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. ❤

Where did my baby go?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.” ❤

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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. 🙂

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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.

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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!

Peace be with you all ❤

18 Months Old on the 29th!

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. ❤

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Harvey and Luke having lunch at Picnic!

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Aunt Amanda came to visit Harvey and Annabelle!

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Harvey having lunch at Pop’s house – thumbs up!

Harvey is 14 Months Old!

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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!

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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.

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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. 🙂

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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? ❤

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One Day at a Time, Step 9

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! ❤

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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.

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Here are some pictures from the show! 🙂

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And Just Like That… My Baby is One

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In 8 short days, Harvey will turn 1. It has been a whirlwind of a year. Wow, that’s an understatement! I distinctly remember a soccer mom telling me this time last spring that I would blink my eyes and Harvey would be graduating from high school. I knew she was right, and I smiled and nodded when she said these words… but, holy crap!!! We are 1/18 of the way there and I swear to the Goddess I don’t know how the time has flown. There are so many sweet, sweet memories that I feel I cannot soak up enough, and I don’t know why I’ve been so focused on this recently… but Harvey doesn’t smell like a baby anymore, but rather, a little boy, and I can’t keep myself from reminiscing and crying over that lost scent!!! However, I wanted to commemorate his first year with my top five favorite things/memories from the past 12 months. Here goes nothing…

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  1. Co-Sleeping. We technically did what they call “bed-sharing” for the first five months of Harvey’s life… and a little beyond (we still sneak a few mornings here and there). This means he slept in the bed with us! Yes, right in between us. We never planned to do this, it just sort of happened that way, and as a result, the memories we have of sleeping in the bed together will stick with me for a lifetime. Once we realized that we liked co-sleeping, we obviously researched it extensively, and found out that while it is a “heated” topic and one that is heavily debated, it can be done safely and effectively (meaning, Nick and I haven’t had one sleep-deprived night). Yes, I am serious. We are lucky, Harvey is a good sleeper and that part helps, it also helps that he loved/loves the boob… and that’s basically what co-sleeping is (or breast-sleeping as we came to call it). Sometimes I am so happy that he now sleeps through the night in his own crib, and sometimes I miss waking up next to him and his toothless grin. Every now and then, when he wakes up on Saturday/Sunday mornings, I will go get him and bring him into bed with us, so that he can nurse and fall back to sleep. I lay there watching him snore next to me and count my many blessings.
  2. Breastfeeding. So, I just have to say that I will be forever grateful that we made this happen. I tried not to get my hopes up before he was born, because I know this is really, really… really hard for some mamas. But, I knew it was something I wanted to try, and would be fortunate enough to have some time to devote to it because I didn’t have to go back to work until he was five months old. If it weren’t for the incredible lactation consultants at the Birth Center, as well as the amazing LC’s who work at UNC, we wouldn’t have made it through those first few weeks. Breastfeeding takes practice, and although we picked it up really quickly, it can be difficult to keep it up. When I went back to work, maintaining my milk supply was a struggle. I cried over it… more than once. I also know that we had it better than most, and I’m thankful for that. Being able to breastfeed him made our bond that much stronger. It also made life extremely convenient for our family, who likes to be on the move. We have traveled extensively with Harvey (flying to Philly, Seattle, Arkansas… driving to Ohio, Virginia, Georgia) and it would have been more difficult to do if I couldn’t just plop my boob in his mouth when he was hungry. The fact that Nick was so supportive and helpful with both eating and sleeping stuff was crucial. Now that Harvey hardly ever nurses anymore, and is actually drinking whole milk, I truly hope that I will be able to breastfeed (and breast-sleep) with my next baby because I’ve loved every single minute!
  3. Family dinners at the table. This is something we will keep doing, because Nick and I feel very strongly about having dinner as a family every single night. We both grew up in houses that allowed us to do this whenever possible (extra-curricular activities can occasionally get in the way) and we knew we wanted the same for our kids. Watching Harvey learn how to eat is the best homemade entertainment I can think of. I mean… he’s obsessed with food. His eyes light up when he knows he’s about to eat something, and the BLW (baby-led weaning) process is one that I HIGHLY recommend to parents. BLW teaches them how to pick things up, what different textures feel like, how to process new tastes and smells at their own pace… and the most important part, how to eat at the table with the rest of the family. I have carved a special place in my brain for all of the “first” foods we gave him, and how he looked and acted when he ate them. Some of the dinner table conversations we have had as a family of 3 during his first year are ones that will stick with me for a lifetime.
  4. The first “real” kiss. When Harvey was around seven/eight months our bedtime routine was becoming more and more sweet each night. And then, one night out of the blue, he leaned in and kissed me when I squeezed him and said “I love you.” I swear, I could have died happy right then and there. It made my heart MELT, and now when he kisses me, I try to make it last longer and longer, haha!
  5. Harvey pooping on the floor when he was almost eleven months old. This one is a more recent memory, and one that made me laugh so hard I peed a little bit in my pants! First of all, our mornings in general are so funny to me. I wake up around 5:15 AM and hop right in the shower. When I get out, Harvey is usually still sleeping, so I start to dry my hair and drink coffee. When I’m done with this he’s typically awake, so I get him from his room, bring him in bed and nurse him. When he’s done eating, I get him dressed for the day. Nick **tries** to read the paper during all of this and the older he’s gotten, the harder this part has become. He is wiggly. He likes to squirm around, so most mornings, I just let him roam around our room naked while I finish getting ready for school. A little more than a month ago, I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom while Harv was trying to open some cabinets and drawers, and I heard him making his “poop sounds.” So, I look over, and sure enough, he was holding on to the drawer handle, straining, and a big ole’ poop was on the ground. I immediately cracked up and called Nick over to see, and as he tried to get his phone out to take a picture of the hilarity, Harvey stepped in it!!!!

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I also wanted to give y’all an update on me. Having a baby is not all roses and rainbows, and although it is the single most amazing thing I will ever accomplish, my mind and body have paid some tolls. As a woman who recovers daily from an eating disorder, the body image stuff is tough. I will never look the same. Yes, I’ve lost the weight, but women who’ve been here know it is not all about that. It has been one year since Harvey was born, and I still have dozens of stretch-mark scars. They are silver now, not purple, but I don’t think I’ll ever wear a bikini again. Not a real big deal, but definitely something we don’t always talk about, you know? The other part is that my body feels different, too. It’s not a “bad” different… just a “new” kind of different. Also… nursing a baby for 12 months can do a number on your ta-tas… woo wee! These are all things I just wanted to throw out there, for the other mamas who think it is just them… I am here to tell you it is not! You will develop your own new sense of “normal” and you might have to work at “falling in love” with that new body, that new person, that new life.

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What’s new in the world of being a working mom you might ask? Well…let me start by saying this: If I were given the choice to do it differently, I wouldn’t. Yes, even if I had a million dollars and the ability to stay home, without money worries, I wouldn’t. I was a teacher before I was a mother, and that does not mean that being a mother has to come “second.” Some really good advice I got from my Aunt Molly was that we can “be both” and that’s okay! I love teaching, and I love coaching, and I love Harvey and I love my family. Now, with all of that being said, each day is different and can bring its own struggles and hurdles. There are DEFINITELY days when I go to bed feeling like I let somebody down. Sometimes, it’s my husband, sometimes its my child, sometimes its my students or my players. Some days, I feel like I did a good job at everything, and some days I feel like I did a mediocre job with everything. Those days are the hardest. However, I continue to live my life with a huge sense of fulfillment and joy, and the fact that Harvey comes with me to soccer games, and we can spend time together that way, is super fun, and my soccer girls love him dearly. Professional update: I will be halfway done with my National Board Certification at the end of the school year! Woo hoo!

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There are a few people I would like to give a quick shout out to, because during Harvey’s first year, he has gotten sick at daycare a few times. His daycare is also closed occasionally, and they are not always teacher workdays for me. If it weren’t for my amazing husband (and his incredible job), I would be in the negative for sick days. Yes, I’ve been able to take a few, but Nick has really been the one who leaves work and gets Harvey when he needs to come home early. In addition to our amazing village of friends, grandparents, soccer player babysitters, etc., Nick’s parents (Lolli and Pop) have been our go-to this soccer season. Pop is now retired, and when Harvey’s daycare is unavailable, he spends the day with nug. I truly don’t know how people do it when they don’t have family help. If it weren’t for Pop and the time he gets to spend with Harv, we wouldn’t be able to swing it most days. Watching the two of them interact is priceless.

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Anywho, back to this little boy of mine! Harvey has developed his own little personality. He has 4 teeth (that we brush at bedtime), is around 30 inches long, and weighs 23 lbs.  He is a really funny baby! He waves and says “bye” along with signing “more” and “all done.” He can say “up”, “dada”, “mama”, “more”, “stop”, “ball”, and “dog.” He is also, officially, walking a few steps here and there!!! He now has a baby cousin, too! My brother and his girlfriend welcomed Knox Ripley Cade on the 8th, and we’ve been down to visit them a few times! Our good friend, Martha Gibson, took some photos of Harvey last weekend to commemorate his birthday… and if y’all are looking for a portrait photographer, her work is amazing!! ❤

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I will write a separate post about Harvey’s 1st Birthday Party soon because I want to include mostly pictures of that awesome day! We can’t wait to celebrate with our family and friends!

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