On Doing “It All”

I get a lot of comments about how I look like I’m able to do it all, how I’m able to get so much accomplished, how I can keep my house so clean.  I get so many comments that sometimes I start to feel bad.  If you go on Instagram and browse through some feeds of mothers, a common theme will be “keeping it honest” and making sure that everyone knows you are not perfect.  Then you get pictures of piled high laundry, toys everywhere, dishes in the sink with a caption about how you should leave it all and just play with your kids.  Instead of relieve me of need to clean it just makes me feel guilty for needing to clean instead of play.  I chose the word “need” intentionally because friends, if I don’t clean and keep my house clean then I am a moody mess of a mom and definitely no fun to play with.

Even as “clean” as my house looks there are a lot of things that are filthy! I’m really good at keeping my house tidy and orderly, keeping the floors clean and the bathrooms scrubbed.  I’m really really not good at things like cleaning windows, baseboards or walls.  So while it may look like I accomplish it all let me assure you that for every one thing I do accomplish there is a list of 5 that I don’t.

Yesterday morning I woke up later than normal but with a lot of motivation to get my house spotless and get a lot of my spring cleaning list completed (prime example of my “list of 5”).  Sunday I spent the day relaxing and honestly doing nothing.  My husband even made me supper and brought it to me in bed.  Due to my “day off” I neglected a lot of my daily rituals that make me sane and keep my house looking presentable.  I went to bed aware that my house was a “disaster” but vowing to get it cleaned up today.  Yet when I went downstairs this morning I was overwhelmed with just how much there was to do and how much I wanted to accomplish.  I quickly realized that my expectations of the day were unrealistic, but it took me a few hours to really let go of those expectations.  During those few hours I was annoyed more than I was joyful, I was overwhelmed and anxious about the state of my house and about the gardening that wasn’t getting done and supper that I hadn’t planned or thought of and preschool for Ezekiel that I haven’t started and the list goes on and on and on.  On top of that Eden’s reflux flared up pretty bad and she was irritable, Ezekiel was going on and on about going for a walk and I was quickly losing patience.  My expectations were driving me crazy and so while I was feeding and rocking Eden I closed my eyes took some deep breaths and released them.  I adjusted my expectations and I let go of my need to “get it all done.”  I became OK with getting done what I could and letting go of the rest.

Once I did that it was incredible what I was actually able to accomplish and how joyful I became.  At the end of the day I couldn’t believe how I was able to turn my day from a very bad day going worse to a great day – it’s usually the other way around.  The only reason that happened is because I focused on one task at a time instead of focussing on my never ending list of tasks.  I was even able to check off a few items on my spring cleaning list.  As I went about the day I reflected on why it is that I am usually able to keep my house clean and organized and why I’m not usually overwhelmed by it – it came down to 2 words:

Discipline and routine.

That’s really it.

Every day I have a variation of a routine I follow, it’s constantly being tweaked to fit our lives better and to try and fit more into a day (think walks, park play, craft time etc.) and it’s revised daily to fit the needs of a baby with an awry routine but it works.  The only reason it works? Discipline.  There are a lot of days I just don’t want to put the dishes away, water the plants, pick up after my family, do the laundry, sweep the floors or tidy the things that have been left laying around but if I don’t I know the next day is going to be an uphill battle for me mentally.  This is how I keep my mental stability intact always but especially in my postpartum days.  A screaming baby is much less irritating to me when I’m walking around my house trying to calm her if my house is clean and orderly.  An inquisitive and whining 3 yr old is a little more tolerable if I’m not staring at a disaster that I’m trying to clean up.  My routines and disciplines didn’t happen overnight though, they were slowly incorporated into my day.

So as a response to those wondering why it looks like I’m always getting things accomplished I thought I’d give you a glimpse into my routine. Maybe you can pick up a habit or two and overtime feel like you aren’t drowning in trying to get your house to a tidy state, or maybe you are truly ok with leaving it the way it is – that is JUST FINE.  Honestly – you do you, but I have to do me for the sake of my mental health and relationships with my family.

MORNINGS

I’ve always been an early to rise early to bed girl so my mornings are a huge part of my sanity.  I despise waking up with everyone else and have to work really hard to be in a good mood if it happens.  Thankfully Eden has been sleeping long stretches (6-8 hours) at night and will wake up in the early morning for a feed before going back to sleep for another 3-4 hours, this is my wake up call.  I change her and feed her and then shower and get ready for the day after putting her back to bed.  It’s never a specific time but if she wakes up anytime later than 4:30 then that’s when I get up.  I have found it much harder to shower and get ready if I don’t do this.

After that I go down and get coffee, take my medications, put away any lingering dishes, wipe off counters, tidy anything that wasn’t tidied the night before.  I also do a quick check on the plants and water them if they need it.  I prepare breakfast for Ezekiel and I and have it on the table for when he wakes up – it varies from eggs to cold cereal depending on what I feel like.  He’s not a picky eater so this works for us and he gets very very hangry if he doesn’t eat.  I’ve found that if I don’t have it prepared we both get distracted and it gets very difficult to get him to eat anything.  Then after doing all that I sit down with my coffee and usually browse social media (or write a blog!) until one of the kids wakes up.

After everyone wakes up honestly the day takes shape as it goes.  I usually have some sort of plan for the mornings – whether that be a coffee/playdate, the zoo, cleaning the house, a long walk but aside from cleaning day I try to get out in the morning.  Ezekiel is an outdoors kid, and he’s also a kid that wants me to be with him and play with him always so if I don’t do something fun for him in the morning he gets super annoying with asking to do something and wanting me by his side always.  Eden is still able to go with the flow and doesn’t have a set schedule so for now we use Ezekiel’s schedule to plan the day.  Eventually two mornings a week will be dedicated to school for Ezekiel – that will start in the next couple weeks.

Lunch is around 12:30 and this is when I am able to do a tidy of the house and kitchen in particular because I eat a lot faster than Ezekiel.  While he’s finishing his meal I’m checking off tasks (sweep the kitchen, fold the laundry, start supper prep, do the dishes etc.), I get as many as I can off the list.  Then we all go upstairs and Ezekiel gets to watch one Netflix episode – if Eden is content this is another time I can do a quick tidy upstairs which usually includes putting away clothes, picking up whatever has been left behind in our various trips up and down the stairs.

Nap time is usually 1:30 or 2 and thankfully it’s almost always nap time for them both so I get a bit of a break.  I always take 30-60 minutes just to sit, sometimes I read, sometimes I watch a TV episode but it’s usually with a coffee in hand.  After taking time for myself I start to get supper prepped – marinate meat, chop veggies etc. so it’s easy to actually prepare when it’s supper time.  If I’m lucky I’ll get to do a “one off task” like mow the grass or bake some muffins and I base that on what I feel like doing that day or what desperately needs to get done.

Ezekiel will wake up around 4:30 or 5 and I make sure he has a small snack and we usually check in on the greenhouse at this time.  I sit outside with him if Eden is sleeping and it’s nice out, or we’ll read books.

Supper is around 6 or 6:30, we eat, clean up, tidy the downstairs and head upstairs for bedtime.  Ezekiel will watch one more Netflix show, both the kids will have a bath, we get them dressed, give meds and put us all to sleep.

Throughout the day I do a lot of 30 second tidies and that’s the key to my house being kept clean.  I should mention that Ezekiel is always responsible for his own tidying so he does a lot of 30 second tidies as well.  I also always do at least one load of laundry a day – it keeps it manageable and less intimidating, it also ensures that the clothes get washed and put away instead of just washed.

What I struggle with and what I want to start incorporating into my day is the spring cleaning tasks.  I usually look at it as a huge thing that needs a tonne of time to get done and I just don’t have big chunks of time anymore.  I can’t take a day or two and just dedicate it to spring cleaning because I have two small children who would not cooperate with that plan – as I learned yesterday.  If I start to add a task or two to my days my list would be done in no time and I wouldn’t be so overwhelmed by it and then if I kept up with it – like spot cleaning walls, wiping down baseboards every few months etc. it wouldn’t have to be “spring cleaning” because those things would just be done always.  So that’s what I’m going to do – start adding one or two tasks a day and hopefully that motivates me to keep those things cleaner than they are now.

Whew – that was a long post but honestly this is how I “do it.”  I’m so far from perfect though guys, there are definitely days that nothing gets done and that breakfast, lunch and supper are a variation of baking, fruit and veggies and that’s OK.  We need grace daily to get through the day and we need to remember that we are human – imperfect and flawed. No one will ever accomplish it all, where they excel in one thing they’ll lack in another.  So instead of focusing on where you lack focus on where you excel and just let go of the rest.  Your sanity will thank you.

 

Infertility – Our Journey

I’ve thought all week about writing this post.  I’ve gone through it a thousand times in my head.  Every time I look at one of my children more words come and more tears flow.  I have very little extra time these days, and what time I do have beyond keeping 2 kids alive is usually spent cleaning, cooking or caring for my seedlings but tonight, I’m sacrificing a bit of sleep because this topic is so very near and dear to my heart.

This week was Infertility Awareness week, a topic that I know intimately.

From the moment I decided to start dating my husband (after a few weeks of his persistence!) I knew that I wanted to spend my life with him and we also knew that we wanted a family.   It didn’t take us long to start trying and at first I didn’t worry about it.  I wasn’t obsessed with it and I wasn’t heartbroken when nothing happened right away.  A year went by though and I decided to go see a doctor.  It wasn’t very long and I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome and it didn’t surprise me in the slightest.  The doctor that I went to see prescribed me clomid for a couple months and sent me on my way.  It didn’t work and I never went back to that physician.  I happened to find an amazing family doctor and he eventually referred me to a fertility clinic.

That was about 2 or 2.5 years after we had started trying and I was then in nursing school.  It took a while to even get into the clinic and then an even longer time to get things going.  Multiple tests, and several referrals for me before we even started treatment.  We went through 4 rounds of clomid and by the end I was on the highest dose they prescribe.  I only ovulated on the last cycle and it didn’t result in pregnancy.  At this point I had my hopes up, I was desperate for a baby and I experienced all the emotions that go with that.  Thankfully I had the distraction of school but it was still devastating month after month and especially when taking a medication that is supposed to make you ovulate.  My body was failing me, failing us and even medication couldn’t fix it.  After four rounds they made us take a break and we took a long break to decide what we were going to do.

Then, miraculously and surprisingly we got pregnant and it was twins! We were over the top excited, we couldn’t believe it and we found out only one week before we had an appointment at the fertility clinic to start treatment again.  I called and cancelled that appointment and the next week we learned that I had miscarried both babies.

That was my lowest low.  I don’t think I’ll ever begin to put into words the complete and utter devastation and heartbreak that comes with a miscarriage in the midst of infertility.

After the miscarriage I was referred to an OBGYN for a consult and he advised me that although we conceived naturally that we should still proceed with a referral to the fertility clinic.  I continued to have absent menstrual periods so my chances of conceiving naturally are about 25% of that of a normal couple.

We were eager to start a family and so we decided to get another referral and surprisingly were accepted within a month.  For some reason they let us forgo the usual testing even though it had been a long time since they had seen us and we started treatment right away.  To my complete surprise we got pregnant our first round! That round though, it was difficult.  I experienced every negative side effect of clomid, so much so that I was convinced I had some sort of inflammatory arthritis.  

I spent the entire pregnancy beyond grateful for this gift of life.  The pregnancy wasn’t easy but I didn’t feel the difficulty because it had taken so long to get to that point.  From that first pregnancy test to every single ultrasound the awe and wonder never left.  Even now as I look at my 3 year old son I know just how incredibly blessed I am.  

After having Ezekiel I was strongly encouraged to use 2 forms of birth control to prevent pregnancy for 2 years.  I declined because how could I prevent something that took 6 years to achieve? We didn’t want to get pregnant right away and just tried our best to “be careful.”  Then miraculously (for real miraculous!) somehow we ended up pregnant again and naturally!

Growing our family has been the hardest, most beautiful journey we’ve been on.  It’s been our highest highs and our lowest lows.  We’ve experienced desperation but we’ve been taken down a journey of hope.  When I look at my children I see redemption, I see love, I see joy and I see hope.  They are my reminder that God’s timing is always perfect and his hope is always present. 

There’s a lot I could talk about regarding timing.  Both my children were conceived at times that were crucial in our lives, but that’s another blog post for another time. For now, if you are going through infertility I want you to know that I understand, you are not alone and I stand with you in hope.  

 

Eden – A Birth To Remember

I started writing this shortly after being released from the hospital.  I was very surprised to realize just how emotional it was for me.  I hadn’t thought that Eden’s birth and our hospital stay had been as hard for me as it was coupled with a very difficult pregnancy and I guess it was just a little much.  As I began to write I found that I would need to stop and come back to it several times because I just didn’t have the energy to revisit the experience.  I persevered though, mainly because I don’t want to forget these details – as hard as they are.  I want to remember it all – the beautiful moment they took her out and announced she was a girl, the difficult moment of being wheeled away from her – I want to remember everything.

So without further ado – our birth story.

We walked into the hospital to check in for our c-section and my husband looked at me and said:

You look so relaxed, so fresh!

He couldn’t believe that on such a big day I was acting so calm, he most certainly was not feeling calm.  Several people after that asked if I was nervous, and my response to them – not at all.  I was all in, 100% ready to meet this miracle baby that my body fought both for and against.  I was eager to be on the other side of pregnancy, ready to take on life with a newborn.  Besides, I’d been through this before and although there were some “complications” for lack of a better term, I was determined that regardless if the same complications happened I would be ready for them and they wouldn’t catch me off guard.

We checked in and the nurses did a non-stress test and gave me my gown to change into.  Carlos and I talked and laughed and decided on names (can you believe we hadn’t even discussed names before that day?!), took some pictures and he changed into his white coveralls, head covering and booties.  We were ready, and they were ready for us.

Our nurse walked us up to the OR and we waited in the holding area surrounded by patients and family members there for various procedures.  Each one being visited by their anesthesiologist and surgeon as we waited for ours.  Finally our anesthetist came out to chat, immediately I saw the kindness, care and professionalism in this man and I breathed a sigh of relief.  He was going to be a major player in this surgery and I knew I needed a kind, caring individual.  I saw that he cared about every single detail, most importantly he cared deeply that this went as smoothly and as closely to my wishes as possible.  I have since spoken with my OB and she said that he is one of her top two anesthetists and if she needed any procedure done she would want him – this just confirmed what I was feeling that day and I’m so thankful for him.

We talked for what seemed like an eternity, we went through every single detail and possible complication.  He had already combed through my file and taken in all the important details.  He explained our options for anesthesia – spinal, spinal/epidural, or general anesthesia.  I made it very clear that a general was my worst nightmare and I wanted to do everything possible before going down that road and he promised that he would exhaust all options before doing that.  We talked about my last section and the excruciating chest pain that I experienced.  I explained that I was 100% sure that this would happen again since I had been having chest pain on and off from 19 weeks that despite everyone’s attempt at trying to explain, could not be explained.   I told him that I wanted to try to get through the pain without too many narcotics so that I wasn’t drowsy afterwards.  I could tell that the whole situation concerned him and I could see the wheels turning in his head.  We decided together that we would try a spinal first because an epidural carries a higher risk of complications post and because of my Marfan Syndrome those risks are even higher.

Next my surgeon came out – and I was surprised and slightly disappointed to see that it was the physician that I wrote this post about.  I knew from speaking with many nurses and admittedly browsing reviews that in fact he was an excellent physician but just one that I didn’t particularly “jive” with.  Although disappointed I was also grateful to have someone who was slightly aware of my case and someone I had met before and I knew that we were in good hands.  In the end I was so grateful it was him, he was nothing but kind, professional and perfect for this birth.  We talked briefly and he returned to the OR and I followed with my nurse shortly afterwards, leaving Carlos in the holding area until I was draped and ready.

When we walked into the OR the anesthetist said that he had thought it over again and reviewed things one more time and thought we should try a spinal/epidural.  His rational was that with an epidural we might have a chance at getting a block high enough to control the potential chest pain.  I was agreeable to whatever he thought would be best.  Next he prepared me and attempted the epidural a few times all of which caused extreme pain in my hips and down my legs.  After three attempts at inserting the catheter he said that due to the curvature and nature of my spine an epidural was proving to be far more difficult.  So we abandoned that and tried a spinal.  I was a bit nervous that the spinal wouldn’t work either, but he gave me a higher dose than normal and after a long wait it finally worked.  They prepared me and draped me and brought Carlos in – he had been pacing holes in the floor because the first part had taken a good 20-30 minutes.

Carlos came and sat down and then it was go time.  I felt nothing at first other than the surgeons gently massaging my belly moving Eden down.  At the same time they were cutting and also narrating.  At one point the surgeon said – your baby is waving at us through the water bag, and in the next minute I heard “IT’S A GIRL!”  During the prep the conversation revolved around Ezekiel and how he wanted a sister and wouldn’t be satisfied with anything else and so when Eden came out the whole room cheered.  It was a moment I hope I never forget.  They passed her by my head on the way to clean her off and make sure she was fine.  I did here her cry when they took her out and wasn’t paying much attention to what was happening with her but she did have low APGARs initially but recovered well with suctioning.

The actual birth of Eden was everything I had hoped.  I was relaxed and fully present, the physicians were gentle and communicative.  With Ezekiel’s birth they were anything but gentle and I don’t remember any communication (though admittedly my memory could be foggy).   I was so thankful for the way the birth went, it’s what comes after that makes this story interesting.

During the entire procedure my anesthetist was looking over the curtain then looking back to me and asking how I was doing.  Up until this point I was doing fantastic and feeling great and he was very relieved.  After she came out he even said – “we made it through!” I replied with – “not yet we haven’t.”  Then about two minutes after that I said – “there it is!”  The chest pain that I had been anticipating and he had been dreading had shown up.  It started the moment they began cleaning out my uterus and removing the placenta.  The more they worked the worse it got.  I would get moments of a tiny bit of relief when the pain would go from a 10/10 (or more) to a 6/10 but from this moment forward the pain was pretty constant.  They finished with my uterus and were moving on to my tubal ligation.

Interlude to talk about ligation –

Early on in my pregnancy I had begun thinking seriously about a tubal.  I’ve only ever taken birth control for two months of my life and never wanted to restart – something about chemically altering my hormones that don’t function properly on their own just doesn’t feel right.  Also I will never have an IUD, I’ve heard one too many horror stories both from doctors and friends who have had one.  Trying to “be careful” obviously didn’t work out well for us – thankfully! My husband would die before being drug in to have a vasectomy.  So if we decided that we were done I was pretty sure I would want a tubal.  Then as the pregnancy went on it was clear that we were only going to have two children regardless of the outcome.  Honestly, I’d do it all over again for another baby (probably to the horror of every doctor that cared for me during this pregnancy) but it’s not just the difficulty of pregnancy that I need to think about.  My cardiac status thankfully stayed stable during this pregnancy but that’s just pure luck.  Another pregnancy could be the one that killed me, literally and so after a lot of discussion with a lot of doctors I decided a tubal was the best option for us.

Back to the birth:

So they moved on to the right fallopian tube.  The exact moment they cut the tube my pain skyrocketed.  It was so bizarre, I could literally feel them cutting my fallopian tube in my chest and it was excruciating.  I was trying my best to breathe through the pain, the anesthetist at one point had to remind me to breathe because the pain was so bad that I was holding my breath trying to get through it.  I could hear the surgeons repeatedly saying “I’m so sorry Ashley, you’re doing great.” I could also hear, “just sew it up as quickly as you can.”  It was very clear that although they deal with labouring women in pain on a daily basis they were very unfamiliar with a patient yelling in pain on the operating table, I kind of felt bad for them in some twisted way.  After the right side was done the pain decreased slightly and they asked if I wanted them to continue.  I adamantly said they better not close me up without making me completely infertile.  They asked if I was absolutely sure and then said something about me being a trooper.  The left side didn’t hurt nearly as bad but the chest pain never left.

Eventually they closed me up and then cleaned me up and it was done.  The nurses were amazing and doing their best to distract both Carlos and I from the pain. Also, sometime during everything Carlos got up and went and got Eden and brought her over to me.  He laid her beside my head so I could talk to her and kiss her.  Although I can’t remember at which part of the procedure this happened I know it’s a moment I’ll never forget.  It’s a moment that I really wanted in both of my births but with Ezekiel the room was frantic due to my chest pain and it just wasn’t an option.  I love that I got to have this moment and I love that it’s captured in pictures.

I wish this was the end of my birth story, I wish after this everything would have been normal and not worth writing about but it only got more exciting after the actual surgery.

They moved me to recovery and my nurse got to work doing everything she needed to do – check vitals, check bleeding, check the spinal block, check on my pain, get baby skin to skin and to latch.  Vitals and the spinal block were great, Eden latched and sucked like a pro right away and actually stayed there for 20 minutes or so.  My pain was very slowly subsiding but my bleeding was picking up.  Eventually they had to give me oxytocin for the bleeding.  My pain only subsided for a bit and then all of a sudden picked up back to 8-9/10.  The anesthetist came and checked on me a couple times, then the OB, they tried to get a hold of my cardiologist but couldn’t and eventually called the cardiologist who was on call.

Quite quickly I had a couple residents at my bedside, they began to go through the motions of getting the story.  They were only there for a few minutes before this small, young, feisty female physician literally barged in and interrupted them (as nicely as she could I’m sure) saying she wanted to hear everything and ask the questions.  This started 2 hours of pure chaos, I’m not even sure I can recall it all because it was just so chaotic.  She was lovely and very concerned, doing her due diligence to make sure I was getting the best care possible and I’m very thankful for her.  They did blood work, an EKG, and chest x-ray to start.  While that was happening the cardiologist was on the phone to the radiologist trying to get me a CT scan ASAP as well as trying to figure out who was going to take me there.  She wanted me connected to a “life pack” – a machine that traces the heart and is capable of shocking patients out of arrhythmia’s.  The problem was that my labour and delivery nurse was not trained on that machine and neither were any of the recovery nurses.  They tried getting a cardiac nurse but there was no one available – so the cardiologist took it on herself to escort me to CT.  She literally steered my stretcher to the CT, sat beside me and charted while we waited, sat in the CT control room while I got my CT and then steered my stretcher to the cardiac ICU.  Yep you read that right – I had an attending cardiologist escort me personally around the hospital, if that’s not VIP treatment I don’t know what is!

My poor labour and delivery nurse was so great during this whole ordeal.  When I say it was chaotic I mean it was just so over the top dramatic.  I had cardiologists assessing me while my nurse was also assessing me and the baby, on top of that I had techs coming for all the tests.  I just imagined myself in my nurses shoes and felt so bad for her! 

Before going to CT we discussed that the cardiologist wanted me on the cardiac unit to be completely safe given that the postpartum nurses were not trained in cardiac complications and there was no cardiac monitoring on the postpartum unit.  There was discussion with everyone – and many phone calls to both units – about Eden accompanying me or not.  The cardiologist fought hard for Eden to be able to come with me but when I left recovery it was still up in the air.  What I didn’t realize was that when she was talking about the cardiac unit she actually meant the cardiac ICU.  I was very surprised to look up as they wheeled me through the doors and see the letters ICU.  I knew that my chest pain was not cardiac related and I was certain this was overkill, yet in the same moment I was so grateful that despite my own intuition my situation was not being taken lightly.  I also understood that even though they also knew that the likelihood of it being a cardiac incident was small that they had to take every precaution to be sure I was safe.  What I didn’t know and wasn’t told while inpatient (and never asked about) was that on the CT my aortic root actually looked like it had expanded and so that fact coupled with pain gave them more cause to worry.

I spent 24 hours in ICU and although I am grateful, it’s also the part in my birth story that makes me the most emotional.  I went through this pregnancy always thinking I was going to have a preemie and I prepared my mind and heart for not having my baby at my bedside just like with my first.  Once I hit 37 weeks I let go of that and began to be very excited to have at least one aspect of this whole 9 months be “normal.”  Once the c-section was over I was just going to be a normal mom with a healthy baby and I was so ready for that.  It ended up that Eden was not allowed to be with me – staffing issues – and I had to fight to even get a nurse to bring her up to see me.  What was worse was that they would give her formula before bringing her to see me instead of allowing me to breastfeed.  At one visit I got pretty upset and made it clear that breastfeeding was incredibly important to me and I would appreciate them to at least bring me a pump so I could provide milk for her.  I was crushed that once again I sat in one hospital room while my baby sat on a completely different unit.  I was so disappointed that things still weren’t normal for us.

The 24 hours in the ICU were anything but restful, being in a  room with glass doors that face the nursing station make it pretty impossible to get any sleep. On top of that I was up every couple hours to pump.  The nursing was amazing though.  My night nurse actually brought me down to see Eden overnight which I was so thankful for.  The next morning the doctors made their rounds and everyone was happy to let me go down to the postpartum unit and I was elated to be able to be with Eden.

I could write and write forever about this I’m sure, but I think I’ve done enough rambling.  I’ll save the rest for later.  If you’ve made it this far – BRAVO!

Birth is rarely easy, and every woman is attached to their stories on different ways, this was harder for me than I thought it would be but I am so thankful for every moment.  Thank you for reading and sharing in my story.  

 

 

It’s a GIRL!

Well, we made it! We actually truly made it to our scheduled C-section date of March 17, 2017! I’ll save the full birth story for another day but I wanted to do an announcement post for all you out there that follow along on our crazy journey.

Eden Bonandje (bon-an-jay)
March 17, 2017 @ 0938
7lb 8oz
20 inches

My entire life I’ve always been quite vocal that I would love to be a boy mom and wouldn’t mind if I never had a girl.  Regardless I was never curious enough or cared enough to find out the genders of my babies because in the end what really mattered to me was that I had a baby.  Early on in this pregnancy I had a strong feeling that I was carrying a girl, but by the second trimester I was back to the “who knows” mentality.  Still I often found myself referring to the baby as a girl in my mind.  I think there might have only been one person who guessed that the baby was a boy and the rest – even complete strangers – were convinced baby was a girl.  Ezekiel was beyond adamant that he was going to have a baby sister and you could not even try to entertain the idea that it just MIGHT be a boy.  My husband  really really really wanted a daughter and thought that since my pregnancy was so riddled with excitement that it had to be a girl because boys just don’t demand that kind of attention :).  I just continued on in the mindset that either way I would be happy.

When they pulled her out and announced excitedly that she was a GIRL the joy and pure happiness that flowed through me took me by surprise.  A girl, a daughter, my last baby is my baby girl.  I still tear up thinking about it and probably will for years to come.  I didn’t know how deeply my soul needed this girl.  She is pure perfection and we are completely smitten.  I find myself dreaming of raising her, of the values I want her to grow up with.  The fears I had about raising a girl were swept away when I looked at her and replaced with the joy I’m feeling at the privilege I have of being able to raise a strong, confident, capable and wonderful woman.

I’m so happy to have been blessed with something I had no idea I needed so badly.

 

 

 

 

38 Weeks


What?!

How did this happen?!

Seriously.

This pregnancy has completely surprised me every single step of the way.  My body has made sure that I never know what the heck is going on.  From conception, to extreme pain at only 8 weeks pregnant, to having to shorten my work days very early on and then stop working nights and going on “desk duty,” then a week long scary admission, modified rest, 2 full rounds of steroid shots, 2 more admissions and countless other hospital visits.  Even the fact that my aortic root has not changed in diameter has surprised me.  Everyone was sure I’d have a baby by now and yet here I am, still very uncomfortably pregnant with a strong, active, healthy baby.

In truth I had hoped to have delivered by now, the last two weeks I’ve been doing a lot to try and encourage it along.  Nothing like taking potions but doing a lot of organizing and moving boxes up and down stairs, pushing my body to it’s limits urging and begging it to just get things going.  Yet at my weekly appointments there has been no change to my cervix.

Crazy.

Still, as uncomfortable and impatient as I’ve been it’s also been a blessing.  I’ve had enough energy to get some things done before babe comes.  I’ve set up a mock nursery in our master room – using the bathroom counter and cupboards for a changing station and our huge closet as a nursing station.  It’s a temporary fix until we get a chance to move our current office into the basement and transform that room into a big boy room for Ezekiel.  I also did a bunch of organizing and cleaning in the basement in preparation for Carlos’ first son to arrive just a few days after the baby does.  It’s a crazy month around here and I’m happy to have gotten those things out of the way.  Also Ezekiel has been pretty attached at the hip this weekend and we’ve had a lot of time to cuddle and have lots of conversations about the baby.  I don’t think the transition is going to be as difficult as it could have been had the baby been premature and having to spend a lot of time in the hospital.  We’ve talked about things we’ll be able to do once baby arrives, how baby is actually going to arrive (thank you c-section for the easy conversation!), how the baby will eat and how he can help with the baby.  He’s incredibly excited and daily takes note of my belly and talks to the baby.  It’s been so sweet and wonderful to watch him grow in understanding and excitement of my pregnancy.

I’m excited that I will probably have a relatively short admission and that most likely I will be able to come home with my baby in my arms.  There is a very small chance that babe will need to be monitored a bit more closely due to the medications I’ve been on during pregnancy but I don’t think it’s actually going to be a problem.  I’m really excited to get this babe home and establish some new routines.  Instead of dreaming and planning I’m ready to start implementing.

I never once thought that I’d ever see 38 weeks in any pregnancy and I’m counting this as a miracle.  It’s a nice consolation that I know I’ll never see 39 weeks!  This is the week we meet our second miracle baby and we are beyond excited.

March – One Little Word Update and Lent

I’m entering March in amazement that I don’t have a baby to cuddle yet.  I’m at peace though, although I’m ready for this babe to come I’m ok with whenever that is going to happen.

With February gone (and boy did it fly by!) I thought I’d do a bit of an update on my one little word and what I’m doing this month to try and rest.  February I tried to incorporate meditation to my daily routine as well as a spending freeze.  Neither went perfectly but as I  was reflecting I realized that none of this is to achieve perfection, but to gradually better myself.  I did meditate over half of the days but never found a perfect routine – I’ll continue to meditate and try to get a routine going that works.  Of course with adding a newborn to the mix I’m sure this is going to take a while!  The spending freeze also was not a complete success (again) but much better than January – an improvement!  More than anything it made me very aware of what I was spending and where it was coming from.  My goal this year is to become and stay credit card debt free.  In a few days I’ll be able to officially say I have no credit card debt.  The trick is to keep it that way.  Sounds so simple but with a household on one very small (and about to get a lot smaller) income sometimes there are things that just have to be bought and the only way to do that is with a credit card.  The real challenge is deciphering wants vs needs and making sure that if I do need to charge something to the credit card that it is 100% needed.

Now for March.

I thought it was fitting that Lent this year started on March 1.  When I realized that I thought I could try and combine both my goal of resting more and of giving something up for Lent.  One year for Lent I completely gave up social media.  I thought about doing that again this year but then I realized that I wanted to do something that was actually long lasting beyond just Lent.  So I came up with limiting my phone time.  It’s a conversation I see a lot around social media and amongst my friends – the amount of time spent scrolling and looking through various apps on our phones has gotten out of control.  For me it’s really sky rocketed since being home on modified rest.  I’m often bored and to try and combat that I just look at my phone.  It was getting to the point that I would have to charge my phone twice a day just because I was spending so much time scrolling for no reason.  It was distracting me from really engaging with Ezekiel, it was making me procrastinate on things that are actually productive, it was numbing my mind.  When I was out standing in lines or waiting for appointments I’d scroll and scroll and scroll.  I had stopped engaging with the world around me as I stared at my phone engaging in the cyber world.

As I was thinking about this I tried to come up with something that would be sacrificial, encourage rest and realistic for long term.  I don’t want this to just be 40 days and then back to mindlessly scrolling my phone.  So I came up with limiting my scrolling to 3-15 minute sessions.  The first being after waking up, while drinking my morning coffee (if Ezekiel is still asleep).  The important part here is that it is not while I’m laying in bed right after waking up, it’s at least 30 minutes after waking up, giving myself time to think about my day and set my intentions for my day.  The second being in the afternoon while Ezekiel is either napping or having his quiet time.  The third being after putting Ezekiel to bed but at least 1 hour before going to sleep to ensure that my phone is not the last thing I’m looking at during the day.  Notice that all of my designated “scroll” times are when Ezekiel is not around to see it.  I don’t want him to grow up thinking that mommies phone is more important than what he is saying or doing.

I’m on day 2 of implementing this and it is actually way easier than I thought it would be and has already had such a positive impact on my day.  Yesterday I was at a long appointment that had several minutes of waiting at various points and instead of scrolling my phone I read a book.  Then I had several errands to run and while waiting in those lines I looked around and engaged with what was happening.  Again, while at home and not doing anything instead of pick up my phone to scroll, I read a book, baked an apple loaf, knitted, made supper.   It felt freeing and when I was scrolling it made me more aware of the things I was actually interested in seeing and what is important to me – there were certain people that I’ve been praying for specifically whose updates I wanted to see and so I scrolled quickly through photos and accounts that weren’t important to me to find the ones that were.  This was instinctive but was eye opening.   Today I am at home doing not much of anything because I am so exhausted from what I did yesterday, it’s a bit harder to not just pick up my phone but again it’s been so rewarding.  Right now my phone is still quite close to me at all times because I have to use the contraction counting app on it but that’s the only app I open outside of my designated “scroll” times.   I have the sound on in case I have a call or text message (which are NOT off limits during this) and then I mute it overnight.

I’m looking forward to seeing how much more impactful this is going to be in my life!

36 Weeks!


If you were to ask anybody – friends, family, all the medical professionals involved in my care – I doubt you would find anyone who could have imagined I would make it this far in my pregnancy.  It truly is such a blessing!

This pregnancy has been the very opposite of easy, but every single step of the way from conception to today has been miraculous.  It’s this fact that has carried me through without mentally hating every single second.  My body has fought against this pregnancy in a lot of ways but I owe it so much for protecting this miracle baby of ours.  I am at ease now, knowing that I will most likely be able to take my baby home when I leave the hospital instead of leaving it there to be cared for by doctors and nurses.

Despite all my gratefulness, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t ready for it to be over.

I am definitely ready.

The last few weeks have been difficult.  My pre-term symptoms are increasing – most days I’ll have about 50 contractions and some sort of cramping along with it.  Recently the contractions have increased in intensity and I think my body is preparing itself for the big day (little does it know that all control of getting this baby out is going to be taken away from it!).  Half of the days I have really great mornings – like today I got up and felt pretty good – I baked, did laundry and planted some more seeds for this years garden but by the afternoon I am wiped and beyond exhausted.  The other half of the days I feel awful for most of the day and night.  The exhaustion is similar to my first trimester where I just can’t fathom getting up and doing anything productive.   So most days I spend at least half of it in bed resting.  I’m doing a lot more than I was before 34 weeks.  I now lift my toddler if I need to, I carry the laundry up and down the stairs, I walk the grocery store instead of using their electric wheelchairs, I cook supper and do a lot of baking.  It’s a start but it’s still not normal life yet.  I can only tolerate a little of each before I need to sit down and rest.  The extra weight paired with the extra relaxin makes my body ache more and more each day.  The baby is uncomfortably low making standing and walking fairly difficult.

So I’m ready for D-Day and I’m no longer doing anything to stop it from coming.  I’m daydreaming and planning for the days ahead when I have a babe in my arms and a toddler by my side.  Some things I’m most looking forward to:

  • Trips to the zoo
  • Mom and tot/babe yoga
  • Walking, walking and more walking
  • Cleaning my house in one day
  • Playground visits
  • Playdates
  • Transitioning all the rooms in the house to accommodate 2 new members
  • Exercising to gain back strength in my body
  • Gardening

There is just so much to look forward to once this babe makes an appearance.  Of course I’m also keeping myself in check and being realistic to the fact that I will be having a c-section and will definitely need to rest for a couple weeks before being able to even begin to transition to some sort of normal.  I think one blessing of being on modified rest, is that it has taught me how to slow down and take it easy when I need to.  It’s broken my “super-woman” mentality and need to prove anything (mostly to myself and no one else).  It’s taught me to know when enough is enough and it’s stopped me from pushing myself farther than I need to.  All these things will come in handy post c-section when I feel the urge to clean my house 7 days after a major surgery.

So, I’m still here and still pregnant, anxiously waiting for a clear sign that it’s go time!