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

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.

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. 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 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.  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.

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.

Our Little Nugget

5/29/19
“Hi little one. Today I found out that you exist, and I’m still in shock. I keep grinning like a goon and just want to tell the whole world. But so far it’s just me and your dad, your grandparents, and your Aunt Hannah. And we are all so excited. It’s insane to me that even though I’ve only known about you for about 6 hours, you’re already more important than anything else. I wish I could go home and read about pregnancy and what to expect. I don’t know anything about babies but I promise I’ll learn before you get here. It’s really hard to focus. And now we have to wait another month before we can see you in an ultrasound! It’s gonna be so hard to wait. Love you already.”

6/25/19
We’d been waiting for today for what feels like an eternity. We found out at 4 weeks that I was pregnant at 6:30am on a Wednesday morning. I called the doctor as soon as they opened only to find out that we had to wait until 8 weeks to come in for our first ultrasound and exam. I’ve read 3 different pregnancy books. The Bump app is amazing and allowed me to follow what fruit size the baby is, see a 3-D version of what the baby looks like each week, and what my body is doing with all these hormonal changes as it tries to grow a little human. Waiting an entire month to actually “meet” our baby via ultrasound and not sharing our excitement with anyone was really difficult.

This morning I woke up around 5:45am and smiled the entire time I was getting ready up until they called us back to the ultrasound. First they checked my cervix, then my ovaries, and then the baby.

Except she couldn’t find the baby.

The doctor walked in and almost immediately told us that there is a large concern that this could be a miscarriage. All the ultrasound showed was the gestational sac- no egg yolk, no baby, and no heart beat. They kept questioning if I was sure of my last menstrual date because hopefully we were just “off” on the timing. However the size of the gestational sac was large enough that it should’ve shown something… anything. (Even as I write this, I made the mistake of researching about what a first ultrasound is supposed to look like. Horrible idea. Our picture was a large black, empty circle. So empty.)

After this news, I heard nothing else. I didn’t feel the needle go in when they took blood. I hardly remember making our appointment for next week to check one more time with another ultrasound. All I could do is sob and stare at the ground. Everyone we passed in the office knew and was either full of pity or obvious discomfort.

I find it very difficult to physically speak. Thankfully Seth called my mama to break the news and tell her I called in to work. I sobbed the entire drive to my parents’ house. I was so out of it that I hit a trash can on the way and completely knocked off my passenger side mirror. It took me awhile to even realize what had happened.

The rest of my day consisted of meltdown after meltdown, a 3-hour nap, and lots of sitting in silence with my parents. There’s just literally nothing to say. I verbally told them one time what the doctor told us. I can write about it, but to say it aloud while looking someone in the face is absolute misery.

I’ve decided to not be optimistic going into our appointment next week in hopes that it will make a sad reality a little more bearable. We would love for our tiny nugget to just be hiding somehow and appear next week, as healthy as a tiny human could be. But it’s really not looking good.

For those of you who know me well, you know I don’t really care for children, so… surprise. In fact, from Mother’s Day 2018-October 2018 I prayed that God would change my desire to have children. And He really did. In October we began “planning” for what this would look like for us. In January I lost 24 lbs. to make my body as baby growing ready as possible. Vitamins and all the natural, hipster ways of getting ready to have a baby were a part of regular life. My heart was ready. And now my heart is broken for our little baby that we’ll never know.

7/2/19

“Today we went back to the doctor, and you still weren’t there. Despite saying that I was giving up hope last week, I prayed all day every day for a week that you were just hiding. I really really wanted to meet you our little nugget.”

Today our pregnancy was officially declared “not viable.” It’s called a blighted ovum where the fertilized egg doesn’t grow or develop into an embryo. However, even today at what would be 9 and a half weeks, my body still thinks it’s growing a tiny human.

We’ll never know any more details about our little nugget. But as far as I’m concerned, I don’t care if it was only a fertilized egg or a cluster of cells, it was ours. It was the first teeny tiny living organism that Seth and I created together regardless of how long it lived inside of me. It was loved and prayed for more than anyone else in my life for the short time we had together. It will always be my first baby.

On Friday, I’m scheduled for a D&C, and this part of the journey will physically be over.  I’m not sure what to expect beyond that. It’s difficult to discuss so please don’t force conversation about it; it’s easier to write about. And I’m really not a believer in pretending that everything is okay when it isn’t; hence this post.

We are heartbroken. We are angry. We are confused. I am hormonal and exhausted. And I don’t enjoy the cliche comforting words because there really are no words that make it better.

However, my husband is the strongest person I know, and I couldn’t be more thankful that he is leading our little family. God is still good despite all the nonsense we feel now. And our little nugget will always be cherished and remembered.

 

A Place Like No Other

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For the last 7 years, this place has been my second home.  I’m blessed to have a job that is so much more than work.  Teaching English has been my most practical way of loving and helping the international population that stole my heart as a teenager.  And though I have taught in several programs and schools and even once overseas, Americana World Community Center is unique and will forever hold a huge part of my heart.

Americana is the place where…

-I quit my social work practicum mid-semester because I realized I wanted to be in the classroom. I got my Masters in TESOL and came back a year and a half later because I knew that this place was special.

 
-my first ESL class laughed at me when I told them I was their teacher because I was so young.

 
-I learned to never take resources for granted as students shared their favorite parts of America being- the streets, the hospitals, that women can come to school, that there’s always enough food.

 
-students fall asleep during class because they’ve worked 3rd shift but still want to learn English.

 
-I learned that you have to be careful not to step in elephant poop while you’re walking around Africa.

 
-I learned how to manage the masses, usually from standing on a chair.

-I learned to interpret broken English and communicate in body language. For example, “kay kay caw” was a student’s response when asked why she didn’t go to school when she was a child.  She “take care cow.”

 
-I’ve been graciously given numerous pieces of clothing from Somalia, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Iraq, China, and Burma.
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-I can drive down the side streets and know many of the folks walking down the road.

 
-I received my first marriage proposals (not from Seth).

 
-I’ve seen the most beautifully random, cross cultural friendships blossom.

 
-A student brought me a broken boombox to repair since I can always get their pencils sharpened with the electronic sharpener. It’s a difficult task for many students.

 
-I experienced/taught a student how to ride an elevator for the first time. It was a nerve-wrecking yet joyful experience.

 
-I received my first child, a fake baby doll that the student named John.
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-I’ve celebrated multiple weddings, baby showers, house warming parties for new homeowners, and iftars to break the fast during Ramadan.

 
-I celebrated my own wedding because I wanted my students to be invited to an American wedding.

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At Americana, I’ve mostly taught the Literacy level of English otherwise known as the ABC level.  From my classroom I will remember:

-that EVERYONE is capable of learning. It doesn’t matter if they’ve never been to school or cannot hold a pencil correctly.  If they’re not learning, then you’ve gotta step up your teaching creativity.

 
-meeting new students for the first time. They are nervous and quiet and will hardly make eye contact.  By the end of our orientation, they’re smiling and telling me about themselves because they realized that we can communicate without help from any family/friend interpreters.

 
-the first time I ever heard my students sound out words and READ. I cried at the white board.

 
-the broken English conversations:
“Me, teacher nurse. Nurse help doctor. I help teacher. Me… teacher nurse!”
An old student to a new student, “little English no problem. Every day practice.”
“Everyone everything?” as she mimicked me saying “Does everyone have everything?”

 

-weird, weird things that happened in class due to them not knowing what is and isn’t acceptable behavior at school. Please ask me about them 🙂

 
-the day I set up my classroom as a community with streets and buildings so we could practice address. All of a sudden, all of my African students started dancing down the streets.

 
-diffusing several screaming arguments in the middle of class because why wouldn’t you scream at someone when you’re angry if you’re unaware that this isn’t what is acceptable in the classroom.

 
-teaching students how to work as a group. They didn’t understand sharing a paper, so I taped it down to the table so they couldn’t move it.

 
-playing with adult phonics curriculum creation until it actually worked. I will publish it one day in honor of my students because now many of them can read.

 
-my students becoming students. They have a routine.  They are confident in that routine and enthusiastically volunteer to come to the board.  They love homework.  They literally sit in class and smile at me for 2 hours as they learn.  They have completed so many higher critical thinking activities and asked some questions well above their initial level, and I am SO proud of their progress.

This week was the end of an era for me.  I told my last group of Literacy students goodbye.  My sneaky, thoughtful coworkers threw me an amazing surprise goodbye party with roughly 75 students and staff.  Next school year I will be moving into a different leadership role for the entire program.  I’ll still come by to visit and check on classes, but it will be different.  Words and stories cannot fully express how much this place and the people inside mean to me; this blog doesn’t even come close to doing it justice.  Just believe me when I say, Americana is a place like no other.

[Don’t] Gimme Some Sugar

Candy has always been my weakness.  Milk Duds, anything Hershey’s, sour gummy worms, peanut butter M&Ms, Toblerone,  Sweet Tarts, Tootsie Roll Pops… the list goes on and on.  And then shortly after getting married, I discovered my love of baking so that added in cookies, bread, and homemade candy.  Seriously, did you see the hardcore baking I did for the holidays?

I’ve loved sugar my whole life but nearly two years ago it got out of control.  When I was dealing with the trauma from the burglaries, food was one of the few things that I could fully enjoy.  Being physically, mentally, and emotionally drained for an entire year didn’t leave much motivation for actually cooking or caring for that matter.  Even when my mental health started improving, the bad habits were already there.  Those two years resulted in a sluggish, low confidence, 15-20 lb. heavier version of myself.

Fast forward to January 2019, show of hands of anyone who made a New Year’s resolution to either lose weight or eat healthier?  It’s so hard and definitely not enjoyable.  However, I found a 2-Week Sugar Detox on Pinterest (https://www.idealsilhouette.com/2-week-sugar-detox/) and thought I’d give it a whirl in an attempt to break my sugar addiction.  I am very proud to say that today is Day 18 with what I like to call “intentional sugar.”  I certainly didn’t follow the detox exactly, but I have definitely cleansed my body of sugar.  Below is a summary of my experience:

  • No desserts, sodas, or juices.
  • Black coffee for the first full week. Week 2 I started adding a little cream.  Green tea with honey and lemon.  Other than that, only water.
  • 3 eggs for breakfast every morning
  • Lean meats (lots of chicken, some turkey, and some 92/8 ground beef)
  • Lots of vegetables (minimal potatoes, carrots, and corn)
  • Minimal grains, dairy, and fruit [but man, I really love dairy]
  • Snacks included: celery and crunchy peanut butter, pistachios, raw veggies and hummus, plain vanilla yogurt and granola, string cheese.

The first three days were really rough.  I felt like a total psychopath day 1.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t think or talk about anything other than food.  I had a horrific headache and dizziness.  By the end of the first day I was quite disoriented and dropped anything I touched.  I couldn’t go to a restaurant at all during the first week because of temptation.  I was the only person in a room of 20 who wasn’t having a piece of cake at a going-away party.  I spent a LOT of time meal planning, cooking, and trying not to gross out my husband with the weird concoctions of vegetables that I found.  But soon, I started seeing and feeling results.

  • I am much more clear-headed from the time I wake up to the time I fall asleep.
    • If you know me well, you know that I am usually an exhausted zombie. Not anymore!
  • I rarely feel like I have to nap anymore.
    • If you know me well, you know that I could fall asleep in minutes if I sit still too long. Not anymore!
  • I don’t have stomach problems.
    • If you know me well, you know that Pepto Bismol had become a regular part of my diet the last few months. Not anymore!
  • You can begin to see the muscle I’ve developed from the last year of doing Krav Maga!
    • If you know me well, I’ve flexed on you and asked you to feel my muscle because it hasn’t always been obvious. Note anymore!
  • My clothes fit better.
    • If you know me well, you know that I was struggling with some of my wardrobe. Not anymore!
  • As of today, I have lost 10 lbs. in 17 days just from changing the way I eat.
    • If you know me well, I’ve been ready to get back into better shape for awhile now but have felt every stuck. Not anymore!

It’s been a very long time since I’ve been this proud of myself.  I feel better, and I’m very thankful that I’m continuing to see results.  The most exciting part for me so far is that now that I’ve started new habits, I can maintain what I’ve accomplished so far without completely hating mealtime.  I can eat carbs or dairy in small portions; I don’t have to live without them.  I can still “treat myself” but maybe contain it to one day of the week.  It’s just a matter of remembering how good I feel and retraining my brain on how to view food.