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Category Archives: Baby Envy


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I was cleaning out my closet and found these books buried in a bag I have not touched in two years. They had been packed in that bag and taken as my reading material during an ill-fated Memorial Day weekend trip that ended with my first miscarriage. We bought the books on the way home from the doctor’s office after our initial positive blood test. We were elated and naive, thinking we had made it – and we decided to mark the occasion by purchasing our first pregnancy books. When the pregnancy ended I couldn’t bear to look at the books or even think about them. I never unpacked my bag and instead scooted it to a dark corner of my closet, deciding to deal with it later.

And now its later. Since we have reached the end of our medical treatments and most likely the end of our chances of pregnancy, I have decided its time to end my relationship with these books as well. I couldn’t let them go before because maybe I’d still need them and letting them go also meant having to deal with the possibility of failure. But now its time – I want them gone. They are from my old life – a place I don’t want to live anymore. Of course it is possible that I will need them some day – stranger things have happened. But that is what libraries are for. And so I am donating those books and replacing them with these. Moving on and accepting where I am.

Window Pane Aviary

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Kim (from Surviving Motherhood) and I share more than our name – we are both struggling with infertility and have found a common bond in that experience, though she is dealing with secondary infertility. (Did you know that people who already have children can still experience infertility? It happens more often than you’d think – I have four long-time friends currently caught in its clutches.)

Kim’s infertility struggle brought her to my little corner of the interwebz and she decided to order a baby quilt for her cousin. She wanted something in shades of purple with the baby’s name added somewhere on the quilt. Not being a huge purple fan myself, I was worried I would have trouble finding fabric we both liked – and then I stumbled upon the Aviary 2 collection in lilac and kinda fell in love. With purple fabric. Who knew? And Kim loved it too. The purples are deep and and complex and paired with spring greens and sky blues. After I ordered it I kept seeing the same color palate in the early spring foliage everywhere I went.

I loved working with the fabric and the quilt top came together in no time. I LOVED using an asymmetrical pattern in the lay-out because 1) I like asymmetrical things and 2) NO SEAMS TO LINE UP! And yes – that sentiment DOES deserve all caps – especially from a quilter (like me) for whom precision does not come naturally.

Once I pieced the top together, Randy and I made a trek up to The Fabric Shack in Waynesville, OH – kind of a fabric Mecca – to find backing and binding fabric. I didn’t order any from the same line because I thought: “I’ll get that stuff at JoAnn’s – it will be cheaper than ordering and simple to match up.” FAIL. I didn’t realize how difficult it is to match up shades of purple and how few aesthetically pleasing purple fabrics there are to be had. Hence the trip to The Fabric Shack – where we did find suitable options – but even there they were few and far between.

After I had the quilt front, batting, and backing sandwiched together and safety-pin basted I was feeling so in the zone that I thought it would be a great idea to try out hand quilting it. You know, for the experience. I’d sit on the couch next to Randy and watch my favorite shows and feel so connected to the quilt.

This lasted for about 20  minutes until I realized that my hand quilting looks like it was done by a blind 6-year-old.

I’ll need a lot more practice before rolling out any hand quilted beauties. So out came the seam ripper and we went back to our regularly scheduled machine-stitched programming. Since the piecing on this quilt is so asymmetrical it didn’t make sense to quilt along the all the seams, so I decided to stitch series of horizontal lines about 1/2 inch apart. I really like the effect and the added smoothness that comes from having no intersecting lines.

And so, with no further ado…presenting the Window Pane Aviary Quilt!

And NO Kara from My Other Car is A Crane – this is not for you! Stop asking!

I can’t wait to start working on the next quilt! Anyone interested?


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I have always found comfort in words. Reading them, writing them, hearing them, and dissecting them. I’m pretty certain I was the only one in my high school class who was regularly reprimanded for submitting papers that were too long. When I needed a self confidence boost a few years back, my solution was to start this blog – a place to write words. And today it was words spoken and written by friends and family that carried me through. Thank you to everyone in my life who has reminded me that I am a mother on this day that has been looming over me like a storm cloud for weeks now. I am humbled by the understanding and empathy poured out to me by so many people. As much as I love words, I don’t think I could possibly convey how healing it is for my soul. The thoughtful Facebook messages, texts, blog comments, and e-mails really helped keep my head above water this weekend. And the following just blew me away:

Flowers from Randy’s parents with one of the kindest and most impactful messages I’ve ever received.

A gift from my parents filled with healing words – some that I’ll share here and some that I’ll keep for myself. The card that accompanied the gift made me cry immediately – but its a cry I wanted to have and a card I’m SO glad I got.

The card came with a couple of very thoughtful gifts, one of which featured more healing words. This necklace, accompanied by  this message:

My oldest friend, Mandi, sent me this card (and a little hope pocket charm), which is so refreshingly straightforward with no trite promises or cliched platitudes.

Perhaps though, my favorite words from this card were the ones she wrote inside which I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing here: Mother’s Day must feel like getting kicked in the emotional nuts. Yes – it does – and I’m so lucky to have friends and family who get it.


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Armageddon is coming and it is disguised as a perfectly sweet and innocent, Halmark-filled, basking-in-the-goodness-of-warmth-and-comfort, wouldn’t-hurt-a-fly, national holiday. And no amount of newfound freedom and optimism on my part can protect me from the perils it brings. I speak of course, of….of….I don’t know if I can say it. M-m-m… Try again. M-M-m-mother’s Day. Many people do not know how dangerous it is – how insidious. They don’t know that it can eviscerate even the most battle-hardened infertile person, transforming her (albeit usually temporarily) into a bitter, world-hating, self-doubting volcano of rage and tears ready to explode at the slightest stimuli, from the Mother’s Day Sale sign in the store window to the Facebook post encouraging us to say thanks to our moms.

Luckily for you, you have an inside source on the matter. You will know the truth! As you might expect, Mother’s Day can be the hardest day of the year for an infertile woman. Its true that all holidays are difficult, as they generally revolve around family and children, but this one is the mother of them all (ha! see- I can be funny AND bitter!). Its kind of a nightmare scenario for us. A day when all the women who already have everything we so desperately seek are honored and showered with gifts just for being lucky enough to have the very thing we can’t.  ACK! And on top of that, we have our own mothers to think about. Awesome, selfless, kind, and generous mothers who deserve to be honored because of how much they’ve done for us. But honoring our mothers on this day requires us to participate in the unholy abomination that is currently driving us mad!

So please excuse me for a while from polite society until the beast within retreats from the forefront. You won’t see me on Facebook much this weekend as I can’t bear to see status updates from my friends reporting on the breakfast-in-bed that their awesome kids and husband arranged for them. Profile pictures of my friends in joyous embraces with their children that already knock the wind out of me on a daily basis will prove too lethal this weekend. Church services are a breeding ground for unintentional heartache on Mother’s day – no solace for my weary soul. And family events, no matter how understanding the family, are just recipes for disaster.

I think Randy and I will find something else to occupy our time and attention on Sunday and practice the “avoidance” strategy of coping. Or just maybe, I might make/buy myself a gift, as I am just as much a mother in spirit and intention as anyone out there – even though I have no one to make me handprint art or bring me burnt toast with a vase of dandelions on Sunday morning.

*Above photo taken with my new Canon Rebel T3i in Randy’s parents’ back yard.


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There’s nothing quite like life’s door slamming in your face to motivate you to make sweeping changes where you can. I’m sure its a control thing – trying to exert control over the details of life that I am still (to some extent) in charge of. So in that vein, I’m announcing some big changes for The Spotted Elephant – the blog and the business.

Well, kind of. There are big changes coming, and I am announcing that….but that’s all I’m saying for now. We aren’t quite ready to reveal everything yet – but we are super excited about them and wanted to give a couple hints. Hint: a name change is coming!  Another Hint: an Etsy shop is in the works! (BTW: I thought the cat was pretty well out of the bag about Etsy – what it is, etc., but I recently found out that my own sister had never heard of it. SO – if you are currently thinking “what’s an Etsy?” please click the link and check it out – amazing online handmade marketplace!)

*Picture above taken with my new Cannon Rebel T3i at Girl Scouts during our water experimentation day. Its a picture of change. Get it? 🙂

…the rest of our lives

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Hello there. I haven’t been around these parts much lately. I took some time off from cyber-world to breathe and really, to figure out who I am now that I am officially no longer trying to conceive. It occured to Randy and I recently that its been five years since we have just been us- living our life for what it is instead of  for what we need it to be. Five years since we have had goals that weren’t colored by our desperate quest. Five years since we haven’t been carrying the extra weight that accompanies the sometimes invisible but ever present stress of trying, trying, trying. Five years since we haven’t spent every day failing.

We dreamed of the day when we were finally released from the purgatory of trying – and often worried that it wouldn’t be as freeing as we hoped. But our new circumstances have proven surprisingly liberating. The world seems full of promise for the first time in years. We want to live life and have fun and make plans and start projects and be sociable and delight in what we do have – each other. Don’t get me wrong – I wish we had been successful. I wish our lost children were here in our arms. Nothing we do now will ever make up for our losses, and no one will ever convince me that they are part of a bigger plan that will work out for the best. But this is where we are now and though its not ideal, its so much better than being in limbo.

We feel like we have our lives ahead of us now and we can mold them however we want. We are going to take the summer to “find ourselves”, as cliched as that sounds. We want to go camping, take photography classes, redecorate, travel, reinvent our business, and generally figure out who we are as two best friends living life together with no other objectives. We feel like we are in the first days of the rest of our lives.

*First two photos above taken with my new Canon Rebel T3i in Randy’s parents’ back yard. Bottom photo taken with my Sony DSC-T100 in Yellow Springs, Ohio in 2008.

Care Package

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My parents have lifted me out of countless pits in the past. They cannot rescue me from infertility and miscarriage and I know this eats them up. They don’t like to see their children suffer and they also mourn for their grandchildren who will never be. Though they can’t fix this problem for us, they are great at showing their love and concern in practical ways. Last night they dropped off a care package – something to brighten our day and help us escape for a little while.

All the fixings for a movie night, including jammies for both of us.

Things like this get us through a yucky evening  – less because of the content and more because of the comforting knowledge that they took the time to do something nice in our time of need. It helps more than they could ever know.