Take a Bow, 2015!

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As one year ends, and another is about to begin, I find myself doing my annual reflections.  When I think back at 2015, it’s almost overwhelming how much things have changed.  There have been engagements, weddings, and a multitude of births.  There have been moments of sadness, and there have been moments of happiness so extreme they almost take your breath away.  While I’m so anxious to see what 2016 will bring, it’s almost a little heartbreaking to leave the warm embrace of 2015 behind.

I am so grateful for the experiences of this past year.  Despite its challenging moments, I feel as though I’m coming out of 2015 stronger than I’ve ever been.  The birth of my little girl has become the single most significant moment in my life, and has transformed me into a person I’m so very proud to be.  I’ve always allowed myself to get wrapped up in what other people expect or want from me.  I’ve pushed myself to the back burner on more occasions than I can count and have struggled to figure out who I am, and who I yearn to be.  Welcoming Hadley into this world has showed me how much every second counts.  It has forced me to look at my life and make some difficult, but necessary, decisions that have been beneficial to me and my family.  While we can’t always avoid things that we don’t really want to do, there’s nothing wrong with trying to focus on the things that make us truly happy.

I’m looking forward to bringing my fresh perspective into 2016, and continuing to grow in all aspects of my life.  I’m sure that these upcoming 365 days will bring us even more engagements, weddings, and births.  It’s certain there will be more trials and tribulations, but on a better note, there’s guaranteed to be so many new happy moments.  Despite moving on, I think it’s going to be tough leaving 2015 behind.  It’s definitely going to be a year that sticks with me.

I can’t wait to see where my journey with this blog takes me moving forward.  As our life continues to change, these posts offer me such a beautiful opportunity to connect with all of you.  Ready or not, 2016, here we come!

Wishing you all the happiest of New  Years!

Any favorite 2015 moments or events that will be hard to forget?

The Most Wonderful Time of Year

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I know that this is a few days early, but giving how quickly the Christmas holidays are approaching, I wanted to wish you all an early Merry Christmas.  Like the rest of you, it seems like there are still a million things on my list that are in desperate need of checking twice.  Let’s not get lost in the hustle and bustle though.  Take a few moments to look around and breathe.  This truly is the most wonderful time of year, and there are so many things to look forward to.

In my family, there will be lots of good food, the watching and re-watching of Elf as many times as my husband will allow, and at least one blissful evening spent driving around and looking at lights.  There’s Christmas Eve with Ralphie and his Red Ryder BB Gun, plus some anticipated moments with George Bailey and Clarence.  There are Christmas carols to be sung, desserts to be baked, and several holiday books still waiting too be read. (Apologies for this paragraph not rhyming, in honor of the Christmas spirit, I feel I’ve taken a misstep here!)

So everyone, grab your loved ones close and snuggle in tight.  I’m wishing for a Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight.

Love, Kristen

 

 

That Whole Giving Birth Thing – Part 2

When we arrived at the hospital and made our way to the special OB Emergency Room where they hide the crazed labor-ridden women, I was informed that I was still sitting tight at 2cm…maybe 2 1/8, if I was lucky.  That was impossible!  I’d been contracting for hours at this point!   The nurse told me that with such little progression, my midwife would more than likely not want to admit me.  She must have seen the terror on my face because she suggested that we walk laps around the hospital courtyard to get things moving.

So we walked.  And walked.   And walked.  I’m not kidding you when I say that my sweet husband and I did laps for almost 3 HOURS straight.  Only stopping for periodic breaks when the nurse would check me, tell me I was still not progressing, and then send us out to walk some more.  Finally, around 3am, after one final check, she gave us the glorious news that I’d made it to 3.  She called my midwife and begged her to admit me.  The midwife said yes!  We picked up my bags and I waltzed (waddled) my butt up to labor and delivery!

After calling our parents to tell them we’d been admitted, I started trying to live out the zen birth I’d been dreaming of.  I fully intended to deliver our little girl sans medicine.  First things first…into the tub I went.  I had put in a special request for a delivery room with one of the big fancy whirlpool tubs.  As soon as the nurse had checked me out, I started pushing to get into the tub.  She filled it up, helped me undress and assisted in lowering me into the water.  I leaned my head back, turned on the jets and felt my labor pains melt away.  That is until the aforementioned nurse came back in and started freaking out that my monitor was off.  She made me leave my super relaxed position and told me I had to sit a certain way.  On my knees, hunched over with my arm hovering out of the water…not exactly the experience I was looking for.  Out of the tub, I went.

I walked around my room, bounced on a birthing ball and huffed essential oils like a feen.  Around 10am, the midwife came in and discovered that I was still hanging out around 3cm.  She decided it was time to break my water and speed things up.  After breaking my water (a lovely experience, by the way…blech!)  she made me get into a warm shower.  She looked defeated and didn’t seem to have much faith in my dilating capabilities.  Before walking out, she warned us that we were in for the long haul.

As I waited for them to get the shower ready, I felt a sudden shift in my contractions.  They’d gone from bearable to a ton of bricks hitting me over and over every two seconds.  They got me into the shower and my poor hubby practically had to hold me up.  In a matter of minutes, I felt compelled to sit down and found myself hanging out in a hospital shower in the fetal position.  For the first time since contractions started, I began to cry.

The nurse told me that I may want to reconsider the epidural.  If I couldn’t handle the pain I was currently in, there was no way I’d make it through the rest of labor. And per that nurse, I still had a LONG way to go. My resolved weakened and I frantically begged for the anesthesiologist.

They prepped me for the epidural and had to keep reminding me to sit still.  The contractions were coming constantly, and were hitting harder and harder each time.  I saw the nurse and anesthesiologist give each other a funny look.  Once the drugs were pumping, I heard one say to the other, “I think you better check her, I think she might be in transition.”  The nurse leaned me back, checked me out and looked up with a shocked expression.  I’d gone from 3 to 9 1/2 in less than an hour…about ten minutes later I was pushing.

In the beginning of my pushes, my midwife gave me the impression that I had no idea what I was doing.  At one point, she even said, “I think you’re forgetting what we’re trying to do here.”  Well that just pissed me off.  I put on the most intense focus face I’ve ever had in my life and pushed like a champ.

I pushed for a little less than an hour, and have never felt more empowered than I did in those moments.  My body felt strong, and I knew that I was completely capable.  When they asked me to take breaks between contractions, it almost pained me.  I felt like I was going against what my body so naturally wanted to do.  Out of nowhere, I felt an excitement taking over the room.  The nurses were breaking down my bed and the midwife was suiting up for the big “catch.” I gave one big push, and from the look of unequivocal love on my husband’s face, I knew our sweet Hadley was here.  The midwife lifted that tiny body up and placed her on my chest.  I felt like a woman possessed.  I bawled like a baby and showered my daughter’s face with kisses.  She was perfection.

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When I think back to my birthing experience, there’s a lot of things I could say.  But if you were to give me a one word allowance to describe my feelings about labor and delivery, there’s only one that seems to fit.  Yes, ladies and gentleman, I’m one of those annoying women…my experience was beautiful.

 

The Gross Side of Being a Mother

So a few days ago, my husband came home from work and took control of our little one so I could run up to the store.  I dashed out of the house following a full day of baby loving, went to the store, and was back home just in time for Haddie’s bath.  As I sat there cooing at my precious girl in the tub, pondering how I could have been blessed with such a cutie, Ryan grabbed the side of my shirt and goes, “Um Kristen…what is this?”  Glancing down at the stain in question, I instantly realize that I’d been wandering around our local Publix with baby poop down the side of my shirt.  It’s official; I’ve been initiated into the mom club.

At a different time in my life, I probably would have been repulsed by this. There would have been a serious possibility of gagging and dry heaves, but with my brand new set of mom goggles, I simply threw my head back and laughed.  What’s even stranger than the lack of disgust for my fecal-stained shirt?  The fact that when I finished cracking up, I stared down at my child and decided I loved her even more.

You see, in that moment, I think I realized just how much my life has changed.  My sweet, little girl has become my entire life, and even though there are some rough, disgusting moments, there is nothing that can change the way I feel about her.  My disdain for bodily fluids is a thing of the past (where my child is concerned, at least), and my severely weak gag reflex has found its inner strength.

Still so happy, even when she's sick!
Still so happy, even when she’s sick!

This past week, our little one has been sick with her first cold (poor babe!) and this new found strength has certainly been put to the test.  There has been an abundance of snot and saliva, mostly found in my hair as of late, and yet somehow I still find myself loving her more and more.  You should see me busting out my NoseFrida to suck her little boogers out with a smile on my face each time.  I’m pretty sure I could give Super Woman a run for her money!

How about you guys, anybody have any gross mom stories they’d like to share?

The Day that Time Stood Still

When I was a little girl and people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always had the same answer…an author.  There were never any dreams of being a princess or doctor, nor a butcher, baker or candlestick maker; I just wanted to write books.  Throughout my life, there have been times that I pushed this idea to the wayside, but in the back of my mind I knew it was still something I yearned to accomplish.

When my husband was injured back in 2008, it became one of the most pivotal moments in my life.  In a matter of moments, I was forced to contemplate everything my life had been, and try to figure out what it was about to become.  I remember wishing there was some sort of guidebook that would help us through everything. A set of rules and regulations that would explain the ins and outs of the life we were about to undertake.  Alas, there was nothing of the sort.  Sure, there were books about individuals who had experienced the same types of injury that Ryan had, but I couldn’t find much that would benefit the family, friends and caretakers. As we made our way through this incredible journey, I decided that one day, I wanted to write that book.  The kind of book that would explain how I felt in those first couple of weeks and months.  Honestly, it would explain the way I still feel from time to time in the present.

I’ve started this process more times than you can imagine.  I’ve constructed timelines and organizational charts.  I’ve jotted down notes and memories.   I’ve even written a chapter or two, but somehow the process has seemed too daunting to finish.

So I come to you all and ask for your support as I use this blog as a platform to try again.  I feel that I’m at a place in my life where I’m desperate to put these words to paper.  So if it’s all right with you, in the midst of the normal chatter about this and that, I’d like to bring you a few memories about one of the most inspiring times in my life.

Let’s start at the beginning shall we…

Ryan was over in Sao Paulo, Brazil performing at a water park called Hopi Hari.  Suffice it to say, I wasn’t super excited about being away from him for the summer (that’s a story for another day), so he promised that we’d Skype each night before bed.  The evening of July 19th, 2008, I sat in front of my computer at our usual time and anxiously waited for him to sign on.  Minutes turned into hours, and he never got on the computer.

At first I tried reasoning with myself. I assumed that he and his friends had a late night, had gone to dinner…something of the sort.  As the hours rolled by, reasoning turned into anger.  I didn’t think a few minutes out of his day was much to ask for.  Before too long, however, I started to get nervous.

I remember that I finally closed the computer around 2 or 3 am.  I was up again by 7, and back to playing the waiting game.  Sometimes, he’d get on before work in the mornings, and I was convinced that would be the case.  By around 10, I was completely freaking out.  I walked into the living room and told my mom that something wasn’t right.  I was trying so hard to keep calm, but was failing miserably.

Within 10 minutes of telling my mom that I was worried, my cell phone rang.  When I answered, Ryan’s dad was on the other end.  He told me that there had been an accident.  He couldn’t say anything else; the line got quiet and I assumed the worse.  He couldn’t have been silent for more than 30 seconds, but it was the longest of my life.  I remember dropping down to my knees and waiting. When he finally came back, he explained that Ryan was alive but that he couldn’t feel anything from the waist down.  He was awaiting surgery at a hospital in Brazil, and since I didn’t have a passport, I was stuck in the states until he could make his way home.

Before that moment, I had no personal connection to paralysis. I couldn’t wrap my head around what I was being told, and tried to convince myself that this was a temporary situation. Never in my life, had I felt so terrified and confused.  My mind was spinning with possibilities and I didn’t know what the first step I needed to take would be.

There is a quote that goes something like this, “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have.”  Since that day, I have lived by that quote.  I remember in the midst of the shock and sadness, that I knew I had to be strong.  Between the two of us, Ryan had always been my rock.  He was the one who constantly helped lift me up.  In that moment, I knew that I had to muster every ounce of strength I had and help him move forward.

That accident changed our lives completely.  Ryan is a true inspiration, and this experience has made me a better version of myself.  We’ve had to push ourselves in more ways than you could ever imagine.  Things are not always easy, but our life is more rich and beautiful for everything we’ve undergone.

The Beauty in Breastfeeding

Recently, one of my Facebook friends posted the most adorable photo of her newborn daughter breastfeeding. It was completely tasteful and displayed such a genuine love between a mother and her little girl.  There is nothing quite like those first few days after delivery when you and your new baby are trying to figure one another out and simply enjoying the little moments together.  Sadly, though, a few hours after that lovely picture was posted, it was abruptly taken down.

It would seem that some individual on this new mama’s friend list reported the image as “nudity” and Facebook saw fit to remove it.  I’m here to tell you, there was nothing inappropriate about this picture.  This makes me wonder though…why are people so ignorant?

As a breastfeeding mama, myself, I am so insulted by the constant negativity that is still hurled at us. As many years that women have been doing this, one would think that we would be more accustomed to the idea.  How is it possible that people are still so revolted by a mother wanting to do something that’s completely natural for her child?  Do they not understand the extensive number of benefits that come from breastfeeding?  Can they not comprehend what a sweet bond a mother can develop with her baby through such a simple action?

I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with formula feeding.  Most of the women in my family have formula fed their children, and we’ve all turned out just fine.  But if formula is so widely accepted, why does there have to be such a stigma to breastfeeding?

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I was on Facebook one day and noticed a post containing an article about the many reasons a breastfeeding mom should learn to just cover up.  The individual who posted the article was in complete agreement, and seemed appalled by the idea of a mother nursing their child without a cover.  Okay fine, have your opinion, but here’s the irony, my darling readers.  Over half of this individual’s Facebook photos consisted of them wearing low-cut tops that put her boobs on full display.  Riddle me this…what’s the difference?

How is it okay for a woman to walk around with her boobs hanging out for fun, but when a nursing mother accidentally flashes you, it becomes a scandalous affair?  Personally, I don’t feel comfortable nursing in public without a cover, but that’s simply because I’m a modest individual.  If you’re brave enough to do it, though, go for it, because let me tell you…covers are a bitch!  A wiggly baby does not quite understand that they have to eat with a giant piece of material over their face because you don’t want to risk seeing our boobs.

So can’t we just let it go?  Deciding to breastfeed is something to be proud of.  Despite what a lot of people may think, it’s not very easy.  It can be tiring, painful and a bit of a time suck; but I, personally, wouldn’t have it any other way.  Nursing my little girl, is one of the highlights of my day.  For a moment, even if only briefly, it gives me the chance to slow down and just focus on her sweet face.  The fact that I can provide such a beautiful thing for her makes me feel so strong and happy.

Every mother should do what they feel is best for their child, and our job as individuals is not to judge them, but to support them in their efforts.  Whether you’re a mother, a sister, a friend, or just a member of the general public, learn to raise one another up instead of knocking each other down.

Have a wonderful week, Everyone!

Can Chrissy Teigen Be My Spirit Animal?

Chrissy Teigen = Genius

I’m going to be completely honest…I don’t really know that much about Chrissy Teigen.  In fact, I can probably list on one hand the number of things that I know about her.  Let’s give it a shot.

  • She’s married to John Legend.
  • She’s gorgeous.
  • Her Instagram feed cracks me up on a regular basis.
  • I’m pretty sure she co-hosts a show about lip syncing.

There, four things, that’s about the extent of what I know about this woman.  As of this past Friday, however, I can add one more…apparently, she’s a genius.

A Facebook friend of mine posted an article last Friday that was called, “Chrissy Teigen Nails Why You Should Never Ask a Woman Why She Doesn’t Have Kids.” Intrigued, I opened it up and started reading.  It was discussing a recent interview in which she broached the topic of married (or unmarried) women constantly being questioned as to when, and if, they plan on having children.  In the article, Chrissy opened up about her own struggles with infertility.  Here’s a quote from the interview that really puts things into perspective:

“Anytime somebody asks me if I’m going to have kids, I’m like, ‘One day, you’re going to ask that to the wrong girl who’s really struggling, and it’s going to be really hurtful to them.”

Before I discuss this any further, let me say this.  I’m one hundred percent guilty of asking this question.  I don’t want to be a hypocrite and pretend that I don’t, or haven’t.  I feel as though the topic of children has just become a conversation piece in our society.  If someone gets married, people feel as though the next natural step is children, therefore, it often doesn’t feel like overstepping boundaries when we bring the subject up. Unfortunately, we act as though we all have license to this information, when in reality it is an extremely personal area that we all need to stay out of.

After my husband and I got married, the subject of children was brought up instantaneously.  And I mean that quite literally.  As we made our way around the reception room to greet the guests at our wedding, you wouldn’t believe how many times we were asked when we’d be having a baby.  Come on people!  Let the bride and groom at least have a piece of cake before you bring up their inevitable procreation!

As time went on, the questions came at a more rapid pace.  Each time I was asked, a little more salt was poured into the wound.  Do you want to know why it took my husband and I so long to have a baby?  Because we knew it wasn’t going to be easy.  From day one of our marriage, we pretty much knew that IVF was going to be our answer.  We weren’t stupid; the price of in vitro fertilization is astronomical.  We also knew that once we started the process, the process would pretty much own the majority of our time.  It was a huge commitment that we needed to be one hundred percent prepared for.  What I wouldn’t have given to have just gotten pregnant the old-fashioned way without a care in the world.

Please don’t think this is about bashing everyone out there who doesn’t have fertility struggles.  This is not a woe is me, pity party kind of thing.  It’s a respect thing.  Every person’s story is different, and we need to be kind and considerate of any, and all, situations.

So woman to woman (and men too, if you’re reading this), stop asking this unnecessary question!  It is none of our business when someone else is choosing, or not choosing, to have children.  We have no rights to the information, nor do we have the right to an opinion on the subject.  Nobody has any idea what is going on behind the scenes.  And you have no way of knowing how hurtful your myriad of questions can really be.  Whether it’s family, friends or some girl you went to high school with…just don’t ask.  When the women of the world are ready to discuss their reproductive capabilities and decisions, I’m sure they’ll let us know.

While I’m quite positive, Chrissy Teigen was not the first person to have this thought; it’s a breath of fresh air to have someone bringing it up.  Every now and then, we need to be confronted with our tendency to overstep boundaries and be put back in place.  So thank you Ms. Teigen.  Your beautiful honesty reigns supreme.

Dear Mama

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my mother.” – Abraham Lincoln

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So for those of you who don’t know, today is my Mama’s birthday.  In honor of such a special occasion, I’m going to get sappy for a moment.

When I was born, my mom and biological father were still married and happy as clams.  I’ve heard the sweet stories about how he would get her chicken wings for dinner and rub her belly down with cocoa butter each night before bed.  The two of them were so excited for the chance to become parents, and couldn’t wait for my arrival.

Sadly, however, things changed after I was born.  My father was constantly dealing with his own internal demons and addictions that pulled him away from our happy little family of three.  Within a few short months of my birth, it was clear that it would just be my mom and I.  Thankfully, however, the two of us had such a strong support system within our family, and when I was a little less than two, my wonderful step dad entered our life and helped to complete our family once again.

I truly believe that the struggles we went through with my dad, helped to create the most incredible bond between my mom and I.  We were the constant in each others lives from day one.  She has told me before that she often felt as though she had to try harder, or do more because my bio-dad wasn’t around.  Let me say this now, Mama…

You never had to do anything but be yourself.  You are the most beautiful person, and my very best friend.  I cling to our relationship and am forever grateful for the closeness we’ve shared.  Even when I was an annoying teenager who knew more and better, and you probably would have liked to kill me, I still respected and loved you so much it hurt.  I hear some teens scream to their parents how much they hate them when they’re fighting.  Sometimes I couldn’t hardly stand you (wink, wink!) but I remember thinking to myself that I could never use the word hate.  No matter how mad I got, I still recognized how special you were to me.

Now that I have a daughter of my own, I can only hope that she loves me even half as much as I love you. You’ve given me the very best example of the type of mother I long to be.  I yearn for the chance to build the same type of relationship with Hadley that you and I share with each other.  If I succeed, I will truly be the luckiest woman in the world.

So to you, my extraordinary mother, I raise my metaphorical glass of champagne and offer you a wish for the happiest birthday imaginable.  The day of your birth is truly a cause for celebration!  I love you to the moon and back.

Forever and Always,

Your Best Friend

Happy Fall, Ya’ll!

So last weekend, this happened…

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Ahhh!  The first pumpkin spice latte of the year is always a monumental moment in my life.  It means that summer’s scorching hot days are coming to a close (although it will still be hot as heck!), and that it’s time for me to bust out my multitude of Fall decorations.  So what if there’s no leaves changing color or temperatures that provide brisk autumn days…Florida Fall still counts!

We’ll rock our boots and sweaters, even if they’re accompanied by a sheen of sweat.  We’ll still accessorize with cute scarves and hats.  Slow cookers fill with soups and stews, while our ovens are blessed with casseroles and pie.

Fall is Hocus Pocus, Bath and Body Works candles and pumpkin scented soap.  Just the idea of September, October and November gives me the warm and fuzzies.  This is the time that I start to prepare my recipes for Thanksgiving Day, and plot my plan of attack for Black Friday night.

No doubt about it, this if my favorite time of year.  So grab your loved ones and hit up the first pumpkin festival you can find.  Then go home and eat an abundance of turkey…the glorious Fall season is finally here!

The Difference a Year Can Make

So this past Friday night, my whole family gathered together to help celebrate my Papa’s birthday.  As we sat around, chowing down on pizza and wings, I realized that it had been exactly a year since Ryan and I told my family we were expecting.  What an incredible moment that was!  I was very stealthy, you see.  I disguised the big news as a photo-op!  I told everyone that I wanted to take a family photo and announced that after the count of three they should all say, “Kristen’s pregnant!”  It took a moment for the words to register, but I’ll never forget the excitement I felt once they understood just what I was telling them!

Right when I made the announcement!
Right when I made the announcement!
When they realized what I'd said!
When they realized what I’d said!

This September didn’t just mark the 1-year anniversary of us announcing to my family, though.  We also decided to let Ryan’s family in on our little secret this time last year.  Color us shocked when we realized we were actually the ones in for a surprise!

Each September, the whole Bergeron clan gets together to celebrate all the different birthdays for that month (there’s a lot of them!)  One of the birthdays happens to be Ryan’s dad’s.  We went out and purchased a grandparent’s day card and told Ryan’s mom and dad that it was more of a gift for the two of them and that they should open it together.  When they opened that card and realized we were expecting, the whole family blew up with excitement.  There was so much screaming and laughter it was contagious, until I noticed Ryan’s sister and her husband whispering quietly off to the side.

“Oh no,” I remember thinking.  Were they disappointed?  I knew they’d been trying, and I was so afraid they were upset by our announcement.  I tried to brush my fears away but couldn’t help but feel nervous.

After the excitement calmed down a little, Renee said that they had a gift, too.  When I realized they were handing Ryan and I a bag, along with the other couples in the room, I became suspicious.  Why, you ask?  Because neither Ryan or I have September birthdays!  Before Ryan could even open the bag up, I remember saying, “Oh my gosh!”  I just knew that she was pregnant, too!  Sure enough, we pulled out the most adorable card that said “Our family is growing by two feet!”

At that moment, I’m pretty sure the Bergeron’s may have broken the sound barrier!  We were laughing, shouting and crying like crazy.  Everyone kept looking at Renee and I asking if we’d known…if we’d planned it that way!?! The correct answer is, NO!  We were completely shocked by it all!

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I’ve got to admit…I was a little nervous when I first found out we’d be pregnant together.  Would everyone compare us and our choices?  Would we all compare the babies?  In the end, there was nothing to be scared of. I look back and realize that the timing of everything was the most extraordinary blessing.  It was so comforting to know that I was going through pregnancy with somebody else.  We could bounce ideas and questions back and forth, and were often able to comfort one another through the toughest moments (like when both babies decided to be super overdue…stubborn little things!) And now that the babies are finally here, we have the most amazing time watching them grow together.  These sweet little cousins make our lives so much richer and fun!  I’ll leave you with some shots of these besties looking all cute and stuff!

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