To 2020

I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a mess of a year.

But through all the mess, I have so much to be thankful for.

We experienced virtual school and canceled plans like many others. We missed seeing family and friends and had to re-imagine celebrations that sometimes made us miss “normal” even more. Work this year was one of the hardest years I have experienced professionally due to unprecedented procedures and layoffs and furloughs. I lost my grandpa and wasn’t able to properly mourn with our family. Who even knows what my goals where at the beginning of the year. The achiever in me can’t think about it or else I feel shame and failure even through a pandemic.

However, I can’t completely write off the year or wish it farewell with a vengeance. In some regards it has been a great year for us. Tom got his dream job. We got more time than we could imagine with our kids, and we were pushed to slow down with them. We are healthy and safe.

2020 was anything but normal, however I was able to experience a normal and healthy pregnancy even though most of it was spent at home.

I have to thank 2020 because it brought me the greatest blessing with this sweet baby.

In a year that brought so much bad times it seems, I want to always remember him as the bright spot in the craziest storm.

I have been thinking a lot about how we will portray this year to Walter when he gets older. Everywhere you look you see or hear comments about the dumpster fire that is 2020. But being pregnant and having this little nugget was a humbling reminder that even in our darkest times, there is room for hope and growth.

So while when we look at all that 2020 was for us, I feel so lucky that when I look back at this time, I will be thinking of Walter joining our family. For me this overshadows all the sorrow that I experienced through undoubtedly one of the longest years. He was my reason to keep moving forward.

As we embark on the new year, there are definitely parts of 2020 that I want to leave behind . If we never have to do virtual school again, that would be fine by me. Undeniably, there was a lot of sadness and disappointment throughout this year.

But I am also so grateful for the year that brought my littlest boy.

What were your bright spots during this historic year?

Just a little bit of Normal

This third pregnancy has been so weird, different, and honestly normal.

It has been interesting doing this whole experience during a pandemic and mostly from the comfort of my home.

But the oddest part is going from two high risk pregnancies, to one that is seemingly normal. My doctor walks into every appointment lately singing “How is my most normal pregnant lady?”

It has just taken me three times to get to this state of “normal.”

At this point with George, I was on bedrest. And with Daph, we had scheduled my induction for the following week due to my high blood pressure. I started this third pregnancy as high risk not only because of my past deliveries, but also due to my age. So it is a miracle that this one for lack of better words has been easy. I am not having any of the signs of pre-eclampsia, and surprisingly despite all the stress that the year 2020 has brought, my blood pressure is all normal.

It has been so odd to go from George where I had so many issues from the get go and got an ultrasound every 2-4 weeks, to this baby where I have only had 2 ultrasounds and until recently only heard the heartbeat every 4 weeks.

It’s been easy to not think about the pregnancy all the time since I wasn’t at doctor’s appointments weekly like I was with Daph and George. With the pandemic, there were months where I didn’t see anyone outside of my family so I wasn’t really talking about it as much because no one is watching my belly grow. Even now, I only leave the house a couple days a week. (Honestly, there are folks at work who probably still have no idea I am about to be out for three months.) This pregnancy hasn’t been a focal point of my every day worried that something was wrong because of complications. And because of just how 2020 is going, there is a lot that keeps me busy during the day. Without others pointing out my pregnancy, I could just keep moving through as though everything was normal.

That to me is the interesting part though because I haven’t had regular confirmation that everything was ok. Normally, something like this would push me into a heightened state of anxiety because I didn’t know what was happening. Instead, I have sunk into the normalcy and trusted that everything was ok and wouldn’t let myself think about the unknown.

My doctor and I have talked about “birth” plans, and that I would love to avoid an induction. And honestly, it seems so surreal that this may happen. It is funny that this is my third pregnancy, and I had to talk to my doctor about what I should be watching for with natural labor signs. I have never experienced being normal before so I want to ride that out as long as I can. But it is a little ironic that as a “seasoned” parent, I really have no idea what to expect.

Being normal is such an odd feeling, but I’ll take it!

Who knows how long I actually have left at this point, but I do hope that I can enjoy this experience and just be proud of what my body has endured this third time around. I have learned with my pregnancies to not have any expectations. It is amazing and beautiful when I think about this year and the fact that I am bringing another new life into our world as crazy as it may be. But isn’t a little normal what 2020 needs? This little nugget has been that grounding point for me.

So let’s pray that it continues to be in these remaining weeks (or days). However, whether this pregnancy continues to be textbook normal or I take a turn back into the high risk zone, we are so excited for this little boy to join our family. We are blessed beyond measure to show this child an abnormal amount of love.

Building With Trash

Have you ever seen Toy Story 4? George is Bonnie. I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard at Forky explaining what being trash meant to him, because I could see George having the same monologue. He loves taking our trash and re-purposing it. A week doesn’t go by that he isn’t digging into our cardboard pile or looking for discarded packaging to create some scene he has concocted in his mind.

And he has some grand ideas. Earlier this year, I was sure we were going to live with a cardboard house in our living room for all of time. This thing had a smoke stack, and he had even made furniture for the inside. He wanted to eat all his meals in there; he watched TV in there. He just loves to re-imagine things, and he has a way of looking at things with a whole new appreciation.

So when he came to us this weekend saying he wanted to make an arcade in his room, Tom jumped on board. I clearly had already put all the cardboard in our recycling pile. You can see who is the fun parent here…

Tom’s brain is the same as George with just a little more experience. So it is like they are speaking the same language, and Tom is able to make all of George’s recycling dreams come true.

But I have to say this pinball machine definitely takes the cake.

Who knows how long this thing will actually last, but it makes him so ridiculously happy. He has even created a ticket system for his “arcade.” And while he does love a good TV binge and playing games on our phones, it is refreshing that he wants to use his time this way instead.

With what he comes up with, I could see George being an engineer, designer, or architect someday. I have to remind myself that it is only cardboard, and eventually it will make its way to the trash. But in this moment, this all is so much more to the kids.

Sometimes it is hard for me to let go of the pieces that want the order and less chaos of toys and “trash” strewn every where. However, when I break it down, these are the moments that build him into who he will be someday. By letting him create and dream up these things, we are showing him what his brain is capable of. And by helping him build out what is in his head, we are showing our support and belief in his dreams. It’s helping him problem solve and pushes him to be creative with his solutions. When I start to think about what is happening here, the trash problem seems so insignificant. For every mess I see, George has a whole backstory and reason for it being the way that it is. And as wild and crazy as they seem, when he tells the story, they are always unique and purposeful. I want him to know that his ideas are valued and encourage that creativity.

So sometimes we build really crazy things and let the fun flow from it. And sometimes the inventions do not work, but this shows him to take another look and try again.

Do I let him take all the trash to build something? No I do not. More often than not, George hears that taking that piece of trash is not realistic today. Literally in the middle of writing this post I had to go break the kids up because they were arguing over the best place to put the “pull-up” maze. Yes they had taken all of George’s pull-ups and thrown them around their rooms to create a maze obstacle course…Not ideal.

However, sometimes I need to let loose and let an arcade machine come to life.

These are the moments I hope my kids remember. George with his idea. Tom with his building magic. Gammy helping George “paint” the theme. And Daphne and I digging through my car to find dinosaurs as props. It’s here that some of the real magic of parenting happens.

And I have to admit that without Tom these moments are not possible. I am just not that kind of mom…but that is a post for another day.

I just have to remember that I may not always see the end result, but having faith in my people and supporting their dreams are sometimes our best moments together.

Baby 3: 1st Trimester

Welp here we are well into the second trimester, and I haven’t documented at all how this pregnancy has gone. Third baby problems I guess. I do love that I have documentation of my pregnancies, so I do want to attempt to keep up with the rest of this one. Working from home is mentally exhausting, and then to add on the physical exhaustion, I never wanted to look at a computer after the work day ended. So we’ll see how documenting goes…

I will be honest this one has been the most exhausting. Some of that is obvious when you are pregnant with two other kids running around, but then to add quarantine life on to that. The first trimester was ROUGH.

We found out I was pregnant around week 5, and that is when the morning sickness started taking over. From week 5 until about week 15, I was sick pretty much 24/7. I only actually threw up once, but the nausea was overwhelming none the less. I actually felt really fortunate that we were in quarantine, because I know trying to work in person would have made me feel so much worse. Here at home, I could get as comfortable as possible, and it didn’t matter how gross I actually felt. I am not sure I would have been able to work if I would have had to go into the office and be presentable.

I was basically eating like a college freshmen: poptarts, goldfish, Tostino’s pizzas, and Chef Boyardee beefaroni. Every fruit and vegetable sent me dry heaving. And I couldn’t look at meat for most of the first trimester. I don’t eat a lot of processed food, so this had so many effects on my body because that list of 4 highly processed items was really my diet for weeks. But my body DID NOT want anything fresh and wanted things filled with salt.

And oh the exhaustion. I literally fell asleep each time my body hit the couch. Eating breakfast with the kids during morning cartoons, asleep. Bedtime cartoons, asleep. Reading the kids books, asleep. I couldn’t tell you how many times Tom would find me asleep in the kids’ rooms while they played around me. I would pass out anytime my tushie hit a soft cushion.

There was absolutely no working out, and I struggled to even get my steps in every day. I would put the treadmill on 1.5 speed and slowly inch my way towards my step goal each day.

This all is fairly similar to how both of the other pregnancies went, but quarantine added a whole other element that made this a different experience.

As I said being at home made things better in the long run that I could just be a mess and no one would know. I have basically lived in leggings for the past 4 months. It also made it easier for us to keep things to ourselves. This was important to me because I don’t like to share my pregnancies until I have actually seen the little nugget on an ultrasound and heard a heartbeat. For me I need that reality confirmation before I feel comfortable sharing with the world. With Daph, we saw her at 6 weeks, and George we saw at 8 weeks. With this one, I did not have an ultrasound until 12 weeks. So having the ability to hole up in our house was really beneficial.

What wasn’t beneficial was the anxiety that over took me along with the morning sickness. Due to my history, I worried that my hormones were deceiving me as they did with George, so I really wanted a doctor to check me out and do their tests to confirm the pregnancy. I also was anxious since my doctor and I had talked through being labeled as high risk before. So when I was told that my first appointment (8 weeks) would be over Zoom, and that I would not have an ultrasound until 12 weeks, the panic set in. With George I had appointments every 2 weeks, and with Daph we had a three ultrasounds within the first trimester. It was really hard for me to just trust that everything was ok.

But due to COVID, my OB did not want patients coming in until their 12 week ultrasound. This was right at the beginning of the shut down, so there was a lot to digest in how the procedures would be different.

During my teleappointment at 8 weeks, I expressed my concerns. My doctor kept reassuring me that I was showing definite signs of being pregnant. She went through symptoms that I would need to watch for to warrant coming in person before 12 weeks. I was not exhibiting any of them. Which for any normal person, that would be calming. It just made me more aggravated that I could only go off my nausea and peeing on a stick to know everything was going ok. I really got spoiled with all the ultrasounds with the first two! Also Zoom appointments are interesting. It’s basically an indepth questionnaire with a chat feature. I felt fortunate that I have a blood pressure machine at home that I could at least talk through some medical readings.

That 12 week mark finally came around, and I was finally able to see this little baby on the screen. However, I had to go at it alone. All my appointments in person will be solo. I am glad that Tom has experienced the appointments before so he at least has an idea of what I am doing there, but it still sucks as someone with anxiety to have to go through pieces of this alone. But to limit exposure risks, no support people are allowed with patients during appointments. It also made me sad because I was able to take George to one of my ultrasounds with Daph, and that will not be an experience I get to share with this one.

And how have the kids been through all this? Pretty great actually. They named the baby Teddy, and I now realize as we are talking about real names, that we may never get them to stop calling this baby Teddy. Daphne is so excited to have her own baby, and she wants to share the crib with her newest brother. George is ready for another baby, but very much does not want to share rooms. We have been using it as incentive to keep his room clean. If he doesn’t clean his room twice a week, I have threatened to put baby stuff in his room. So far so good! They love to talk to the baby, but they think they do that through screaming in my mouth. It’s been really fun seeing their reactions as a 5 and 3 year old compared to the 2 year old that George was when I was pregnant with Daphne.

Even though I have been through pregnancy before, this one feels so different. There is a reality that I may do this whole pregnancy from the comfort of my own home, which brings on so many different dynamics and other missed opportunities of celebration. There are still so many unknowns and things that cause me to panic and question. So I guess with that it is the same…It’s like I am making myself doubt every sane instinct, and then I feel guilt that I don’t know what’s going on since I have had prior experience.

So yea the first trimester went swimmingly. But here we are, and I am 18 weeks and almost to the half way point.

Here are my first pregnancy updates with George and Daphne.

Why Three?

If you have been following along with my journey over the years, you might recall that we were pretty adamant after Daphne that we were done growing our family. It was really hard for me since I had always had fleeting thoughts of having three kids. But after the trauma of Daphne’s birth, it felt like the right move at the time.

We proceeded to get rid of baby things as Daphne grew. I thought that getting rid of the things would make it more real that 2 was the right number for us. I was physically closing that door.

Right around Daphne’s first birthday, I kept feeling this nagging feeling on my heart that something was missing. The best way to explain it is that it felt like someone was missing from our table.

Tom and I discussed it for almost a whole other year. There were definite concerns, my health being number one. Having that hemorrhage and getting a blood transfusion was pretty scary, and it is definitely not something I want to every go through again. I talked extensively with both my primary doctor and OB during that year to see what complications I needed to consider, even more so now that I would be in that age range that is considered advanced maternal age. When both gave me the green light, we talked through how our life would change with three. Tom and I talked through everything: vacations, school, how would we have three kids in this house, would we need a new car, would we ever go to a restaurant again, to how we could financially support all the things for three kids. We have a certain lifestyle we want for our kids, and I will be honest it took us awhile to get to a place where we felt we could move forward.

But I truly believe that God provides, and He kept placing it on my heart that there was someone missing at our dinner table. We prayed, we cried, and we had many nights where we stayed up until all the hours of the night talking through all the scenarios. We truly believe that we had love to give another child and if anything this world needs more of is love. We felt confident that no matter the obstacles, this child would be loved beyond measure.

As simple as it sounds, it just kept coming back to that feeling that someone was missing from our family. There really is not a logical reason especially since we already had a boy and a girl.

However, now that we are here, the decision has never felt more right.

This was not an oops baby or quarantine baby. Everything about this child was planned and put on our hearts to bring into this world. We started trying last fall, and it has been a whirlwind since.

At the beginning of quarantine, I started feeling pretty crummy. The reason that prompted taking a test is that I couldn’t eat a hamburger one night. I NEVER say no to a hamburger.

I remember feeling a bundle of nerves when I saw “pregnant” pop up on that test. There was no going back now, but all the concerns we had talked about just rose to the surface.

But then I told Daphne the news.

As soon as I said it out loud, all my fears melted away. And yes, Daphne was the first to know because I knew she wouldn’t tell anyone, and if she did no one would take it seriously. So she and I would talk about this sweet little nugget in our quiet moments together, and there was so much joy for us both. I’m pretty sure she thought I was telling her she was getting a new baby doll, but we were both still excited.

Since we were in quarantine, there wasn’t getting anything special from the store, and I wasn’t about to wait for days to get something shipped to the house to tell Tom. Plus we were with each other 24/7 due to the stay at home order and now being co-workers in our basement, so I needed to tell him somehow and quick!

So instead, I used my daughter, you know the one I said that no one would believe, to help me tell the news.

One night after keeping it a secret for a day, during our bedtime routine with the kids, I whispered to Daph to go tell her Daddy that she was a big sister. She shared the news in her sweet little voice. At first, Tom brushed it off and said “I know, some day you will get to be a big sister.” I had her repeat it again, and Tom still wasn’t getting it, so I shouted to him, “not going to be, she IS a big sister.” I have never seen Tom shoot up so fast. He was so excited and screamed, “You’re pregnant?” It is really a moment that I wish I had filmed, but alas it will have to be a memory on my heart instead.

So here we are at 16 weeks, happily making this a three kid family. So while in every other situation, I weigh out all the odds and make my pro/con lists. But this one about bringing another life into this world, we had to just go with where our hearts were leading us.

Here we go again!