Tag Archives: family

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.

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.

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 Reversal

I could razzle dazzle you with all manner of linguistic gymnastics to explain why I haven’t written a new blog in literally months, but it would just be an elaborate smokescreen, you see, to obscure the truth, which is that I was simply too lazy to write one.  There has no been shortage of things to write about, as you will soon see, and in fact the sheer volume of goings-on around here is proving a little overwhelming; it’s been so long since I’ve written anything, and so much has transpired in the meantime, that I’m not altogether sure how to tackle this thing.  I guess we’ll figure it out, or not, together.

I’m going to try to keep this particular post contained more or less to one subject, because otherwise it’s doomed to become an unwieldy, lumbering behemoth.  Besides, there are many things, good and not so good, happening around here, all of which are worthy of their own post.  Throwing too much into this one would just dilute their individual significance.  I know better than to promise anything with regards to how frequently I’m going to write new posts, but I will say that I INTEND to write more often, and give all these things the attention they deserve.  For now, I’m sure you will be delighted to know that the subject of this one will be the loose, dangly collection of objects I carry around with me wherever I go: my testicles.

You see, on the way back from Colorado (where we got married, you’ll remember), Shauna and I discussed at length what it would be like to have kids together.  It really just amounted to a fun conversation to help pass the time during the long car ride; after all, we had both had the necessary procedures to prevent us from ever being able to have more kids.  In order for us to have kids together, it would involve both of us having surgeries to reverse those procedures, which would involve a lot of money, travel, and recovery time…at the end of which we would have diminished odds of actually conceiving, anyway.  We ended the conversation by basically saying sure, it would be awesome to have kids together, but we simply met each other too late in life for that to happen.  The subject didn’t really come up again until this spring, when we were laying in bed and one or the other of us said something, and the other one said something back, and next thing you know we were on a plane to North Carolina to get Shauna’s tubes untied.

We scheduled my vasectomy reversal at a clinic (brilliantly named “The Reversal Clinic”) in the town of Muskogee, Oklahoma – a town immortalized in the classic song “Okie From Muskogee” by Merle Haggard.  Because of my love for this song, I had high hopes that we were headed for a town where even squares can have a ball; where they still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse, and where white lightnin’s still the biggest thrill of all.  Instead, we drove into this shithole town during one of the most vicious rainstorms I’ve seen in all my born days, and the only bad thing about that is that the whole town didn’t get washed out to sea in the process.  There were so many things to dislike about the city of Muskogee, OK that for me to dig too deep into it would threaten to overtake this entire post, but suffice it to say that, you know, maybe don’t go there.  Unless you want a cheap vasectomy reversal.

Anyway, my surgery was done by one Dr. Wilson, who was kind of a weird guy, and in fact the whole experience was kind of weird.  Shauna and I walked into the clinic to find not a single soul to greet us, but instead a note saying someone would be with us soon.  Eventually Dr. Wilson showed up, got me checked in, then retreated to the back to put on scrubs and get the procedure underway.  This seemingly one-man operation did not immediately feel me with confidence that my nards were about to literally be in the hands of a qualified professional, but I decided to go with the flow because YOLO, I guess.  I was awake for the procedure (a local anesthetic was used to numb the area) and Shauna was allowed to be in the room with me.  From her vantage point she was able to see a lot of what was going on (I, thankfully, could not).  Fortunately she has a healthy curiosity and interest in such things and the sight of my scrotum flayed open like a butterflied pork chop didn’t gross her out.  The whole thing took about 90 minutes or so, and then we were on our way.  Dr. Wilson, I salute you, wherever you may be.AFE93127-DABE-40FE-9DA8-D683465B8A6E (1)

We stopped at a pharmacy to pick up a couple prescriptions, and then went to the bed and breakfast where we were to spend the night.  It was good, not great; by Muskogee standards it was probably the Ritz, but Shauna and I are from Newton, IA where perfection is demanded and bullshit of any kind is NEVER tolerated.  The next morning we got on the road and headed home.  The recommended healing time before attempting “relations” was two weeks, and I don’t mind telling you that we have stuck unyieldingly to that medical advice, being the responsible adults that we are and whatnot.  We’re both realistic about our expectations…and to be sure, they are tempered a bit by other things going on, particularly health issues that Shauna is currently dealing with.  Now that I’m more or less healed, I can absolutely say that I am incredibly happy that Shauna and I went through all of this.  It was pretty overwhelming at times (the general tone of this post doesn’t really let you know some of the actual anguish we had to go through to make all of this happen, but as they say, we laugh so that we don’t cry).  I’m glad it’s all done, I’m beyond excited to be able to have another kid (or kids), and there is no one on Earth who I’d rather go on this journey with.  Shauna…you are amazing.

The Follow-Up

Earlier this week I had my tubal reversal follow-up appointment with the doctor I chose to be my OBGYN here in our hometown, Dr. Johnson.  He’s new to the clinic, and has quite a lot of experience in his field.

To back up a little bit, I did have a consultation with him before my tubal reversal.  I wanted to get a check up with a doctor and discuss my overall health and age in regards to going through another pregnancy or more.  He informed me at that time that a tubal reversal is not a simple surgery that I will have an easy time finding a doctor for (he didn’t know I was looking into Dr. Monteith yet), and that it wasn’t cheap.  He recommended I look into in vitro instead.  He also said that natural fertility decreases after age 35, and even more after 40…  And that there is a risk with pregnancy after c-section (which I’ve had 2), no matter how long it had been.  That the scar tissue can cause a problem with placenta attachment, and even embryo attachment.  He wasn’t necessarily discouraging me from being pregnant, but he was laying out all the risks for me, which is exactly what I wanted.  No nonsense.  I told him I was already looking into a specialist to reverse my tubal, and he wished me good luck.

To Jarrod and I went to North Carolina, as I’ve already written about.  We had a fantastic experience with Dr. Monteith at A Personal Choice, and he sent my surgical records and after-care instructions to Dr. Johnson.

Then, as I was saying, I had my follow-up with Dr. Johnson this week.  He took all of Dr. Monteith’s instructions very seriously, which I’m very pleased with.  Said everything was very thorough, and read to me exactly what I am to do when I get a positive pregnancy test.  Which is: get in to see him as soon as possible, start getting regular blood draws to check my hormone levels, and when they are high enough have an ultrasound to check for proper implantation of the embryo.  From then on, take care of myself and prepare for a baby!

Jarrod’s vasectomy reversal is scheduled for May 16th, so it won’t be long at all now!  He will post about his experience when it’s all said and done.  We’ve heard different things about how it will go afterwards.  Some people say it could take months for his sperm count to climb up to impregnation levels.  Some people say he has the chance at getting me pregnant right away.  But Jarrod and I both agree – it will happen when it happens.  We aren’t concerning ourselves with following a calendar or stressing out over any of it.  We both believe we will conceive soon enough.  If, after a year or so, nothing has happened yet, we will talk to the doctor about testing.  At this point, I think we would deny any fertility treatments if it came to that.  But that’s so far into the future right now… we figure we will cross that bridge if and when we come to it.

 

Featured Image: © Erica Wexler http://surrealismartbyericawexler.bigcartel.com/

No Escape From Iowa

The USA is buzzing with excitement over tax returns right now.  Everyone gets to go out and buy a brand new TV, new video game systems and other electronics, they’re getting new tattoos, clothes, vehicles, etc.  Most other years I was right there with the general public and giving all that tax money directly to the local retail stores.  But this year, it’s different.

Yes, we got a tax return, but we aren’t going and getting all the latest gadgets.

The ONE thing we had promised the kids we would do this year is go on a vacation.  We were discussing Florida, and everyone was quite excited about it.  Unfortunately, when we found out that my unemployment payments in 2017 cut into our refund more than I ever knew it would, we had to flush the dream of a family vacation on the beach right down the toilet (along with creating some guilt for both Jarrod and I for having to break that promise).

IowaWe had to face facts: the best we could do is keep paying our monthly bills with a small boost so we didn’t fall behind, and plan a mini-vacation closer to home.  So now we are looking at resort-style hotels within Iowa to go spend a night or two.  There is one place a couple hours away that has laser tag, bowling, go karts, an arcade, and an indoor water park that we’re looking into.  It sounds pretty fun to me, and the kids all seem to be on board with that idea.  But if for some reason that doesn’t work out or ends up being out of our price range, we’ll just stick to the Iowa State Fair later this summer, and perhaps a visit to Adventureland, our local amusement park.

I’d be lying if I said I was not disappointed, myself.  I have visited Florida the last 2 years, and I LOVE it there.  The ocean is spectacular.  I know for a fact 2 of my boys were really looking forward to going, and the girls seem rather let down that we aren’t going, as well.  But as it stands, we will just have to settle for Iowa.  As long as we can have fun together as a family, that is what REALLY matters, right?

Those are my thoughts for today.  Not all blog posts can be sunshine and rainbows… this IS real life afterall.  🙂  And if you’re an Iowa native and have any suggestions for awesome family fun within the state, please leave a comment/suggestion for us to look into.  Thanks in advance.