As maternity leave comes to a close…

I was just looking at an old email from work. back in May, I wrote:

“out on maternity leave starting Jun 8th – returning Oct 1st.”

how the heck is it almost Oct 1st?

It feels like yesterday but then again a lifetime ago that I wrote that message. It’s hard to believe I’m already returning to work on Monday.

I know it’s easy to say when you’re on the “other side of the storm” but time has passed at a rapid pace.

It feels like yesterday that I cried for baby Ellie…when she was just a hope in my mind. It feels like yesterday that was I laughing about my swollen pregnancy feet. Like yesterday that I told myself “wow, we have the whole summer together!”

I savored the mornings we were able to stay in bed together. I’d nurse her…catch up on some reality TV…and drink my coffee. Now here we are…Ellie is at daycare and I’m sitting at our local coffee shop trying to pass some time.

I realize that I’m lucky that I have a “buffer” week during which Ellie will be at daycare and I haven’t started back at work yet. {If you can swing this type of arrangement, I highly recommend it.}

This morning we were out the door on time, with a bag full of baby goods, a list of “instructions,” and NO breast milk. Oops. So, yea, I had to drop Ellie off and then go back with the milk. Thankfully, our daycare is literally a mile from our house.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from this experience it’s the need to seek gratitude every day. My new saying is “ever grateful.” {Even got a bracelet to remind me of this from an awesome company called MyIntent. See below} It probably sounds cheesy, but it’s been the way that I’ve re-framed things for myself when I’m feeling down or ruminating on something that in the big scheme isn’t a big deal.

0-1

I’ve let myself cry it out a bit that my baby is going to be in the arms of someone else for almost 10 hours a day for 5 days a week. Feels unnatural. But then I realize I am grateful to have found an amazing person to care for Ellie. And that I am actually excited to return to work and be with some of my favorite people there.

That I’m lucky we live in a beachside town and I was able to enjoy 4 months of maternity leave by the beach. To have spent some quality time with my Dad. He had open heart surgery last Nov, so it’s been particularly special to have that quality time after life reminded us last Fall how quickly things can change.

IMG_2404.jpg

there she is – a lil piece of my heart.

It still boggles my mind that we are here…with a baby…almost 4 months old! As there was a time I wasn’t sure we’d ever have our own baby. I’ve heard that even if things work out with your infertility journey it’s never really a skin or a reality you totally shed. My heart always hurts extra hard for the couples I know that are struggling. I can’t tell you how many conversations I had this summer with couples or women who have been through (or are going through) a similar journey. It has connected/re-connected me to more people than I’d ever have expected. I am grateful for that. And I’m still always there if someone wants to talk about their journey or just needs a shoulder to cry on.

So…as I approach my return to work on Monday. I can say…I’m anxious as heck. I feel guilty for stopping nursing, for leaving my baby, for actually wanting to go back to work. But I am more than anything grateful for this full experience. The good and the bad – because as a whole it’s been beautiful.

now just a little Rumi quote to end it – – it’s the yogi in me, what can I say…

“Yesterday is gone and its tale told. Today new seeds are growing”

Ellie’s birth story

I wanted to share Ellie’s birth story before I completely forget. I’ve already blacked out some of it – which I’ve heard is nature’s way of getting you to be ok with doing it all over again.

Towards the end of my pregnancy I was diagnosed with preeclampsia. My blood pressure was moderately high (it had never been high before or earlier in my pregnancy), I had protein in my urine, and my leg/foot swelling was pretty severe. As much as this condition was frustrating/uncomfortable and can lead to serious complications…I thankfully wasn’t in a lot of pain. I ended up working the last three weeks of my pregnancy from home to keep my blood pressure down. There was a point when this bummed me out a lot but… 1) I was lucky to have the flexibility to work from home and 2) I needed to let go of the unrealistic expectation of working up until my due date like other women I know. It just wasn’t in the cards for me.

This was one of the last and only pictures I have of myself “super” pregnant. Admittedly, we took quite a few to get one that I was comfortable with. It was worth it though because we want to be able to show Ellie one day!

there they are! my super swollen cankles and feet! Those lines are from the only pair of slip on sandals I was able to wear towards the end of my pregnancy! 

Because of the preeclampsia I was closely monitored towards the end and they typically induce you around the 37 week mark vs. let you go with it for too long. My doc had me induced at 38 weeks and a couple days. We both felt better knowing I had passed the 37 week mark which is considered full term these days.

I went into Beth Israel on a Wednesday night. I was given cervidil around 11pm. Then it was a waiting game and the nurses came by periodically to check on me. I was given 2 doses. At 3am Thursday morning my water broke. I was wide awake and remember feeling a weird pop and a rush of fluid. Nick was sound asleep. It was then that I realized my husband can fall sound asleep anywhere at the drop of a dime. I paged the nurses and they came right in.

I had this impression that things would speed up after this point. Not really! My cervix took a few more hours to totally efface. During this time, I was having bad cramping and opted for a narcotic (I think it was fentanyl) to help with the pain. I was too early for the epidural and the medicine they gave me didn’t take away the pain it just made me feel woozy – but I was able to calm down a bit and nod off. Up until then I was just sitting up watching the clock and wanting to punch Nick for snoring.

Once I started dilating they moved us to a delivery room. At this point, I was progressing pretty well. I honestly can’t remember exact timing but once I hit 2 centimeters, I asked for the epidural. It was honestly the unknown of “will this pain get worse??” that convinced me I needed the epidural right then. I was nervous getting the epidural would hurt but it wasn’t that bad at all. I was nervous it would totally numb me, but I could still feel my toes which I was happy about and it completely took away the severe cramping that is contractions.

It wasn’t until Thu night that it was actually time to push. Since you are able to administer the epidural dosing to yourself (although they regulate it to a button press every 20 mins or so) I was fully numb below the waist except for my toes. In hindsight I wish I didn’t let myself get that numb as I couldn’t feel if my pushing was actually “working”/focused on the right area! The nurses kept telling me to push like I was trying to poop. I had a ridiculous fear of pooping while pushing. It was honestly distracting because I kept thinking I pooped myself in front of everyone. In hindsight, this was a complete waste of energy. Don’t do what I did and preoccupy your mind with a silly worry like this. Just remember, the nurses have seen it all!

I had also told the nurses that Nick was going to hold a leg while pushing but he’d stay up near my shoulders. Also, in hindsight, this is hilarious because I didn’t want him to see “everything” and believe me when I say he saw IT ALL by the end of this production. There was no way around it. Just let it go. Any and all modesty goes out the window when you’re trying to get that baby out!

So there I was pushing for hours and every so often a doctor or resident would come by to check if Ellie was progressing. At first things were looking good. Then, boom, she was right at the birth canal. I kept pushing for hours and she did not budge. I’ve never been so exhausted in my life. At one point, the doctor wanted me to push ‘one more hour’ and I asked for a short break because I felt so weak. I cried a bit because I was feeling discouraged.

It was around 1am Friday morning that I was totally zapped. There was talk of forceps or the vacuum – both of which freaked me out. I started to feel really frustrated because she literally wasn’t moving, and I felt like all my effort was useless. I asked to speak to the doctor and told myself to stay calm and avoid getting testy. I looked at the doctor and just asked her – based on her professional opinion, what should I do? She’s not moving. If she were moving, if even a tiny bit, I’d keep pushing, but this was getting to be too much. This is when she finally looked at me and said a c-section was my best option. That’s all I needed to hear. Ellie’s head was sideways, and she wasn’t coming out the natural way.

They needed to prep the OR and during this time both Nick and I passed out cold. I woke up around 2am being wheeled into the OR. I was delirious. For those who’ve been in an OR, it’s a freaky place. So bright and white!

They lay you out on the table and have your arms spread at your sides. Thankfully, they don’t strap them down because I would have lost it. Nick wasn’t in the room yet and because I was so tired and anxious – I started to feel really panicked. I had a moment or two where I thought I was going to have a panic attack but tried my best to control my breathing. The anesthesiologist administered the medicine through my epidural line and I was freaked out I’d lose total feeling in my lower body. Don’t get me wrong, you want to be numb for this surgery! The whole idea of being cut open on table while awake is unnerving. But I was glad that I could still feel my toes after the meds set in. And finally, Nick entered the room and I told myself “if anything went wrong he could carry me out.” Ha!

It felt like the actual c-section was pretty long. Ellie was stuck down there, and Nick said it was kind of crazy how my body rocked back and forth while they tried to dislodge her. I just laid there shaking and teeth chattering profusely. Apparently, this is a common side effect though.

Finally, she was out. At 2:53am on Friday, June 8th – almost 24 hours from the time my water broke, we heard a loud screech. It was such a relief to hear that sound. I remember thinking she sounded like a cat. They had Nick stand up to see her. And lucky him he also got to see my insides on the table (gross!) because they hadn’t put me back together yet. Like I said earlier, by the end of this he saw EVERYTHING.

There we are. The anesthesiologist offered to take a pic – in my mind I thought ‘hell no! I’m a mess!’ But thankfully I agreed. I expected to be a whiteish green in these pics based on how anxious and exhausted I felt…but I’m glad I didn’t let those thoughts prevent me from getting such a perfect picture. The first moments our little family was finally together. ♥️

 

Unknown-3

There she is! Eleanor Susan Moore…ESM…better known as: Ellie Sue

They had Nick get up and go over to the station where they clean her up, weigh her, and cut the umbilical cord. It was weird to know she was “here” but I had to wait what felt like at least 5-10 minutes to actually meet/see her. I wasn’t all starry-eyed waiting for her. I was still shaking and wanted to just get the hell out of the OR. When they finally brought her over – I couldn’t believe how small and cute she was! And thank god – healthy.

Once they put me back together and transferred me to a gurney – the nurse held her out and asked if I wanted to hold her. I started to feel sick and the last thing I wanted was to hold her and get sick. So, there I was – barfing up a storm while everyone stood around me. I was finally able to hold her in the recovery area. All was right in the world and she was truly the most beautiful little thing I’d ever seen.

My recovery experience at Beth Israel was really positive. I know how lucky we are to have a healthy baby despite a somewhat tricky labor and delivery. I am grateful that I gave birth at BI.

heading home! some would say we overpacked but I was happy with everything we brought. As we got in the elevator to leave the nurse said…”see you next year!!” haha! I don’t think so!

What also helped was I didn’t go in with a strict birth plan. I had filled out this questionnaire (designed by Earth Mama Organics) that gave me a good sense of some considerations but I had decided long ago there was no use to go in with a plan because like many things, I knew I wouldn’t have control over this situation. I was somewhat upset I ended up with a c-section, but it wasn’t as bad because I went in telling myself “you just don’t know what will happen” and in the back of my mind a c-section was always a possibility. Especially because I was induced. The probability of a c section is higher when you are induced.

My advice would be – let go of any master plans or big expectations. Also, no two birth experiences are the same so don’t get too caught up on other people’s stories. It was really only so helpful to read / hear other people’s stories. Some people freaked me out while others made it seem so easy.

And that’s Ellie’s birth story. I can’t believe it’s been 7 week since then. If you have any questions – ask me in the message section. I’m happy to share more content on this/related topics! fitness during pregnancy? c-section recovery? what to pack in your hospital bag? you name it!

To share your story…

I was up around 330am this morning…this is not new for me…and I’m not complaining…especially now that I don’t commute into the city for work. I don’t have that “oh no, I have to be up, nicely dressed, and on a train in just a few hours” reaction. Phew. #pajamasallday

I grabbed my phone and began to scroll (not a healthy early morning habit, I know). I saw the post about Chrissy and John and their baby boy, Jack. Like many others, my heart aches for them reading the news. I looked at the raw pictures. I’ve read many comments since then on their story…and some of them are so negative. Are people more negative lately? Are there more trolls active than ever? Or, am I just gravitating to those comments? I don’t know. But because of this I feel compelled to share something today…

I remember vividly the days leading up to our loss – when we learned about our son’s fatal anomalies…I was shocked. I liken it to hell on earth. I felt so isolated. Like an alien. What was a miracle baby story (much like Chrissy and John’s son; conceived naturally, not through IVF) was suddenly taking a terrible, life altering turn. How could this be? What did I do wrong? I really felt like I must have done something terribly wrong for things to turn out this way. It’s an isolating experience. There were nights that all I could do was lay in bed with Nick and cry.

I will always be grateful for a small group of people who showed up for me during this time. People who had walked a similar path. Suddenly, I had a lifeline. Someone who could give me some sense of what to expect.

Did you know your milk comes in (even if you lose a baby before 24 weeks, I was 21)? I had no idea. But I was able to somewhat prepare myself for both the physical and emotion pain of my milk coming in despite not bringing a baby home. Sports bra, ace bandage wrap, and laying in bed for a few days until my milk went away. In some ways, I felt like my body failed me, failed us, but in others, it was as though it was still going through the natural motions. It’s maddening.

Did you know that you have to decide end of life/death care? I know, horrible to think about. You can gasp and say “I couldn’t imagine.” But this is life, it can be so cruel and suddenly you need to make these types of decisions. Decisions you’d rather never think about but sometimes you have to. Thankfully, I had some preparation for this – to be prepared to sign our son’s name on funeral home paperwork, to decide how we wanted to handle his remains. It’s horrible to even type about. But again, this is life. We decided to cremate our son, Charlie. Everything was handled by a very compassionate funeral home. As some of you may know, we waited a few months and then on what would have been Charlie’s due date, we spread his ashes at the beach near our home. There is no right or wrong way to handle these things. Everyone’s situation is unique. But I can tell you, if there is someone you can talk to who gets it, it makes a huge huge difference.

Ellie last summer @ “our beach” {Egypt Beach in Scituate}

Why am I sharing all this? Because, I was hurt by the fact that Chrissy and her husband have received such negativity for sharing these raw moments. This type of thing happens every day. It’s awful. But to me, it’s important to talk about these things so others can feel less alone. I hope all the love and support that exists out there for them is all they feel right now. They deserve only compassion. As a fellow “loss parent,” I thank them for their strength and willingness to share their story. I will say a prayer for them and their precious son, Jack.

Link to some resources:

  • I learned of this organization earlier this year– I didn’t know about it when we went through our loss – but want to share with others. http://www.emptyarmsbereavement.org
  • Another local support group resource: http://www.hopefulconnections.com/index.php/support-groups/
  • I also found Facebook groups and individuals on Instagram who have been such a support; you can search certain keywords/hashtags such as: infantloss, tfmr, pregnancyloss, stillbirth, miscarriage etc.

One year out…

One year ago…

There is part of me that can’t believe it. Time has gone by both quickly and slow, depending on the day. I’ve never been a big fan of April. I associate it with gray skies and dreariness. After losing Charlie last April, I was ready to delete it permanently from the calendar. But the thing is…my Dad’s birthday is April 17th. He’s a pretty special guy so there is no way I could wipe out his birthday month.

And as difficult as last year was, there were many beautiful moments, particularly watching Ellie Sue grow. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss any of that. Even though for a good portion my heart was deeply aching.

What I can tell you a year later…

A mother/a couple who loses a baby does not forget. The world moves on but the fact is, your heart is never the same. No one ever got to meet this child but we had hopes and dreams and plans for him. All those things we suddenly had to let go of. We suddenly had to accept he would never be in our lives on this side. I remember in the early days I would go for short walks outside….it was all I could do to work off my anxious energy. I would think about how it was going to be impossible to carry the weight, the reality of the situation. How does someone do it? Bit by bit, I guess. Through the help of many people.

I’ve come to accept that this is a fact, a reality in our life. I still feel angry sometimes that this happened to us. But a tragedy like this really forces you to take a step back. I have …and I’ve looked at my life and realized as “unfair” as this felt/is, as painful as this will always be, I am fortunate for the life I have. For the friends and family who have carried us through. For our beautiful Ellie Sue.

I’ve also had to accept that sometimes you don’t get answers. You hear a story like ours and you think “oh no! What happened?” It’s human nature to want an answer. Was someone sick? Was there an accident? Did they know something was wrong? Etc etc. No. In our case, we have no answers for Charlie. Our doctors told us, although these things rarely happen, when they do, half the time they have no known cause. I remember our doctors telling me “this is nothing you could have predicted or prevented.” I wanted, I needed to know the root cause…but they had nothing…despite all the most advanced testing the best hospitals could offer. No answers just that sometimes nature goes awry. That has been both a really difficult and somewhat freeing pill to swallow. There is not always an explanation or clear answer. I think this is how many people feel when tragedy touches their lives. Why us? Why then? Sometimes, it’s just bad luck? Believe me, it’s very difficult to accept that we lost our son because of bad luck. But I’ve found trying to mull it over in my mind to try and find answers I truly don’t have, is probably one of the most depressing and draining exercises.

So yea, one year ago…the floor dropped out. I spent six weeks out of work. Two of those weeks I could barely eat or sleep. I went from a very pregnant looking 5+month pregnant woman – to a shell of myself. Somehow, Nick and I rallied through the storm. Ellie was truly the only light I could see sometimes. Both new and old friends legitimately came (and continue to come) to my rescue and for that I will always be grateful and feel lucky.

I can say that I feel much better now but I will never “get over” or “move on” from this*. Charlie is a part of our life, a part of our story. I have been able to make space for this truth. Oh and by the way, this means you can say his name to me. It actually feels quite peaceful {and yes, sometimes sad, but that’s ok} because it recognizes our truth, it acknowledges him.

I have found ways to share our story that has both helped me heal and connected me with other women who have walked a similar path. I have forged friendships and bonds like I’ve never known before. Despite all the heart ache there is hope and lots of love.

It’s interesting to be writing this in a midst of a global pandemic/quarantine. Damn you, April. But next week, no matter what, I’ll celebrate my Dad’s (70th) birthday.

I received this hand painted votive (made by a student at Fontbonne Academy) through an organization called Hopeful Connections. HC is a local pregnancy loss organization. They aggregate local events, resources, and support groups for grieving parents and families. Receiving this candle in the mail (around Christmas no less) was one of the more touching gestures. We keep this special votive right in our kitchen windowsill.  I’ll link below to HC.

After we lost Charlie, so many people reached out with support and sympathy. I kept every card, every small gift box. I packed his ultrasound pictures here, Ellie’s “big sister” onesie, and a few other pieces of paperwork. I haven’t been able to look at this for a year but Nick and I went through it yesterday. We will always be grateful for all the support we received. If you sent a note or any form of sympathy, please know we kept it (in some form) and hold it close to our hearts. 

83055321_10101851166454609_2277920958670962688_o

Picture from a special event I had the opportunity to speak at. Surrounded by incredible medical professionals and two fellow “loss Moms” who I now consider friends. We shared our experiences and aimed to connect with one another, including how we can give back to the medical community who carried us through one of our most difficult journeys.

*one of my favorite videos on grief. I’m now a huge fan (find her on Instagram @noraborealis) of Nora McInerny. she’s amazing and has written a few great books.

A couple other resources:

  • Local organization for pregnancy loss: http://www.hopefulconnections.com
  • A beautifully written book {An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination} about a woman who lost her daughter. I realize these types of stories seem “depressing” but if you’ve been through pregnancy loss it really helps to feel you are not alone. Elizabeth is an incredible writer and knows how to capture the many feelings and emotions so authentically

from the highest highs to the lowest lows

I told myself we would share the joy…which we did when we quite miraculously got pregnant for the third time (our first was an ectopic) when Ellie Sue was only five months old. It was surreal. Completely unplanned and totally unexpected. We were so excited. We waited the “standard window” before we went public. We made it way past the 12 week mark after all. {insert massive shoulder shrug here…boy, do I feel naive. I’ve learned that life has a way of doing that to you sometimes}

But now I feel like I need to share the other side of it…

We lost our unborn baby boy (who we named Charles Francis) at 21 weeks. I refer to the experience as…when the floor dropped out from under us. Because it truly did. We went in for our routine 20 week anatomy scan and the next thing we know we are sitting with the doctor, referred to Children’s Hospital, and from there it only got worse.

Instead of getting rid of the vases that came with the flower arrangements we got from family and friends – I decided to plant some wildflower seeds in them and place them by the creek in our backyard. I don’t know if they’ll grow but I’ll be sure to post an update pic if they do. It was also a nice project to do at the time.

This post is not to go through ‘what happened’ because what I’d rather do than re-live that piece* is to share some tools for how we are healing, trying to heal…

Why?

To hopefully help another couple who may find themselves in a similar place. Be it an early, late term, or stillbirth loss…those who suffer are not alone.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned through this roller coaster of “a journey to family” – it is that connecting and sharing with others makes us all feel less alone and helps with healing.

1 in 4 pregnancies result in miscarriage. Although, less than 1% result in a late term loss such as ours (so please, let this be a comfort to you who are worried. It is very unlikely to happen).

Dealing with a pregnancy loss literally involves so many emotions. Sadness, guilt, anger, disbelief, anxiety, fear, jealousy etc. all of them. I’ve told myself many times to “let myself feel my feelings.” Sounds cheesy but allowing myself to process is the only way. As our nightmare unfolded, I spent nights crying, hysterically. I had hours of pure distress…it all f&cking sucked but it has helped to have people who have reminded me all of this is ok and normal to feel. And ohh I felt it. I still do.

A few tools that have helped me – I am sharing in hopes they could help someone else.

A diverse support “team”:

  • Firstly and maybe the most obvious, a good, supportive medical team. Good is an understatement, I couldn’t think of another word. We are lucky enough to be in one of the best cities for medical care in the world. As unlucky and bitter as my heart felt during the heat of our loss and trauma, I reminded myself we are lucky to have had ready access to such incredible and compassionate medical care (not to mention insurance – which is seriously a whole topic within itself. Having the means to actually afford good care knowing how staggering our healthcare costs are, again we are grateful to have)
  • A therapist/psychologist – it is critical to me to have access to a professional I can talk to help process and heal. I am lucky to have someone I’ve known for years but ask your OB for a referral and someone who specializes in women/couples dealing with pregnancy loss. They will give you one.
  • A psychiatrist – which is someone who can prescribe medicine. There is no shame pursuing additional help if you feel you need it.
  • Friends and family – if people offer support (meals, dog walks, to run errands) do not hesitate to say ok. I know it’s difficult to accept help. But some of our lightest moments have been eating a meal from a friend. Not only does it remove the burden of cooking during such an emotionally and physically draining time, it also brings great comfort beyond just something to eat. Hard to put into words.
  • Someone(s) who can relate – be it in person or virtual. One of the harder things I had to do (believe it or not) was ‘unfollowing’ my August 2019 Babies Facebook group. Up until then it was a little outlet to connect with mothers from all over the world who had a baby due the same month. Suddenly, I didn’t belong and it’s not that anyone obviously said that – I just couldn’t be there anymore. So I left. It was hard. I wondered if anyone noticed but I couldn’t see anymore of those pregnancy posts – my focus was no longer there. So I guess my advice is, unfollow anything that is causing you pain. Maybe it’s a friend who recently announced a pregnancy on social media or a group you were part of; know that maybe one day you’ll reconnect but for now it doesn’t serve you. I’ve learned there are many online support groups out there for grieving parents. From forums to private Facebook groups, I combed through many and I am grateful those types of communities exist. You can find them and they can help.

Other resources that have helped:

  • A journal – one night my mind was racing with what I knew were irrational thoughts. The next day I had Nick pick up a notebook for me at CVS. The next night, back in a dark place (the nights are the worst) I got it out and just wrote – all my thoughts and feelings – and told myself maybe one day I’ll burn this f&kin thing but right now I’m going to scribble down all these repetitive, terrible thoughts so they fall out of my brain
  • I also dusted off this daily planner/journal called The Desire Map daily planner by Danielle Laporte. Each morning I fill out a page which includes writing down what I’m grateful for. It is a positive ritual to start my day. I recommend this journal regardless if you’re going through a difficult time or not. It is wonderful.
  • A book or something to turn to for support during quieter moments (aka a non-electronic). Reading was one of the things I leaned on in the earlier days. As an avid TV watcher, TV did not help me, I felt like I just stared at the screen. Even the real housewives couldn’t do it for me (and that’s says a lot). But a good book, it took me in and brought me peace and more productive thoughts. Below are a few I recommend.
  • Yoga and general movement – at first it was hard to be motivated to do anything. getting out of bed was difficult. But once I was medically cleared, I pushed myself to get up and move outside my house, even if for just 15/20 minutes.

How am I feeling today? It depends on the day and sometimes the hour. I’ve learned that grief is like that. Unpredictable. I am learning to carry multiple feelings around this experience – including gratitude (because there was so much good I experienced during this time, I cannot deny it) as well as a deep sadness, that I know might never completely leave me. Sometimes I can’t believe this all happened but I know we will move forward. We have vowed to honor Charlie by being a stronger family and remembering him in peace. We want to set a good example for Ellie –  that tragic things happen and we want her to know that it’s ok to be sad (and angry etc.) but that we can also carry on with love and light in our hearts. We will do it for Charlie and thank him for that gift. Even though he’s not with us physically – he’s here and we’re a better, stronger family because of him.

I want to thank everyone who reached out to us, be it a text, Facebook message, card, flowers, or any of the other gesture of sympathy and support that were shared with us. We are so grateful for all the support we received and continue to receive. I don’t think I could say thank you enough.

In yogi fashion, I’ll end with a Rumi quote: “the wound is the place where the light enters you.”  And I believe that now more than ever.

*one caveat being, if you or someone you know finds themselves in this situation, you can reach out to me directly and I will share whatever I can to help. It does help to talk with someone who has been through it.

Chapter Xx Surprise!

here’s the thing…if you’ve read our story, we struggled with infertility for years.

I remember vividly the day the fertility doc told us that IVF would be our “only option” for a biological child. I was pretty inconsolable when I first heard this news. I couldn’t go back into work that day. But yes, I moved on from that day and those feelings. I gained perspective – that we are in fact lucky to have had the option of and later the success through IVF. Hello, Ellie Sue!

When I took the pregnancy test less than a week before this past Christmas it was because I had some weird nausea and realized my period hadn’t come yet. I had only had one since Ellie. I didn’t expect anything to be like clock work after childbirth though.

I remember talking to my friend Carmen at work a few days earlier when suddenly a wave of nausea hit me…All I could think was – “oh no that stomach bug?!” I had to sit down. A little voice in the back of my mind said “this feeling is familiar…morning sickness?…” I shrugged it off. Until a few days later when I asked Nick to grab a pregnancy test at CVS while he was picking up last minute Christmas cards. I just couldn’t shake the need to triple check, as silly as it seemed for me. Nick didn’t think much of it all. If you’ve struggled with infertility, you’ve likely taken a lot of tests. They’re not that exciting anymore.

I’ll never forget when that line went solid blue within seconds. The bluest blue I’ve ever seen. Like blink ya eyes am I hallucinating blue. My first reaction “oh.my.god., what? Is this thing broken?”

I walked the test downstairs to Nick and said “look at this.” We just stared at each other and started laughing. And both kept repeating “no way, no way.”

Clearly this wasn’t planned. I mean, I didn’t expect we’d ever get pregnant on our own after everything we went through before. We were told we had a 5% chance to naturally conceive!

I spent days in a state of anxiety with mixed emotions. From…omg this means we don’t have to do IVF again!! Thank god! It’s a miracle!! To…omg, I don’t think my body is ready. I don’t think WE are ready for this journey again. What about Ellie? Does this take away from the time we planned with just her? It’s so soon to have another, oh my!! (They’ll be 14 months apart!) What about work? I feel like I just got back. Etc etc etc I had ALL the thoughts. My mind went wild. Once again, my body is not my own. Holy sh*t.

Am I happy? Of course. We always hoped for another child. We always hoped Ellie would have a sibling to navigate life with.

But really…it was the biggest surprise that all we could do initially was laugh and stare at each other in disbelief.

Even if this means our little family expands sooner than we anticipated, we are grateful. And since when have we ever been able to plan this stuff!?

here we go again!

Baby BOY Moore

Already have a name…

Charles Francis

Named after Nick’s grandfather and my Dad.

Lil Charlie 💙

Due early Aug

Pic below – Ellie thinks my big (yes already!) baby belly is hilarious. This is the cake I made to surprise Nick with the gender.