Pregnancy and pandemic: 3 weeks postpartum

Going into this third week was hard. My incision site stings a bit and my back muscles hurt from holding The Trilogy. I wear her when I can, but it still messes with my back. I cannot wait to see my chiropractor again…whenever that is.

And to top all that off, my county extended its stay home order through May 10th.

I’m losing it, youse. As of today, I have been home for 53 days. The only times I have left have been to go to my doctor and to have a baby. That’s it. I’m going slightly crazy. And trying to navigate all of my feelings, while also fighting through hormonal dips and surges hasn’t been a real picnic.

It’s going to be fine. I know that. Life will return to normal. At some point. Eventually. But what’s driving me nuts right now is attaching dates to things. And expanding orders a couple weeks at a time just as the current set expire. I’d rather the people in charge just be honest. Just tell us you don’t know when the orders will be lifted. That in order to start reopening things all of a certain criteria must be met. Just stop attaching arbitrary timelines to all of this madness.

It’s giving me a false sense of hope and then ripping that away each time. And it’s driving me bonkers. I literally can’t take it anymore. I’d rather they just say we all have to stay home until December 31st and then opening anytime before then is a win. Under promise; over deliver, right?

But 53 days at home has broken me. It’s not that I want to rush out and start shopping or going to restaurants. I’m still going to be cautious. But knowing that I can is a HUGE mental relief. Because right now, I feel trapped with no escape and no end in sight. And that feeling of being trapped is draining. It’s taxing on every level. Physical; mental; emotional. Quarantine fatigue is real and I’m suffering.

I’m also concerned that the longer this stays in effect, the more likely people are going to be to just start ignoring it altogether because they’re exhausted and worn out, too. And that will be a bigger problem in the long run.

But in the midst of all the doom and gloom that I’m feeling, there are positives. One is that the kids are really too young to remember this when they are older. The Sequel will have no memory of spending two months away from his friends and teachers. The Trilogy will never remember how scary her entrance into the world was. and Baby Suddreth, while he asks a lot of questions about what’s going on right now, will likely not remember the madness. If he does have memories from this time, they’ll be memories of spending lots of time with his mom and dad and siblings. It’ll be playing in the sandbox and the bounce house and his swing set. His memories will be bubbles and sidewalk chalk and walks through our neighborhood. As he gets older he might realize that playgrounds aren’t part of his memories. And that every detail of our backyard seems to be ingrained into his memory for some reason. But he won’t realize it’s because he spent every day for months in his yard and at home. He probably won’t even remember why we had to stay home.

At least that’s my hope for him. I hope he just remembers being happy and being together.

Pregnancy and pandemic: 2 weeks postpartum

So we are two weeks into being a family of five and seven weeks into being at home.

Seven.

Weeks.

At. Home.

With toddlers. And now a newborn. It’s been really hard some days. Lesson plans aren’t really being followed and there is far more screen time than I really care for, but right now we are in survival mode and the big humans of Suddreth Manor are being fueled strictly on caffeine and dreams at this point. The only human being who sleeps more than two hours at a time is #TheSequel (🙌🏼 – but also TEACH YOUR BIG BROTHER!). And the wonder idiot dog keeps rolling around in raccoon poop because apparently he isn’t getting enough attention. 😑😑😑😑😑

BUT, it isn’t only crisis management at The Manor. It’s beautiful chaos. Brett takes the boys outside to play as much as possible. The Cozy Cottage arrived and the kids LOVE it – I mean who wouldn’t? It has flower boxes and a doorbell that WORKS! The tree swing is up and the swing set/playhouse was finally delivered and is being put together this week.

The state and county stay at home orders are set to expire Sunday, and while things are definitely far from over, just knowing that people are thinking about how to safely bring some sense of normalcy back to life has been comforting. Soccer and swim classes are trying to figure out how to safely continue to serve the community and The Sequel’s school is preparing their reopening plan.

The last two weeks have been a very different recovery than I had originally expected, but everyone is starting to adjust to having another person living with us. I had my post-op follow up with my doctor today via video conference, which was an interesting patient experience, but I definitely appreciated not having to leave the house yet. The best thing is that I was cleared to start picking up The Sequel again. I didn’t realize how much I missed holding him until I wasn’t allowed. I definitely gave him a big old hug as soon as I could – it was awesome.

Probably the hardest part of the last couple weeks has been clearing events off my calendar. The very hardest one was canceling Baby Suddreth’s birthday party. I might have cried deleting it from my calendar. But, when we are allowed to gather in groups again, I’m throwing him the most ridiculous, over the top, extra, don’t care what it costs, party because he deserves the entire world and it’s not his fault a pandemic is ruining everything.

I’ve noticed that the longer this goes on, the more aware Baby Suddreth is becoming to the fact that nothing is normal. And his conversations are becoming more focused on things we can’t do “because of the germs.” Like, “there’s no baseball or Royals because of the germs, right?” And, “all the stores and swim class and soccer are closed…because of the germs, right?” Or “are the germs gone yet, so we can go to a football game?” He misses his friends and his teacher and as a parent all I want to do is fix everything for him.

So, I’m still working through my emotions of not being able to control any of this and trying to focus on what I can do – which is heal…and love my babies hard.

Pregnancy and pandemic: 1 week until due date

I’m slightly behind in getting this post out, but it’s for a good reason; baby arrived last week!

Last Tuesday (4/14 – 10 days until due date) I woke up around 3 a.m. with what ultimately ended up being real contractions, but that early in the morning I wasn’t sure. I went back to sleep eventually and started my day of work/wife-ing/momming/schooling. Contractions continued throughout the day, but were inconsistent in frequency and intensity so I kept an eye on them, but kept trucking along.

In the afternoon, I had some calls for work I needed to be on, so I jumped on my two hours of conference calls, and just kept right on working even though I was super uncomfortable. After my last call, I was walking around and realized that the pain was getting much more intense and happening much more frequently. We decided to call my doctor and head to the hospital around 4 o’clock.

The hospital experience was pretty surreal. Everyone was in masks, we were both screened before going back to triage and they had security standing in the lobby. We arrived in triage, they sent my bloodwork back to the lab so we could get my epidural started as quickly as possible and I got changed into my labor gown. They checked me out and confirmed baby was head down, my water was definitely ready to break and I was dilated to 6.5 cm – it was time to have this baby!

The doctor was called, I was moved to my delivery room, I got my epidural and then we waited for the doctor so we could get this show on the road. While we were waiting, baby decided to do some gymnastics – she has been super active my entire pregnancy – and she flipped into a footling breech position, which means she was now feet first instead of head first. That’s a problem for multiple reasons, but it was a bigger problem if my water decided to break right then.

They told me to stay very still to make sure that didn’t happen and called the OR – we were headed back for a c-section; urgently. I was nervous and scared and disappointed because this was not the experience I had planned for, but honestly, these last five weeks haven’t been anything I’ve planned for, so what’s one more curveball in a sea of absurdity, right?

The doctors walked and talked me through everything that was about to happen/was happening and they sent Brett to get geared up so he could join us in the OR; I will be forever thankful he was able to be there with me. About three hours after arriving at the hospital, The Trilogy was born at 7:12 pm weighing 6 lbs 3oz. She was healthy and safe – and that’s all we could really ask for.

We only spent a couple days at the hospital because I wanted to be home with the boys and sleep in my own bed. We got home Thursday afternoon and everyone is slowly settling in to our new life as a family of five. Biggest brother is OBSESSED with his little sister. He gets so excited when she comes into a room. Little big brother mostly likes her, but there is some jealously happening for sure, and he doesn’t understand why I can’t pick him up. That part is hard on both of us.

Not being able to have the experiences I wanted during these last five weeks has been really hard. It seems incredibly unfair and I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a part of me that was disappointed about the final weeks before The Trilogy arrived. She deserved so much more than we were allowed to give her. And deserves so much more than we can give her now while our stay home orders are extended through part of May. The one saving grace in all of this, especially because of having a c-section, is that Brett’s parents have been able to help us. I’m not sure what life would look like right now if we would have had to figure all of this out, on the fly.

When we were putting our logistics plan together, I never even considered what a c-section plan would look like, because it didn’t cross my mind that I could even need one. The healing process this time around definitely feels a lot harder. And the meds they prescribed me gave me the worst headache, so that was a rough couple of days.

There are a lot of things that didn’t happen with this pregnancy that I will forever be sad about, but at the end of the day, I have a beautiful, healthy, safe baby and that’s the best I could ask for during all of this, pandemic or not.

But missing out on some of the more material elements of pregnancy and delivery (like parties, and pictures, and visitors) almost make me want to try this one more time. Almost.

Pregnancy and pandemic: 4 weeks to due date

Last week I wrote about my anxiety and disappointment that the joy and excitement we should all be feeling is being robbed from us amid this pandemic. I spent the two weeks prior to that post being stressed out and anxious. I started working from home before my company suggested it, and then mandated it. I was already limiting my external activities before my county issued a stay at home order for 30 days. That order lifts two days before my due date. I still have no idea what these next four weeks have in store or how much worse things might get.

But, I do know this: we are going to have an incredible story to tell this baby. It isn’t the one she deserves, but it will be uniquely hers.

It will be a story of joy and hope in the midst of fear, anxiety and uncertainty. Instead of telling her about all the things that couldn’t or didn’t happen we’ll share with her the amount of people who celebrated her arrival with us via all means of technology available to us.

Our hospital pictures will look very different than her brothers’ do and she won’t have the shot I really wanted – her brothers sitting with me in bed holding their baby sister, but we’ll show her the pictures of her brothers meeting her when we all got home and point out their excited faces.

We’ll talk about the amazing care team we had at the birth center and how they made sure we were well provided for and remained safe and healthy.

We’ll tell her about all the walks we took as a family and point out the same trees and flowers to her that we currently point out to her brothers. We’ll tell her that in the midst of a life we didn’t plan for and aren’t sure how to handle, she brought us a sense of peace and comfort.

No, it isn’t the experience I was hoping to have. It isn’t the experience I was PLANNING to have. The experience I had planned in my head included visitors at the hospital to meet her. It included her brothers coming to meet her and hold her and a group hug with Mom, Dad  and all three kiddos. It included newborn photos that were taken by someone with an infinitely better skillset than I possess.  It included so many seemingly silly and superficial things because this is my last baby. She will always be my last baby and her entry into this world deserves to be so much more beautiful than what I think it will be now.

But, when we tell her her story, it won’t include the disappointment for things that couldn’t happen because of a pandemic. It will include the message that she is fearfully and wonderfully made. That we know there are big things in store for her life – there have to be, right? Otherwise, what’s the point of being born in the middle of a pandemic?!?

My anxiety is still lingering in the background, and it is ready to pounce at the tiniest thing, but as I have been walking through our neighborhood I have been mindful to purposefully see that there is so much life happening around us. All of the trees are budding or in bloom; the forcynthia has bloomed; tulips are coming up.

In the middle of all this chaos, there is the normal, every day cycle of spring. And there are people having babies – like it was any other time. Just like normal. And while everything feels far less than normal, somehow I know everything is going to be alright. 

Pregnancy and Pandemic: 5 Weeks to Due Date

Have you ever experienced pregnancy in the midst of a pandemic? It’s a first for me. And it is incredibly…surreal. I’m due in 35 days and during what should be the most exciting 35 days, I find myself filled with anxiety, worry, stress and a myriad of other emotions before excitement or joy happen. And that makes me SO MAD. 

I feel silly for being mad at a virus; it’s not the virus’ fault that humans are stupid and can’t won’t follow instructions and stay the hell home. But I’m mad. I’m mad because the experiences in my final days of pregnancy that I had planned for and prepared for aren’t going to happen. What should be weekly appointments with my doctor have been pushed back to every two weeks and my husband can’t join me at them anymore. 

The boys will not be allowed to come to the hospital to meet their little sister. It sounds like I may not be able to have visitors, either. The pictures and hospital memories I thought I was going to get no longer exist. All of the things I thought I was going to be able to do, I won’t. 

And I’m not alone. I have friends who are in the same boat and none of us really know what to do or how to prepare for an experience we’ve never even thought of before now. I’m terrified to bring a new person into this world. It seems insane. And what does maternity leave look like now. Will I even be able to leave the house? Am I going to be stuck at home for 14 weeks with no human contact outside of a person I can’t talk to?

My trigger for anxiety is situations where I can’t control or predict the outcome. So the last several weeks I have been on high alert. I’m trying to wrap my head around what our new normal looks like for now. My littlest guy’s learning center decided to close to keep everyone as safe as possible – that means working from home with a 1 1/2 year old – not an ideal situation. My oldest guy’s school is doing everything in it’s power to responsibly and safely remain open in an effort to serve the parents who are in the healthcare profession and CAN’T work from home. I definitely appreciate all of the measures they are going through to continue to serve us. 

It’s been tough trying to explain in simple terms what’s going on when the oldest asks why we can’t go eat a restaurant, or go to swim class, or soccer practice.  Or play at the playground. We’ve been honest telling him all of those things are closed and when he asks why they are all closed we explain that there are a lot of germs making people sick, so they had to close so everyone could clean the germs. It’s the best we have right now and he seems to understand it; but he doesn’t understand why he can’t play with his friends, or why a lot of them aren’t at school anymore.

His birthday is in May and I’m already dreading, fearing and anticipating that it will become one more thing that has to be canceled because of this pandemic. And that’s so unfair for him! Of course we’ll do our best to make the day special for him at home, with just us. But I know he’s really looking forward to this birthday – and I’m going to be heartbroken for him if it doesn’t happen exactly the way he deserves.

I recognize that all of the things I’ve mentioned are just arbitrary moments in life, and that you just adjust and adapt and make the best of the situation at hand. And that’s what we’ll do, but right now, I’m mad about the fact that we have to do that. I’m mad that the experiences and moments I want aren’t going to happen the way they should

So in a few weeks, hopefully I have my anxiety in check and my thought process shifted to finding the joy and excitement in the coming weeks, but…I’m not there yet. And if you have other friends or family members who are pregnant, especially if they are near the end of their pregnancy, make sure you’re checking on them. 

Being pregnant during a pandemic is a wild mind trip.

Happy Mother’s Day

What a difference a year makes.

This time last year I was not looking forward to Mother’s Day. Not because I don’t have wonderful women in my life worth celebrating, but because at the time I was in the midst of an infertility struggle that I hadn’t planned on ever experiencing and the pain of celebrating all of the awesome moms in my own life and not being part of the celebration was almost unbearable.

I did all of the things I normally do on Mother’s Day; went to church, called my Mom, spent the afternoon with my in-laws and sent messages to all of my girlfriends who were celebrating their Mother’s Day with their own children.

And I spent a lot of time crying. Crying because I was celebrating and not being celebrated. Crying because I was giving gifts to mothers and not being given gifts. Crying because yet another box of unsolicited baby formula had shown up at my house and reminded me again that the baby I wanted didn’t exist.

Needless to say, it was a long and painful day. And I felt so selfish for those feelings. But, they were there.

This year, I’m 18 days away from becoming a first-time mom. I’ll do everything I did last year, but this time any tears will be tears of joy and gratitude instead of ones of pain and longing.

So to all the moms out there; the veterans, the first timers and the moms-to-be, a very happy Mother’s Day.

And to everyone for whom this day is a painful reminder of something lost or unfulfilled, I wish you the day you desire and the peace you need to get through today.

Thankful in all things

Sometimes all it takes is a gentle nudge from the universe and your entire perspective about a situation changes.

I’ve been experiencing a really trying challenge lately and it has been incredibly frustrating on every front; emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I’m not going to elaborate on the challenge, because this isn’t about that. It’s about my mindset and focus shift.

But last week while I was driving home from work and dwelling on this challenge I turned the radio on in the car and received the gentlest of nudges. The host of the radio show told a story about a woman who was also experiencing a challenge and instead of praying and asking God to help her through her challenge, she woke up everyday and thanked God for what she wanted the outcome to be. And eventually, it came true! In her case, she needed some extensive dental work. So every morning she would wake up and say “Thank you Lord for my new teeth.”

Her attitude in the story made my ears perk up and made me sit taller and *listen.*

Then a couple days later, while still dwelling on my challenge and how I was going to get through it, a song came on the radio and I felt as if the song was being sung directly AT me. And then a second song. And then a third. All in a row; without commercials or interruptions.

Finally, Sunday morning at church our minister finished up a four part series entitled Enough, based on the book by Rev. Adam Hamilton.

There was a scripture passage that said “give thanks to God in all things.” Our minister made a huge clarification though, he made sure we understood the difference between FOR all things and IN all things.

He said he knows it’s hard to be thankful FOR the hard times, but we should still be thankful IN them.

Which really made me think about my challenge. Am I thankful FOR the challenge, no. Not at all. But, I am shifting my thinking about it. I am thankful IN the struggle. Because I know that once I’m through it, the outcome will be much more meaningful and blessed because I really had to struggle to achieve it.

So, thank you God for the outcome I desire but haven’t yet achieved. Thank you for guiding me through the challenge and reminding me that patience is needed in all things. And thank you for your unending love and wisdom, and for the ability to recognize Your presence in my day to day.