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. ❤

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Happy Birthday, Emma

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Dear Emma Lynne,

It has almost been one year since the day you were born, and I have spent time over the past twelve months searching for the words with which to share my feelings and love for you. This entry is just one small attempt to make that happen, and I hope your parents will welcome my thoughts.

Two weeks before you were born, I found out that I was pregnant. Having known your mama in high school and college, and knowing that she was pregnant with you, I took a special interest in your story and her journey. I loved that you were a surprise to the outside world. I loved that your mother shared pictures of her growing belly so fearlessly. I loved that you were going to be born at any minute, and I was one of the people checking social media to make sure I didn’t miss your arrival. All of these things were helping me with my transition into motherhood, as my own nugget was still very tiny, new, and a secret to the rest of the world.

And then, I woke up on that day last September, and read your mama’s post about your birth with a smile on my face. You were a girl, your name was Emma Lynne Maclaga, and on the day you were born, you had also died. My smile turned into tears, and I couldn’t help but sob. My reaction and feelings will never come anywhere near what your parents must have felt, and still feel to this day. However, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “how could this happen?” I was devastated, and angry. How did God allow such a sweet innocent life to slip away? It wasn’t fair. I couldn’t wrap my head or my heart around your passing, and I felt as if I didn’t deserve to have my baby still growing inside my womb while your mother only held you in her arms for a short while.

After asking all of those questions, it slowly became clear to me that God had a plan for you, and for your parents. Your mother, with such courage and honesty, began writing about you. She shared, what I can only imagine to be a fraction of her deepest feelings and heartbreak. She wrote about you and your beauty. It is through her words that I found a connection with you, and it is through her words that you’ve had such a profound impact on my life. With more grace and strength than I could have ever managed, your mother gave your life a purpose, and began the process of healing herself and other women who’ve also lost their babies.

The first time I saw your picture, I was blown away. You are gorgeous. Your soft, dark hair and perfect button nose made me wonder what my little one was going to look like. The day my sweet baby was born, I thought of you. When he first opened his eyes and looked at me, I began to cry, and I felt your presence with me. He was with me, and you were in heaven.

Five weeks later, I went to see your mama tell your story. Oh sweet Emma, she brought you to life with her voice. I have never been so moved. My heart felt as if it would burst right out of my chest. The room full of people could feel you with her, there is absolutely no mistake about that.

I believe that someday, you and your parents will meet again. Perhaps, you will have younger siblings, and I hope that you know you will always be their big sister. My wish for you is that you continue to watch over your family here on earth, as they will long for you the rest of their days. My wish is that your story continues to touch and heal lives. My wish is that your mother and father continue to find hope and strength, and that they feel you with them as they do.

Happy Birthday, sweet girl. You are loved from near and from afar. ❤

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The First Day of School

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I am going to start this post with a disclaimer: if at any point, my words or ideas seem discombobulated and sporadic, it is because my brain is currently in that state. I sit here and write this as Harvey is spending his first day in daycare. I am floating back and forth between confidence and tears. I knew it would be hard to leave him for the first time, and I knew that I wanted to write while I did so. I have to capture these feelings in their rawest form, so please hang with me as I try to make sense of this new time in my life.

This August, the first day of school has a whole new meaning in my life. For the past 22 years, the thought of school starting has made me excited, a bit anxious, hopeful, reflective, nervous, but overall happy for another year of learning and friends. As a teacher, I feel all of those things still, and I would argue even more so than I did when I was a student. This year is no different. I feel all of those things the same way I used to, but… there is a new spin on it. For the first time, I am walking into my building as a mother. A mother who is leaving her child in a day care facility. A mother who would give anything to live two lives. You see, while I wish I could stay at home and raise my child, I also wish I could go to work and teach. Honestly, what I wish I could do, is bring Harvey to Leesville with me, haha! Let me do my best to articulate my feelings about this… because I’ve been thinking about it a lot over the past few months, and I know there are a lot of moms who have to make a lot of different decisions about their own children and their own jobs. It is hard, and there is no right or wrong answer. However, I do think that we are all filled with different questions/doubts/fears/etc… that part is for certain.

I love my job. It is the only job I have ever wanted to do. I also love my baby, and knew that someday I would become a mother, and it would be one of the best things that ever happened to me. What I never really thought about was the day I would become a teacher AND a mother. For the first time, when my classes start filing in the room on the first day of school, I will know that every single one of them is loved by their parents the same way that Nick and I love Harvey. Wow… what a wave of emotion! To every parent who has ever trusted me with your children on a daily basis, thank you! I can now tell you that I have a renewed sense of purpose in my task as their educator and role model. Honestly, when I think of some of the best teachers I had growing up, and when I think about some of my coworkers who I look up to everyday, I think of a very important detail they all have in common… parenthood.

I can tell you right now that I have always wanted my children to see me work. It is important to me. When I was growing up, my mom worked. She helped provide for my family, both monetarily and physically. However, I can’t help but think sometimes that I am working so that my money can help pay for childcare. Obviously, other moms who work think about the same thing… but that expense is not my entire paycheck. You should also know that I am not a teacher because of the money! I find fulfillment in my job, and in being a mother. It is also important to provide for my kids in as many ways as I can. There are a lot of things that Nick and I would not be able to do if I stayed at home… like buy a new house, travel as much as we do, and expose our kids to new experiences that sometimes cost money. It is a double-edged sword, but not one that we have to fall on, you know?

I am not trying to rationalize any of this (although I knew this entire post would be a back and forth with myself over my decision to return to work). I am a teacher. I am a mother. I am a coach. I do not have to pick one. And do you know what? Mamas who stay home with their babies, are also teachers and coaches and mothers. Having spent the last 5 months at home with my nugget, I now know this. I know so many stay-at-home moms who’ve raised beautiful kids. I also know so many working mamas who’ve raised beautiful kids. I don’t view this as having to “pick one.” I truly believe we can be both! I also know that the grass is always greener. There will be days where I wish I was home with Harvey. There will be days when I can stay home with him (because teaching schedules are pretty dang awesome when you consider all of our breaks) and I will wish I was at school.

I will check back in once the school year is underway, but just know for now that I am torn. I can’t wait to start school, and I can’t wait to see Harvey at the end of the day. I am in love with my job(s). I am a mom and I am a teacher. I would love to hear from some of the women and men in my life who have to do both. How do you cope? What are your thoughts? Any advice moving forward? Send me some positive thoughts and vibes throughout the next month… I am definitely traveling uncharted waters!

PS – Harvey has started eating a few solids and rolling over! I included a picture and a video for your  viewing pleasure 🙂

 

The Fourth Trimester

Wow. I can’t believe it! Harvey is 12 weeks old, as of yesterday, and our 4th trimester is over! What a doozy. I wish I had the time and energy to write about every single moment… but time and energy are sparse these days (I’ll tell you why at the end of this post).

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Some of the highlights:

Harvey is a smiley dude. I knew that when my nugget started smiling (and occasionally laughing) it would bring me joy… but nobody told me it would MELT MY HEART over and over again. I can’t get enough of it! I’ve found myself doing all kinds of ridiculous things to see that toothless grin of his. Every time it happens, I feel as if I am enjoying a special moment in time that forever bonds us together.

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Harvey loves his jumperoo. I decided to put it together a few weeks ago, when I realized that his head control was really good, and he has had so much fun figuring that thing out. The other reason I put it together is because he loves pushing down with his legs (as if he is ready to stand up) and I thought it would be a great way to practice that. I did find… however… that his favorite time to poop is while he’s in the jungle jumperoo… so Nick and I have spent a little time cleaning not 1, not 2… but 3 “blowouts” up from that thing. Also, I realize, that it might not be the jumperoo that he likes, as much as the pooping part… haha!

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Harvey loves to travel. We went to Philadelphia a few weeks ago to visit some friends, and Harvey flew like a champ. He literally didn’t make a peep the entire time, and it really gave us some confidence before we embark on a much longer flight to Seattle later this summer. We also head to the beach with my family on Saturday and I cannot WAIT to put his little feet in the ocean for the first time! Hopefully, he will like it better than he liked his feet in the Eno River.

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Some of the lowlights:

Alright, I am going to simplify this story as much as possible… but I want you to understand that when it happened, I was f***ing devastated. I have been pumping once a day, since Harvey was born, to help keep a good supply of milk, and to start storing some away for when I have to go back to work in August. Well… a few days ago, our freezer (which is brand new) decided to die (we will NEVER buy Samsung products EVER again) and I therefor lost over 100oz of frozen breastmilk in the process. Holy s***. I had no idea that I would feel the pain and anger and frustration and sorrow that I felt if that were to ever happen to me. Pumping is not easy. It’s annoying, time consuming, and flat-out lame… but you do it for you baby, especially if you’re a working mom. When I lost all of that hard work, I sobbed as I had to pour it down the drain. What a waste. I also read lots of stories from women who had similar experiences… sometimes losing things like 500oz or 1,000oz when their power went out, etc. In reading those stories, and doing more research on my own, I found out that the actual chemical, hormonal, and emotional bond I have with my breastmilk is a legitimate cause for such suffering when a loss like that occurs. Mamas, my advice to you: spread your supply out if you can. Store some at work, some at home, some at daycare, and some at your in-laws’ house. Don’t let something like this happen to you! Lesson learned… the hard way.

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Harvey is going through a phase (we hope). This phase is called, “I am only happy when somebody is holding me.” Unless there is a very small part of the day where he is exceptionally happy… like the jumperoo time… he pretty much screams the second somebody puts him down. Wooweeeee… my back is starting to hurt!!!! Luckily, I have the Ergobaby carrier, and he enjoys going around in that… but somedays, bedtime can’t come soon enough! Thank goodness he (usually) sleeps through the night. I also want to add here that when I say sleeps through the night, I mean something very different from what most people mean. I am going to write a separate post about it someday, but for now I’ll say this: the three of us co-sleep. And by co-sleep, I mean bed-share. Harvey sleeps between the two of us every night, and it has been the most effective way that we’ve found to combat sleep-deprivation, nighttime feeding stress, and overall evening chaos. I never thought I would commit to it… but again, I will write about it more some other time! 🙂

In other news:

We celebrated our first wedding anniversary on Monday! Woohoo! Nick has been, and is still, my very best friend. I love him more today than I did the first time I told him so, over 8 years ago. They say that the first year is the hardest… and the two of us were like, “yeah right, we should go to Italy and have a baby and get this whole family thing started!” ……. HAHAHA!!!!! As if our year had not been crazy enough… Nick and I decided to buy a new house! YES! We are officially crazy (the whole energy and time thing). I can’t wait to write a big post about it in the future, but for now, I’ll say this: it is our dream home. We can’t wait to raise our babies in it… and it has more than one bathroom.

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Overall:

Life continues to be an adventure… one that I’m grateful to experience. We have amazing friends, an incredible family, and more support in this life than we could’ve ever hoped for. I keep counting my lucky stars because I know that it could all change in an instant. I’ve never felt that more than I do in these most recent days, after national tragedy strikes. I get to go to sleep tonight, with my loving husband, and my sweet baby, and that is more than most people can say.

Love to you all. ❤

My First Mother’s Day

When a woman becomes a mother, she, whether she knew it beforehand or not, joins a special club. This club is very large, and has many different sub-sections. Some of us belong to several of these sub-sections, and some of us belong to only one of them, but we are members all the same. Some mothers never held their babies. Some never felt their babies move inside of them. Some mothers lost their babies after a few short hours, days, weeks, months, or years. Some mothers have children with special needs. Some have boys. Some have girls. Some have twins, triplets, septuplets, etc. Some mothers have post-partum depression. Some moms are single. Some are divorced. Some moms adopted their children. Some mothers have fussy babies, and some have “easy” ones, (whatever that means) and some have children that they’ve only ever dreamed of in their mind’s eye. Some mothers have lost their own mothers. No matter what kind of mother you are, which part of the club you belong to, the moment you become a mother you understand two things: the love you have for your child stretches further, wider, and higher than the ends of the universe… and that mothers look out for one another no matter what.

I’ve always known that I am surrounded by strong women and strong mothers. Being a mama is something that I’ve always wanted, and I’ve spent so many years saving up advice, strategies, and stories from these women. They might not have realized at the time, but I was there… listening and watching and learning. I’ve watched them be mothers to their unborn children. I’ve watched them be mothers to their infants, their toddlers, their teenagers, and their adult babies. Their courage, skill, and strength is what gives me my courage, skill, and strength. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be here… I wouldn’t be who I am.

This mother’s day, I wanted to take some time to personally thank some of the mothers in my life, near and far, for all they’ve done for me.

To Adele, my Mawma: When I think of the different sub-sections of the club, and how some mothers straddle the space between two or more of them, I think of you. You raised three handsome, kind, caring boys. Today, only two of them are still with us. It was not until I had my own son in my arms, that I could have conceived of the grief a mother would feel while burying her own child. Still, you carry on. You shower your family with unconditional love and adoration, while carrying a scar that most of us know nothing about. You are, and always will be, one of my role models. I love you!

To Shirley, my Oma: If I’ve never said this aloud to you, I’m saying it now. You are the glue that holds our family together. Your unwavering faith is something I admire. The ways in which you love, encourage, and support your children, your grandchildren, and now your great-grandchild are truly remarkable. The belief that family is the most important thing is something that I’ve learned from you, and hope to pass along to my own family someday.

To Rebecca, my Aunt: It takes a special kind of woman to be a military wife. It takes an incredible woman to be a military mom. Thank you for raising three, beautiful, smart, curious, and kind girls. Your family has traveled the world, and lived in countries like South Korea, Italy, Germany, and Australia. You have done a lot of your mothering while Uncle Steve is away, serving our country. Thank you for being the strong mama that you are, and for the example you’ve set for me over the years.

To Molly, my Aunt: My entire life, I’ve wanted to be exactly like you. You are smart, beautiful, funny, and thoughtful. We share a love for Camp Mikell, a profession in education, and now, I am a mother, with a son of my own. The ways in which you balance motherhood, work, and play with ease are more than admirable, and if my son turns out half as wonderful as yours are, I will consider that to be a massive success. Thank you for loving me and my family as much as you love your own.

To Laurie, my Mother-in-Law: One sub-section of the club includes the mothers who gain children through marriage. Although, long before I married your son, you accepted me for who I was and considered me a member of the family. This mother’s day, I want to thank you for the job you did in raising your children. Your daughters are delightful young women, and I love them very much. Your son is, in very large part, an incredible father and husband because of you. Thank you for sharing your life, compassion, and heart with him, because he has turned around and shared all of those things with me and our baby.

To Michele, my Mother: Mommy, thank you for everything. I literally owe my life to you! When a woman becomes a mother, I think that – inevitably – her relationship with her own mother transforms. There is an understanding that forms, a knowledge that exists, a love that becomes transparent. I now know that for the last 27.5 years, every single sacrifice you’ve made, tear you’ve shed, decision you’ve had to make, etc… had my brothers and me at the heart of it. A very important gift you’ve given me recently is the gift of recovery and sobriety. My son will truly know who you are, and for that, I thank you. Your love, advice, and support have carried me through good days and bad. Now that I am also a mother, I understand the depths of your heart and soul more than I ever did before. ❤

To Caroline: Your story, your words, your strength, and your daughter have touched me in ways you may never know. I can truly say that you have been my inspiration for writing about my journey, acknowledging my feelings, and expressing my concerns/joys/sorrows/etc. You have taught me that motherhood takes many shapes and forms, and that honesty and compassion for each other is the most important thing. You’ve taught me that you are not alone, that I am not alone, that we are not alone. Thank you for being so open and courageous. You and your angel are in my thoughts every day.

This week, wish the mothers in your life a Happy Mother’s Day. Not just your mother, every mother that you know. In fact, if you see a mother on the street, or in the store this week, give her a high-five… or a smile… or a hug. She is a badass. She has been to places that not every person will go to. She has seen things that not every person will see. She is a member of a club. The kind of club that lifts each other up, whenever, wherever, and however we can. To all of the mamas out there, whether I know you personally or not, Happy Mother’s Day! I now stand with you, and in awe of you.

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Harvey’s Birth Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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An Attitude of Gratitude :)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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