Sanity Saving Quarantine Tips

So much has changed in our daily lives in such little time. I find myself checking the news headlines in the mornings to see what changed from the day before. I am extremely thankful to be at home with my 2 children right now while so many others are working to keep society going and maintaining our health and safety. I have never in my life been more grateful for all of them. My husband is still working and will continue to work through all of this as he is mostly isolated in his machine maintaining the gravel roads. I am home with the kids trying to keep things as normal as possible for them. I feel this giant sense of responsibility to make sure my 5 year old continues to practice and learn what she should for Kindergarten, all the while keeping my 1 year old injury free and preventing him from destroying our home at the same time. It is much easier said than done. I have also heard from several parents of older children that it is much harder to keep them home and entertained. Friends and social circles are everything to older kids. Not to mention their school work is much harder to help with! I believe we are all just doing what we can to do our best and keep our families healthy and safe. The past 3 weeks I have been trying to establish our new “routine”. I have also discovered a few things that have been helping to save my sanity! Here is what I have found!

I like to do small things that I enjoy. This seems so simple and that it should go without mentioning, but these are things I often overlook during normal circumstances due to feeling too busy. I like to light a candle during the day on my counter, take a bubble bath at night, walk/ride my bike, write, color, or do a puzzle. Whatever you like to do, do it. Don’t think too much about it, just get up and do it. You will feel better because of it.

Rearrange the furniture. This drives my husband nuts. There are 2 kinds of people in this world. Those that find the way they like their furniture and leave it be for all of eternity and those that are constantly changing things around to see what they like best. I am the latter. I get tired of the same old same old. I love waking up in the morning and walking into a newly rearranged room from the day before.

Change around the kids’ toys. Don’t just stop at the furniture. Keep your kid’s toys new and interesting for them. Bring up toys they haven’t played with in a while or move stuff from their room somewhere else and replace it. Old toys will feel new again! Get out mom and dad’s old toys that you have been saving for someday down the road. They will love it!

Get outside at least twice a day. This is easy because of where we live. I do realize there are places where you cannot do this. Go for a walk, fill the bird feeders, wave to the neighbors, or just stand on the porch. Breathe in the fresh air and feel the sun (or rain) on your face.

Drive around your town and look for things you’ve never noticed before. (Again, super easy in rural Iowa.) A lot of families are putting things in their windows to look at- rainbows, bears, drawings. Drive down streets you don’t usually drive down. Go for a drive on a gravel road! See how many different birds you can spot. Look for different types of plants or trees. Download a car scavenger hunt to do as a family.

Have a date night in. Put the kids to bed early. Support your local restaurants and order some food. Have a living room picnic, pick a good movie, play a board game, or truth or dare. Plan a virtual game night with friends. Use the zoom app or try downloading a game app on your phone.

Try to keep a day to day routine as best as you can that you can rely on and stick to. Keep the weekends fun and the weekdays for a little more structure.

Do things to make you feel good about yourself. I am a normal sweatpants/ponytail type of person, so I am keeping to my normal, but if you normally style your hair and wear makeup then do that. If you usually paint your nails, go ahead and do that. Support your local salon or small business and order some new product to try out. Dress up a little bit for your date night in. Spray on you’re favorite perfume or cologne. Do whatever you do that makes you feel good about you and do that.

Connect with and serve others. Use technology to your benefit- FaceTime, call, zoom, Marco Polo, whatever you use, set up times to talk to the important people in your life regularly. Use this as an excuse to make the time to connect more than you usually do. If you’re feeling stressed or worried, talk it out. Share the small joys you experience during the day. Make sure you are checking in on your friends and family, they might be having a harder time than you are. Check on your neighbors. Give them a call or drop off a note (making sure you are maintaining social distance). Send cards and drawings to nursing home residents who can’t have visitors. Drop off a care packages at someone’s house. Leave a small gift for your mailman. Any way you are able, serve others.

If you find other things that help you keep positive and feel good, please share! I would love to hear how you are getting through these unusual times. I wish you all health, safety, and happiness. Pray for our leaders, healthcare workers, and all who are working and sacrificing for us.

Talk to you soon,

Megan

Becoming a Mom Means…

When you are a mom to little ones things can get pretty messy and chaotic. You can have the best intentions for your day and then absolutely nothing goes according to plan. In the same instant, for as much as you want to scream, there will be a single moment that takes your breath away and makes you tear up because of the love you feel for that little person. Sometimes the best way to get through the day is with humor, especially with other moms who understand. So, what does becoming a mom mean? Let me give you some insight I have gained along my path of motherhood.

It means….Not being able to use a public bathroom with ease for several more years. This is something I would have never thought about before having a baby. If you are grocery shopping and you need to go to the bathroom, there is literally no where to put your baby so you can use the toilet. One time I was super desperate, not able to hold it, and found myself one arming my baby while using the other arm to yank down my pants. Getting my pants back up while trying not to drop my screaming child was really the challenge. The key is to either have someone with you to help hold your crying baby, bring a stroller, or wear your baby (although this is also an interesting predicament, wearing your baby while sitting on the toilet). If you think it’s going to get any easier when they can walk, you are wrong. Get ready for them to reach for that door handle as you’re midstream, look under the stalls, talk about what they’re smelling or hearing, and the worst- putting their hands (or mouths) on everything in sight. Enough said.

It means…Getting way more comfortable with poop. Babies poop a lot- especially if they are breastfed. You more than likely will get poop on your hands, it will be on the changing table, and on their cute little outfit you took so much time to pick out. Don’t worry, just wash your hands, wipe down the changing table, and throw the outfit in the wash. My first had a lot of trouble with constipation. So it was quite literally a celebration when there was poop. A few times she was really plugged up and we had to resort to a suppository. You can’t imagine the level of happiness you will feel when you see your little baby grunting trying to push out a much needed poop. You will jump up and down and clap your hands like you just won a prize.

It means…Understanding your own mom way better than before. I now fully grasp and understand how my mom felt every time she threatened to run away from home (she never really did and please tell me I’m not the only one whose mom has said this phrase before) . Sometimes you just cannot take it anymore. My mom told me once that she locked herself in the closet when my sister was a baby because she couldn’t take the crying. My oldest was colicky for a good 2-3 months. I totally get it now. There were times when I had to just set her in the crib and walk away. Being a parent will test your patience like you never knew it could be tested.

It means…A full night of sleep is a luxury. Have you ever thought that being admitted to the hospital would be a treat because you would sleep better there than at home? I remember thinking this when both of my babies were under 6 months. Its a terrible thing to think, but when you’re short on sleep your thoughts really get crazy and you get desperate. The first time your child sleeps through the night it is like the best feeling in the world. Although, you will most likely wake up and panic that something is wrong.

It means…Accepting that the t.v. is not solely yours anymore. This was something I always said before having kids- that I will watch what I want to watch and my kid will just have to deal with it. This could not be farther from the truth. There are several times a week I have to say out loud, this is mine and daddy’s t.v., not yours.

It means…Finding joy in every tiny thing your child does (yawning, laughing, hiccups, boo boo faces…you name it). Remember the poop story earlier? You will literally gush about everything. The little poop faces they make, the first time they smile, when they first say mom, or blow you a kiss and say love you. Its just the best.

It means…Realizing you would now give your life for someone else without question. There is nothing more important in this life than that little human you’re taking care of. I can’t explain it any further that that. This kind of love feels so scary, but its also the just the best.

It means…You have no idea what you’re doing. But here’s the thing… no one really knows what they’re doing. And if you think you got it down, you child is about to change that. Then, someone somewhere is about to tell you you’re doing it wrong. You really just have to go with it and trust your gut.

Can we agree that motherhood is the messiest, toughest, sweetest, most rewarding job in the world? Even though it’s hard I wouldn’t change a thing about it. I sure do love my two little monsters. Let me know some of the things that you found out when you first became a mom. If you are not a mom yet, tell me what you are most scared or excited about! And if you are not wanting to be a mom, and are reading anyways, that’s perfectly ok too! 🙂

My Mental Health

I’ve been sitting on this post for quite some time. Its something that is hard to for me to write about, but one of the reasons I wanted to start blogging is to share some of these struggles I’ve gone through in life because I know I am not alone. I want to start opening up more about the things I’ve gone through mentally. I don’t know why it feels so taboo to talk about our mental health. I think it’s just how we are taught, not to talk about these kinds of things. And also, what I share on this blog is my story only- from my perspective. I do not speak for anyone nor do I offer any medical advice.

I am an anxious person, I always have been. I remember when I was little I would dread any sort of social event. Whether it was school, going to a party, an appointment, or just running errands, I always had some level of worry. I felt like I was so different than everyone else. I had this constant dialogue in my head making me doubt myself. I faintly remember walking into preschool the very first time with my mom and I was so concerned about her smiling as we walked in. I told her “don’t smile” several times on our walk into the building. I don’t know why I thought smiling was embarrassing, but I didn’t want to take any chance of standing out. Every morning before I would get on the bus to school my stomach would turn and hurt so bad there were times I couldn’t even make it out the door. My hands would shake. I would all of a sudden be aware of my breathing, of every step I took, how many eyes were watching me. Asking to go to the bathroom in class was near impossible. I was always so nervous to do something wrong. I got embarrassed so easily. I couldn’t laugh at myself or find any humor in my faults. If someone said anything about my appearance-good or bad- I would think about it the whole rest of the day. Going to friend’s houses was stressful. I still had fun, but I was so over aware of my surroundings, I felt awkward talking to parents, was petrified of running into older siblings, and always missed being in the comfort of my own house. I struggled with being homesick in the night whenever I spent the night away from home. There were several times when my mom came to get me at midnight because I was calling her on the phone crying about how I wanted to come home.

I started playing sports in middle school and I enjoyed being a part of it with my friends, but it was so stressful for me. I barely played because I was petrified to be put in. I would have much rather sat on the bench then be running the court. When I think back to these basketball games it makes me laugh now, but at the time I was such a mess. Why did I put so much pressure on myself? They were literally just to have fun. What was my underlying issue? Was it because I was shy? Was it my self esteem? Because of all this I felt so different than all of my friends who were just fine, talking, playing, and sleeping over like nothing was even hard about it. Thankfully I had a really good group of friends that didn’t seem to mind these peculiarities about me. They put up with me you could say. I was the kid that couldn’t do the monkey bars, spend the night anywhere, took things way to seriously, and cried way more than I should have.

During my teen years I had the same level of anxiety as I did my elementary years it just manifested itself differently. I remember if I liked a boy, I mean really liked him, I would not be able to eat. I would literally go days with only taking a few bites of food because my stomach was in complete knots about it. Don’t worry, eventually the butterflies went away and I was back to my normal eating habits but this is just how my body and brained worked. Making plans with friends was so overwhelming. I felt like I had to make everyone happy, make sure everything was planned out just right. I had a hard time going with the flow and not knowing a plan. I also became very anxious about my school work. I was hard on myself and waiting for tests scores to come back was awful. If I didn’t get the grade I was hoping for I beat myself up about it for days. I had to get all A’s. I felt like a failure if I didn’t. I was a nail biter and finger picker. My leg bounced in class and my mind raced. I was worried about getting to class on time, having the right books and notebooks, making sure my homework was done, and saying the right things. One of the repeating dreams that I still have is one where I’m in school wandering around the halls and cannot find which class I need to be in. Sometimes I didn’t even realize the stress I was putting on myself. Then, eventually, it would all build up and I would just come undone with a huge, emotional breakdown- usually coinciding with my time of the month. This was a joyful time for my parents.

Once out of high school my anxiety seemed to flip upside down into depression, except I was unaware of it. I found myself wanting to sleep all day long. I never felt energized. I would go to classes or work and then come back to my apartment and need to go take a nap. I had no idea why I felt like this. I never even considered I could be depressed. I thought depression just meant you were really sad or felt suicidal. I remember just feeling so tired and numb. I still cared about doing a good job at work and school, but found it hard to concentrate and remember things. I wasn’t able to focus. I would look at the clock and count down the minutes until I could retreat to the safety of my apartment, curl up under the covers, and not talk to anyone. I was lonely but I didn’t care.

I met my husband in the midst of this slump. The high of the new relationship pulled me up initially, but I still struggled and did not want to go places or see people. I had no energy. I confided in him, but it was hard for him to understand. It was hard for me to understand. When I was feeling this way I couldn’t see things clearly. I couldn’t step back and look in at the situation because it was just so foggy. My brain was constantly fighting me. I reasoned it out that because I wasn’t eating right or maybe because I wasn’t exercising was the reason I felt “down in the dumps”. But the thing is, when I’m feeling depressed it is next to impossible to do these things. I simply just don’t care. There is no will inside of me to get off the couch or out of the house. I did keep pushing myself to live “normally”. I had ups and downs. Some days, weeks, months, were worse than others. The thing is, is that I really didn’t know any different. I thought, well this is just how I am.

How many of you knew these things about me? If you knew me when I was in school did you notice any of my anxiety? Has anyone else ever struggled with anxiety or depression? I would like to hear about your experiences. I don’t want this to become a book so I am going to cut it off here and if this something you would like me talk more about I sure can. I did end up getting some help, and actually I am still figuring things out and working on it. It took until after I had my first baby that I was at a breaking point. I felt the most awful I had ever felt. Postpartum depression hit me and in a strange way, it was a blessing. It pushed me to look at things differently. I didn’t just accept that this is the way life was going to be. I had someone to take care of now and I wasn’t able to just lay around when I wanted to. I wanted to be the best mom, the best wife, and the best person I could be. I finally made a doctor’s appointment.

What I’ve learned in my first month of being a school nurse

I have officially been a school nurse for almost 2 months. Wow! Long time, right!? Well, I have about 8 years of hospital nursing behind me and let me tell you- school nursing and hospital nursing are 2 completely different ball games! I want to share with you all that I’ve learned during this first month and a half on the job.

DO NOT show weakness, they can sense it. Especially those middle schoolers and high schoolers. I think the first week I was here I was dishing out way too much sympathy. I swear kids were going back to class from the nurses office saying, “Go see the new nurse! She’s so gullible!” “You can get away with anything!” And, “If I pour it on a little worse then she might send me home”. This may sound really mean, but if you’ve ever worked with kids then you WILL know what I’m talking about. I think the key is to give EMPATHY not SYMPATHY and if you don’t know the difference- look it up. It didn’t take me long to realize that if I would tell my own kids that they are fine and to go back to class then its ok to tell my students that they’re fine and go back to class.

Most kids are healthy. Know the ones that aren’t and have a plan in place. A thermometer, crackers, water, ice packs, band aids, lotion, and a listening ear are the best day to day on-the-job tools.

Do not assume anything or judge anyone. I do not know what happens before these kids get to school every morning and I do not know what they face when they go home. When parents go through hard times, so do their kids. Life is not easy. Every one of us is dealing with something. We are all in a difference spot in our life and no one knows what’s coming next. I believe every parent and child is doing the best they can do with the life that they have.

There are way more emotional problems than physical ones. It is not easy for a student to come in and say, “I’m having a hard time dealing with life right now”. They will instead say that their stomach is hurting or maybe that they’re tired, dizzy, or something else. Kids are not good at describing how they feel, heck most adults aren’t either. It’s easier to say that something on your body hurts. Because let’s be honest, when you feel crappy inside something on the outside usually hurts too. I try to make a little conversation, and try to find out what is really going on. Sometimes they talk, sometimes they don’t. I think the most important thing is that they know we care and interested in listening.

If in doubt, call the parent. Parents generally know their child best. There are times when I am unsure of what is going on with a student and almost every time I have received the clarification I need just by calling mom or dad. I also think most parents appreciate a phone call to keep them informed about what’s going on. I’ve never had a parent upset with me so far for calling to find out more information about their kid’s circumstance. Most parents are happy to know that their child is being cared for at school and are more than willing to give you any information you need to help their child get through the rest of the day.

Communicate with the teachers, paras, secretaries, counselors, and principals. Depending on the grade, each person may only see a snippet of that student’s day and when you start talking some things start making a little more sense with what might be going on with that student.

Lastly, I have come to learn how much that this job is not about me. It isn’t about advancing to higher opportunities. It sure as heck isn’t about the pay! I am just a small piece of this large puzzle that makes up our school district. This school belongs to the students and the community. I am just grateful to be a part of it.

Life’s Tough, Get A Helmet

I typically watch a lot of my TV shows on my iPad, while I’m cooking supper at night. Just ask Derek! I have a whole set up. My iPad with the Gilmore Girls streaming in the background and my iPhone displaying the current recipe I’m working on right next to it. It’s part of my wind down time. I love cooking and baking. It keeps my hands and mind busy, and lets me be creative in my own way. I rarely follow the recipe, letting my creative, designer side run wild! It’s usually just what I need after a long day.

As I was watching a special sitcom, that remains close to my heart, I heard the following line… “Life’s tough, get a helmet”. Do you know where this quote comes from? The 90’s TV show, Boy Meets World, of course. Yes, I was one of those people that fell into the Disney+ trap and purchased my $7.99 membership. I had ONE reason I wanted to download the app…yup, you guessed it…Boy Meets World. I needed to relive my childhood for a few weeks as I re-watched the familiar sitcom. All the memories of the 90’s came flooding back to me. The times seemed more simple, there were no cell phones in hands at all times, and you had to go across the street to chat with your friends and neighbors. And let me tell you, it was a good place to be, my friends.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not hating on today’s technology. I’m a graphic designer, for goodness sake. I couldn’t do my job without our ever changing technology, and I find it fascinating as my Adobe programs change and continue to shape the way I design. I love technology and all that it brings, but….sometimes…I wish I could go back for a week and live without it. Cleanse myself of it, if even for a day.

As I continued cooking and watching my show, I related so much to that iconic line. Life is tough…(hmm…maybe I should invest in a helmet myself…)! Even though this show is 27 years old, the lessons from it still feel so applicable to me in this moment. Let me give you a run down of a few key points I noticed.

  1. Laugh at yourself. If I had a dollar for every time I did or said something stupid I could pay for that dream house that Derek and I want. My brother, Aaron, would tell you I laugh at pretty much everything. Yup, that’s me. Apologize if it warrants one, and then smile and laugh. We all make mistakes, it’s how we move on and correct them that really matters. There is always more than one solution to a problem, find it and move on.
  2. Your parents always want what is best for you. Now, I realize there are exceptions to this statement. But if you had loving, caring, and generous parents (Hi mom and dad!) like both Derek and I do, then I can say with 100% certainty that they ALWAYS want you to succeed. They may not agree with all our choices all of the time, but their love is unconditional. And I wouldn’t be where I am today without their help along the way.
  3. Work hard for what you want. Sitting around wishing and hoping isn’t going to get you very far in life. As Alan Matthews says to his young son, Cory, “This is your life. Deal with your life”. It’s okay to accept help, but don’t expect or feel entitled to handouts.
  4. “You don’t have to be blood, to be family”. A memorable quote from the beloved teacher, Mr. Feeeeeeheeeny, (Que the Feeny call for all you Eric fans out there…). Do I need to expand more on this? Don’t take them for granted…my friends are my family. End. Of. Story.
  5. Just be a good person. Let me reiterate that life is tough. Everyone is going through something. Being a decent person doesn’t take a lot of effort, but often means the world. It’s okay to disagree and have different opinions, but be humble and good. Admit when you’re wrong, and apologize. Mr. Feeny’s parting words to the entire series pretty much sum this up, “Believe in yourselves. Dream. Try. Do good”.

Wow…this post was intended to come out a lot more funny, but hey, as I write this I realize that right now, I too, am going through a trying period in my life, that I’m sure I will share more on at a later date. So, you get the sappy version of this post – you’re welcome!

I’ll leave you with one last thought. Sometimes life knocks you down, kicks, screams, and stomps on you. Stand back up. (I admit I stole these next three words from my favorite talk show host, Bobby Bones, out of Nashville.) Fight. Grind. Repeat. And DON’T EVER LET THAT ESKIMO STAND IN YOUR WAY!…watch the video I posted if you have no clue what I’m talking about! (wink!) Here’s the video link if you need it…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKIYBP8lPlQ

Also, you should just watch the whole series…

Until next time…I’ll be living the dream! Katie. K

Anxiety, Tears, and Loose skin

I scrolled through a news article the other day on Facebook where Dylan Dreyer (weather anchor for NBC) referring to her maternity leave as heaven. I will add that since then she did a check in on the Today Show where she talked about the lack of sleep and “real life” that has set in. Don’t get me wrong, the love I have for my babies is indescribable, but what I experienced after birthing them was far from what I would call heavenly. I felt compelled to share my experiences as I am sure there are many other mothers out there that had the opposite of a “heavenly” maternity leave.

Before I tell you about my experience I do want to say that there are many out there that would do anything in the world to have a “bad” experience. There are families that have lost their children, can’t have children, or have been in the NICU for weeks, months…. I would go through anything for my babies, as most mothers would. My goal for this post is to shed some light on the fact that the postpartum period is hard and we all have different experiences. I think the more we talk about those experiences the easier it is to relate to each other and get through this thing we call motherhood together.

The days following my daughter’s birth were simply unforgettable. I went through about 24 hours of induced labor with her to end up with a c section. It was pretty dang awful because by the time I went for the c section my epidural had basically worn off on one side and I was feeling the full effects of pitocin induced labor. I also realized as they started cutting I was feeling all of that too. I remember yelling and crying in the operating room as they worked to get her out. I could feel the intense, sharp, stabbing pain on my right side as I felt pressure on my left. I remember them pulling her out, holding her up, and seeing she was ok. As they were about to sedate me I could hear them say her weight was 9lb 7oz. I remember waking up from anesthesia and the first thing I asked was “how big was she?”. I just thought no wonder I couldn’t push her out! It was the most painful, exhausting, exhilarating, and terrifying experience of my life.

Following the traumatic delivery I was having a very difficult time breastfeeding, I could not get her to consistently latch. I started pumping and bottle feeding just to get her to eat, while still attempting to nurse. It hurt to hold her on my stomach as it pushed down on my incision. I couldn’t get myself into a comfortable enough position laying down to nurse her. It was all so defeating. She was also jaundice, which meant she was under the bili lights for most of the day. I was able to hold her but with this bulky, lighted blanket around her. Every day her bilirubin level kept going up. I knew she had to eat to get the level to go down but breastfeeding was going terrible. Every time it came time to nurse I would try and end up crying giving her a bottle. Every nurse that came into my hospital room tried to help but I just couldn’t get it. There was one nurse that could see how it was all affecting me and brought in a bottle of formula and fed her for me. I still remember this and it felt like a weight off my shoulders. It feel good to know she was eating and like I had permission to take a break from worrying about it. My anxiety was at its tipping point and all I was doing was crying. I felt like a failure. I was looking to anyone for advice. The problem with this was there was so much advice coming at me I didn’t know what to do. I can feel the anxiety rushing back to me while writing this. I felt like pumping and bottle feeding was taking such a toll on my mental health those first few days. I wasn’t even able to enjoy my daughter. I was so worried about failing her. I was also not sleeping from the high of it all. I was so anxious about everything all the time.

We ended up being discharged from the hospital but had to come back every morning for them to prick her heel to continue to check her bilirubin level. She even got readmitted because it got too high (they don’t rent out bili lights). I remember staying in the room with her in my arms in the bed and crying because I just didn’t know what to do. I hadn’t slept in about 4 days from the anxiety I was experiencing. By the time we got back home it was time for my husband to go back to work. I was home alone with this baby I barely knew, I had failed at breastfeeding, and I was healing from a major surgery. I couldn’t even look at my incision under my sagging stomach. It was hideous. I felt deflated and awful. I was sore and moved slowly. I could not take a shower by myself. I couldn’t sit up without wincing. I had to have my husband change the dressing to my lower stomach that was held in place by my new and unwelcome c-section “mom pouch”. As my husband would change my dressing and look at my incision I would lay on the bed in tears ashamed of how my body looked. Every time he would say things like, “its looking better hun. You’re doing good. You look great.” I couldn’t believe him. My mind was against me. It told me how can you have him doing this for you. He must think you look just awful. Is he ever going to be attracted to you again? This was the most difficult time of my life. I may sound dramatic but I was suffering mentally. While at the same time everyone around me was “in heaven” soaking up my new baby who I was supposed to be loving and enjoying. What was wrong with me? Why wasn’t this how everyone described it?

About 2 weeks in I made the dreaded decision to let all my milk dry up and stick with formula. I was filled with guilt. It felt awful. I felt awful. I knew in my gut I couldn’t keep this up and part of me didn’t want to. I just wanted the stress of it to go away. I felt like a terrible mother. I felt like I was letting my baby down. Like I was depriving her of something. I knew my mind was a mess but once I stopped pumping I wouldn’t be able to start again if I changed my mind. But I finally did it. I stopped. And guess what? Everyone was ok. My daughter kept growing. My husband helped feed her. I got to sleep more than 2 hours at a time. I had a weight lifted off my shoulders. I felt relieved. I cut myself a much needed break that I know I desperately needed to be a healthy mom.

When you have a baby everyone is so happy for you. It is hard not to feel like something is wrong with you if you’re not bouncing up and down with joy every second. I got through the first few weeks, my daughter started sleeping longer periods at a time, my incision healed, my boobs stopped hurting so bad, the guilt of not breastfeeding drifted away, my mind became more clear. My daughter continued to grow, we saw her first first smile, learned how she likes to be held, and how to put her down to sleep. We figured out which were her favorite nursery rhymes, her favorite things to look at in the house. We snuggled and giggled together. I developed confidence in myself as a mother and pretty soon the baby in front of me wasn’t a stranger anymore who I couldn’t figure out how to feed or how stop from crying. She was my daughter. I knew what was best for her. She needed me and no one else. Surely the second time around would be easier, right?

Change and Chaos

It has been almost a month since I’ve written anything here! Week after week I’ve meant to come sit down at the computer and start but time keeps getting away from me lately. I’ve been struggling with the concept of “once things slow down a little bit I will do this or that”, but the thing is I don’t know that life is going to slow down anytime soon. I think what I’m looking for is some sense of a new normal. Let me give you the run down on what’s been going on. So as you know, we moved mid November. In that time we have had several sicknesses since, as has everyone else. It seems like once we catch something we just catch everything else going around too. That reminds me- I need to add some zinc and vitamin C to my shopping list. My son never stops teething. My daughter ended up bringing a certain (unnamed because I am utterly embarrassed and disgusted) mite into our house from school. Don’t worry for those of you in close contact with our family, I’ve completely turned our house upside down and washed every piece of fabric in it. I will have to give a step by step tutorial on this process sometime down the road for anyone else who may find themselves in this situation.

We also had the holidays in there, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year by the way! Quick side story: A couple weeks before Christmas my daughter added a barbie camper to her list of things she wanted from Santa. At first Santa was not phased by this. He was already bringing her 2 things and that was enough. When my daughter brought home her Christmas ornament she made at school with her Christmas wish list written on the back, including a barbie camper, it was over. Santa had to get the barbie camper. He couldn’t look back at that ornament year after year and remember how she didn’t get what she had asked for that year. Santa is a sap and my daughter is spoiled. So a week before Christmas Santa is trying to track down a sold out barbie camper. Luckily Santa came through and Amelia came downstairs to a barbie camper waiting for her on Christmas morning.

My Grandma was in the hospital over Christmas. She became septic due to an infected gallbladder that no one knew about. She had it removed successfully and after some amazing care and a few miracles she recently moved from the hospital to a rehab facility to get stronger. Because Grandma was gone over Christmas and my mom too, because she was by her side the entire time, we never really got a chance to celebrate with my side of the family this year. It made Christmas feel so strange without our traditional family get together. As my grandparents get older I realize how things can change so quickly and year after year won’t always be the same.

In addition to all the craziness above, I decided to change jobs! I have accepted the position as a school nurse at Cherokee. I am so excited for this new adventure. This is something I’ve always wanted to do and never ever thought I’d get the opportunity-let along in the same district as my children. I will be at the middle school and high school, 5 days a week. It will be a huge transition for our family for me to work full time. This also brought about the challenge of finding a daycare for Everett 3 days a week (my in laws graciously watch the kids the other 2 days). Let me tell you, daycare in Cherokee, or anywhere really, is very hard to find! This past week we think we have found someone that will be a good fit, fingers crossed! I will update more with how things are going with the job and work/home transition for everyone.

I don’t know that this is the post I was planning on writing but I thought I should give a little update on life since there have been so many changes lately. I will plan on branching out on certain things in the weeks and months to come. I would like to talk more about staying at home vs working, changing from the hospital setting to the school setting, mental health struggles that I’ve experienced, marriage, family, you name it. I hope that you all had a good Christmas and New Years. Lets all get ready for the extremely long month of January that lay ahead. Talk to you soon.

It’s Okay To Not Be Okay

Ready to dive in with me on my most vulnerable post yet?!

***ONE YEAR AGO***

“This is not a viable pregnancy.” After those words were muttered by our doctor I didn’t really hear a lot else. So many thoughts raced through my head. You mean we are going to miscarry? Miscarriage – why did that feel like such a dirty word? It shouldn’t, right? Was it my fault? Did I do something wrong? Why do I feel guilty? Why do I feel ashamed…like I shouldn’t talk about it?…thoughts continued to race through my head… *** ***

I’ve debated for some time now how to put this post into words. How to describe those feelings that many have felt, but are not often discussed. I’ve debated how vulnerable I wanted to be. How will people react? How do you write about something that is so sensitive, yet needs to be talked about more frequently? How many people would care? How many would feel sorry for me, when that isn’t what I want? Who would relate? Would it seem like I am trying to make people feel sorry for me? Why do I feel guilty about this? Would….how….when…who….where…what if….???…Then my next thought was NO! STOP! I am not feeling guilty for sharing about this topic, or the things I’ve felt, experienced, or thought. My intention for this post is to educate, help, or just simply relate to others who have gone through it, and it is NEVER my intent to make people feel sorry for me, because what Derek and I have experienced together only made us stronger, more conscious about our health, and appreciate the things that we learned along the journey.

Even though it’s been a year since our first miscarriage, and 7 months since our second we still carry that weight with us each day. And yes, I do mean WE and OUR, because Derek grieved along with me, and felt that loss too. So many times we were asked how I was doing. Very rarely did they ask how WE were doing. I know that everyone meant well, but if you think I was the only one experiencing pain, you’d be wrong. Derek was just as affected as I was. Not only was he grieving with me, but he also worried FOR me. He watched closely as I emotionally deteriorated at times, and worried about my physical pain too. He told me, “As a husband it is really hard to watch your wife go through all the physical and emotional ups and downs [that miscarriage brings].”

A couple of months ago I came across across a post on Facebook and I couldn’t have put this part of it into better words myself. So let me tell you a few of things this journey has taught me. “…Loss makes you love harder, love more, love selflessly. Loss teaches you that life is never promised. Loss teaches you ANXIETY. Loss gives you ANXIETY. But loss also makes you stronger. It teaches you that you can go on to be okay, to cope. Some days are easier than others. Better days will come…” **Credit: Darian Janae** And yes, I capitalized and italicized the word anxiety, because for the ones of you that know me well, know that I am a go with the flow person and had NEVER DEALT WITH ANXIETY prior to this experience! Let me tell you, it changes you in ways you wouldn’t think!

Want to know what some of the best advice I got from Megan was? She said, “You do know that it’s okay to not be okay, right?” I sat there and thought…IT’S OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY? And you know what? She was right…why did I not know this? Why did this never occur to me? Because, I needed someone outside of our circumstances to tell me this, to let me know that feeling NOT OKAY is a totally VALID EMOTION. Bottom line – whatever you are feeling during this journey is VALID. It’s okay to feel sad, angry, anxious, and it’s even okay to smile through it, even when it’s hard, it’s okay to imagine what could have been.

My hope is that we continue to share and communicate widely and openly about miscarriage, because it is often overlooked. It’s easy to talk about a happy and exciting new birth, and it’s amazing, but it’s often awkward and hard to talk about loss, so ultimately we avoid it. So, talk about it for the ones who don’t know, for the ones who have experienced it personally, and for the ones supporting others through it.

Until next time, I’ll be living the dream! Katie. K (Yes…I purposefully put the period after Katie. Why? That’s a story for another time).

A New Chapter

I’m about to get a little mushy and sentimental because last weekend we said good-bye to our old house. I’m not completely sure if this is just a “Megan” thing or if most other people feel this way too, but I found the whole thing a pretty emotional experience. When we were just talking about the possibility of moving I was filled with apprehension with just thinking about leaving our home. Once we found the house we wanted to place an offer on, a small part of me was ok with us not even coming to an agreement in negotiations because I was so scared of the change ahead (don’t worry, absolutely no regrets now!) During the actual move I was ok, filled with excitement for the new house, adrenaline to get things moved and put away, and powered by the mom drive to get the kids feeling settled. But when I start to think about the entire process and look back on what our first home has meant to me it does get the emotions flowing a little bit.

This was the house we brought our babies home to. This was the house that I carefully decorated each of my kid’s nurseries. Around 8 weeks along with Amelia I remember coming home from work to a huge gaping hole in what was going to be the baby’s room. David thought he needed to better insulate the wall because it was too cold in there for a baby. After the walls were intact again, I carefully picked out just the right shade of yellow and did the nursery into a Winnie the Pooh theme. Everett’s nursery was the complete opposite, finished actually after he arrived, because it was on the tail end of our basement remodel which we were doing mostly ourselves (neither of us are DIY experts by the way). Talk about stress! When I think back to that time in our lives when I was 8 months pregnant, off work due to high blood pressure, David working two jobs, a 4 year old at home, plus trying to finish the basement, switch bedrooms, and finish the nursery. It makes me smile now that we got through it, but I sure wasn’t smiling at the time! I think about how many hours David and I spent crunching numbers, talking about our options, sweating, cursing, crying, wondering how we were ever going to make it work. Hard to believe its all over now and there are new owners enjoying the finished basement.

That was the house we spent our first year of marriage, where we had our first real arguments, learned more about forgiveness, how to divide housework and outside work, and shared so many “I love you’s”. It is where we learned, failed, and relearned how to manage our finances as a couple. It’s where we fell in love with each other several times over again. We watched Amelia take her first steps, say her first word, get her first boo boo, and take her first day of school pic. This is the place we found out our daughter would have a baby brother. Both times I found out I was pregnant was in that little bathroom. We had both of our kids’ first birthday parties in that house.

Why is it that we can become so attached to a place and we feel sad to leave? I keep telling myself it isn’t the place I’m attached to, its the memories. The feelings of love and comfort that I’ve felt inside those walls. What a wonderful thing it is to have such a thing to feel sad about.

I am looking forward to the memories to be made in our new house. It feels we have started another chapter in our life. The one where instead of wishing and preparing for babies and making our way through the newness of sleep deprived parenthood, we continue to watch our children grow, teach them right from wrong, support them, and learn from them. We will get to experience so many new “firsts” in our new house and soon it will be these walls that I’m growing attached to. I can see this chapter will be filled with family, friends, community, adventures, and love. It is always sad to close a chapter but it is even more exciting to open the next one. Here’s to the next chapter.

-Megan

My Better Half

Last week Megan and I were talking about our writing styles and she said “you know, you usually figure out what you’re going to write as you’re writing. You start in one place and end up somewhere different”. After she said it I realized how right she was! I’ve been struggling all week to try and plan what I was going to write, or how to say it. Then I thought to myself, what am I doing?! Just sit down and start writing and it will all come to me. So, here I go…I’m beginning by introducing you to my husband, Derek, but who knows where this post will end up! 😂

I could tell you ALL the things about Derek and everything I love about him, but I think the most important parts are in the WHY.

  1. Wanna know one of the first, and WEIRDEST questions he asked me on our first date? Get ready for this one…”Do you like horses”?! I replied “no, my dad always called them hay burners”. And he replied back, and very loudly “THANK GOODNESS!” Lucky for him I’m not a horse lover, in fact, they scare the crap out of me. I later found out the real reasons Derek doesn’t care for horses, but that’s a story for a different time. The real thing I’m getting at here is WHY was he asking me this and WHY was it so funny and important to me the more I thought about it? Well…because… Derek is pretty blatantly honest and I found that out QUICKLY here. If he doesn’t like something, he’s going to tell you, and have 10 reasons to back up his theory! Just try and argue with him…you won’t get anywhere without concrete proof. Which makes for some pretty fun banter in our home…we have a lot of laughs, and a lot of silly smiles trying to get the other to back down first. Don’t worry…it’s all in fun…we’re both stubborn Germans! Bottom line, I’ve come to appreciate his honesty and integrity, not a lot of people have it.
  2. How about one of our saddest moments together? We were in my Ford Escape, on our way back from our doctor appointment where we were told that we were miscarrying for the first time. About half way home Derek pulled over on a gravel and said “It feels like a punch in the gut, and the air knocked out of you”. We cried together in our vehicle on that road. WHY was this important? Because Derek is strong, yet vulnerable when he needs to be, (I probably just ruined his street cred there 😂.) the best of both worlds.
  3. If you know Derek, you know he will probably have a quippy comment or remark to make at just about anything you say. He has a cheesy joke for just about any moment, and if you know me…I laugh…at everything…see why I love those quippy comments he makes?! And no joke…as I am writing this he is sending me ridiculous texts…When it comes down to it, he makes me laugh…pretty much constantly!
  4. Wanna know what his super power would be if he could have one? To be impervious to hot and cold. The first time he told me this we were canning tomato sauce and he says “I just wish I could reach in and grab the jars and be done with it!” He now tells me this on a weekly basis and applies it to whatever he’s working with…ie: the smoker, the grill, the hot or cold temperatures, fire, boiling water…basically everything. I’m pretty sure he’d walk around with no pants most of the time if he had no sensitivity to the cold (you think I’m kidding, but I assure you I’m not…). It makes me laugh because it is an answer that fits only HIM! It’s so practical, yet so randomly funny like he is!
  5. One last thing…if you plan on playing against him in any kind of trivia game…well DON’T. He’s good at it, and he knows it. He’s so dang smart, and he has a smart mouth! He will win. He will show no remorse. He hates to lose. He will taunt you. He will laugh and smile because he knows you’re wrong (insert eye roll)! And it’s ten times worse when we are both competitive…but I wouldn’t want it any other way!

Hey look at that, I actually stayed on topic! Well, I could keep going for pages and pages, but this at least gives you a snap shot of Derek. More to come in future posts…that I am sure! Until next time, I’ll be living the dream…

-Katie K