The Diner

It was a bright sunny Saturday in March. The streets of Kercheval were already lined with empty cars patiently awaiting their owners to return from their errands. The cars shimmered in the sunlight as we turned into the parking lot.

My favorite of all brunch spots, Side Street Diner was first to check off of our agenda that day.

The restaurant’s front door swung wide. As I entered the smell of pancakes drizzled in syrup greeted us at the entryway. The crowd of hungry patrons waiting to be seated met our eyes. I did a quick glance around the restaurant accessing the time I’d have to wait before fresh coffee and yummy breakfast food hit my lips. A grumble rolled through my empty stomach at the thought of waiting.

They have their bill, they just got their coffee —– and then I saw her.

Her long wavy blonde hair gathered at the nape of her neck. She greeted an older couple that had just been seated. An unsettled feeling rolled over me.

What on earth am I going to say to her?

She’s the ultimate waitress. She remembers her customers names and the details of their lives. She serves good food and makes you smile the entire time you sit at her table. She’ll slide down in the booth right next to you and make you feel as though you’re not really at a restaurant but a friend’s house. The warmth that she gives isn’t just found in the food. It radiates from her kindness and compassion.

I watch her as she turns from the older couples booth, drink order in hand, to a corner table that seats a Mom and Dad and two spunky kids. Their parents chug black coffee trying to fuel up for the days activities.

I look down at Charlie snuggled in her car seat wishing it was just Matt and I. I want to shelter this sweet lady from peering down at my Charlie and being reminded she’s a Momma with no baby to hold.

I was excited to get back to some type of normalcy after we brought Charlie home from the hospital last summer. We visited the diner and our friend greeted us on the patio with hugs. We introduced her to Charlie and she gushed over how cute our peanut was and then I gushed over her growing baby bump.  I was so excited to get the details of how her pregnancy was going. She was due in August and that was just a few weeks away.

A series of heavy hearted details unfolded. My brow furrowed and tears waited at the brink of my eye, not being permitted to fall so I could be strong in front of my friend.

During a routine ultrasound the Doctor had seen a hole in her daughter’s heart complicating delivery plans and worrying Mom and Dad about the uncertain future of their daughter’s health. Matthew and I shared with her the difficulties we had through our pregnancy and I asked my friend if we could pray with her.

There under the big red umbrella covering our table I ended the prayer but still held onto her hand. Tears steamed down her cheeks and she thanked us. Several months later I  would stand not very far from that same spot and hear the unthinkable update. My friends daughter was born with DiGeorge Syndrome and only lived a few sweet months here on earth.

I knew we’d be back in the diner one day and on that day I would see her. Of course I wanted to see her. Hug her. But I couldn’t see past what I would say after I let go of her. So when I did wrap my arms around her I made sure our embrace spoke all of my heart felt sympathies.

I don’t know what I ended up saying but I will forever remember what she did. She spoke of pain. Of memories that sank so deep you could almost see them pressing into her skin. She spoke of a daughter, an angel that will live on in her heart. A daughter that brought such joy in so little time. She spoke of a nonprofit. She spoke of hope. While she spoke, I listened. I listened to her strength. I listened to her courage. I hung on her every word. I ate them up so much more satisfying than my coffee and blueberry pancakes.

I didn’t need to speak, I needed to be there for her. To listen to her. What kind of silly is it that I thought some magic words could remove her pain???? We can’t remove each others pain but we can carry it right alongside them.

So if you have a friend or family member going through a hard time talk to them. They might be feeling so alone. Break their isolating thoughts by caring enough to visit them or call them. Get them out of the house for dinner or coffee.

You don’t need to have the answers or the right words. Just let them do the talking. Ask them about work or summer plans. Ease into the conversation. Sometimes it feels so good for the grieving person to get back to business as usual topics! When in doubt reach out to someone really close to that person like their spouse or parents and get the green light from them about how to approach your friend.

During these conversations remember, they will let you know if they can’t talk about it right then. When they do share, respect the boundaries of talking too much about it! When we lost Juliet I had one friend with the best intentions who would start any communication with me with the whisper of “how are you.” They’d drag out each syllable in the most somber way. I knew they cared but it felt like they were hounding me. I was onto the next subject and they’d steer that depressing bus right back around to my loss.

As long as we are this side of heaven, we ourselves or someone close to us is going through a tough time. None of us are experts. None of us can remove the grief but we can carry this burden with them. Their really is strength in numbers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Un Poco Gordo

Un poco gordo translates to, a little overweight  in English. This is one of the few phrases I remember from High School Spanish. I did not one, but two semesters of Spanish. Ready for a not so proud admission? I signed up for round two of Espaniol because I knew I could get away with doing practically NOTHING to pass with a 4.0.  Sadly it wasn’t because of my affection for foreign language.

I [could] be somewhat fluent in Spanish had I not cheated the whole way through that year. Forgive me, I was 16 once and my 16-year-old brain’s thought process went something like…

My spanish teacher doesn’t seem to notice or really care if I cheat. I don’t have this option in Physics or Advanced Lit therefore I should cheat.

Or

I live in a country that speaks English therefore I don’t need to be bilingual so I should cheat.

Or

I can talk all hour with my best friend or conjugate verbs? Cheat.

Cheating won 3 times out of 3.

I’m curious even to this very day why this phrase stuck with me all these years later. Probably because I found it funny and if I think somethings funny I remember it. Maybe if my Spanish teacher would have been a comedian I’d be bilingual.

Oh my troubled youth.

Speaking of funny, if you haven’t checked out Comedians In Cars Getting Coffeedo it! You can thank me later. You especially have to watch the episode with Will Ferrell. Let Jerry’s face be a sign of good belly laughs to come.

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In this episode Will Ferrell admits he’s the type of guy “who has to workout just to look fat.”

I laughed. Out loud. For like five minutes.

I get ya Will. I could work out everyday and still the Mommy belly remains. I know exactly why though.

Donuts & pizza to start. I’m impatient. I stick with a workout plan for like a week. After I finish my workout I truly believe I’ll magically drop 10lbs. From one run. One! And then after my ONE run I want to “treat” myself with a donut. I think about eating my next meal as I’m halfway through my current one. Clearly, my love affair with food trumps my desire to slim down.

To the beat of a drum, Robert Palmer sings ” gonna have to face it you’re addicted to food.” This post-preggo bod ain’t getting tone anytime soon with this mentality. I see pics of Momma’s holding their two week olds in tight dresses, their belly’s flat as a pancake and instead of getting inspired I start thinking about how good a pancake would taste.

Help me Jesus!

My wake up call came in the brightly lit fitting room of my beloved Target. Such a strange feeling to be sad at Target. Trying on bathing suits can have this effect on women, no matter what store their at.

Matthew and I are going to the Bahamas next Wednesday and I wanted to grab a new swimsuit for our Mom & Dad get away. I stood staring at my reflection in the large rectangular mirror. Pale and out of shape. Squishy in all the wrong areas. Puzzled. Questioning, is it me, or is this just a really bad mirror?

I’m un poco gordo. As funny as I thought this phrase was in High School – the reality is, it’s no joke!

I handed over the swimwear to the curly haired lady running the dressing rooms with my head hung low. Matthew sensing my defeat asked me why I looked so sad. He to was all kinds of confused as he’d never seen me anything but elated while shopping at Target. The tears welled up at his question.

Time to stop complaining and get busy! This was the motivation I needed.

As much as I love food I love fitting into my jeans too. So I’m going to have to part ways with my sugar and carbs for now. Or at least only visit them on the weekends. After all I’ve already established I’m a recovering cheater so lean eating of any kind is challenging.

Maybe you feel me. Maybe you were one of those people who confidently committed to making the New Year a [healthy one.] Maybe you’re a new Momma trying to lose the last of the baby weight. Maybe you’re currently checking out Crossfit, in week two of the Whole 30 diet, or just coming to grips with the fact that those extra pounds you’ve wanted to lose for several months are now a faithful companion. A companion you’re ok with having around. Wherever you are I hope you’re happy and can laugh at the situation as Will Ferrell does.

Being un paco gordo isn’t a bad thing as long as you’re healthy and you like the way you look. Feeling comfortable in your own skin is truly the name of the game for me.

As for this girl – I’m working on it.

My goals are quite simple —

  • Eat real food and stay away from processed stuff. The end. I’ve thrown away the junk food in my cupboards which is a BIG DEAL. I know those little treats will beckon to me in moments of weakness. Minimizing temptation is half the battle.

 

  • I’ve upped my water intake so the hungries stay away. I add a few drops of Lemon, Grapefruit, Orange or Lime essential oil and my water goes from Blah to Tada!

  • I stocked up on tons of lean protein and veggies. What’s surprised me the most is that when I have real food to eat I actually eat it! Go figure. A little preparation goes a LONG WAY.
  • Most importantly I’m committed to being patient. I know I won’t have six pack abs in a week. Which isn’t the end goal anyway. Six packs are for Frat parties. I just want to be less squishy.

Please wish this recovering cheater lots of success!

Dear Juliet

 

Hello my dear.

It’s Momma. Just wanting to send you an update from down here.

You’ll be happy to know Sissy is growing plump. Our little preemie isn’t so teeny anymore. She’s sitting up. This is very exciting but simultaneously frightening. The stronger she gets the more mobile she is and the more mobile she is the more I’m reminded my baby won’t be a baby much longer.

It seems the days are in a race with each other. Each one speeds by quicker than the last. I’m just like every Momma before me. In the past few months, I too have had to come to grips with how futile it is to plead with time to slow down.

Last week we visited Dr. Leo and found out Sissy weighs over 15lbs. As I laid her on the scale a flash back to our first visit popped in my head. A reminder of how far we’ve all come in such a short amount of time.

We’ve all done some growing. In more ways than one. 

I ask Charlie about you often. I sit with her cradled in my arms and I ask if you visit her dreams. I ask if she knows what you look like. Can she remember growing next to you in my tummy? She stares into my eyes as these questions tumble out of my mouth. A few moments pass and I watch as her small pink lips curl upwards and form a gummy little smile. She makes no sense of my questions. Not yet for her to understand but then again she did just smile at the mention of her big sister’s name.

Your name is never very far from my memory. It dangles in my heart like the cloth butterflies suspended on Charlie’s mobile.

Yet there are days when my head hits the pillow and I haven’t thought of you even once. When your name does tiptoe back into the spotlight and stands center stage in my mind, a sharp piece of guilt scratches a fresh line in my heart.

I stare at your twin all day long. I feed her. I kiss her. I laugh with her. And yet you don’t even get a thought. This is where the guilt draws from. Bubbling up from my absent mind to saturate my grieving heart. My concern, that Charlie will be loved more than you.

My angel in heaven, Will you please forgive your Momma? Will you be like Jesus and peer into my heart and see the love I have for you. Whether it be recognized in the hours of a day or not, doesn’t make it any less real.

You offer me grace as the guilt melts away. This let’s me know you don’t mind one bit where my thoughts are. You know just how madly I love you.

The love between a mother and a child is a raging fire. It is consuming and magnificent. Brilliant with color and passion. Death cannot extinguish this fire that burns for you my love. Perhaps, altering it a little with distance for now.

March of 2016 is the month you went home to be with Jesus. A month that I will celebrate your little life a little extra.

As I readjust and shift my weight in the comfy rocker next to Charlie’s night stand I glance at the turquoise box set underneath. Gold dots adorn the box holding an ultrasound picture of you taken on March 8th.

Your perfect profile in black and white. It was the last picture I have of you growing. My fingers brush over it gingerly from time to time.

I wish more than anything you were here with us. I wish I could have seen you grow up next to your sister. But wishes are for storybooks and in this life wishes don’t often come true. Our story isn’t over. It has many pages to be written. Charlie will continue to grow. Time will certainly not slow down. As for me a new wish is developing in my heart. One that I can make come true and I hope will honor your name.

#BabyJules

Love, your Momma

Four Ways A Baby Changes Your Marriage and How To Make The Most of the Change

I’ve been known to make a few impulse purchases in my lifetime.  A lot of people shop due to a particular need. I don’t particularly need anything I just like to shop.

Do you remember several Christmases ago when the Nintendo Wii was the hot commodity?  I was at Best Buy with my Dad. It was several months after the initial Wii craze had died down. The supply was finally matching the demand so stores had Wii’s in stock and on the shelves. I can’t remember what my Dad specifically went in there for but I know for certain I was not shopping for a Wii. I like to play Pac-Man, maybe a little Tetris but that’s the extent of my gaming.

As I waited for my Dad, I meandered through the rows of CDs, then DVDs then somehow I found myself standing in front of the Nintendo Wii display. As Mario posed on the TV screen and my Dad was nowhere to be found my curiosity got the better of me.

Some thirty minutes later I walked out of there with not only the game console but a Best Buy credit card, the additional Mario Kart game and controller as well.

Totally unplanned, impulse buy.

Purchasing that game system has little to do with preparing to be a parent but you should know the latter decision was mulled over and over and over again. No amount of research or homework can prepare you for the game of parenthood.

One thing I didn’t think through was how this tiny baby would SIGNIFICANTLY change my marriage.

[For better or for worse.]

Baby comes and you blink and all of a sudden you have a routine. The baby’s growing. Everybody’s happy with the progress.

Except sometimes no one is happy.

Baby is screaming. Daddy is tired. Mommy’s frustrated. It’s a mess. These are the times when you start to question if you can do this.

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YOU CAN DO THIS!!!

You can be a mother and wife and so much more. You won’t be a perfect mother or wife but the good news is no one is so you’re fitting in just swell.

Here are  a few of my fails and successes. I hope they help you but one size does not fit all 🙂

Designer Bags [under my eyes]

My husband and I don’t function well without sleep. Most people don’t. It’s just a happier, non-war like home if both of us are well rested. Newborns usually have a negative effect on getting adequate sleep so maneuvering around this change took priority.

Luckily Charlie was a good sleeper from day one. Praise Jesus! But due to her preemie size our Pediatrician recommended feeding her every four hours through the night. This routine lasted just a bit over four months. Thankfully the majority of this time I was on maternity leave so I could rest during the day but nonetheless I was tired. I ran on coffee and baby snuggles during those early days.

My goal was to form good sleep habits with Charlie from day one so I read what the experts had to say. Turns out they have A LOT to say on this matter! Sleep training books are helpful but they simultaneously STRESSED me out. I think largely in part because one book laid out the how to right along with the if you fail to. OMG please don’t freak me out any more than I already am!

One tip that helped us was keeping a log of Charlie’s sleep and awake habits so you can draw a pattern. This quick journal of feeding times, amount consumed and time slept was really helpful for the first several weeks and was a good communication piece for Matthew and I. It eliminated some of the question marks for us.

HIGHLY recommend calling in help when you are able. This isn’t a tip from the baby book this is a real life must do. Cash in offers that family and friends may have extended. MOST importantly don’t reject help! Unless, said person offering help gives you the creep/incapable vibe. Then and only then should you say NO. My mom had flex time during the summer so on her midweek day off she would sleep over and do the nightly feedings. This allowed us to sleep a solid eight hours. An incredible help to these new parents! Another idea I’ve heard of is having the new Mom sleep in a different area of the house where babies cries might be less easily heard and assign hubby the full nights baby duty. For breastfeeding Moms this might seem out of scope but that full night of sleep can do wonders for your relationship. It might save someone’s life!

The other thing that worked for us was taking turns doing the nightly feedings. My husband is a night owl and I’m more of a morning person. So I would go to bed around 10pm and he’d stay up and do the midnight feeding. That way I’d get a good five hours of interrupted sleep before doing the 3AM feeding.

I will also add that a form of torture on prisoners of war is sleep deprivation. It’s a form of torture!  So for the sake of your marriage find a way to get some rest!

1 Corinthians 13:5… No record of wrong

In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul spells out true love. We’ve all heard this recanted during wedding nuptials. Verse 5 is the one that always stops me in my tracks. Love is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Enter baby.

I’m reluctantly sitting up in bed at 2AM. I’m pirate eyed. My only open eye is still very much blurry with sleep. The faint light of the lamp on my night stand shines on my sleepy baby. My breast pump belts out ungodly loud noises as I simultaneously feed Charlotte a bottle. Thirty minutes later I’m shifting back down in bed my husband none the wiser. Just a few hours later I’m shooting dangers at the back of my husbands head because it’s feeding time again and he’s still snoring able to sleep through it all.

I’m doing all the diapers!

I’m washing all the bottles!

I’m doing all the laundry!

Tally after tally. I have a list longer than Santa’s of what my husband does wrong and you better believe I’m checking it twice!capture

I wanted to be in control so I could make sure everything was done just perfect. My best intentions proved however, that I am perfectly unable. I realized a month or so in that in order to be Super Mom I must have my partner Super Dad.

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It took me a few weeks but I started to realize the more I played defense on the opposing team the more my family lost. I just needed to ask Matthew for help. You know what happened when I finally talked to him, he felt more involved and I felt more supported. Everybody won.

The key to this “talk” is to come ready to make a change. I had to allow Matthew to change a diaper without micromanaging his every move. When Charlie cried I stopped rushing to her and would kindly ask my husband if he could check on her. I had to give up control. Most importantly hubby has to hold up his end of the deal. Dad – don’t just make empty promises, stand by them! Your wife needs you.

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Mommy and Daddy time

Having a baby is painful. Not just pushing the baby out part. There is lingering pain in nether regions that takes months to heal. Woman who breastfeed or pump or both have something pulling at another sensitive area all day long. Dare I also bring up the hormones. After all these changes to a woman’s body she may also be dealing with postpartum depression that sometimes comes with having a baby. Lastly, not only does a women feel different she looks different. For most women that extra weight picked up over nine months doesn’t magically disappear. So it’s no wonder that the only thing a women wants to do in bed with her husband is catch up on sleep!

Sex may be the first thing on your husbands mind but I would bet my house it’s the last thing on his wife’s. As much as they may try men will never understand what their wife is going through. I had to explain the physiological things I was experiencing so my husband knew it was bigger than just being tired. I tried to give him extra hugs and cuddles so he knew it wasn’t for right now but it also wasn’t forgotten.

This is an area to tread extremely lightly. Have a lot of grace for one another.

Which came first the Daddy or the egg?

Before Charlie came into the picture Matthew got all my attention. I was all about him and he was all about me. When you add a baby to the mix things change and it’s all about baby. Kind-of.

A few days after we brought Charlie home from the hospital my handsome hubby was working on something and he needed my help. When he asked me to come assist I was a little preoccupied feeding our darling girl. At first I refused to help him.

“Can’t he see I’m taking care of Charlie right now and there’s only so much of me to go around?”

Then a little wisdom from heaven was laid on me.

“Lay Charlie down and go to your husband.”

When I walked into the room Matthew looked surprised. He was taken aback that I picked him over our daughter. I should clarify, it wasn’t that I picked him I just prioritized him. I’m his wife and he needed me to come to his aide. Charlie could wait an extra two minutes.

Later that same day Matthew made sure to tell me how much it meant to him that I chose to make him a priority.

I’ve always said if a husband and wife fall apart their children are the real victims. I’m a product of my parents divorce and the memories of that time fuel me to be the best wife possible. That’s what Matthew deserves. After all, Daddy came first and in my home it will remain that way.

 

 

 

DIY Table Runner

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We bought our current house last year. We made the long journey, a mile up the street from Harper Woods to Grosse Pointe Woods. Our last house was adorable. It kept us dry in the rain, warm in the winter and cool in the summer. For a time, our first home served us well.

With the dream of expanding our family becoming a reality and both Matthew and I working from home we were getting a little cramped. I work out of my home office 99% of the time. So last fall when we began looking to buy a home we really wanted four bedrooms. One bedroom for us, two bedrooms for babes and one for an office. The office might very well be converted to another nursery if I get my way but that’s for God to decide.

For now it’s my little sanctuary.

This is my inspiration. Minus the antlers.

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To start building my dream space I recently purchased a white desk. Now I am not the type of girl who should own anything white. I eat a lot of pizza. Red sauce and white don’t mesh well. To preserve my white desk I knew I would have to have put something over it’s surface if it was going to last more than a week. So I got crafty and made a table runner.

Up until three years ago, if a button fell off a shirt I had to have my Mom sew it back on. When I entered my thirties I decided it was a long overdue, necessary task I needed to achieve. However, sewing actual material together to make something functional, not in the cards at this pinnacle of my life.

I knew I had some fusible tape in my craft box that would work just as well as thread. Within 10 minutes I had a cute little cover for my cute little table.

All you need is….

  • Fusible Bonding Web you can pick up at Joann’s
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Cute Fabric
  • Iron
  • Ruler

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I bought a yard of fabric from the 30% off pile at Joann’s. Then I started on one side of the fabric by ironing an inch wide crease. I slipped the tape in the crease and with a little steam from the iron it was sealed in seconds. Then I repeated this on the other three sides and within minutes I had a tailor made table runner.

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I can’t wait to get festive and make some of these for the Holidays!

Seven Things I Learned From 31 Days in the NICU

Earlier this week my sister-in-law brought home her son, Alex born at 32 weeks. Two babies were born into our family this year and both of them were preemies delivered eight weeks before their due date. Crazy right? I’m thinking these babies must have FOMO like their Mama’s.

Watching them in the NICU hold their 4lb baby boy  was all to familiar to me. We spent the first 31 days of Charlie’s life in the hospital. It brought back many tender emotions. It was just a few months ago that we were staring into Charlie’s isolette praying she’d come home with us.

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I believe most women at some point in their pregnancy think [please let this baby come early.] With the combination of swelling, backaches, feeling like you can’t breathe, sleeplessness, and just overall can I have my body back and not be the size of a whale, it’s no wonder why we think this. Pregnancy is not for the faint of heart. That is for certain. However, when women think this, they don’t think two months early. They think like two weeks early.

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When our daughter was born at 32 weeks I didn’t know that I would learn a new language. NICU, NG tube, gavage, MLs and isolette would be part of my daily dialogue. If you don’t know what any of those words or abbreviations mean consider yourself lucky. This language is only learned by those working in the hospital or by anxious parents of preemies.

Having a preemie has taught me more that just medical jargon. Below are the lessons I learned from our 31 days in the NICU.

Life doesn’t follow your plan.

I started to really understand this during our days of trying to conceive. Everybody has a vision chiseled out of when big life milestones are going to take place. Here are a few of mine.

  • Get married by 28.
  • Have children by 30.
  • Retire by age 62 or earlier. Way, way earlier.

Sometimes you have a setback. We couldn’t get pregnant without medical help. We lost a twin. We thought Charlie might be born with a heart defect. Setbacks was the name of the game these past twelve months. So when Charlie came early it was all the more blindingly apparent that life is totally unpredictable.

Plan, what plan?

I watched my maternity leave dwindle down at the hospital. Those precious hours I should have been nursing and rocking my sweet girl to sleep at home were instead spent sitting in a hospital chair, watching her grow through her isolette. Yet as I watched her get stronger everyday I came to appreciate some things take time and are worth the wait.

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Moral of the story, be flexible because life almost always doesn’t work out the way you plan.

Wait patiently or wait angrily. The choice is yours!

Eight days before Charlotte was released from baby jail / the NICU, Matthew and I were sure she was going to come home. A nurse had got us all excited that her release was just hours away. Our escape hinged on her successfully finishing her bottles for a 48 hour period. Which to our delight she had accomplished. This sounds simple, right? Not for a preemie. When you’re technically supposed to still reside in the womb, fed via the umbilical cord, suck – swallow – breathe is a really big deal. Let’s be honest, when I’m sucking down really good pizza even I have trouble with this.

After two good days of taking all her food from the bottle versus the NG tube, she was exhausted and sleepiness ensued. I was mad! I was sad! I was sick of this. I wanted my daughter under my roof. You’d think after waiting so long to get pregnant I could handle a few extra days waiting for her to come home. After all I had a daughter.

Oh yeah I have a daughter! How awesome!

And with that perspective we decided to make the most of our time.

We got projects done around the house. We slept (a lot). We went on dates. We cruised Woodward and got ice cream after leaving the hospital.

Within days we had our girl home.

You won’t be able to look at Kangaroo’s the same.

Kangaroo care was my favorite time during those weeks waiting for Charlie to come home.

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Relationships will change.

When you’re in a pinch I’ve found the people who truly love you will have your back. Tough times are the gardening of friendships: the so-so friendships will be weeded out. People will surprise you for good and bad. Matthew and I just kept reminding each other how could anyone who hasn’t walked this road know how to respond. It’s always a choice to choose to be or not be offended.

Life goes on without you.

Target didn’t miss me. Outback didn’t close their doors. Hilary and Donald are still campaigning. Life kept going, business as usual. An obvious but humbling revelation.

God is ALWAYS good and He loves us FIERCELY.

For the first few weeks of Charlotte’s life I didn’t get to hold her a lot.  I couldn’t breastfeed her as much as I wanted to. She didn’t live at home with us. I had to drive 30 minutes, one way to visit her but all of these inconveniences meant one thing – I had a daughter! Praise the Lord. Hallelujah!!! I hoped and prayed for this child and God answered.

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If I ever doubted God before, I can’t anymore. The love that I feel for this child is not of me. Not of this world. My Mom always used to tell me that she couldn’t describe how much she loved me and my brother but I would understand once I had my own children.

Becoming a Mom gave me a miniscule glimpse into how much God loves us, his kiddos. Infinitely. Forever. Unconditionally. Patiently. Joyfully. Gloriously.

It is so good to be a child of God and it is a blessing from heaven to be Charlie’s Mom.

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What I Wanted To Say To The Mom With Twins At Babies R’ Us

Since bringing Charlotte home from the hospital I make more stops to Babies R’ Us than I do the grocery store. Trust me, no one is starving over here. We will always find a way to eat at Casa De Bonventre. It just seems like every few days I’m realizing the need  want for more baby stuff to cram in our house.

A friend, further down the road of parenthood will stop by with their toddler in tow. I will be explaining the challenges currently at hand. She will then tell me about this life changing [thingamagig] she had at our stage in the game. Days later I’m at the store searching for it. Anything to make this Mom gig easier.

Yesterday my Mom was visiting while Matthew was traveling for work. Her extra hands were eager to peruse the racks of baby clothes and so we packed up the kiddo and headed down the road to Babies R’ Us. Charlotte is literally a real live baby doll for this women to play dress up.

Isn’t that what all good Grandma’s do though?

After an hour or so the stroller was loaded up with our spoils. 40% off was to blame. Before I got in hot water with the Hubby about our credit card bill I made the call to wrap this shopping adventure up.

Under the florescent lights we started making our way to checkout. My Mom got side tracked to ogle over some fluffy pink dress and I kept moving. I couldn’t risk stopping and falling victim to another impulse buy.

As I made my way I walked past a Grandma assisting her daughter on a similar excursion. Grandma held a wiggly little baby girl in her arms and laying in the double stroller was another little girl swaddled in yellow.

Twins.

Behind me several steps, I heard my Mom strike up a friendly conversation.

“Awww, how old are they?”

“11 weeks.”

“They are so cute!”

“Thanks. Twins are a lot of work. I might become an alcoholic.”

I was not part of the conversation but I could hear her words. They sliced through me all the same. I get it, she was just making conversation. She didn’t know by saying this it would cause an onslaught of emotion to come over me. At first I just shrugged it off but the more the words replayed in my mind the more heated I got.

Really lady!!! Having two beautiful, healthy babies is so awful you want to drink non-stop. Sit here why I lecture you about how you won the baby lottery and I got shafted.

My Mom turned away from them and towards me. She gave me [the look] as she walked away from them. The same kinda look I’ve been getting since I was a kid.

[You’re strong but if you need to cry, I’m here for you – look.]

I think she half hoped I hadn’t noticed the twins and more importantly overheard this ladies complaint but I noticed them before she did. I always notice them.

This woman didn’t know but in a perfect world I too would have had twins. She didn’t know when she said that her two babies make her want to become an alcoholic that her words, I assume were a joke, didn’t make me laugh. They made me mad. They made me hurt. They made me wonder why she got to have her two girls and I didn’t.

Here’s what I wanted to say to this lady in Babies R’ Us…

I have a newborn so I get that you are tired. I’m jolted awake minutes after falling asleep because now that I’m a Mom the slightest murmur from my girl throws me from my peaceful rest to ACTION! I too know how frustrating it is to finish a 3AM feeding and hold your breathe as you lay your little one back to sleep. Hours of fussing later and neither one of you are any closer to getting back to bed. I know what it is to go through multiple diapers in one changing as your baby doesn’t quite understand how expensive these poop catchers add up to be. I too am covered in spit up. I too am doing laundry almost daily.

But unlike you one of my daughters didn’t make it. So while you are probably more tired than you could have imagined, know that I look at you and wish I knew what it felt like to console two crying babies instead of one. You are covered in double the spit up, changing double the dirty diapers and doing double the amount of laundry. But all this extra work means your girls are alive and by your side.

You may be barely surviving but know this, I watch you and long for my daughter. I watch you and wonder why I don’t have her to hold. I am envious of you. So next time someone asks you about your daughters have a little more class and gratitude because we all aren’t as lucky as you.

As we got in the car my Mom and I talked through our encounter. As much as I wish I had both my girls with me I have Charlotte. While I will always mourn for my little Juliet – I know how blessed I am. Trying days will come but as long as I have her to hold I have more than a lifetimes worth of blessings all wrapped up in this little angel.

And then I realized something.

Women are watching me. They hear me cry about this loss and wish they at least had one baby to hold. They try to get pregnant with no avail. Months pass and still nothing. I used to be one of those women and this lesson is not lost on me.

We all are yearning for something. A baby. Healing. More money. More sleep. And while numbing the pain with alcohol is one way to deal I will deal differently.

Angel

Unexpected Guest: Our Birth Story

When expecting visitors one must prepare. This usually entails cleaning. This may include vacuuming the floor, laundering the sheets, and making the room your guest will be residing in tidy so they are comfortable for the duration of the visit.

When you get an unexpected guest, however, you cannot prepare. One must [ wing it.]

When this unexpected guest is your premature daughter born at 32 weeks there is no time to make adequate preparations.

I went reluctantly to the hospital on the eve of Memorial Day. That Sunday wasn’t much different from any other Sunday. We went to church. We hung-out with family. The usual. Except for the finding out I was in labor it was a really peaceful day.

When the OB resident finished my pelvic exam I should have know something was amiss.

Just one week prior on the previous Saturday, Matthew and I had the fun experience of spending the night in Ann Arbor’s, Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital. I was having cramping that was really intense. So that night (why do these things always happen at night?????) I called my OB and they suggested I head to the hospital to get some tests done. Better safe than sorry, we thought.

Four painful pelvic exams and eight hours later we drug our exhausted butts home – none the wiser as to why I had experienced the cramping. They concluded I was having minor contractions but couldn’t find anything concerning. We were told to call back if anything changed or progressed.

Little did we know it was all about to change!

Monday was business as usual. Expect there was more pain. Only now it had migrated to my back. I grabbed some essential oil, popped a few Tylenol, added some pillows and carried on. The previous 7 months of my pregnancy had been far from comfortable and pleasant so I chalked it up to more bad pregnancy luck and tried my best to manage the aches. By Thursday though, I was OVER it!!! The pain was almost constant at that point. Little gaps of time here and there gave way to minimal relief but I really couldn’t deal any longer. I decided this must have been the “change or progress” the Doc had mentioned that past Sunday so I rang the triage nurse in Ann Arbor.

“If your water hasn’t broke and you’re not bleeding I recommend taking some Tylenol and a warm bath and call back if anything changes.”

Excellent advice Ma’am. I’ll just continue to lay over here dying. Should we mail you the funeral bill when the Tylenol and bath don’t work?

I never said I wasn’t dramatic.

Friday we had a wedding out of town. We planned to crash at my Mom’s in Lansing. Upon arriving to her house, this big preggo made a beeline to the bathroom.

WARNING – TMI ALERT!!!!

I called her into the bathroom after wiping with an alarming urgency in my words.

“Mom, what is this?”

She looked at the toilet paper and her eyes grew wide.

“That right there is your mucus plug. I think you’re in labor.”

“No way! I can’t be! Don’t say that!” I adamantly piped back.

After all we had been through up until this point of the pregnancy I refused to let the thought of that possibility enter my mind.

With all the determination and strength I could muster, Matthew and I changed into our wedding gear and headed to the church. Nothing was going to slow me down! Not even labor.

The next day on Saturday I definitely slowed down though. The pain was unbearable. I thought the pain was bad on Thursday. WOW!!! Did it just get like 1000 times more intense.

I laid on the couch hoping Google could offer up an answer and maybe even a solution? One of the sites said it could be the baby laying on my spine and described some stretches I could try to nudge the baby to move. I was on the floor in a split second putting the suggested moves in to practice as if I was being judged on my form and technique. Another website said to sleep with a rolled up towel under your back and I did. To my shock and delight Sunday I awoke with little to no pain.

Hallelujah, Praise God! And that, I did at church that morning.

After church we met the family for the Memorial Day parade in St. Clair Shores. I felt pretty darn good considering the excruciating pain I had endured the day before. Both my Mother-in-law and Sister-in-law are nurses so I told them what had been going on to get some more medical opinions.

“You need to call the doctor immediately.” They both urged. “Matthew make her call the doctor as soon as you get home.” Pressed my Mother-in-law.

That he did but I refused. You see after four pelvic exams the week before – I decided the next time someone would reach that far up my lady parts was going to result in a baby coming out. My husband, always being the voice of reason suggested if I made the call and my OB instructed us to go to the ER we’d be home by 10pm but if we waited and things [changed or progressed] we would likely spend another sleepless night in the hospital.

I made the call. We went in.

So as I said the OB resident finishes my pelvic exam and it’s quick with no pain so I should have know something was amiss.

“Your baby is breached. I feel baby parts and you’re dilated.”

With this news I began to cry.

Standard.

We seriously couldn’t catch a break with this pregnancy. First we loose a twin at 23 weeks. Then the news that the Cardiologist suspects our surviving daughter has a heart condition and may need surgery upon delivery. Now we are going to deliver two months before our baby girl is done cooking.

I mean you talk about running the full gamut during a pregnancy. Thankfully both my husband and I are, [look at the bright side of things people] and knew the long awaited reveal was in the very near future. We would soon meet our daughter.

Much of what happened next was fast and furious. I was given an IV and started on magnesium sulfate to slow contractions and help baby girl’s brain develop. A Betamethasone, steroid shot was ordered and injected into my hip to mature her lungs. I would be given the next shot on Monday and told that 24 hours after the second shot was administered all bets were off – we could deliver.

Just about 50 hours after I was admitted to the hospital we delivered our two girls on Tuesday night, May 31st.

It was a whirlwind. It was emotional. It was the best day of our lives.

Below we are just hours away from delivery.

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Here’s our little Peanut, Charlie Faith Bonventre. Weighing in at just 4lbs & 16.9 inches. Happy birthday sweet princess!

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“Blessed are they that mourn”

I close my eyes and I can picture my twin girls a few years from now. They are on a playground. Ankles deep in the sandbox, sitting across from one another. It’s a warm summer day. A slight breeze dances in between the locks of curls softly falling from their precious heads. I hear them giggling. Such joy in their voices. I watch them with the deepest contentment I’ve ever know.

I open my eyes as a single tear streams down my cheek. The content feeling flees me. This vision will only remain in my dreams.

On Tuesday, March 29th I was told that they couldn’t find a heartbeat on twin 1. I was a week shy of being six months pregnant.

There are lots of things you plan during your pregnancy. What date to have the baby shower. Where to place the crib. The babies name.

You don’t plan how to live through grief.

I don’t think anything in this life can prepare us for the loss of a loved one. Like love, it’s impact is most genuinely felt by experiencing it. The massive black hole that is grief will suck you in and rip you bare until the most raw version of yourself is unmasked. C.S. Lewis, while keeping a journal during the loss of his wife reflects:

CS Lewis

Everyone will go through hard times. That is guaranteed. I’m human so I can’t live above this reality. What once was a mystery – something that only happens to other women, has become my life. What I have learned over the past several weeks is that when your moment comes you have to decide how to survive.

It felt like a daunting task even to breathe after hearing this sad news but through this trial I have had the joy of experiencing true gratitude and appreciation for all I have. I know this gratitude only comes through pain and I pray this perspective never escapes me.

I know what it is to not sweat the small stuff. To look at your husband, your family and friends and know God is so good to have surrounded you with such genuine, loving people. In them you see the sum of what life is really about.

I know what it is to feel the peace of God. To not be able to stand and know the only place you can lean is on Him. To be surrounded with so much prayer and encouragement that as a direct result your faith in Jesus soars to new heights.

I know what it is to have a dream shattered and be able to sit, broken and lost with your spouse and slowly pick up the pieces. We have lived our wedding vows [for better or worse] in these hours and I can confidently say when our life gets worse we cling to each other until it gets better. I married up in so many thankful ways!

I’m now 30 weeks pregnant and my swollen belly is continuously being jabbed by my growing daughter. I’ve never felt a better feeling. This is part of her story. She is proof that even though life doesn’t work the way you planned it – good can be found in even the darkest places.

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The More the Merrier

Things that come in pairs….

Twinkies.

Animals on the ark.

Shoes.

Dice.

My babies.

How bout that we are expecting twin girls!

This past fall we shared with our families that we were starting IVF  since the traditional way of getting pregnant was proving ineffective. So when the pregnancy announcement was delivered at Thanksgiving everyone was excited but definitely not shocked as they were hopeful that would be the outcome.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving was our second ultrasound. At 5 weeks pregnant the babies are so tiny that all the doctor was finding on the monitor was one baby. My HCG levels indicated a singleton pregnancy so we gladly told the fam we were expecting [one] baby.

The week after Thanksgiving and the big reveal, we went back to the doctor. You practically live at the doctors office while going through IVF. At this point in the process, visiting the office was as routine as driving a car so we headed back to the private room to get ready to see our baby.

I laid back on the table. Matthew sat at my left in his usual spot. The nurse behind the doctor. Pretty routine.

The doctor began. “There’s your baby and, OH! There’s baby number two!”

Matthew immediately shot up in his chair and exclaimed, “but we’re only having one!”

The doctor calmly replied back, “you’re looking at the same screen I am.”

And sure enough on the screen you could clearly see two teeny tiny babies each in their own sac.

I have said my whole life I wanted twins. Anyone who has know me for more than a few years can attest to this. I know this sounds strange but when we knew we were having one something in my gut told me their was more. Call it Mother’s intuition, ridiculous faith in the impossible or sheer craziness I just knew their was more.

God knew the desire of my heart and being the generous God he is, there really was MORE.

So we sat on this secret for another month so we could make Christmas that much more memorable.

We had so much fun getting ready for this big announcement. We searched the internet for ideas and finally landed on a gift packed full of goodies / secret hints to tip our families off that twins would be coming to a crib near them this coming July.

Each bag had the movie Twins, Doublemint gum, Twinnings Tea, and of course Twinkies.

Here’s Matt’s parents reaction.

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Here’s my Mom and my Grandma in the background.

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The shock value was not lost on them!