The loss of my first baby

The loss of my first baby


October is dedicated to those who have miscarried. This is a topic that I had never considered writing about before. Miscarriage is a very personal and heartbreaking experience. There seems to be a value of how much a person is allowed to or expected to hurt based on the amount of time the baby was carried. It’s a private hurt that is hard for others that haven’t experienced it to understand. I’ll share my story of loss in hopes that it reaches another and maybe helps just a bit.

Twenty years ago I was a young expectant mother, 19 when I got pregnant. I was married to the father and we were excited for our first ultrasound. The ultrasound took a long time. We didn’t know it was taking more time than usual because we had nothing to base it on. We were shown our beautiful baby’s hands and her profile. I felt such an utter sense of joy. We were then asked to wait in the waiting room to speak with the doctor. Again, we had no idea that this was not a usual occurrence. We waited for a very long time. Finally we were called back and the doctor had earth shattering news. Our baby girl had a condition called hydrops. She had fluid filling around her organs and had a sac of fluid around her head. The prognosis was not good but he wanted us to get an amniocentesis done to determine the cause. At that moment I heard ringing in my ears and he sounded a bit like the teacher in Snoopy. Then it clicked and I began clinging on to every word he said. I needed to know, needed to understand what was wrong with my baby and what I could do to save her. Was it my fault? Did I so something to her? I wouldn’t even eat chocolate for fear of the caffeine.

Some time later (it was so long ago I am not sure on the time) we went for our test. I was terrified. I hate needles and having a very large needle stuck into my belly was the last thing I wanted to do. I honestly don’t remember much of that, just that we discovered she had Turner’s Syndrome. She only had one chromosome and the type she had meant she only had a .1% chance of making it to birth. My ex husband cried, I remember that. I went numb. I asked questions. What could I do? How did this happen? No, I would not get a DNC, I needed to try to save her. That night I went to see my parents, to tell them. I remember my mom walking out of the kitchen. I had not cried, not for a second. I had to be strong. Then I screamed. I let out the worst sound that had ever escaped my lips. That’s all I could do, scream and sob and be held by my mother. Mom, if you are reading this, I know you are crying with me right now. I love you and that moment will always be a memory of how amazing you are. I don’t know how long that went on, but I pulled it together and got every book I could find on Turner’s Syndrome. At that time there was no internet. We relied on books. I gathered as much information as I could about what was doing this to my baby.

We continued to have prenatal visits and I began to hope. I made my daughters bassinet up at the end of our bed as a sort of hope. The months went by and I became annoyed that the doctors were not telling me what we were going to do if she made it. I was almost 6 months at this point, I was feeling her move. I finally got frustrated and got an appointment at a high risk office. At our first visit the doctor listened for her heartbeat. It wasn’t there. My stomach lurched. He took me to the next room and got me prepped for an ultrasound. His words will be with me forever, To say he had no bedside manner would be an understatement. “Yeah, she’s dead”. I was a 19 year old child who’s world had just been shattered and that’s it? “Yeah she’s dead”!!! Then I was told they would have to induce labor because I wasn’t going into it naturally. Having a dead fetus inside was very hazardous for me. He asked if I wanted to go home and come back tomorrow to start the process. I just wanted her out. I don’t know how else to put it. I needed to do this and do it now.

They wheeled me into a private room and started the process of inducing my labor. I was able to have morphine for the pain, but I had no idea about what to expect. I hadn’t researched labor or knew anything about the stages of labor. I was in and out of it. I remember people, family, coming in and out of the room for my ex husband and I. They played cards, talked in the hall, hugged me, cried. I just sort of laid there, in pain and numb to it all. Finally I remember calling to the nurse that I had to go to the bathroom. She assured me that I didn’t, it was time to push. I am not sure how long I pushed, I don’t think it was long. I was still numb. I was out of it, and my husband told the nurse no, I didn’t need to see the baby. She put her in a sort or connected room in case I changed my mind. I slept. I never did see her, a drugged decision I regret to this day. The wonderful nurses took a picture for me and included it in a care package. I think we left the next day. You forget stuff like that, little details. A nurse hugged me, she said she was so sorry and had a tears in her eyes. They took me down the back so I wouldn’t have to go past the nursery. I am thankful for that.

The following weeks I was numb, sad, angry. I watched a lot of old movies. My ex husband dealt with it by working all the time. I was alone a lot. I remember my mom came over once and started making me dinner. she and my dad had plans with friends. I could hear her in the next room telling my dad over the phone that no she couldn’t come and “yeah, not good”. My dad showed up and they told me to get dressed and they took me out to dinner.

I hated seeing people for the first time after that. They meant well, all had “good advice” to ease my pain. I was young, I could have more. This was Gods way of telling me something. She was in heaven now. She’s an angel. I felt like I was spending my energy making others feel comfortable around me. Well guess what, fuck you,, I wanted my baby. That baby! I actually appreciated the men. They don’t know what to say, so they say nothing. I am thankful for that. Women seemed to have to say something. I know they meant well, but I was just so angry.

I needed to get pregnant as soon as I could after that, and we did. I have since had 4 amazing children with no problems. I have been anxious for every pregnancy though and was adamant that I have my last before I was 35 when risk factors went up.I would like to say that my pain, carrying her until 6 months made it more of a loss for me than someone who carried to 6 weeks. There is no way to measure the sense of loss we have. While time does heal, I can talk about it without crying (except for this post, this was tearful). Losing her left an impression that formed part of who I am. I don’t think my ex husband and I ever recovered from that, relationship wise. While I was finally feeling the loss and grieving, he had already mourned while I was pregnant. To deal with it, he worked and was gone a lot, leaving me alone. I felt abandoned and alone in my grief.

So that is my story, my 20 year old story. I don’t need “I’m sorry’s” at this point. I only hope that this touches someone. To let you know that you are not alone in this pain.

Thrive, not just survive being a stay at home mom. Tips from the trenches.

Thrive, not just survive being a stay at home mom. Tips from the trenches.

The thought for this post came to me after I was struggling to put my screaming son into a cart at Costco. I haven’t always been a stay at home mom. Here’s my motherhood story in a nutshell. I had my oldest just 2 weeks before turning 21. A few years later, I was a divorced mom of 2 kids earning a degree in social work with no family support (they lived 8 hours away). Twelve years later and I was married with 2 more kids and I working full time as a social worker. I LOVED my job but like so many parents, I was finding less enjoyment in my career. My husband works between 50-65 hours a week and it was tough to be away. After a lot of discussion, we decided would stay at home. It’s been 3 years. Here is what I have learned (believe me, I am still learning and I do not claim to be an expert on this):

  1. Let go of any expectations. I had an idea in my head of how this would work. I would be put together, pristine house, happy children who adored their mother, warm meals, ample gym time, daily learning lessons for kids, outings, crafts and cooking. I am here to tell you, let it go girlfriend! Some days I am just surviving here, counting down the minutes until bed time and a glass of wine! It’s ok, it is. Some days I am in yoga pants, even pj’s until lunch. My kids fight, I am the “worst mommy ever” on occasion, meals are often leftovers or whatever can be scrounged up. Daily lessons… well that’s just not me, there’s preschool for that. That’s cool though, I know who I am and what I am good at. P.S. don’t stress over dust and various scattered toys……. let it go!
  2. Explore your weaknesses. I am the most unorganized person! I procrastinate and am usually struggling to find that permission slip wedged in some drawer somewhere. Be honest, figure out what areas you need to improve on and put strategies in place to help,Here are a few that help me. I make lists and use my planner on my phone. I have a small notebook I keep with me for random lists. I use my phone planner and it’s alerts for EVERYTHING! You’d be surprised how easy it is to forget an appointment when you are trying to get the laundry done, playing dress up, and refereeing sibling squabbles. Plus I find that often, my husband and I forget to communicate appointments and various events. I just add him to the planner events and he is alerted too.
  3. Talk to your significant other. Before taking the leap into stay at home parenting, sit down and have a discussion about what your expectations are. I honestly think my husband thought that the house would be close to spotless and he wouldn’t have to do much at home. It is very important, in order to avoid future fights or resentment, to honestly talk about what you both are expecting, and then revisit it after being home for a while once you have a chance to really experience this stay at home thing. You might think you can keep the house clean, make a from scratch meal nightly, play with your darlings, and get a workout in. However, once you are in the trenches, you might find that maybe you can’t do it all, or you are, but you are losing your mind in the process. I really believe that the working parent struggles most with the homemaking portion of having a significant other at home. So talk, be honest.
  4. Don’t lose yourself. I see so many at home parents lose sight of who they are. Continue to feed your brain, learn new things, explore hobbies.
  5. Take care of you! If you are going to take care of others, you need to be at your best. Do not feel guilty taking care of you! Workout, read ALONE (something non educational and maybe trashy), get a massage, whatever you need to stay in balance. When I am stressed, I have way less tolerance for my kids and husband.
  6. Find new friends. I found that my old work friends and I didn’t have much in common any more. They will always hold a special place in my heart, we were just in different worlds. I found some amazing friends while working out and running. I can text one when I am having a rough day and we can have an impromptu play date. We can visit each others houses and not have to explain the mess. Sometimes one or both of us are still in PJ’s!
  7. Date your spouse. Go on dates and have alone time with your spouse. Do not stay in the parent role all the time with your significant other. Get all gussied up and hit the town, find new hobbies to enjoy together (we might try tennis).
  8. You are important. This is a tough one. Especially if you left a career. I still find myself having to tell people that I’m not “just a stay at home mom”, that I have a degree an chose to leave my career. Whether you have a degree or not, what you do matters!
  9. Stay active. Do not just sit around all day and watch TV. I know that is a stereotype, but some people do. You are wasting your life by doing this. Being at home is not an excuse to be lazy. Be present in you child’s life, play, get out, workout. I say workout a lot, don’t I? It’s important to stay physically active to not only keep up with our little darlings, but to stay healthy. Get up and live the life that you chose!

BONUS: If you aren’t happy, go back to work! No one said this had to be permanent. Being at home isn’t for everyone and that’s ok.

Disney Cruise tips for families

Disney Cruise tips for families


rainbow to greet us
 The laundry is done, luggage unpacked, and refrigerator is restocked. That is what follows a week long family vacation, back to real life. We just returned from our first Disney Cruise. We sailed on the Fantasy and went to Cozumel, Grand Cayman’s, Jamaica, and of course Disney’s own island Castaway Cay (pronounced key).  We have some pretty awesome memories, and some not so awesome memories. From our trip I think I have a few tips I would like to share with you all. I am not claiming to be a travel expert. I am just a mom and have a few tips that might make your vacation a bit smoother. I have a bit of a unique perspective, I think. I traveled with my teen daughter, two kids (4 and 6) as well as my in-laws, and hubby of course.I am not going to give you all the “save money” tips. If you search the web, you can find tons of them. I researched this trip like crazy and found some things while on the cruise I didn’t know that would have made life easier. So here is what I have for you.

  • Consider going to your port city (Port Canaveral for us) the day before. We flew down Friday morning and had half the day Friday to hang out on the beach in Cocoa Beach. It was relaxing and pretty stress free. There is A LOT of waiting while traveling- airport lines, on the plane, luggage, then at the port- TONS OF WAITING! So by traveling down the day before, you are breaking up the waiting for those “patient” kids. It’s 2 days of shorter bursts of waiting vs one long day full of waiting. Not the best way to start a vacation.
  • On that note, expect lines and have activities ready for kiddos. When you get to the check-in line at Disney, only one person from the party has to wait in line. Everyone has to be at the check-in counter, but if you have a cell phone the lucky kid free person in line can call you when they are close to the check-in counter.
  • Have an adult only dinner at Palo. The hubster and I both agree, hands down best dinner and service we have ever had. It’s $35/person extra for a full meal and you need to make reservations. We went at 6:00 and were able to watch the sun set over dinner. 
  • Download the Disney Cruiseline Navigator app before you leave for your trip. Our cell signals were crap once we boarded the ship and it took FOREVER to download for my in-laws. This app is awesome. You can see the menu for dinner, set reminders for events and even text each other. 
  • You can change your meal time. We were set for an 8:45 meal time- no go with littles. As soon as you get on, request a new time. Just an FYI, your table number will be different then marked on your Key to the World card, so be prepared.
  • The ship follows the time zone it is stopping (port). My hubby and I took a Carnival cruise several years ago, and the ship remained in the eastern time zone time no matter where we were. Disney does not. Just be prepared for that adjustment (more so with kids).
  • Decide ahead of time if you want to stay on the ship or get off at ports. I can not stress this enough!! We had decided not to book excursions and just to explore the ports thinking there would be lots to do. NOT! My teen was more than upset and so were we. Our first port, Cozumel was a complete bust. The port was dirty and there were only shops with pushy sales people. If you want to do more than shop, book an excursion, or stay on the ship. Research your ports prior to see if there is anything to do. We were able to take a shuttle in the Cayman’s to the beach, but were strongly advised not to do the same in Jamaica due to safety concerns.
  • Plan for poor weather and what you will do. The only port that had the highest chance of non excursion activities was Castaway Cay. We spent  a couple amazing hours on their beach and then the rain came. Not just the quick moving rain, HOURS of cold windy rain. 3/4 of the day was a bust. Not only that, but due to lightening, the pools on the ship were closed. We spent the afternoon pretty discouraged and stressed with unhappy kids. We ended up seeing a movie and exploring the ship (hubby took one to a movie, I took one to explore, and a teen threw a teen fit due to the trip not living up to what she thought it would be).
  • Ok, so this is an unlikely tip but here it is. There is a self serve soft ice cream stand with little cones stationed by the pools. Grab a cup from the beverage station and use that instead or as well (for messy kids). 
  • Bring fewer clothes than you think you’ll need. We over packed! Then had to get creative to fit in the costumes from the Bippity Boppity Boutique and various items purchased.We actually pretty much spent most of our time in bathing suits anyway (bring a few of those per person too- nothing like getting back into a wet suit!) There is a very confusing laundry mat on the ship, just use it. I only had 2 loads of laundry to do yesterday thanks to it.
  • Speaking about laundry- bring a hamper, the pop up kind. Makes life so much easier.
  • To avoid tins of weight gain, there are healthy options  the Cabanas eating area have shellfish and salads (among other things) for lunch and fresh fruit, eggs, yogurt and all kinds of healthy options for breakfast. Each meal also has lighter options. Dessert is always available- though I tried to only eat it at dinner. Take the stairs as often as you can (feel the burn!!!). I somehow managed to not gain anything, although I did run a few times. 
  • Triple check the disembark time. My husband and I thought we got off the ship at 11- who knows why. We spent 7 hours in a very boring airport, waiting for our 4:00 flight home.
  • Speaking of travel, if you are traveling with a large party, consider renting a private car or limo. After researching, we found that it was only $50 more for us to rent a limo to travel to and from the airport. There was no waiting and the kids thought it was totally cool.
  • Be mentally prepared for little alone time. We had it built up in our minds that the kids would go to the awesome kids area and the teen would go to the teen area and we could sit by the pool sipping a rum tropical drink. UMMMMM, NO! The youngest ones only went a few times for about 45 minutes at a time. The oldest thought the teen area was lame (she’s 16). We had the kids with us virtually the entire trip.
  • THE COFFEE! The coffee served at the beverage areas is made from coffee syrup. If you like a true, brewed cup of coffee, you have to pay extra and find a cafe’. However, they like to make lattes and aren’t real big on just an iced coffee with flavored syrup.

So, I hope this helps you a little. I may edit this as I think of new ideas. All in all, Disney puts on a great cruise. They pay attention to detail and really strive to make your trip magical. Do you have any tips or questions to share?

Shed the Shirt

Shed the Shirt

Have you ever had an A-Ha moment, like that light bulb not only went off, but it freaking exploded above your head? I had one! Let me set the scene for you. I was halfway through a 15 mile run with a friend of mine. It was HOT, like humid, sticky, clothes drenched, sweat pouring hot! I made the comment that it would be nice to just run in a sports bra, if only my abs were better. My friend agreed making a similar remark. It hit me, WTF, I was so afraid of someone seeing my less than perfect abs, that I was going to run in a shirt that was making me hot and very uncomfortable. I was going to allow some crazy standard that probably is mostly in my head dictate what I should wear on a run.

Let’s back up here a bit. I have very distinct memories of running through the park after having 4 kids and being passed by girls in college and high school running what appeared to be, care free in their sports bras. Abs beautifully toned and flat. No extra skin, no stretch marks, ahhhh, young abs! We all seem to have an obsession with abs lately. It’s all over social media. “Lose those love handles”, “get a six pack”, ab selfies, eating for abs, no carbs, fasted cardio, reach around skinny test (google that f’ed up test if you haven’t heard). We are OBSESSED with chiseled abs! We equate the level of fitness with the number of abdominal muscles that show.

So back to the run. After we both had commented that if we had better abs we would run in our sports bras and that bulb went off, I suggested to run in our sports bras, it would be empowering. It was too. As we ran the last of our 15 miles, we discussed our thoughts on what we were doing. We weren’t there to be oggled, honked at, cat called, or for the entertainment of anyone else. We weren’t trying to look sexy (oh believe me, our facial expressions were far from that!), we didn’t care if anyone was offended by our skin on display. It was ridiculous that fear of being judged, of looking less than perfect, was holding us back from being comfortable.

Shedding our shirts was a symbol, a symbol to embrace our bodies, to embrace who we are without fear of what others will think. To not focus on our cellulite, stretch marks, extra skin, funky belly button, whatever it is that we want to hide from the world. It’s to not let societies standard of beauty dictate how we look or dress.

When you get out there next time, run however you want. Wear that skirt, run in that sports bra, be you. You are not there to make someone else feel comfortable or excited. You are training, you are making your body strong, fit and healthy. You are working to smash your goals. Every sweaty, painful, happy, step you take. Whether you are a runner, crossfitter, yogi, dancer, zumba-er (is that a thing), whatever your goal, you be true to you, don’t let fear hold you back!