Friday, September 18, 2015



First off, let me just say, I don't care about the women on "The View". They do not inform my opinions or feelings about the world whatsoever.  That being said, since my sister-in-law Marie (a nurse!) posted the picture above as a response to those silly women on "The View" I've been thinking a lot about nurses and what they've meant to and done for me in my life.

My dad was a nurse.  I think a lot of people would say that growing up with a parent who is a nurse typically meant you weren't getting a lot of sympathy from said parent.  There is no faking sick when your parent is a nurse.  You aren't staying home from school with a cough if your parent is a nurse.  You might have to wait two days to get your broken arm looked at if your parent is a nurse.  (Actually, that last one might be specific to MY dad...)  While this may seem like a disadvantage in some ways, it's actually a strong advantage that I only realized once I moved out of the house and had to take care of myself.  Dad was always just a phone call away with reassuring medical advice (better than Dr. Google!!) and I think in a lot of ways as I've had to navigate my own health problems over the past few years, having a parent who is a nurse has given me the confidence to advocate for myself in the medical world.

In 2008 I had an appendectomy at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, CA.  My first big medical crisis away from home and my dad was scrubbed in on a surgery back in Iowa so I couldn't even call him.  When the charge nurse in the OR learned that my dad was a scrub nurse he took it upon himself to call my dad and leave him a message telling him what was happening and that I was in good hands. I remember thinking at the time that that was something my dad would do, and I instantly felt safe. Good nurses know how to reassure their patients.

I have labored and delivered twice now at Carle Hospital,, our local hospital here in Champaign IL. The first time was in August of 2013.  I spent five days on bed rest at Carle and then a week later I went in and had to be induced to deliver our 16 week old fetus who had died due to a premature rupture of the membranes (water broke). I was expertly cared for by many different nurses throughout  my stay but Jenna was the nurse who was with me when I finally "delivered" and I remember clearly seeing her cry over our loss. My experience has been that nurses are often very compassionate people who truly care about their patients.

Two years later I was admitted to Carle on June 19th, 39 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby girl.  I spent 9 days in the hospital this time (it was complicated) and probably was cared for by almost every nurse on the floor (although I was lucky to get some repeats of my favorites!!) When they moved me into my room on labor and delivery I heard someone call my name- it was Jenna!  Two years later and she remembered us.  She came up and gave me a huge hug and told us how happy she was to see us and for our miracle baby.  She even got a gift for Nora.

Over my 9 day stay this past June/July I was cared for by many wonderful nurses.  Many of the ones I saw before Nora was born came in to meet her after she had arrived.  When I was readmitted for post-partum preeclampsia, many of them had me as their patient again or came and visited me and encouraged me.  One of the nurses, Becky, had me in tears I was laughing so hard, more than once.  Who laughs that hard when they're in the hospital?! Probably all of Becky's patients.  

Nurses do everything.  I repeat, nurses do EVERYTHING. And we NEED them- I'd hate to see what a hospital looked like without them. It's an often thankless job that pays pretty crappy.  Nurses are honorable, special people and my life has been better because of them. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

37 Weeks

"I never believed I was going to have a baby until I heard her cry."
-What Alice Forgot  by Lianne Moriarty

I couldn't have said it better myself. 37 weeks in to a healthy pregnancy and it's still unbelievable. Even now as she kicks me while I type, I am still struggling to believe that I'm going to meet my daughter in less than three weeks.  My daughter. Mine.

Well, Justin's too.  :)

Pregnancy is so crazy in so many ways. And everyone's pregnancy is so different. The way we carry our babies, the side effects we feel, the levels of discomfort, the variety of complications and interventions.  Mentally the first half was a challenge for me because of my history of loss.  Well, if I'm being honest, the whole thing has been a challenge mentally because of my history of loss.  I think most women I know who've experienced miscarriage and infertility have to fight this mental battle- and probably most women who haven't experienced these things, can still struggle with this.  I can't say how many times I've thought to myself "ENJOY this! This was hard to come by and you may never get to experience this again. ENJOY it!!!"  And for the most part, I think I have enjoyed it as much as any pregnant lady could.

Now, just over 2 weeks from our induction date, I find myself worrying:

Did I enjoy it enough? 
Did I complain too much?
Am I grateful enough?

And I AM grateful.  I really am. There were times over the last 5 years that I wondered if I would ever get to be a mom.  And now, after 5 years of waiting, and trying, and struggling and losing, I am on the brink of motherhood and it is surreal.

And scary and exciting.

And really, very hard to believe.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


So I got a little sappy on Pinterest today when I saw a quote about friendship and started my own "Friends" board.  

Moving to a new place always makes me reflect on friendship.  Probably because when you move to a new place you find yourself short on friends.  Since we've moved back to the midwest after six years in Santa Barbara I've managed to maintain weekly conversations with my three best friends (did you know you can have three-way phone conversations on the IPhone?!)  and it has made me really think about what it takes to be a friend and what I'm willing to put towards those friendships that I think could last a lifetime.

I'm really lucky because I have an awesome actual-family.  Not everyone does.  And to top it off, I have these close friends that I also consider "family" at this point.  When you move across the country and your closest family members are thousands of miles away, you kind of have to create your own local family.  After six years functioning as family members, I feel pretty confident that these ladies will continue to be my family for years to come, if not forever.  We've vacationed together, celebrated holidays together, laughed, cried, mourned and carried each other.  We are family.

I laughed when I read this one because it makes me think of Katherine.  You know that situation where people say something and you're like "What the?" but for whatever reason you shouldn't react that way and so you try to keep a straight face?  In those situations I have to keep my eyes away from looking at Katherine because I know I'll lose it if I see her face.  It makes me giggle just thinking about it.

When I was in the hospital in August I spent two nights there trying to deliver the baby.  I don't think I'll ever forget my conversation with JoAnn that first night.  I was high on morphine and she was tipsy on margaritas- she'd been at her "going away" party back in Santa Barbara earlier in the evening.  The minute she answered the phone she started crying.  Here she was, two thousand miles away, celebrating her husband's new job and their exciting future, but still feeling my pain.  

I don't think I started feeling better after losing the baby until my friends came to visit me.  All three of them made trips to Illinois in October- Marissa and Katherine all the way from Santa Barbara (Marissa with a 1 year old in tow) and JoAnn from Mississippi.  They sacrificed their time and money to travel all the way to central Illinois to see their sad friend.  It was only after their visits that I felt the weight of depression start to lift and could start to climb out of the sadness.

 I know, we aren't really sisters, but we're the closest thing to it for me and this is part of my friendship code.  I've got your back ladies.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

20 Things Nobody Tells You About Moving Out Of The Midwest and into Southern California

I came upon this blog post yesterday called "20 Things Nobody Tells You About Moving Out of Southern California" when a friend of ours posted it on facebook.  He is a Southern California native and recently took a job in the midwest so he's experiencing his first winter there.  I read the article and could relate to some of it (like missing the great produce year round and how nobody puts "the" before highway names outside of CA).  Some of it was a little SoCal elitist for my taste (although to be clear, I do NOT think the friend who posted it is in ANY way elitist- he's one of the nicest people we met in California).

But then I got to thinking about how I am often charged with being a midwest elitist. And it's true.  And I'm cool with that.

So here's my (completely unofficial) version of the 20 Things Nobody Tells You- but mine is about moving out of the Midwest and into Southern California. (And keep in mind that I only lived in Santa Barbara, which isn't necessarily representative of all of Southern California).

20.) Not everyone knows about the Big 10.
Actually, a lot of people don't.  And I don't know what else to say about that.  I know, my mind was also blown.

19.) There aren't snow days, but there are fire days.
Which are way worse and much scarier.  Sorry, you can't come to work because there's a strong chance your work could catch on fire and the air is so smoky you wouldn't be able to breathe anyway.  Scary.  I'll take snow days, thanks.

18.) You'll miss real weather.
Yeah yeah, I know, Californian's think they have seasons.  But really, they don't, not compared to the midwest.  And quite honestly, the sunshine can get a bit oppressive.

17.) Breakfast burritos are amazing.  
We just moved back to the midwest and cannot find a good breakfast burrito to save our lives.  We tried one the first week we were here and it contained hot dogs and lettuce.

16.) You will find yourself explaining your home town location (even if it's a Big 10 University town)  in relation to Chicago. 
Because a surprisingly small amount of people can find Iowa on the map.

15.) The ocean is too cold to swim in.
I had visions of ocean swimming but it's REAL cold- too cold for me.

14.) The beaches are covered and tar, and you will be too.
And that stuff is nearly impossible to get off your feet.  (Hint: olive oil helps)

13.) There are no mosquitos (yay) but there are also no lightning bugs (sad).

12.) No matter how clean your house is and how tightly you close your lids, the ants will find their way in, and they will bring an army.
My friend JoAnn (cleanest person I know) had to call into work one day to handle the ant infestation in her kitchen.  The ants are no joke.

11.) Skunks love Southern California
It's a rare evening when you don't get a whiff of skunk.  They love it there.

10.) The dogs in Southern California are the happiest dogs on earth.
For obvious reasons- it's nice weather year round so they get to be outside a lot.  But it's also just a really dog-friendly culture.  Seriously, the dogs literally smile.

9.) It is physically impossible to dress for the "weather".
In the morning you need a sweater but by noon you're wishing you'd worn a tank top.  Layering will become your best friend.

8.) You will forget about Classic Rock.
We actually didn't realize this until we moved BACK to the midwest- In the midwest Classic Rock is the go-to genre for music that you hear in public places (restaurants, malls etc.) .  I think we went 6 years without hearing "More Than a Feeling" and "Layla".  Don't worry- we remembered the words.

7.) Everyone thinks you grew up on a farm.
Ok, that's not really fair.  Not EVERYONE.  But that was a first question for many people when they found out we were from Iowa.

6.) You will become accustomed to shopping at multiple grocery stores on a weekly basis.
Trader Joe's is so awesome, but they don't have everything I need, so I have to stop at Albertsons.  And I'll probably stop by Costco on the way home.

5.) You will feel pressured to spend time outdoors and you'll feel guilty if you don't.
It's such a beautiful day! How can you waste it watching a Real World marathon??

4.) Avocado is amazing on just about everything.
And much cheaper in Southern California- especially when you make friends with someone who has a tree in their back yard!!

3.) Corn isn't always sweet, and sometimes it's not even yellow.
If you grew up in Iowa like I did, you're used to delicious sweet corn in the summer.  The first time someone offered me corn on the cob in California I balked and shrieked "Why is it white??!!"  So while they be able to get avocados year round, they can't touch our sweet corn.

2.) Soccer is king.
Everybody plays it and everybody follows it.  It's like their version of football.  Oh, wait....

1.) You will miss the midwest.
So much that you might strike up conversation with total strangers wearing Iowa shirts, just for a little talk of home.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The End

Went for our sonogram today and the baby no longer has a heartbeat.  Game over.

I came out of the appointment and as I headed to labor and delivery, after calling my mom, I texted JoAnn, Katherine and Marissa this message:

"Sorry guys, this is a horrible thing to text but I can't talk right now and I wanted you to know- no heartbeat.  I'm on my way to labor and delivery to get induced and deliver a dead baby.  I'll call when I can."

In that moment I was sad but also pretty scared and not looking forward to having to go through the labor process.  I think it's possibly the meanest part of this- I'm on the labor and delivery floor with all these other moms that are delivering healthy babies and I have to deliver a 16 week old fetus.  It feels mean and I really don't want to.

I was comforted by JoAnn's immediate response:
"I'm so sorry.  I love you and you can do this. I'm praying"

She knew right away that I needed to hear that encouragement.  She knows I'm scared and for some reason, that was comforting.

Keep praying friends- we need it.  Marissa summed it up in her response:
"My heart is broken."

Mine too.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day 7: This is not an exciting post, but 3 people texted me worried because I hadn't blogged, so here you go.

I don't think I've mentioned this yet but I have a room with a view.  A view of I-74 that is.  Today I made Justin open the curtains as wide as they would go and then open the window so I could get some "fresh" air, at which point we discovered that the window will only open about 4 inches.  4 is better than zero!  So I've found myself staring at cars as they fly by on the interstate periodically throughout the day.

At one point, there was a little silver sports car pulled over on the side of the road and I watched for a long while waiting to see what was wrong.  What happened? Why did they pull over? Will someone get out?  Will someone stop to help?  

Eventually Justin noticed me staring out the window and asked what was up.  I turned to tell him and when I turned back the car was gone.  Dang him!  I missed it! Where did the car go??!!!

Ah bed rest.

We had Thai food for dinner and I ordered online.  I love Panang curry- thanks to my friend Katherine- and I always order it when I go out for Thai food.  When I ordered online they wanted me to rate my "spicy level" and the options were: "Beginner", "Intermediate" and "Advanced".  I've never had to specify before, but hell if I was going to mark myself a beginner, ya know?!

Turns out I am a beginner.  Pride goes before the fall.

My inlaws were here! They kept me company while Justin went out to run some errands and have some meetings.  My mother-in-law and I may have watched five episodes of "Brothers and Sisters" on Netflix. Hey, we're bed resting!
My mom- she's back in Iowa but she's texting me throughout the day as she shops for pillows for our new couch and other various things we need.  I love my mom.
Calls and texts from friends.
My book "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)" which is really funny.
Internet karaoke- I may have been singing Les Miserables and Wicked in my bed this evening. It makes me happy.

Next doctors appointment is with the specialist on Friday at 2:30.  Praying for more fluid and for healing.  We're hanging in there.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day 6- Fear

Fear is ugly.

It's not even the fear of losing the baby that is haunting me the most.  This is my third pregnancy.  I've already lost two.  I know what that feels like.

Right now the fear is just below the surface.  I feel like it's on the other side of the door pushing to get in and I'm pushing back.  With distractions, with admonitions, with prayer.

But I know what's on the other side of the door.

I'm afraid of going into labor- I'm afraid of what that will feel like and that I won't be able to control the pain and the sadness that will accompany it.

I'm afraid of getting an infection and having to terminate.  I'm afraid that an infection could leave me sterile.

I'm afraid that I might not ever be a mom.

When I got pregnant the second time I remember praying with a couple of women at church.  I told them I was pregnant and that I was afraid because I had been pregnant before and had lost that baby.  I remember them praying for me and one of them praying that I would "rebuke the fear".

So I'm trying- I'm rebuking the fear.

Justin's department-head brought us Chipotle for lunch!
My friend Anne visited last night- it was great to see her and nice to think about something else!
My inlaws got here this afternoon.  They brought us our car and lots of delicious food (including Anita's famous chicken and noodles- the ultimate comfort food)!  They also brought the comfort of their presence.

My mother-in-law, who is no stranger to fear and hard stuff, encouraged me with the verse below:

"Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
Isaiah 41:10