The Newest Cainade Adventure

Last night, we got a phone call around 7:45 with the most incredible news I’ve received since 1:14 PM on March 29, 2016.

Nick: Hello this is Nick (as he answered my phone for me and ran up the stairs to Harvey’s room where we were reading a book together).

Sue: Hey there Nick, this is Sue, is Sarah with you?

Nick: Yes!! We are right here together!

Sue: Well, I have some news for you all! Your NIPT results are in. What do you all think this baby is?

Nick: I think it is a girl, but Sarah is leaning towards “boy” right now.

Sue: Well, everything else on the test looks great – the chromosomal tests are negative for abnormality screenings. Are you ready to hear who’s right?

Nick and Sarah: YES YES YES!!!! (Harvey was also yelling YES at this point)

Sue: It looks like Nick is right tonight… it’s a BABY GIRL!!

And there is was. The most wonderful, joyous news. A sweet, little girl to complete our family.

We quickly began facetiming our family to share the news, and their individual reactions full of elation and excitement were the best. Harvey was shouting “baby sister” over and over. I obviously don’t think it has clicked for him yet, but come this March, he will be getting a pretty good idea of what that actually means.

I have so many things running around in my head right now. First, I am nervous. I can’t help feeling a little anxious about this pregnancy, especially because I experienced a chemical pregnancy earlier in the summer. In addition to that, I had some pretty significant spotting in the first few weeks of my pregnancy, which is always scary. I even convinced myself this was not going to work out.

Once I got over that initial stage of fear and stress, I moved into the next phase which is worrying about the baby and whether or not she is going to be healthy and happy. I also have a fear of recurring preeclampsia along with any other number of pregnancy complications. This is all normal, and it is something I’ve been talking to my midwives about, as well as my therapist.

Ultimately, I know things will work out however they are going to work out. I have a lot of positive feelings and hope for this new adventure. I think most of all, I am looking forward to Harvey’s transformation into a big brother role. He is such a sweet child with a caring heart and loving personality, and I really do think he will see himself as a friend and protector towards his little sister.

I also can’t wait to watch my husband father a daughter. I get teary-eyed thinking about the privilege I feel raising children. Good, kind, children. Two of them. A boy and a girl. I know Nick feels the same way. This is going to be the adventure of a lifetime, and the past few weeks, months, and years have already helped to prepare us for the weeks, months, and years ahead.

No matter what happens, the Cainades, all four of us, will face the days with love and positivity.

Here we go again!! ❤

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3rd Anniversary Post… sort of?

As I sit here to write about our third anniversary, I have to be honest and say that it’s been a rough couple of days. I would love to wish my husband a happy 3 years of marriage, and let that be it. But, the truth is, the end of his Father’s Day, and the beginning of our anniversary week have been high-jacked. Trigger warning: this post is long and a bit sad. I’ll spare you the graphic details, but if you’re not in the place where you can read about pregnancy loss, then I urge you to skip it and return to it another day. I also curse – sorry, not sorry.

Last week, I had a positive pregnancy test. It wasn’t just the regular ole’ “two pink lines” one is bright and the other is hard-to-tell type of thing… it was a digital pregnancy test that said “YES+” and I was so excited. Our family plan has always been to wait until Harvey turned two, and then talk about trying again, and to aim for the whole three-years-a-part timing thing. Once May rolled around, we figured we would hop on board and get the ball rolling. And then, just like last time, BAM! First time’s a charm… pregnant!! Woohoo!! February due date! Right before Harvey’s 3rd birthday. Time to get the list started: call the doctor, tell immediate family, start telling Harvey about the “baby in mama’s belly” – you know, the usual.

For half a week, we did all of those things. I made a doctor’s appointment for my 8 week ultrasound, we told Nick’s parents, and read Harvey the Berenstain Bears’ “New Baby” book.

**Quick break for a funny story here (When we pointed to my belly and told Harvey there was a baby in there, he put his face close to my stomach and pointed to a mole above my belly button and said “aww it’s a baby!!!” Nick and I laughed hysterically and then Harv did too. As sad as I have been for the past few days, this is a memory I will cherish and keep).**

A few days into this new exciting adventure, I started to feel anxious because I was experiencing some light spotting. It wasn’t bright red, so I figured after everything I had seen on the internet that it was totally normal and I tried to put it out of my mind.

Sunday started off like our normal weekend days do. We woke up, had a blast at the NC Museum of Art, stopped by the Raleigh Flea Market and had lunch… and then we came home. After getting Harvey down for a nap, I went to the bathroom and there it was… exactly what you don’t want to see when you think you’re pregnant. Shit. Fuck. Damnit. I’m getting my period. Sadness… fear… uncertainty… frustration… anger.

Let’s pause for a minute here, Sarah. What the hell is wrong with you?! SO WHAT! You’re getting your period, big deal. Don’t act like this is that bad… you have friends who’ve lost pregnancies, babies, children, and close loved ones. It’s not that bad. There are families who have been torn apart down at the border. Parents separated from their children for extended periods of time… that is actually horrible. What you’re dealing with…? It’s not that bad. It’s not that bad. It’s not that bad…. Tears. Lots and lots of tears…. YES IT IS THAT BAD!!! I WANT TO BE PREGNANT!!! This isn’t fair. Ugh.

I immediately start going through the list of all the things I could have possibly done wrong. I went running the day I found out I was pregnant. And then again on Saturday. And then I spread mulch in our yard for hours. I overdid it. I drank a cup of coffee every morning I was pregnant. Should I have stopped that? I had headaches last time I stopped drinking coffee. Everybody says all of these things are fine when you’re pregnant but what if they aren’t… what if I did this?

Then, I start trying to minimize it. I tell myself I have no reason to be this upset. It’s not like I was even actually pregnant. There was no heartbeat. Some people call this a “chemical pregnancy” and some people call it an “early miscarriage.” I don’t care what you want to call it. It feels like a loss and I feel sad and I can’t help that. I won’t always feel this sad, and hopefully this is the only hiccup in the road. But it might not be. We might be starting down a long and scary road in order to grow our family to the size we’ve always hoped for. There is no way to know for sure.

After that, I start to get jealous. Envious. Of all the families out there who have their beautiful second children. There, I said it. It’s not my fault, it isn’t their fault. It doesn’t mean I’m not happy for them… but I’m allowed to be jealous. Just for a little while, ok?

And then… worst of all, Ed shows up in the corner. He says, “Sarah, let’s get through this together. Crawl into my arms, I’ll be there for you. I’m always here for you.” You see, Ed and I used to be a pretty dynamic duo. We do tragedy well together. But… that was a long time ago, and I now belong to a pretty terrific trio known as “The Cainades” and those are the people I do life with. Those are the people I will always do life with.  Although I am sad, although it feels like I could easily rejoin him, I am able to reply, “Kindly, Ed, go fuck yourself!” And for a moment, I am proud of how far I’ve come. Good thing I go to therapy on Thursday!

Now, for the first time, I have a very tiny, small glimpse into what this shame feels like. Honestly, I’m not even sure if that’s the right word. I understand why people keep pregnancy a secret. You don’t want to get your hopes up. Not only that… you don’t want to get other peoples’ hopes up. I don’t want to let anybody down. I don’t want to let my husband down, I don’t want to let myself down. I don’t want my family and friends to get excited over nothing. We are going to the beach at the end of the week, and I wanted to tell them about our news. Now, I have nothing to share, and I’m heartbroken over that fact.

When I called the doctor to cancel my appointment, I was half hoping that the person on the other end of the line would give me some sort of “hope.” I was hoping she would tell me to come in, that they would double-check, and that everything was actually just a bad dream. She was super sweet, and told me that if I needed anything at all to call them back, including resources for my current situation. Another quick side note here: I am switching practices after Harvey’s scary birth situation – although I absolutely LOVE the Women’s Birth and Wellness Center and recommend them to anybody who will listen, I have switched to the Durham Women’s Clinic where midwives (and OB’s) deliver in a hospital. I had an appointment there earlier this spring and loved it… but it occurs to me when I hang up the phone, that I might not have any actual, real prenatal visits with them. I hope this isn’t the case.

I am going to be ok. I have a great support network and an even better partner to walk this journey with me. All of our journeys look a little different. The unknown is hard, but ultimately, I know everything will be fine – one way or the other.

I’ve been hugging my child a little harder this week. They are miracles. I’ve always known that, but sometimes the universe has a particular way of reminding you. To my sweet Nick, I am so glad that we decided to get married 3 years ago. I’m sorry that we had to experience this as a family, but I am so grateful that we experienced it together. You are my rock and my love. I am looking forward to celebrating our anniversary with you, and to have a great week at the beach and a fabulous rest of the summer. I love you.

To everybody else, I hope you are well. In this world, we are all walking our own path. Nobody else can walk your path for you. But, if you want – if you let them – there are people who are willing to walk it with you for a little while if you need them to. I am here as one of those people. I might not know what to say to you. I might not know what it is you need. But I will be here. We can sit in silence, or we can chat for as long as you need. Don’t tell me that “everything will work out the way it is supposed to” because I don’t even know what that is “supposed” to be. Just be there, show up, and I will do the same. Take care of yourselves and love each other fiercely. Peace be with you. ❤

Harvey’s Birth Story

I’ve been trying to figure out how I wanted to start this story for a few days now. It is such an important story. In fact, it is the most significant thing that has happened to me in my life to date. I’ll try and limit the amount of times I use some silly cliché to describe having a child, but truly, nothing could ever possibly prepare you for the feelings that you will experience when your baby is being born.

The events leading up to Harvey’s birth and immediately after are actually the most perfect metaphors I can think of to relay the first, and probably most imperative, lessons I will learn about parenting in my entire life.

  1. Things are not always going to go according to plan… and that is ok. It just is. It has to be.
  2. You have to ask for help. You will need it. Receiving it doesn’t make you a bad parent. It makes you a better one.
  3. The most crucial part of being a parent is knowing that you are a team. Your partner is going to be the best advocate/resource/support you could ask for, and is the ONLY other person in the world who understands the love you have for YOUR baby. You all made the baby together, you will raise it together, and you will grow as people, together, when you set out on the journey known as parenthood.

Now, most of you know from Nick’s most recent post that I had planned on a natural birth at the Women’s Birth and Wellness Center in Chapel Hill, NC. I wanted to eat and drink while I labored, use the birthing tub as I pleased, have scented oils, music playing, candles burning, etc. etc. etc… I am not going to go too much into this, because, my intention is to try and make this happen someday. I love my original birth plan, and fully believe in the power of natural birth and my ability as a woman to bring a child into this world without any medical interventions. However, my birth plan was thrown out of the window around 11:30 AM on 3/28/16.

Preeclampsia. It’s a scary word. It’s even scarier when it is happening to you. For those of you who watched Downton Abbey, yes… Lady Sybil died during childbirth because of the condition Eclampsia. When Preeclampsia is not treated, or becomes too severe, it can lead to Eclampsia (seizures), which is currently the cause behind approximately 12% of maternal deaths around the world. This is the crash course in medicine that Nick and I received between 11:30 and 11:45 AM on March 28th.

Looking back on the whole thing, we were obviously in shock. We knew that at the time, too. We knew how serious things were when, within 15 minutes of arriving, my midwife, two nurses, two resident doctors, and one attending physician came into our triage room to explain that we were going to be admitted, I was going to be induced, and that I would be transferring care immediately from the Birth Center to UNC. What I did not know, is that the doctors, nurses, and midwife were hovering so closely over me for the next hour because they were afraid that I might have a seizure at any moment. That’s how high my blood pressure was. The moment that I started to cry and freak out was when the doctors explained the possibility of me going under general anesthesia and having an emergency caesarian. This was the “worst case” scenario. My goal, from that point on, was to try and remain as calm as possible, for me and for my baby. I had to have a moment with myself and with Nick where I looked around the room, took a deep breath, and say, “this is what’s happening, end of story.” Hence, my first lesson in parenting.

Once I was able to accept this new reality, my fears really set in. At the end of the day, I realized that I was not so much upset about my birth plan going out the window as I was about my baby. After all, it was “too soon.” He was a month early. I was only 36 weeks 1 day pregnant, and I was fearful for all of the possible complications that could cause him. Although the doctors assured me several times that they were MUCH more concerned with my health than with nugget’s, when you’re a mom, you don’t hear that. You don’t care. All that matters is that your baby is healthy and safe. What I had trouble swallowing is this: the way for my baby to be safe and healthy was for me to calm the f*** down. I was having trouble doing it. I needed help. I needed my mommy. I need prayer warriors. I needed all of the love and positive energy I could possibly get. Hence, my second lesson in parenting. So, Nick got on the phone, called our moms, texted our friends, and filled people in on the situation. After all of this, a magnesium drip in my arm, a few tears, a shot of steroids for Nug’s lungs, and a few doses of Labetalol to control my blood pressure, we were ready for the next step: Pitocin.

This is where my third lesson in parenting comes in. Being induced is no joke. The Foley Catheter that the doctor inserted into my cervix to begin dilation was really, really painful. I screamed. Nick let me squeeze his hand the entire time. Then, for the next 12 hours, I was on Pitocin without an epidural, which they turned up every 30 minutes to bring on contractions. Once my contractions really kicked in, I needed that partner support. Nick was incredible. He never left my side. Neither did my mom. I never once felt “alone” or like I was “in it by myself.” Nick and I made every decision together, and he was 100% supportive of my feelings, desires, questions, concerns, etc. When, at 3am, I was only about 4-5cm dilated, the discussion of an epidural took place. This discussion took place because I was basically having one big long continuous contraction. That s*** hurt. I felt no relief. I wasn’t getting “breaks” in between them. That’s what Pitocin does. I was hesitant. I’ve read that epidurals can slow the process down, and the doctors confirmed this. However, they also confirmed that the epidural would help to keep my blood pressure down. The more you can manage your pain, hopefully, the lower your BP is. I couldn’t manage my pain on my own at all. I was strapped to a bed. Literally. I had a catheter in to drain my bladder, and so that the doctors could keep an eye on my kidney functions while I was on the magnesium. I had an IV in my hand that was giving me magnesium, fluids, and Pitocin, I had a monitor on my finger, a blood pressure cuff on my arm, and two large straps across my belly that were monitoring the baby’s heart rate and my contractions. I couldn’t move. So, when the contractions came, and came, and came… all I could do was lay there. I breathed through them as best I could, but the Pitocin made it unbearable. Finally, my mom stepped in and suggested that I get the epidural. In a way, it is what I needed. It was almost as if I needed somebody’s permission to do it. I had wanted a natural birth so badly, and I was still clinging to that hope. Nick was able to help me reason through it. He helped me understand that nothing about what was happening to me was “natural” and that I couldn’t possibly expect to cope with my circumstances in the ways I had practiced (moving, eating, breathing, bathing, etc.) and that along with everything else, we had to make a new plan as we went. So… I got the epidural.

In the end, I wasn’t sad about it. I had the perfect combination of pain meds in mine. I had built up some fear in my head about the epidural completely numbing me out, but it didn’t. I could feel my toes. I could bend my knees. I could roll from side to side. What it ultimately allowed me to do was sleep for a bit, which I ended up needing, because less than 8 hours later, the doctors came in and told me I was fully dilated and that I could start pushing. What an awesome feeling!! It was finally time to meet my baby. I had the best team I could possibly have with me. So, with the help of my mom, Nick’s mom, and Nick, I began to bear down.

Pushing was amazing. I loved every second of it. In fact, I asked for music to be played. I wanted to hear some powerful women singing, so naturally, I asked for things like Florence and the Machine and Beyoncé, haha! Because my epidural was the perfect amount of incredible and amazing, I was able to try lots of different positions while pushing. The moms held my knees, I held my knees, I got on my hands and knees, and I even got on my side at one point. Approximately 90 minutes later, I could see my baby’s head in the mirror. I didn’t know if nug was a boy or a girl yet, but I could see so much hair! The next few minutes to an hour are undoubtedly the best moments of my life. The only other thing that comes close is the day that I married Nick. And, although this is probably the most important part to describe, words just won’t do it justice. Seriously… they just won’t. Elation. That’s all I can remember. The feelings and emotions and hormones that flooded my body and mind in the minutes after Nick said, “It’s Harvey!!” are impossible to describe. He came out pink and grunting, and when they laid him on my chest, all I could do is cry. I cried because he was alive and beautiful. I cried because it was over. I cried because I knew this would be the defining moment in my life to date. I cried because my life, from that moment on, was going to be forever changed, and I would have gone through that scary 24 hours leading up to his birth one million more times if it meant that I got to have my sweet Harvey in the end.

He is perfect. That’s all I can say. In the days following his birth, my preeclampsia got a little worse before it got better, and I am still on blood pressure medication. I had lost 30 lbs. in water weight by the time we got home on April 2nd (yes, 30 pounds in 5 days) and my ankles and feet and face have returned. Harvey is two weeks old and eating like a champ. He was born at 5lbs14oz, got down to 5lbs6oz, and as of yesterday he is now 6lbs4.5oz. He is the light of our lives. The story of the day he was born is one I will never forget for as long as I live. I love him with my entire being, and cannot wait to see what this new adventure will bring.

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A Quick(ish) Update!

So, I wanted to update everyone on what’s been going on since Sarah’s last blogpost. I’ll do my best to keep it short, as I’m sure Sarah will want to do a much more detailed post in the near future!

Everything sort of started just after her last blog post a couple Mondays back. Sarah was feeling a little off and extremely swollen at the end of her work day, and because her blood pressure had been a concern, she went to CVS to check it. It was the highest it had been up to that point – 155/115. I made an appointment for her the next day at the birth center, where her blood pressure remained just as high. The midwives were quite concerned she could be developing preeclampsia and did her bloodwork and a urine test, which came back normal. At the birth center’s recommendation, Sarah went on bedrest in an attempt to control her blood pressure. We had another visit a couple of days later, and it was quite apparent being off her feet a done her a load of good – her blood pressure had dropped a bit, and she had actually lost two pounds in fluid over the two day period. We were optimistic that with continued bedrest her blood pressure would remain under control and a natural delivery at the birth center would be possible.

A few days later, on Monday morning, Sarah woke up with a rather severe backache. I headed to work, but couldn’t help but be worried about her. We then had the following text exchange.

With that we were at UNC less than an hour later, where her intake blood pressure was at 175/115. Things started happening really fast, and a lot of the details are hazy for me at this point. Our midwife told us that she had discussed the situation with the attending doctor and they both agreed that Sarah was unquestionably preeclamptic at this point, and that they should get her started on a magnesium drip, as well as other medications to get her blood pressure under control, followed quickly by an induction. We were in shock and in tears, but we agreed, and basically told them we were in their hands and to do whatever necessary to get us a healthy mom and baby.

Things got scarier before they got better. Before they could get Sarah set up on the medication, her blood pressure had soared (probably due to the circumstances) to 188/125. Fortunately, the medication worked great once they figured out the best cocktail Sarah responded to, and it was mostly a non-issue during her labor.

I don’t want to get into too much detail about the labor (I think Sarah will be much better at that), but before we forget, a basic timeline of everything is below.

11:30AM – Arrived at UNC

12:30PM – Checked into delivery room, magnesium (to control BP) started

2PM – Sarah induced – Pitosin started, Foley catheter inserted

5Pm – Sarah starts feeling light early labor contractions.

9PM – Foley catheter fell out (indicates 3 cm dialated)

12:30AM – Sarah’s water broke

1AM – 2:30AM – Contractions becoming very strong and more frequent. 4-5cm dialated

3AM – Epidural received (another measure suggested by the doctors and the midwife to control her blood pressure… although her original birth plan didn’t include one)

9AM – 6 cm dialated

9AM -11AM – Sarah starts feeling very strong, painful contractions, feeling head descending. Epidural rechecked and dosage increased.

11:30AM – 10cm dialated

11:45AM – Pushing begins

1:14PM – Harvey is born (On the same day as two of his great-grandparents!)

I will say Sarah’s courage, determination, and positive attitude during the entire labor process was UNBELIEVABLE. Sarah’s plan (and how she prepared) for labor had been one where she was free to move around, eat and drink freely, in a non-hospital environment. Instead she was confined to bed where she was hooked up to IV, blood pressure machine, catheter, and unable to eat (she had to wait 24 hours after delivery to eat). She handled it all with grace and barely complained. Her entire focus was getting baby out healthy and she embraced the entire experience for what it was, taking it all in, instead of focusing on how it wasn’t what she wanted. All of the nurses and doctors commented on how great she was doing and how well she was handling all the different stages of labor.

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The best part was when it came time to push. Sarah completely lit up and kept saying how much she loved it. Finally, she was in control of something, and she didn’t disappoint. Her mom, my mom, and I were all there to help encourage her, but she did it all herself. With each push you could sense she felt closer and closer to her baby. Overall, the pushing was only an hour and half, and the time from induction to delivery was less than 24 hours (very fast for an induction on a first child).

When the baby finally came, it was up to me to announce the gender. In what was the most amazing, surreal, elated moment of my life, Sarah pushed the baby all the way out, and as the doctor held him and turned him towards us, I yelled “It’s Harvey!!”. He came out looking pink and whimpering, so they were able to put him immediately on Sarah for skin to skin and we all laughed, cried, and I felt the most intense happiness and relief I’ve ever experienced in my life.

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As I write this on Saturday, its now Harvey’s 5th day in the world. During the past few days we’ve seen so many different sides of him already! It’s hard to have too much personality when your life consists of sleeping, eating and pooping but a few of my favorite physical and personality traits so far are below.

Harvey Dent – As soon as he came out, my mom was the first to notice his prominent chin dimple.

Harvey Milk – UNC had some fantastic lactation consultants that were able to help us make sure Harvey was feeding well. He’s done really great so far despite his wee little mouth. Other than witnessing the birth itself, the whole aspect of breast feeding and what all goes into it has really blown my mind. I certainly understand why some women choose formula, because it is not easy.

Pee Harvey Oswald – His favorite time to pee seems to be when he’s getting changed as to give the changer a nice spraying.

Harvey Cry-tel – When he first came out, his cries were just a little whimper and they were constant. After an hour or so of skin to skin time, they put him under the warmer, and he fell asleep for the first time. Since then his cry can still be very whimpery at times, but he’s not afraid to let out a good belt if he’s not content – usually when he’s being changed, moved, or hungry.

Thieve Harvey – He’s a real heart-stealer.

IMG_4030We’ve had a lot of questions about how we came up with the name “Harvey”. Eno is a little more self explanatory – we liked it because of a river and state park we do a lot of hiking. Also, it is similar to my middle name of “Eli”, and everyone in my immediate family has either a first or middle name beginning with “E”. Long before we knew Sarah was pregnant we had talked about what we’d name our kids. Our favorite names were those that had previously been popular long ago, but had since had a decline in popularity. Harvey fell in that category for us. I actually went back and found the conversation where we decided on Harvey. It was very short and sweet! For context, it wasn’t uncommon for us to just text either name ideas at the time. This was back in September, just a couple weeks after we found out Sarah was pregnant!

 

 

Finally, I wanted to let everyone know, I am writing this from the hospital, in what will be our final hour or two here – just waiting on all the discharge paperwork to go through. We had originally planned on leaving yesterday, but Sarah’s blood pressure took a bit of a spike yesterday morning. This isn’t uncommon with preeclampsia, IMG_4044and medication soon got it under control. She will continue to take medication for her blood pressure for a couple of weeks, and it should be under control at that point. Harvey, as it turns out needed an extra day to monitor his weight, and bilirubin (related to jaundice) levels, which are now fine, but were a little iffy yesterday. Additionally, he didn’t pass his “car seat test” after a couple of tries the past two nights. This is a test they do with preemies to make sure their oxygen levels don’t dip too low while in their car seat for 90 minutes. Unfortunately, Harvey didn’t do well in his car seat. Fortunately, they had a “Dream Ride” car seat, where Harvey is able to actually lay down in his car seat instead of sitting up, and Harvey passed the test just fine.

Ok, so that’s it for now! Excited beyond words that we are going home today!

I’ve included some more pictures for your enjoyment below.

 

An Attitude of Gratitude :)

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I am 35 weeks and 1 day in to my pregnancy journey, and today, I have nothing but gratitude for my life, my love, my family, and my friends. How could I not? I had two amazing showers this weekend and got to see some of my favorite people! And, Nugget is stocked. The next few weeks are going to be over in a flash, and I am going to use my week off over spring break to install the car seat, pack a bag, and wash the baby clothes.

Soccer season is officially underway, and my JV ladies are a fantastic group thus far! We had our team pictures made on Monday, and nugget has now officially been in two team photos this school year. 🙂

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I also wanted to recount a funny story from Tuesday of this week, wherein I had to ask some gentlemen at a volunteer fire station to help me remove my wedding ring, which had basically gotten stuck on my finger, trapping my swollen knuckle and cutting off my circulation. After a few days of contemplation, and trying “not to think about it”, I finally called Nick on my way home from soccer and said, “I HAVE TO GET THIS THING OFF RIGHT NOW!!” Nick, being the cool, calm, and collected problem-solver that he is, called a jeweler on Leesville Road. They told him cutting off rings was not a problem, but that their ring cutter was broken. They also told him that I should go to the fire station on Pinecrest to receive some immediate assistance. So… I drove over there, walked my pregnant belly into the station, and told the firefighters I needed help. They, of course, immediately jumped up out of their chairs, probably because they assumed I was in labor (looking back, I should have been more clear about that from the get-go, haha) but they were so kind and sweet when I explained what I needed, and even comforted me when I got a bit teary-eyed over the whole situation. However, at the end of the day, I am so grateful to have had the help, and really do appreciate the tools/technology we have available to us in this modern world.

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Then, on Friday, our weekend began with a visit from a dear old friend, Catherine. She lives in Oregon, and we do not get to see her but a few times a year, so having her over to our house that evening was a real treat. Having friends near and far makes it so much more special when they come to visit after months of not seeing one another, and it is a really great feeling to know that your support network literally spans from coast to coast!

On Saturday, my best friend Jenn threw the most incredible baby shower for us. This woman really does have a career in party planning if she wants it! She is a fabulous cook, incredible decorator/crafter, and an excellent hostess. My dear friend Amanda came down from Baltimore for the occasion, as well as my grandparents who live in Virginia and my parents who live in Charlotte. Nick’s family who lives in Greensboro, including his Grammy, made the trip as well. You wouldn’t believe how many gifts, surprises, and treats that our sweet baby nugget was showered with. The two of us were stunned. Having all of this love is so much more than we could have ever hoped for, and so much more than we feel like we deserve at times. It makes looking forward to this time in our lives so much more joyous than we could have imagined, and we are truly blessed.

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And then, as if my week couldn’t have been any more wonderful, the girls JV and Varsity soccer teams threw me a baby shower that included… drum roll… CAKE POPS!! Delicious!!! We had so much fun getting together off the soccer field, and the girls even wore blue and pink to show which gender they thought Nugget would be. Some of nug’s gifts included a soccer ball onesie, an infant-sized warm-up suit, baby crocs (because the girls are obsessed with wearing them on game days), and nug’s first soccer ball!

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I am still trying to find a way to express how happy I am, and how grateful we are to have such a wonderful life. I simply can’t do it justice. I know there are so many people who have to “do this” on their own, or with much less help than we have, and someday, before this is all said and done, I am going to try my best to bottle up this feeling, label it, and share it with others.

A Much Needed Weekend in Atlanta

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Yesterday, I had a long car ride home from a weekend in Atlanta to think about and reflect upon the past few days. It was nice to have this opportunity to gather my thoughts and to have my moments of gratitude because, quite frankly, time is starting to move at a break-neck pace, and the closer I get to meeting my nugget, the more I wish time would speed up.

Before I get into my weekend and why I “needed” it so much, I want to say thank you to Nick, who has been (even in his recent sickness) unconditionally and entirely supportive and loving towards me throughout the past 8 months. I am 34 weeks and 1 day pregnant, and with each new day, starting to feel bigger and bigger. My ankles and knuckles have disappeared (my wedding ring is permanently stuck), and although I know they are not going to come back until after the baby comes out, Nick still sits next to me on the couch every night and tries to rub the fluid out of them. He showers me with compliments, even though he knows I don’t “hear” them, and offers to let me go shopping for things like new shoes because my feet don’t fit into my old ones anymore. He sees me struggling with my self-esteem and with feeling too needy at times, and still greets me with a smile and hug at the beginning of each day and at the end of each night. He thanks me for carrying and growing our baby, and tells me that he can never repay me. I know that it is not always easy to love somebody that doesn’t love themselves all the time. I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without him, truly. I love you, Daddy Nick… thank you for everything.

So, now on to me. Things are starting to change pretty quickly as far as my body goes. Physically, I feel fine. And I continue to say and think that I am grateful for this because I know that a lot of women do not. I’m not going to lie… at the end of the day, I am a bit sore, and my swelling feels slightly “tight”, but it’s not painful. It’s just… different. More than anything, it’s hard to feel like my old self. My self-esteem is starting to take a little hit. Its hard to wake up in the morning and feel “pretty” when my feet and ankles and now, calves, are twice the size they were last week. The skin on my finger is bulging out around my wedding ring and my face is swollen and puffy. I haven’t been able to color my hair… so the two-tone black/orange look is starting to annoy me, and the big purple stretch marks that are covering my entire stomach are enough to make any woman a bit sad. Also, I know you all who read this are aware that I struggle with an eating disorder and my body image… so being pregnant and gaining a lot of weight is constantly on my mind too. And by “a lot of weight” I mean it… a lot. I’m way over the “goal” I had set for myself and the one that women are “supposed” to gain for my height, age, and pre-pregnancy weight. So it’s hard to escape the mindset of “you did this to yourself” or… “you wouldn’t be so swollen if you hadn’t gotten so fat” or “your blood pressure is high because you’ve gained too much weight too quickly.” I have to constantly remind myself to stay as present as possible, and to appreciate this opportunity I’ve been given to grow a child inside me. Mindfulness practices after mindfulness practices help… but also, talking about it does too. I want to chronicle this. Just because I feel like I have no room to complain because my pregnancy journey has been relatively easy compared to some, doesn’t mean that my feelings aren’t real and that the “physical” effects of pregnancy have to be greater than the “emotional” ones. Also, none of this means that I am not enjoying my pregnancy, or that I am not cherishing this time in my life. I am absolutely enjoying being an expectant mom… I am maybe just starting to look forward to having my baby in my arms and not worrying about what feels like “petty stuff.” Although I am fully aware of the fact that my concerns will shift and change with each new phase of expectancy, infancy, motherhood, and beyond.

And then… just in time… as if the universe knew that I needed a boost… I was surrounded with some of my favorite people in the whole world over the weekend. Lots of strong, empowering, amazing, independent women who have been role models to me throughout my entire life, came to my aunt’s house and reminded me that I can do this, and that I have a support network who is ready for me whenever I need them. They shared such beautiful words of wisdom, showered nugget with gifts and love, and were so attentive in asking me how I was doing, how I was feeling, and how things have been going. They listened to me, loved on me, comforted me, and reminded me that I am doing the best I can, which is more than anybody can ask for. Their genuine care and curiosity was so refreshing for me, and was the extra little “something” I needed to get me through this week.

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I was nervous that Saturday wasn’t going to “go my way” from the beginning when I got out of the shower, started to get dressed, and the two different pairs of boots that I had packed to wear with my dress did not fit on my feet. Like, they actually wouldn’t zip (I am still mourning this fact and the fact that we have to purchase new shoes for me to wear for the next few weeks) but my aunt Molly immediately ran upstairs and found two pairs of shoes to offer me for the day, and even suggested that we go shopping if need be. Every now and then, you need those little reminders… where people would literally give you the shirt off their back if you needed them too. It also helps that my family is amazing. My mothers, grandmothers, sisters-in-law, aunt, cousins, etc… all of them, love me AND my baby, and are right there with me, every step of the way.

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The universe was at it again on the way home… we drove right past the biggest and brightest rainbow I have ever seen 🙂

 

Week 33 Update!

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33 weeks down, 7ish left to go! This post will just be a brief update because I have a much bigger one planned after my Atlanta baby shower this weekend! Nugget and I are doing well, we had two visits to the birth center this week. The first was a planned check-up, and the second was a follow-up to the original because I had a little blood pressure “scare”. As it turns out, I just had a random spike in blood pressure after a stressful day at school, and everything was back to normal the next time I went in. So, no hypertension and no risks to report. I am cleared to travel and I can’t wait to see my friends and family in just a few short days! 🙂