cozy.

My Nap Time Buddy
Snuggle Buddies
We've been behind the ball a bit in getting Little Man's room painted. After nap and suddenly finding myself with a burst of motivation and the appropriate supplies, I went into his room and began taping so we could get started painting. Brent came in and lovingly told me I was doing it wrong, and why. Ugh that man. Drives me bonkers sometimes. I started taping around the window instead, when he came in again and asked if he could put the crib together. I've told Brent before, sometimes when I'm doing something, it bugs the tar out of me when he comes in and starts doing the thing I'm already doing, or does something right next to me, when there's a bazillion other things that need done. I told him I was fine with it, but I wouldn't be staying in the room. He was fine with my departure. 

Wait, Val, didn't you title this "The Perfect Sunday"? Now you're telling us how you guys had a bout of intense fellowship..what gives?

Yes! Thank you for catching that, subconscious-voice-text. You see, nothing is perfect. Nor will it be. The fact that my Sunday was so wonderful, then had a dose of normalcy right in the middle of it, makes it all the more wonderful. The normal in my life is what makes it perfect. I have to enjoy more than just the extraordinary. Finding joy is more a challenge to me than it once was, so when I take note of the little things, it all seems so imperfectly perfect. 

We had a super long Skype session with my parents. I snuggled Little Man until he was all snuggled out. Brent brought Little Miss upstairs like this because he was folding laundry, and she liked the warmth of the fresh-from-the-dryer items:

It was just a good day. It was good, because God is good. It was good because even in the midst of the exceptional, there were so many doses of normal. Good normal. New normal. 

Today, Monday, my heart still aches for little Harlynn. I drove to the cemetery to spend time with her by myself tonight. I watched the Robins chase insects. I watched the wind blow the pinwheels at other graves. I saw the groundskeepers chopped down three trees, right near the infant section. I saw a stone in the ground instead of my baby girl.

It still doesn't make sense to me, how a baby can die in this day and age. How it could have happened to us. How it did happen to us. Despite the fact there will always be a piece of my heart missing, that void periodically fills with gratitude and peace that we knew her at all. That we were chosen to love her every second of her 37 week life. That her being with us spurred us on to be with others who walk the same dark road of perinatal loss. Her life was so much bigger than her little six pound 12 ounce frame.

It was the perfect Sunday. I had to tell her so. It was so imperfectly perfect.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


I've been struggling a bit. That sentence almost makes me laugh, because I hear the masses of you uttering a collective, "Duh!" Since Little Man's arrival, though, I've been a different kind of mess than I was before.

When I was pregnant with him, so soon after losing Harlynn, I was constantly at doctor's appointments. First it was a combination of OB and Perinatologists. Then it was appointments every week. Twice a week. Three times a week. Hospital stays. Doctors. Nurses. Constant monitoring and care. Going to the hospital on the south side of town so frequently was more than just keeping appointments. It had become a way of life. I met some wonderful caretakers. I became friends with an amazing nurse who knew what it was to be a loss mom. People talking to me. Asking about Harlynn. Asking to see her picture. Listening to me tell stories. Constant care.

After Little Man was born, I was in such a heavy mental fog. Was it real he was here? Was he really okay? We had visitors, people brought gifts (And I'd like to thank all of you for what you brought, and apologize for not writing it down or being organized enough to write a thank-you later...), and I was living in a parallel universe; "of the world but not in the world" so to speak. 

Then we went home, and life forever changed. Again. 

You see, I went from being constantly monitored, cared for, and watched like a hawk, to being set free, on my own, and left to my own devices. I went from having several people hovering over me continuously, to having no one. No one needs to know what my blood pressure is. No one needs to stick a needle in my arm (though I really don't miss that part of it). No one needs to mash on my stomach or give me a pill. It was like I ended up an old favorite book high up on a shelf that someone once always read but has long since forgotten. 

It's weird, really. I sought so much comfort in those constant appointments. Not only for the reassurance of Little Man's well-being, but because those places were the last places I saw, held, and cared for Harlynn. Then...I had no more reason to go there. Done. Finito. Discharged.

It's as if I'm experiencing a secondary postpartum experience. Yes there is the hormonal shift from being pregnant to nursing. There is the lack of sleep in caring for an infant. There is the joy one minute in caring for him and the fear in the next because surely I must be doing something wrong. And there is always, in the back of my mind, the missing link. Harlynn. I am caring for her baby brother, and she isn't here to be a part of it. Little Miss has taken to the role of big sister quite nicely, and I believe Little Man will not be shorted in experiencing life with dainty diva personality. Even still...

It feels somewhat lonely, this secondary experience. Doesn't anyone need to know if my feet are swelling? Doesn't anyone wonder if I'm getting headaches or seeing spots? I suppose not, since I'm completely healthy and no longer pregnant. I was pregnant for nearly two years, though. I was always at the doctor's office, and now, I have no reason to go back until next year for an annual check up. Next year. One time. That's it.

It's a little hard to swallow. Strange as it may seem, I miss the appointments. I miss the hubbub. I miss the hospital.

That said, I couldn't be happier that he's here. He's safe. He's alive. He cries like a champ and as much as it drives me crazy when I can't get him to stop, I'm so thankful he's here to even utter those wails. 

The other day, I was holding Little Man in my lap and I felt a little hand on my shoulder. I turned, but there was no one and nothing there. At least not that I could see. Was she getting a closer look at her baby brother? Was she filling in for my bizarre need to have someone watching over me? 

It will never be fair to us that she isn't here. It will never be fair that she can't cry right alongside her brother, or play with her sister's dolls. It will never be fair that a precious, innocent baby had to die. It will never be fair that she is in heaven and we must wait to join her. Had she never lived within me, however, we wouldn't know this depth of love we have as her family. We wouldn't have known how to cling so tightly to God when we couldn't wade the waters on our own. We wouldn't have known the solid truth in the verse "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." (Deut 31:8) 

I may be done with my medical home-away-from-home, and all of the attention and care that went with it. But I will never doubt her past, or continued role in our lives. In Little Man's appearance. Her place in my heart. In all our hearts.

This secondary experience isn't only grieving the end of an era. It's being uncertain of this new beginning. Uncertainty weighs on every step I take going forward. But for now, it's a weight I can carry. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Just Keep Penning

Eighth grade was rough. Really rough. I was the new girl in town, trying to find my way into friends and fun from the outside. Halloween that year, I dressed up as a bug. I stuffed a pillow in my butt and my belly, made a stinger, had wings, had antennae, and even face paint. When I was picked by the teachers as the costume contest winner, I was booed. Booed. My volleyball knee pads were stolen from my PE locker. I went to my first school dance and stood along the wall while not a single person spoke to me. I remember a lot of crud from that year. The one way to cope was to blow my grades out of the water. I rocked those A's and free personal pan pizza rewards. Naturally, when the AP English teacher from the high school came to "recruit" from my class, I got excited. I mean, squirming-in-my-seat excited. English! Advanced English! I was so pumped! He was there to test us and see if we could make the cut for Freshman Advanced English. I was ready. I was so, so ready.

The assignment was simple enough: we had to write a fictional essay. I don't remember if the topic was assigned or if we were free to choose. I want to say it was assigned, because I remember I wrote about aliens, and that most likely would not have been my topic of choice. He gave our class the guidelines, and stood talking with our teacher in the front of the room while we all wrote. I penned the best fictional story I could think of. Fiction isn't my forte, but this was an opportunity for Advanced English. I did whatever I could to make it count. I handed in my paper with everyone else's, prayed a special prayer over that fictional essay, and waited with eager anticipation for the few weeks later when we would hear the news.

The news came. I wasn't Advanced English material. I didn't make the class cut. I was disappointed. Incredibly disappointed. English was my thing, my niche! I wanted to be an English teacher, for crying out loud. I had tried so hard - my best - to succeed in getting AP freshman year, and I failed. Apparently, I stunk at writing. 

Fast forward through time. I made friends. Wonderful friends. School was a lot better in high school than that eighth grade year. I broke out of my shell. I had fun. I won the costume contest every year at Halloween, and no one booed. Then it was time to transition from a junior to a senior. One more chance. One more chance to end high school having been a student in AP English. I don't remember the assignment. I don't remember it at all, and I probably didn't even try that hard, as I still carried the scars from that eighth grader's broken heart. 

The news came. I had grown into Advanced English material. I made the class cut! I was in total disbelief. Senior year English was a blast. I finally proved myself.

Fast forward through time. I started blogging. I received a compliment here and there on the things I wrote. I entertained the thought of writing a book. Then I entertained the thought of writing a few books. I've offered up writings to various places, and been turned down. When I was accepted as a contributor to two faith-based blogs, I was actually quite surprised. When a writing contest came along, with the prize being a chance to meet face-to-face with a publisher, I got excited. Squirming-in-my-seat excited.

I submitted my entry. I tried not to get my hopes up, while still being confident enough in myself. I struck a pretty suave balance. There were over 300 submissions and today was the day the winners would be announced!

The news came. They announced five runners-up. I didn't hear my name. Initially I was disappointed, then I remembered they still had five winners to name. Chin up, cheeky! Fifth place. Fourth. Third. Second. One name left to call... First place. That name wasn't mine either. I didn't win. I didn't place. 

After the heartbreak all those many (many...many...) years ago of a little eighth grade girl, however, I've learned one thing: Just keep penning. No matter the hurdles or how high they may seem, no matter the mud of life I seem to muck my way through, no matter the placements or contests lost out on, I'm still doing what I love. I'm still penning. Whatever mumbled thoughts come to mind, a person or two will read. Maybe Mom will even comment (again). But I'm writing, and I love to write. The fact that I can when I want and say whatever is on my mind and heart, is truly such a blessing. And one day, in His time and with His story, I might get that book done after all.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Letter to my Mailman

Dear Mr. Mailman,

Today started out so wonderfully. My daughter woke up early, but instead of demanding breakfast, she crawled in bed with me to snuggle. She's four, and as you might imagine, impromptu snuggle time is a delicacy in our home. We had a chiropractor appointment for my son this morning, so we spent time getting everyone ready for that. I, having lost some weight recently, was able to wear a cute pink pinstriped button shirt I haven't worn in over two years. It fit, and I was so happy! Really, it was such a great morning. Everyone was cooperating and moving along. We made it to the appointment a few minutes early, even, and there were some friends of ours (we share the same chiropractor) there, which made for an impromptu visit, and it was quite pleasant. I love little surprises like that, don't you? My son's appointment went well, and since we were so close to the "nice" Wal Mart, I thought we would just poke down there to get some paint for my son's room. My son is 10 weeks old, and we've been meaning to paint his room for a long time now, but it's been hard to get out and about (he couldn't ride in a car seat until six weeks old, and leaving the house is like trying to herd cats by first putting them in a bath of water. With a dog). Anyway, we made it to Wal Mart. This is where our day started to take a turn.

I carried the car seat in and held my daughter's hand, and was trying to efficiently and safely get them both situated in a cart. An employee came out through the entrance door, not looking, and shoved a cart in our general direction. I think she caught me out of the corner of her eye, at which point she turned and half-heartedly tried to stop the cart, but was unsuccessful, as it rammed into the cart in which I had just placed my children, and gave my son a bit of a hard-rock ride, so to speak, in his car seat. She apologized (kind of) and told me how cute my son was. He is cute, but her lack of attention and courtesy was not. I can't imagine it did his chiropractic adjustment any bit of good to then be rammed into by a shopping cart. We brushed past her to avoid a physical mama-bear-protection confrontation, and headed back to the paint department. I knew it would just be a quick errand, since I knew the colors I wanted, the sheen I wanted, and we could just have them mixed and be on our way. Once we picked our color swatches, there was no one at the counter to help us. Another employee summoned someone over their radio, and an older gentleman came to help us, though I found him not very enthused to do so. I told him the sheen and amounts I would need of each color, and he told me it would be "about ten minutes". Thirty minutes later, I asked if we could take our paint yet. He was just finishing up. In the meantime, I had to feed and burp my son so he would stop screaming in the store. His sister was telling everyone within earshot we were going to paint his room, and that he was her baby brother. She also told a few passers-by that her baby sister had died. It was a tender and memorable experience, though her sentiments were lost on the people she was sharing her life story with. It both filled and broke this mama's heart. I know you have no way of knowing this, Mr. Mailman, but her baby sister did die. Last April. I was pregnant with her, and for unknown reasons, she was stillborn. Having her baby brother here with us is a big deal, and painting his room is a bit of a victory for us.

We finally got our paint and checked out, where Little Miss was sharing with the woman behind us in line, that if she had to paint her room, she would use dark pink and dark purple, and her new room was upstairs so we were going to wait to paint it and were going to paint her brother's room first. It was a lengthy four-year-old conversation, but the woman was very kid-friendly and listened intently to each little detail my daughter shared with her.

When we left Wal Mart, my son started screaming. Very, very loudly, and incessantly. I have a hearing loss, but I assure you, this made my ears hurt with the volume and tenacity behind his cries. We drove the several miles home accompanied by his very vocal protests. I drove past you, actually, as I turned down our street to go home. I was expecting a package, so was glad to see you were already starting distribution on our street. Once we got inside, I comforted my son, who had a gigantic burp that was apparently the culprit behind his screaming fit the entire ride home. The problem was, this gigantic burp was "loaded". Curdled spit up went all over the sleeve and shoulder of my cute pink shirt I was wearing, and it became quite uncomfortable quite quickly. Wearing clothing soaked with curdled milk is...well...gross. I had to take my shirt off once I got him settled down. These days, I'm always wearing a nursing camisole. They're comfortable, they're convenient, and I love them. They're not the most modest attire items, however, so I always wear shirts over them. Unless said shirts get spat up on.

I heard you knock on the door, and I knew that our package had arrived. I checked out my bedroom window and watched you drive away. The last time you delivered a package to my door, I had to use my baby as a "cover" and hold him strategically in front of me, so I could retrieve my water-processed decaf coffee beans you were delivering. Remember, you told me they made your truck smell so good, and I laughed, but tried not to move, because I hadn't been able to put a shirt on over my camisole before you arrived? Today, even though I was scantily clad in my risque nursing camisole, I knew I could safely and discreetly retrieve our package from the front step, since I had just watched you drive away. I opened the front door, and there was the package, right where they usually are left when we receive them. I bent down to pick it up and knew my camisole was most likely exposing "the girls" for all the world to see, but I also knew that all the world was nowhere nearby. That's when I looked up and saw you walking up my next door neighbor's driveway, and you smiled and waved at me.

Dear Mr. Mailman, I usually get dressed - all the way - every day. I'm sorry that the last - the only - two times you've had to interact with me, that hasn't been the case. I hereby solemnly swear I will not open my door ever again unless I am appropriately attired. 


Val (Embarrassed) Kleppen