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?

bf

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

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!

cousins

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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Splish Splash!

Over Labor Day weekend, our little family of three took a short trip to Orlando.  We had nothing in particular planned, but wanted to spend some good quality time together without the worries of doing dishes or mowing the lawn.  The highlight of our trip…putting our sweet Haddie girl in the pool for the first time!  She absolutely loved it!  We weren’t to sure how she’d handle it, but were pleasantly surprised.  About a month ago, I tried to dip her feet into a different pool and she wasn’t too thrilled.  As soon as her cute, little toes hit the water she screamed out in disgust!  This time though, she started kicking like crazy as soon as we got her into her floaty!  She was looking around, completely mesmerized by this brand new experience.  In fact, I’m pretty sure she was a little disappointed when it was time to take her out!  No doubt about it, this girl is a true blue Florida water baby! Check out a few of the pics that I snapped!

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IVF (aka Our Year of Anxiety and Anticipation) – Part 3

After a couple of weeks on birth control to regulate my hormones, we were ready to start the shots (picture the word shots being said in a super scary, dramatic tone of voice and you’ll have a better understanding for how I felt about them!)  I shouldn’t be so melodramatic, though, they honestly weren’t that bad. Each evening, Ryan and I would sit down at our kitchen table with our vials of medicine, needles, and alcohol swabs.  I would then proceed to give myself three shots in the stomach.  It was like ripping off a band-aid; just do it quick and try not to think too hard.  These shots gave my ovaries the boost they needed to produce multiple follicles, which meant the potential for more eggs to work with.

Because of my PCOS, I was at risk for something called hyper stimulation.  To help prevent this from happening, Ryan and I made daily treks to our doctors office for about two weeks.  We’d wake up early, drive an hour for our 7am appointment, and they would test my blood and perform ultrasounds to make sure things were progressing on schedule and not too quickly, or over-abundantly.  Thankfully, I remained healthy the whole way through my stim cycle.  Healthy, but rather miserable. Continue reading “IVF (aka Our Year of Anxiety and Anticipation) – Part 3”

IVF (aka Our Year of Anxiety and Anticipation) – Part 1

So let me just say that I have no intention of partaking in a constant stream of sappy, emotional journaling via this blog.  That being said, however, I’m about to get a little sappy and emotional.

I met my husband back in 2006 when I was fresh out of high school.  A mutual friend was convinced that we were a match made in Heaven, but I wasn’t so sure.  At that point, I was getting ready to move away for school and was interested in living the single life for a while.  I repeatedly told this particular friend that I was more than willing to meet this supposed “Mr. Perfect,” but that she shouldn’t get her hopes up.  I had no intention of getting involved.  Color me surprised when I fell head over heels in love.

Ryan, the husband, is truly the ying to my yang.  I can undoubtedly say that he is my best friend and that I’m the best version of myself with him, and because of him.

In July of 2008, Ryan was over in Brazil performing in a professional water ski show.  One day, during a run in the show, several mishaps occurred which led to him being whipped into a sea wall.  This accident left him with a T-12 complete spinal cord injury, and he is paralyzed from the waist down. Continue reading “IVF (aka Our Year of Anxiety and Anticipation) – Part 1”