Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dorothy Coleman Rademaker and Leo Carl Rademaker

My Grandma died 5 years and one day ago.

It happened somewhat quickly. Three years or so before her death, she noticed a lump in her breast. Apparently, she talked to my Grandpa about it, but they both decided that they didn't want to have invasive surgery or radiation treatments, so they kept it quiet and didn't go to the doctor or anything. They certainly didn't tell their children or grandchildren.

As much as this saddens me, I can't blame them. They wanted to feel in control of their situation and I know that all of their offspring would have been most vocal in pushing them to do everything they could to beat cancer. Grandma didn't want to beat cancer; maybe she was scared, maybe she was confident that her life already meant so much that she didn't need to. I don't know. Maybe when I'm in my 80s, I'll understand it more. Then again, it doesn't really matter if I understand it.

I didn't really notice my Grandma's decline. I was busy with a doctoral program in Alabama and my grandparents were in Indiana. My grandparents were always supportive; they would always BE supportive. I knew that death happened, but they were my grandparents. They were just always ALWAYS.

In August, she had lost a lot of weight, and my uncle made an appointment and took her to the doctor. On the car ride, she confided that she had had a lump in her breast for a couple of years. It all kind of happened quickly. The doctor confirmed breast cancer; my grandma declined treatment and went rapidly downhill; the news of Grandma's condition rapidly spread to everyone.

On, October 6th, I received the news of Grandma's death. I had been planning to visit my then-boyfriend, Adam, at his new place in Virginia for Alabama's fall break. I talked to my parents and Adam and decided to drive  (with my dog Oliver) up to Virginia, then drive with Adam to Indiana for the funeral. I left early in the morning on the 7th, intending to get on the road and get going. It was a drizzly day and, right before I got on the interstate, a car careened on past a stop sign, skidded across the lanes, and smacked into my car. My little, light Saturn spun over the median, across a lane, back again over the median, across two lanes of traffic, and into a ditch. Neither my dog nor I were hurt. My car was totalled and I had to wait 3-4 hours to get a loaner car and deal with that mess.

Oliver and I made it up to Virginia after a long day. Adam, Oliver, and I made another long drive to Indiana. I was glad to be there with my family, but it was hard to have the whole extended family there and be missing my Grandma. It was especially devastating to watch my Grandpa deal with the loss. He had always assumed the he would go first and I know he wasn't really ready to be without my Grandma. Ever. It was a beautiful love.

At the end of October, I got engaged to Adam. A month and half after that, the Ph.D. program that I was in dropped me due to my preliminary exams (I may write more about that sometime in the future). Three months after that (March of 2010), I married Adam. My extended family, except my Grandpa, came to the wedding in Virginia. My Grandpa had been feeling poorly and decided not to make the journey. I understood, though it hurt. He called me on the morning of the wedding and that conversation is still one of the best conversations I've ever had. It was lucky my make-up hadn't been done yet.

Two months after that, as Adam and I were leaving on our honeymoon, we gave my Grandpa a catch-up call. He chatted with us and was excited to hear about how we liked the Dominican Republic. That was the last time I talked to him. He passed away in June....more of a broken heart than any other ailment.

So, in less than a year, a lot happened. I am certainly happy that I married a wonderful man (and that my grandparents had gotten to meet--and approved of---him). I felt much negativity toward my experience with my doctoral program and my adviser. But the loss of my grandparents was staggering. Five years later, I find myself thinking "Oh Grandma would love this funny story about Latham" or "Grandpa would be so proud of Notre Dame football." But, most of all, I miss that they just aren't there. I know that they are looking out for me (helping to keep me safe during car wrecks, helping to keep me sane during my frustrated episodes, helping me navigate marriage and parenthood), but it isn't the same. I wish they had gotten to meet my son. I wish they knew I was having a second child.

I'm glad to have so many memories of them. So many crazy, wacky, weird memories. But my favorite memory is the children's book "Make Way for Ducklings." Since it was about Boston (my Grandma's hometown), we read it often. Grandma would say all the place names in her Boston accent; Grandpa would praise my reading ability as I grew to be a more capable reader. Sometimes, even as an adult, I would look at that book on their living room shelf and feel happy. I have a copy now that I read to Latham, and I know Grandma and Grandpa appreciate that. The ending consists of Mr. & Mrs. Mallard and their ducklings searching for peanuts and food in the Boston Public Garden every day, and when night falls, they swim to their little island and go to sleep. It's a comfortable, comforting image.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Kernels of truth!

We're excited to announce Baby Copeland: The Sequel will be arriving in late April 2015! Yes, we waited a while to have another because Latham exhausted us. We're giving him a sibling to play with and calling it quits, though, because WE. ARE. OLD.  #twoanddone

How did this happen? Weren't you just complaining about your body failing?

Yes, it's true. I can be overdramatic sometimes. Now, I'm not going to tell you how it happened (ask your health sciences teacher), but I will say that I'm grateful for modern medicine. Adam and I started trying in May, but nothing happened. I kept getting more and more run-down and exhausted in June. I also had some severe abdominal pains. I had an emergency appendectomy in 2007 and the pain had been reaching appendicitis levels. So...I thought that maybe I was a freak with two appendices. (Granted, I read a lot of books that have multiple appendices...maybe that's why it seemed a possibility! Ha!) I also had missed several periods but wasn't pregnant.

The doctors did several tests. And, for truth, I had a blood pregnancy test on July 17th and was NOT pregnant. That's confirmed by science, y'all.

Several more tests plus an ultrasound discovered some issues! I had an ovarian cyst, which had blocked one ovulation cycle and messed with my body on at least another cycle too. Plus, I had hypothyroidism. The cyst has to just be monitored (and had reduced during my last check-up). I was put on medication for my thyroid. Oh yeah--and I broke my foot too. (It was unrelated to the cyst & thyroid, but I broke it a few days after I found out about those other problems.)

My period never came in August, but I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. Wild! I had some blood pregnancy test confirmations and they're monitoring my blood and baby closely because of my hypothyroidism. I had to have an early ultrasound because they had no idea when I conceived because of all the medical issues. But they determined my due date to be April 21, 2015. Of course, I think we ALL know that this baby is meant to be born on April 23rd! Huzzah!!  :)

Ever since week 6 hit, I've had horrendous, debilitating nausea. I don't think it's quite what the Duchess of Cambridge has, but it's darn close. I haven't had to have an IV (yet) or be hospitalized. I had this with Latham (from weeks 6-16), so I'm not very pleased about having 2 more months of this. UGH. My students found out before most of my friends just because I would throw up in the middle of class and kinda thought I needed to explain that. Crazy.

Of course, during those brief respites when I'm NOT sick, I'm terrified that something has gone wrong. Luckily (?), the nausea has always come back rather quickly. I was scared to announce before 12 weeks, but am glad that Adam and I decided to share our happy news.

Latham is excited to be a big brother! He's very interested in the baby and kisses my stomach before bed each night. He's going to be a great big brother! I'll upload a video in a little bit.

Thanks for all the prayers, positive vibes, and cheerful wishes headed our way. This family of four (plus Oliver) feels very lucky and loved!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Anniversary Present and Family Photos

My parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in April! Wowsers!

 They were going to be in Virginia for Latham's birthday (and were bringing my niece and nephew to VA too), so my brother, sister, and I decided to gift them a photo shoot for themselves and their three grandchildren. The wonderful Jennifer Kline was patient and worked really hard to get excellent pictures of all of them--especially two squirmy toddlers! Thank you EJC Arboretum at JMU for the viewscapes!

 My beautiful niece, Eva!

 My handsome nephew, Ethan!

 Sweet Latham!

 Yay! Everyone is looking at the camera!


 Kissing cousins.  :)

It was a fun day! Adam's parents were also there, so Latham got to have a couple of pictures with all four of his grandparents. Since Adam's family is from Alabama and mine is from Indiana (and we live in Virginia), Latham has only ever seen all four of his grandparents together one other time. We're so glad we could take this picture.

And, because I'm a picture fiend, we also got some pictures of our little family-of-three. This was this year's May Family Photo Shoot.  :)

 I can't decide what "kissing photo" I like the best. I'm lucky to have two great guys who love me.  :)

And, I'm lucky to be able to see my parents' dedicated love, as well as to see my in-laws' example of devotion to one another.  I guess it's just a love fest for the Copelands/Bloses/Bulls! I hope you all enjoyed these spring pictures!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Beach Vacay

We went to the beach in July! Latham had never been to a beach before, so we weren't sure how he would do. We went to Southport, NC and stayed with my cousins Janet, Paul, Carleen, and Max. They were such gracious hosts and really spoiled us while we were there. The best part, though, was how much Latham LOVED the ocean. We're going to have visit the beach MUCH more often!!