Never Apologize For Doing What Makes You Happy

Hi everyone! Long time, no post. I won’t be apologizing for not posting regularly for the last month(+) because I have been just loving life doing so many things that make me happy. Unfortuantely, choosing to spend so much time in the sun, with family and friends, traveling, and more meant blogging took a backseat.

I love summer and have been enjoying all the things that come with the season. We’ve been busy traveling, playing outside, eating ice cream, celebrating birthdays (mine and Isla’s!), visiting with family, swimming, hiking and so much more. While I thought about posting many times in the last several weeks, my intentions stopped there and were quickly replaced with beautiful memories. I’ll be honest and also admit I’ve been missing some workouts and doing a little bit here and there at home. In fact, I’ve only been to the gym twice in the last two weeks and after one workout I filled out our paperwork to cancel (more on that later).

Living in New England, my thinking is it’s like we wait all year long for summer. However, unlike many New Englanders, while you’ll hear me complain about the cold in the winter (that part is normal), I will NOT complain about the heat or humidity. Instead, I soak up every little bit of it while I can.  Truth: my favorite weather is 85-90 with humid temps and I often feel like winter has arrived here by mid-October. While summer is here, this girl doesn’t mind being sticky and sweaty!

So, to catch everyone up in warp speed on what’s been happening in my world this summer, here’s a quick glimpse in a photo rundown! Since I take tons of photos every day, this is certainly not all encompassing, but it gives an idea of the bigger and more simple moments I’ve been soaking in. It’s been wild and fun and while I’m excited to resume some of our regular routine (like my exercise routine and eating habits), I hope we have lots more hot and fun summer days left in 2018!

My next post will share some details about our fun family vacation. We traveled to Long Island, Maine! Never heard of it? We hadn’t either. With only about 200 people living on the island year-round and no real restaurants or even a grocery store, it was a fun and adventurous (in a different way than we’re used to) so I can’t wait to share about our fun times. Stay tuned!

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Painting. We love using our washable paint outside. This is what baths are for, right?
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Bike riding, errday.
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Cleaning on some rainy (or super hot) days.
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Eating tons of ice cream, much to this girl’s delight!
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Walking laps around the block.
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Our water table is getting lots of use this summer.

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We went on vacation to Long Island, Maine at the end of June. AMAZING. Post coming soon.
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Beach time and family time. Nothing better.
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My brother and his partner came to visit. During their stay we checked out a winery.
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Green smoothies with her uncles!
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Tiny tots means they can both make use of one swing 🙂
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Reading at the park with uncle Charlie.
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Isla turned 2!
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Our garden has been keeping us busy this year.
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I got away for a long weekend to celebrate my cousin’s bachelorette in Newport, RI. So much fun!
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Our girls love blueberries so we definitely went blueberry picking.
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Handfuls of berries.
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Sweet girl with her dad.
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Both girls have wanted “up” a lot lately. ❤

I am 1 in 8: National Infertility Awareness Week

The last two weeks have been pretty quiet here on the blog because we’ve been stuck in what I’ll not-so-creatively call, “Sick-ville.” For the last 10+ days, our girls have been on a roller coaster of sick including a virus that spiked their temps to 102+, ear infections, lots of crankiness and not so much sleep. Josie had a double ear infection coupled with a virus last week. And this week was Isla’s turn. The same virus and an ear infection so bad mucus was coming out of her eyes. Sometimes parenthood is gross.

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Yet, as I’ve been tending to my sick babies, trying to muster as much patience I can (not always successfully), getting by on less workouts yet plenty of carbs (hello cupcakes, ice cream, way too many handfuls of animal crackers, and a glass of wine here and there too), I keep reminding myself I literally cried and hoped for these challenging days, for years.

Despite the chaos in our home during this National Infertility Awareness Week, I couldn’t let the week end without paying homage to a chapter of life that shaped who I have become, and who my husband and I are as parents. 1 in 8 couples are affected by infertility. I’ll admit, sometimes the memories of our infertility journey feel buried underneath the beauty and fatigue of parenthood, and other times the memories still feel fresh enough to bring back some of the same anxiety and pain. Like when I drive by a local clinic where I had blood drawn to confirm yet another miscarriage. Or when I discover the ovulation test kits I still can’t bear to toss out next to a box of pads in my closet. Or when I see or talk to another woman hurting and yearning for a baby as hard as I always did.

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To read more about our infertility struggles, here are a few posts I shared previously, relating our own story:

But as I am present in this week of awareness, I’ll briefly share a fact I’m connecting most with this year: A baby’s cells stay in a mother’s blood, organs, and even have the ability to manipulate her DNA long after a mother gives birth, and is even changed after a miscarriage.

Despite having “two under two” this year, this fact reminds me it’s okay to feel connected and to sometimes still struggle with to our darkest years of unexplained infertility and multiple losses. Because at least three more little people have changed me forever, even if I never got to meet them. And truthfully, as we consider maybe adding to our family again someday, I know some of the same experiences or others could await us again perhaps in the form of secondary infertility or more losses.

So yes, as my current life is emptying yet another box of tissues wiping tiny noses (I should seriously be buying stock in Kleenex…) and missing a few more hours of sleep to soothe another cry, I’m a mixture of thoughts and emotions, but most of all–I am grateful. If this is my calm after one of the most tumultuous storms I never saw forecasted, I wouldn’t trade these times–gross AND beautiful–for anything.

Wherever you are physically, mentally, or emotionally during this infertility week–may we all feel a little more connected and less alone. And for those weathering your own storm, may this mom’s crazy life be a beacon of hope. Because you never know what (or who) will be at the end of your own rainbow.

If anyone ever has any questions or is seeking support, please always feel able to reach out–either in the comments below or privately. 

Toddler Obstacle Course

The days are snowy and cold around our part of the country (hello, New England!) and that means on days not filled with daycare, mom is left scheming activities and various forms of educational stimulation to keep our toddler busy and happy.

We have one of those children who does not like to sit still. At 17 months, her mind and body are always going. She’s super curious and hungry to learn everything she possibly can and she wants to be as independent as she can (while still stopping for hugs and kisses). While it can be hard to accept her strong spirit at times (like when she’s having what feels like the 100th meltdown in a day because she can’t express herself yet and cannot physically do all that she wants to because hello–she’s 17 months!), I ultimately love her zest for life and enjoy coming up with fun activities.

When we’re stuck inside I’ve had to dig deep at times and today’s post is one way I keep my toddler busy and in turn, myself busy too: toddler obstacle courses. I’m constantly telling parents, “If you keep up with your kids, you’re going to get so much exercise!” My Fitbit affirms this because even being cooped up inside on a day when I don’t do my own workout, I do nearly 10,000 steps a day, “just” being mom.

This particular activity is a favorite around our [messy] house (looking at the photos below, yes, our house seriously is this messy about 10 minutes after we all get up in the morning until after bedtime). I piece together a handful of “obstacles” which keep her moving and keep her brain occupied too, challenging her and helping her grow. The activities are short and realistic. They don’t take too much time to complete and they’re fun enough that my toddler will do this activity for 30 minutes or more sometimes. Other than finger painting, that’s probably the most time she can focus on one activity currently so I’ll count it as a mom win!

I’m sure I could put together multiple versions of this post, and maybe I will in the future. But my hope is that this post will help jog your own fun creations and spur off a fun cold or rainy weather activity for you and your little one(s).

After I set up the obstacle course, I demonstrated each activity and then had Isla follow. I then coached her through each activity if she got distracted or forgot what the “challenge” was. Which meant I participated a lot too. Trying to fit through the tunnel was an awesome ab exercise!

  1. Tunnel – I crafted a tunnel out of a couch, our coffee table, and a blanket. You could always use a store bought tunnel too. We love obstacle courses so much that we’re actually getting one of those for Christmas and I’m sure Isla will love it! tunnel
  2. Climbing over an obstacle – For this I used a giant stuffed animal and we army crawled over it. You could also use a couch cushion or a few pillows stacked on top of one another. Carrying a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar is totally optional.climbing
  3. Stepping activity – I used a dog bed and Isla had to step in and back out, crossing to the next activity. Again, you could use a foam pad, pillow, or even a folded blanket. I wanted something that would challenge her balance and wouldn’t be too big so she could actually take small steps. I made sure I was nearby to catch her if she stumbled.
  4. Sorting – I grabbed two empty baby wipes boxes and filled one with balls from our ball pit. She then transferred the balls from one box to another. Either one by one, or she loved dumping them from one box to another. You could also use blocks, toy food, plastic Easter eggs, etc. sorting
  5. Balance beam – Finally, we did not use an actual balance beam here, but rather a piece of masking tape on the floor. Place your tape and then have your toddler walk heel to toe down the line–an awesome activity for balance and agility! balance

How do you keep your little ones busy when you’re at home? Share in the comments below.

 

Our IVF Story

It’s a new week and since I didn’t write last week, I guess I’ll explain by saying I’m making room in my new life for grace. Last week felt like a real “maternity leave” week. The truth is, things were chaotic at our house. While the week before had been smooth sailing, last week things exploded. The house got messier each day, both girls needed lots of love and attention, and everything else in life had to slide to the back burner to give them every ounce of energy (and patience) I could muster. I decided since we had just become a family of four a little more than 3 weeks earlier, I should cut myself a little slack.

Thankfully, this week is starting much more smoothly. So, as promised, I’m sharing our IVF story.

I want to preface this story with these words.

In the last several months, while contemplating restarting my blog, I thought long and hard about whether I wanted to share our infertility story, at least so publicly. I’ve had talks with people who asked if I would be quiet about our struggles. Not because IVF is a shameful thing, but because our “fertility baby” might read this someday. And then she’ll know. Know she was conceived differently, and know that she might have the same issues her mom did. Or that our second daughter might feel less wanted because she was conceived naturally. But honestly, these are exactly some of the reasons I want to share our story.

Both of our daughters should know how badly their mom and dad wanted to be their mom and dad. How badly we wanted to be parents and to what lengths we were willing to go to, to have our children. And how grateful we are to have each of them regardless of how they were conceived.

Perhaps even more important, both our daughters will know the struggles we faced because as women, they should feel informed (and empowered) about their own fertility if they choose to have children of their own. And I promise this blog post won’t be how Isla or Josie learns about their family history.

So, here it goes. Brace yourself: it’s a long one.

In August 2015, Chris and I started IVF. Multiple boxes of medications arrived via mail. Lots of synthetic hormones, loads of needles, alcohol swabs and bright red containers to dispose of all the supplies we would go through. I went to the clinic to get specific instructions, a time line for medication administration, and did some blood work. We were finally cleared to begin.

By no means is this a medical account of IVF. If you or a loved one is really interested in that, I encourage you to do more research or to meet with your own medical professional. But here is my bare bones explanation of IVF.

Step 1: Control ovarian stimulation. This is where you start the process of ovulation without actually allowing for it.

Step 2: Step one allows for step two, follicle stimulation. In a regular monthly cycle, we ovulate one or maybe two eggs, but in IVF you are looking to generate a high number of eggs to be retrieved. Egg retrieval results in about 15 eggs on average.

Step 3: At a precise time, you use a “trigger drug” to prepare for egg retrieval. This is administered exactly 36 hours before your procedure will take place.

Step 4: Egg retrieval occurs. In the 36 hours after the trigger is administered, the eggs come to the surface and are easier to extract.

Step 5: Fertilization. Once the eggs are retrieved, they are fertilized. We chose to utilize a process called ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) for the fertilization of our eggs. In typical IVF, the eggs and sperm are allowed to fertilize “naturally” in a dish. In ICSI, the best looking/healthiest eggs and sperm are selected and fertilized manually. We opted to do ICSI after our multiple losses. The idea is that genetic problems caused the miscarriages and that perhaps selecting the best looking eggs and sperm would help prevent another loss.

Step 6: Embryo transfer. Once the embryos are old enough (at either day 3 or 5 after fertilization, TBD by your doctor), the embryo(s) that are of high enough quality are either transferred or frozen.

Looking back at IVF, there are of course some specific moments that stand out. Here are my cliff notes following the timeline of our experiences.

I’ll never forget the first time I had to stab myself in the stomach. There is at least one injection per day, and for us injections lasted until we were 10 weeks pregnant with Isla. The first time I needed to stab myself I was a mess. I remember saying to Chris through tears, hands shaking, “How is this our life?” Before our foray into infertility, I HATED needles. I certainly won’t ever say I like them, but I guess after all the stomach injections, blood work, and countless progesterone shots, I came to tolerate them. The next several nights I injected myself were easier and easier. And yes, even the progesterone shots I did while pregnant, known to be notoriously awful, got easier.

Each morning following the hormone injections, I had to visit the clinic to have blood drawn. At one point, I had blood drawn for 10 consecutive days, with many more draws during the month too. I remember hiding my bruised arms with long sleeves as much as I could at work, even though it was still summer.

Another hiccup related to work that I recall: I couldn’t exercise while doing IVF. Yeah, I’m a personal trainer so that’s kind of an issue. Follicle stimulation can be dangerous when coupled with high intensity exercise. As you prepare your body to “ovulate” so many eggs, your ovaries grow unusually large and high impact exercise can cause an ovary to twist, which could complicate the whole process. I didn’t want to miss work because I didn’t want to tell people I was doing IVF. So I adapted everything I did as quietly as possible. I instructed more low impact exercises and talked my clients through the high impact ones (normally I love to demonstrate everything).

The day we went for our egg retrieval, while setting my IV, the anesthesiologist punctured through the valve in my arm and blood shot across the room. It was a great way to start the procedure. Then, when I was laying spread eagle on the operating table, the performing doctor who walked in was none other than the one Chris and I chose not to work with the year before. Thankfully I trusted his capabilities and simply didn’t prefer his bedside manner, but a propofol blackout is just as fun as an alcohol black out. NOT FUN AT ALL. I apparently talked for 10 minutes before they could start the egg retrieval. And I’ll never know what I said in those 10 minutes (though my nurse assured me I was nice). Cue the eye roll.

The retrieval took 45 minutes, a full 20 minutes longer than normal. 10 of these minutes were clearly due to my babbling on about Lord knows what, but another 10 were because they retrieved so many eggs. 28 eggs. Again, the average is 15. We still feel so grateful for this number, and days later we felt even more grateful when they told us they had been able to successfully fertilize 9 eggs. This is huge, and it’s something I often think about and feel guilty about. I know many women who were not so lucky. Some who get none, or just one. Or have to do loads of rounds of IVF. It’s like what I imagine survivor’s guilt feels like.

Transfer day came. They showed us a photo of our embryo and then I was yet again on that operating table in a compromising position. The nurse held my hand and as they injected the embryo I anxiously watched the ultrasound screen. The nurse described it as a shooting star and I felt a few silent tears fall. I was very close with my maternal grandmother and one of her favorite songs was, “When You Wish Upon a Star.” In this pivotal moment, I thought of her, simultaneously wishing this this little baby would stick and become the child we had been dreaming of for so long.

Two long weeks passed then finally we did the blood work we were anxiously anticipating. And finally, the call we were anticipating even more. We were pregnant. After more than a year, we were pregnant again. IVF had worked. We told our families and closest friends who knew what we had been up to. Two days later you’re required to recheck the HCG numbers with more blood work, to make sure you’re still pregnant. And it was with this blood test that our joy turned to sorrow once more. I was miscarrying and just didn’t know it yet. I was instructed to stop all medication and let my body take its course.

A couple days later I did start to miscarry, and yet again as the year before, my body wouldn’t stop bleeding. Fearful I had experienced an ectopic (or tubular) pregnancy, they brought me in for an endometrial biopsy. This would be like a mini D&C (dilation & curettage), a procedure often done under anesthesia when a woman is miscarrying. However, unlike with a d&c, the biopsy would take a sample of cells and see if any surviving cells from the embryo were present. We wanted them to find these cells. Thankfully they found them. Now they knew I hadn’t experienced an ectopic pregnancy (ectopic would have meant we couldn’t try to get pregnant for several more months since they would administer a drug that would be dangerous to a developing fetus).

After the procedure, I literally got the hardest news of my life. Visibly upset by the biopsy, and just emotionally exhausted by the whole previous month and change, the doctor sat me down and delivered the blow I had feared. While asking me how Chris and I would like to proceed, he gently told me, “This might not ever work.” He had to be a doctor, honest about our new statistics. Women who miscarry 3 or more times clearly have a higher risk of continuing to miscarry and a lower risk of maintaining a pregnancy. But despite the science behind our new statistical reality, these words crushed me. It was like a door was shutting on a part of my life I wanted so badly, but would never have. I can’t even begin to describe how devastated I felt. I remember sobbing with my doctor (Chris was at work when all of this happened). My doctor encouraged me to go home and discuss things with Chris.

The biopsy helped me finish miscarrying our IVF baby. And a couple weeks later we were back at our doctor’s office. We had decided to do a frozen transfer, but we had also decided we were done “trying” after this procedure if things didn’t work. We were just a couple months away from the start of a new year. If I didn’t get pregnant (and stay pregnant), this time I was going to start counseling. We were going to move forward childless. We were going to try to stop thinking about babies. Our doctor was compassionate and advised us to transfer two embryos. We agreed.

Shortly after this appointment we prepared for the frozen transfer. This is a different process for everyone and I won’t get into the details, but basically you either stimulate or allow for natural ovulation, then transfer the embryos at exactly right time and then support the pregnancy with hormones until a pregnancy is or isn’t confirmed.

We had our two embryos transferred with a lot less fanfare and celebration than immediately after our IVF cycle. Two weeks later, after I had started bleeding on Halloween and was sure I wasn’t pregnant, we got another positive pregnancy test call. And this time the numbers elevated in our blood work two days later. They continued to elevate with each new check.

However, I wouldn’t let myself celebrate. We told hardly anyone about this frozen cycle, or about the positive test. Not even our parents knew. We were tired. We were broken. Yet we had to fight one more time. We had to know we had done all we could that year. So, with this pregnancy, we barely believed it ourselves, though I was starting to feel sick. Something was different.

Finally, the last step with the fertility clinic. We went for an ultrasound to really confirm our pregnancy. Was this a viable pregnancy? And if so, was it twins? The ultrasound screen clicked on and there, for the first time ever we saw what we had been hoping, dreaming, and wishing for. One heartbeat, so strong and beautiful. I’ll admit, I was sad there weren’t two babies, but I was more overjoyed for that one little life. Our baby had survived the freezer, and we had weathered the hardest storm of our lives.

Our pregnancy continued with a whole mixture of emotions and anxiety, but 9 months later, that heartbeat emerged from my belly, still beating so strong and inside one of the sweetest people I had ever met: our daughter, Isla. Placed on my chest, I immediately knew she was worth it all. This little person was worth everything we went through; every ounce of sorrow, every tear, every injection, every vial of blood, every procedure, every loss. Our baby was finally here and when she was born, a new part of us was too. We became parents and our lives are forever changed, in the best way.

Josie’s Birth Story

Little Josie is now 10 days old and as we have started settling into our new life as a family of four, I’m so excited to share Josie’s birth story. I’ll preface this by saying Josie ultimately arrived via csection and I’m sharing some graphic photos of the surgery. I’m not sharing this for shock factor, but because I truly look at our entire birth experience and think it was beautiful. And these photos remind me of how beautiful it is when new life is born, no matter how it happens.

Josie was scheduled to arrive on Friday, October 13th, but late Thursday the 12th, I actually went into labor. While Isla was at day care on Thursday, I had been busting my butt cleaning the house and doing every last bit of laundry that I could. I vaccumed, mopped, dusted, and when the pipe that runs from the dryer to outside came undone, I climbed on top of the dryer three times with a screwdriver to place and tighten the clamp. I had planned on working out, but at almost 41 weeks pregnant and having barely sat still all day, I opted to say my cleaning frenzy was enough.

Earlier in the day I had a stress test to make sure the baby was okay and was assured we could make it another 24 hours. Baby was good, though super active and still kicking momma’s butt from the inside! When I finally sat down at the end of the day, I had a PB&J in hand. It was about 9 p.m. and with surgery scheduled for the next day, I couldn’t eat past midnight and this sandwich was critical. Since the baby was always punching and kicking me so hard, and since I was eating and this normally woke the baby up, the first labor pains I felt I thought were just the baby up to her regular tricks. I joked with Chris, “Wouldn’t it be hilarious if I actually went into labor?” The third time I felt this “pressure” shooting through my pelvis and into my legs (and lasting about one minute each time, hmm…), I knew I actually was in labor. Holy crap! When I pieced all of this together, I started laughing and was so excited. I was actually going to get to try the VBAC!

At this point, contractions were about 10 minutes apart. We called my mom and we decided she could wait to come over since I couldn’t go to the hospital until contractions were 5 minutes apart. However, within another 45 minutes they were 5-7 minutes apart so our plans changed. By midnight we were in the car and driving to the hospital. Still in early labor, but scheduled for a csection anyways, they said–either way you’re staying and having this baby!

Upon arrival, I was still only 1 cm dilated, which I had been for weeks. I labored throughout the night, but around 11 a.m. the contractions began to space out again and fizzled out. It was declared more prodromal labor. However, my midwife assured me this is pretty normal and gave me a couple hours to see how things went. At this point they had cancelled the csection.

Prior to this break, I had the most regular contractions in the entire labor unit and had progressed to 3 cm. Labor was working, it was just slow. Around 2:30 p.m., contractions were still irregular, so another hour and a half later (at 4 p.m.), we made the decision to break my water.

Once my water was broken, contractions started back up and this time stronger than ever. I thought what I had felt when we first arrived at the hospital had been strong, but I was about to learn what I’m really made of.Thank goodness for all those lifting sessions I logged while pregnant. No stranger to pain, the hours blended together, with some specific stand out moments.

I remember after one contraction seeing that it was 12:00:37. 37 seconds into a new day–our baby had chosen her own birthday. I joked with Chris that she apparently didn’t want to be born on Friday the 13th.

I remember when the nurse and midwife thought I was in transition. However, upon checking me realized not only that I was only at 6 cm, like I had been hours before, but that my cervix was still in a posterior position. Apparently it needs to come forward, but mine wasn’t. All of the labor I had been feeling had been putting pressure on the wrong part of my cervix, which wasn’t allowing it to open. The thought was that I had scar tissue from my csection which was holding it in place and without getting into the nitty gritty details, my midwife literally broke up that tissue and worked the cervix into the right position.

I remember finally deciding to get an epidural. Hours later, I still hadn’t progressed. We made the decision to get an epidural and try the smallest amount of pitocin. They couldn’t induce my labor with pitocin, but they could try to help me along a bit. And if that didn’t work, we decided a csection was the answer. I had asked for an epidural hours earlier that night, and then sent the anesthesiologist away. I could do this! However, before they began pitocin and with a csection a big reality, I felt ready this time.

Now I had been awake for almost 48 hours. I knew I didn’t want to completely exhaust my body with the pitocin contractions. Since I had a csection last year, and having labored for so long, the doctor was genuinely concerned about uterine rupture. I wanted a few hours to try and rest and just prepare for whatever the outcome. I dozed on and off and tried to come to peace with what had transgressed and what would be.

A mixture of emotions washed over me as I labored that night. I felt fierce and strong, and then humbled moments later. I was beyond excited to meet our baby and kept visualizing what I knew my body could do. Chris was my rock and I felt closer to him with every contraction he helped me through. There were moments I felt like I just couldn’t keep going and he was there to encourage me and advocate for me. I remember feeling like I had trained for a marathon I might not finish when I got the epidural and started the pitocin.

Yet, when my pitocin drip finally finished and my midwife checked me and I was still 6 cm dilated, my midwife looked defeated and I felt peaceful. I cried with a smile and told her, “It’s okay. We’re going to meet our baby today!” While earlier that night I felt torn that I had allowed my labor to be augmented, something I never wanted to do, in that final moment, I felt content knowing I had done everything I could to deliver our baby on my own. And now a decision was made.

We joined a list of women waiting for a csection. I steeled myself to be pregnant until 2’o’clock that afternoon. We texted our parents to let them know the baby would be coming sometime that day, but we didn’t know when. However, things changed quickly again. As the shift changed at 8 a.m. (and my doctor who delivered Isla last year came in to start his day), the nurses quickly came into the room and began prepping me for surgery. Surprise! We would be the first csection of the day. Apparently I had labored long enough and they didn’t want to keep putting pressure on my scar. Before I knew it we were in the OR.

This csection didn’t feel as euphoric for me as last year’s. Last year I was well rested and had eaten just over 12 hours earlier. This time I was literally exhausted, very hungry, yet still so excited. The anesthesiologists marveled that I could keep such a high heart rate when I would get excited, yet still be okay. A reminder even in the last moments before our daughter joined us that my exercise came in handy.

Surgery was underway. Chris held my hand. I tried to stop shaking–both from nerves and medication. I fought each wave of nausea in between smiles and meditation. We played one of our favorite albums, Thomas Rhett’s “Life Changes” and I began to cry when the song, “Life Changes” actually came on the moment our daughter was born. This song really resonated with me since his album came out. Rhett and his wife have two kids under two and he sings, “You make your plans and you hear god laughing. Life changes, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.” These lyrics bring life to our journey to parenthood from the very beginning.

Josie was born just after 9:15 a.m.. We had requested a clear curtain, so a minute before her birth they dropped the blue drape so we could see our girl enter this world. They quickly asked us, “Mom and dad, boy or girl?” Chris and I both yelled that we thought we were having a boy, and then they exclaimed, “It’s a girl!” I remember bursting into tears and just feeling relieved that our baby was here. My doctor let me know the cord was around her neck, twice, and I cried again. I knew Josie had arrived the way she needed to and I was so grateful she was healthy. Her cry was strong, she was alert and so full of life.

The rest of the experience is a blur. They got Josie cleaned up, measured and weighed her. Chris cuddled Josie close while surgery wrapped up and eventually we loved our time together, just the three of us, in recovery.

Many people feel bad for me when they hear I labored for 36 hours before having a csection, but I can honestly say I’m grateful for the experience. If we have more children (we don’t know for those already asking!), I can no longer VBAC. So, even though I didn’t deliver Josie, I got to experience labor. Which for some reason was really important to me.

Just over a week later, I’m so happy to say I feel almost like my usual self. My incision is a little tender, but that’s it. While I’m still trying to take it easy, I’m grateful I feel capable of taking care of both my girls, while still keeping up around the house a little. I felt so crummy after my csection last year. I don’t know why this experience has been so different. Maybe its the differences in how I exercised, maybe it’s because I was always keeping up with Isla, or maybe it’s just that I’ve already been through this and my body knows what it’s doing. No matter the reason, I won’t complain!

As I continue to heal and am not sharing workouts, I plan to share about our infertility journey. It sounds odd to say we struggled with infertility since we now have two children 15 months apart, but there was a time we never knew if we would have one child. Knowing how isolating and painful that journey can be, I want to share about some of the procedures we went through, with hope that our stories can offer answers and hope to others facing similar trials.

For now, enjoy these photos of Josie’s birth. Many thanks for our midwife for capturing these images. We’ll treasure them forever. Welcome to the world Josie! We’re excited for every adventure that lies ahead.


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recovery

 

Introducing Josie Willow

It’s been almost a week since we welcomed new life into this world. Despite a scheduled csection for Friday the 13th, our newest little girl, Josie Willow came at her own time and in her own way on Saturday, October 14. She weighed in at peanut status: 6 pounds, 13 ounces and 20 inches long. But as we get to know Josie, she is the true definition of small but mighty.

Looking back at our 36 hours of labor, that finally ended in a csection anyways, I look forward to sharing Josie’s birth story. However, for now, we’re soaking up every minute at home as a family of four. And let’s face it. We’re just trying to settle into the new normal. So, for now, enjoy these photos of our beautiful new girl, with lots of cameos from big sister.

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Mexican Kale and Corn Quinoa Salad (Plus a Pregnancy Update)

The first post of this week will feature a recipe. I want to post a workout, but I won’t lie. My workouts are tapering down. This disappoints one part of me, while exciting another.  I can physically continue exercise, but not without bringing on contractions. So, I’ve been doing lots of found exercises throughout my day. A few sets of squats here, some push ups there. Rows, side planks, walking lunges. I’m walking like crazy too. But I do miss my heavy lifting sessions!

Tomorrow I go to the doctor for my 36 week check up, and I’m interested to see if they think I could actually be close to go time. I never went into labor with Isla. Since she was breech, I had a c section. They did tell me the day of the scheduled surgery that I probably would have been in the hospital in labor very soon with the contractions I was having the day she was born, but this pregnancy has just been so different. I feel like I’m getting close to delivery time now, but am I really? You name the pre-labor symptom–I probably have it! And I have for about a week. I would be nervous since I’m not even 37 weeks, but myself and all of my siblings were born 1-3 weeks early and were very healthy. So, we’ll see what tomorrow brings. As long as this baby is healthy, mom is ready!

I’m shocked to say I have barely gained any weight in the last several weeks. I am maybe up 26 pounds now, only one pound in the last several weeks. Again, I would be concerned, but my belly is growing (so clearly the baby is). I am also eating lots, and sometimes, not always the most healthy things. My body is craving all the carbs and while I try to be smart about my choices (and portions), I am indulging a little more.

Some of my favorite foods have been a little more ice cream, Annie’s chocolate bunnies with peanut butter, and I’m also enjoying some kettle corn or veggie sticks (the processed kind, not the fresh kind). I know it’s important the baby grows in these last few weeks, and my body needs the calories to facilitate that growth. So I’m eating up, but it looks like I might not make it to 35 pounds of weight gain. I won’t complain, haha. I thank Isla for keeping me so darn busy!

In this last trimester, I’ve also been struggling emotionally. While I am eternally grateful to be pregnant, I see the finish line and am really looking forward to relishing those baby snuggles, while not feeling the intense pressure of a human being and all that grows with it in my belly. With a history of infertility, I think I will always struggle with the guilt when I think about wanting pregnancy to end. I remember the intense longing for a baby. I wanted nothing more than to be pregnant. And to stay pregnant. To be a mom. In these last weeks, I’ve been trying so hard to acknowledge the gift of being pregnant, while also giving myself permission to feel ready for the journey to be over. I think it’s natural that we’re all ready to not be pregnant anymore. I want to meet our baby. And being pregnant comes with it’s discomforts. I think we’re supposed to want pregnancy to be over, so we will do whatever it takes to birth our babies. This is how I rationalize the back in forth in my brain and heart.

But, enough about the baby on board and mom’s emotions and onto the recipe! This recipe satisfies that carb craving I’ve been dosing. But it’s made using healthy carbs! One of my favorite dinner sides is quinoa with veggies. I usually use whatever veggies are fresh and in season. Some of my favorites from various seasons include kale and butternut squash; spinach, sweet potato, and apple; and this one–kale and corn cut right off the cob.

corn-on-the-cob

This dish incorporates kale from our garden and fresh corn from our farm. Corn has been so delicious in the last month and I’m sad it will be gone soon. Sure, we can get frozen organic corn at the grocery store. But let’s not kid ourselves. Nothing beats some local, fresh corn.

Isla loves it raw. I’ll be shucking the corn and next thing I know she’s reaching for a piece and biting into the sweet kernels, without even cooking them. Yum, yum, yum. For the last three weeks, we have gotten a dozen ears in our CSA share. And we haven’t had an ounce of trouble tucking those ears of corn away, filling our bellies with all that summer veggie goodness.

Isla-corn-on-the-cob

This recipe incorporates some other simple ingredients. It starts with a base of some sauteed onion and garlic. Then the kale and corn. Next comes quinoa and cumin. And finally, it’s topped with some fresh lime juice and crumbled cotija cheese. The cheese is optional, but it takes this dish to a whole new level. I love the salty, strong flavor of cotija cheese. It’s like feta, but in my opinion, even better.

This recipe, like all of the recipes I make, is quick and easy, and healthy! The task that takes the longest is cooking the quinoa. And if you will be short on dinner prep time, you can even make the quinoa ahead of time.

mexican-kale-corn-quinoa-salad

Mexican Kale and Corn Quinoa Salad

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tbsp of coconut OR olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 bunch of lacinato kale
  • 2 ears of corn, cooked
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 lime
  • Cotija cheese, crumbled (optional)

Directions

  1. Cook the quinoa according to package instructions. Let cool as you begin to cook the veggies.
  2. Chop the onion, garlic, kale, and cut the corn off the cob.
  3. Heat oil over medium heat. Add onion to pan and saute for 3 minutes.
  4. Add garlic to the pan and heat until fragrant.
  5. Add the kale and cook until bright green. Then add the corn.
  6. Once heated through, add the quinoa and cumin. Stir to combine.
  7. Remove from heat and top with lime juice and cotija cheese.

What is your favorite summer vegetable? Share in the comments below. 

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