Monday, May 30, 2016

The Arrows in Our Quiver- Jude

I kept meaning to write this out earlier, but babies don't keep, and with everything else going on in our lives right now, I soak up every second of baby-time with our littlest.

I want to remember the details. I already don't, and Patrick has to correct me half the time! I'll do my best, and he'll probably set me straight in the comments. ;-)

Jude's pregnancy was much like Molly's. I had a lot of nausea and sickness, and some other issues related to Lyme disease as well. My blood pressure liked to dip REALLY low (80/40, anyone?) and even when the majority of the nausea subsided in my 3rd trimester, the BP issues really kept me down most of the time.

A few weeks prior to Jude's birth, they decided to do some extra ultrasounds and measurements because I was measuring so far ahead (read: HUGE). At my 38 week appointment, they guessed over 9 pounds already. Molly was over 9 pounds, so I wasn't all that shocked.

The doctors suggested an induction with cervidil (less invasive than Pitocin) just three days before my December 17th due date. Being induced is really weird, you guys. Like, you drive to the hospital all calmly, with your hair and makeup done and not frantically timing contractions or willing lights to turn green. It was weird. You answer questions coherently and eat meals and it's just bizarre coming from the perspective of someone who was in active labor the first time around.

So, I ate Panera and watched Footloose and Despicable Me on TV and did a lot of waiting. After several hours, the cramping got more intense and turned into contractions and the pain of the cervix checks was starting to be more than I could handle.

They gave me some medicine (not sure what...Patrick? Any ideas?) to let me sleep for a little bit, and then decided to go ahead and do the epidural. Y'all know...I must REALLY not like the pain to be willing to get a giant needle in my spine. Ick.

God does funny things that don't seem funny at the time, though, and despite many tries, the epidural was weak (at best) and then didn't work at all. We tried for quite some time and finally my midwife, Ginny, came in and SO sweetly told me that we were just going to have to go for a natural med-free labor. I told her no, but for some reason, that didn't change a thing!

She brought in an oil diffuser that changed color in a pattern, and ladies who haven't had babies...or are having more babies...RESEARCH natural labor methods. PLEASE. I wish I had! I was so set on an epidural that it didn't cross my mind to even practice anything else and learning the methods on the spot was difficult!

It helped! I was able to focus and really make those contractions count for something. She stayed with me and talked me through every contraction. It was rough, I'm not going to lie. I think people who say you forget are big fat liars and/or got way more meds than I've ever been given. ;-)

At this point, it was just Patrick and I and the nurse and midwife. My mom called to see how things were going and ask if we needed her. I said yes and she hopped in the car to come up to was about 11pm at that point and I just wanted my Mommy.

Soon after my mom called, I started feeling more pressure (woohoo!) and they told me that it wouldn't be long before I was ready to push. I didn't think my mom was going to make it there in time, but she literally came in the room right before!

****SIDE NOTE: I pushed for FOUR HOURS with Molly, so when they said it was time to push, I cried, because I thought...great...four more hours of THIS...****

With the very first push, both Patrick and Ginny said, "We can see his head!" I thought they were lying and using it as a tactic to get me to keep going. Guys, I'm a big wimp! Really, I am. Also, I apparently don't trust people. They weren't lying. Three more pushes, and he was out! It was SO MUCH EASIER THAN MOLLY!

Like, not to be TMI or anything, but there was stitching and stuff with Molly and nothing with Jude. And he was 9 pounds, 8.4 ounces. Definitely not a little baby! PHEW! He was so sweet, instantly looking around at us and snuggling. I looked up at Patrick and while I could have said something lovey or precious...I'm not gonna lie, I said, "I never have to do that ever again." Praise Jesus. I don't mean that lightly. Pregnancy was so hard on my body, and so was labor and delivery. Recovery was much easier this time, but still no walk in the park.

We have such a peace about it, and Jude has been a sweet completion to our little family. He is a mama's boy through and through. He doesn't sleep much at night but he is so happy and chill that most of the time, it doesn't matter, we just nurse and snuggle and do it all over again in another hour and forty-five minutes. ;-)

My health is far and above what it was two years ago, but I am a firm believer in being a good steward of what God has given you. I am so enjoying being able to be a HEALTHY mama to my two crazy children. At the risk of being a giant mushball...what a BLESSING these two are to me! I can't wait to see what kind of little people they turn out to be and already love seeing their personalities mesh and grow with one another.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Arrows in our Quiver - Molly

In case you don't know us very well, my husband and I both come from relatively "large" families. Neither of us grew up feeling like we were in large families as we had other larger families to compare with.

I think it is safe to say that we both envisioned a family on the larger side when picturing our own offspring!

When we found out that we were expecting our first little blessing (Molly), we were overjoyed. We had struggled for quite some time to get to that point (read those blog posts here, here, and here) and this was an absolute dream come true.

My mother struggled with "morning" sickness throughout her pregnancies, so I assumed that I would do the same. Except...mine was different. I quickly went downhill and what is normally manageable nausea became debilitating misery. If you think I'm exaggerating, ask anyone I came in contact with over that 9 month period. ;-)

It was discovered that the apartment we were living in was probably mold infested. Mold is a huge Lyme flare trigger for me, and at the time (2011), it was not recommended for pregnant women to take long-term antibiotics. I think things are somewhat different now as far as the recommendations go, but I would probably still make the same choice.

I moved in with my parents (bless them) and ended up needing to quit my job. That part was heartwrenching for me. I loved my job and the people I worked with! Patrick worked nights and we barely saw each other. 

Finally, at the end of my pregnancy, I saw a small reprieve in my daily nausea, pain, migraines, etc. Very small - I still threw up every day of my pregnancy with Molly.

Patrick and I moved into the house next door to our church and he began to work from home. It was a stressful time, but looking back, it really was the best change to our situation and I will always have special memories from bringing home our first baby to the house next door to where we met and married! 

The rush of hormones in delivery did exactly what my Lyme doctor hoped that it would - quelled the flare up and pushed me into a wonderful nearly 2 year remission as well as fixing the nerve issue that I had suffered with in the first two years of our marriage. Although labor and delivery with Molly was very difficult, these two health victories and the sassy, chunky baby made it all worth it! 

Part Two forthcoming.....and I promise it won't be like, 8 months from now. Really. I promise.  

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Princess Tea Party

Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE birthdays. I love planning parties around a theme, and frequently forced my friends to dress up - well into our teenage years - for my birthday parties. I would still do it, if they wouldn't boycott it altogether. 

Guess what, friends-who-poo-pooed-my-theme-parties? I have a kid now. 
HA HA HA, jokes on you, you thought I was going to outgrow the elaborate dress-up parties but has only gotten worse!

So without further ado - Molly's 3rd Birthday: A Princess Tea Party!
A HUGE thank you to Amanda for photographing everything for me!

The Tablescape: Paper Flower Arrangement from Party City, Plastic Teacups with Straws and Lids from Amazon

Food: Cutout PB&J Sandwiches, Fairy Fruit Wands, Macarons*

Cupcake Decorating - Cupcake Crowns from Hobby Lobby

Cake by Katelyn - Topper from Hobby Lobby!

Molly got a little overzealous with the pink sprinkles.

Our Little Family
* Macarons: Katelyn and I have tried a few macaron recipes, but they are all either confusing or they did NOT turn out right. I found THIS RECIPE and it worked amazingly well! We still had to play around with it a little bit, but once we got in the swing of things, they came out so cute (and yummy)!

P.s. We did have guests at this party - it was actually a "friend party" for Molly - but out of respect for, you know, not putting other people's children's photographs on the Internet...I haven't included any pictures of them. :-) 

P.p.s. My sisters are Disney Princesses fo' REAL. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Static on the Radio

Tap, this thing on?

Well... I apologize for going M.I.A. after my last three posts. Something that I hadn't really anticipated was the overwhelming reality of, "What next?"

When you write and share something so personal, a little Pinterest recipe round-up post just doesn't seem fitting as a follow up!

I have many thoughts swirling around in this head of mine. I am actively pursuing more stories of women who have dealt with issues that are not easily discussed among your average weekly Bible study or prayer group.

 I have a handful of ladies who are currently working on writing their stories, but I don't want my blog to solely become a place for difficult-to-share stories, so the lighthearted posts will return..just not yet. 

If you have a story of God's faithfulness that you would be interested in sharing, even anonymously, please send me a message on Facebook. 

I have some ideas for some kind of devotional at some point, but don't hold me to that because I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M DOING, OK!? ;-)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Wedding Night Story: Part Three

***DISCLAIMER: If you don't want to know personal things about myself and my husband, or read words like "tampon", "period" or "sex" should just click that handy little "X" right now.  I am past the point of embarrassment, but completely understand that others may not be comfortable with this story. :-)***

I went back to the doctor at the end of August 2010. In case you've lost count, we'd been married 14 months by this point. I had begun to refer to myself as "The Super Virgin" in private.

Also, as a little side note: Never ask people why they don't have kids yet. I can't tell you how many times a well-meaning woman gave a little hint-hint, nudge-nudge to me and had no idea the dagger she sent to my heart. I'm not being dramatic. When you are in the midst of a situation in which you want to have children, but can't, it is so hard to hear even the well-meaning comments. This doesn't mean that you can NEVER say anything about it, but try to know the person you are nudging before you nudge them.

The doctor confirmed what I had already suspected (thank you, Dr. Google):Vaginismus. See? Told you…gross words are happening. Basically, vaginal spasms. My doctor was pretty sure this was caused by the lack of normal exposure all through growing up. My muscles were in shock. Yay. She prescribed Zoloft.

Yep. An anti-depressant. At first, I was like, "Um...whaaat?" But she explained herself. Anti-depressants basically dull nerves in your brain, so you don't feel sadness or anxiety. She was banking on the fact that this would dull nerve endings as well. She told me I would likely lose some or all of my sex drive, but after six weeks, my nerve endings should be dull enough to handle sexual contact. Six weeks. I could handle that.

Those weeks actually passed by much more quickly than I had anticipated. My best friend got married and, contrary to her fear so lovingly passed on by me, did not have the same issue that I had. A friend who had met and married his wife in the time that we, ourselves, had already been married called us to announce their pregnancy. I noticed I was not weepy like I had been. Probably the Zoloft

In November, 2010, nearly a year and a half after we got married, we tried (with low expectations) once again. SUCCESS! I will spare you the details. I don't think either one of us could believe it. To my embarrassment, I blurted it out to my mother-in-law early the next morning... I'm sure she really appreciated that, but I had tell someone! I felt like a literal weight had been taken off of me.

Things began to look up. We found an apartment, jobs, and my Lyme symptoms subsided. I (not wisely) weaned off of Zoloft because we had decided to go ahead and try to have a baby, but to no avail (for five months). It took another three months after I came off of Zoloft, a process that I did not do with a doctor's supervision or my husband's knowledge**. I wanted to see if my body could handle it; and guess what? It could! (**Also, this was a bad idea medically...I experienced ALL THE EMOTIONS AT ONCE.)

After we found out that we were expecting (Molly), my OB/GYN told me that after a vaginal birth, my nerves would reset themselves, and the problem would likely be fixed, permanently. I am happy to say that is how things went! 

We have been married five and a half years. Sometimes it feels like we've been married much longer than that, I think because we were forced to learn to communicate and put aside a large portion of "the honeymoon phase." My husband is the most patient man on the planet, and I am so thankful for him.

I could use this as a platform for discouraging waiting for sex until you're married, but that isn't my point. I'm glad I waited. I think it was the right thing to do. I am (in hindsight) thankful for the challenge that we went through together. It has made us appreciate the normal physical relationship of a husband and wife so much more, and taught us to treat each other as best friends, first and foremost.

I shared my story with a girl my own age who was engaged in our church, right there in the sanctuary! (Sorry, anyone who walked by and got an earful!) I was shocked when she told me that someone she knew had dealt with something similar, but because she had shared it with several of her friends (nurses!), they had helped her figure out what the problem was before it became a major issue!

This is my hope with these blog posts. Consider opening the doors of communication with your daughters, your friends, and the young women in your church. Sex is not taboo. The logistics are something that should be talked about. I never knew that it was possible for there to be a problem (through no fault of my mother's… I was terribly uncomfortable talking about it, myself). I tell my story more frequently now and with less secrecy.

I don't want to pretend anymore, even by omission, that I had sex on my wedding night. I'm proud of our story, and I'm proud of who we are because of it.

Thank you to everyone who has read, liked, shared, posted, commented, and messaged about this story. The support, love, and encouragement have been overwhelming! 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Wedding Night Story: Part Two

***DISCLAIMER: If you don't want to know personal things about myself and my husband, or read words like "tampon", "period" or "sex" should just click that handy little "X" right now.  I am past the point of embarrassment, but completely understand that others may not be comfortable with this story. :-)***

Start At The Beginning -- Read Part One HERE

This is where it gets difficult to write. Up until this point, my story could be anyone's story. A girl who waited to have sex 'til she's married. We were a nervous couple.

I don't remember very much from our honeymoon. If I'm being honest, I try to block a good portion of it out of my brain. We had fun, and we enjoyed the beautiful West Virginia mountains, the city of Charlottesville, and historical Williamsburg. But we did not consummate our marriage. 

We tried, and tried, and tried. And tried. I cried a lot. I spent a lot of time in the bathroom, praying and begging God to make me "more comfortable" and "less scared." I didn't feel afraid, but without bringing too much detail into an already detailed story - there was searing pain every time we tried. 

I thought that surely I was just inexperienced, and it would eventually happen. God bless my husband that first time he suggested that perhaps there was something else going on...something physically wrong. I probably yelled at him; I don't remember.

In any rational situation, I should have come home and gone to the doctor. But in my irrational, emotional state, I did what any girl would do: I came home and lied. Oh yeah - honeymoon was GREAT! We totally had sex! Better remember to take my pills - ha ha! 

We moved into our teeny, tiny one-room (you heard me. one. room.) apartment in Lanham, Maryland in July. We went to the D.C. Capitol Fourth and (tried) to make friends with other married couples in our building. It was hard. Deceit was hard. 

In August, I told my mother and my best friend what was going on. My mother insisted that I see a doctor, and my best friend hugged me while I cried. I told my extremely patient husband that he could talk to his friends about it, too, if he wanted. I don't know who all he talked to, but he came back with the idea that maybe I just needed to be a little tipsy. It seemed like a good idea (you know, to a couple who have been married three months and are grasping at straws!) - but didn't work. Searing pain.

I made an appointment in October with my mom's OB/GYN. In November, I saw her. I made my mother go with me. Like, in the exam room and everything. The gynecologist could hardly do her examination without me freaking out. My body had gotten so used to tensing for the pain that it was getting worse.

It was then that we finally got some answers. I was not too afraid, I was not too tense…it was not my fault at all. She told me I was born this way, and would need a procedure called a hymenectomy to remove the muscle that was preventing sexual intercourse. She told us there was a hole the size of a pin-prick. This was why I had unusually long and painful periods (9+ days), and also why I could never use a tampon (though I had admittedly not tried many times). Unfortunately, the surgery could not be scheduled until February, 2010.

Although I was thankful for a diagnosis, the weight of not being intimate with my husband did not dissipate. I was still very secretive, telling only the people I had to tell. This probably made me seem unapproachable and depressed. I was. I was petrified that people would laugh at me for not knowing this sooner, or for not going to the doctor until now. Through all of this, Patrick was loving, patient, and kind. He would spend hours playing Uno or watching movies with me, never once complaining about the situation that we were in, and in return, he had to listen to me sobbing over something I could not change.

It was during this time that I realized a part of my emotional instability was probably coming from the birth control pills that I still religiously took. I think it was to maintain a sense of normalcy. Regardless, it was a waste of money and I laugh at myself for taking them! We discussed it, prayed over it, and decided, after some research,  we really weren't big fans of what it was simulating in my body to begin with.

I threw away the pills and that week, I regained some emotional clarity. I will never take birth control pills again. I don't say this as a judgment on those who do, but for myself, I don't like who I was when I was on them and I don't like what they were doing to my body.

In February, 2010, I had surgery. I was scared out of my mind. It wasn't even a major surgery; outpatient, and I could walk that night! I think part of my fear was from the lack of people who knew about it. I had no one to talk to outside of my immediate family, and even then, I didn't tell my sisters, sisters-in-law, or closer friends from school. Recovery was just a few weeks long, but I was under strict instructions not to attempt sexual intercourse for eight weeks. 

We planned a trip to Williamsburg for Spring Break. A second honeymoon. I was so excited (and nervous!). I got the "All Clear" from my OB/GYN just a week prior to the trip over the phone, as well as a prescription numbing cream, just in case. 

I'll skip the pleasantries and get straight to the point: It didn't work. I was in just as much pain, and now various extremities were also numb from the cream. Which, SIDE NOTE, who thought that was going to be a great idea?!?! 

My longsuffering husband ran out for two giant tubs of ice cream and we stayed up all night, eating ice cream and binge-watching 30 Rock and The Office. Bless him.

I called my doctor and explained what happened. She told me to wait it out, six more weeks, and then come in for an appointment, and if we were still having a problem, she would figure out what to do next.

Meanwhile, we moved back to Salisbury. Patrick's school (where we lived, worked, and attended) was having a financial crisis, and after dealing with many missed and late paychecks, we made the decision to eliminate a stressor in our lives and regroup back with our families. Patrick's parents graciously allowed us to rent a room from them while we got back on our feet. Much of our savings had gone towards my surgery and medical bills.

As if enough wasn't enough, I began to display symptoms of Lyme disease again in the time while we were living in Lanham. I was in denial about it for a while, but coupled with my other issues, my mother was attuned to my daily physical state and insisted that I go to the doctor. My best friend was getting married, I was starting a detox and antibiotic treatment, and we still couldn't have sex. It was a tough time for us.

I went back to the doctor at the end of August 2010. In case you've lost count, we'd been married 14 months by this point. I had begun to refer to myself as "The Super Virgin" in private.

To Be Continued...

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Wedding Night Story: Part One

***DISCLAIMER: If you don't want to know personal things about myself and my husband, or read words like "tampon", "period" or "sex" should just click that handy little "X" right now.  I am past the point of embarrassment, but completely understand that others may not be comfortable with this story. :-)***

How do you begin writing something that is so personal that the thought of others reading about it takes your breath away? 

I have thought about writing our story many times. I have discussed it at length with my husband. I've prayed about it. 

Why do I want to write about it if I am afraid? I think, sometimes, sharing your trials with others can be healing. I also want other women to know they aren't alone; there are many variations of my story. I have heard them, now that I am looking for them.

So with a deep breath, here it goes.

There was once a girl who was not very athletic (spoiler alert: that's me). This girl did not do much sports-ing. Her mother encouraged her, once she had reached a certain age, to use tampons so that life did not absolutely freeze during her period. The thought of it grossed her out, and when she tried, it hurt, so she decided that the pad-life was for her.

Fast forward to 2006. This was the summer that my life changed. I had a tick bite and began to have what I now know to be classic Lyme disease symptoms. 

Unfortunately, Lyme disease awareness was not what it is now, even just nine years later. My doctors did a blood test for a whole host of things, but nothing came back positive. I went from being a healthy, energetic 15-year-old to a weak, migraine-y 16-year-old in just a few short months.

I spent much of my next two years battling doctors, diagnoses, and my own denial. There were times that I should have pushed myself harder and times that I should have rested. 

In my senior year of high school, I took a short-term job with a company and moved to Montana for a month or so. I pushed myself very hard while I was there, but with some bad choices and failing health, God made sure that I made my way back home by the end of May, 2008. His Hand is always providential, and though I could not see it at the time, I quickly saw the benefit of His moving me back home.

In June 2008, I met Patrick. His family had started attending my church while I had been away.

Sure, we'd "met" before. I'm sure people are tired of us joking about it, but on the off chance that you're not – Our families both participated in Home School Day at the local skate rink. So, we literally skated in the same circles as kids, although he was part of the "cool kid" homeschool group, and - shocker - I was not. ;-)

I had a photograph of him from high school, when he was a host at Red Lobster and I went with friends, documenting all the while with a disposable camera (as one did, in 2004).

Those who know me know I am not shy. I recognized him, and brought a copy of the photograph the next week. I walked right up to him and introduced myself. We hit it off and spent the rest of the afternoon (a church picnic) getting to know each other. Within a few weeks, we had roped our siblings into spending the summer playing Frisbee golf, mini golf, and board games. 

By the end of the summer, our relationship was official. He asked my dad for permission to court me, and even though he left for college, our relationship rapidly progressed. I thought we were headed towards marriage in a year or two, but in November, he surprised me with a proposal! 

The college that Patrick was attending had a special apartment building reserved for married students. We were thrilled and began to make plans for our wedding the following June (2009). 

I was also formally diagnosed with Lyme disease in the Fall of 2008. Although no tests would come back 100 percent positive, the PA at my pediatrician's office gave me antibiotics in a last-ditch effort to diagnose by treatment. I saw results within a few weeks and he continued the treatment until I was no longer suffering weekly migraines and muscle weakness.

As we got closer to our wedding date, my mother suggested that I go see a gynecologist. I know I am a grown woman, but still, the word gynecologist gives me the heebie-jeebies. I protested - why would I need to go until after I was sexually active? My pediatrician confirmed that really, there was no need for me to go, and they could even supply me with birth control pills. With my anxieties at bay (for a least a few months), we filled the prescription for birth control pills and I began to take them.

I felt myself becoming an angry person. I yelled and cried a LOT. Maybe it was the stress of the wedding? I convinced myself that it was definitely not because of the pills. You couldn't have children in the married housing at the school, so we were not planning on having children until Patrick graduated. 

June 6, 2009. We were married. All of the barriers, all of the rules - gone. I can't describe it to you. It felt insane. We were exhausted by the preparation and the day. It took 45 minutes to get to our hotel, and another hour until the 40 bobby pins were out of my hair and we were both showered. We had to be up early, so we decided to relax and enjoy our first night as husband and wife with no pressure, just lots of snuggling and some blessed sleep.

This is where it gets difficult to write. Up until this point, my story could be anyone's story. A girl who waited to have sex 'til she's married. We were a nervous couple.

I don't remember very much from our honeymoon. If I'm being honest, I try to block a good portion of it out of my brain. We had fun, and we enjoyed the beautiful West Virginia mountains, the city of Charlottesville, and historical Williamsburg. But we did not consummate our marriage. 

We tried, and tried, and tried. And tried. I cried a lot. I spent a lot of time in the bathroom, praying and begging God to make me "more comfortable" and "less scared." I didn't feel afraid, but without bringing too much detail into an already detailed story - there was searing pain every time we tried. 

To Be Continued...