I blinked my eyes and it has been almost 6 weeks with Della as our newest family member. In a lot of ways, it feels like our family has been this group of people forever. I think that is just because she easily made her way into our hearts and we were looking forward to her for so long.
She has been *relatively* easy thus far. We have had no problems breastfeeding at all. She has been doing that perfectly from the moment she was born, and for that… I am very grateful. I do feel like a milk cow every now and then, but I try to remember that this doesn’t last forever and I cherish the opportunity to feed my baby. I have been pumping every day to start storing up the freezer stash. I remember how hard it was to keep up my supply when I went back to work after Harvey was born, so I wanted to get ahead now. I have about 250 ounces of milk thus far (thank goodness we have a deep freezer)! It also brings me a lot of joy (and shameless pride) in seeing her grow big and plump and to know that I am the one responsible for that! She was already over 10lbs at her one month appointment and the pediatrician was very complimentary of her gains and growth.
She is a sweet baby and has started the little coos and squeaks – and has even given a few little smiles when we interact with her (new this week). It won’t be long before she is fully grinning and laughing and I can’t wait! She will tolerate tummy time for a few minutes and has pretty great neck strength! She also tolerates the car (mostly) which is helpful when trying to run errands or go on adventures. She even sleeps through the night!! (yes, we are co-sleeping again so that’s probably why) The hardest part is getting her to calm down when she is fussy in the evenings. I remember Harvey as a bit fussy, but since he was my only child at the time, I had unlimited time and ability to hold him and make sure he never cried for more than a second. Della, on the other hand, has to get put down occasionally and therefore lets out some wails. We bought a baby swing to try and help with these occasions and it works most of the time. The ergo carrier works as well! If Nick and I both had 4 arms, we would be set. But alas, we only have 4 between the 2 of us – so Harvey gets to watch his iPad some and Della has to cry some. When asked what the biggest adjustment has been – I would definitely say that part has been it without a doubt. “Divide and conquer” doesn’t mean that each child gets unlimited facetime with one of us – it means that one of them has to hang out on their own for a bit while we do things like cook, clean, feed the baby, etc. Overall, the transition to having two kids has been about what I expected!
A few things I am grateful for: I want to be sure I make some notes about how we’ve survived the last few weeks…
Lolli and Pop being retired is a HUGE help. The fact that they live so close and have offered so much to us is a real lifesaver. Not only do we see them most every weekend, but Lolli has vowed to come over one afternoon a week so that I can do things like run or go to Target. She then picks Harvey up at preschool and helps with dinner/bath. Monday, his school was closed, so they took him to the zoo and he had an absolute blast!! I will never quite be able to put into words how much it means to have them close by, to have their unconditional love and support, and to have such a strong relationship/bond with them. We literally couldn’t do it without them.
I am sure that most husbands and dads are rocking it out in their own unique ways, but mine is pretty awesome. Nick’s willingness to work all day and come home and jump right in to being super-dad continues to amaze me (even if I don’t express my gratitude enough). His job is flexible, which helps so much, so he can often get some work done at night after the kids go to sleep. Most days, he doesn’t have a minute to himself because he is either working, hanging with Harvey, cooking, or soothing Della. Not to mention, he even gives me the occasional foot massage! He has also discovered that playing records while dancing with her does the trick at night to get her down, so he takes that on while I have a breather in the evenings. He basically works two full-time jobs right now while I am on maternity leave, and I hope that he knows we are all lucky to have him.
My mom was able to take a week off of work after Della was born to help us get settled in the beginning, and that was invaluable to us! She cooked our meals that week, did our grocery shopping, and deep-cleaned the house! She was also a really awesome buffer for Harvey those first few days because he was a bit rocked when Della initially came home. She is coming up again in a few weeks to take him to Paw Patrol Live at DPAC and he talks about it constantly. Looking forward to Mimi time is very special to us!
Raising kids with friends who are also raising kids is hilarious and comforting at the same time. We enjoyed “round one” so much while everybody was entering into parenthood for the first time and figuring this whole thing out. Now, that a lot of us are starting to add number 2, it is really fun to watch the eldest kids become siblings and to talk about how tired and worn out we all are, ha! In a few years the kids will be able to entertain themselves, and we will all talk about how quickly these years flew by… but in the meantime, we will enjoy our playdates 5 minutes at a time. 🙂
I think it is easy to take this last thing for granted, so I want the record to show that I am extremely grateful for my health. I had asked my midwife pre-delivery about getting back to exercise after the baby was born, and they all assured me that if I had a relatively uneventful delivery, I could basically get back whenever I felt up to it. So, I took 3 weeks off and have been able to run since them. My blood pressure is good and I feel strong and healthy. It is important for my overall well-being and mindfulness ability to take this time to myself and exercise! Mamas can easily forget this, so I am glad my village helps me make it happen.
Harvey turning 3 and becoming a big brother has been such a joyous time in my life. Becoming the mother to a daughter has been everything I could have ever hoped for. I try to take a moment each day and soak it in. His funny little sayings, her tiny/squishy legs and baby smell… all of it. Last weekend we went on an adventure and Nick and I had a conversation while we were hiking about the relief we feel for having our two healthy children earth-side. This is something I never lose sight of. Not everybody gets this chance, and it is one I don’t take for granted.
We are looking forward to a happy and busy summer!
Today is Thursday, March 21st and I am sitting on my couch with sore boobs and a baby sleeping on my chest, and life could not be any more perfect than it is in this moment. I wanted to get this down while it is still fresh and raw, but I need you all to understand that nothing I could possibly type will ever do this story the justice that it deserves. The women, and the man, who were in the room when this miracle arrived are the only other witnesses who held the space with me, and who helped usher Della into the world and into our hearts. I am forever grateful for their love and support, and without them, I could not have done this amazing thing that is childbirth.
Alright, let’s back it up a few weeks. Last time I wrote, I was 37 weeks and 2 days pregnant, and I had made a little bit of progress on my own. I was 1cm dilated and 50% effaced and absolutely ecstatic that my body seemed to be heading down the right road this time (versus a preeclampsia induction at 36 weeks like last time). At my almost-38-week appointment, I was 2cm dilated and 75% effaced and got to have an “aggressive cervical check” because my practice doesn’t technically do membrane sweeps until 39 weeks. I had also already lost my mucous plug at this point and was having several Braxton-Hicks contractions a day. So, we arrived at my last scheduled appointment on Friday, March 15th at 2pm while I was 38 weeks 5 days. I got to see one of my favorite midwives at the practice (the last three appointments I had were with my three favorite ladies – and then one of them delivered my baby!!) and she stripped my membranes for me and announced that I was about 4cm. Woohoo!!!! Here we go!!! Things are going to start happening!! Obviously, this was what I was telling myself – there is no guarantee that this procedure starts labor, but I was feeling pretty positive and had felt a lot of pelvic pressure for the 3 days leading up to my appointment, so rest assured I was feeling very… hopeful. I had also gotten all of my ducks in a row at school, and was ready for maternity leave, so it kind of felt like the stars were aligning and my mind was at ease/peace. Lights… camera… action:
Nick and I decided to take Harvey to Pizza Inn (one of our new family favorites) for dinner. We always have pizza on Friday nights, and UNC vs. Dook 2019 (round 3) was going to happen later that night, and we were in an all-around excited mood because we knew one way or the other we were about to meet our baby, or settle in for a nice weekend enjoying some two-on-one time with Harv. Right after sitting down to eat at 7pm, I felt my first contraction. It was light, but definitely NOT a Braxton-Hicks, and I felt a flutter of excitement. I didn’t want to get Nick worked up, and I also wanted to try and maintain a level of calm so as to not run them away with an adrenaline rush. So, we finished our dinner and got home around 7:30, and by that time, I had had about 5 or 6 more in a 30-minute time span. I figured I should go ahead and tell Nick about this, right as he was taking a picture of the pink evening sky and saying that Della was going to be born this weekend. We started to get Harvey ready for bed, and as soon as I realized that the contractions were definitely coming consistently, we tucked him in, texted Lolli and Pop and called my mom so she could start driving up here.
At about 8:20 I went ahead and called the midwife, who called me back pretty quickly, and I let Nick talk to her because I was having a contraction at the moment the phone rang. It was Amy!!! One of my favorites!! This was wonderful news!! I had loved my prenatal appointments with her, and felt like we had a great rapport, and she told us that she was there until 7am, at which time Stacie (one of my other favorites, yay!!) would come on. She said that she definitely felt like I was in labor, and that when it got to the point where the contractions were getting too painful to talk through, we should come on over. She said since we were 5 minutes from the hospital, to give her a call when we were on our way. It became pretty clear at this point, that we were not going to sleep that night.
By 9pm, Nick’s parents arrived at our house and we turned on the basketball pre-game stuff. My contractions were 3 minutes apart by this point, and some of them were more painful than others. At 9:45, upon Lolli’s good suggestion, we went ahead and left for the hospital, which ended up being a GREAT decision, because I got the last available L&D room at Duke Regional that night. Pop stayed behind to spend the night with Harvey, and the three of us arrived in my room at 10:15pm, where we turned on the game and had Amy check my cervix – 4cm. I asked if she could break my water to “really get the party started” and she said she was happy to do that – right after she finished assisting with a c-section. She said she would probably be back around midnight and that we should settle in for the evening while she was gone. We called my mom to let her know which room we were in, and Lolli started pulling out her bag of tricks for labor (suckers, life savers, and massage tools). The nurse got my IV port in, and I started pacing around the room, trying to keep my hips open while I worked through the contractions, which were still about 3 minutes apart.
My mom got there before the game ended, which was a bummer since we lost… but I actually didn’t care a whole lot because I was about to have a baby… and Amy came in about 12:30am to break my water. We all got to chat for a bit and I introduced her to my mom, and she said that she was going to do her best to be in the room laboring with me as much as she could, but that there was a full house that evening, and 2 more women had checked in to the triage rooms that they have for “overflow” – which made me super grateful for the big L&D room I had. Once she broke my water, I remembered that feeling from the first time – the strange water trickling down your legs, which is pretty continuous throughout the rest of the process, and after this, things really started to pick up quickly.
For 2 solid hours, I was having strong, intense, contractions. They were 2 minutes apart, and really starting to hurt. I was doing a few different things to try and manage the pain, like walking, leaning over things, sitting on the toilet, sitting on a ball, etc. Mimi and Lolli were very patient while I was in pain. I can’t imagine what this process must have been like through somebody else’s eyes and ears… but I picture it as a bit unpleasant. They were so great at talking me through it, and helping me come back to reality after each contraction. However, Nick was the real hero of this portion of the labor. He squeezed my hips, let me lean into him whenever I needed it, and was a trooper when I really started to growl/howl in his ear. I would not have been able to do ANY of this without him, but it was this part that really sticks out in my memory. Babe, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I had made my mind up a long time ago that I was going to do my damnedest to have a natural labor and delivery. This decision had been made before Harvey was born, and reflected in my choice to go to a birth center with that pregnancy. However, that went out the window with my induction, and here we were, so far, so good… I was getting the second chance I had hoped for, after a healthy pregnancy and good start to labor. It was at 2:30am that I started to lose some wind in my sails. Amy had come in, and said the noises I was making were starting to sound like I was “bearing down” and I really couldn’t communicate with words anymore at this point, and I think I said something like, “I DON”T FUCKING KNOW!!” (whilst on my hands and knees on the bed). During the contractions, I couldn’t do anything but focus on getting through the wave. However, when they ended, things were ok and I remember specifically thinking that was different from the last time I was in labor (the Pitocin was making me have non-stop, long and continuous contractions). Once that particular rush was over, Amy suggested that she check my cervix because she didn’t want me to push too soon. When she did so, my heart sank a bit, because I was 7cm. But… this is when my competitive/determined personality kicked in, and I told myself that I was going to start getting through the rest of this “five minutes at a time”, which is exactly what I do at the end of long distance races. The next hour is a blur.
This part is going to be short, because it felt like time stopped and was elongated all at once, and it was the most surreal hour of my life. My nurse suggested that I use the peanut ball to put between my knees and lay on the bed for a bit. She said that I could try a few contractions on one side, and then a few on the other side, and that this trick was one that usually worked to get women to 10cm. I’m not going to lie, I pretty much spent the next 45 minutes screaming because the contractions were actually “coupling” which meant that I was having one big contraction, followed immediately by a smaller one… leaving me no real break in between. I was getting close to giving up. In fact, I did at one point. I told the nurse I thought I needed the epidural, and she said she would check me to see if I had made progress. Around 3:15am my L&D nurse checked my progress, and announced that she didn’t think I was much past 7-8cm. Damnit… not done with transition yet… I was crushed. I said I needed the epidural, and she went to call the anesthesiologist. The last hour had been spent with me howling, my moms taking turns holding my hands and rubbing my back, and Nick coaching me in my ear while I used him for physical support as well as emotional.
The nurse and my midwife came back into the room and said that relief was on the way. I, at one point, began to go from a deep groan into an all-out hysterical scream, and this memory is one that I am going to remember for the rest of my life. My L&D nurse got really close to my face, and took my hand in her hands and squeezed it and said very calmly, “Sarah, you’ve made it this far and you’ve worked too hard to lose control now… you’ve got this, come back to this.”
And then… all of the sudden… BAM!!! I felt the baby move down. I don’t know how to describe this feeling, other than exactly that… I could literally feel her body move down through my body, and it actually felt like the relief I needed. Nick said that was approximately 3:25am… and I yelled it out to the room, “I JUST FELT HER MOVE DOWN!” Amy then said, do you think you need to push? And I said “YES!!” So, she gently checked me because I was on my back at this point, and she said, “Sarah, she is right there, I can feel her head.” The room lit up… literally. I was so freaking elated. Amy then quickly got a gown on, while I pushed for the first time. I felt her head coming and I said to the room, “can you see her?!” and everybody said “yes!!” So, I pushed again and this time it started to burn a bit, and I could really feel her head coming out. I waited here for a minute while I panted a bit, and dang if that didn’t burn… but then with the next contraction, I pushed for a third and final time, and she was out at 3:36am!! HOLY SHIT what a feeling of release and accomplishment. I had done it… and I was in disbelief!! She was laid on my chest (after they unwrapped her chord from her neck) and she was absolutely perfect. The first thing I thought about her was that she had so much hair. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I remember feeling/thinking this when they laid Harvey on me, and I swear in that moment (just like the cliché Grinch story) my heart grew two sizes. What. A. Miracle.
Those first few minutes of Della on my chest were magical. I felt so alive and so present. I actually felt the oxytocin coursing through my body. The pain completely ended. I kept saying over and over, “I can’t believe I just did that… that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” It was true!! I remember being thirsty and feeling like the cotton mouth was intense, but Mimi kept the water and the straw close by – phew! Amy told me a few minutes later that my placenta was ready to deliver, and I pushed that out easily. We were actually doing it. All of the postpartum things I had wanted with Harvey… immediate skin to skin, delayed cord clamping, all of it. There was no rush. I felt like I was the one in charge of this whole process, and that my midwife and nurse were just listening and waiting for me to tell them what I wanted and needed. I truly cannot say enough good things about this hospital and this practice. They are absolute rock stars.
For the next 3 hours we were all on cloud 9, getting Della cleaned up a bit, weighing her, snuggling her, staring at her. She was so alert and sweet. She latched on within 2 minutes of being born, and continued to nurse throughout those first few hours. I was in complete awe. This next part, although it is an important part of her birth story, I want to write about another time because it happened after Harvey was born as well, and I want to have a conversation with Amy at my 6 week appointment about it – but I did have a postpartum hemorrhage. Long story short, it was 30 minutes of some quick maneuvering by the nurses, midwife, and doctor… and I am perfectly fine on the other side, but it was a bit nerve-wracking right before we moved to my postpartum room at 7am. More on that later!
Now, it has been five days of pure bliss. Harvey is very sweet and interested in his little sister, and she has been an extremely easy baby. She is eating like a champ, pooping, sleeping, and cooing. I feel like we won the lottery. How did I get so lucky? Just a short 31 hours after Della was born, we were discharged and on our way home. It doesn’t get any better than this.
I am choosing to share these photos with you all because although they are pretty intense and graphic, they are so important to me. I grew a baby in my body for 9 months, and then I birthed her in what were the most incredible 8.5 hours of my life. I hope you all can appreciate this story and our journey. We have been so grateful for the outpouring of love and support from our village, and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for our little family of four.
As of last Wednesday, February 27th, I woke up the “most pregnant” I have ever been. Today, at 37 weeks and 2 days, I am wading into uncharted waters. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely grateful that I’ve had the chance to carry this baby into the “full-term” phase, especially since Harvey was born at 36 weeks and 2 days… but this is so weird!!! I truly don’t know what I expected… like, I didn’t actually think in my heart of hearts that I would have a baby by now, but I also didn’t really think about what it would be like to wake up each day wondering when it was going to happen. I feel like the patience that mamas have to practice during this part is unlike any other kind that you develop in your life or as a new parent.
I have the option of being induced when I am past 39 weeks. While this is appealing, and I am totally down with it, I still have mixed emotions about what it would be like if I waited on my body to do its own thing. Who knows, maybe I will change my mind and decide to wait, but the idea of meeting my daughter and going on maternity leave is mighty nice. My history of preeclampsia is also always on my mind. At my last appointment, my blood pressure was the highest it has been during my pregnancy, albeit still completely in the “normal range” and I was actually 1 cm dilated and 50% effaced. Wait… WHAT?! I am starting to make progress on my own??!! I don’t want to get my hopes up about what this means… but after being induced while I was, as the doctor put it, “zero, closed, and tight” this is like music to my ears. I am also taking evening primrose oil and drinking lots of raspberry leaf tea to get things ready for action. I’ve been having some Braxton Hicks contractions here and there – but nothing serious. The midwife also told me during my cervical check that she could “really feel” Della’s head down there… which obviously gives me fantasy thoughts about a wonderful, easy, quick, and relatively painless (hahahaha) labor and delivery.
So, we wait. We wake up each day, go to work, and wait. I am really happy to have soccer season to keep me busy – otherwise I think I would be going insane. I am trying not to stress about school right now – there is currently no maternity sub in place for when I go, so I kind of feel like I’m jumping off a cliff there – but I know that it will all get taken care of in the end. I am also trying to be as present as possible with Harvey. He is so curious right now, and his questions about baby sister are starting to ramp up, which I just adore. I think when it does come time for me to go to the hospital and leave him at home, I am going to sob. But, the thought of seeing his face when he lays eyes on her for the first time is truly enough to get me through the next few days/weeks.
As an aside, I do really love how helpful he likes to be – and as my friend Jessica put it, having a 3yro is pretty awesome when you have another baby because he actually understands and obeys commands like, “please bring me a diaper” or “can you hand me that burp cloth?” or “mommy needs a bottle of water” etc. He loves being helpful and feeling like he is included! 🙂
Alrighty, well, I hope the next update is my birth story!! Until next time, send some good vibes to the labor goddess above – I need the birthing fairy to sprinkle some magic on me this time around! ❤
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.
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. ❤
So… Harvey is about to turn 2 and I am still in denial. I know I’ve said this before, but I mean it every time: “I think this is my favorite stage so far!” Seriously though, I loved watching my newborn begin to smile and coo, and then I loved watching my infant turn into a crawling baby. It was so fun watching my cruiser turn into a toddler, and now… it is the MOST FUN ever watching my toddler turn into a little kid!! I’ve been spending a lot of time reminiscing on the baby phase (mostly thanks to timehop on facebook memories) but also because it is the time of year where our lives are about to get very busy and hectic as soccer season starts tomorrow. I’m trying to soak it in, and put memories down on paper.
What’s new with Harv? Well… he’s officially in the so-called “terrible twos” stage. I don’t say that to insinuate that he’s bad, he’s actually quite wonderful (most of the time). I just mostly mean that he says “no” and “I didn’t do that” and tries to test/push the boundaries with us. I’ll admit, I’ve got to step up my mom game when it comes to this because I can’t help but laugh at him. Nick is the “good” parent when trying to actually teach Harvey what he can and can’t do (like jump on the couch or throw his trucks down the stairs). He has such patience and can keep a straight face. I am the one guilty of “encouraging” his hilarious antics (even when they aren’t that hilarious) and I think it is mostly because I am in complete and total awe of everything he can say and do and understand. Like, when Harvey is being disciplined by Nick, he does this funny thing where Nick will ask him, “do you understand me?” and Harvey will go “ma!” it is his little way of showing embarrassment I think? He absolutely understands, he just doesn’t want to acknowledge that he’s in trouble. Eventually, Nick can get him to say “yes daddy” and I am usually standing by trying my hardest not to giggle.
(like father like son)
His language has really taken off these days. He’s always been a good communicator, but lately he’s becoming a conversationalist. He is starting to produce a lot of original thoughts and comments on things, and some of my favorites are when he wakes up in the morning and tells me about his “dreams.” I go in and get him out of his crib in the AM and bring him into our bed so we can snuggle and chat. It is usually just toddler-speak/babble, but sometimes he wakes up and wants to talk about cars. Cars and trucks are his true passion right now. It is hard to find him around the house (or anywhere really) without hotwheels in his little hands or a tonka truck at his feet.
(early morning truck time)
We’ve had a fun winter with him, that’s for sure. The snow days we got were a real treat, and we got to spend some good quality time together as a family, even if Harv didn’t love the snow a whole lot. We’ve had lots of trips to the museum and to sky zone on Saturdays for toddler time (I highly recommend this to my Durham peeps, along with a museum of life and science membership). Another thing I love noting about nug right now is that he has friends. Like, actual friends (not just other kids in the room) who he plays with, talks to, and loves seeing. When Theo and Luke come over, he calls them by name and interacts with them (even if it is just to snatch toys away)! Elliott from daycare is his official BFF – I have to peel them a part at the end of the day when I pick him up. When we leave Ms. Rochelle’s at the end of the day, he usually lists off his friends one by one (over and over again) the whole ride home while he’s telling me about his day. My favorite pronunciation is of Annabelle’s name – Harvey still maintains that you say it, “E-Belle.” ❤
(harv and theo at the museum)
Update on my life: this spring is going to be crazy!! Soccer season is always something I look forward to, and I am going to attempt to finish my national board certification on top of that! I’m running a half marathon and a 10-miler in April – so keep your fingers crossed that goes well! I also wanted to add something here for you all. Last night, I posted an Instagram with an update on my progress towards being a happy and healthy and “whole” person. I’ve gotten SO. MUCH. POSITIVE. Feedback from that and I just want to thank my community and support system for those words and affirmations. In my post, I reference this term that my therapist and I came up with called my “imaginary belly” and I wanted to elaborate a little to that. This term is not one I used in a literal or physical sense. It is a metaphor for my “baggage” and all that comes with breaking the “stigma” of having an eating disorder and being open/honest about it. It’s a reference to the idea that I carry the “weight” of this struggle and the way I used to try and hide it and/or fight it silently. Ever since I’ve made the decision to discuss this struggle and my journey, that “load” that I carry has only gotten lighter… and I continue to feel grateful for my blessings and for my people. 🙂
Life is short. I lost a coworker this weekend. He was a good man, a good teacher, a good coach, and a good father. It was sudden, and unexpected, and it has affected a lot of us here at school in many different ways. I can’t stop thinking about his family, and feeling lucky that I have the chance to keep waking up every day and loving mine. Let people in. Share yourself with them, and let them share themselves with you. We only get so many trips around the sun, and I intend to fill mine with as much laughter and joy as possible.
Well… that about sums it up! I tried to find some recent photos of our winter activities, and will update you all again after Harv’s birthday party. He is having an Easter egg hunt-themed birthday and we can’t wait to watch the kiddies try and find the eggs (or more likely just wander around the yard). Coming up this spring: potty training a little boy, first edition. Details to be released upon completion… aka pray for us, y’all! Haha!
It feels so weird to write this, because we are 6 months away from having an actual 2-year-old “little boy”… what?!! Entering into the official toddler months/years has been the most fun and rewarding phase thus far. Don’t get me wrong – newborns are adorable, and crawling babies are fascinating, but I think Nick and I both agree that having a walking, talking, parrot in our house is the absolute BEST!! He literally learns multiple new things every single day. Let me try and capture a few of these things I’m talking about:
The first and funniest place to start is with Moana. Most of you already know this from my Facebook posts and snapchats… but to say that Harvey is obsessed with Moana is an understatement. He asks to watch it every morning. He wakes up, snuggles, asks for milk, and then immediately asks for “Nonnana.” He knows the words, smiles while he sits there and watches it, and he even… wait for it… SINGS THE SONGS!! He knows that Moana is supposed to help Maui “restore the harp (heart).” When we try to put on other cartoons, he will not accept substitutes for his true love, Moana. We might have to incorporate this obsession into our Halloween costume plans…
Some other things that I’m really loving these days are all the questions he asks on a daily basis. And all of the matter-of-fact type statements. He says things like, “Can I have that? What is that? What is this?” and the super cute things like, “I want this”, “I need this”, “I want some mulp (milk)”, “I want a boop (book).” He loves to talk about the different body parts he knows – he will point out his feet, nose, ears, eyes, belly button, etc. I would say the thing that we laugh at the most, and we probably shouldn’t laugh at… is the S word. Here’s the funny part – we don’t think he’s actually saying sh**… he is saying “sit” as in “sit down” because that’s what we tell him every time he comes to the top of the stairs, but it definitely sounds like the bad word! And I think we encourage it when we giggle at him. 🙂
He is very pleased with himself recently, especially when it comes to climbing, running, and exploring. He goes up and down the stairs with ease, climbs on the couch and treats it like a trampoline park, and loves finding sticks and rocks on the ground wherever he goes. He likes to throw balls with daddy (future athlete maybe). At night, when we ask for kisses, he does a “kissing contest” with us, where he goes back and forth between the two of us, to see who will give him kisses the longest! It is the sweetest thing, and definitely makes me feel loved. One other thing I would like to add (before I forget) is that right now we are going through what I hope is a short-lived phase of waking up SUPER early. I am not exactly sure why it is happening… but sometimes he will get up as early as 4:00 AM… and it is basically torture for us, especially because he’s been sleeping from 7:30 PM to 5:30 AM for a solid year now. Fingers crossed that this does not last!!!
Update on me: for those of you who don’t know, I’ve decided to run the Bull City Half Marathon on October 22nd! This has been one of the best decisions I’ve made for personal reasons in a long, long time. I FEEL AMAZING. Like, I wake up every day, and feel good about my health and my body. A few months ago, I had an annual check-up, and it didn’t go super great. I was a bit overweight, my blood pressure was really high, I fainted when they took my blood, and honestly, I just wasn’t feeling that well on a day-to-day basis (headaches, fatigue). I realized that I couldn’t keep using my family/personal stress as an excuse and I decided to change it up a bit with exercise and smarter dietary habits, and I’m so glad that I did. My blood pressure is normal, my weight is normal, I am in shape for the first time in 5 years, and I feel like my overall “heart happiness” is at an all-time high. For the first time since I found out I was pregnant, and had a big revelation there, I feel like an average 28-year-old woman who thinks about her health in the long-term more than her eating disorder in the short-term. It is pretty incredible how physical exercise (conducted in a safe way) can open the pathway to better mental health. Wish me luck as I continue to train over the next few weeks!
What else is new you might ask? Well, we are having some housework done which is exciting and stressful at the same time. We got new doors, new gutters, had the house painted, and we are getting new columns in the front – so stay tuned for updates with that! I do have to say that I am extremely grateful to have Nick around for things like this. He is very good at paying attention to detail and being assertive when it comes to paying people for the quality of work they are doing. When it comes to things like this, I am the brains behind the idea and the design, and then he is the paperwork and “muscle”, if you will. Speaking of Nick, for those of you who don’t know, he got a promotion at work (which is fantastic) and that comes with a lot of new stress and responsibility for him. I am so proud of all his hard work, and his ability to balance that work life with dad life. He remains the most wonderful daddy to Harvey – taking care of him each morning when I go to school early, and he is the reason the wheels of our family and life keep turning. I would be lying if I said our busy work and family lives didn’t take a toll on our “relationship life”… I mean, come on right? It’s hard to find time to go on a date night and to be nice to each other (all of the time) when everybody is stressed – but we make it work (most of the time) and I am grateful for his love and support.
That’s all for now – I will check back in when our house work is done! Until next time… Truth. Love. Honesty. ❤
It’s been a very fun two months for us here in Durham since Harvey’s first birthday. I feel like he is turning into a little boy right in front of our eyes, and there is nothing I can do to stop time in its tracks! He picks up new words and mannerisms daily, and has really turned in to quite the comedian. By that I mean, he really will sit in front of a group and try to make them laugh! He has several faces, giggles, and “fake laughs” that he will try, as well as a new “surprised face” he will pull out when he’s feeling extra funny. I feel as if writing these memories down is the only way I can hang on to these moments. New ones come in every single day, and I want to remember what he did and when he did it!
The language and speech acquisition is the most incredible thing to me. Harvey now has 30+ words that Nick and I can recognize, as well as his daycare provider and our close family. His new words (in addition to the ones he’s been saying for months) include: please, nana (banana), Pop, Lolli, Papa (as in Papa G), he’s working on Mimi (sounds like mm mm), milk, book, up, stop, Harvey (sounds like “ee ee”), Elliot (sounds like Ellie), poop… and honestly, he has a lot more, I just can’t think of them right now! He will repeat anything you say to him – he said “Bye, Lindsay” this morning at daycare! (I know you all think this is impossible, but truly… he says it clear as day). I think the most exciting part for me is that he actually understands these words. He listens to “no” and “stop” and says “thank you” quite frequently when we give him things. He says “hi” to any person who walks in the room, and knows when to say “bye bye” to people before they say it to him.
I know every parent thinks this about their own child, but to us… he is brilliant. He LOVES books. He will sit in your lap and listen to a story, while pointing to the pictures. He even takes the book into his own hands and practices “reading” it to us. I expected my child to be bright… but I did not expect him to be putting two words together at 14 months!! We are working on body parts these days, and he can correctly identify “nose” and “belly button”, which is adorable. It is only a matter of time before the questions about life, the world, and all sorts of random things start rolling in. Nick says he can’t wait to answer them, so when we were at Costco last weekend, I started testing him, ha – I asked a series of “two-year-old questions” so that he could start brushing up on his skills. 🙂
Harvey’s other new activities include climbing stairs, pointing, running, headstands, and getting into EVERYTHING he can find. He has five teeth, weighs 24 pounds and is around 31 inches long. He has jumped to the 85% for length, and remains on the 75% growth curve for weight. What a healthy boy! Other than the occasional ear infection, we continue to feel blessed with good health and a smart baby. He likes to play in his little blue pool, ride his red tricycle around the neighborhood, and really just play outside any chance he can get. Oh, and he loves to unload/load the dishwasher. He even dropped a plate on the floor the other week, and when it broke, he was very upset!! Now that soccer season is over, I get to spend more afternoon time with him, which I truly cherish. I go in to pick him up, and he flashes his big smile at me and says, “hi, mama!”… my heart bursts every time. He then asks for a “hug” and throws his body into my arms. I can’t wait for summer with him!! We are going to the beach, to Camp Mikell, and to Colorado. In addition to these fun trips, he will get to spend a lot of time with family and friends, and new babies in our life. How did we get so lucky? ❤
This is the piece that I wrote for my Listen To Your Mother audition, and was honored to have been selected to share it with you all on stage last week! Thank you to all of my family and friends who came to support me! ❤
Most women know that when they have their first child, the relationship they have with their own mother is going to change. Some women complain about the unwanted “advice” their moms give them, and some women are grateful for the time their moms take to help them with a newborn baby. Overall, I think I speak for most ladies when I say that the bond created between a mother and a daughter after childbirth is one unlike any other. To understand what it means to love another human life more than you love your own, and to understand what your mother went through to have you, well… that feeling is indescribable unless you’ve lived it.
For me, things were a little bit different. The day my son was born, I did not only become a mother, I became a daughter. Of course, yes, I’ve always been a daughter, but not in the traditional sense. In fact, I had already been a mother for quite some time if you want to know the honest truth. I was a mother to my brothers long before I was a mother to my own baby. My mother and I had more of a “friend to friend” relationship when I was a teenager and young adult, rather than a mother/daughter one… which is what it can be like to be the child of an alcoholic.
I learned to “mother” my siblings very well when I was in high school. I would take my two younger brothers to soccer practices, I would pack their lunches, and I would sign their parent permission slips. I would schedule their doctors and dentist appointments, make sure they had a ride home from a friend’s house, and keep the grocery lists up-to-date. I even filled out one of my brothers’ college applications! These weren’t really things that bothered me at the time because I truly didn’t know anything different. I knew my parents were loving, and I knew they were proud of me.
The first time my mom said “I am an alcoholic” out loud, I was a sophomore in college. Among some other very drastic life changes that included my parents getting a divorce, she told us that she was going to 12-step meetings. I was so happy with this news. Finally, I was going to get my mom back. I even went over to the local tattoo shop in Chapel Hill and put “One Day” on my wrist as a reminder of that feeling. But, by the time I came home for Thanksgiving break, she had fallen off the wagon for the first time, and my feelings of frustration, resentment, and sadness were growing. My mom was in pain, and I was in pain, and there was absolutely nothing I could do to cure it or to control it.
After going to treatment a few times, and continuing to build her support network in the recovery program, I could slowly see my mom coming back to me. The ways in which her alcoholism affected my life were deeper than I had realized at first, and would continue to be for a long time. When she first started talking to me about working the 12 steps, and who she needed to make amends to, I wasn’t ready for it. The day she asked for my forgiveness, I said all of the right words, but I wasn’t ready to give it. I think I was afraid that she would let me down again, that this time wouldn’t stick. Today, my mom has been sober for 6 years, 9 months, and 20 days, (not that anyone is counting!) and she has been a Mimi for a little more than a year. I am grateful for every single second.
When Harvey was born, my mom came to Chapel Hill for the occasion. I was hesitant to ask her at first, because I just wasn’t sure how it was going to go. I had never done the whole “pushing a baby out” thing, and I didn’t know what kind of mojo I would need in the room. As it turns out, in the heat of the moment, I wanted my mom there.
I needed her support and nursing skills, and I think that having her with me while my baby entered this world was one of the single most significant events that either one of us has ever experienced. She has been the sweetest Mimi in the world, and Harvey is going to grow up knowing her for who she really is: a warm, loving, smart, and caring woman who has a heart that’s bigger than this room.
Now that I have my own child, and I have officially entered the newest chapter of my life, I feel ready to accept my mom’s amends. I feel like we have had an opportunity to start over, and I know not everybody gets one of those. I feel a renewed strength in our relationship and our ability to bond over my child. There is a new truth to the way we interact with each other. I do not regret my life up to this point, you see, I would not be the teacher, coach, wife, mama, or friend that I am today if it weren’t for my experiences thus far. If it weren’t for my mom and her new sense of self through sobriety, I wouldn’t understand the concept of beauty within our imperfections. I know that in her heart of hearts, my mom has loved me and wanted the best for me my entire life. The “Big Book” describes Step Nine as follows: “If we are painstaking about this phase of our development,” it says, “we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.” The day I became a mother, I also became a daughter. The day I became a mother, I forgave my own mother. The day I became a mother, I also gained a mother.