Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Second Installation: All the updates at once - Part 5 (TOKEN!!!!)

Editing to add: Part 4 here, Part 6 on it's way!!

Happy belated 4th of July! Here's some patriotic jello from our BBQ yesterday to get you through your July 5th:
Made by my cousin Jennie, the Presidentress. For a tutorial click here!
And now, let's ring in July (albeit a tad late) with the next installment of the crazy journey that has been this year so far. Wow. One half of the year gone...and so much happened. Sheesh!! But here goes!

The Friday before close (March 17th) as I was getting ready for work, I was checking through my emails and noticed one from Purina's Adopt-A-Pet. If you're thinking about adopting a pet and don't know about this tool, you should. Anthony and I had been talking about getting a dog for our house for a long time, and at some point in December-ish I set up a search alert on this site.

Adopt-A-Pet 101:
You enter the type of pet your looking for - everything from species to breed to sex and/or age, and then enter a mile radius from your zip code, and the search brings up a list of all adoptable animals at shelters and fosters within that radius. You can set an alert to tell you when animals like what you're looking for come up for adoption...and that's how one morning at 4:30 I opened my email and saw this face staring up at me:

I clicked in to the little profile and read the description...he was absolutely everything Anthony and I were looking for. The color, the breed, the age...and that face.

I texted Anthony a screenshot of his picture and profile and asked what he thought. We were so close to closing on the house...did we take a chance and apply, or did we just wait?

I'll tell you what, people: I take chances on houses, not puppies.

By the time I got to work and plopped myself down, all I was thinking about was that pooch, and the first thing I did was go to the shelter's webpage, fill out an application, and send it over. I wasn't about to take chances at losing that face.

We waited all day to hear something, but no dice. That evening when I left work I made the mistake (or perhaps it wasn't?) of creeping the adoption event Facebook page and saw that someone else was asking about this puppy. I quickly Facebook messaged the shelter, and then waited hours until Anthony got home with no response.

Oh no. Oh no no no no no no. I was panicking. I couldn't let someone else get him. Someone who wouldn't love him as much! I wasn't about to lose this little guy too.

Anthony agreed, wholeheartedly. We discussed where we would keep him, and agreed my mom's house. Best to ask for forgiveness, rather than permission, right? ;) Then we decided that we'd be up early the next morning, and drive the 35 minutes from his sister's to the adoption event at the Geneva Petco.

And that's just what we did. All of our Saturday morning gym plans went out the window. We got up, threw on some semi decent clothes (they really weren't decent, you'll see in a minute), and got ourselves to the store 30 minutes before the event started. They were still setting up and there were no puppies in sight. We hovered awkwardly for a few moments before someone asked if she could help us. She turned out to be Tammi, the director of the shelter. I told her we'd gotten an email for Blu, we were VERY interested and wanted to meet him, and that if we were all a fit and got approved we wanted to adopt him. I let her know that I'd sent an application the day before as well.

And that was when we found out that they had THIRTY EIGHT adoptions scheduled for that day. Between 10 and 1. She said that she could pull up our application, but she still had to run credit and background checks on us and we would have to wait around and see if things worked out in our favor...which meant we might not get to adopt him.

We said okay, and decided we'd just have to "wait and see" (a common theme in life, right?). We walked around Petco, I purchased some hamster things I needed and then we went back in and planted ourselves at the front of the adoption event. We said hi to the puppies that were trickling in, ready to fight off anyone who so much as thought the name "Blu".

At one point, another shelter volunteer came over and asked us if she could help. I made what must have been a very desperate plea for this dog, finishing with, "We will literally do anything to adopt him! Anything we can do, we'll do it!" She said she'd see what she could do, walked over to Tammi who glanced up at us and then said something to the volunteer, and then pulled out her phone (as it turns out, she was pulling up our application).

It gave me hope, even though I didn't know what she was doing (Anthony was still wary that we'd walk away without our pup).

Finally, about half an hour after the event started, we spotted "Blu" walking in with his foster mom. He was just as adorable in real life as in the pictures. We were already in love. Tammi came over and introduced us to Karen, Blu's foster mom, and told her to grill us hard. To ask us anything and everything, and we said, "Fire away!". We knew going into the adoption, because of the "pitbull" breed this puppy had been assigned, that we would be scrutinized harder than if we were looking at another breed. No shelter wants their dog to end up as a fighter, or a bait dog, and unfortunately people look for "bully" breeds for that reason.

So we sat down and started talking to Karen and playing with "Blu". We were already so in love that we couldn't help but take pictures too:

Saying 'hi' to another foster pup, Fred. FYI, Fred was adopted a few weeks ago, and then his sister Ginger's foster family ended up adopting her!

The first picture of my boys together. All "Blu" wanted to do was sit in our laps and cuddle!

And now some a series of extra cute still-an-orphan pictures, to photo brag:

So handsome and relaxed around everyone!

That. Face. It STILL gets me and now I see him every day!!! Do rescue pups ever loose the "don't abandon me" look???


Karen told us all about "Blu".

He was one of a group of puppies that was rescued from animal control in a random county in Alabama. He was the only puppy in his litter that was found, as a stray...cue heartbreak for whatever happened to the rest of his litter :'(. The county he was in does not adopt about pitbulls, or pit mixes. "Blu" had two ways out - either a shelter had to transport him out, or he would be euthanized. I looked at his little face and wanted to cry when she said that. He was sitting on my lap and I hugged him even tighter.

Safe Haven selected "Blu" for transport (along with nearly 40 other pups, almost all of whom were adopted that day), and he made his way to Illinois where Karen was waiting to foster him. He wasn't available for adoption right away because he needed to be dewormed and checked out, and that Saturday was the first day he was available to adopt.

Quiet, cuddly, and supremely chill, we knew from sitting there with him that "Blu" was meant to be ours.

And then Karen mentioned something neither of us had noticed. Hidden under his collar on the back of his neck was a small, white mark. An "Angel Kiss".

Anthony and I looked at each other, and I almost started crying (again). We were thinking the exact same thing...we knew this puppy was picked for us. I don't care what anyone else thinks or believes, Anthony and I looked at each other thinking that this dog was meant to be ours, and the baby we lost chose him for us.

After a few hours getting to know him and talking to Karen, she told us we could take him for a wander around the store and outside. She clearly trusted that we were in this for all the right reasons, and that we'd bring him back and not steal him! We took a nice long wander around the store, took him out in the fresh air to relieve himself, and then wandered back in.

The one downside about the adoption event was that "Blu" was much bigger than all of the other puppies, which meant he couldn't play with them even though he really wanted to! We finally had the chance to take him in the gated off training area and found some toys to play with and balls to roll around for him to chase, but you could tell he wanted to scrap with some other pups! Instead he had to contend with us :P

After what felt like forever (it was almost 1:00pm!) Tammi came over to Anthony and Karen and me and said, "Well I'm sorry to say..."

...my face fell, the pit dropped out of my stomach, and I held my breath for what came next. I mean...what? Did I not pass the credit check? How do you pass a credit check to buy a house but not adopt a dog???

"...you're approved to adopt!"

My brain took a few seconds to register what she said, then all I could think was, 'WHY IS SHE SORRY???!!! That's great news!!' She and Karen had a little giggle at me, and Tammi said that we had passed everything with flying colors and, moreover, we were beyond patient. Hanging around all day sitting on the floor at Petco apparently shows you like animals!

We had to wait a bit longer for our turn to fill out paperwork, during which we walked around gathering supplies - food, a collar and leash, a few toys, and most importantly a dog tag that officially christened our new pup with the name Token. Then we sat down, went through all the signing and payments, and around 2:00pm (nearly five hours after arriving), we walked left the Geneva Petco with the newest member of our family.

We even got our first family picture and everything. We look terrible and tired in it, but we were SO happy!
We legit look like we just rolled out of bed, and Token looked ready to crawl into one!
We took our tiny, adorable, no-longer-an-orphan pup out to the car, where he fell asleep for the ride "home".

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
A few months on:
It's now been just over 3 months since we adopted Token, and I cannot express how happy we are that we have him. He has been such an amazing addition to our family - sweet and gentle and cuddly and adorable. He's still growing (duh), and we're fairly positive at this point that he was mixed with something lanky and lean (in addition to the pitbull part) and that he'll end up being just that: Lanky, lean, and muscular, rather than thick and short like many pits. He still has a good deal of puppy fat to lose, and he still looks soft, but at times his muscle comes out and it's amazing to see how he's changing. It will be great to see him grow into an adult!

I don't have many pictures that show how much he's grown...but in the picture on the left he's about half the size of Nala (his cousin) and on the right...well you can see he's much bigger now :P
Token is also so well behaved that we were even able to take him to a wedding (that's a story for another day), and person after person came up and commented on how good he was, and no one could believe he was only 5 months old.

He's well behaved...and he's smart. Wise beyond his little puppy years, and he has excelled at training. He's so smart that he knows when he's ignoring you or being disobedient, and he gets salty as hell when he gets in trouble...but he always walks over, ears tucked back in apology a few minutes later, hoping you'll still cuddle with him.

Though he has boundless energy at times, he's also incredibly lazy, and will take a nap with you just as willingly as he'll play. He enjoys fetch and tug of war, and his favorite toys are ropes or socks.

Even though we promised we wouldn't let him, Token sleeps in bed with us. Normally the night starts off with him on the floor, and around 1 or 2 am he takes it upon himself to jump into bed, and wedge himself right smack dab between us, however hard he has to try. He's been known to climb on top of us if there's no room for him, and wait for us to roll to the side to grant him the space he's seeking.

He loves other dogs just as much as he loves people, and has even made his way into Uncle Stewart's wary heart!
This was the only picture I got of them together. Dogs being dogs, I guess!
Stewart, who is generally afraid or on guard around all other dogs, has been opening up to Token and finally realized he's just a puppy who wants to play! I'll talk about it more later, but the week at my mom's while we packed to move was made difficult by always having to keep the dogs in different rooms!

Token also has the advantage of being able to play with his cousin Nala (picture up top), and since we finally got Token fixed they can have unsupervised play dates now!

Phew...that's a lot, but that's the fun braggy stuff I can say! I was going to post another 10 or so pictures, but I thought that might be overkill :P. I post plenty of him on Instagram, so make sure you're following me there if you want to see more!

Safe Haven
Finally, I could not put this post up in good conscience without mentioning Safe Haven Dog Rescue (website and Facebook links - Facebook is more updated with currently adoptable dogs). They were absolutely amazing to us (as you can probably tell from the post). Everyone we met and talked to the day we adopted Token was so nice and welcoming, and I'm Facebook friends with Karen and send her pictures of him every so often.

Safe Haven has adoption events regularly (I believe every other week) from the Geneva, IL Petco. Token's adoption fee was $300, which included all vaccinations to date (puppies are vaccinated on an age-appropriate schedule, and you pay for any vaccinations after adoption), as well as basic neutering from a partner clinic (blood panel and heart worm tests were extra). They also provide you with a micro chip that the vet can insert (Token was chipped when he was neutered). FYI - in the state of Illinois, if you rescue a dog it is mandatory that you have the dog fixed, which is something I didn't know before all of this!

Anyways...I would 100% adopt from them again. Anthony and I were so happy that Tammi and Karen took the extra time with us that day and made Token's adoption possible - he has been a better addition to our family that we ever would have dreamed, and we're so happy he's ours.


x

Friday, June 30, 2017

Second Installation: All the updates at once - Part 4

Edited to add: Part 3 here, Part 5 here :)

So much for telling you everything at once!

I am sorry for the crazy delay with getting this post up! The last few weekends were chock-full of goodness for our little family, and between the busy and tired and running and baking there has not been much time to write.

First...I want to say thank you to everyone who has said something to me about the last few posts. From Facebook comments to messages and texts, and even those of you who have stopped me at work...I am grateful for you and for the support you've shown. Every loss is different, and while I know no one had the same experience as Anthony and I did, hearing from other people made me feel better about everything that happened.

To move the story along...

We slid into February and eventually got back on the wagon looking at houses. When we started looking again it was kind of demoralizing...we had already found somewhere we wanted, and now we had to start from scratch. Barb (our agent), continued to be fantastic and optimistic, and after some back and forth we finally decided to increase our price point. It was a good (although nerve wracking!) decision.

And I have to say, the great thing about life is that sometimes things happen because there's another better something around the corner.

Once we increased our purchase point, things really opened up for us. Within a week we found a house that we wanted to put an offer on.

That we didn't get.

It turns out we were in a bidding war with SEVEN other people, and our offer wasn't good enough. Looking back (and having checked out the sale price on Redfin), no, our offer wasn't high enough...but that ended up being totally fine too! What we loved about that house was the layout and the decorating - and it turns out that every second house in this town has that layout. And you can do your own decorating. We just had to wait and see what else would come to the table!

And within another week we found another house (same layout, better carpet, cabinets, painting, deck, and location - WAY better location!) and we dropped an offer on it by the end of the night.

Ignore the funeral parlor drapes please :P
My agent learned that one other couple had also put an offer out, but we were able to promise a quick close (within 25 days), and our offer was accepted the next day!

At this point, we had learned not to celebrate at all until the papers were signed. We barely told anyone about this offer and the process (story of our lives, now), and we just waited it out.

Waited and waited.

For a couple of weeks we thought maybe we'd be able to close even sooner - within 15 or 20 days, but that didn't happen like we hoped it would. Instead, we were given a close date of March 23rd (I can't remember now, but I think that was just a few days earlier than our contracted close).

I didn't even think about packing, because I didn't want to let my hopes get that high. So we just kept waiting.

And then...

Token happened.



Oh yeah, I'm leaving you with that cliffhanger after not posting for so long! I know, I'm mean and I suck! But you'll appreciate what's coming next! ;)


x

Sunday, May 28, 2017

All the updates at once - Part 3

Part 1 here
Part 2 recap:
- Dr Pesavento is pretty amazing
- 'In My Life' is my theme song through hardship
- The physical reality and humility of miscarrying
- We decide I should have a D&C

Continuing...

I was relieved to finally be laying in a hospital bed, in throw-away underwear, waiting for the D&C. I was relieved knowing that at least the physical discomfort and humiliation would be over soon.

It was surreal as the hospital staff came in and went over everything with me. As they took my vitals and went through my medical history and described the anesthesia and procedure to me.

As they asked me what to do with the 'remains' they would remove from me.

When everyone left and my mom and Anthony and I were just waiting for them to take me in to surgery, Anthony came and laid in the bed with me.

Anthony.

Anthony was there absolutely every step of the way. He was in the bathroom with me at my house when I couldn't move from the toilet. He was in the exam room, and there for the ultrasounds. He helped me clean up the blood and handed me wipes and pads and underwear and didn't even blink when I bled all over his shoes. He wiped away my tears and kissed my forehead and...well you get it. Talk about seeing someone at their lowest. But he never left my side.

And then they came in to get me, and not even thirty minutes later I was waking up in the recovery area, wishing he was with me. It was the first thing I asked...."Where's Anthony?"

A nice nurse told me he and my mom would be in my room, but I had to stay in recovery first.

Laying in the recovery area, feeling so alone and wanting nothing more than to have Anthony walk in, I did the only thing I could think of - I pulled the sheet up to cover my eyes from the light and the world, and I talked to my dad. Because that's what I do when I feel alone...and I really felt alone.

As much as I didn't want to tell him, as unfair as I thought it was, I told him he would be the first one to meet his first grandchild. That he would have to take care of him for us.

It hurt for me to tell him those things...but it was also some of the only comfort I felt that day. If I had to lose our baby, at least he wouldn't be alone. My dad would be there too.

I was taken back to my room, and my mom and Anthony came in a few minutes later. Not long after that I was discharged, and we were home by 2:00pm.

When we got home, I made a cup of tea - because good English breakfast tea cures all ills and sadness - and my mom filled me in on her conversation with Barb. It's obvious that the deal with that first house fell through - and of course it had to happen the same weekend as the miscarriage because why not? Well...in retrospect it's a good thing it fell through, and the timing gave me somewhere to direct all of my anger.

It turns out that somewhere along the line, the seller's attorney dropped the ball, which is why we hadn't heard anything for so long. However, by Friday when they finally came at us with their "final" offer, the sellers DEMANDED a response by 5pm that day. Hah. HAHAHAHA. I had responded to absolutely everything within 12 hours, and that time they weren't getting shit.

My mom had told Barb what was going on, and she relayed that I had a medical emergency and the sellers graciously extended their deadline to 5pm Monday (/somuchsarcasmtheyprobablyfeltit). But at that point I didn't need until 5pm Monday, We were out. They had offered way too little and were trying to string us along to get more for the house than it was worth, given the things that needed to be fixed. It was a hard NO for us at that point, and we were ready to be done with them.

When I spoke to my attorney Monday he agreed immediately and said he would send over the contract termination for me to sign, and a letter to get my earnest money back. The house thing isn't so exciting from here on out, except that when they receive the termination letter they "magically" found an extra $500 to offer us...because it turns out their agent was so desperate to get rid of them that he was willing to put up a portion of his commission to tempt me, and even asked Barb to do the same. She didn't bite, and we still rejected the offer because even with that $500 their credits barely scraped enough to fix one issue with the house.

And that's how that ended too.

*********************************

I really am just spilling my guts here. And honestly, none of it has been easy to write, because it confirms the death of the future Anthony and I thought we had coming towards us at that time. What we envisioned and could see and feel so clearly...so many happy and excited feelings ended when January did.

That's not to say that some things didn't work out for the better - we found a better house, we got a wonderful dog that we KNOW was born into this world solely to join our family, and things are moving along again. But even now, the hurt is still present. (More on that later.)

The fear that it could happen again is still there. Hannah told me at one point that, though she wished she could tell me otherwise, even once you pass the first trimester in another pregnancy, even when everyone tells you things are going fine with your pregnancy, the pain and fear will never truly go away until we have a healthy baby in our arms. I know she's right. First of all because she's Hannah, and she's wise FAR beyond her years. Second, because the thought of having to go through any of that again is...well it's terrifying.

There was obviously anger that went along with everything that happened. And the sadness that our first baby died is still with us. There is no way to describe it other than unfair. And no, life is not fair.

Seriously, spare me.

Fairness is not something you care about when faced with the loss of a child. You do not care that life is not always easy and fun and full of good moments. You only care that something you loved and wanted so deeply is taken away from you for absolutely no reason. There is no logic to it, there is no blame to be placed, there is only sadness and anger that you lost something so close to your heart.

For me, the anger has been drawn out with every billing statement I get as well. I just got one a few weeks ago for almost $800...and I was shocked because I was sure I was done paying. I know I have to pay for the procedure and everything, but talk about adding insult to injury. For three years since I started at my company I have saved the majority of my HSA money for "when I have a baby" (minus some ortho appointments and MRIs). Well. The miscarriage has almost drained it. The entire experience cost me almost $4000, which is almost my entire out of pocket balance for my plan, and it feels like a personal insult from my insurance company.

If anything in my life has made me hate the state of healthcare in America more than I already did, it was going through this. I cannot even fathom how I would feel if I had carried to term and then found out my child was sick.

Couple that with the recent fiasco that is the AHCA ("Trumpcare") and it doesn't take much to make me go from zero to SHUT YOUR FUCKING MOUTH IF YOU SUPPORT OR VOTED FOR ANY ASSHOLE WHO VOTED FOR THAT BILL.

Truly, the state of healthcare in this country is shameful and so sickening.

Seriously. Don't talk healthcare around me if you support this bullshit, or I'm likely to end you because it feels so.personal.

It's hard not to take it personally when you spend weeks after a miscarriage feeling physically and emotionally empty. Knowing the little creature that had attached itself to you to grow and live is gone. When you spend months wondering if you will feel "normal" again after such a loss.

We have obviously established a new normal. We have our house and our dog and work, and on the weekends there have been trips and races and all sorts to keep us busy.

Speaking of...all of this made racing very hard to return to. In part because my body wasn't feeling great for a while, and also because I cared very little about training. I'll delve into this later, but I wanted to mention it quickly because it shows how this one thing that happened truly affected everything.

But anyways...

I'm still not done with all of these updates. There will be at least one more detailing things with the new house and Token's adoption, and I promise that the sad stuff has now been written. Things get happier from here on out ;)

And as a thank you for following along...here's a happy picture to make you smile ;)


x

PS...these three Parts were already pretty much written. The next few may take a little longer for me to type out, so hold tight. I do promise they're coming.