All The Downsides of an Epidural, Without Any of the Benefits

On August 1st, our little Beanie was born. As mentioned in previous posts, it was far from an easy pregnancy. My boys both had relatively uneventful and easy pregnancies and deliveries. Even the induction of the youngest boy was pretty easy. I was able to avoid the epidural, something that I avoided not because I wanted the bragging rights of natural childbirth but because the idea of a needle going into my spine was too much for me. I could only think about the things that could go wrong. Plus, I’m pretty unlucky and usually have bad reactions to medications. Which is why, as a general rule, I avoid taking anything when possible.

After a long induction process that started 3 hours after I was first admitted at 7 am, I was finally given the Pitocin to really start the induction at around 10-10:30 pm. I heard the contractions on Pitocin were going to be far worse than anything I had ever experienced before. I made it until about step 2 of doses before I realized that things were only going to get worse. It was semi-bearable, but it wasn’t going to be if things kept going this way. Finally, I was convinced by my support team that the epidural was going to be the right call.

After about 20 minutes, the anesthesiologist came in. I was sitting on the exercise ball in hopes that Beanie would get herself in the best position (she was backwards, causing back labor) and to help ease the pain. When being moved back to the bed by the awesome nurse (who really was my hero during the birth), my water broke. This is where I knew that there was going to be trouble. My first was born 45 minutes after my water broke. My 2nd, about 20-30 minutes. I mentioned this before, which was why I was being induced a week early. Between my age and the cord insert issue, no one wanted to risk me not being in the hospital when the time came.

To avoid getting into too much detail, my mother was kicked out while they administered the epidural. The medical team rushed into the room, but didn’t really understand that this baby was going to come before they were ready for her. And the anesthesiologist had just enough time to put in the catheter, only to have to pull it out because there was no time. Beanie made her appearance, and made sure that Daddy and Gramma would only hear her entrance into the world with those loud little lungs. A loud scream that she still has, in case you’re wondering.

The aftermath? My spine was bruised and swollen, though the bruising has finally started to fade. I have (still) some intermittent nerve pain. I had all of the negative side effects of getting this epidural without being able to enjoy the perks the medication was supposed to offer. But it was all 100% worth it for that little angel and for our family to become complete.

Going home was the best part. Seeing her brothers meet her was amazing. Having her oldest brother walk over to her and declare that he would do anything for her was the sweetest. Even having my wild child younger son seem as tame as he could muster was a sight to see. Plus, there’s nothing quite like the look of adoration between father and daughter. My boys are doting on her and she seems to enjoy their attention.

A College Education is Wasted on an 18 Year Old

This upcoming weekend, we will be picking up our oldest as he completed his first year of college. Then, he’ll be home for the foreseeable future, as he’s decided that it wasn’t for him. The major was full of people he didn’t want to work with for the rest of his life. The major was one where they wanted more of the same, not someone who wanted to shake up the system to make it fair. The college itself just wasn’t for him. Did I fight his decision? Did I tell him he was wrong and he should suck it up? No. I didn’t. Because he’s a smart adult and I trust that he made this decision after careful thought, not rushing to some rash idea that he stubbornly stuck to.

I was telling my OB about it at our most recent appointment, where she said “I always say that a college education is wasted on an 18 year old.” She’s right. I wouldn’t have been as successful in college had I jumped right in after high school. It works for some people. It’s the right path for some people. But for others, they just waste money only to end up at a fast food restaurant and hoping they can make enough to cover their student loan debt. Will it eventually be the right move for my oldest? Probably. As hard as it is, we just have to sit back and let our children take control of their own destiny. We can’t make their decisions for them forever. Part of being an adult is raising them and hoping that you did enough so that they can make the right decisions for them. Whether you agree with it or not. I trust my son. I support him. I agree he made the right choice. $15k a year is a lot when you realize you have no clue what you want to do with your life. It also couldn’t have been easy for him to do, since he’s spent his entire life working towards this goal.

My love for my son isn’t contingent on his getting a college education, going to a fancy school, or having a fancy job title. My love for my son isn’t contingent on anything. I only want him to be a good person who makes a positive impact on the world around him, while being able to financially support himself and be a productive member of society. That’s what I care about. I’m not better than anyone because I graduated college. Having a graduate degree doesn’t make you smarter than everyone or a superior being. It’s the little things. It’s how you treat others. A person who treats everyone as equals will always be the superior person in my book. You don’t have to put someone down to be on top.

Will he eventually go back to school? Who knows. It’s not my decision. He’s nearly 20. These are the tough decisions that he is going to have to make for himself. But, at least he can make them knowing that he has the love and support of his parents no matter what.

Sometimes Things are Just Out of Your Control

I was hoping that by the time I reached 24 weeks pregnant, I’d feel a lot better not having to manage with morning sickness. I was mostly right, but when it hits, boy does it hit. After going to a few regular checkups, I was happy that despite my age they determined that I was a low-risk pregnancy. That was great news. After that appointment, I scheduled my ultrasound, excited to see our little Beanie. (Bean was the nickname my husband gave her. It stuck with us and has become her name until she’s born.) It was a big day. My husband took the time to come with me, because ultrasounds are never appointments that he misses. It was a great day.

It was sweet. Beanie was active (and has grown to be so active that we now sometimes refer to her as our “Jumping Bean”). She was developing perfectly and she was healthy. There’s no better news to hear in the world. After sharing our pictures with family that day, we finally broke out the Baby Book. One just like I had purchased for the boys. Where I worked on it for a single day and never once filled in any of the other pages. It was a fun time, until I got the email about a message from my provider. I read through it, thinking no big deal. They would have said if there was something to worry about. Apparently it was determined that there was a minor issue: marginal cord insertion.

At first you hear something’s wrong, then you start a spiral of “what does it all mean?” Do you immediately doomscroll through Google? Do you just wait to hear from your doctor? Me, being me, just assumed if the doctor emailed me rather than called me, it was probably not a major concern. I went to reputable medical sites like the Mayo Clinic (which my doctor later confirmed were the right places to go). From what I read? They generally don’t know why it’s really highlighted as much as it is. I avoided mommy blogs, because they’d try selling stuff like “it’s because you need (insert essential oil here) in your life” or “it’s because you were vaccinated”. I read some forums, where everyone who had the issue said “no big deal”. That satisfied me. No downward spiral. No anxiety. What good would that do anyways? Anxiety is not great for myself or Beanie.

Now, I just need to go through more frequent appointments to measure my size and get another ultrasound at 32 weeks to make sure her growth is on track. My OB isn’t too concerned. She told me not to be too concerned. That this is why we get closely monitored, so in case there is a problem they can catch it right away. That ultimately, the biggest issue could be when I deliver, but even then it’s rarely a serious issue. I’ll take the win.

Pregnancy is there to prepare you to just give up control. You can only control so much during the pregnancy and delivery of your child. You can only control so much as a parent. Some things are just out of your control, and being okay with that is the best thing that you can do. No sense in stressing about all the things that you can’t control. It’s not good for you.

When Things Start Falling into Place

I haven’t been around as much as I would like to be. But I promise there’s only a good reason for that: not very serious but moderate enough morning sickness. While I’m lucky enough to not have extreme morning sickness, I have to admit that every day can be a bit of a struggle to function as a normal human being. I’m a “suck it up, buttercup” type of girl, so I do my best. I’ve managed to make it through my work day without too much of an issue, mostly thanks to medications. But once I’m home, it’s hard to do anything aside from trying to get comfortable on the couch or attempt sleep.

It’s exciting though, because my husband and I had always agreed upon 3 kids. That was our number. That was our goal. 3 seems like a good number. Plus, apparently I have 1 kid every 10 years, which is a hilarious thing to think about. When my husband first brought up his wish for another one, I was scared. I’m now 38. That’s an “elderly” or “geriatric” pregnancy. Would I even successfully get pregnant? If I do, what complications would I suffer from? It was scary, but this was also something I really wanted. And I knew I had the best partner by my side through this process.

I had given up after some time of trying. It wasn’t going to happen, I thought. I forgot about it. Until I started to just not feel right and decided maybe I should take a test. I had stopped tracking dates but realized I didn’t know how late I was. It happened. I was so excited that I woke my husband up at what he would deem an obscenely early time. It was 5 a.m. He wasn’t mad. He was excited. 3 tests a day a part later, we started the plan. I chose a new doctor. The next few weeks were getting doctor appointments setup, scheduling viability ultrasounds and blood tests. Explaining that I’ve never had morning sickness but I thought losing nearly 10 pounds wasn’t great. (Turns out, it wasn’t bad since I was slightly overweight, so it wasn’t too big of a deal.) Then having them prescribe medicines that would help. It still feel like death, but at least now I can eat a little more.

The baby was healthy. My blood work was great. I got the Panorama blood test due to my age and risk of chromosomal disorders, which gave this extra benefit of finding out the gender before the 20 week ultrasound. My husband and I hoped for a girl, since we already have 2 boys. But we really didn’t care as much as long as it was healthy. My OB asked me what I thought it was. I told her that I thought it was a girl. Not because that’s what my hope was, but because this pregnancy had been so different so far. With both of the boys, I was exhausted all of the time. I just wanted to eat and sleep. I had no energy. This time, I felt like I had a flu that I just couldn’t shake. She said that she always thought that if the pregnancy felt different, it’s probably because it was and agreed that I might be right. Turns out… I was.

We’re in the second trimester now. 14 weeks. Anything can happen still, but I’m hopeful. We bought our first onesies and footie set for her. We won’t buy anything else for her for a while, just in case. But she is so loved already. She’s the only granddaughter for my parents, which makes it especially exciting for them. But all I can do is follow the doctor’s orders and hope that things work out.

That’s what’s so odd about pregnancy. It’s makes you feel so powerful and so powerless. You can’t really control when it happens. It happens when/if it’s meant to. You can’t control if the pregnancy goes full-term or if you have a miscarriage. Sometimes, things just happen even if you did everything right. But, it’s so powerful knowing that you are creating a life. But you feel so powerless if something goes wrong. I’m trying to stay positive. That this is something that is falling into place and show that good things are coming. I feel such joy and hope, that I’m worried it will come crashing down. But I just have to keep telling myself that what will happen, will happen. I just have to trust the journey.

Raising the Next Generation of Wusses

My school district cancelled school today due to freezing temperatures. Yes, I live in Massachusetts and it’s cold in winter. The sheer amount of people with their panties in a twist over it was shocking. Do these people complaining even have kids? “What’s the big deal?”, I wondered. “This is why the next generation is full of wusses.” That was the answer.

I get it. There is some questionable behaviors from the next generation. But what bothers me is that they say, “Well, it was good enough for us to go to school during a blizzard in negative 20 degree weather…” Great, we should just settle for the status quo because that’s how it’s always been done? Shouldn’t we want better for our kids? Parents in my generation took a belt to their kids. Doesn’t mean we should be doing that today. We shouldn’t just make things, especially with the safety of our children, stay the same when there are things that we could do to improve their lives. For instance, car seats. Car seats used to be optional, but we use them today because it’s safer for kids. But I mean, because not having seat belts and car seats was good enough for us, it’s obviously good enough for our kids. (See how ridiculous that sounds?)

I get it. With stories like a basketball coach being suspended because their team had 80 something points on the other team, there is some level of babying that goes too far. The coach shouldn’t be suspended because the other team sucked. That’s life. There’s going to be something/someone miles better than you. Doesn’t mean they should be punished for it. That’s a line. There’s a difference between a participation prize and a babying prize. There are things that are making kids not ready for the real world, such as not having any rules or consequences for their actions. But, making them walk in negative wind chills is not really the play here. Especially when your argument is, “I have to work in the cold.” Well guess what? You’re an adult. If you don’t want to work out in the cold, get a different job. Isn’t that the argument when fast food employees want more money? It’s just that easy to find a new job, right?

The point is there are things that are making the next generation soft, but is that really necessarily a bad thing? When done right, this is what helps make a generation of people who want to do good in the world, and honestly we could use a lot more of that these days. Now, when they start asking questions like “Is peanut butter and jelly racist?” then that’s a line. When they think they can do whatever they want without consequences (cough: Kyle Rittenhouse, “affluenza teen”, Brock Turner) that’s a line. No one is above consequences for bad behaviors. But frostbite because kids are walking to school in negative wind chills really is not the hill to die on.

There are 4 Sleeps Until Christmas

It’s that time of year again when I remind everyone what the greatest gift of all is: love. And love is free. I would rather have your love all year long than an expensive present. I love the thought behind gifts, but what I love most is being with the people who are family, whether by blood, marriage, or friendship. That’s the most important thing this time of year. Family. It’s something we missed out on last year to keep everyone safe, but I’m actually really excited to get back into something more normal this year. And it’s going to be a great Christmas.

With that in mind, I’d like to do my annual Christmas reminders:

  • It’s easy to get caught up in spending a fortune on Christmas presents. I’ve learned a long time ago that I never go into debt for Christmas presents anymore. Your kids and family members may like the presents for the short-term, but your credit score and financial stability are far more important than being impressive. If you can afford fancy, go for it. If you can’t, it doesn’t matter. Your thoughtful gifts matter no matter how much they cost.
  • Don’t forget to give back. Find some little way to give back this year. You may not think that you’re fortunate, but I guarantee there are plenty of people out there that wish they were as “unfortunate” as you are. Buy that bag of groceries to donate to a food pantry or family in need. Buy grocery items off the list for the U.S.O to help our troops. And don’t forget the furry cuties in the shelters, who could also very much benefit from your generosity.
  • Be kind. Holidays can be extraordinarily hard for some people. Maybe they recently lost someone they loved and this is the first holiday without them. Maybe they are missing someone every year that they wish could be with them. Maybe they have no one to share the holidays with. Even if you can’t be bothered to go out of your way to be kind, do everything in your power not to be an ass.
  • It’s all about family and those who matter most to you. These are the people who are there for you for your ups and downs. Take this time to really cherish how fortunate you are this holiday season as you are surrounded by love. I know I will.

I say all of this as a self-professed Grinch who absolutely hates the holidays. There are better emotions to spend your energy on this holiday season than negativity. You may even find some glimmer of hope this year. Because we could all use some of that after the past year or 2 that we’ve had.

When They Come Home Again

My oldest has only been back from college a handful of times since he moved on campus across state at the end of August. He was home a couple of times on random weekends. He came back for a week at Thanksgiving. But next week, our boy comes home for an entire month and I cannot be more excited. While he does indulge his sometimes-too-loving parents on a nightly phone call, a routine he doesn’t seem to mind or complain about, it’s just not the same as having him home. The hardest part of parenting is when they grow up.

They do leave eventually, and that’s the point, isn’t it? We spend all of our time and energy trying to shape them into productive adults that, at minimum, live long enough to move out on their own. At best, they do something remarkable to leave a lasting impact on the world and making it a better place. But ultimately, we just want them to be happy. We want to teach them that their worth doesn’t come down to their income, that as long as they are making enough to get by that’s an accomplishment that not everyone has the luxury of. That they don’t have to accept what they have, because acceptance means they remain stagnant. No. We want them to be grateful for everything that they have, but to have aspirations that take them to the stars and beyond.

When my oldest comes home again, he will be (hopefully) welcomed by his favorite Christmas cookies that were lovingly made by his mother. He’ll get long talks about video games, anime, and superheroes with his father. His little brother will just have long talks about anything, while he politely obliges his brother’s inability to stop talking. He’ll be welcomed home by all of his family that love him dearly, excited to see their college boy that they’ve been so proud of for as long as he’s been born or since he became a part of their lives. The grandmothers will dote on him, asking him about when he’s going to bring home a “friend” or whether or not he’s eating enough at school. He will catch up with his friends and cousins to the point of I’m not sure if I’ll even get time with him while he’s home. But at least he’ll be home, for a month anyways.

It’s always that torn feeling you get though. You want them to go out in the world to accomplish their dreams. You want them to grow up and become the amazing individuals that you believed they would from the minute they were born. But, you want them near you so that you can protect them forever even when you know that you have to let some of that go. For now, I’ll just enjoy having him home.

Check in on Us Moms Right Now. We’re Not OK

Back to school time is one that many moms look forward to, especially those of us who work from home that just want their space back to get the stuff that they need to done. (Spoiler: school makes us even busier, so it doesn’t actually help.) As excited as we are to have them off in the world, getting those experiences, it’s hard. It’s hard to not worry about them at school, because we know how awful school can be with bullying, active shooter drills, and the potential for a school shooting. It’s even harder when they are off to school across the state, trying to figure out their new home for the year. Us moms tend to carry the lion’s share of the burdens. Us moms are the backbones of the family. This isn’t a complaint. This isn’t an insult to the partners in our lives who show up and do everything within their power to help. They are putting in the work too.

But let’s face it: the mom’s are the strength in the family. We’re the ones that hide our tears to be everyone else’s comfort. We’re the ones worrying about the budget and making sure that everything is running as it should. During the pandemic and shut down, this became even more apparent. I’ll admit, part of me was happy about this. Any moms that potentially judged my working from home and mentioning how hard it was to work from home and be a stay at home parent at the same time, were now seeing that it isn’t an easy journey. But we were there, through the remote learning meltdowns, the “everything is falling apart and I miss my friends” meltdowns, and the meltdowns caused by the unknowns that this pandemic tossed in our children’s lives. All while we were fighting back our own meltdowns.

I haven’t recovered from it. That’s okay that I haven’t recovered from the stress of the past year. It’s okay that I’m not okay about my oldest being away at college and how quiet the house is with my youngest back in school as well. It’s okay that I’m not okay because I feel lost and uncertainty of what I’m doing. It’s okay that I’m not okay with my husband going away on a work trip around the youngest child’s birthday all while not being okay about everything else. The whole point here is that it’s okay to not be okay. A lot of us really aren’t okay right now. We’re struggling with how last year impacted us because there was so much going on and not enough time to sit back and process it. We’re struggling with how things are going because we still haven’t processed the last pile of crap we had to walk through and as we’re looking forward, there’s still plenty of crap that we need to waddle through that we’ll eventually need to process. That stuff lingers and set our brains and souls on fire.

Would I be lying if I said that it’s hard to see the grass on the other side of this crap? Nope. Things don’t look like they are going to be better anytime soon. I think we can be optimistic that we survived it so far, showing just how resilient we are even if we don’t feel like it.

You’re not alone right now. You’re really not. Even if you seem like you’re okay on social media, we see you. You don’t need to hide the struggle. I write these posts because they make me feel better about not being okay. But it turns out, it’s as beneficial for readers to see someone admit that they are going through the same struggles as it is for the writer to get them out there. If you’re not okay, there are people out there on your side. You just need to reach out to them. Even if you just want to drop a note here to make you feel better.

What Does Family Even Mean?

Some people go by the traditional definition of family, where it includes a mom, dad, and their kid(s). But family isn’t about some definition. Family isn’t about the blood that connects people; it’s about the love that does. It doesn’t matter if you pushed your child out naturally, had them pulled out surgically, or if you legally or unofficially adopted them. It doesn’t matter if you were born into a family. Family is something that you can build for yourself, with whatever your definition of family is. Because it’s the love and support that matters; not genetics.

Recently for a movie night, our family decided to watch “Instant Family”. The premise of this movie is that the main couple want to adopt a family. While the movie itself was a cute, heartwarming, but silly movie, it sparked a conversation in my family that proves just how powerful art can be. Our oldest, who was essentially unofficially adopted by my husband from around the age of 1, understands that it’s not about the blood relationship. He knows that my husband was there for his first t-ball game, any school event, band concerts, and anything else. He screamed his name with pride from the stands during sporting events and screamed as loud as he could at his graduation. Even after having his own biological child, he never treated our oldest as anything other than his son. It’s definitely something that warms my heart all the time, watching the bond those two have.

After watching the movie, my oldest talked about how he wants to adopt too. He said it wasn’t just the movie, but also seeing the way that his father is with him shows him that you don’t need to be there for the child’s birth to love them. From someone who insisted that he never wanted kids to deciding that he wanted to adopt when he’s older was something incredible to see. Even prior to the movie, my husband and I have considered fostering/adopting. In the future, when we have more money and a bigger home, then that’s something we probably will do. Even my youngest has decided that he wanted to adopt, because “so many kids have no parents and that’s sad”.

The whole point is that you can create a family of your own choosing. You can adopt or foster or have your own kids. It’s about the love that you have for the child, not how the child became a part of your family. Or, you can choose to not have kids at all and surround yourself with friends and family that you love. There’s no single definition of what a family is. Sorry, forget that. There is a definition of family that I follow: People who love and care for each other, always offering support. That is my definition of family.

Don’t resign yourself to society’s expectations for what a family is. Have as many or as few kids as you want. You shouldn’t be pressured to do something like get married or have kids because that’s what a family is supposed to be. That’s someone else’s definition of family and that doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Make your own definition of what family means to you.

There’s Something Special About Family Recipes

Over the weekend, I saw delicious strawberries at the grocery store. It inspired me to make a family favorite dessert for my boys, that we haven’t enjoyed in a few years: strawberry shortcake. Instead of my homemade biscuits, I grabbed some angel food cake for them. I have a textural issue with soggy bread, so I opted just for a strawberry sundae.

As I was cutting the strawberries, it reminded me of every time that I made this with my mom. She taught me when I was younger. These family recipes, the ones that are passed down from generation, are just special to be a part of. Even though I tweak the recipes, there’s still something special that I feel a part of when I make these recipes. I remember making meatballs and rolling them with my mom. I remember making beef stew with my dad. It’s being a part of those traditions. It’s something that I love sharing with my kids and nephews.

My recipes are part of my legacy and will hopefully be passed on to their kids. I hope that they have those memories come up every time that they make those meals for their families or friends. Food is something that we all share within our families, but it’s more than just eating amazing food with loved ones. It’s about the stories behind those meals. People always put so much emphasis on pictures, but I have an easier time connecting memories to events rather than looking at a picture. As I start to make my meatballs as my mother taught me (with some tweaks that I made), I hear her voice in my head going “more cheese”. I remember proudly sneaking the first meatball the next day after it had rested overnight in the pasta sauce. Those are memories that pictures can’t always capture, because you’re not an active participant.

As I go through this journey of re-losing weight gained due to not focusing on myself, I keep hearing people point out that food isn’t supposed to be an emotional experience. It’s a means to nourish your body and nothing more. I don’t necessarily agree with that. You can have an emotional experience with food. You can use food to connect with others. To make you feel warm inside, especially when thinking about those memories. The thing is that you need to take things in moderation, not deprive yourself. People who have an unhealthy relationship with food, whether it’s that they eat too much of it or that they avoid it in fear of getting unhealthy, have issues deep inside that have nothing to do with anyone/anything else. Food is an experience that can and should be shared.

Take the time to teach your kids your family recipes. They may be more willing than you think to be a part of it. My youngest has even helped make things like my cornbread recipe or even the cranberry sauce that I make. My oldest is always curious about what I’m making, often hanging around in the kitchen waiting for an impromptu lesson. Food can be something that connects everyone and help your legacy live on long after you’re gone. That’s what makes it so special.