Friday, December 29, 2017

swing and a miss

I am one week shy of my original due date. Our sweet first baby decided to stay with Jesus back in June. If you ask my husband, the baby was never a baby at all - just God's way of telling us that the timing wasn't right. I choose to believe that Baby #1 opened his eyes, and the first thing he saw was Heaven - and I can't think of  better way to wake up.

The reason my ultrasound measured 6 weeks instead of 9 was because I never reached 9 weeks. Not even close. I made it through weeks 1-4, and then paused at week 5. The embryonic sac floated temporarily, and then collapsed on itself. It wasn't strong enough to carry it's own weight. I began to miscarry the day of our first ultrasound. The only photo I have of this baby was after the sac had collapsed around the embryo.
[the sac was very nearly gone at this point, but this was all I had to look at]

Miscarriages are.... odd. They elicit a lot of emotions, a lot of uncertainty, a lot of questions... And, for me, a lot of anger.  Time moved in slow motion. I don't remember when I first cried about our loss. I remember looking over at my husband, who was sobbing, and wondering Why is he weeping? Why am I not? I remember sitting down with our 8 year old and explaining to him that sometimes babies decide to stay in heaven, and that's okay; I remember him wrapping his arms around his knees and crying. I didn't cry then either. I think the momma in me knew that I had business to take care of before I could let my feelings protrude. I took 3.5 days off from work, and that's when I did my crying. I cried until I was certain my tear ducts had nothing left to cry, and then I cried some more. I cried so hard that I wanted to go back to work so I couldn't think about something - anything - other than my body failing at it's one job. And when I returned to work on a Friday, I remember people walking past me, avoiding eye contact, avoiding conversation. Good lord, I wish someone would talk to me. Someone please talk to me. Please wake my brain up to something new. Please talk to me. I thought this over and over, all morning long. At last, our market president walked up to my desk. Finally, human interaction. He said, "Courtney, we are glad you're back... but you can take as much time as you need. Let us know if you need anything." I wish he hadn't talked to me.

I immediately left the office. I needed silence. I needed chaos. I had no idea what I needed! Nothing was working anyway. This went on for several days. I missed more work; I was so exhausted that I somehow cut my eyeball open and had to get a patch; I wouldn't answer phone calls; I wouldn't see anyone; I drank many, many bottles of wine. And after 5 weeks, I realized I was still bleeding. I had never stopped bleeding. I started keeping track. Out of 70 days, I'd bled for about 50 of them. This was the miscarriage that would not go away.

I went back to my doctor and determined, with yet another depressing ultrasound, that all remnants of Baby were gone. But my body was confused. In the 2.5 months since my miscarriage, I had gained 20 pounds. My body still thought it was pregnant. My hormones were still raging. I just wanted this phase of my life to be done with. We moved to a new house and started a new chapter. But this page just would.not.turn.

[Dream home. Population: less than we had planned]

I was put on a prescription for..... something. I don't remember what. It took another two weeks to get my uterus back in sync with the rest of me. And in late September, we were given the green light to start trying again. Even then, I felt like trying again was like cheating on Baby #1. How could I prepare for Baby #2 when Baby #1 literally just left my body?

I don't know the answers, and I don't know how we made it through. I can see how infertility can cripple a family, because our one miscarriage nearly sent my marriage down a crap chute. Thankfully, my husband is a saint (a pain in the hind-quarters, but a saint, nonetheless). And in mid November, we had our big fat positive pregnancy test. We are having a baby.
At 8 weeks, we heard our new Baby Neal's heartbeat - a whopping 157 BPM. My due date this time around is July 27th, 2018. We will be safe to announce this pregnancy on January 12th - the end of our first trimester... and 8 days after Baby #1's due date.
Miscarriage is odd. It's sad, it's hurtful, it's scary, it's rage; it's a million different adjectives that I can't come up with in a blog. But I guess it's true that God won't let something bad happen without also providing something positive.

Here's to our positive...
[Yes... this precious alien baby looks like Eva from Wall-E]

Monday, June 12, 2017

Week 10

Dates: June 4 – June 10

How far along
: 10 Weeks on June 8th

Size of the Baby: Prune
Baby Development: Baby is about 1.5 inches long, is taking a more human shape, and getting tooth buds

Total Weight Gain/Loss: 0

Maternity Clothes: Give me all the stretchy pants.

Gender: Unknown

Movement: Apparently, we are moving BACKWARDS. More on this later…

Sleep: What’s sleep?

What I Miss: Fitting into my work pants.   

Cravings and Aversions: Nada!

Symptoms: Chest is still sore and getting deep veins. My irritability is trailing off, but I’ve had some spotting (again, more on this later).  

Best Moment this Week: My phone call from the doctor today saying that my HCG levels are normal
Not-So-Great Moment this Week: Our terrifying first ultrasound. 
Looking forward to: Our follow up ultra sound next Tuesday!
An Update….
The first weekend in June was full of some terrifying, stressful moments. My 14 year old stepdaughter Peyton ran away, and we spent every resource we could think of trying to track her down. I went viral on Facebook (which isn’t very exciting when the reason is unpleasant), and her photo was shared over 7,000. Two counties, three police departments, and a sheriff’s office were on the lookout for her. Luckily, she was found safely after two days. Our prayer at this point is that she can find happiness and safety in her health, even though it will no longer be in our home.
That being said, I spent the majority of the weekend trying to regulate my stress and blood pressure. My stepmom support group (yes, those actually exist, and I am in one!) told me over and over to take care of Baby first. I tried to relax, but it’s hard to do knowing that your eldest kiddo – one whom you’ve had a rocky-at-best relationship with over the last five years and is currently hating your guts – is missing.
Tuesday morning, with Peyton safe and sound, I told Chris that I had a weird feeling about our ultra sound. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but my excitement had fluttered to anxiety and uncertainty. When the time finally came to hear the heartbeat and the doctor had me all juiced up on her machine, there was silence.
We couldn’t find a heartbeat. The doctor changed machines, switching from a heartbeat monitor to a full sonogram. Still, nothing.
We moved on to a transvaginal ultrasound, where we found a teeny tiny little yolk sac measuring just 5-6 weeks in size. Except… I’m 9 weeks and 5 days. That’s four weeks off.
As I am the Queen of Doom and Gloom, I mentally started preparing for the worst. However, they sent me for immediate blood work, which came back normal for 5-6 weeks. This was still progress from the blood work I had done two weeks prior. 
The doctor thinks I ovulated late, since I had only been off birth control for 1 month and may not have been regulated yet.  When I first tested positive on May 2nd, my HCG levels were at a measly 40, literally DAYS after conception. This week, they’re at over 13,000. So we are progressing at perfectly normal rate. I’ll just feel like I’m pregnant .f o r e v e r.
Alas, the Doom and Gloom struck again when I began spotting a few hours after the appointment. The on-call doctor said my T/V ultrasound may have caused the cervix to bleed, since it is ultra-sensitive at the moment. And since I’m only measuring 5-6 weeks, spotting is much more common.
I’ve been spotting continuously since the appointment last Tuesday; and I still have a lot of questions. 4 weeks is a big difference in ovulation. And what about that tiny little baby bump in my 9 week photo? Is that a food baby? Bloat baby? Not a baby at all? My mind has asked these questions over and over, but we will wait until tomorrow when we have another ultrasound to check the progression of my sweet little bean sac. We are praying for progress, health, and strength. (Of course, if we’re praying for things, I might as well pray for 11 weeks instead of 6 – no one likes counting backwards!)
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared. I'm terrified. But we are going to keep praying and staying positive. . Keep us in your thoughts and send your good ju-ju.

Weeks 8-9


How far along: 8-9 Weeks

Size of the Baby: Strawberry at 8 weeks, Olive at 9


Baby Development: Baby is about ¾ of an inch long, and developing organs, bones, and teeny tiny eyes and ears.   

Total Weight Gain/Loss: 0

Maternity Clothes: I bought my first preggo shirt for Memorial Day, “Red, White, and DUE.” I also grabbed a few maternity work shirts that I found on sale $5.99 SCORE.

Gender: Unknown

Movement: Science says I’m wrong, but I’m convinced I can feel tiny little flutters. It feels similar to getting a nerve twitch; like teeny little tugs from the inside of my tummy. Laying on my stomach is becoming slightly uncomfortable due to pressure from uterus (which is now the size of a grapefruit… Yay, science!)

Sleep: I usually have to get up to pee, and I cannot seem to get my neck and back comfortable. I’m also having some pretty wild dreams. For instance, last night we forgot to build stairs in our new house, and I have to hoist myself and Baby Neal to the 2nd floor through a chicken coop window. 

What I Miss: Nada!   

Cravings and Aversions: Last week, I had a craving for chocolate cake… I settled for cappuccino yogurt, and felt ohsogross afterward. Chips and salsa are my current go-to. And LOTS of water. Like 3 liters a day! I’m also usually a big fan of leftovers, but they are suddenly seeming a bit gross to me. 

Symptoms: My chest is finally getting sore – but still not as bad as I expected. Mostly just if I run – which, let’s face is, is a rarity. According to my husband, I’m just “really kind of bad at it.”  

Best Moment this Week: Last Wednesday, I toured the infant room at Faith Church with my momma. I also had my first OB appointment at Hillcrest, but it was mostly just blood work.  And Peyton said she would like to be in the room during delivery (as long as she doesn’t have to stand by my feet – HA!)  

And this super sweet conversation: 

Monday, May 22 2017

Peyton, on going into high school next Fall: “Ugh, what is my purpose in life?!”
Me: Girl, I’m 30 and still don’t know what my purpose is.
Peyton: Sure you do. It’s to be a mom.

Not-So-Great Moment this Week: Being my husband’s chauffeur. And thereby, everyone else’s chauffeur. I’m also a bit irritable, which is exhausting. 

Looking forward to: Our first visit with the Doctor next Tuesday, which also means our first ultra sound!

Post script.... my work has locked down their security settings, and I wasn't able to post this when I initially wrote it. Without going into details, Peyton is no longer living with us. It is heart breaking for both me and her dad, but it's the best option for all of us. Hopefully in the future we can work to restore our relationship. 


Friday, May 19, 2017

7 Weeks!

How far along: 7 Weeks

Size of the Baby: Raspberry

Baby Development: Baby is about ¾ of an inch long, and developing organs, bones, and teeny tiny eyes and ears.   

Total Weight Gain/Loss: 0

Maternity Clothes: None needed, but real life: I bought two pairs of maternity shorts from Target because their stretchy fabric is perfection.

Gender: Unknown. Peyton and Noah both think it will be a boy; my nephew Brayden said it will be a girl, but then later changed to boy so that he and Noah would equal. Chris goes back and forth on what he hopes for. Grandma “Nannie” is hoping for all things pink. I tend to lean toward boy, but only because I already know our boy name. Up until recently, Baby had a tail, so I will officially remain on the fence for now.

Movement: Too early, but I can feel my body changing. For instance, when I lay on my stomach, I can pin point exactly where all the action is. It’s like a tiny little buildup of baby pressure.

Sleep: I am exhausted all day, but don’t sleep well at night – mostly because I have insane dreams!

What I Miss: Being able to predict my mood swings. I used to be able to warn Chris when they were coming; but these days, LOOK OUT, Daddy! I also haven’t made it to Yoga, but that’s mostly because youth baseball is taking over my life.

Cravings: None, but I have had some taste bud changes. The only time I’ve actually gotten sick was after drinking sweet tea. The only beverage that sounds good is water, or occasionally milk. I also suddenly love Bean Dip from Taco Bueno – and I have hated bean dip my entire life. I also don’t crave sweets at all, which was a total weakness before I was pregnant!

Symptoms: I pee .all.the.time.  I’m beyond tired, and struggle to keep my eyes open at work. And I get the craziest mood swings - the tiniest little things can set me off! I haven’t cried very much, but I am very easily irritated. On the bright side, no morning sickness! The only time I get nauseous is when I get too hungry.

Best Moment this Week: Setting up our appointment to tour the infant room at Faith Early Childhood Education!

Not-So-Great Moment this Week: Learning that child care is .e x p e n s i v e. In what world can I come up with an extra $175 a week?!

Looking forward to: Our first OB appointment next week!

Next Thursday, when we hit 8 weeks, both kids have their last day of school, and I have my first OB appointment. I can't wait!

Leading up to the positive…

Tuesday, April 18, 2017
I had my usual mug of Red Diamond sweet tea for breakfast. It’s my favorite drink.
I immediately threw it up.
For lunch, I sat in my car eating Taco Bueno. Actually, I devoured the bean dip. It’s delicious. Best bean dip ever.
Except that I hate bean dip of all varieties.
What is happening, taste buds?
[*Side note – I actually wrote this in the memos on my phone because I thought it was so odd]
Tuesday April 25, 2017
While waiting for Peyton at the dentist, I made a cup of coffee. Immediately, my stomach was in my throat. It was everything in my power to not get sick in their waiting room!
Wednesday, Aril 26, 2017
I was supposed to start today, but nobody ever showed. I just got off birth control on March 1, so I assume my body is still adjusting. But I do start to wonder…
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Aunt Flo is still a no show! I started putting two and two together, and decided that THIS IS IT. I drove my happy bum to Target, acquired the almighty Starbucks (all praise the Caramel Macchiato with Coconut Milk!) and peed on a stick. Alas, it was negative.
At baseball practice that night, I told my fellow baseball mom Lindsay that it was negative. She said, “You will know when you are.” This really stuck with me, because I really THOUGHT that I was. “No, trust me – you will know.”
Fast forward a few days…
Monday, May 1, 2017
Chris was in Las Vegas for work, and I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned, tried yoga rests, counted breaths… nothing worked. I was wide awake at 3am, with a feeling in the pit of my stomach. Lindsay was right – I would KNOW. I just didn’t have an explanation for HOW I knew.
Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017
I woke up almost an hour before my alarm (for those of you who are counting, that’s 2 hours of sleep, and I haven’t slept soundly since!), and immediately took a test. There is was. A double line. A faint double line, but it was there. I wasn’t sure I trusted my own vision, so I sent a photo to my friend Shannon in Maine. She confirmed, which is basically the Biblical Word for me.
Peyton had another dentist appointment at 9, and my doctor somehow got me in to see him at 9:15. One urinalysis and a blood sample later,
[no, that is not my actual peed upon stick. thanks internet]

I am 4 weeks and 5 days, give or take; and Baby Neal is the size of a poppy seed.
Estimated Conception: ummthatsnoneofyourbusiness, but the Easter Bunny was nearby.
Estimated Due Date: January 4, 2018

Yay Baby Neal!

& baby makes five

Ummmm so I believe I might have missed a few things since 2015, yes?!

1. Spoiler alert - we got married. Yaaaay matrimony!
2. We sold our house, moved all 4 of us into a 2 bedroom apartment, and are one measley month away from finishing construction on our dream home. Yay American dream!
3. My eggo is preggo!

In the grand scheme of things, Chris and I have been together for almost 5 years. We will celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary this September, and just found out last month that we are expecting our first baby together.

We have friends and family who live as far west as Alaska, and as fear east as Maine - not to mention the sister and niece who live all the way in Iceland! I hope to document this pregnancy for those who want to feel close when the miles just won't let it happen. And of course, for my momma, who was pregnant when there weren't apps, blogs, or 3D Ultrasounds. You better believe she has the WhatToExpect app on her iPhone and she is following Baby's every step!

Bear with me as I'm sure I will let fly a few curse words, many mood swings, and the occasional humble brag that I have yet to encounter much morning sickness.

Let's go, baby!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Learning Diversity from Preschoolers

It has been said that playing youth sports can lead to benefits such as higher grades, greater self-esteem, and stronger peer and family relationships[1]. What I learned, however, was that volunteering to coach those youth sports can lead to just as many unexpected benefits for the adults involved.

When my future stepson, Noah, decided to play tee-ball, I had no idea I would end up volunteering to coach. After all, I had no biological children on the team, and I would be the only female assisting. But when the director of the league said that if parents didn’t volunteer there would be no 6-and-under tee ball team, we took action. My fiancĂ© volunteered to be the head coach for fourteen children between ages 3 and 6; and I volunteered to assist him. He had never coached – or really played – baseball in his life, and it had been well over a decade since I picked up a glove. Together, we prepped practice schedules and batting lineups, and I set out to find team uniforms.

When we had our first practice, I quickly likened coaching tee-ball to herding cats. I was suddenly in charge of fourteen kids with little to no attention span who all came from different walks of life. There were four girls, ten boys, one Hispanic child, one African American child, one Native American child, one child with ADHD, one child who (by no fault of his own) wasn’t old enough to comprehend running bases, and several children who cared more about hugging my leg and chatting than they did playing ball. While working with the parents, I learned we had one single dad, three sets of divorced parents and corresponding step parents, one set of adoptive parents, one periodically disabled parent who had recently undergone back surgery, and one parent who had recently lost her husband; and then there was me – someone who had no legal claim to any child on the “Glenpool Wolfpack” team, and was suddenly in charge of helping make sense of the madness that is coaching preschoolers. It was easily one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my adult life.

In an office setting, employees are consistently taught that sensitivity to cultures and appreciating diversity is imperative to a positive work environment. Imagine my surprise when I realized that coaching a group of fourteen kids under age six would require the same range of sensitivity and understanding! How I spoke to one child sometimes had to be different than how I spoke to another child: talking about “mommy and daddy” in front of the child who recently lost his father may be more hurtful to him, while the adopted child hearing a teammate ask her, “how come you don’t look like your mom and dad?” may create a potentially uncomfortable conversation. The spectrum of sensitivity and understanding of different backgrounds and lifestyles that came with this voluntary job was something I never expected to encounter. By the end of the three month season, I learned that it was important to get eye-level with this age group; and it was just as important to do the same with their parents. I learned that some parents desperately want to help in any way they can, while it was a challenge to ask some parents to even bring their child to a game on time. I learned that even though I may need to cater to fourteen different developing personalities, it was vital that I treat every child with the same amount of respect and adoration.

Every child was coached to their ability rather than a set standard, but every child, no matter what, got a high five and a “Great job!” from Coach Courtney. There were nights after games that I felt I was more exhausted from trying to coach these fourteen personalities and wrangle them into the dugout than I was after an eight-hour work day. There were days when I had more angry phone calls and text messages from parents than I did visits from students in my office. There were moments that I wasn’t entirely sure that I could remember which child required which type of coaching. But there was not a day that went by that I did not appreciate every single one of those booming personalities and differences. Children were creating dialogues with me about differences that I simply cannot experience in a work setting – “How come his mom is never here?” “How come that dad is in a wheelchair?” “Why didn’t that person’s grandma ever bring us snacks?” It was an invaluable opportunity to talk to very young, malleable minds about the fact that not everyone is the same. Some people have one parent, while some people have four; some dads stay in wheelchairs, while some walk, some run, and some aren’t with us anymore. Some people have the opportunity to buy us snacks (“Isn’t that nice of them? Let’s go say thank you!”), and sometimes people aren’t in a situation to afford it (“But let’s go tell her thank you for coming to watch us!”). Seeing their sweet faces process this information and realize that it’s okay that their friends are different was something I will never forget.

By the time the last game rolled around, I desperately tried not to shed tears during our last team huddle. I never would have imagined that while coaching a six-and-under tee-ball team, I would learn more about life than they probably did about the sport. Differences aren’t just important in the workplace. Lifestyles unlike mine shouldn’t only be respected as an adult. Diversity lives in every age group, not just at the office. I feel honored and blessed that I was able to both coach and learn from a group of children who left a mark in my heart, and helped me celebrate their individualities in a way I didn’t know existed.

[one player not pictured]

[1]True Sport: What We Stand To Lose in Our Obsession to Win.” U.S. Anti-Doping Agency;;