My Hope as a Mother After the Orlando Tragedy

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I’m still reeling from the tragedy in Orlando. Powerless, frightened, sickened, frustrated, and devastated. These are all words that aim to describe how I feel. But there are no words to truly convey how the surviving victims and their loved ones feel. My heart simply aches for our country.

Where is our future headed?

We know the facts. That this was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. That 49 were killed and 53 more were injured. That the killer easily obtained an assault rifle despite his history with the FBI. That there have been 141 mass shootings (more than 4 people involved) in 2016 already.

But what makes a tragedy so tragic is the fact that the consequences leave us with a hole that no statistic, justification, apology, speech, vigil, or prayer can fill. How many more holes can our country take before we are so fragile we crumble?

Many people question why one would choose to bring a child into such a scary world. To me, as a mother, that answer is simple. Each and every child is a hope for our future. Each boy and girl has the potential to create change – every little act of kindness as the potential to domino into a life altering change.

As a mother, I look into my innocent baby’s eyes and hope that he will be one of the good ones. I hope that he will always choose love. Hope is a powerful weapon. But it takes more than hope. It takes action – from us all.

Love is not a singular activity. In order to bring change we must act together. As a society we must love one another, help one another, accept one another.

Teaching acceptance, kindness, and love start at home. As a mother I aim to teach my children these basic moral codes. I promise to tell and show my children how to choose love every day.

But we are more than our singular homes. One day our children will leave our homes and the power to teach goodness will not be solely in our hands as parents. These principles must continue to be taught in our schools, our places of worship, and our places of work. It takes all of us. Not just parents, not just teachers, not just leaders. The power to bring about change takes all of us. Straightforward concept, right?

Yet, we are failing. Why is such an easy task, to be kind, accepting and loving, so hard to achieve?

As a mother I promise to never stop searching for that answer. I promise that in every step I take I will choose love. Together I believe we can move forward to peace, I won’t let go of that hope.

New Parents Love Letter

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Dear Ryan,

It’s 2 degrees outside (but feels like -7) and we are snuggled up at home with our sweet baby boy. Donned in our rattiest mismatched pajamas (they are the comfiest ones), we are sitting side by side on the couch where I am pumping breast milk and you are watching The Universe (even though you did say I could catch up on all my shows this weekend ahem). Wyatt is napping contentedly and we smile as he farts loudly in his sleep. 

There is no other way I’d want to spend my Saturday night. 

Earlier today we finally hung the gallery wall that we have been talking about for over two years, did laundry, and threw out some old junk. For once we actually used a Saturday to get something other than sleep and staring at the baby accomplished. I’m proud of us.

After I’m done pumping we are going to bake some cookies for Valentine’s Day. I’m sure I”ll dance around and sing Mickey’s “Hot Dog” song in my goofiest voice. You’ll laugh and say you love me. We’ll then settle down for a very grown up dinner of burgers and fries before getting Wyatt settled in for the night. Once he’s asleep there is a glorious bottle of wine waiting for us. Earlier in our relationship we would have drunk the whole bottle while we chatted about everything and watched some serious TV. Now we’ll be falling asleep at 9:30 after one glass. 

To most, that may seem like a boring way to celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend. But I repeat, there is no other way I’d want to spend my Saturday night. 

These days life is messy but oh so sweet. These small moments together are what I know I will treasure years from now. I take hundreds of photographs but none of them can capture what this life means to me. It’s hard to measure this type of happiness.

One thing is for sure, my definition of romance has changed.

Romance is the way you always take the baby and let me sleep in on the weekends. I never knew an empty and quiet bed could be so wonderfully lovely. 

Romance is the way you always clean up the dishes after every meal.

Romance is watching Wyatt’s face light up when you come home from work.

Romance is the way you are trying to change habits that drive me nuts, like moving your shoes out of the front hallway so I don’t trip and break my neck every morning.

Romance is how your last words at night are no longer “I love you” but “Wake me up if you need anything” even though I never wake you up when I’m up with Wyatt.

Romance is how there is no one else I can sit for hours and talk about every little thing Wyatt does.

Romance is hearing you read Brown Bear Brown Bear over and over again and never getting tired of it.

Romance is not rolling your eyes when I show you 15 photos of Wyatt that would look identical to most people and ask you which one is best. Daily.

Romance is how I find myself even more in love with you each and every day that we spend together as a family. 

My heart has been divided between two men yet it has never felt more whole.

Now let’s sneak up stairs and get some sleep!

Love, 

Katie

Birth Story: Wyatt Stirling

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Birth Story: Wyatt Stirling MacDonald   –    September 7, 2015   –    4:45 a.m.

Wyatt Stirling entered the world swiftly in the middle of the night. He decided to show the world his sense of humor by skipping out on his scheduled C-section delivery and arriving two days early on Monday, September 7, Labor Day.

The Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend found me running all over town in a bustle of nervous energy. I was emotionally preparing myself for my C-Section scheduled for that Wednesday, September 9, at 10:30 a.m.

Shopping was my form of nesting. It’s like I thought that once baby arrived I would never be allowed out in the real world to do things like buy myself shoes or stock up on some new fall clothes. (Yes, the shopping was for myself. I was all set for the baby.)

Despite my aching hips and back and extreme tiredness felt this intense need to stay busy. So on Saturday, we made a day of it. We went suit shopping for Ryan and shoe shopping for me. I waddled around the mall with determination as if this were my last task on earth. Ryan was a good sport. We scored two suits for him but nothing for me, which caused me even more anxiety. I felt like I couldn’t relax until I had found the perfect shoes.

On Sunday I woke up early and headed out to continue shoe shopping on my own. A salesclerk at DSW gasped when she saw me and said, “I sure hope you don’t go into labor in the store!” I managed to give her a smile as I continued bending up and down trying on pair after pair of shoes.

I made it back home empty handed around noon and felt so incredibly sick. I was hot, dizzy, and breaking out in a sweat. I crawled upstairs and attempted a nap. 

A grumpy mood took over the rest of my day. To try to brighten my mood I suggested we go out for a walk to enjoy the beautiful weather. I figured this would be our very last walk as a family of three. As we slowly made our way around the neighborhood we talked about our fears about having a C-Section and our favorite topic, what our baby boy will be like.

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Once we got back home we parked ourselves on the couch for a bit. I received a few emails, texts, and calls from family and friends wishing me good luck with the birth. Which I thought was a little odd since it was still three days away. It’s almost like they knew…

Ryan was deep in the middle of binge watching Brooklyn 99, but I was such a ball of nervous energy that I couldn’t relax and enjoy the night. I honestly felt like something was up and perhaps I would not be waiting until Wednesday to meet our sweet baby boy. I requested a foot massage before deciding to head up to bed early. I still really wasn’t feeling well. I tried to sleep but could not relax. I attempted to read but ended up on my phone Googling C-section birth stories and recovery tips.

Around 11:30 p.m. my symptoms got worse. I was very hot and sweaty and felt like I could pass out. I did what any pregnant woman would do when she’s feeling off and Googgled “39 weeks, hot and sweaty, labor symptom?” Of course the results were all over the place. I went downstairs and pumped up the AC and directed a fan right in my direction. Ryan was fast asleep next to me. This is when my instinct was telling me that something really was happening. I lied in bed and tried to relax.

Just before 12:30 a.m. I heard and felt the smallest pop and then felt a trickling of liquid running down my legs and onto the bed. I jumped up and ran to the bathroom, leaking the whole way there. My water broke! I sat on the toilet in disbelief. The same toilet I sat on in disbelief when I finally received the positive pregnancy test way back in January.

Ryan woke up and came to check on me. Half asleep he said, “Well, now what?”

I was surprisingly calm at this point; perhaps I was still in disbelief. I responded that I guess we’d be goI ng to the hospital shortly, but I needed to shower first.

I hopped in the shower as I was still leaking amniotic fluid and knew I wanted to clean up before heading to the hospital. I was still feeling hot and dizzy and having mild contractions, which basically felt like light menstrual cramps. Ryan worked on cleaning up the bathroom floors and waking up.

Once in the shower it began to set in. I could barely stand up straight in the shower I was so nervous and excited. I was in labor! I couldn’t believe that I went into labor on my own. We were going to be meeting our son today! I scrubbed down with the special surgery soap I was saving for Wednesday and washed my hair.

At my last doctor appointment I was told that if I happened to go into labor before September 9 to simply call the doctor and tell them and then I’d be fit in later that day for a C-section. So, before I called the doctor we called both our parents, waking them up with the great news. I then called the on call triage nurse and awaited the call back from my OBGYN. The doctor called me within 5 minutes and had obviously been woken up from a very deep sleep. She went over my symptoms and said she’d see me at the hospital later that day.

Since there didn’t seem to be a huge rush, we took our time getting ready, making sure we had everything we would need for a 5-day stay at the hospital. We then made our way over to my parent’s house to drop off Maggie. At this point my contractions were 9-10 minutes apart.

We left my parents house around 2 a.m. The drive to the hospital felt surreal. The roads were empty and I had a hard time believing that I was truly in labor. We didn’t say much because I think we were both wrapping our minds around the fact that our world was about to change.

Thankfully there was only one other couple at the birthing hospital’s triage and I was taken back immediately. I changed into my hospital gown and was then hooked up to a non stress test that monitored the baby’s movements and my contractions. The nurse went over my health history and asked me a billion of questions. All I could think about was how terrified I was of the spinal block and if everything was okay with the baby. The nurse, Eleanor, was very sweet and did her best to keep my calm.

My contractions were still about 8-10 minutes apart at this point and only felt like menstrual cramps. I felt them mostly in my lower back and thighs. My entire body began to shake uncontrollably during this time, whether from the anxiety of what was happening or from the process of labor. Little did I know that this shaking would continue for the next 20 hours or so.

They administered a test to make sure it really was my membranes that ruptured and not just discharge. I couldn’t imagine it was anything else. My experience with my water breaking was exactly what the doctor’s and baby classes told me would most likely NOT happen. They said big gushes like that typically only happen in the movies. Ha!

But they had to administer the test anyways and Ryan, thinking of his parents who were making the drive from Philly, asked, “and what if her water didn’t break?”

“Well then we’d send you home.” No thank you. I was pretty confident it was my actual water that broke. Ryan and I sat anxiously and he texted with both sets of our parents.

A few minutes later it was confirmed that my water did break and then everything started to move very fast. When I had spoken to my groggy doctor earlier that morning and she had mentioned that the surgery would be performed later that day, I was assuming that meant sometime in the afternoon. Knowing how slowly things can move at hospitals and the fact that I was not a true emergency, I was expecting to be siting around for most of the day.

But, when I asked the nurse when I could expect to go into surgery she casually replied, “In about 45 minutes.” Reality began to set in. It was go time! I was going to meet my baby within the hour!

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My uncontrollable shaking grew worse. I was getting very scared. They quickly administered the IV and soon the anesthesia doctor came in to see me and go over my medical history and talk me through the steps of the cesarean.

The anesthesia doctor was overly calm. He explained the steps and the precautions and had me sign papers documenting the risks involved. Tears started to accompany my shaking. I explained that I was terrified of the spinal block and he assured me that he has done thousands of them and never had an issue. Did this calm me at all? No.

Ryan was handed his sterile OR suit and was asked to suit up and the nurse put on my surgery cap.

We asked if our parents could come back and see us before I was taking to the operating room. Since triage was pretty empty and no one else was currently having surgery the nurses obliged as long as only two people came back at once. My parents came back first and said their well wishes and gave their kisses and hugs followed by Ryan’s parents. Everyone was very excited and nervous.

They were soon ushered out as my doctor had arrived at the hospital and needed to talk to me and have me sign more papers before starting the procedure. She was in and out. The nurse asked if I wanted to walk or be wheeled in the wheel chair to the OR room, I opted for the wheel chair. I was shaking so badly I don’t think my legs would have been able to hold me up.

I made one last quick nervous bathroom trip and then we were off to the OR. It was game time! I was about to become a mother!

Now was the part I was dreading. Ryan had to wait outside of the OR room until I was completely prepped. I hated that he couldn’t come in and sit with me while I got the spinal block. I was so scared of getting that needle in my back. Ryan wished me luck and gave me one last kiss before we were momentarily separated.

The OR room was freezing and so bright. I remember feeling so overwhelmed by all of the medical equipment and the frenzy of nurses all about. The super calm anesthesia doctor was there and explained how I needed to sit hunched over on the side of the bed, arching my back, for him to administer the spinal block. Three nurses helped me get into position. I wanted to cry but I remember telling myself to just stay calm. That this was all for the baby. The nurses held my hands and said that it was just like a little bee sting.

And it was. It honestly felt just like a bee sting and was over before I knew it. The IV was worse than the spinal block. All of that anxiety and worry for nothing! But perhaps I was focusing so much on what that was going to feel like so my mind wouldn’t drift to the fact that I was about to have major abdominal surgery and that my world was about to be rocked by the birth of my son.

Now that the spinal was over I really began to lose it. I began crying softly and the body shakes got worse. The loss of feeling in my legs began immediately. It was the strangest thing, not being able to feel anything below my chest. I kept asking when Ryan could come in and the nurse said shortly. She kept holding my hand and explaining everything that was happening.

They quickly lifted the surgical drape above my chest. It was much higher than I was picturing. The nurses began to prep my stomach and began rubbing it down and I was given oxygen. The doctor explained how she would be testing to make sure that I was completely numb. I was so scared that maybe I would feel some bit of pain. But the nurse said they were really pushing on me and that I would be crying out if I could feel what they were doing.

Finally, Ryan was allowed in the room. He was quickly seated by my head, gave me a kiss and the surgery began. Ryan looked both nervous and calm. I still could not stop shaking and crying. I couldn’t believe the moment I had been waiting for for the past nine months, no, for my entire life, was about to happen!

A nurse was seated on the other side of my head and tried to help keep me calm. She explained that they would be pushing on my upper abdomen to make contraction like movements in order to push the baby out. I felt some very minor pressure; I was just so focused on the moment when I would meet my baby.

It felt like 30 minutes but I was told it was only about 10 minutes later when she whispered, “They’re about to pull him out!”

Oh, all the tears! My throat closed up and I held my breath. A few seconds later the room was filled with his screams. I took a large breath and just felt the tears streaming down my face. That was my son! I was a mother!

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I’m still jealous that Ryan was able to stand up and peek over the curtain to get a look at him before I could. “Let me see him! Let me see him!” I kept yelling out. I was given a quick glance before they whisked him away to the warmer to have him checked out.

He was beautiful and absolutely perfect. I was told I was having a 10 plus pound baby and was expecting huge chubby chipmunk cheeks, but this baby was so much smaller than I pictured in my mind and just perfect because he was mine.

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I could turn my head and see him being worked on about 5 feet from my head. Ryan stood with him and a nurse took a bunch of photos of the umbilical cord cutting process. The nurses announced that he was perfectly healthy and was 7 pounds 13 ounces and 20.5 inches long.

After what felt like an hour, Wyatt was brought over to me and placed on my chest. Meanwhile the nurses and doctors worked on stitching me up. I didn’t feel a thing.  birth8

Every cliché of motherhood is true. On the moment we touched skin-to-skin he looked up at me with his freshly opened eyes and I felt my heart grow. It was so much more than I thought it was going to be. My whole world shifted in that moment. Nothing else mattered. I looked at Ryan and back at Wyatt.

This was love.

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Our Journey to Pregnancy

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Thank you so much for all of your support after announcing our baby news!

I was so overwhelmed by the amount of comments, emails, and texts I received. Thank you!!! 

What follows is a long post about our journey to pregnancy while overcoming a luteal phase defect. 

We are so unbelievably excited and as you can imagine, it’s the biggest thing occupying my mind and heart right now. I’ve also been extremely sick and tired, so blogging has sometimes been the furthest thing from my mind. But thankfully I’m turning around the bend now and getting some new-found energy and less vomiting as I enter the second trimester.

It was so hard to keep this secret for the past two months. Almost has hard as it was to keep my mouth shut during our entire trying to conceive journey.

I hate how secretive this has to be for women. I truly think that if more of us felt able to open up about our experiences we would all be more educated and be able to support each other as a community.

So at this time I feel it is important for me to share our journey to pregnancy. For others to learn from or relate to and for me to have a way of documenting it.  

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I can’t tell you how many drafts or posts I wrote explaining our situation, but then got too scared to hit publish. Scared that it was too private, too scared, to whiny sounding, and too minuscule to those who have suffered through MUCH much more. Meanwhile I was scouring the web, reading other women’s’ journeys and stories, trying to relate, find peace, and someone to share the tears with. 

It took us a year to get pregnant. I know that for some people who have been trying to conceive for many years, this seems like nothing. It is even very normal. But it was a very hard year.

We went into TTC (trying to conceive for this not down with the pregnancy lingo) very naively. I looked at the statistics for how long it took women to fall pregnant and thought, “we got this!” 

Studies show the following breakdown of how soon women get pregnant while actively trying:

38 percent were pregnant after 1 month.
68 percent were pregnant after 3 months.
81 percent were pregnant after 6 months.
92 percent were pregnant after 12 months.

After years of trying NOT to get pregnant and being pretty healthy and young(ish) (30 at the time) I never thought we’d ever be throwing around the word infertility. 

I wrote the below post only one week before discovering I was finally pregnant.As I said above, I was going back and forth deciding if I should post it. 

Here is my story:

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On New Years Eve 2013, Ryan and I chose to stay home and have a cozy and private celebration because what we were celebrating was very much between just the two of us.

As we toasted over champagne, we naively declared 2014 the year of Baby MacDonald and ceremoniously threw away my birth control pills. 

Almost a year later, here we are celebrating the holidays, still just the two of us.

It’s been a difficult year. Every month I go through a mourning period. There is nothing else in the world that I have wanted more than being a mother.

The weight of infertility makes it hard to breathe and live a normal life. It’s a silent burden that feels shameful. It’s ridiculous that we live in a society that is so overly saturated with sex, yet we cannot talk about the process of conceiving, our bodies, or babies until women are twelve weeks pregnant. I can share intimate details about my sex life to girlfriend over cocktails, but as soon as the words, “trying to get pregnant” comes up everyone gets a little nervous. 

I stopped taking the birth control pill Necon on that New Year’s Eve after being on it for 16 years. (I was put on the pill when I was 14 to help regulate bad cramps and cysts.) I started to get my body baby ready by taking pre-natal vitamins, cutting down on caffeine, and eating the right foods. I purchased all of the right tools, a basal body thermometer, ovulation predictor tests, pregnancy tests, and a copy of “Taking Charge of Your Fertility”. I downloaded apps (Glow is my favorite) to chart my cycles and was ready to go!

Well, it took my body a whole two months to get “sorted out” after discontinuing the pill. I anxiously waited, and in March I finally had my first charted ovulation and “normal” cycle. So then I began obsessively charting, temping, and perfectly timing everything. That’s what causes most of the pain. We were doing everything right. We had a plan, we were following the rules, we really really wanted this, why weren’t we having any luck?

After two more months, I began to notice a pattern. Something with my cycle wasn’t right. I did what any nervous woman would do and turned to Google. After some research I discovered that I have an infertility problem called Luteal Phase Defect. 

Basically, there isn’t enough time in between when I ovulate and when my body preps to have a period for an egg to be fertilized and implant. Even if it does get fertilized, my body goes into menstruation mode and washes away the fertilized egg before it even has a chance.

The average luteal phase (time between ovulation and menstruation) is 14 days. Mine was averaging around 6-7 days, making it impossible to maintain a pregnancy. 

Normally, a doctor will not see you if you’re having trouble conceiving until after one year of trying. However, if you have noted cycle troubles they will see you after six months. So at the six month mark in June, I made a nervous appointment to see my OBGYN.

She was extremely sweet and understanding and treated my worries like they were special (when I know she deals with countless women like me every week). She agreed with my diagnosis of a Luteal Phase Defect and decided to put me on progesterone suppositories. Progesterone is the hormone your body creates during the luteal phase and then throughout the first trimester of pregnancy. By taking the suppositories my body is supposed to delay starting a period, therefore lengthening my luteal phase.

I left the appointment excited and hopeful. A little too hopeful. I really thought the pills would work the first time around. Instead what they did was mimic the signs of pregnancy. Yes, they did lengthen my luteal phase from 6-7 days to 15-16 days but they also brought along a lost of nasty side effects like moodiness, weight gain, over emotional, water retention and overall made me feel crazy. And even though my cycle was now long enough to maintain a healthy pregnancy, I was still getting my period after ending the progesterone after the prescribed 13 day dosage.

The tricky thing about the progesterone suppositories is that they gave you hope. Here I was on day 31 of my cycle with no period in sight. With a high sense of hope I’d take a pregnancy test every day. Only to be met with a punch in the gut every day the test would be negative. (I became slightly obsessed with peeing on sticks, highly unhealthy addiction.)

This went on for another five months. The pills were making me crazier and every month I went through a depressed period. Usually this would last a day or two. I’d cry, become hysterical, and feel so isolated. So alone. I’d cry until I was empty and had no choice but to move forward and embrace the next cycle.

Somehow I always found a new hope, thinking this month was going to be our month. 

People tell me to stop worrying. That this is normal. That some people go through so much more. But that doesn’t lessen the pain at all. I hurt so much, my work and relationships suffer. It is all I can think about. 

In December, after another depressing period, I went back to my doctor to discuss next steps. She was setting up an appointment with a fertility doctor for later in the month, but in the meantime wanted me to have the HSG (hysterosalpingogram) procedure. I had heard horror stories about this procedure, about how painful it was. But I also heard that some women are extra fertile following the procedure. Basically it’s a test that checks to see if there are any blockages in your fallopian tubes and flushes them out. I casually refer to it as an oil change.

So on December 18 I had the HSG done. It wasn’t too bad! Just mildly uncomfortable with a bit of pain and over in 20 minutes. The next week during ovulation time we stayed hopeful. It was the holidays after all! But I also had that January fertility appointment in the back of my head to. I looked at that appointment like a late Christmas gift. A hope for the new year.

And what do you know? We got a different, much much much better, later Christmas present! The HSG combine with progesterone worked like a miracle and we fell pregnant that cycle!

Unbelievable! And after so much hope, worry, and tears I couldn’t believe it. Almost exactly a year after we toasted to a baby, we received the news that a baby would be joining our family in 2015!

I know that what I’ve gone through is not much compared to those suffering through years of IVF treatment, miscarriages, and other traumas. But it did give me my own heartache and shaped my year. 

I hope that if you are trying to conceive and are having a little trouble that you find this hopeful or helpful. Stay strong and don’t give up that hope of a baby.

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Celebrating Love

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Valentine’s Day gets a lot of grief for being a money-making “Hallmark Holiday”. I disagree. Yes, it can be ruined with people flaunting their perfect relationships, too many typical roses and CVS teddy bears and trying to impress your date with the “perfect” evening. But I think those people go about Valentine’s Day totally wrong. 

I simply look at is as a day to celebrate love. Of all types. And in the depths of a cold bitter winter, why should we shake our heads to a day set aside to celebrate the warmth of all the love we can find in our hearts and our world?

There’s always room for a little extra love! No matter what stage I was at, I made time to pause and to celebrate:

As a child my parents always made Valentine’s special at home. My mom was a first grade teacher, so she always brought home her classroom traditions, songs, crafts, and all around cheerfulness and added it to our home. There always special little gifts and treats and hugs.

In high school, when my best friend Kay and I always found ourselves perpetually single and bitter, we made up Weezer Day (in honor of our favorite band). We made special Weezertines for each other, blasted music, went out for dinner and generally celebrated ourselves and our love for Rivers and his gang. One year we branched out to also celebrate emo band Saves the Day, complete with making a Saves the Day Lamp. The base was a precious moments like girl saying “Boys Make Me Cry” (a treasure we found at Goodwill). We then decorated the lamp shade with our favorite lyrics and  band photos. (um is it a surprise we were single?) We still wish each other a happy Weezer Day even as we find ourselves in our thirties and married. 

Later in high school and college I’d find myself either single or in a relationship, but I don’t really remember many of my relationship celebrations, other than a poetry reading one year. Usually it was always me and my girlfriends having an extra excuse to share some drinks on a random night and noting how happy we were to have each other.

When I found myself single in the second half of my twenties, my other single girlfriends and I would always get together for the weekend that was around Valentine’s day. We’d look at it as a reason to get all dressed up and go out on the town. We’d gather together from our various states and make the weekend awesome. 

Since being with Ryan, we celebrate in a quiet way. Either making a fancy dinner at home and cuddling up to a romantic movie or going out for a low-key dinner. Champagne is always involved. Chocolate is always involved. And notes of love is always involved. How can you roll your eyes at champagne, chocolate, and expressing your love? I feel like we could all use more of that. 

This year, when Valentine’s Day is actually on a Saturday, I find it ironic that Ryan and I will be celebrating it apart. He is currently in New York City competing in the Phillip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court competition. I’m very proud of him and he should be home on Sunday. Wish him luck!

I his absence I’ll be surviving the negative temps and going to lunch and a movie with a good friend followed my a crab cake dinner with my parents and Pop-Pop. Extra special activities with those I love! Ryan and I will do something together on Sunday, maybe just take out, if we can’t bear to go outside on what forecasters are predicting to be the coldest day of the year.

Valentine’s Day is simply an excuse to celebrate with those you love, whether it be family, friends, a partner, or your pets. It’s a way to pause from the routine and remember to be grateful for the love that is in your life. It comes in all shapes and sizes.

How do you celebrate?

 

 

 

 

 

Our Christmas

You know how sometimes after you come home from a vacation in need of another vacation? That’s how I feel after these past 6 days of celebrating Christmas with our friends and family. 

It was a non stop whirlwind of eating, drinking, and singing. Full of laughs, traditions, old stories and endless hours playing Heads Up, Guestures, and Apples to Apples. If I am what I eat, I am currently Christmas Cookies, Cosmos, Tuaca, Dip, and Chex Mix. I love when my whole family is together (Mom, Dad, my brother Eric, sister-in-law Veronica, Ryan, Pop Pop and myself).

Boisterous, loud, all encompassing love was all around. 

I’m still “re plugging” back into the “real” world.  It was a nice little break. Until I’m back in full force here are some photos from our Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. 

I hope you had a lovely few days celebrating however you celebrate. 

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Love Letter of Gratitude

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November: A month of thankfulness. I don’t think any of us really thank our partners enough. As this month reminds us to be extra thankful, I thought I’d pause and write a letter of gratitude to Ryan.

Dear Ryan,

These past few months have taught me that love is always changing and always growing. But most importantly they have taught me that love is always there, even when I can’t always see it.

Last month I was feeling lonely in marriage. I mean that in the best of ways. Let me explain. There were nights when I was home alone and feeling the pressure to hold it all together. To not let you show how hard it was to be apart.  There were times when I took on the weight of all your anxieties and fears. The ones that sometimes crush your spirit. My heart felt the need to pick them all up for you, to help lighten the load on your heart, to make you happy. Without thinking twice I picked up all your anxieites and worries as if they were my own. “Isn’t that what marriage is about?” I thought to myself.

I catologed all those worries and lined them up side by side like books on a bookshelf. Thinking they were all organized and like I had a plan. They were all nicely lined up on that shelf in my heart, leaning against my own anxieties, my own fears. The ones I kept to myself because I didn’t want to overflow your already full plate. The ones I was afraid would distract you from focussing in school and your dreams. I thought that by being strong for you, by taking on your burdens, I was showing you how much I love you. 

But that shelf in my soul was getting so very heavy. It began to break with the weight of all those burdens. And then came that Sunday when despite by attempts of bravery, they all came tumbling down on top of me. Suffocating me. Making it hard to breathe. 

That day I showed you a part of me I usually keep hidden away. I felt so unhinged yet heavy at the same time. Yet you read my tears like the words to your favorite song. You knew. With no doubt you understood my fears and my worries. How could I forget that you know me so well? How could I forget that we were a team? How could I forget that you’d never expect me to carry all that weight? You held me close and whispered, “We can be strong together.”

So Ryan, I need to thank you for reminding me that I am not alone. I’ll never be alone. That sometimes I can get lost but that I will always be found. 

 I need to thank you for always making “us” a priority even when you are running on zero sleep, are working on 3 different projects for school, are prepping cases for work, and dealing with family crises. Thank you for putting us first. Thank you for pancake breakfasts, for always bring me coffee in bed on the weekends, for listening to Taylor Swift’s 1989 on repeat in the car for the past 3 weeks. Thank you for putting up with my moods. Thank you for cleaning the whole house when you had a vacation day on Veteran’s Day. You could have slept or watched TV but you chose to scrub the kitchen and bathrooms. Thanks for always making me laugh. And thank you for sharing my dreams.

I’m one lucky lady. Thank you for loving me and thank you for letting me love you.