Friday, May 26, 2017

#PBJstrong x Disneyland

Two weeks ago marked what would have been our due date with our son. We knew this time would be hard. We knew there would be sadness and memories of the pain the past few months have brought. The day would also mark the end to a sad chapter in our adventure book. With all the somberness May 11th would bring, we made the decision to take time off together and surround ourselves with all the love and magic we could find. We figured that instead of staying at home and treating the day as a sad one, we'd turn it into one filled with happy memories. What better place to do that than my happy place, Disneyland!

And what happy memories we did have! We were surrounded by an abundance of hope, hearts and love.... All thanks to my loving family, magical friends and support from so many wonderful people from the Disney, Instagram and the online community!

All dressed up in hope & hearts
The amount of love that went into our #PBJstrong trip began way before we arrived at the resort. My dear friend, Jessica, owner and designer of EnasBazaar created two very special and meaningful pieces of Disney style for me to wear on our trip. Jess has been my go to designer for all of my custom Disney dresses. She's not only a talented dress maker, but she's also a wonderful friend. I asked her to help me come up with something to wear for our trip and she went above and beyond to make sure that I was clothed in all the hope and hearts in the world!

My rainbow hearts dress represents all the love we have for our son's memory, along with all the hope we have for our future. Rainbows and hearts, in the most literal interpretation 🌈. Jess also went above and beyond in making sure this dress was special by having a custom patch created by The Briar Patchery. The patch was based upon our son's Peanut Plush symbol, complete with a blue heart and the words "hope" embroidered on the back of his Mickey ears. Needless to say, I was blown away by the kind gesture. I don't think I cried so many tears over a dress and it's meaning since I found my wedding dress!

I also had a very special pair of white Minnie ears created for me by a beautiful ear maker on Instagram. FiveCubDen is also a fellow angel mama who kindly created this special pair of ears, the perfect way to show off my Peanut patch, to wear on our trip!

The meaningful Disney wear didn't stop at just one dress. Jess/EnasBazaar helped create a second dress that also represented hearts and hope! This time she used a Tsum fabric that I found from Japan. It was perfect because it combined my favorite Tsums, along with little hearts etched along the fabric. Jess went one above and created a heart cut out on the back of the dress to add a special touch, too!

Thankful for all of our magical friends!
Our days were filled with so much support and love! We're so thankful for our wonderful friends, family and loved ones who came to visit us while we were at the parks. We're thankful for the hugs and magic each and every one of them brought to us.

Something that I'm so thankful to be a part of is the Disney bride community. I've made so many wonderful connections to kind and amazing people during my days as a Disneyland bride. While over the years our weddings have passed and time has moved us all along, I'm forever thankful for my fellow Disney brides! Two fellow Disney brides, my beautiful friends Mindy and Hope came to give us hugs and spread a little magic into our day. They also surprised us with this beautiful gift, our #PBJstrong hashtag in Disney art form!
A surprise cameo by the Beast during our little photoshoot!
Thankful for magical friends and fellow Disneyland brides!
Peter and I are also incredibly thankful for the wonderful people we've been able to call our "fairy godmothers" at Disney. They're literally the team who creates magic and fulfills dreams, the Disney Fairytale Weddings Team! We've been connected to the team since our 2010 wedding and they've grown to be a beautiful part of our "Disney Family". It was so nice to be able to stop by for a visit with the team, catch up and get lots of magical hugs from them during our trip!

We also got to see so many of wonderful Disney friends while we were at the park! Check out the Tokyo Disney "kawaii" bag/backpack club 😄
Yay for meet ups with two very magical beauties! 

Lastly, our trip wouldn't have been complete without my family. My sister, our advocate and our constant rock during our toughest days came to spend the day with us!
My sister, my emotional rock 💖
Onto the next chapter...
We truly had a love and magic filled few days at the happiest place on Earth. Disney truly has the most wonderful effect on a person, no matter what the circumstance. Disney is a place that brings joy, even in the darkest of days. Our visit there was one that truly added so much light into our little world. We're so thankful for all the new memories we were able to make and the people we were able to spend time with. We're also so thankful for the endless love we received from everyone, the support, the messages and hearts meant the world to us and made our day full of so much love.

We now look ahead to the future and begin a new chapter of our adventure book. Here's to hoping the pages ahead will be filled with endless love, brighter days ahead and most of all HOPE (& a PB&J rainbow).



Thursday, May 11, 2017

May 11, 2017

May 11, 2017. This may seem like an average day to some, but to us.... this day would have possibly marked the day we would have welcomed our son into the world. Today would have been my due date.


Granted, we know that it's only a small percentage of parents that actually give birth on their actual due date, but to us, the significance of this day means the world to us. This is the last day of what would have been my pregnancy journey. So sitting here writing this and knowing that this journey is finally over in literal "pregnancy days" and the outcome isn't what we thought it would be... shatters our hearts.

Please forgive me if this post is all over the place, I'm trying my best to write from the heart.

Let's start at the beginning....
When PB and I met all those years ago, we thought it was all so easy. Go to school, graduate, find jobs, work, get married, live happily ever after. Easy, right? For a while it was. We met, fell in love, had an amazing Disney wedding, travelled, had another amazing Disney party, traveled more, and basically lived out our fairytale together. I'll admit it, life felt very blessed. Throughout all those wonderful years, the constant question we got from our family and friends was "so when are you having kids?!" It was a question we shrugged off, laughed at even, because we didn't feel that our lives were ready to add a little one yet. We loved how our lives were as a PB&J duo, that we needed a little more time before making it a trio.
A highlight of our PB&J duo-ness, our #PBJhappy5 anniversary party inside Disneyland. Photo by White Rabbit Photo Boutique

The moment that changed it all...
We were happy being at duo until a fateful Walt Disney World trip in November of 2015. While we were waiting to watch "Wishes", there was a beautiful family in front of us. We watched as a dad and daughter laughed and embraced during the fireworks show. That feeling of pure love... it was that moment we realized...we wanted that, too.
Literally wishing to go from a duo to a trio.

It's not as easy as it seems
After returning home from that Disney World trip, we decided to try for a family. What we soon found out is that getting pregnant isn't as easy as it seems. Like really, really not easy. A woman only has about 1-2 days out of a month where she can get pregnant and even if the timing is right, only a 30% chance of conceiving. I'm not a fertility expert, but from all the research I gathered from the months and months of consistently getting negative pregnancy tests, scientifically it's pretty difficult to get pregnant. So if you're one of those lucky mama's out there who got pregnant on the first try "without trying" congrats, you're really, really lucky!

May 2016, my untold story
Every month that I'd get a negative, my heart broke a little until that little "plus" sign showed up that one fateful day last May. If you're following along and you're wondering "WAIT, how did you get a positive last May and your due date was this May?" Well here's my untold story...

Baby PB&J #1
This story is hard to tell. It's one that only a handful of people know about. I was pregnant before our son. My first pregnancy happened last May, a few days before Mother's day, very close to today. I remember feeling so much joy and anticipation with this pregnancy. We were over the moon that 1) we were able to get pregnant and 2) we were going to be parents! Since we found out so close to Mother's Day, we planned out a special surprise for our mom's and my sister to reveal our pregnancy. There were a lot of tears and excitement. For a little while we thought that everything was aligned to be perfect. Then it happened. I miscarried. I lost our first baby at 6 weeks, 4 days. I went to bed one night blissfully happy, dreaming about nurseries and baby clothes and woke up the next morning to realize I was miscarrying. There were frantic calls to our doctor and by the time we were seen, our baby was gone.
Our first pregnancy reveal consisted of so much joy and happiness.

Miscarriage, the uncommon, common truth
I remember feeling so alone, so scared and like a failure with my early miscarriage. We then learned from our doctor that miscarriage is actually VERY COMMON. It can happen in 1 out of 4 pregnancies, or can affect 15-25% of pregnant couples. A majority of the time, there is no official cause of an early miscarriage, it can be chromosomal, it can be that the egg didn't implant the right way, the possibilities of things going wrong are endless early in a pregnancy. PB and I were SHOCKED, to say the least. We were stunned to find out that we fell into this catergory of couples who miscarried, but also to find out how extremely common early pregnancy loss can be. The doctor gave us tons of encouragement though, she said she had every reason to believe that we would go on to have a healthy and successful pregnancy in the future. So we left sad, but hopeful that the future would hold something brighter. I left now knowing that early miscarriage is a common truth. One that couples end up keeping a secret for many different reasons. I hated the fact that I was going through something so painful and couldn't grieve openly in the world. But I ended up keeping my mouth shut. I kept this pain in, I kept the story of my first pregnancy a secret, until now.

Then came our son
So we carried on, we continued our lives and went back to our daily routines. Then in September 2016 we thought we finally found our PB&J rainbow. We found out we were pregnant again! This time around, gone were the days of being blissfully unaware of a problem free pregnancy. We were more cautious in our joy, not wanting to jinx anything. So when we passed the "safe zone" or reaching the 2nd trimester mark (14 weeks) in our 2nd pregnancy, some of the fears eased off. We ended up heading to the happiest place on earth to do our baby reveal and finally started to get excited about our upcoming baby.

1 in 100
We had reached the halfway point in our pregnancy and at 20 weeks, we truly started to get excited as soon to be parents. At halfway through a pregnancy, we thought we were finally safe. Oh how we were wrong. We went in for our 20 week ultrasound. Usually, under normal circumstances, this is usually were the baby is fully looked at via ultrasound, the anatomy is checked making sure everything is where it needs to be etc. For us, the big anticipation was to find out the gender of our baby. I didn't notice anything amiss with our appointment, so when the perinatal doctor came in and was silent, we got a little nervous. Then came the worlds that shattered our world "There's something wrong with your son's heart. His heart looks abnormal". There was then a wave of panic as the nurse and doctor rushed to get me an emergency amnio, a flurry of phone calls to counselors and pediatric cardiologists. The next few weeks were a blur of meetings with medical professionals, endless testings, and meetings with pediatric cardiologists. We learned that our son had a congenital heart defect (CHD). We learned that CHD is the #1 birth defect in babies, affecting about 1 in 100 babies born. We learned that our son's heart was literally broken. His two main arteries were physically "switched" and that his pulmonary artery wasn't even formed. We learned of the holes in his heart and how rare his condition was that we couldn't get straight answers on what a quality of life would be like for him if he survived. All we heard was that if he survived that there was no cure for his condition. That his life would be a long series of surgeries and life in and out of a hospital. We kept hope though, hope for a miracle, hope for anything positive. Then we learned his heart stopped and we lost him.

#PBJSTRONG
Ever since those painful days in January, we've been on our healing path to find our happiness again. In a way, time has healed some pain. It's not as raw as it was before. I used to cry myself to sleep each night, usually waking to think everything was just one long nightmare. I'd physically pinch myself each morning, just to double check that I wasnt dreaming this all up. Then I'd realize the cold, hard truth that this was our reality. We were a PB&J duo again, failed at becoming parents twice and having to start back at square one. Although we've been able to find our smiles again, we know our lives will never be the same. There will always be a piece of our hearts missing. There is now a constant fear and anxiety for the "next time" a pregnancy may happen. Our world is now a little less bright due to our experiences.

Although there's been darkness, we promised ourselves to always have HOPE. We'll still have our bad days, that's for sure. But we'll get through it. With the help of our family, my amazing sister, our parents, our loved ones and through the amazing love and support from wonderful people I've been able to connect with on social media, we survived and will continue to survive the pain. The bittersweet beauty of this experience was coming to realize who really did catch us when we fell, hard. We found light in places we didn't think would be sources of light and realized who would always be by our sides. I know personally, this whole experience has taught me to be thankful for life. To not take anything for granted. To live as positively as possible. I'll fully admit to previously dwelling on petty, negative things, hey haven't we all? But our son's loss put everything into perspective. Life's too precious to be resentful or hateful. Life is meant to be cherished. I've learned that life can be unfair, but there's two options that we're given when that happens. Dwell on it and let the negativity consume you, or focus on the good life has to offer and maintain the thought of hope.

Hope, hearts and hopefully a rainbow on the horizon
As we stand today, we''ve been able to pick ourselves up from our pregnancy experiences and carry on with life. We'll continue on with our normal PB&J routines until we have the chance to find our PB&J rainbow again. We'll continue to find magic and love in each day. We'll continue to remember our son long after my due date since he forever will have a piece of our hearts. We will keep hope that the next chapter of what may lie ahead in our PB&J Adventure Book will hopefully get a happy ending, one full of love, hearts and a rainbow someday soon. 🌈

Thank you for reading along and for letting me share my story with you. I also want to thank everyone for the love, light and continued support you all share with us. I don't know where we'd be without your magic!






Thursday, May 4, 2017

Happy Star Wars Day!

May the Fourth Be With You!

Happy Star Wars Day, everyone! To celebrate this out of this world day, here's a little look back at some of our favorite PB&J Star Wars moments these past few years!

PB getting in touch with his inner X-Wing fighter pilot at Shanghai Disneyland😂
Chewbacca hugs for PB&J!


Of course there's been a lot of PB&J Star Wars merch, too!
The cutest BB-8 sipper cup you did ever see!
R2D2 cookies and Tsums made for a sweet Star Wars day at the PB&J house!

 Can't forget about Datsy, too! Our pup probably has had the most galactic Star Wars vibes over the years! He even had a 4th birthday party themed after the films!





And finally, our most Star Wars-riffic moment as a family: Our 2015 Halloween theme, Leia Jenn, Chewbacca PB and Darth Datsy!

I hope you've enjoyed this look back at our Star Wars love over the years! Happy Star Wars day everyone and May the 4th be with you all! ✨
© Our PB&J Adventure Book
Maira Gall