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Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Pregnant

I have had a total of three pregnancies- my first ended at 28 weeks with a partial abruption and severe pre-eclampisa. She was only 1lb 11.5ozs and 13 inches long and spent a total of 8 1/2 months in NICU. She’s now a small but healthy 7 year old. My second was relatively uncomplicated but we lost her. She was born at 36 weeks due to me going into a painless labor and I wasn’t allowed by the doctors to go into labor. She died of a condition called Anencephaly (absence of the skull) and lived for 3 hours after birth.

My third was totally complication free and she was born at 37 weeks (once again, due to the complications of my oldest) and was 7lbs11ozs and 21 inches long- they told us she would have been a 9-10lb baby if she was born term.

I had each baby at 23, 25 and 27 years, I’m 30 now so I have spent almost my full adult life being called “mommy.”

I read all the books, blogs and joined all the support forums I could find. What to Expect was my bible through my first pregnancy and through her early years but nothing could prepare me for the almost 9 months of hell I was in for after having my baby.

When I was 22 and newly married, I found out I was pregnant. I was young, naive and even though I knew it was a huge sacrifice, I had a glorified image of pregnancy and motherhood. I knew it wouldn’t be a walk in the park and that I wouldn’t have near the freedom I had before but I still imagined taking the baby to baby and me classes, taking her out in cute little outfits with friends (since most of mine, at that time were also pregnant or new mommies) and late night cuddles. I thought of play dates and hanging out with friends would simply end up taking place at kid friendly places instead of bars. I had no idea what the dark side of pregnancy involved. I had heard of conditions like Pre-Eclampsia but the thought never crossed my mind that it could happen to me.

I decided to sit down and ask myself what 30 year old me wished 23, 25 and even 27 year old me knew. I was able to come up with a quick list of six major things I wish people had told me

  1. Take folic acid- lots of it. I didn’t realize how important it really was. I did make sure my pre-natals had it, but that was it. After dealing with Pre-E and losing another baby to Anencephaly, I joined a support group for people who lost babies to the disorder and that was when I read about folic acid and how vital it is to healthy pregnancies. I also learned about the MTHFR and after asking for a simple blood test, I found out I had a more severe form of the lesser mutation- which means my body only processes about 7% of the folic acid I eat.
  2. Swelling all over to the point where you do not look human IS NOT NORMAL. Don’t call Labor and delivery, go in to the ER to get checked- especially if swelling in the hands and face comes with headache and lightheaded or any other sign of high blood pressure. Pre-Eclampsia is serious, but can be managed if it’s caught early on.
  3. Lay off the baby books- especially if you have a preemie- seriously, cut it out. If your baby doesn’t develop by the books (either advanced or behind) they will stress you out more than help- it’s nice to know what “normal” development is, but if you start playing comparisons, it will make you lose your mind.
  4. Go ahead and complain about the morning sickness, crampy feelings, bloated feeling, headaches, mood swings, exhaustion and everything else- being pregnant sucks and it’s ok to not enjoy the symptoms- it’s the end result we all want.
  5. Do not freak out after being given the epidural. It doesn’t make all feeling go away- just the pain. With my first c section, they had to put me under as soon as she was out. I thought it was about to wear off in the middle of the c section. I always assumed that I would be totally numb and that I wouldn’t even feel the surgeon pull the baby out. My second two c sections went smoother because I knew what to expect.
  6. Enjoy the last little bit of freedom- the sleepless nights do not last long (be a few months, they WILL sleep through the night) but that small window of time in between feels like an eternity- and there will be times you will wake up freaked out in the middle of the night because your baby sighed and you thought they were choking- that is normal.

I wish I could go back in time, knowing what I know now, and possibly fix some of the things I feel I did wrong. Since I can’t change the past, I do try to share these tips when the topics come up. I’ll push the subject of folic acid or full body swelling when I’m talking to a friend who’s newly pregnant or trying to conceive. I have many other lessons I have learned in my 7 years of being mommy, but these stick out the most as the pieces of advice I wish I had listened to most.

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When I lost you

When I lost you, not only did I lose getting to know a person. I also lost hopes and dreams for the future. I lost everything I drempt you would be and every potential achievement you could have made. I lost a tiny hand in my hand and a chance to be your mommy.

I lost seeing you smile, hearing you talk, hearing you laugh and picking you up when you fell.

I always wonder if you would be more like your daddy or me. Would you look like a mix of both of us or favor one more?

Would you be an artist, athlete or studious? Would you prefer cats or dogs?

Would you be girly like your sisters or the tomboy of the group? What would your favorite flower be? Favorite color?

What would your personality be like? Would you love or hate school?

When I lost you I have so many questions I will never know the answer to and I will never get to experience.

When you died, so did those hopes and dreams for the future. Your future. My future as your mommy and our future as a family

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I’ve been cheated

I’ve been cheated out of knowing a little person.

Cheated out of seeing that little person grow.

Cheated out of watching that first step, hearing those first words or the first “mommy.”

I never got to celebrate those milestones, first birthday or any birthday.

Never got to dry her eyes after she cried.

Never got to look into those eyes and hear “I love you mommy”

Never will get to teach her how to drive.

Never will see her first day at school.

Never will comfort her first heartbreak.

Never will send her off to college.

No mothers day gifts from her.

Or cards.

Or hugs.

Will this ever get easier? It’s been five years without her. Will this pain go away? We would be signing her up for kindergarten. She would be in preschool. This year is hitting me harder. It’s a milestone and I’m still not ready to say goodbye.

I’m a member of a club. I never signed up for. I want out. I want my membership revoked. I want my cassie back. I want this family whole.

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I never thought I’d be the type to let myself go after a marriage and these past 2 years (last year and this year) I’m getting myself back.

I have been with my husband almost 8 years now. Before he and I met, when I was younger, it would take me over an hour just to leave my house. My hair, make up, clothes and everything had to be perfect. After we had our first baby, I had an extra 60lbs (went from 125 to 198 at the end of my first- complicated- pregnancy) and I started stress eating (before that, if I was stressed, I couldn’t eat). I managed to lose 10lbs down to 180 but stuck. I did workouts sporadically but the stress turned to fatigue and even laziness.

With my second pregnancy (the one we lost) my weight stayed the same after the baby was born and I was too depressed to really work on it.

By the time I had my third, I gained up to 220- higher than I ever weighed and was a size 18. This time, I was more active but my thyroid went into hyper due to the toxic cyst and I lost 30lbs in the first 6 weeks and another 20 recently. Now that I’m down to about 170 and a size 14/16 I’m gaining the motivation to continue.

After I had my first baby, I continued with my hair, make up and skin routine but over time, lost it.

In the past few months, I’m working on changing myself. I realized a while back I let myself go so now I’m working on undoing the damage before it becomes harder.

My daily skin routine now involves pre cleanse and cleansing, sometimes exfoliating (not every day- usually 3 times a week to every other day), spraying my face with either rose water or Dermalogica’s Multi-Active toner, moisturizer, then I’ll put on a mask 1-2 times a week. That’s my evening before bedtime routine. My morning routine is the same but after the moisturizer, I’ll put my make up on. That full routine can keep my eczema from acting up too bad. I have found that to keep it down, exfoliating and moisturizing is key.

I’ve studied skin care professionally (I’m a licensed skin therapist) so keeping my skin next to perfect is key. Luckily for me, when my eczema breaks out, it’s mostly still skin colored but the itching does me in. I still get compliments on my skin on a daily basis- I get rid of zits immediately, don’t have black heads and you would have to look at my skin under a magnifying glass to see my pores- my skin has been my pride and thanks to that, I still look as young as I did when I met my husband. I’m heavier now, but I’m also working on losing that (I did make it from 130 to 220, I’m back down to 170 and working on losing the last 40lbs if possible). I’m down 50lbs from 220 to 170 from two years ago (hit my peak weight at the very end of my last pregnancy- but there will be no more pregnancies so I can focus on losing the last bit)

I’m also looking at what types of workouts are best for people with Osteo arthritis and Ehler Danlos Syndrome to try to get my body toned back up.

I’ve been working on trying to get back to how I was in college. Back then, I was active and felt great. I also looked better. I’m not sure how to handle my thinning and really dry hair (the wrong shampoos grease my hair up and make it look wet, when it dries it dries like straw. It’s hard having greasy skin in that one area of my body but then having dry hair. The thyroid issues don’t help at all.)
The selected image is what I looked like in October. I’m hoping to get back to a slightly older version of what I looked like when I met my husband. I’m not trying to look like a teen again (or very young adult) since I’ll be 30 this week, I just want to be about the same size, weight and to feel good again.

The first picture was taken right before my husband and I met (same week)

The one with the hat was shortly after we got together, before I got pregnant and the third was our first Christmas with our new baby (she was 9 months old)

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Christmas shopping for 2

We recently finished our Christmas shopping for 2 kids.

We shopped for 2 girls- age 2 and 6. It is bittersweet. On the one hand, Christmas is a magical time- the kids love seeing the lights, decorations and love the cookies and gifts but it’s really hard knowing you should be shopping for a 2, 4 and 6 year old instead of just the 2 and 6.

I look at the toys and wonder what miss Cassie would have wanted, what she would have been into and what she would have had as her security toy. Would she be a huge doll fan? Would she have wanted to play with Barbies or cars? Would she have been interested in sports? Art? Music? All of the above?

What would her personality have been? Would she have been more laid back like the 6 year old or more hyper like the 2 year old?

Where I work in retail, I meet people with kids my kids’ ages all the time. I’m normally fine, but I met a woman with 2 daughters- 4 and 2 and nearly lost it. I went into work a few days ago crying- had been all afternoon that day and finally calmed myself down enough to do my job.

It hurts, it really reminds you what you’re missing out on. The two living kids we have wear us out but we know we would have been able to handle having 2, 4 and 6. Even if we never rested, we know we’d be doing it.

It’s getting easier to handle these holidays and all that without her but milestones still hit me hard. She would have started school this year (preschool) so we would have had 2 out of 3 in school.

One thing i hate hearing is people using loss as an excuse for people acting like assholes during this season. If someone is an ass during the Christmas season, the only excuse is that they’re assholes the rest of the year as well. Losing someone (grandparent, parent, child- it doesn’t matter) is not an excuse to treat people like crap. The holiday season is stressful for most people- being nice, sweet, charitable and kind is the best way to act during this season (and year round). I’ll never understand why people make excuses for bad behavior but then again, it’s not in my nature. I tried to ship something out for my Etsy and the post office worker was an asshole to me. Instead of causing a scene or acting out, I finished paying and just turned around and walked out. It’s likely going to be my absolute last time using that post office, but it’s not my first bad experience with him and there are literally 4 other post offices to choose from in close vicinity.

I think we’re finally done with our shopping. This weekend, we need to go over everything and make sure we have all bases covered. That’s what I like about working in retail, easy shopping all the way up to the day.