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Why I Kept My Pregnancy a Secret

secret pregnancyHey remember that time back in January when I surprised everyone and just like… HAD A BABY?

Yeah… fun times.

I caught quite a bit of flack for that, honestly. But eh… I really didn’t mind. See, Finn was a surprise for US – a very welcome, wonderful surprise. Adam and I always keep pregnancy to ourselves for a least a little while (I think it was about 10 weeks with Ellie, and 16 with Jamie before we shared with friends and Facebook; earlier for family)… but for some reason, I was “weird” about my third pregnancy.

Once I found out I was pregnant (there’s a story there), I was over the moon excited. And nervous. And worried. And absolutely ecstatic. Adam and I had talked before about 3 being it for us, so I knew this would be my final pregnancy from the moment I found out. That… made me sad. Not necessarily because I want more children, but because all of these firsts are now “last firsts” – and I felt I needed to cherish the hell out of them. First ultrasound. First kicks. First time I got such horrid heartburn I thought death was surely around the corner (okay, I might not have wanted to cherish that one so much).

We didn’t share our news with anyone until about 19-20 weeks. Family, friends, and the virtual world included. I wasn’t showing (much) and honestly I could’ve kept it to myself and just popped a baby out without telling a soul if it weren’t for Adam getting antsy about it. Why? I’ll go ahead and be super-honest here… I was being selfish. Like really selfish. And I still defend my right to be selfish.

I felt a connection with Baby 3 from the moment I peed on a stick. I loved my little secret “relationship” with my baby – and I loved that I didn’t have to share it with anyone but Adam. We were in our own little bubble of safety and excitement. I enjoyed having this allllll to myself, I really did. It wasn’t meant to be devious or deceitful, it just… wasn’t something I was ready to let anyone else share with me. And I really still feel like that’s okay. Once baby news is out, you no longer steer the conversations you have in everyday life. You don’t get to choose the topic, or deflect to something else; pregnancy is the ONLY thing you’re allowed to discuss (or so it seems). I liked being able to feel so connected with my baby, but still carry on in the outside world as normal. I hogged the baby because… well, because it was mine. That’s my only excuse, really.

So, we found out in May last year. We told family and close friends in September. I could hardly hide it anymore as baby popped out pretty obviously around 24 weeks, so acquaintances and anyone who ran into me out and about town were allowed into the bubble after that. I did not, however, post anything to social media. I’m really not sure why, but I think after keeping it to myself for 4-5 months it just became… simple, to not share online. I wasn’t bursting at the seams to tell, and then I didn’t really want to steal anyone else’s thunder (a lot of my friends had pregnancies to announce last year too!). Then, it was just so late in the game that I decided to wait and announce when kiddo was born. Why not? It made for a fun day on Facebook, that’s for sure!

Finn Lea Fast was born on January 28th, 2016 – and we shared a cute little pregnancy AND baby announcement that day on Facebook. She was the biggest of all my babes, at 7 lbs 10oz and 20.5? tall. She was the best surprise we could’ve asked for in 2015/16, and she fits in with our cozy little family just perfectly. <3 I kept her to myself for as long as I could – I hope you enjoy her sweet, silly little self now that she’s an official SuperKid!

New Year’s Revolution: Let It Go

Listen up, ladies…
 
I occasionally feed my kids hotdogs. I work outside the home. I yell. I spank. I serve gluten-riddled meals to my family. I rarely find the time to work out. I let my kids watch TV and play with iPads (sometimes simultaneously!). My hall closet is one straight out of a cartoon – I have to slowly inch it open, blindly throw something into it and then slam it closed with all of my body weight. There is dirt between the tiles in my shower. I buy my kids too many toys. I post funny photos of my kids online. We don’t eat organic (unless by accident). I quit breastfeeding both of my girls before 4 months and fed them the poison that is formula. I use disposable diapers. I vaccinate. 
 
I’m so freaking sick of all of the posts that have been popping up online trying to make me feel guilty for ALL of these things. For that reason, this year I’m not making ANY resolutions. I’m just not. I have too many goals and accountabilities at work (yes, my job that takes me away from raising my children like a proper SAHM, *gasp*), and I’m just over trying to implement that crap at home. No more “weight goals” or “yell less” or “organize all the things” or “hands-free mama” bullshit. 
 
This year, I’m taking a cue from Ellie’s very favorite movie (and current obsession), Disney’s “Frozen”. While driving in the car recently, listening to my 3yo innocently sing the words to Queen Elsa’s powerhouse song, I found myself in tears. These three profound words make up the mantra I’ll be repeating to myself this year… 
 
LET. IT. GO.
 
2014 for Superwife holds no “resolutions”, but a “revolution”, rather: I am doing just fine.
This year, I will do what I do when and how I do it. I will parent how I parent, cook how I cook, and live how I live. And that is all. And as for all of the stressful nonsense.. let it go. 
 
It’s so beautifully, magically simple. 
 
(Thanks, Disney.)
 
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This time of year…

This is the time of year when I allow myself to go back to that night. I allow myself to remember everything about the moment my ears were assaulted with the news, and the moments immediately following. Adam and I, collapsing into a tangled heap on our hardwood floor; Tali jumping all over us while my mom tried to control her. My fingers trembling as I struggled to dial my mother-in-law’s phone number. Choking out the words and trying not to vomit.

“Dirk’s been shot.”

I have days every now and then where I’m driving in my car and tears just start falling, or I’m watching my kids tickle each other and tears just start falling, or I glance at a picture of him on my living room wall and tears just start falling. I can usually swipe them away quickly before anyone notices, but that becomes increasingly difficult come this time of year. The beautiful, crisp, yellow leaves that cover the ground right now? They remind me of that night, that time of year. Halloween, unfortunately, reminds me of that night, and that time of year. I still have the package of paint I purchased because Adam had begged me to let him draw an eyeball on my giant pregnant belly for Halloween that year. We obviously never got to that, and now the paint sits untouched, unopened, in the back of a cabinet where I keep random supplies. I came across it when I pulled out the pumpkin-carving tools last week, and… tears just started falling.

I’ve spent a lot of time being “okay” with everything, and thankful that Dirk is in a better place, and comforted knowing that we had a wonderful guardian angel, and blah, blah blah. Right now… this time of year… I just want him here. I MISS HIM. I want to tell him all of the ridiculous things Ellie says EVERY DAY, and I want him to melt just like Adam does whenever he sees Jameson, and I want him to tell me all about how I’m being too lenient with my little bratty toddler, and I want to show him the picture of Ellie’s first fish, and I wanted him to be there for Ellie’s first fish, dammit.

I want him here for me, and I want him here for my girls, but most of all I want my husband to have his dad. Here. Now. Alive.

I want him to hug me again, just like he did the last time I saw him - a great big giant bear-hug, where he picked me up off the ground even though I was 9 months pregnant.

I just… really, really miss him.

It’ll get easier, come January, I know. It always does. We’ll be going into our fourth year without him now… but come this time of year, it always seems like yesterday.

Go hug your families. Great big giant bear-hugs.

 

 

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Superwife: Not so super for a while there… But I’m back!

Well, this is LONG overdue. Thank you all so much for not pressuring me to tell this story before I was ready… so, without further ado, here is Jamie’s beautiful birth story. And the aftermath.

I went into labor on a Thursday afternoon. I didn’t know it until about 6 hours later when my contractions had strengthened and become pretty rhythmic, so I spent the afternoon admiring my perfectly spotless house, eating macaroni and cheese for lunch, and waiting for my mom’s flight to get in. BTW, don’t eat mac & cheese the day you go into labor. Trust me, just don’t.

Anyhoo, my back was pretty sore around 7-8pm, so Ellie and I sat on the yoga ball and stretched/bounced for a little bit. Adam left to go get my mom at 9pm, and by the time they returned at 10pm my contractions were about 5 minutes apart and getting stronger. We left for the hospital at 11pm – my mom hadn’t even had time to take her suitcase upstairs!

Once we got to the hospital, I wasn’t admitted into Labor and Delivery for another HOUR, even though I was at 5cm. About half an hour after we got there, however, I made everyone leave the room because I was feeling SUPER nauseated. Adam of course was like, “yeah you guys should leave…” and I yelled through clenched teeth.. “EVERYONE. GET OUT.” Yep, I banished him to the waiting room along with my mom, my sister and her boyfriend, and my friend/birth photographer Kaile.

I got wheeled into L&D around 1am, where I proceeded to dry-heave until 3:15am when I got my epidural. The little bucket they gave me to hold in case my lunch came up was mangled by that time, because I was apparently using my super-hulk-strength to squeeze it with my left hand during contractions.  I allowed Adam back into the room when I was sure I wouldn’t barf on anyone, and then my water broke (read: exploded) all over the nurse’s shoes (luckily for HER it was only her shoes, because — no joke — 1 second before that she had her face in my vagina checking my cervix).

The doctor (not MY doctor, who apparently is never on call when I want to have babies) came in to check my cervix at 3:30 and immediately proclaimed that we’d better get everyone in the room because baby was coming. Four pushes later and out came a tiny, screaming little beebee.

6lbs, 5oz , beautiful baby girl Jameson Lea greeted us at 4:01am on Friday, November 16th, 2012. I was ecstatic, smiling, and laughing immediately. TWO GIRLS!!!! OMG!

Adam and I didn’t get to our mother-baby room until 7am or so, and we started getting visitors at 9am. Jamie was perfect, quiet, sleepy, and hey!– I remembered how to breastfeed! Everything went great. We even left the hospital as soon as they would let us — Saturday morning we were outta there!

Aaaaand then my life turned upside down and went all to hell.

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Some of you may remember my semi-public meltdown on Facebook… I posted daily little quips about how I didn’t think I would EVER be able to leave my house again, wondering how ANYONE ever had more than one child and had a normal life, etc. Starting on Day 4, Jamie cried NONSTOP. Unless she was eating or sleeping, the girl was SCREAMING.

I didn’t sleep. I ate like crap. I cried. A LOT. My house went to shambles. None of my clothes fit. I cried a lot more. I picked fights with Adam. I cried even more. I scared all of my friends who were thinking about trying to have a second child. I scared my sister and her husband, who were about to have their second child any day.

I beat myself up daily with guilt — I felt like I was neglecting Ellie, who had been my little #1 best friend for the last 2 years. All I wanted to do was put down this screaming, red-faced baby and hold my EllieBelle. I didn’t want my Mom to EVER leave me, and I didn’t want to see anyone else in my life. I was embarrased because I felt like a crap mom, like I didn’t have it together at all. I felt guilty for feeling guilty, which lead to a never-ending cycle of tears. I cried all the way through Jamie’s 2-week appointment, using a burp cloth to wipe my eyes while Adam did most of the talking to the pediatrician.

My best friend had had her second baby just eight days before I had Jamie, and she was making it look so easy! I felt like a complete failure. I felt… like I was drowning. And I absolutely could not get and keep my head above water.

My sister-in-law tattled on me to my doctor, who called to check on me the same day. I of course said I was fine… then I spent the entire day crying and wondering how I was going to get through a babyshower that night with lots of people who wanted to meet Jamie when all I wanted to do was crawl into Ellie’s bed and snuggle.

At my 6-week postpartum checkup, the nurse who took my bloodpressure asked how I was feeling. I jokingly said, “a little crazy, but that comes with the territory of having two kids I guess.” Then when my doctor came in, all she had to do was LOOK at me and she said, “Feeling a little sad?” … to which I replied by bursting into tears.

So, Zoloft it was. It hadn’t quite kicked in by the time I took both girls, by myself, on a plane to Idaho to visit my family… luckily I was able to keep myself calm enough not to flip completely out while traveling, though I did have one scary panic attack where I was thisclose to throwing up. I didn’t though, and the guy sitting next to me never had a clue how close he was to disaster.

My sister had her baby a few days after I arrived, and when she came home we had FOUR children in the house. FOUR. And she was so calm about it! My anxiety was through the roof, of course, and I had to actually focus internally on breathing so I wouldn’t pass out or throw up. And my Mom had the NERVE to LEAVE US! Sheesh.

I struggled with more feelings of guilt and inadequacy as I watched my little sister seamlessly integrate her new baby into the family. She was *glowing* with happiness, and I was jealous. The only thing I glowed with was sweat from panic attacks about being a terrible mother.

Of course, I didn’t notice the Zoloft starting to kick in until about a month later. I began to feel lighter, less guilty, and more confident. Coincidentally, Jamie began to smile more, cry less, and calm more easily right around 7-8 weeks old. In the following weeks, I cheered up. I cried SO much less (actually, as of today I can’t really remember the last time I cried). I quit worrying about the house (so much). I spent the majority of my non-working time on the floor with my kids, laughing and playing.

So… here’s an update as of today: Jamie is now SIX MONTHS OLD. She is absolutely THE smiliest baby I’ve ever met. This girl has a perma-smile! The only time she really cries is when she’s hungry, or really really tired. I don’t feel like I’m neglecting Ellie anymore, because blessherheart she adores her little sister and spends as much time as she can with her. My house is kind of a wreck still, but I care much less about it. I focus on doing fun things with the girls, and making sure that I get in as many snuggles and giggles and kisses as I can. And I am SO happy.

I quit taking my Zoloft this week. I really feel like I’m over the post-partum depression and anxiety hump, and the plan was never to be on the drug for longer than I needed it. While I think it was time, and I’m not extremely worried about side effects other than headaches and slight dizziness… if you notice me having another public meltdown on Facebook, maybe let my husband know. 😉

And on that note, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Today is actually Mental Health Blog Day, which is what prompted me to get this on the page. If you know someone who seems to be suffering, please reach out to them.

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On Becoming a Supermom – How to Enjoy You New Baby

After visiting my sister-in-law Amanda in the hospital just moments after she gave birth to my gorgeous new nephew, Carson, I mentioned to Adam that I was jealous of her. He of course thought I was referring to the fact that she no longer has to deal with the aches and pains of pregnancy that I complain about 24/7- in a way, yes sure, I’m wishing I could move this whole process along, but I was really thinking of this particular time in Amanda’s life that has me wading through the waters of jealous remembrance.

She is now on Day 3 of motherhood, and I can’t help but tear up when I think of how overwhelmed with emotion I was when I was a 3-day-old mommy. Sure, my new-mommyness was a bit tainted with the pain of losing my father-in-law less than a week before, but nothing can get in the way of the pure magic only a newborn can provide. (I would even say that Ellie SAVED me from my grief-  a powerful feat from such a little human.)

Amanda is in this time-suspended period where all she has to do is stare at her new baby, breathe in the delicious scent of her new baby, and dream up all the things she hopes to accomplish for her new baby. When I had Ellie, it didn’t even matter who or how many people were in the room (we had a LOT of visitors) – I was completely submerged in her essence. Her smell, her tiny noises, her little squirmy movements- the way she blinked, breathed, yawned and especially the way she would just stare into my eyes.

I’m jealous because while I will definitely get to experience the new-baby fun in just a few weeks- I won’t ever get to be a “new mom” again. New moms have no expectations, no pre-conceived notions – they’re a clean slate, no matter what advice they’ve been given. Every single little tiny experience is created from a fresh, innocent place.

So- because I can’t help it (what mother can?), I offer this advice to my beautiful sister – and any other beautiful new mommies:

  • Smell your new baby, as much as possible. I always wondered when that “new” smell would dissipate- it takes a while, but enjoy every second of it.
  • Get lost in your baby’s eyes. They may change color over time, but you’ll be enamored with that part of your child forever. A child’s eyes carry so much emotion and wonder, you’ll feel like they make time stand still.
  • Relax when your baby cries (but don’t feel guilty if you cry a little too). It’s true that they feel your tension- and they also feel your calmness.
  • Learn to never stand still. I still do a little side-to-side sway sometimes, even when I’m not holding my daughter- it becomes an ingrained action.
  • Laugh. At everything. Laugh at the funny faces your baby makes, and laugh at how ridiculous you look (and feel) while using a breast pump. Laugh when you spill coffee all over yourself, and laugh when your baby has four “blowouts” in one day. Do NOT forget to laugh.
  • Listen to (and ask for) advice – from your mom, your dad, your friends, your sister (hint hint), and everyone else who may have something to offer. Do not feel obligated to use any of it. Motherhood is individual to each of us- my experience is different from my mom’s, and yours will be too. YOU get to make the calls now, and no one can decide anything for your baby but you.
  • Try not to get jealous when other people hold your baby – but don’t feel guilty asking for him back. It’s normal to feel naked without your baby attached to you, and during those first few weeks at home it’s really, really hard to willingly place him/her in someone else’s arms (until you really, really need a shower – then it’s a little easier).
  • Accept meals (whether homemade or fast-food) from anyone and everyone who offers. You just concentrate on getting to know your new baby – your family and friends will make sure you get fed. 🙂
  • Don’t forget about Dad. He’s experiencing all of this for the very first time too- and he’s loving it just as much as you are. Share in that together- and be thankful – every single stressful amazing second – for your new family.

I’ll reign in the rest of my motherly knowledge until I’m asked. Or hell, maybe I’ll spill it all out every time I visit, who knows? Just know that no matter what anyone tells you, your only job right now is to revel in the beauty of your baby and your new family.

I love you, Amanda. Now share your baby with me. I’ll be over in a few hours.

Today I will smile…for Dirk.

As most of you know (through facebook posts and shares over the last week), the court trial for the man who murdered my father-in-law was held over the past week and a half.

We are exhausted. And frazzled. And exhausted.

Sam Clark was found guilty of Murder in the 1st Degree and Murder in the 2nd Degree – we looked on as this verdict was handed down yesterday afternoon, and soon after the news was announced I began receiving a wave of ‘congratulations’ messages. “Such good news!” some of them said… along with “so happy you got what you were looking for”, “thank god”, and many others of the same sentiment.

Though I’m overwhelmed by and grateful for all of the people who support our family, I can’t help but have conflicted feelings about all of this. Since we left that courthouse yesterday afternoon, I’ve been trapped in a bubble of sad. I can’t bring myself to smile about ANY of this.

Two years ago, if someone had told me a man would kill my father, my feelings would most certainly have reflected an urgent hunger for revenge. I would have wanted that evil sonofabitch to rot in prison/hell for the rest of his life and beyond…

But then someone DID kill my father, and I felt none of that. What I felt was sorrow, and protective of my husband’s heart. Sadness, knowing that Dirk wouldn’t meet my daughter. Lost. Empty. Angry… but never vengeful.

Much of that was tempered with time, but this trial has caused all of those feelings to resurface. I don’t know what I went into all of this hoping for – justice? Closure? Do I even give a damn about justice? Did I really need closure in the first place?

Really, I can’t even answer those questions. I’m more preoccupied with knowing that along with the fact that I lost someone I loved, I just witnessed another man lose his life with a guilty verdict. The man that killed Dirk has no life left – the sentencing is not until November, but a Murder 1 conviction for a 40-year old man basically will put him in jail forever. I can’t bring myself to feel good about this.

I’m struggling because I feel a duty to my family to be angry, and now glad that “justice has been served”… but I don’t feel those things. Yes, we “won”, but what the hell does that even mean? Did we really “win”? Nothing has changed. Dirk is still gone, and I’m still hurting.

Although the killer’s lawyer in this trial argued self defense, everyone in that courtroom recognized that Sam Clark was ill. We heard the tape recordings. We know the truth – he is sick, mentally. There is without a doubt no other explanation. I took explicit notes during the trial with the intent of sharing everything, but now I almost feel like it would be cold of me to publish evidence of a man’s serious illness and what was most certainly the worst day of his life. Listening to those recordings made it even more difficult for me to feel anger towards this man – someone who I now believe wasn’t capable of rational thought. Yes, he knew that guns kill and that when he pulled the trigger Dirk would die… but what brought him to the point of pulling that trigger was pure delusion.

On the flip side of this, however, I know I would still have an empty pit in my stomach had the jury’s verdict gone the other way. I guess I just want none of this to ever have even happened, because it’s impossible to process in a black-and-white way.

So here I am… facing conflict with myself and my feelings. My heart can’t decide which way to lean. My wounds are wide open once again, and this trial didn’t heal anything. I feel silently obligated by my family to be angry, yet compelled by my God to forgive – especially in light of my feelings that there is true remorse here, and a tremendous mental instability.

I normally don’t write posts here until an event (or some funny shenanigan a la Adam) has concluded – I like giving you all the full story, not the developing story… but for this post I have no conclusion. I’ve been walking around for the past 24hours feeling the need to spill some words onto a page lest I burst… so this is what you get.

I’m not sorry that I don’t feel relieved, happy, or “justiced” after this trial. I also carry absolutely no judgement for those of you who do feel any of these things – we all handle our grief and loss differently. I do want to say thank you again to everyone for your amazing outpourings of love and support for my husband, myself and our family – and please, continue to smile for Dirk on a daily basis. Because I have no real conclusion here, I’ll end with a facebook post I shared yesterday morning – I still feel this way, and I hope you all do too:

As we get up and moving this morning, whether or not we’re attending the closing arguments of a frustrating and emotional trial, I’d like us all to take a moment to reflect upon a few very profound words:

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)

Regardless of what comes of today’s events – we know the truth. We know that Dirk was a good, righteous, warm man. We know that he left us too early for our own liking, but that he left a wonderful legacy. We know that he is with God, and nothing that happens in court is going to change that.

So friends, family… please, take a moment to let go of your anger and open your heart to ONLY hold the loving memories you have of Dirk. Make a vow to yourself to only remember him without the negative attachment of this trial and Sam Clark.

Now, take a deep breath, picture his friendly face, and think… “today I will smile for Dirk.”

It’s something Adam and I do EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

 

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Security Blankie

My beautiful daughter has a white hand-crocheted blanket that she is in love with – it’s her “security” blankie. It was made with love by her great-aunt Jana, and Ellie is absolutely enamored with it.

On mornings when she hasn’t quite woken up enough, or when she’s having a “mommy” day, or just when she’s feeling particularly vulnerable, I let her bring her blankie with her to daycare – she always feels better when she knows I’m going to let her take it in the car, and I can tell she feels somehow “safer” away from me when I drop her off .

Tomorrow marks Day One of my father-in-law’s murderer’s court trial…

Do you think Ellie will let me have her blankie for the day?