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These are a few of my favorite things

Prior to having Jaclyn, I didn’t do kids. I never babysat growing up. I worked childcare for one summer and realized very soon that Adult Eduction was my jam. I didn’t really know anything about babies or infant development. So how in the world do I start preparing for my first child? I polled my friends on social media and made various lists to see what was the most popular. There was also plenty of help online— checklists galore, but that was overwhelming too.  Now that I’m on the other side, these are a few of my favorite things in preparing for and caring for my baby.

SLEEP

Taking Cara Babies Newborn Sleep Course “Will I ever sleep again?”
This is worth every penny. Cara is the baby sleep master and this would be my number one suggestion for new moms. Follow her on Instagram for lots of free tips and tricks, but the course is gold. We learned how to calm Jaclyn when she was uncontrollably fussy, how to get her on a loose daytime schedule of eating, playing, and napping, and soon after that, she started sleeping longer hours at night. Currently at 4 months old, her record night’s sleep is eleven and a half hours.

SwaddleMe Original Swaddle
I was convinced that Jaclyn only liked to be swaddled in the hospital blankets because she liked to move her arms. I was wrong. Babies actually prefer to be tightly swaddled because it resembles the womb. I learned all about it in the sleep course and these swaddles were game changers.

Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit
When Jaclyn was 3 months old, she learned to roll from her tummy to her back, meaning it is no longer safe to swaddle her  We went one night with her in a sleep sack and realized that her startle reflexes still weren’t controlled enough for her to sleep soundly. She kept smacking herself in the face and woke us up all night. This suit really is magical; it’s similar to a weighted blanket and is recommended for the transition between a swaddle and a sleep sack.

Sound Machine
Another recommendation from our sleep course. Another way to make your baby feel like he or she is in the womb. We like this one.

Bassinet
Personally, I love having Jaclyn sleep right next to me. Her bassinet fits right up next to our bed so I can see her anytime I want. On another note, she naps in the crib in her nursery so when we are ready to transition her, she’ll be ready.

HEALTH AND CLEANLINESS

Oogie Bear
I vowed to buy one of these for every pregnant friend from now on. This helps clean out boogies from those tiny nostrils in a safe, easy way.

Nose Frida
I gagged the first time I realized what this was. I told Seth he would have to use it. But the first time I heard Jaclyn struggling to breath, I didn’t even hesitate. I’m super thankful for this tool. Also, the saline spray that comes with it is the best. The size is just right for baby nostrils and it sprays a good mist.

Probiotics with Vitamin D
Good for the tummy and reflux!

Gas Drops
We prefer these to Gripe Water.

Baby Nail Clippers
Be extra and get the ones with the light and magnifying glass. It is terrifying to clip baby fingernails. Also, go ahead and get a baby nail file. It’s super handy.

Changing Pad
Super easy to clean for the surprising pee fountains and poop explosions.

Baby Oxiclean
There will be so much poop. SO MUCH. This stuff is miraculous at getting out poop stains.

Pacifiers
Register for several different types and let other folks buy them for you. Sometimes babies have preferences, and you won’t know until you try. Jaclyn mostly prefers these.

FEEDING

Bottles
Like the pacifiers, register for several different types and let other folks buy them for you. Sometimes babies have nipple preferences, and you won’t know until you try them. With bottles, I learned I had a preference depending on how easily she ate from each one. We ended up liking Nuk and Dr. Brown’s the best.
Be sure to get a microwaveable bottle sterilizer! Such a time saver.

Bottle Warmer
We didn’t register for a bottle warmer, but it was worth the purchase later. I was planning on breastfeeding, but I ended up exclusively pumping, and Jaclyn won’t drink cold milk well. This one was affordable and easy to use.
 
Burp Cloths
I was told cloth diapers are the best burp cloths. And I agree. These are my favorite because they’re nice and soft.

THE CUTE STUFF

Clothes
I was told not to register for clothes because you’ll get a ton regardless. That was good advice. However, if you really want something specific, register for it.

I would suggest getting some 3 month sleepers with mitten cuffs like these. Jaclyn started biting her hand a lot in her pre-teething stage, and those cuffs saved her little fingers. You could also put long socks on the baby’s hands while they sleep. I loved this pack of socks. Mittens just don’t stay on that well. We didn’t get many pants. Perhaps it was because Jaclyn was born in the summer, but I think I’ll register for more next time.

Blankets
You’ll get a million blankets as gifts so don’t register for them unless you really want a specific one. I have enjoyed having multiple bigger blankets to keep in different rooms for her to lay on.

THE FUN STUFF

Favorite Toys
This rattle
Elephant Lovey
These Teether Rings
Fisher Price Stacking Rings 
Activity Mat

Baby Books
Some of my favorite baby books so far include You’re My Little Honey Bunny, Little One God Made You Special, Counting Kisses, Global Baby Girls, ABCs of Kindness

Baby Songs
10 in the Bed
Old MacDonald
The Ants Go Marching
Beauty and the Beast: Calms her down every time.

THE BIG STUFF

Furniture
Google the best items of the current year. Baby List has rankings for most everything and was very helpful. We primarily chose items that convert and grow with her. The crib will turn into a toddler bed. Her changing table top can be removed so she will have a regular dresser. You get the idea.

ORGANIZING THE STUFF

Drawer Organizers
Perfect for organizing teeny tiny clothes.

Plastic Tubs
It’s difficult to stay organized when your baby grows so fast. I bought some under the bed storage containers and some taller ones to fit on shelves. These have been super helpful in switching out baby clothes of different sizes, maternity clothes, etc.

Phone Apps
Baby Tracker App: Track your baby’s eating, sleep, and potty time.
Baby Story App: Make all kinds of cute pictures even cuter.

To each their own, but I hope this helps narrow some things down for other mamas!

Don’t forget the journey

Shortly after I learned we were having a baby, I began asking my mom, “When you were pregnant…?” questions. To which she replied, “I don’t know, I haven’t had a baby in 30 years. Plus, you kind of forget all the discomfort once the baby arrives.” It was at that point I started writing throughout my pregnancy.

Shortly after I learned we were having a baby, I began asking my mom, “When you were pregnant…?” questions. To which she replied, “I don’t know, I haven’t had a baby in 30 years. Plus, you kind of forget all the discomfort once the baby arrives.”

It was at that point I started writing throughout my pregnancy. Practically, I wanted a timeline of my experiences for any future pregnancies or to share with friends. But also, some of this is just silly, and I’ve gut laughed reading back through it now that I’m on the other side of it. There is definitely camaraderie in motherhood, so I hope you enjoy my honest and candid journey regardless of what phase of life you’re in.

39 weeks

Pre-Pregnancy and the First Trimester:

In preparing to get pregnant, I did seed cycling when I went off the pill. I’m not sure if it actually contributed, but it can’t hurt to help normalize your hormones.

Both times I’ve been pregnant, I knew I was before I even took the test. It was mostly because I’d started peeing during the night, which was not my normal routine.

We decided not to wait for the “safe zone” of making it through the first trimester to announce. We didn’t have a safe zone the first time. And I’m glad we didn’t wait the second time. However, if you share early, everyone will think you’re farther along than you actually are for your entire pregnancy.

No one tells you that all of the ultrasounds until the 20 week gender reveal is a wand that goes up your vagina and is waved around as if conducting an orchestra. That was a terrifying surprise. (In retrospect, definitely not a big deal once you’ve birthed a child.)

Body Changes: I felt crampy early on during pregnancy when my uterus was growing for the first time. My boobs felt as heavy as bricks. My sense of smell became that of a blood hound. I’m thankful I didn’t have much nausea or morning sickness. For the few days that I did, cinnamon disks gave me some relief. Fatigue is no joke. I slept at 7-8pm many week nights. And sometimes at work, I closed my office door and laid down for 15 minutes to get through the day.

The Second Trimester

Maternity clothes are worth the money. (Full disclosure, I still regularly wear my maternity leggings because they’re just that comfortable.) I needed maternity bras at 12 weeks, and I started wearing maternity clothes around 18-19 weeks. Also, get the maternity underpants.

Do your research before you create a baby registry. I Facebook polled folks about their can’t-live-without items. And then I picked friends who I trust to give me more specifics. You can also research the current year’s top selections on big items such as car seats, cribs, etc. I did my registries at 23 weeks.

When you physically go to do the registry, plan a sit down/lunch break in between. It’s exhausting and overwhelming. I didn’t, and I ended up sitting in an aisle floor almost in tears because my feet hurt so bad. Also, take your best gal pals. My mama and sister were lifesavers.

We chose not to publicly announce our baby’s name until she was born. People have way too many opinions, and I’m way too feisty for my own good if they insult me.

Body Changes: My ankles started swelling, mostly my left one. It would go down after I elevated it at or above my heart. However, when I switched to decaf coffee, it stopped for a while. My lady parts got SO heavy and uncomfortable, and that just got worse until labor. I could physically feel my belly muscles stretching as the baby grew each week. I became much, much hungrier. My back regularly hurt but nothing that a heating pad or rice pack couldn’t fix.

The Third Trimester

Be sure to have firm, comfy furniture. We only had old kitchen chairs and a well used couch that I sank into.

By week 30, I carried around a body pillow and an oscillating fan wherever I went in the house. I usually ended up in my skivvies by the end of the night with a fan directly on me while Seth was in full winter wear.

Poll your friends about their pregnancy cravings— it’s fascinating. I didn’t have too many intense cravings. I mostly wanted sandwiches from Jimmy Johns, McAllisters, or Panera which was odd because generally speaking, I don’t care for lunch meat. I also regularly wanted Chickfila Original Iced Coffee; don’t worry, I only drank it occasionally.

I hate the outdoors; I truly have no desire to ever be outside. But the fresh air felt SO good in the second and third trimester during winter and spring.

Body Changes: At week 27/28, we finally felt her kick (on the outside of my belly). Around weeks 29/30, my belly button popped out and was a little sore. Difficulty breathing became pretty normal. My ribs and lungs started to get squished. Eating wasn’t as enjoyable. I got full faster because there wasn’t much space and then the heartburn sets in, the kind that lingers at the top of my throat and physically burns. I suggest drinking small cups of soda to help you burp. Sparkling water just isn’t the same.

It’s really difficult to sleep. Every position is uncomfortable, and you gotta pee all the time. I *think* I started sporadically have Braxton Hicks around week 30. At 33 weeks, the swelling returned and stayed. I was high risk for preeclampsia and ended up on bed rest (while selling and buying a new home). There was a late night trip to the OB ER because of it. And finally at my 39 week appointment, they decided to keep me and induce me.

Here I am now four months post partum with my girl. I am still a new mom, but I wouldn’t have remembered half of this journey had I not written it down. I’m not one of those women who miss being pregnant, but I am thankful for the memories of growing my baby girl.

Mama in the making whose heart is just aching

I just never knew my capacity to love before having Jaclyn. It’s so overwhelming in the best way. It’s the good kind of heart ache. It’s nearly impossible to describe.

The day after Jaclyn was born, I FaceTimed my mom sobbing. When she asked why, I blubbered, “Nothing. She’s so perfect. I just love her so much.”


When we got home from the hospital and gave Jaclyn her first sponge bath in the sink, she screamed and cried. And so did I. I left halfway through and made Seth and GG finish it because I couldn’t handle my girl being upset.


I didn’t cry, but got all worked up, thinking about the potential of her being bullied in preschool if the hemangioma on her head doesn’t shrink before then. Ain’t nobody gonna hurt my baby!


Jaclyn is three and a half months old now, and sometimes I still cry while singing, “You’ll never know dear, how much I love you (please don’t take my sunshine away).” I just never knew my capacity to love before having Jaclyn. It’s so overwhelming in the best way. It’s the good kind of heart ache. It’s nearly impossible to describe.


Sometimes in the middle of the night while I’m awake pumping, I scroll back to the day I was induced and look at every picture and video I’ve taken since. There are tons. But I don’t want to forget anything. I want to remember every little detail of Jaclyn’s life.


So I’m documenting her growth each week. “She laid in her bassinet without crying!” Now she’s learning how to put herself to sleep. “She held onto her rattle for at least 30 seconds!” Now she’s already developing fine motor skills. Another picture of her lifting her head during tummy time? That’s why she can roll now. I’m literally watching her learn how to live, and it’s the most beautiful, fascinating experience. I am so proud of my little queen.


Even the undesirable parts of parenting an infant aren’t so bad. I am regularly covered in breast milk and spit up. On the really rough days, I’m also covered in poop. I happily suck the mucus out of Jaclyn’s nose with the Nose Frida. The few days where she just doesn’t feel well and scream and cries way more than normal. Jaclyn is worth it. 100%.


As for me, sometimes I forget to brush my teeth. I’ve learned to be okay with eating cold food. I now embrace cat naps. I’m significantly less modest, but in the ‘I pushed out a baby and at least 10 people watched’ kind of way.


All jokes aside, I feel like I’m a better person since Jaclyn was born. She has put so much into perspective for me. Jaclyn has taught me to slow down and how to roll with interruptions. She reminds me to be good to myself because she needs her Mommy and because she is going to watch how I treat myself and learn from it. Jaclyn brings me so much joy. I regularly grin and giggle at her and now with her all day long. She reminds me to be intentional about the time we spend together. Jaclyn literally grows every single day, and if I’m not intentional about our time together, I will miss a lot.

I truly hate being away from her, whether it be running an errand or just being in the room next door working. Not in the overprotective way, but I genuinely enjoy hanging out with my girl. She’s still pretty small, but goodness what a sweet personality.


Being a mama is the most tired I’ve ever been, but it’s also the happiest, most fulfilled I’ve ever been. Jaclyn is my little angel baby. She’s just so perfect. And I love her so much.

Already a worried mama

There’s really no good way to prepare for pregnancy after miscarriage. There are blogs and articles, but none of them can really prepare you for the anxiety of losing your new little love. From the morning of the positive test, I was already a worried mama.

There’s really no good way to prepare for pregnancy after miscarriage. There are blogs and articles, but none of them can really prepare you for the anxiety of losing your new little love. From the morning of the positive test, I was already a worried mama.

I was given a prescription for Progesterone to start taking immediately after we learned we were pregnant to help reduce the risk of loss.

I had blood work done within days of the positive pregnancy test to make sure my HCG levels were at least doubling.

The doctors were gracious enough to give us a 6-week ultrasound instead of at 8-weeks to check and make sure our baby was okay.

We’ve been slow to plan the normal things- her name, her nursery, etc. because we didn’t want to get ahead of ourselves.

I’ve either cried, hyperventilated, or both prior to every single appointment we’ve had in fear that they would tell us that something is wrong.

I’ve cried at the end of most appointments in relief that we could see our sweet baby in the ultrasound and/or hear the heartbeat.

I panicked when I got the flu in January, terrified that it would somehow hurt my little darling.

Now there’s the dang Coronavirus that’s taken over the entire world during my third trimester. I’m staying completely quarantined at home. It’s extra difficult not seeing my parents or my sister, but with so much being unknown about how the virus affects pregnancy, it’s not worth any risk.

Seth still has to work, but we’re regularly adding to our precautions of not bringing any germs home. And I just pray every day that he won’t catch it.

I’m also praying that none of our doctor’s appointments get cancelled so that we can continue to have peace of mind that she’s okay. And that I can find online videos or courses to replace the hospital maternity/parenting classes that have been cancelled.

I’m mentally preparing for it to be only me and Seth at the hospital due to the new visitor restrictions. I’m hoping it doesn’t get any stricter.

And then there’s last night, when I realized I hadn’t felt her move in several hours and got completely panicked. Kick counts are important during the third trimester, and I hadn’t felt her at all during the time span where she’s normally moving a ton.

I cried for at least an hour while my wonderful husband talked to my belly, googled the ways to get her to move, and prayed out loud. Eventually and thankfully, she did start wiggling around.

During the wait, I just kept thinking that we are so close; we can’t lose her now. It was too difficult losing our first baby, and that situation was so different and much earlier. Now our baby girl has adorable ultrasound pictures, and she has a name (though we’re not sharing until she’s born). There was more PTSD tonight from our first loss, and it was really hard to come out of it.

This has been a long 30 weeks of worry. But also of thankfulness. Seth and I are just so grateful for every good report on our sweet girl. We are 10 weeks out from our due date. We’re slowly getting furniture and decorations for her nursery. We dream about what she’ll look like and what personality traits she’ll get from who. We are so ready to meet our baby girl.

This anxious mama just has to hang on for 70 more days. Then we have her whole life to go, which is a whole different kind of worry so I’m told. But at least she’ll physically be here in our arms to love, nurture, and teach how to do good in this world.

2019 Reflections

While 2019 was filled with grief, change, and other challenges, it was also full of growth and confidence, love and support, excitement, and the usual ESL success and hilarity.

For most of December, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the New Year.  “I’m so over 2019.” It has been a heavy year for sure, but one thing I love about social media is that you can easily review and reflect on your life.  I was quickly reminded that while 2019 was filled with grief, change, and other challenges, it was also full of growth and confidence, love and support, excitement, and the usual ESL success and hilarity.

 Growth and Confidence

January– I successfully detoxed from sugar and completely changed my diet for a month and half and maintained it for half of the year.  Lost 24 lbs. in the process.

March– So proud of my husband! There’s nothing better than watching the ones you love do what they love.  If you have any interest in rock climbing, let me connect you with his beginner climbing class.

March 25– I’m finally thankful again for early, quiet, peaceful Monday mornings.  Yes, I still check every room and the locks on the door. But then I’m able to make some coffee, sit in the floor to lesson plan anxiety-free, almost as if I’ve never been afraid to begin with.

April/May– I was regularly attending Krav Level 2 and wasn’t half bad.

August 1– May I just say that it is SO wonderful to enter my home alone and stay by myself with zero fear? It finally feels normal again.

August 17– I got my first and only tattoo.

November 4-5– This year I’m honored that NCFL chose two of my proposals for the conference.  Presentation #1 will share my journey of program coordination and resources for Family Education.  Presentation #2 will share some innovative, engaging ideas and activities about lesson planning.

November 14– I’m always proud to be Seth’s wife, but tonight took my pride to a new level.  It takes much courage to be so real and vulnerable on the journey of self-growth through blogging.  Plus, he’s a ridiculously good writer. Check him out.

https://boulder.health.blog/author/sethshadowpierce1

Love and Support

February– Seth and I celebrated two years of marriage with a long weekend in Cincinnati.  The Newport Aquarium’s Penguin Experience was the highlight of the whole trip! “I’m so happy I could cry.  I’d love for one of them to come close enough to poop on my boot.”

May 23– I’ve been shown so much love today on the last day of school.  I thought I was coming down to one of our regular end of year potlucks but was genuinely surprised to walk into a cafeteria with about 75 people to bid me farewell from this particular phase of my life.  There was cake, decorations, gifts, and a super sentimental video.  I love you all dearly.  Thank you for such kindness.

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August– New community in our Sunday School class!

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All year long: Amazing friends.

Excitement

April 19– Guess who is now debt free from grad school? Paid it off completely this morning!

April 24– Uncle Seth and Aunt Ashley are very smitten with our new little niece, Natalie.  She’s a month old today and gets cuter by the minute!

May 29– We’re pregnant with our little nugget!!

July– We have a wonderful new boss at work.

July 26– Adult tea parties are good for the soul.

August 4 and 19– Bentley and Bella Boyd entered our lives!

September 4– Thanks to the help of my wonderful community, we now have a live document and Facebook page that shares all active, open opportunities for Free English Language Practice in our city!

September 13– Backstreet Boys Concert!!!

October 2– We’re pregnant again with our second little sweet pea!!

October 21– These are the moments I’ve been waiting for.  They’ve wanted me to have a baby FOREVER.

November 25– We bought our first family car!

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December 21– My little Herman came home!

December 23– Our little sweet pea decided to pooch out just in time for Christmas.

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December 27– We heard our baby’s heartbeat and movement for the first time at 16 weeks!

ESL Success and Hilarity

February 7– “Teacher, homework? 3 days and you no give me homework!” I’m behind on grading and one of my students is not having it.

March 5– I walked back into my classroom at break today to hear a table of six Somali students beautifully reading  our daily message in unison without my help!  Music to a preliterate ESL teacher’s ear!

April 9– Abdio’s phone rings in class.  Me, “Please turn off your phones.  Yesterday was terrible.”  Abdio laughs, “Today Abdio rrible,”  She doesn’t know the word terrible but she knew the context and tried to repeat it.  Language acquisition is so fun.

April 30– I just got scolded for showing too much neck and chest from a former male student.  “Ashley Boyd!!! Oh. What happened? No good!”  Modest is hottest folks.

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Change

May 23– Today began the goodbyes of my teaching and leadership roles at Americana.  I’m transitioning to a different leadership role for next year and will only be visiting this special place.

May 28– We hosted a farewell party for our boss who’s lead our ESL program for 18 years.

July 9– I officially took over the Adult ESL program.

July/August/September– I changed office spaces three times.

 

Grief

April 8– We lost our sweet little Molly this afternoon.  We had a good 13 and a half years with this beautiful sweet, loyal, spoiled, little cuddle bug. So much sadness today.  Hooey, I love you the most.

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July 5– Today we said goodbye to our first baby that we’ll never know.  Tomorrow we would’ve been ten weeks pregnant.

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August 13– I returned to therapy.

August 24– It’s been 7 weeks, and medical bills continue to come in.  $2,500ish to lose our baby.

Challenge

February– I wrecked my car for the first time in my life.  I ran headfirst into a side wall, spun across three lanes of interstate to crash into the other side wall, with not a scratch on me.

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April 23– The flu is truly awful.  I lost a week of work at the end of the school year and missed my last Family Education End of Year Celebration.

August 21– Soon our English classes will be at capacity, and there are many many many students still coming to register.  I need to be able to share other options around the city.  HELP!

For 2020, I don’t want to have to look through my timeline to be reminded of all the blessings that I’ve been given.  I want to do better to live in the moment, feel all the feels, and then overcome.  I really and truly have a wonderful life and so much to be thankful for.

Romans 8:38:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Wear your warts, wisdom, and all.

Such small, mundane things to the average person, but these are things I haven’t been able to do in almost three years. I couldn’t be more proud of myself when I consider how imprisoned I’d been by my fear and anxiety. PTSD does change a person. There’s no going back, but finally, I think that’s okay.

Today I put air in my tires all by myself. Last week, Seth left for work before me while it was still dark outside, and I stayed to finish getting ready. I’ve come home and entered an empty house by myself multiple times after the sun has gone down. I’ve been parking in the garage lately even if that means there’s no car in the driveway to show that someone is home.

Such small, mundane things to the average person, but these are things I haven’t been able to do in almost three years. I couldn’t be more proud of myself when I consider how imprisoned I’d been by my fear and anxiety. PTSD does change a person. There’s no going back, but finally, I think that’s okay.

A couple of weeks ago, I actually thanked the Lord multiple times for the brain that He’s given me. I had two really successful conference presentations that went better than I ever could have expected. I’ve always recognized that teaching comes from God. That’s why it’s so fun; I know I couldn’t do it by myself. Anyway, this is the same brain that was altered while running for my life. The same brain that went to hours of psychotherapy to retrain my thoughts. The same brain that I regularly hated and asked if there were any way I could get a new one because my thoughts were so out of control.

Through therapy, Krav Maga, and time, I’ve become more proactive in fighting my brain. I can logically consider my reality and prepare situationally for the what if’s that used to paralyze me.

When I put air in my tires today, I was strategic about which gas station I pulled into. There was plenty of open space so I could see who was around me.

When Seth leaves the house in the morning, I lock up the house like Fort Knox and put my purse and keys near the door in case I need to make a quick exit.

When I’m the first one home, I check the outside of the house from my car. I do a quick walk through when I get inside, and I turn on several lights.

When I park in the garage while I’m at home, I open all the blinds so I can see out the front and the back. When I’m in each room, I consider what can be used as a barrier to throw between me and an intruder as well as what can be used as a weapon if I need to fight.

A couple of months ago, I decided to remove the pepper spray from my key chain. It’s still in my car, but if I’m ever attacked, I think I have a better shot at fighting back (after running or hiding of course) than trying to use my pepper spray.

I feel the strongest I have in a long time. I think that some of it is that I’m growing into my maternal instinct with my little sweet pea on the way. But I’ve also pushed myself to not remain stagnant in fear. Even on days where I’m still triggered or people think I’m a little over the top with precautions, I’m comfortable in my healing and “to wear my new life- warts, wisdom, and all- with courage.”

Loss and New Life

This week we remember our first baby. This week we also go to meet our second baby for a 6-week ultrasound. That’s right… we’re expecting again!

This week we remember our first baby. October 15 is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. It’s only been a little over 3 months since we said goodbye to our little nugget, but our first sweet baby is remembered every day.

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This week we also go to meet our second baby for a 6-week ultrasound. That’s right… we’re expecting again! Four months exactly to the day that we learned we were pregnant the first time.

Every night for the last 3 months and 8 days, I’ve asked God to take care of my little nugget, and to please give us another baby that we can keep. It’s that last part that’s tripping me up though. Will we get to keep this one? The doctors have assured me that at this point, there is no reason why we should have trouble again. We did some blood tests the first couple of days to check my hCG levels, and instead of doubling, they tripled! I’m also on progesterone supplements which is supposed to help prevent miscarriage.

I am excited and thankful. This time I want to publicly celebrate this tiny little life. Screw the waiting rule/suggestion. We didn’t have a safe zone last time, so our loved ones only shared in the sorrow. Please celebrate this new little one with us!

I am also terrified and in denial. I think part of me is telling myself to expect the worst when we go to the doctor later this week, so if it is bad news, maybe we won’t be blindsided.

And then there’s still sadness. Much of this whole pregnancy thing is still so recent and familiar, and it feels like it should still be my little nugget. But it’s not. Notice we haven’t nicknamed this baby yet. She (Seth’s convinced it’ll be a girl) will not be called nugget because that’s already been claimed. I’ve found a different pregnancy app that I don’t like as much but using the other was too sad and confusing. This little one will be our firstborn, who won’t know her older sibling. It’s all very emotionally confusing.

I’ve read several blogs about pregnancy after miscarriage, and it’s comforting to know that all I’m feeling is normal. I’ll close with a prayer I wrote the morning we learned we were pregnant again.

Lord, please give us this baby. I am so thankful that you healed my body already and that Seth and I were able to create another little human together. Lord I want to be excited. I want to be over the moon, full of smiles and giggles, but at the moment I’m just in terrified shock. I’m a little scared that I’ve already lost the baby before I even knew I was expecting. I don’t want to wonder if the egg is developing. I don’t want to wait weeks and weeks and weeks to know. I really don’t think my heart and my health can handle losing another child. Lord please continue to heal and give favor to my body. Help me to do all I need to to give this little sweetheart a good, safe environment to grow into a healthy baby. Please settle our hearts. Please give us peace that you want what is good for us. Lord overall, please just take care of us. We’re still really fragile. Thank you again for this little glimmer of hope.

Blessed Grief

Grief is the pits; grief manifests in so many ways, and there is no timeline.
However, there are still many blessings and they definitely help keep me going.

Grief is running late everywhere you go because it’s too hard to get up and get ready like you used to.

Grief/anxiety got so out of control that it physically manifested itself as itching, and then weeks later as eczema.

Grief is having a short fuse and snapping about something small… ALL THE TIME.

Grief is being sick for 3 work days but still wanting to take another whole week off.

Grief/anxiety is regaining 12 of the 24 lbs you lost earlier this year because fast food is easy and sugar is delicious.

Grief is crying through at least 1 song at church every Sunday.

Grief/anxiety is falling asleep before 9:30pm most nights because you’re too exhausted from emotionally keeping it together all day.

Grief is not keeping your Krav training routine because it hurts to be to be physically beaten when you’re already mentally beaten.

Grief is hibernating on the weekends because you’re tired of human interaction when everything just hurts.

Grief is sobbing through your annual gynecologist appointment because it’s your 6th time being there this year but this time it’s not for a baby.

Grief is keeping your head down in the waiting room because of all the pregnant bellies and celebrated ultrasound pictures that you didn’t get to have.

Grief is asking God to take care of your baby up there and to please give us another down here that we can keep.

Grief is prolonged when medical bills continue to come in the mail.

Grief is playing with puppies and wondering how much better it will be playing with your own babies one day.

Grief is not cooking dinner on Sunday nights because you just can’t.

Grief is throwing away a 2-gallon bag of food because you haven’t felt like cleaning out the fridge.

Grief is ruining a recipe and throwing away all of the contents instead of making a plan to salvage the ingredients because everything is the end of the world.

Grief is sticking your hands into cold, soapy dishwater for the 4th time in one weekend because you haven’t been able to actually wash the dishes.

Grief is the pits. There is no timeline. Most people give you a pass for all of these things but then it just feels like a crutch. Part of tonight, like many nights, was full of grief.

However…

Blessed is having a husband

-who verbally lists every restaurant in a 2 mile radius until something sounds good to eat when you don’t feel like cooking.

-who holds me and comforts me while I cry even when he’s hurting too.

-who will burst into homemade songs just to lighten the mood.

-who speaks truth into my lies.

-who prays aloud when I can’t.

-who shows me unconditional love every single day.

Blessed is having the greatest parents and sister in the world who regularly encourage and advise me.

Blessed is having friends who check on me every day and remind me to give myself grace.

Blessed is still having financial stability despite the thousands of dollars we’ve paid on medical bills.

There are still many blessings. I’m not always the most optimistic to point them out, but I know they’re there. And they definitely help keep me going.

Truth Tattoo

Last weekend I got a tattoo.  I always said that I didn’t have the pain tolerance for it, so it would have to be something truly important to me if I chose to get one. 

Last weekend I got a tattoo.  I always said that I didn’t have the pain tolerance for it, so it would have to be something truly important to me if I chose to get one.  I’m not one to hide what I feel or what I’m going through so if you pay attention you know that I regularly battle and often lose to my own mind- fear, anxiety, stress, intense sadness- and it just spirals.  The last two and a half years in particular have almost been too much.

A couple of weeks ago on the way home from church, I asked my husband, “Do you ever get annoyed watching everyone have joy when you just don’t have any left?” His response was, “I’m a little more annoyed at us.  We’ve been attacked regularly for the last couple of years and we haven’t used the weapons we’ve been given. We need to start reading the Bible and praying together regularly.  Let’s think of some lies we continue to believe and then fight it through the Word and prayer.”  It has made a world of difference.  Inviting Jesus in and being candid and honest with how we feel about the ups and downs of life has been freeing and encouraging.

But it’s so easy to forget and start spiraling again.  I decided I needed a constant reminder that God has never failed me and has always provided.  For as long as I can remember, my favorite Bible verse has been 2 Timothy 1:7- “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

FAITH OVER FEAR.  I decided to get this on the inside of my left wrist/forearm so I literally see it every minute.  I decided that even though it would hurt, it would in no way compare to the pain and heartache I’ve felt over the last couple of years.  I could endure a half hour of needles (which actually only ended up being 8 minutes) for a permanent reminder that God is still good, and He is ultimately the only one who will guide me out of my sorrows.

The most beautiful thing about this tattoo is that it regularly reminds me of all the moments in life when God has been faithful to that verse.  My first 2 years of college, my anxiety and self-confidence were sometimes debilitating, and I would come home and cry many weekends; I couldn’t pinpoint why though.  Slowly but surely through learning and opportunities outside of my comfort zone, God gave me love for myself and power through a newfound self-confidence that knocked out that fear of being seen or known.

Serving others and making a difference in this world is insanely important to me.  I’m thankful that I’ve been given hundreds of opportunities to do just that.  But sometimes I suck.  Sometimes I fail.  Sometimes I get in my own way.  And in my worry and doubt that I’m doing any good, God has reminded me not to fear because the love He’s given me for others is still enough.  It may be as simple as spending time with one person or as huge as solving the English class crisis in Louisville.  The love He’s given me drives me to press on.

Power. Those stupid burglaries stripped me of all power, safety, and security.  For literally 2 years, I refused to be alone in my own home. There was a long period of time that I was afraid to leave our locked bedroom to wake up in the mornings.  My night owl, saint of a husband woke up with me and moved to the couch every day to appease my anxiety.  I would hear every small noise inside and outside and think it was a threat.  I’d never felt so weak and vulnerable.  Thankfully psychotherapy and Krav Maga took the edge off, and through time, God restored my spirit of power.

And now here I am, still grieving the loss of my first baby just 7 weeks ago.  I’m also in a new role at work that has had more challenges than expected.  And there’s all the other little things.  My own mind is my worst enemy.  I’ve had zero self-control over it for awhile now and as life continues to get harder, I keep losing.  When I chose to follow Jesus as a little girl, He gave me a new spirit that does not include fear.  And I’ve been rejecting that.  I have no reason to fear that “this is never going to get better.”  I have weapons to battle my own negativity.  But I am human, and I need to be reminded regularly.

Faith over Fear reminds me that the enemy can suck it because the battle has already been won.  Faith over Fear reminds me that none of this is over; God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  Faith over Fear reminds me of His goodness throughout my entire life so far.  Life is certainly still hard, but at least I have truth tattooed on my arm.

Ready or not, life goes on.

I need a win. Any win will do. Survival mode is wearing me out, and it’s no way to live. Life goes on, with or without me living my best life. I’d prefer to enjoy it.

Tomorrow is 5 weeks since we said goodbye to our baby, and my heart still aches every day. I miss him. [We were convinced even though it was early on that it was a boy.] Previously scheduled ultrasound dates have passed that we didn’t attend. Events where we intended to announce have also come and gone. And I just miss my baby. I don’t know how to fully grasp that we’ll never know the first little life that we created. I’ve asked a select few in my life if they believe I will meet our baby in heaven one day. Do clusters of baby cells go to heaven? Will I be able to know my little one some day? I have to believe yes.

I also find it confusing how much I miss my little nugget. My mom said it’s because I already bonded with it. But my body was deceived into thinking I was growing a tiny human, and so then I wonder, how real was my bond? I’m curious how long my body would’ve gone before it naturally realized that all I was growing was a gestational sac. It never knew. And that is also confusing.

Initially, I didn’t want to talk about it. I wanted people to know that it happened, but not necessarily bring it up. However, now I’ve changed my mind. The problem is, people don’t know how to react. When no one mentions my baby at all, it hurts my feelings. Often times when I do bring it up, the topic gets changed too quickly. Who cares if I cry? I am allowed to. Who cares if it’s awkward? It’s real life.

I have been given some thoughtful momentos to help honor and remember our baby. These are handmade origami roses and a beautiful stone heart from Africa. I was also given a baby blanket to encourage us that God will provide more babies in the future. For these generous gifts, I’m very thankful.

I suppose my body and hormones are mostly back to normal. My body has definitely been through more than I thought it could handle in two months. The week after the D&C, my body decided it wasn’t going to heal normally from the procedure. I ended up back at the doctor who was concerned and confused about what was happening. I was given medicine that thankfully helped, but it was really rough for a few days. I had 3 ultrasounds in 3 weeks, each of them with no baby. The last one was after the D&C, and even though I knew what had happened during the surgery, I still looked for my baby. Denial is real.

This week all of my medical bills came in. Yet another thing not spoken about is how expensive it is to have a miscarriage. Total, I will end up paying almost $1,000… to not have a child. That is just absolutely ridiculous to me.

The only good aspect of not being pregnant right now is that I’m able to continue going to my Krav classes. They’ve been a lifesaver. I told my trainer that Krav has helped me overcome so much fear and PTSD from other unfair seasons of life, and I know that it will also help me combat my grief and loss.

But tonight I was defeated. I’m not great at fighting on the ground. I rolled with a girl who regularly trains in jiu-jitsu. She killed me, and I have all the respect in the world for her strength and talent, but at one point I yelled, “I’m completely getting my ass kicked here. Any tips?” The response was something along the lines of, “It’s good for you to be in these types of panic situations so you can learn in a controlled environment.”

I agree 100%. But in that moment, I realized that I was physically feeling everything that I’ve been experiencing emotionally for the last 2 months. I was pinned down with someone’s entire weight on me. It was difficult to move and at some points I was gasping for air due to panic. Regardless of how it appeared, I really was trying to fight back, but it wasn’t good enough. It’s really difficult to physically lose when you’re already mentally beaten. I sobbed all the way home.

I need a win. Any win will do. Survival mode is wearing me out, and it’s no way to live. Life goes on, with or without me living my best life. I’d prefer to enjoy it.