EASTER BASKET IDEAS

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We’re slowly coming out of the fog of preterm labor, and finding our new normal. I don’t think of it as “back to normal,” because I honestly feel like a different person after having gone through that experience. My entire perspective has changed, along with my priorities, and what I used to think of as “important.” All the non-essentials have been filtered out from my life, and the essentials, namely, continuing to grow this baby to as full-term as I can get, have taken precedent.

It may seen trivial to share an “Easter Basket Gift Ideas” blog post in the middle of this, but in some ways, it’s helpful for me to have something else to think about for a little bit, and it’s also significant in that it means things have calmed down enough to be out of current crisis. I could not have imagined writing this post two weeks ago, but today I get to. It turned out much more “baby girl” than “toddler boy” than I planned, but those are the kinds of things I’m thinking about these days. It was really fun for me to put together. Enjoy!

Cuddle and Kind Dolls. I think I share this every year, but we can’t get enough. They are ethically made, hand knit dolls that give back 10 meals to a child in need with every purchase. They just came out with some new ones, this is Penelope the flamingo, and there are more darling, limited edition ones for Easter.

Plus-Plus, pastel edition. We got these for Christmas last year and they get tons of use. The pastel colors are perfect for an Easter basket. They also just came out with these puzzles which we love, and these tubes are great for travel.

Bannor Toys. Beautifully hand made wooden toys. The personalization option makes it extra special. They have a darling Easter matching game set that is perfect for basket filling.

Slumberkins. Started by a counselor and a teacher, this company aims to provide social/emotional support to children through plush dolls and books. The Family Change Fox is especially applicable for us as we think about welcoming a new baby.

Clamfeet. The cutest soft-soled, handmade baby shoes. In matching sizes for mama!

Smaller items:

Egg Shaped Chalk

Water Wow - great for travel

Dot Markers

GlowSticks - fun for the bath

Musical Egg Shakers

Wikki Stix

Happy basket filling!

Shared in partnership with Cuddle and Kind, Plus Plus, Bannor Toys, Slumberkins, and Clamfeet. All opinions are my own.

THE UNEXPECTED

It’s been seven days into this story, and it still doesn’t seem any easier to write.

We are home from the hospital. I am still pregnant.

Words, that last Friday night, I didn’t think I would get to write.

We entered spontaneous preterm labor last weekend, and found ourselves in the middle of a story we never imagined. It was a chaotic and traumatic few days, filled with middle of the night monitoring and vitals, strong medicines via IV, and a team of specialists, but they were able to stall labor. We were discharged with strict instructions for bed rest at home.

Now, we wait.

We don’t have many answers. No one can tell us if we will carry till term, or if we will deliver prematurely and have a lengthy NICU stay, or what this all means for our baby and our future family. We are told I could enter labor again at any point. One of the most confusing factors is that I am entering labor, daily - I continue to have contractions every evening, but they eventually fade. Only if they increase or my water breaks do we need to be admitted for true labor. We’ve already been back to the hospital in triage, for five minute apart contractions that lasted over an hour, for them to stop and for us to be discharged, earlier this week.

It is a terrifying place to be, living in the vast unknown and all the what if’s.

For the most part, we are ok. We are ok and we are not ok. Some parts of each day feel doable, and some parts feel so very hard. The contractions cause me to panic, and I enter this mildly-panicked state, daily. Imagine if your body was doing something involuntarily, that could cause you and your baby harm if it continued, and it could result in preterm labor and NICU stays, causing all kinds of aftermath and complications, the least of which you are concerned about is a giant bill. And there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

It’s all so painful, in every sense of the word.

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Trauma, for me, is a little like holding your breath underwater. No sensation of gravity, or time, or the things that used to govern my daily life. Weightless, soundless. A distorted picture of real life walking around on the surface. People going to work, laughing. I covet the set of “problems” I used to worry about: what crib to buy, work stress, toddler tantrums. A sense of normalcy so far removed from my daily life.

Now my worries are: Is my baby going to make it? Will I go into active labor today? How long will our NICU stay be? Will my baby have long term complications? Will I survive this, emotionally? Can I do seven more weeks of bedrest to get us to full term? And for those questions, no one has the answers.

So we just keep going. One day, one hour, at a time. We have been so well supported by our family and friends, who have truly rallied around us with all kinds of support, bringing us decaf iced lattes, dinners, flowers, and especially, giving us just their presence. No one can fix this. But someone can sit with us and remind us that no matter how this goes, it’s all going to be ok.

And that, we’re finding, is exactly what we need right now.

Thanks for being in this with us. We are so grateful.

ON PREGNANCY, FERTILITY, AND WAITING

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We’re expecting again! We are so thrilled. I know that everyone’s road to pregnancy is unique so I wanted to share a little backstory since our experience this time was so different than with our first.

Before we got pregnant with Trey, I had never even experienced a negative pregnancy test. He was as planned and as textbook as possible. At the same time, we knew of a few stories of infertility. We were about to turn 30, and about half our friends had kids and half didn’t. It seemed like that year, for whatever reason, it quickly became baby season for nearly everyone we knew. We also quickly learned that not everyone who seeks a pregnancy is guaranteed to get it.

As the months and years went on and more of our friends started trying, we started to hear more stories, and we became familiar with an entirely new territory. We knew of all kinds of things that were once foreign to us: the differences between IUI and IVF, the side effects of Clomid, and what the sequence and timing of seeking medical help looks like. Even further, we walked through baby loss for friends of all kinds, from early to late losses, miscarriages and stillbirths, scary news and diagnoses, all of it earth shattering, all of it devastating. In the span of two years, we were invited to three infant funerals. Just yesterday I got another text, “we lost the baby.” It’s heartbreaking, every single time.

I held all this, and knew what I was signing up for, and yet, since our first round was so textbook, I think I assumed it would be easy for us again. When we decided we were ready for our second baby, all I knew was my first experience, which was a recipe for very high and unrealistic expectations. I experienced my first negative pregnancy test, which was a shock. Then a couple more. A few months in I was texting my friends who I knew had walked this road, asking “When should I be concerned?” meanwhile googling “secondary infertility.”

As the summer went on, so did life in our thirties. As many friends as there were experiencing long waits and losses, just as many were getting pregnant easily and naturally. Friends revealed all kinds of announcements: long awaited pregnancies, perfectly planned pregnancies, and most annoyingly so, their “oops” pregnancies. I rejoiced with them, and deep down I was happy for them, but I really had to work at it, because when you're in the middle of your own unknown territory, it's difficult to share joy with someone else when they get their (even surprise) good news.

Trey turned two, and well-meaning friends and family would ask, "So, when will you guys have your second baby?" My go-to response became, "Not today!" as I clinked my wine glass. I liked that it was vague, funny, and truthful, without revealing all that was going on beneath the surface, the anxiety of, "Will this ever happen again for us?" brewing just under my words.

I'm writing this blog post draft in the messy middle, right in the center of the waiting. We are a few months in, and I haven't gotten a positive pregnancy test yet. By the time this post is published, I certainly hope so. But we so rarely have all the answers in life and this is one of those times. I think that's a good place to write from, we're you're in it, not beyond it.

We are all waiting for something, none of us have arrived. And I think when we're so focused on the end game we miss what's here for us in the messy middle. I know there’s good here too: patience, perspective, growth, a sense that it really is all out of our control anyways. I'm learning things here, and I don't want to miss it. If this post is published, I am assuming we will have gotten pregnant and announced publicly, and what a happy day that will be. Until then, I'll chart, and I'll wait, and I'll continue to watch and and pause and look for the good here too.

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Update: We got our positive pregnancy test, and in the big picture, we didn’t have to wait that long, especially compared to some of our friends. I learned that the average couple in their 30s only has about a 20% change of conceiving on any given cycle, so it really does seem like such a miracle when it does happen.

When I decided I needed a little more help, I reached out to Fairhaven Health to try their Fertility Monitor. I tracked all my ovulation signs like a little scientist, and they have a helpful team online that can help you interpret your charting. For me, I found that knowledge was power, and when everything felt out of my control, this was the one thing I could control. This device also turned out to be more accurate for me than temping or OPKs. I know that for some people, maybe tracking ovulation wouldn’t be helpful and might instead be stressful. For me, it helped, but I want to be mindful that no device or prescription is “one size fits all” when seeking a pregnancy. Everyone is different. We are so glad we found something that worked for us, and I am so thankful to be pregnant again, even among the sickness and all the pregnancy symptoms. I’m not taking any of it for granted this time.

Shared in partnership with Fairhaven Health, who makes a variety of products to help with fertility, pregnancy achievement, and nursing. Their BFP Early Pregnancy Test Strips were the first to let me know I was pregnant, and their Milk Saver was an early nursing favorite.