Mom: Mothers day & B-day

Sunday, May 10, 2020


I wrote about MY PARENTS in September of 2018.

But this month is about my Mother. It's Mothers Day & her birthday month!

My Mom's dream was to be a Mom. Ike and her were her dream...Well, until grandchildren came along and her new favorite kids are her daughter in law and son in law, right Mom ;)

But besides being the best Mom, I'd also title her as funny, fierce, contributor, hostess, community driven, involved, Queen, and the ultimate teacher.

My Mom made sure my brother and I felt like we had everything - I mean, she drove me to Soccer practice an entire town over just so I could have opportunities I wouldn't have experienced otherwise.
She gave me my first and only piano lessons in 2nd grade. She was my Sunday school teacher at one point, and she was also my Christmas concert teacher as well at Church.

Sports? My Mom is the reason I am wild about sports - She is the reason I pitched in Softball, pursued Cheer/Dance in High School (My Mom was a Ballerina growing up), and why I also know the rules of Sports and am passionate with my Fantasy Football team, October baseball, and why March madness might as well be a holiday for me...Ok maybe that has a little to do with my Dad too. But baseball? That was my Mom. Oh yeah my Mom also sings, plays piano, and she used to play guitar and drums as a kid. Yes, she is one of those people, could sing, dance, play softball, and sew. I know...I'm jealous too.

She was/is such an encourager. She encouraged me to enter my first pageant. Which spiraled into entering many contests and competitions of all sorts - She is the reason my childhood room is packed with trophies, medals, ribbons, sashes, and crowns. She was essentially my first Coach and made sure I practiced outside of practice...Made sure I was enjoying my time...But also, was in it to do my very best..and hopefully win it. She really wasn't the participation trophy type of Mom.

She also brought me to the bank to open my first checking account. Which led to teaching me how to pay my own bills. She made me get a job to pay for my own school supplies and clothes in High School. When I was 14-18, I probably didn't appreciate that, but she raised me to be independent. So, if anything ever happened to her or Dad, I'd be okay...And she wasn't going to raise a lazy kid.

My Mom is a warrior. Many of you have heard about her beating late stage 3 ovarian cancer. But you may also not know her Dad died on Christmas - just 4 days before her Wedding. She lost her Mom on Mother's Day in 2008, her big brother died 2 days before Christmas, and her big sister I believe died around Christmas as well...yet every Christmas, she makes it feel like the most magical time of the year. She has shown me that you can still live and miss those people and they can still live in our hearts, our recipes, our gardens, and our picture frames.

I wanted to highlight some of the non-traditional things that aren't always associated with Moms. Of course my Mom made me delicious meals - homemade little cinnamon rolls anyone!? She also loved me so much - Gave everything, so I could have choices. So I could explore life the way I dreamt of. She taught me about Faith and God. She was all the traditional Mom things and then she was also many other life lessons that I don't think Mom's always get the credit for.

I love that my brother and I were my Mom's dream and she made sure to carry that through to this day and I see it in how she is as a Grandma and as a Mother-in-law. She is the true definition of a hostess - She invites people into her life and truly loves on them, invites them to be part of our lives as well.

Happy Mother's Day Mom, I love you so much. I am so proud to be your daughter. Thank you for all the life lessons and for being so present in Ike's and my life.

Esme Reyes-Brunner

Sunday, April 19, 2020


Maybe it's the COVID time, the extra thinking time, the vivid dreams, and conversations with friends who have been through similar experiences this week, but I didn't plan to post this for awhile because honestly...I am still processing and don't always want to talk about it - obviously, but this week, I was informed that it is National Infertility Awareness week...and a friend suggested to maybe just rip the bandaid off...because that can cultivate healing..and she always reminds me, we write for ourselves, but we post for 1 person to resonate and maybe start their journey.

So, I've always had an intuition from God - being able to read others and when something isn't right - MY GUT GOES OFF. I always know God talks to me through my intuition.

In the late Summer, during the busiest time of the academic year...I could sense my body was tired....And not just the normal beginning of a school year tired...My body just felt off and I started to bleed, but not the typical period blood. I scheduled an appointment with a Doctor just to be safe the very next day.

Glad I listened to my instincts because I had learned I was experiencing an ectopic pregnancy...I just remember almost blacking out when she was telling me...Everything was a blur...

Afterwards, I didn't even know how to process with Aaron - at the time our Doctor wasn't bilingual and explaining what an ectopic pregnancy was in English was already difficult. Being in absolute shock and then having to get a shot for this, I kept thinking - WHY DID I FAIL? What's wrong with me?! This isn't real...This can't happen to me..."I do everything with my all!"...Yeah...this opened up all kinds of internal wounds.

I felt so desperate and just not in control, I would take every pregnancy test until it came back negative - Because after your body registers, you test positive every time for awhile. I thought once I get a negative test back, this feeling I have will just be gone.

Well, I got my negative pregnancy test back mos later, and it didn't empty any feelings from my system, it FLOODED them. But by then, I had a Doctor that also oversees Aaron and he was able to grieve with me...life was going to look different from here on out, together.

Like every time I bleed, it's going to give me a little PTSD.

Every baby announcement was going to sting. We are thrilled for our loved ones, but it was also a painful reminder of what we wouldn't have in 2020.

And then the rabbit hole of, What if I can't ever successfully carry a baby to term? What if I can never meet someone who is biological to me? My birth Dad is dead - I had learned in January of 2018 in my birth family search. I don't know about my birth Mom or birth siblings. So my potential future kids - Is all I have left to ever really meet someone biological to me, and what if I cannot even have them? I speak miracles into existence over What If's, but on a bad day, I can stay a little too long in the What If's.

And then having to deal with people saying the most well meaning things, but doesn't quite hit right in grief...like..."Everything happens for a reason!" "Babies come after marriage! That's the right way!" "You're adopted, you can just adopt!" "You are 30, this happens in older women!" "Not meant to be!" "Many women have been through this, you'll be fine!"... Again well meaning sayings, just hard to hear when you are grieving.

And now? So many months later - considering we might have to postpone our October Wedding due to COVID19, and after having to cancel my birthday, our USA ceremony, and my Easter Sacrament of Initiation into the Catholic Church...It's just one thing after the next...and I look for silver linings & I am grateful to be working & have health insurance & food in the fridge...But at some point, every person has a breaking point.

Besides praying at night when I am thinking the most, Aaron's consistency in showing up, guidance from professionals, & a few friends that really understood what I was going through - The most useful coping mechanism for us was giving our loss a name.

Right before the holidays, we had taken some advice from a couple that said they named their baby when she miscarried. It gave the baby some personalization and it was like an open personal line of communication to heaven. I liked that idea...and after some thinking, Aaron and I had finally chosen Esme.

Esme. Meaning emerald. Emerald is the birthstone of May.

Perfect fit for what would have been the birth of our Esme in May.

So when I think of Esme, it gives me comfort knowing my Grandparents are cooking and playing games with Esme, and that some of my friends who left this life too early are telling Esme embarrassing stories about me....and Esme is probably playing with their other cousins who also went to heaven the same way they did.

I don't doubt that God's plan for my life is bigger and better than what could have been. And...it also doesn't make what Aaron and I experienced - a loss of life, any less painful, it just gives me peace when I need it most.

I didn't know how much I wanted to be a Mother until I was almost one. I also know though, when timing and biology are in sync, I will have the best co-pilot in parenting. There is no better teammate than Aaron. That man loves, doesn't judge, and always reminds me God is in charge.

Writing has always been my best art. It's always been the healthiest outlet that I can do by myself, but I also have felt I've been in writing purgatory for awhile, and this was the most free conversation I've had with my journal in some time. It feels so good to feel like I am having the first real conversation on ink to paper this year. I didn't realize how much this experience blocked me from my usually most favorite outlet to remember, articulate, and document life - Writing.

I posted on my blog NOT for sympathy, pity, or for you to feel sorry for me. I can't stand none of that, ew please, just don't feel bad for us.

Like many people who have written about this very topic - We know we aren't the first or the last person to experience this. I hope that this can resonate for someone, make someone feel less alone, and even if our stories were different - Grief is grief...and I hope for the best in where you land in your journey. I also hope for people who say well meaning things, to be mindful in how your cause is not your effect and your intent isn't your impact. This goes for me too. I am the worst perpetrator of that, and I have a long ways to go in how I ask people, "If they are having babies"...I have a few mortifying stories in how I meant well, but that wasn't the impact.

So whether it's a miscarriage, infertility struggles, ectopic pregnancies, loss of life by other circumstances, the struggles of trying to financially afford adoption / the time it takes, I see you, my village sees you, God sees you. I hope you see what you need and take care of yourself 💗.

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After permission from the blogger, I am posting some posts of fertility struggles or miscarriages that I hope you can resonate with as well and their different ways of coping. 3 women I respect and admire. This is just a few of the dozens of women I know that share this experience and ways they've coped.

My cousin's miscarriage(s) and her narrative can be found on: An American Girl in Canada 

My friend and her husband's infertility struggles can be found on: Bethsaida Productions

My former supervisor/friend, and her narrative can be found on: Life as a Lee

Celebrating before tying the Knot

Thursday, March 26, 2020


Our USA June Ceremony if permitted to have 

I'd like to think I'm big on celebration. I love to celebrate peoples accomplishments, love, birthdays, and so on. And I always love(d) throwing parties for major events and as you know, planning other people's parties, and hosting people in my home. I love filling peoples stomachs, hearts, and asking questions and hearing peoples reflections.

But this year, celebrating has looked different for me, specifically around my upcoming marriage to Aaron. For timing and financial reasons, the traditional festivities of an engagement party, bachelorette party, bridal shower, and Wedding dress shopping weren't a reality for me, my Mom, and my 14 home team members in 6 timezones and all over the globe.

This has been the least traditional process that I know of in my circle, and unless you live in Mexico, can speak Spanish without people knowing you are American, and can withdraw money from the bank there - no one could really help except Aaron's fam. Which for my family and friends who have mostly a type A personality, this was challenging - Because they are helpers, doers, and get things done type of humans, and so their ability to really help me was pretty limited.

But if there is anything I've grown more into - it's my values. I've lived in them, wrestled with them, and tried my best to live them out through this Pre-wedding process and also in preparation for an upcoming transition. And here is what that journey has looked like...

I tried to honor our traditions. With each friend group I have certain traditions, whether it's our annual 3rd of July reunion with my best friend from College, High School, or Pageants where we go to the rodeo, the cowboy bar, and eat at the Stadium for those steak tips!

I kept breakfast at the Belle Inn with my 2 cousins before we departed from South Dakota. Met up with some childhood friends at my high school friend's parents house to catch up - We used to do Christmas exchanges there for 10+ years! And even if one of my friend's kids liked Aaron more than me, little C, I won't hold that against you when you know better ;)

I was also mindful in trying to spend alone time with my home team. I understand that when you hangout with someone you don't always want to be with their partner too. That is the same for Aaron, I try and make sure to just let him have family, brother, and friend time without me. I think it's healthy - and so by honoring traditions, I also tried to honor my individual connections with my friends. 

More than usual, I also made more travel or hosting plans. I invited more people to visit Pre-Covid19, and I also booked more plane tickets to see others. Because as much as it is a celebration of a new life chapter, I've definitely been pre-grieving for the loss of my singleness, the ability to just go, roam, and be - So in that, this year, I've celebrated by doing trips my friends and I have always talked about, well, minus Italy as it doesn't really seem like the place to go right now #COVID19. Because the most time I'll ever have is right now in my pre-children chapter.

Our engagement photos were done by former RA's / students turned friends and we used that time to also hang out and catch up. Aaron and I didn't want to get caught up in just planning a wedding, but we also wanted to be able to be productive and use that time wisely as quality time.

And I never thought I'd be so grateful for technology, but I have been utilizing group chat for big moments! For example, I ended up buying my Wedding dress from someone - Something I also never expected. I didn't get my picturesque store, "She said yes to the dress", but I did get a moment to share with my loved ones and Wedding party that I had found my dress and it's so similar to the one I'd been pinning on my Pinterest board! I also got to share the veil my Mom wore at her own wedding that I will also wear to walk down that Cathedral aisle.

Technology has made it easy for my friends to add Aaron to Pokemon go, or to get a peak into our day to day lives via Stories on Instagram. Either way, been so grateful that even if we can't share a meal, a drink, and a good conversation, we've been able to connect my favorite humans to my person in alternative ways.

And with COVID19, our June USA Ceremony may be cancelled. And I really empathize with couples who have to post pone their Wedding. But yesterday, I decided to get out our Papel de Picado Banderitas (The colorful flags in the photo) and hang them in the living room with Aaron. I may not get to hang these outside in June, but I decided to bring the party indoors for the time being! I'm looking for any moment that may be hindered, lost or post-poned, and bring it to the present.

This year, this journey of being a bride far away from her parents and home team, is nothing like I expected. I may not have gotten the engagement party at my parent's house, the bridal shower in Spearfish Park (Near my hometown), the backyard wedding on my parent's land overlooking the rolling green hills, or the wild bachelorette party that I had pictured in my mind as a young 20 something...

But I did get to keep my friendship traditions. I got to cheers with my Pendleton whiskey at the rodeo, eat chicken fried steak with my cousins at our favorite breakfast spot. I got to celebrate birthday after birthday with friends who met Aaron for the first time. I spent my year sending snail mail, doing video catch up's, hosting, and racking up my Skymiles and my Jeep mileage to see those I loved...Instead of shots at the bar, we had shots at a 3 year old's birthday party, and maybe I didn't get all these gifts to use for later, but I did get the gift of presence, something I value so deeply.

I love that my journey is mine to live, and my pre-wedding celebration is no exception.

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