2018 Recap

2018 started uneventfully – peacefully. The weather was very cold, Jarrod and I were both working regular schedules, our kids were just finishing up their winter break from school, and life was finally settling into a comfortable routine for our family. We had no idea what the year would hold for us, but Jarrod and I knew one thing: we were extremely happy to be together.

When our first tax time as a couple came along, we had some minor disagreements on how our tax refund would be used. He had his ideas, and I had mine. And since we had different ideas, it opened up new discussions about what we could do that would make us both happy. Compromise. And since it had been something we had brought up a couple times already, including on our way back from getting married in Colorado, we re-opened the discussion on having a baby together. Jarrod suggested that if this is something we would continue coming back to, we should just do it already and not waste any more time, considering our ages. We gave it some more thought and plenty more discussion, and decided rather than fantasize about it and regret missing our chance in a few years, we would go for it!

In March we took a small family vacation with all 6 kids to Pzazz, which is a family resort here in Iowa. The website promised a swimming area, arcade, good food, a spacious room for us all, and lots of fun overall. When we got there it seemed pretty cool, but as we stayed longer we realized it was aimed more toward a younger crowd. The biggest thing the kids got joy from was the arcade, but it was ridiculously expensive. And our hotel room opened into a giant ball pit, and our room a/c didn’t work. It was hot, stuffy, and very claustrophobic in my opinion. We ended up leaving early. Jarrod and I told ourselves we would plan something better next time we were able to do a family vacation.

During about that same time, I did some research as to which surgeons were the best for our reversal surgeries, and where they were located. I got medical records faxed, forms filled out, flights and hotels booked, and surgeries scheduled. In April, we flew to North Carolina to get my tubal ligation reversal by Dr. Monteith at A Personal Choice. In May, we drove to Oklahoma to get Jarrod’s vasectomy reversal by Dr. Wilson at The Reversal Clinic. Both experiences went very well!

Then the kicker – on May 30th, after complaining to my surgeon for a couple of months (breast reduction and tummy tuck Sept 1 2017) that I had a lump and pain in my right breast, he finally was able to give me a diagnosis. Mycobacterium Fortuitum. It would require months of multiple heavy antibiotics and surgeries to my breast to clean out affected tissue and bacteria. I was told I was not to get pregnant or the baby could be severely damaged by the treatment. He gave me a prescription for 2 heavy antibiotics and told me to start them once I got a negative pregnancy test for the month.

My period was due June 3rd, and Jarrod and I both believed it was incredibly unlikely that I would be pregnant already, considering we weren’t even totally healed from our surgeries yet. I took a pregnancy test on that day, May 30th. It was negative. So I started the less dangerous of the 2 antibiotics and waited the few days for the other one. On the morning of June 3rd I woke up, felt a little off… my breasts were more sort that normal and I still wasn’t bleeding. I didn’t really think much of it but figured since I already had a pregnancy test on hand, I’d take it just to get the treatment going. It was POSITIVE! I couldn’t believe my eyes. And just as fast as the excitement came, so did the dread. What was going to happen with my infection vs. my pregnancy?

So far, these are all things I’ve blogged about in this blog. And if you look back, so you can see so many more details than just a recap version. Let’s just say it was a very rough time for us. Our emotions were high and stress levels were even higher. Check out the 2 posts in June 2018 titled “Not The Boobies” part 1 and 2. I was extremely scared throughout the entire treatment… scared of hurting the baby, and I also felt like the infection would never go away. The follow up to those posts is: I had many different kinds of pills, and was on IV antibiotics for several weeks as well. I had 2 debriding surgeries. Treatment was stopped on November 6th and it seems as though the infection is gone. However, I’m still not 100% certain the infection is gone all the way because of the different little aches and pains from my breasts changing due to pregnancy. But so far, there have been no new lumps, no unusual pains or blotches of redness, no fevers, and my doctors and I do not feel too concerned.

Through all of the treatment of antibiotics and surgeries, I was referred to a NeoNatologist to make sure baby was growing properly and staying healthy. I started seeing her at 16 weeks along, and have seen her every 4-6 weeks since. She has done many ultrasounds including an echocardiogram and growth scans on the baby. She has also done the panorama blood test to check for things such as Down’s Syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities. Every test and scan has come back perfect! I am currently 34 weeks along and this pregnancy has been as good as can possibly can be. No gestational diabetes, no crazy weight gain, no high blood pressure. Other than the more severe aches and pains that come with a “geriatric” pregnancy, baby and I couldn’t be better. Jarrod and I are VERY happy and excited for baby to come sometime in the next 6 weeks.

During the year we also celebrated everyone’s birthdays, we saw several concerts, went on plenty of movie and dinner date nights, and overall enjoyed our first full year of marriage. Our family found a groove all together and it feels quite natural nowadays.

In July, Evan, my 14 year old son, went to stay in a psychiatric home for a while to get help with some of his anger issues. He remains there, but visits home on weekends and holidays. It has not gotten any easier over the last 6 months to drop him off when he leaves from a visit. But it really is helping him, and I look forward to him coming home likely within the next couple of months. I’m glad I made the decision to do that for him and his future.

In September, Andy, my 16 year old son, had jaw surgery. It had been planned for about 3 years and it was finally time to get it done. The surgeon broke his bottom jaw on both sides and extended it out so it would be more even with his top jaw. I was there for him the whole time, staying with him in the hospital, pureeing his food for weeks at home, and making sure he had his medications and as much comfort as I could provide. It was officially fully healed mid-December. It was about a 3 month recovery. I was nervous about him getting hit in the face by the dog or something, but his recovery went very well, quite smoothly. And he’s all healed!

This year, both Thanksgiving and Christmas were hosted in our home. This ends up falling on us because we have the biggest house, and the most room for guests. For Thanksgiving, my mom came over and cooked for us all. And for Christmas, Jarrod’s mom and brother came over and cooked for us all. Both holidays went very well.

Our Christmas this year was a huge success. Jarrod and I made the accomplishment this year of purchasing all the gifts for our kids with absolutely no help from anyone at all. It may seem small to some, but it was huge for us! All the kids were pleased with what they got, and no one walked away disappointed. The gathering we had went so very well, too, with both Jarrod’s family and my family all under one roof and everyone got along so well. It filled our hearts with love and gratitude that we were able to have all we had this year.

And now we go into 2019 knowing that no matter what the obstacle or blessing, we are strong and have faith that we will come through it together even stronger.

Guilt & Gratitude

When I was young, I knew I wanted to have a family.  Also being young, I didn’t have the patience or the sense to wait for the right guy to come along.  So like the foolish young girl I was, I decided to start a family with a lifelong guy friend.  Once I was pregnant, we got married – he and I both thought it was the right thing to do.  It went alright for the first couple of years.  Andy was born, and we were doing quite well.  Well enough that we thought it was a good idea to try again for another baby.  I got pregnant again immediately.  About 6 months into my second pregnancy is when our relationship fell apart.  The kids’ dad and I split up and I started dating someone else almost right away (as went most of my relationships from then on).  Once my second baby, Evan, was born, I was pregnant again from the new boyfriend within a couple months.  The new boyfriend was not happy, denied paternity, and disappeared, never to be heard from again.  So here I was, headed to being a single mom of 3.  Andy and Evan’s dad was around off and on, some for me, some for the kids.  He claimed my third, Cory, as his own as well.  But as noble as that sounds, it still didn’t make him a good dad to the boys.

Over time, I dated a few guys that were in my life for long enough to be in the boys’ lives as well.  A couple of them seemed to be good guys, but more often than not, they didn’t relate to my boys well at all.  Nothing ever worked out.  That’s where the guilt comes into this post. 

I have tremendous guilt now for all the wrong decisions I made not only as a woman, but mostly as a mom.  The majority of these guys should never have met my boys, if any of them.  My self-esteem during those times was the lowest it’s ever been in my life, and my personal boundaries were severely lacking.  The guys didn’t treat me right, and had no respect for my parenting or connection to my kiddos, as most of them had no children of their own.  By dating them, I allowed them to take a lot of my attention, when more should have been focused on the kids.   That is something I regret more than anything else in my life.  I cannot allow myself to sit and dwell on it too much or depression takes over.

As anyone who knows me or reads this blog knows, there is a happy ending to that.  Jarrod and I found each other!  Our immediate connection, and knowing we were meant to be together, changed my whole outlook and perspective on being in a relationship.  He and I both have kids we hold as high priority, so we know what each other needs to do to be a good parent… and we respect each other for it.  We give each other the space to spend time with our kids, while maintaining an excellent balance so we have our own time together as well.  It has been very fulfilling for us both.

Jarrod and I have had many discussions about adding to our family, and how lucky our next child(ren) will be to have two parents who have both made unfortunate mistakes, but have learned enough to know how to keep the family together.  And while the guilt from my past mistakes remains for my current boys, I know I will not repeat those mistakes.  

The baby I carry now, and any future children Jarrod and I may have, will be very lucky kids.  They will have 2 parents who love each other endlessly, and whose home will never be broken.  For for that I have eternal gratitude.

Infection, Pregnancy and Everything Else

So much has happened over the summer, mostly related to my health.  I had posted a few things about it back in June.  So I’ll briefly recap and then start where I left off with a fairly brief explanation of what happened and how I got to where I am today.  Followed by a few bits and pieces from the rest of the family.

In September of 2017 I had a breast reduction and tummy tuck.  I healed very well from it, recovered and returned to normal activity fairly quickly.  In March of 2018 I noticed a couple small lumps in my right breast.  I made an appointment with the surgeon who did the reduction, and he believed at that time it was just unsettled breast tissue from the reduction.  A month later, I had an unrelated infection of my tonsil.  It was treated with strong antibiotics and steroids and went away just fine.  And so did the small lumps in my breast.  I thought it was just a cool coincidence and went about my life.  But when the antibiotics and steroids were all out of my system, the lumps in my breast came back with a vengeance, and I ended up making another appointment with my surgeon.  He prescribed me a few different antibiotics to try over the course of a month.  The lumps continued to grow.  Then in May, he aspirated some fluid from the area of swelling.  When he got the results back he had me come back in to explain it was a serious bacterial infection in the family of tuberculosis, but in the soft tissue of my breast.  He said it would take months of heavy antibiotic treatment to cure it, and told Jarrod and I to stop trying to get pregnant immediately.  This was on May 30th.  On June 3rd we got our positive pregnancy test.  I was referred to an infectious disease specialist.

So all together, my OBGYN, surgeon, and infectious disease specialist (and home care nurses) have been collaborating to make sure I’ve had the best care for both me and baby for the last few months.  I’ve had two debridement surgeries, and I’ve been on several IV antibiotics, switching every time I develop a reaction or allergy.  I had a PICC line for 6 weeks until I could no longer handle it physically – my body was pushing it out (which the nurse said she’d NEVER seen that happen before).  Once I hit my 2nd trimester I was able to start taking stronger (more risky) antibiotics.  But with that, came a referral to start seeing a perinatologist for the rest of my pregnancy to make sure baby handles it okay.  So… so that makes 4 doctors on my team.

But it seems to all be coming to an end…. FINALLY!  Just this week I was released from seeing the surgeon because I have healed so well since the 2nd surgery, and now that I’m on the proper antibiotics.  I see the infectious disease specialist again in a couple weeks, but I expect he won’t want to see me too often, maybe even just a couple more times, because the surgical open wound will likely be closed by then and the infection truly seems to be extremely minimal if not just about entirely gone.  And once I’m finally released from this illness, I can finally focus more on this joyous pregnancy!

E56B4DCA-96AA-490A-B132-91542CABFCB2Speaking of the pregnancy, everything has gone fantastic despite the infection and antibiotics.  I got a Sneak Peek mail order blood test at 9-10 weeks and they gave us the result it will be a BOY!  Then when we went to see the perinatologist at 16 weeks along and the ultrasound confirmed its a BOY!!  I am currently almost 18 weeks along.  Jarrod and I have a name chosen, but we aren’t telling anyone until he’s born.  We have a detailed anatomy scan coming up around 21 weeks along.  I’m trying to arrange a VBAC, but with the baby’s due date being in February, and my only doctor and delivery center would be 45 minutes away in good weather, I don’t know that it will be a possibility.  But I’m still going to try.

Unfortunately, my health issues kept us from doing much of anything as a family this summer.  Having a PICC line and an open surgical wound all summer kept me from doing anything involving water.  And being pregnant kept me from going on amusement park rides.  The antibiotics have made me feel very weak and nauseated.  So pretty much anything that anyone wanted to do, I was not up for.  Jarrod and I went ahead and let the kids who had the opportunity, go do things with their friends.  And I insisted that he take his girls to the Iowa State Fair without me.  All summer I felt like such a spoil-sport, a wet blanket, and nuisance and inconvenience.  I must say it’s probly been my worst summer ever because of all the guilt I’ve had from keeping the family from having fun just from being sick.  Of course it’s certainly not like I chose to be sick.  I was very much looking forward to going to Adventureland, the Iowa State Fair, and other summer festivities.  I very much hope next summer is much more fun for us all!

There are a few other things that happened this summer too…
– Autumn and Willow moved in with their mom in a town about 90 minutes away.  But they still visit every other weekend.
– Evan went to a residential psychiatric facility to get treatment for his anger and impulse control issues at last!  I’ve been trying to get him help for years, and I’m so very glad to report it’s helping so far!
– Andy is a few short days away from getting his jaw surgery to extend his lower jaw and improve his overbite.
– Jarrod has lost about 60-70 pounds in the last year and has been visiting the bariatric/surgical center that can do excess skin removal – his surgery is pending insurance approval.

And finally, I must say my husband is amazing.  Through all of this illness, all of the bullshit, he has stood by me and supported me through it all.  He’s been my rock, my best friend, my encouragement, my caretaker, and my reason to keep going on.  Thank you so much for everything Jarrod.  I couldn’t have made it without you.  I love you more than you’ll ever know.

Privacy

Over the last many years I’ve personally participated in social media, for the vast majority of my experiences, I have been a pretty public person.  I enjoyed the attention, and even strived for more followers/friends/connections.  However, nowadays, it seems the more public I am with my life, whether it be good or bad experiences I’m sharing, I get negative feedback.  Mostly from strangers.  Sure, I get good feedback too, mostly from long-time friends… and I truly appreciate it.  But the bad feedback I get hurts.  And honestly, I have enough going on in my life that I don’t feel I have room for the any of the negativity.

There are extended family members and exes of both of ours that have nothing but negative to say about our life together, and us as individuals.  I know a couple that follow us just to badmouth us.  And ya know, people are all entitled to their opinions.  But when they feel the need to share those opinions, or intentionally start rumors about us that are so obviously not true, just to hurt us in one way or another… well it’s incredibly unnecessary.  If those people are so miserable in their own lives, I don’t see how it’s going to make them feel better to try to bring us down.

My point here is, I’m done playing the game.  I’m done publicly fueling the fire.  From now on, my posts will be private – shared only with those I know, and who I know care about us for more than their bitter amusement.  I am choosing to surround myself with a positive circle of people, and no one else.  Jarrod and I are pretty happy in our little family bubble, and anyone allowed into that at this point should consider themselves fortunate.  My personal Facebook and Instagram will be private from now on, and my personal blog is being closed.  Anything I post HERE from now on will be password protected, and the passwords will be given to those I choose.

Even to me this seems like a pretty drastic step to take, but I’ve been simmering in it for a while, trying to decide which path to take.  And I think closing out the negativity, and the public, is the best way to go.

Commitment

I truly don’t think people understand or trust in the commitment Jarrod and I share.  Perhaps from an outsider’s point of view it could seem pretty early in our relationship to really know how permanent we will be.  The kids all seem to think we will split, and almost expect it from what I’ve observed.  Our other family members and friends (on both sides) seem to be waiting to have to pick up the pieces of another failed attempt at a relationship.  Jarrod and I have both dated quite a bit in our pasts, with bad results, so in our loved ones’ eyes maybe they don’t trust our permanence together.

Speaking from my own personal experiences, I have been in a few long-term, crappy relationships that were very unstable and obviously ended.  Ended badly, even.  Rumors, destruction, hurt feelings… all the bad things that result from a breakup or divorce.  However, I went on, believing I’d one day have to either stay alone or settle, not believing I’d find “the one” that clicked with me so very well.

As cliche as it may sound, I found my soulmate in Jarrod.  As everyone knows, we met at work, we talked quite a lot during our shifts together, and became friends.  I was in an abusive relationship, so it didn’t go any further until I ended that abusive relationship.  And again, yes, we moved VERY quickly.  Putting the impression out there to people that we were being foolish and rash, that our passion would fizzle out.  But what no one knows is what went on (and continues to go on) behind closed doors.  What no one knows is the deep, cosmic, almost unbelievable connection Jarrod and I share on every level of our existence.

You see, Jarrod and I have spent countless hours talking.  We have talked about the connection we share, which neither of us believed was even something that could exist.  We have talked about our pasts.  We have talked about our experiences with family, friends, work, and EVERYTHING in between.  We have talked about just about every topic there is to talk about, no matter how bad or embarrassing.  We have spent nearly 24 hours together every day for the entire last 10 months, and we never shut up when we’re together.  If we run into something we don’t agree on, we may take a few hours to collect our thoughts, but then we talk that out too.  And the passion…. well it has not only stuck around, but it has gotten stronger.  He and I both feel like we found the other half of ourselves, and as co-dependent as it may be, neither of us can imagine what life would be like without the other.  We are each other’s best friend.  We are a true match for one another.  And personally, I cannot imagine being even a fraction as happy with anyone else by my side.

So when people are lingering, watching, waiting for the other shoe to drop, I have one of two attitudes at any given moment.  Either I think its ironic and funny, and I know we will prove everyone wrong one day by staying together until we are old and feeble… and die.  Or I get annoyed and almost hurt that people don’t understand the commitment we share.  I don’t know how I could expect anyone to see it I suppose, after all, nearly no one really takes marriage or monogamy seriously anymore.  But hear me and really believe me when I say: there is no way on this earth or any other that anything will tear apart what Jarrod and I have together.  We are in this together forever.  Divorce isn’t an option for either of us.  Being with anyone else physically or emotionally isn’t an option for either of us.  And even though neither of us are religious people, there is some deeper, spiritual reason for us to be together.  We both felt it the moment of our first hug.  We sort of melted into each other, and that feeling has only gotten more intense over time.  Our “potential mate” radars have been shut off, because they are no longer needed.  We found each other after what seems like an overly-extended waiting period, and we are making up for lost time.  Our quickness to be together, to get married, to have babies together… it all comes from the fact that we believe we were meant to be together all along, and we just missed it somewhere along the way before last year.  And now that we found each other at long last, it all fits together.  He is my everything.

The point is, there is no need to wait and see anymore.  There is no need to expect the worst.  There is no worry of rocky roads ahead or divorce.  Sure, we will disagree on things from time to time.  But we are close enough, love and respect each other enough to know to just give each other time, and we always work through it.  We are each other’s top priority.  That will never change.  Never.  So rest easy dear loved ones, just as we do, that this is a permanent commitment.  Our hearts and lives are so filled with love, we could not imagine or desire for anything different.

Special Announcement!

In my last blog, I wrote in some detail about our trip to Oklahoma and the vasectomy reversal surgery I had while there.  In the opening stages of the surgery, Dr. Wilson looked at a fluid sample and informed me that my sperm had heads, but no tails.  Not a huge deal; such things are to be expected 3 years after having had a vasectomy.  After the surgery I could again start producing healthy, mobile sperm that were able to get where they needed to go, but it would take approximately 3 months for everything to be at full capacity.  The chances of getting pregnant before then would be fairly slim…after all, without tails, the sperm can’t really go anywhere.  Armed with this information, Shauna and I returned home and figured we’d be able to start actively trying to get pregnant around September or so.

That was on May 16th.  Flash forward to June 3rd.  I had gone to work that morning at 8 AM, and left Shauna in bed sleeping.  On days such as this, I return home around 9:30 to pick Shauna up and we both go back to work to finish getting the store open.  On this particular day I was going about my business at work when Shauna texted me and asked if I would have a few minutes to talk when I went to pick her up.  I said I would, then went and finished whatever task I was working on and headed home.  When I pulled up, Shauna was sitting outside on the steps waiting for me; my assumption was that she wanted to vent about one of the kids or something.  She, in fact, did want to talk about one of the kids…the one that’s growing inside of her.

You see, she had taken a pregnancy test that morning and it was very, very clearly positive.  I was not surprised at all that she was pregnant; I always assumed that, even with the decreased odds because of our surgeries, we’d have good luck.  I was quite blown away, however, at how fast it happened.  Conception occured 5 days after my surgery.  It’s almost as if the universe took a good long look at me and said “you know, there just needs to more of THAT around, and I don’t think anyone should have to wait for it, either.  I’m gonna give the people what they don’t even know they want, and I’m gonna give it to them now!”  And with that, I was able to impregnate Shauna months before any medical common sense would have dictated that I’d be able to.  She was pregnant a week and a half before I was even medically cleared to begin attempting intercourse, for crying out loud.  The surreal, mind-exploding QUICKNESS of it all was pretty much the only thing I could think about, not only that day but for several days afterward.  It honestly seemed a little too good (and fast) to be true, so we decided that we would wait to tell anyone until Shauna had an ultrasound confirming that it was a healthy, viable pregnancy.  We sat on this bombshell for 2 weeks until finally, today, we went to Shauna’s ultrasound appointment and got the news we were waiting for:  the baby is right where it needs to be and is right on target as far as growth.  We were even able to see the heartbeat today.

With this confirmation, and with now having told the kids, we are now able to officially announce to the world that we are indeed pregnant.  We’re both extremely excited, but it still seems strangely unreal.  Shauna and I have both the spent the last several years thinking that our days of having babies were over, and even though we’ve went to considerable effort over the last several months to make this happen, it hasn’t quite sunk in yet.  Again, we knew we’d eventually be pregnant…but not after 5 days!  I’m sure it’ll become more real as we go to more appointments, begin to acquire more baby stuff and get prepared for The Arrival.  One thing is for sure: this baby is already as loved and wanted right now, today, as it will be on the day it is born.  I’m beyond excited to be a dad to a baby again.  I’m good at it.

The story of the family of Jarrod & Shauna Hesse…