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New blog!

The time has come...hello little bean has evolved, and with that came a new blog and a new website. It's somewhat bittersweet, and actually brings a tear to my eye. It's been a special place to celebrate my life as both wife and mom, which I still plan to do, but with a name that suits our growing family better! I have big plans with this relaunch and hope to 'regrow' my audience, since I've stalled out in the last year...This blog will remain for a bit, before I place a permanent redirect on it, but please visit my new site from now on!



Life is good, and I want to celebrate our every little story.

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A Christmas Gift Guide with a lot of meaning...

I love the Timehop app. It shows me posts from years past on various forms of social media. It’s the highlight of my morning upon waking. Some days I laugh, some days I cry and some days I cringe…today I did all three because this photo popped up in my Timehop feed:


That’s my 8th grade homeroom class on a trip to Six Flags. I laughed because we were all babies, I cried because of who I was in that photo and I cringed because OMG 8th grade is so awkward. I was 13 in this picture. A time for girls that’s super awkward. Your body is trying to turn from girl to woman and it’s trying to grow boobs, but they’re totally just awkward lumps that you’re embarrassed about (except for this day in age, because it seems like girls look like women at age ten), your hips are getting wider and your ‘play’ clothes don’t really fit all that well, you’re trying to grow in height, but all it does is put you somewhere between little girl’s jeans and junior’s jeans and wherever you fall, they’re either too long or too short.

It’s also a time where other people take notice of how you look in a more significant way. I was somewhat of a tomboy. But not in the sense that I loved sports or hated girly things. In fact, it was quite the opposite! I loved girly things and hated sports! I wanted to wear dresses every day and lipstick! Oh how I longed for lipstick! But I was bullied too many times to truly be myself. I wanted to be the cheerleader, the popular girl with the coolest clothes…I mean, who didn’t?! I was thankful for the mid-90s fashion trends, because it was totally acceptable to wear baggy tees and boy’s jeans.

I had little confidence in my appearance. I’ve always been a strong person, and I never sacrificed my morals. But I did my sacrifice my desire to be my true self in school settings. I didn’t wear anything that made me stand out, for fear of being made fun of or ‘noticed.’ I was quiet and shy and didn’t volunteer in class, even though I knew all of the answers. I never took art classes because I didn’t want to be recognized publicly for my truest talent, because I was afraid I’d be made fun of. Looking back I laugh because it was so dumb. ALL kids should be encouraged to do exactly what they love! The people I let control my life were my own peers, and some of it was my own doing, but people were mean, too.

I’ve always been silly and funny. I love to joke around and make people laugh. I always thrived in settings where I could be myself and probably should have been in theater groups and classes, but I was afraid too, felt like I didn’t belong. But I was an easy target to pick on because I didn’t fight back. Sometimes I would be able to use my sense of humor against people I felt were harmless, like the kid who liked to call me “fatty flatty” on the bus, because of that awkward phase I was talking about earlier where your body is SO weird. So I’d laugh it off or say some kind of sarcastic remark, even though it really hurt inside. Or when another kid continuously made fun of my unibrow by calling me “caveman Katie lady.” I’d always laugh, but really it was killing me inside and I was in a feverish frenzy to learn how to shape my eyebrows! I actually had a girl who made fun of them too and would literally try and attack me with tweezers on the bus. That was the same girl who put duct tape in my hair on the bus. I laughed it off, then cried all the way home and cried again when my mom had to soak me in vinegar and rip it out, along with tons of my hair. Or when I caught mono from who knows where and everyone made fun of me for making out with people, when I’d never made out with anyone. Or when an ex-boyfriend lied and told people we had sex in the backseat of a car, when I was still a virgin and remained so until well after high school, FOR THE RECORD!

I spent my entire 7th grade year in homeschool, because I had neighbors who threatened to beat me up every day for no reason. They called me fat and ugly, and I couldn’t leave the house until they moved. My mom was always my biggest defender and she went to bat for me every time I needed it. Even the time I was bullied by a teacher, yes, a teacher…who tried to fail me after being out of school with a severe back injury in 6th grade…

Where am I going with all of this? Well I said I cried for the girl I was in this photo. She was lost and trying to find who she was all while trying to hide who she was. On the first day of 8th grade, my return from homeschool, I wore a really cute dress, I think I may have borrowed it from my older sister because I always thought she was really cool and had the best clothes…and I wore makeup. I was so excited to go shop for it before school started and I got eyeshadow, mascara and a nude lipstick. I wore everything to school with pride that day. And then one of the most popular boys in school asked me why I was wearing so much makeup and laughed at me. So I didn’t really wear makeup again until later in high school. I also had a boyfriend in 8th and 9th grade who was terrible for my self-esteem. He always made me feel like I wasn’t good enough and was, at times, verbally abusive and also that way towards my friends. So I want to go back and tell this little girl how beautiful she was, and to wear that plaid mini skirt and platform jelly shoes with pride (hey, I said it was the nineties)…to wear the lipstick…and to try out for school plays and cheerleading (ok, so I did become a cheerleader my senior year, and I loved it!). And I want to go back and pull all these characters from my story aside and remind them to be kind.

My life is my life, I have little regret, and these are the kinds of things that shaped me. It wasn’t all bad. I had good groups of friends, I was smart and funny, I did my creative projects at home in private, rather than in school. Overall, my school experiences were okay…but like I said, I was an easy target because I let them do it. And sometimes I fired back with mean remarks toward them, which isn’t fair either.

Bullying will never go away. There will always be someone with an opinion who can’t keep it to themselves. We are all guilty. You see someone who wears something you think is dumb, or has a haircut you don’t like. We ALL do it. And it’s very sad, but it’s the same thing that makes us human. We were made to have opinions, but we were also made with emotions. Everyone is fighting their own struggles and we are all affected by the words and actions of others. And now I have a daughter and it pains me to think that someday someone will belittle her and make her feel ugly…we’ve been through it with Brennan, and I’m sure someday Arlo will experience it too…and it breaks my heart.

But I grew up, and I still let people affect me, and worst of all, I let ME affect me. I still want to wear lipstick and fancy clothes, but I’m afraid someone will make fun of me. I like to make videos on YouTube but I’m sometimes hesitant to share them or really put in my best effort because I’m afraid someone will make fun of me. And sometimes I just want to wear sweat pants to the store, but again, I see moms who have their shit together with hair and nails done and I feel inadequate because I want to be THAT mom. I’m trying to be better about things, but it’s hard! And at the same time, I’m also pretty proud of myself. I have a beautiful family, I stand up for myself better than I ever did, I tell my kids I love them daily and when my daughter wants to play with cars one day and wear a princess crown the next, I always tell her she’s awesome and special.

And sadly, I'm still bulllied...but by my own self. I'm the first to point out that I'm overweight in every situation, because if you make fun of yourself first, others can't do it before you...I'm always my worst enemy, telling myself I'm not good enough, I'm not skinny enough, my hair's not long enough or pretty enough...I'm not smart enough...I'm not being a good enough mom or wife...I hide my body from my husband, the man who loves me for me, because it's worn and tattered from creating little people...and it's a terrible thing. I'm learning, slowly, and I think the real meaning of life, is to learn to love yourself, all of you!

So it’s the Christmas season, the giving season, and this whole story gave me the idea this morning to throw together a little gift guide. KEEP Collective is my new business venture and it’s jewelry. I love sparkly things. And it’s jewelry created to empower women to wear their heart on their sleeve, literally, with personalized bracelets and necklaces telling the stories that make them who they are. One of my absolute favorite designs features the ‘KIND’ key. Proceeds of this charm go to the KIND Campaign, built upon the powerful belief in KINDness and brings awareness and healing to the negative and lasting effects of girl-against-girl “crime.” Each key comes in a little package with a card explaining its meaning.

I created this necklace the other day, with additional charms, and the message is “May your focus be to BE KIND always,” using the arrow to focus, the word BE and the KIND key, and the pave infinity for always. I encourage you to purchase this design, or another I’m about to share, for someone who needs a boost or a thank you, or even for yourself to remind yourself to BE KIND to others, or even to BE KIND to yourself.

Click here to purchase this necklace, as is, on a 18” chain. Silver vertical pendant with Gold Arrow, Silver BE, Gold KIND Bar and Silver Pave Infinity with 18” silver chain - $85 (tax and shipping added upon checkout)


On a budget? Click here to order a simpler design on a navy, silicone band…Navy Silicone Keeper withSilver BE and KIND Bar - $42 (tax and shipping added upon checkout)

Or how about one for a mom, they’re the biggest cheerleaders in our lives…Red Leather Keeper with Gold KINDBar, mom and Gold Pave Heart - $59 (tax and shipping added upon checkout)




Or maybe a key fob for the dad who always built you up and made you feel special…Black Leather Key Fobwith Gold DAD and KIND Bar - $55 (tax and shipping added upon checkout)


Or maybe the teacher who’s inspiring your child daily, and guiding them through life…Pink Silicone Keeper with Silver miss, Initial (contact me to personalize), Apple and KIND Bar - $53 (tax and shipping added upon checkout)

Or maybe the best friend who stood by your side through it all…Turquoise Silicone Keeper with Silver HeartsBar, BFF Disc and KIND Bar - $46 (tax and shipping added upon checkout)


Click the links to order any of these (US sales only), as-is, or email me at katiejsimon (at) yahoo.com, if you’d like a more customized version or want to build a design from scratch…take a gander at the website and see the products that inspire me daily: keep-collective.com/with/katiesimon

And remember to BE KIND…

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Four Month Postpartum Update

I’ve been meaning to do a postpartum for awhile now, but if you read my last two posts (here and here), you know life has been quite crazy!

I also wanted it to be a video update, but I’m finding that videos are much harder to do with a two-year-old who wants your constant attention and I pretty much pass out right along with her at night so free time while she sleeps is pretty much a no-go.

At any rate, I’m now 4 months postpartum. If you read Arlo’s birth story (here), you remember I had my second c-section (you can read about my first here). I was also on bed rest for two months leading up to his birth due to pre-term labor. A cause for this was never found and seems to be a fluke (fingers crossed it doesn’t happen again in the future).

My initial experience with the c-section itself was much better this time around, despite my anxiety going into it. There’s just something about knowing you’re walking into a hospital to get sliced open…sorry for the graphic description, but seriously! I was also feeling a bit discouraged because I was really hoping for a VBAC, but it just didn’t work out.

I won’t get into the details again, they’re in the birth story, but the surgery was much calmer than the first time. I was terrified, but the hospital staff and my wonderful OB made it more comfortable.

My initial recovery was much better also. I was able to hold Arlo immediately while still on the operating table and also right after being wheeled to recovery. With Lark, I had a high fever and after 16 hours of labor, an epidural, and even more anesthesia at the point I need surgery, I was exhausted and shaky from coming down off the drugs and could barely hold Lark.

In recovery with Arlo, I felt great. I was shaky, but not as bad as with Lark. I had zero pain as I still had anesthesia in my system. I think it took me longer to be able to move my legs this time with the spinal, but I wasn’t in recovery very long at all.

After being wheeled back to our room, I felt anxious about recovery again. Scared of the pain, which was slowly creeping in, and I still couldn’t move very well and was really swollen in my legs, something else I didn’t quite remember with Lark’s c-section. 

I didn’t have a fever this time, but was having awful hot flashes the entire time I was in the hospital, which they think was from hormones and anesthesia. I was sweating like a pig! It was awful!

I always hate the hospital part because any and all modesty you have goes out the window! You have all sorts of strangers coming and looking AHEM…under your gown…and because it took me a bit to gain movement back, I had to literally be rolled over and ‘cleaned up’ several times a day.

I had staples this time, which really freaked me out! But I couldn’t feel them at all. I can’t remember exactly when I finally got up, but I think it was on the second day. With Lark, they forced me out of bed within hours! This time they let me decide. Once I finally got up, I was super dizzy, obviously. I hadn’t moved in nearly 24 hours. They also let me eat right away, which was nice, because I was starving!

I had really excruciating contractions at one point, which was actually from a full bladder. The catheter was not draining properly and the full bladder caused pressure and cramping. The contractions were actually worse than any I had prior to having Arlo or while in labor with Lark. But once I was up and moving, they were able to remove the catheter.

I felt like it was easier to move around this time, maybe because I knew what to expect. I was still walking around like the hunchback of Notre Dame, but I was much more confident about moving and getting up. I needed help to get up, of course, but it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated.

Before getting discharged, I had to have the staples removed. That was interesting. I had to shower first, which scared me both times I had a c-section. Something about running water over an open wound…makes me shudder! But I did it and it was no big deal! The bonus was that I didn’t have as much numbness and tingling at the incision site as last time, so touching it wasn’t painful or irritating. And to my surprise, the horrific and giant staples I thought I had that mangled my stomach, turned out to be teeny tiny and didn’t even leave any marks.  I’m always prepared for the worst case scenario! They pulled them out with tiny clippers and it didn’t hurt until the last few and even that was just a minor sting.

I was discharged feeling sore, but still felt pretty good. I had been getting headaches, pretty significant ones. I’d compare them to a migraine. I think likely from the anesthesia, and they last about a week or two, but were lessened with the pain meds and motrin.

My pain felt more manageable this time and I was able to space out doses of meds after just a week. I took the pain meds the entire two weeks following the surgery, and continued with Motrin after that, mainly to stay on top of it because if I didn’t, I was laid up and I now had two kids to take care of!

I was sore, yes, but I was mobile and not bed ridden! I slept on the couch a couple of nights, just because I could sit partially up, which was more comfortable. For me. And I continued to have painful contractions from breastfeeding, which felt more intense than the first time around also, but I was told that happens in second, third, etc pregnancies.

So I guess I’ll go TMI on all of you and tell you that my postpartum bleeding lasted about 6 weeks, same as after my first pregnancy, and was pretty significant. But you gotta love those hospital mesh underwear and pads! ;)

At four months, I’m still pretty sore at times, especially if I let my bladder get too full. My stomach muscles are tender to the touch and it’s still hard to lay on my stomach. I was pretty good about doing ab exercises at first, but have since quit and need to get back on it!

I feel like my recovery is lasting a bit longer than last time, in that I’m having a lot of back issues this time around. I was sore last time for over a year, and then I was pregnant again so there’s always been tenderness. But this time my back is having a hard time coming around. I also suffered from SPD (symphysis pubic dysfunction) in both pregnancies which affects the ligaments in your pubic bone and cause misalignment. Last time it went away when Lark was born, this time it’s lingering and I suspect my entire pelvis is out of alignment and causing all of the issues. I had a severe back injury as a child and my pelvis hasn’t been the same since. My OB thinks that may have something to do with the pre-term labor. She’s not confident I’d even be able to deliver vaginally, even though I’d like to. I need to see a chiropractor, which I used to do regularly, I just don’t have the extra money right now to do so!

So aside from the back pain, I’d say I’m in pretty good shape, and my scar is even healing much better this time too. My periods have returned, with a vengeance, since I quit breastfeeding earlier than intended, but they’re completely out of whack and absolute misery…sorry for the TMI again, but it’s part of the process! My numbness and tingling is still less, maybe it’s because some of that surface feeling was already gone from last time. I did end up with a couple of new stretch marks near my incision, but I’m almost thinking they’re from surgery and the stretching at the surgery site, because they didn’t appear prior to the c-section and they’re very minor.

As far as postpartum depression and anxiety, I feel like I fared better than last time. I've been really lucky. I've only been slightly weepy at times, but last time, with Lark, it hit me hard when I went back to work. I felt alone in the world and wasn't prepared for how much it would affect my work life and relationships with others. I suddenly couldn't relate to people without kids, and they weren't enjoying my constant talk about my baby. This time, I was more prepared and I was able to separate it and recognize it so I didn't isolate myself as much. It's definitely tough maneuvering into motherhood, whether it's the first time or the tenth time. I wish more people were sensitive to that and didn't expect so much out of new moms. Just my opinion...

My skin allergies are behaving strangely, mainly because they’re less severe during pregnancy and the hormonal imbalance after the fact affects my skin. I’m just getting rashes and itching much easier than normal. I don’t expect it to go away completely, but I think it will calm down after awhile. I’m also losing hair at an alarming rate, which happened after Lark too, and while it’s depressing at times, I know it’s temporary.


Some days I’m still longing for maternity pants and hating denim waistbands, my belly is still loose and poochy and my back hurts probably at 85% of the time, but I’m doing really well and I’m pleased with my progress at just 4 months out! Plus, a cute baby makes all of it completely worth every bit of agony ;)

Updates on Arlo and Lark will be coming soon =)





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The hardest blog post I've ever written.

This is, by far, the hardest blog post I’ve ever written…it’s taken me a year to process things and emotions and I’m finally ready to share. I didn’t have to share it, and for awhile didn’t think I would, but maybe someone somewhere will read it and not feel alone, because I felt alone for so long.

Just over a year ago, life was good. My mom and stepdad had moved to Michigan, which was happy surprise and something I’d never expected. We had been living thousands of miles apart for 8 years and the distance was too much. Lark had just turned one and we had a beautiful party for her, celebrating her life so far. I was engaged and planning a wedding. Life seemed to be just where it needed to be.

On November 1, 2014, James and I were married in our hometown of Big Bear Lake, California, after a week of preparations, a trip to Disneyland, and lots of time spent with loved ones as all of our guests stayed at the bed and breakfast where we were married, we said our vows and were happy. (see our wedding video here)

The day after we returned home, I had a second job interview for a position in northern Michigan, the place we’d dreamed of living for years. I was hesitant to apply for the job initially back in September, mostly because my parents had just moved near us and signed a year long apartment lease down in Saginaw, where we were living. I didn’t want to up and leave after they dropped everything to be near us. But my mom was the one who actually encouraged me to do so, reassuring me that they would follow.

So I went to my interview, exhausted. We got home late the night before and I had to drive a five hour round-trip just to participate in the interview. It went well and I was hopeful. It went so well, that they offered me the position a few days later, for a bigger salary than I’d previously had! I accepted.

It’s all kind of blur from that point, because it had all happened so fast. My stepson lives with us full-time, but his mom shares custody, so James contacted the court to be sure we could move without issue. They assured him that yes, we were fine to move, since the mother lives out of state and it doesn’t affect her current parenting time. So we began the process.

Boxes and packing tape were flying everywhere, things were being thrown, haphazardly into boxes. And I was panicking! James had no job up there yet and was planning to keep his at least until March, when my health insurance was to kick in. So it would be myself and two kids, living with my in-laws until we figured things out. James started the process of having Brennan enrolled in school and I started the process of finding a new daycare provider. That was especially stressful because I adored our current ladies and with Lark’s allergies and such, it’s difficult to trust new people.

On November 24, 2014, I went to work for the last day at my job of eight years. A place I laughed, a place I cried, and a place I made friends so dear to me, that letting it go was especially difficult. But I was on cloud nine! New job, new adventures, newly married. Life could only get better, right?!

That Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, I had to run Lark to urgent care before heading north, she had yet another cold, causing asthma issues and she just wasn’t getting over it! Then we got on the road, with a car packed full of our junk, on a new journey.

James headed up with Brennan that evening, because we generally spend Thanksgiving up here anyway. I was sad to be spending Thanksgiving without my parents, who stayed behind in Saginaw, but we had some special circumstances, being that I started my new job the following Monday. James also had a car packed full of junk and stopped by his mom’s house because she was going to let us store some items in her basement. What he found was not something we ever expected.

The journey we were about to embark on, was not something we ever expected, and could never have prepared for…

To back track a bit, his mom had been depressed and we saw little signs here and there. Her house had stopped being kept up, she didn’t get out of the house very often, and we knew she was lonely and often times forgetful. She’d also fallen recently and had an injury that just wouldn’t heal. The stubborn woman she is, she wouldn’t have it checked and kept writing it off as arthritis. But we kept on her about seeing a doctor.

Back to that night…James and Brennan pulled up to a pitch black house. He found his mom inside, sitting in the dark wearing a coat with her purse on her arm and the house was freezing. He asked where she was going and her response was that she was going with him. He noticed she seemed out of sorts and told her he was headed to his dad’s, where Lark and I were. She said she wanted to come with us, which was odd, because she doesn’t generally want to spend time with her ex-husband. But being that James recognized something was wrong, he agreed to bring her with him. He asked where her keys were and she handed him money. He knew at that moment that she was confused and not thinking straight. She also had a limp arm and was dragging one leg.

When he showed up with her, I was confused. Again because she doesn’t really come around when James’ dad is there, for her own reasons. And I could tell just by looking at her that something was off. She couldn’t really form correct sentences or even organize her thoughts. I mentioned taking her to the hospital and James was certain her stubbornness wouldn’t allow it. But he called her sister, who also lives in northern Michigan, just minutes from her, and asked her to go with them to the hospital. James is an only child and her sister is her only other immediate family member that is living as her husband died quite some time ago.

Once at the hospital, it was discovered she had a very severe bladder infection, which was concerning because she already has blood pressure issues and bladder infections can be detrimental with bp issues. In older people, bladder infections can cause dementia-like symptoms and they attributed her confusion to that, as well as her leg pain. She was admitted and spent quite a few days there, being treated with antibiotics and such.

We spent Thanksgiving day together with my in-laws, and though we felt sad, we were thankful for the new opportunities we’d been given and glad to know James discovered his mom before things got dire. The next couple of days were spent in and out of the hospital visiting mom and having laughs over the silly things she’d say because her mind just wasn’t working right and finding humor was the only way we could cope.

The day after Thanksgiving was my nephew’s first birthday. My brother and sister-in-law live in Ohio, but were up for Thanksgiving and throwing him a party that Saturday. I agreed to help make cupcakes, since I’m the resident baker in the family and always happy to help with birthday cakes! He was having a Curious George themed party, because that was his favorite cartoon!

A couple of days before the party, I noticed some bleeding. Not out of the ordinary for a female, except that a week before we moved, I found out I was expecting. Bleeding while pregnant is never a welcome sign. I continued to monitor the bleeding, but the worry kept growing. On Saturday, I became so panic-stricken, that I rushed through cupcake-making, which made me feel guilty for not giving my nephew my all, but I wanted to be sure I fulfilled my promise before heading to hospital with James, where he planned to visit his mom and I planned to head to the ER to have my pregnancy checked out.  No one knew I was pregnant and no one knew I was being seen in the hospital, except for James. So he kept running upstairs and downstairs at the hospital, between myself and his mom, making excuses as to why he kept leaving, never divulging our baby secret to family members also in attendance.

I sat in that cold room for hours, literally, waiting for blood test results and trying to come to grips with the fact that I was likely losing my baby that we both so badly wanted and was coincidentally conceived when we were married. And I sat in there mostly alone, because even though James had tried to be in two places at once that day, I knew his mom needed him too, and he needed her, so I didn’t pressure him to be with me. Luckily, my levels were fine and there he was, little Arlo, a tiny dot on an ultrasound screen, but very much there. I was instructed to take it easy and basically just wait.

I started my job that Monday, harboring my pregnancy secret while trying not to be stressed and taking it easy. Which isn’t really simple considering James had returned to Saginaw with Brennan and I was up here by myself (and my in-laws) with a very clingy baby!

Lark had started at a new daycare, and on day one, I was already concerned with a few things. Sometimes I come off looking like that paranoid mom who shelters her child, but what’s behind that facade is a mother CONSTANTLY anxious over her child’s well-being because simple things like a common cold or a sip of milk could send her spiraling downward and threaten her life. I don’t trust anyone with her, usually, and sometimes even James and I make mistakes regarding her health, but our life was sort of in an upheaval and I was more concerned than ever before.

She had a lingering cold and was having allergic reactions out of nowhere. Two weeks into my new job, I was tired, stressed, nauseous…it was a crazy time! The daycare lady contacted me at work to say Lark had developed a rash. They feared it was from a bouncer seat a previous baby had spit up on and they must not have properly cleaned it. I instructed them to give her Benadryl. Since she hadn’t fully ingested it and just touched it, I assumed it was just contact hives. She called a bit later and mentioned Lark was wheezing, which she does when she has a cold and also when her allergies flare up. I was immediately panicked and headed over to get her. When I picked her up, she was literally gasping for air. I had never seen her in such distress. I rushed home and immediately gave her a nebulizer treatment, which barely helped. Next I rushed her to urgent care, because it was closer than the hospital at that moment and I was desperate. They checked her over, listened to her lungs, mentioned the cold that was still lingering, weeks later and sent us home with a prescription for a new nebulizer medication that was a bit more aggressive at treating the lungs.

So I rushed down to the local pharmacy, Lark still struggling to breathe, only to find out they didn’t have the medication and it was going to be a few days to get it. I broke down in tears right there. I ran into one of my new coworkers who barely knew me on the way out, where the tears turned to unrecognizable jibberish because at that point I was just venting to anyone who was there. The pharmacist noticed my desperation and placed a call to Meijer pharmacy, which was 20 minutes away, but still accessible. They had one box, but without the actual prescription and unable to verify my insurance coverage, they weren’t allowed to administer it to me. I drove up there anyway and basically pleaded with a female pharmacist, telling her my child couldn’t breathe. So she did something that probably could have gotten her fired, but could potentially save my child’s life…she opened the box and gave me one package of the precious vials.

I rushed back home and immediately started the nebulizer up with a tiny Lark on my lap. Within seconds of inhaling, she nearly stopped breathing and was gasping for air, worse than earlier that day. My father-in-law was sitting feet from us and looked at me with absolute fear in his eyes at that very second. With zero hesitation, I called 911. I’ve never had to call 911 in my life before.

I went into serious mode and miraculously didn’t cry. I kept my cool, even when my child started vomiting profusely in my lap, something that happens when she has allergic reactions. The paramedics showed up and before I could even register what was happening, I was hauling her car seat out, with her buckled in, and loading into the back of an ambulance. I’m still not even sure how I carried that thing out with her in it, but my survival mode kicked in and I had one focus, to get my child to safety. They wouldn’t allow me to ride back there with her and the medics, so I climbed up front and called James. That’s when the tears came and he was in absolute shock and miles away.

I hated that ambulance ride. I couldn’t see her, I couldn’t hold her, I couldn’t even tell her she was going to be okay, even though I wasn’t sure she would be. I was terrified and the ambulance driver complimented me on my calmness, but what he couldn’t see was the girl inside of me, wanting to run and hide. I kept trying to look back, to get some kind of confirmation that Lark was ok. Then I suddenly saw the EMTs rushing around, in a state of panic, fiddling with her car seat and trying to roll it over. I wanted to die. Right there. Quite a few minutes passed until they finally assured me that Lark had vomited again and they had tipped the car seat to insure that she didn’t choke. I was immediately relieved, especially when the girls said she was smiling. She’s always a trooper, that one.

We spent the next few hours in the emergency room, and when I say a few hours, it was many more than that and I can’t even remember what time it was when we got there, but we didn’t leave until around 4am. They gave her more breathing treatments and tested her for all sorts of things, x-rayed her chest, and just monitored her. She was literally bouncing off the walls, due to the steroid breathing treatments! And my mother-in-law had followed the ambulance and met us there. I was so thankful she was by my side.

We were finally sent home, instructed to NOT use the previously prescribed medication. The pharmacist who gave it to us felt terrible and ended up cancelling the prescription and not even charging us for it, which would have cost $200+ dollars. Lark was placed on oral steroids and I pulled out of the daycare, because I wasn’t confident in her being there. I didn’t even have a backup plan.

The following week was Christmas and I asked my mom to come up and stay the week, almost begging her because Lark and I needed her and I couldn’t send her back to daycare. James even drove her up in a snowstorm on a Wednesday night, and immediately back down to Saginaw to get her here. She stayed with us at James’ mom’s house, since she was still in the hospital, and she took care of Lark while her little body settled down.

James’ mom remained in the hospital, getting test after test and her MRI results showed she had suffered multiple strokes, over an unknown amount of time and the damage was more than the neurologist had ever seen in his career. Her recovery was now unpredictable and she was transferred to the temporary care facility within the hospital to receive further evaluation and begin a long road of physical and occupational therapy.

Christmas came and went, and we finally told my in-laws about the pregnancy and enjoyed our Christmas morning with happy, little Lark. After the holiday, my mom decided to stay. My stepdad had actually been staying up here a bit prior to that as he found a part-time job in preparation for them moving up as well. My mom had stayed back in the apartment because they still had the lease and things were sort of up in the air.

Prior to use moving, my mom had already been watching Lark a few days a week, which she had said she was more than happy to do when she moved here and expressed to me what a joy it was to be able to spend time with her. She was actually sad on days I sent Lark to daycare, which was simply to give my mom a break and also to keep Lark social with other kids.

But back to life up here…my mom had decided to stay and I was delighted, because I needed the help with Lark due to her health and my being pregnant. It was so nice to be able to leave Lark in my mom’s care and not worry. My parents had their dog and cat with us as well , but their dog was sick and had multiple tumors in his body. He was getting frail and the tumors started to rupture. It was a sad time, especially since Lark had loved him so much. It came to a point where my parents had to decide to put him down and they didn’t have the money, I offered them what I could, because I was always willing to help, even providing them with gas money for my stepdad to get to work and grocery money when they needed it. I was so grateful for their help that it didn’t phase me to lend a helping hand.  They wouldn’t take much monetary help with the vet expenses, but I did my best to be there for them in the last moments with their dog, who was eventually put down.

James and Brennan were also now staying in their apartment, because we had to give notice at our rental. And James had entered into a court disagreement with his ex-wife who was trying to keep us from moving, even though the court had originally dismissed it. But being that she has joint custody, she could fight it. And fight it she did. It was especially frustrating because she doesn’t live in the state of Michigan, and hasn’t for the last 6 years. Our move would not affect her parenting time as she lived so far away anyway, but she felt that Brennan needed to stay in Saginaw, even suggesting he stay there alone and live with her in-laws, whom he barely knew. The case drug on and on…waiting for judges decisions, leaving a family torn apart, because at that point, James was ready to just move. We were stressed and the distance didn’t help. Every weekend when we said goodbye, I’d slip into a depression until the next weekend when I’d see him again. Lark and I needed each other more than ever, and I don’t think she’ll ever understand just how much I needed HER at that point.

So James and Brennan were stuck in Saginaw, bound by legal agreements tied up in court with legal bills mounting by the day. Discussions about Brennan with his ex-wife became heated, threats were being given out, and the fight grew uglier by the day. I was struggling here, still staying in his mom’s house with my parents there as well, but Lark was okay and that was all that mattered to me. It was difficult at times living under the same roof as my parents again, because we had differing opinions, mostly regarding Lark, and we were cooped up, prisoners of winter and were spending every minute together. But I was thankful they were there because I couldn’t have done it without them. I was paying for groceries and gas for 3 adults and a baby because they were struggling financially and I never blinked an eye or complained about it, because we’re family and we were all in this mess together.

In the meantime, James was appointed legal guardian of his mother, adding to the legal debt and began a long and challenging road with the state of Michigan to get her approved for benefits due to her now incurable health conditions that had caused permanent damage. She was finally placed in a nursing home, more than an hour from here and James spent half of his weekends with us and half traveling back and forth to see his mom. Nursing home care is expensive and we weren’t happy with the place she was in. Luckily, we had a connection to one close by that was much nicer and more accommodating and we were miraculously able to get her in there, where she remains, indefinitely, at just 62 years of age. Most of the time not remembering why she’s there or what has happened, and feeling angry about it. The worst times are when James has to remind her that her husband has passed, which has happened more times than we’d like.

In the meantime, things were getting tense with my mom and I. I was feeling pushed aside at times with my own child and she wasn’t shy about expressing her own parenting preferences when it came to my child. She was trying to help, but it was making things worse. Being under the same roof was bringing us down and I felt like I wasn’t in control of my own child. One night, during dinner, she told me they were getting out of their apartment lease because they couldn’t handle it financially. My initial reaction was panic. We were in the middle of a custody battle we needed to win to keep our family together and she was creating a scenario for James and Brennan to be homeless. They were already sleeping in an empty apartment on mattresses on the floor and we couldn’t have this happen. I pleaded for her to just keep the apartment until the court decision was made. What she took from that conversation was that James and I were selfish, expecting her to pay his way in life, when what I really was saying was to keep the apartment and we’d figure out a way as we didn’t have much money at that moment either but we’d find a way to pay the rent and keep it going. She spent about 20-30 minutes in an angry tirade with me about how awful James was and how selfish we were, even though they had no expenses with me here. She even went so far as to throw watching Lark in my face and how she does it for free, even though she wanted to do it, and proceeded to tell me how unfair I was being to my unborn child by being stressed out and she did all of this while I sat on the floor in my daughter’s room, in silent tears while my daughter clung to me, wondering what was happening. James and I offered to pay rent that month and figure out the other expenses. I offered to pay the utilities and she told me I shouldn’t be bailing him out like that. My own husband, who she felt wasn’t my responsibility, but anyone who’s been in a fair and honest marriage, a partnership, would agree that it was ABSOLUTELY my responsibility to help my husband and stepson. She couldn’t understand that.

After that, she began to exclude herself from my life. When they first moved up, they were staying in a guest room upstairs and Lark was with me in the master bedroom and it was fine. But then one day she had Lark’s things moved to the guest room and they moved their belongings to the basement, willingly, because she felt it was unfair for Lark to not have a room. I told it was unnecessary and this was a temporary situation for everyone. But they insisted.

The basement in the house is finished, except for carpet at that point. And with James’ mom’s unknown health status, the house was in limbo because she owns it, but we frequently discussed having carpet put in and getting the bathroom finished, we just didn’t have the means to do so. My mom disagreed. She felt we needed to use James’ mom’s money to finish it, which couldn’t happen and her entire estate was hanging in the balance due to her health and legal proceedings regarding her care. But they chose to stay down there and I assumed all was fine.

Until they stopped coming upstairs all together, except to watch Lark during the day. They became reclusive, rejecting invites places and thus forcing me to stop inviting them places because tensions were high. They wouldn’t speak to James or Brennan at all and we never saw them. One night, while James was away, Lark had fallen off of the bed and busted her lip. The incident scared the crap out of me, as well as Lark and I sat holding her crying body whispering in her ear, comforting her and trying to get a glimpse of the blood streaming down her chin. In walked my mom to ask what was going on and I explained it to her. She then took Lark from my arms and again lectured me about being too stressed out and unable to care for my own child. She never seemed to understand that while yes, I was stressed, but my mothering capabilities were never in question. I sat there in tears and eventually became extremely emotionally upset over Lark and my mom’s invasion of my parenting. I sobbed, just wanting my baby back and her to leave the room. But instead I told her to leave, with Lark and told her to just put her to bed because Lark was now calm and it’s never my intention to upset my child.

I was furious but put that aside the next day and apologized to my mom for getting emotional, even though I felt my thoughts were 100% valid and expecting her to accept my apology because it wasn’t worth fighting over. What I got instead was yet another lecture about how selfish I was and how unfair I was being to my children. That day changed everything.

She had been telling people publicly on facebook that their living arrangements were horrid and that they were living in a dark basement with no heat and no food. She was reaching out for people to feel bad for her, while I sat upstairs alone with her grandchild wondering what exactly I did to make my own parents hate me so much, without my husband, with a very fragile daughter and a pregnancy I was doing my best to keep healthy. It was on facebook that I found out she was planning to move out of Michigan and hated it here. She couldn’t even tell me personally, one day sitting in the dining room showing my stepdad house to buy elsewhere, right in front of my face.

All communications had ceased by that point anyway, and in desperation I had my husband reach out to his aunt to start watching Lark because I did not feel comfortable any longer having her in my mom’s care. It was like a dagger straight to my heart and still is. I don’t want my child living without her grandparents, but I had no choice.

James’ aunt was my savior because she agreed to have her full-time and loved having her. My mom continued to taint our relationship with her internet accusations and I kept my mouth entirely shut, because it wasn’t worth the fight. I had a job to do and that was nurture my family, who was still struggling daily. I ended up staying my in-laws again for a few days because things were far too tense to keep Lark in that environment. I had to go over one night to get my belongings and James’ dad came with me because I knew it would become a fight, and that it did. I’ve never stood up to my mom before, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I won’t rehash the things that were said, it’s painful enough even telling the story.

After that incident, it was apparent to me that my parents were leaving as soon as they could. I’d noticed in the weeks leading up to it that things began disappearing around the house. Their things. Packed up and gone. I called James immediately and informed to him that they needed to leave the apartment. It was a mad dash getting what was left of our stuff packed up and ready, while I begged a friend to take them in because they were now basically homeless. James threw a ton away in the dumpster, I’m not even sure what, nor do I care. And in the process, he lost his wedding ring, which devastated both of us. We also had to leave Brennan’s bed mattress behind, because they had nowhere to put it. My parents dumped it in the trash after the fact.

I wrote my mom an email to tell her they were no longer occupying the apartment, saying sorry again, for all that had happened but stating I didn’t know where to go from there. And then they were gone. I went home the next day, assuming they’d left and I was correct. No trace of them anywhere, except for the Christmas card with our wedding photos and the Christmas presents I gave them crumpled in a pile on the floor in the basement. I don’t even know where that stuff is now, because I couldn’t bear to touch it and didn’t set foot in the basement for months. I still get a shock through the heart when I go down there, and probably always will. I’ve been betrayed. I know my mom feels the same about me and I fear there’s no fixing things at this point. I’ve never shared any of this until now and just let her have her story and tell it however she needed, but it’s time for my version and it’s time I faced it.

That day I returned home to the empty house was an early day, because James’ aunt had called and said Lark had a fever and wasn’t feeling well. So I picked her up before heading home and she was a mess. We got home and after my emotional moment of seeing my mementos crumpled on a floor, Lark needed a diaper change. She had explosive diarrhea. It’s like life was mocking me with a literal sh*t storm to mimic the sh*t storm happening in our lives. I sat there, covered in poop that had pooled onto the carpet as well, and cried, and held my baby as tight as I could.

She had the stomach flu and I was stuck home again for a few days with her. She was miserable and I was trying to hold it together. We played and read books and colored. Watched tons of Mickey Mouse and the spent the lonely nights curled up together in my room because I couldn’t handle sleeping alone.

The court proceedings continued. Our initial request to move was denied. I won’t get into the specifics because I’m not about to blast people on the internet, but it was unfounded and James had no other choice but to appeal the decision, which was going to take even more time. And they were in desperate need of a more permanent place to stay, since it looked like they weren’t moving anywhere soon. We reached out to an acquaintance who we barely knew. And they were just the angels we needed because they opened their home and hearts to James and Brennan in our most desperate hour. This act of kindness is something I’ll never forget.

Somewhere in the mix, we found out our baby was a boy and that he was healthy. Something I was beyond thankful for! I was scared of raising a man and not excited about having to learn to love sports, but we were grateful and happy his life was on track.

We marched on. Seeing each other on weekends, each doing the best we could to stay afloat. Lark had two more bouts of stomach flu. If you’re counting, that’s three times in a short span of time. Six weeks, to be exact. One time scaring James and I because she was an absolute ragdoll and had puke for nearly 8 hours straight, having asthma issues throughout. She also had multiple outbreaks of hives and several instances where she needed help with breathing from her nebulizer. I was missing work left and right and feeling awful for my baby girl.

We marched on. James visiting court rooms, for both his son and mother. I was basically a single mother, putting my all into Lark, despite my OB’s orders to take it easy because my body was having Braxton Hicks contractions constantly too early. But I was all she had and I couldn’t give up.

Eventually James quit his job, because I just couldn’t do it anymore, and he spent certain days up here with us, and certain days in Saginaw with Brennan and he began looking for work up here while he watched Lark during the day. Which I think he needed, because he’d missed her so badly. I went through various states of emotion, mostly angry with how things turned out. We both had lost our mothers in some sense, a judge and an ex-wife were deciding our family’s fate, and all we were hoping for was a new life in our dream location…

Soon James got a job, based on a referral from my boss. It was a new realm for him, career-wise, but he open to change and starting fresh. Brennan was technically still in Saginaw living with our friends because the legal battle just kept dragging…they finally decided Brennan could move at the end of the school year and we were angry, but at finally at peace.

And then I got sick, or so I thought. We went downtown in the city I work in to have dinner on a Thursday. All that day I felt ill, nauseous, headache…I thought I had caught something. We saw my coworker and chatted as we walked down the street because there was a block party that night. We sat down in my favorite restaurant and I was ready to pig out! But the nausea hit me hard again and I could barely eat. I just wanted to go home. I ended up sleeping on the couch that night for awhile, which is nothing new, and eventually went to bed but couldn’t stay asleep. The Braxton Hicks were hurting and I had awful back pain. I went back out to the couch to watch some tv until I could sleep. I was having tons of contractions, eventually realizing that these were labor pains and I was scared. I was barely 28 weeks and again faced with the fear of losing my baby.

I called my OB in the morning and they wanted me in immediately, which meant missing MORE work and I’d already done enough of that and thankfully not been fired yet. They confirmed that I was, in fact, experiencing pre-term labor and was dilated to 2cm. I was wheeled to labor and delivery immediately and hooked up to IV’s and given steroid injections to help the baby’s longs in preparation for a baby being born. After some hours, my contractions had slowed. They suggested I stay overnight, but I just wanted to go home, with my family.



After that I was placed on bed rest for the following 4 weeks and put on a schedule of 2 hours up, 2 hours laying down. It was terrible. Lark continued to go to James’ aunt’s house for a bit and thankfully, I was able to work from home. It was easier to have Lark away during the day while James worked because I physically couldn’t care for her. It was a cut in salary because I was only allowed so many work hours in a day, but we needed the money. I couldn’t get disability because I hadn’t been at my job long enough to qualify, so again we marched on, doing the best we could.

Then one day in June, Lark came home with a rash and a swollen eye, which has happened many times before, but this time lingered on. I could tell it was a food reaction, but we couldn’t and never did find out the culprit. I gave her Benadryl for the allergies, and also just in general because she was suffering from yet another cold. A few hours later, she needed a breathing treatment, which I mostly assumed was from the cold. Until she vomited somewhere around 2am, then again a bit later, and I guessed we were dealing with stomach flu again.

She stayed home with me the next day, which was interesting. I wasn’t allowed to lift or carry and we laid around a lot. She continued to have trouble breathing and her treatments weren’t getting us by. She also continued to vomit and I was worried all day and knew things weren’t right. The pediatrician agreed to see her that afternoon and against doctor’s orders, I loaded her up into the car and off we went.



The next thing I remember in the blur of that afternoon, was the look of panic on the doctor’s face when they checked Lark’s oxygen levels. We were immediately sent to emergency where Lark was hooked up to machines to be monitored as well as getting x-rays, which confirmed that she had developed pneumonia, likely caused by aspiration of vomit into her lungs. We were admitted to the hospital and stayed for 3 days. I was there alone with her for a bit, which was challenging due to my own medical state, but we powered through. Burying ourselves with toys in the bed and watching the same Mickey Mouse episodes over and over again. We weren’t able to go home until her vitals had stabilized and her asthma was under control. Learning later that the vomiting and breathing issues were likely caused by anaphylactic shock due to the reaction she had the afternoon when she came home swollen. We learned that day that allergic reactions have a secondary phase that can happen hours afterwards. Combined with her cold virus, which exacerbates asthma, we had a recipe for disaster.

We were discharged and sent home with another round of oral steroids, where we decided to have Lark stay home with me indefinitely to avoid getting sick. It was a challenge. A pregnant mom, on bed rest with a toddler and working from home. I don’t even know how I did it, but I did, for 8 long weeks. And each week felt like an eternity, but a triumph as I felt empowered every time I hit a new week and didn’t have a baby! We transitioned Lark to a toddler bed in an effort to make it easier on me by not having to lift her into a crib, although by this point, she was so used to sleeping with me that we ended up with her in our room every night (still do).

It was stressful and painful and emotional all at once. I won’t elaborate in depth, because if you really want to know, you can see every day of my bed rest in our vlogs because I did one, daily, every day I was home on on bed rest.

I was tired, and contractions were coming more frequently and I was hopeful that I’d get to have a VBAC, but my c-section was scheduled anyway, as a precaution, which she moved up anyway because we knew I couldn’t make it. I had to see the doctor weekly and receive pelvic exams weekly. I’ve had enough of those in my life at this point! And somehow, Arlo kept holding on. His nickname of little strongman has so much meaning considering the journey we’d been on.

Eventually Brennan was allowed to move north, but not for long, because he goes to his mom’s for the summer. But things finally felt like they were going to be okay. Until we got the notice that his mom was once again going to court and this time to fight for full custody. It was a huge blow to our lives and we’d been through so much and didn’t know how much more we could fight.

My c-section date was fast approaching and I thought I was going into labor multiple times, but each time was false. I felt discouraged and knew I wasn’t having this baby naturally.  I felt sad and disappointed.

Then the day came, and I accepted it, even though I was absolutely terrified. My OB is one of the best women I’ve ever known. I got very attached to her, I think because she was my only source of companionship outside my husband. My only friend and my link to the outside world after days of being stuck inside. I was relieved when I saw her face that morning and as they administered my anesthesia, she held my hand tightly. She didn’t have to, but she did, and I’ll never forget that. I cried as I sat there. Not really because of pain, but because everything had lead to this. It was like a release. I think I let go of a lot on that operating table and I think I realized we were all going to be ok. I was ready to have my baby and move on from the mess we were in. We needed a happy moment, a miracle, and then Arlo was born. I won’t go into too much detail about that here, because I wrote his birth story awhile ago and you can read it here. But he was just the miracle we needed. Bliss and joy and happiness, all wrapped up in his tiny, 7 pound body, topped with little, black curls on his head. 



We were stuck in that hospital, once again, but finally for a good reason! I’m forever indebted to all of the nurse we encountered who I truly believe are angels in disguise and we were delighted to know that Arlo was healthy and we were both out of harm’s way! (see all of my pregnancy vlogs on our youtube channel here)

I knew I had a tough road of recovery ahead, especially since James was only allowed one week off. After that first week I was on my own with an angry newborn (read why here) and a toddler, while nursing a major incision at the core of my body. But again, we marched on!

In August, on my birthday, we trekked to Saginaw where James had to testify in court in the battle for custody of his son. And we won. Things were finally going our way and we could all be together again once Brennan was home from the summer (he’s here and in school now since September and doing awesome, by the way!)

My maternity leave was unpaid, as is typical here in the US, and I went back to work earlier than I would have liked because we couldn’t afford it and the stack of medical bills just kept growing. Again placing Lark in a new daycare with new worries and placing my trust in people who have no idea about how sensitive she is to things.

Within the first few days, Lark had a reaction requiring medical attention and I was out of work, again, which resulted in work consequences I’m not about to discuss, because it’s work and I’d like to keep my job as they’ve been very patient and kind to me, but we just couldn’t seem to catch a break! And She was back on steroids again!

But again, we marched on!

James’ mom continues to show no improvement and we remain in her home as her assets remain somewhat frozen until the day she passes, which we hope isn’t soon, obviously. James is permanently her legal guardian and visits her as often as possible. It’s hard to take the babies as illness and such is a worry for Lark and for the elderly. It’s emotional too because she often doesn’t remember names and is often emotionally unstable due to not understanding her situation.

Lark is still battling allergies and asthma, just hospitalized again last week for the same issues and back on oral steroids, which is dangerous seeing as how she was just on them weeks earlier. She’s seeing a new allergist and may be seeing some pulmonary specialists on Grand Rapids soon since we can’t seem to keep things under control.

Arlo is doing great! Growing like a weed and the happiest little dude! He’s in that fun stage where he’s laughing and cooing and figuring out the world. He’s the perfect addition to our family and he’s our little miracle and beam of light in the dark tunnel we were navigating for so long.

Our family is together  again, we celebrated our one year wedding anniversary, I still have no contact with my parents, but I did regain contact with my brother, who I previously lost touch with due to his own issues with our mother, and I’m thankful to have him in my life again. Our legal battles are finally over, though the continued tension remains, likely until Brennan is 18, and our medical debt continues to grow at an alarming rate. I still have my job, something I thought wouldn’t happen given our circumstances over the last year, but I’m thankful for such understanding people.

To summarize, Lark is still having issues but is otherwise healthy, Brennan is thriving in a new school, we have a roof over our heads, even though the reasons we have it are reasons no one should have to endure, we’re mostly broke, but we have each other and we never gave up.

It’s taken me a year to get to back to myself. And a year to write this story. A chapter in our lives I’m confident in ending.

I’m hoping to get back into blogging, vlogging, and being my old self. I thank all who have stuck by us and continue to root for us.

The hardest year of my life so far has come to a close. Things can only get better, or so I keep telling myself.

And to my family…

Your love is my turning page
Where only the sweetest words remainEvery kiss is a cursive line
Every touch is a redefining phraseI surrender who I've been for who you are
For nothing makes me stronger than your fragile heart
If I had only felt how it feels to be yours
Well I would have known
What I've been living for all along
What I've been living for
Though we're tethered to the story we must tell
When I saw you, well I knew we'd tell it well
With a whisper we will tame the vicious seas

Like a feather bringing kingdoms to their knees

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