New Beginnings

Moving Day.

It is time for a new beginning. Today we get our keys for our first owned home together and we start a new chapter in a new place.

We will be saying goodbye to the home we have lived in for the past three years. The place we brought Timothy home to. The home where we went through the journey to his diagnosis and the first 2 years of life with a child that has a disability. This is the place we grieved for his future and the place we came to accept a new future for him. This house has been filled with some of the lowest moments of our marriage but it has also been filled with love, perseverance, commitment, and growth in our marriage.

As we’ve been leading up to this move I’ve been thinking about how much our life is going to change. Although we aren’t moving far from the city, as I started to set things up I realized we will have a whole new schedule and routine. There will be a shift in our everyday life. And although this change has been months in the making it will happen in a way that is all at once.

Hailey will be attending a new school in a different school board. Coming with it new bell times, new bussing, new teachers and new kids. Charlotte will be attending a dayhome once a week, the first time she won’t be babysat by my family. And Timothy will be plopped in a completely new environment where at first everything will feel like a threat to his safety.

Of course all of those changes have a flip side too. Hailey will attend school with most of the same kids all the way through grade 12 and has a chance to make life lasting friendships. Charlotte will get a chance to socialize with other kids more before kindergarten and experience more independence. And once Timothy learns his space it will be his to keep since we won’t be living on a year to year lease.

See there are two sides to the story as there often is. Something I’ve been working on learning since Timothy’s diagnosis is that positive and negative feelings can coexist. It definitley doesn’t come naturally because it is confusing to feel tinges of sadness over a happy situation. And with the move it has been hard to navigate these coexisting feelings.

Most of the time I am so excited. It’s all I can think about and all I want to do is plan out the home decor in my head. But sometimes a little fact hits me and has me in tears. Like the fact we won’t see Grandpa everyday at school pick up, or the fact Hailey is nervous about having no friends, or the realization that if James is still working away I will be very alone now that I live farther from my parents.

I find it hard to express these negative feelings because I never want to make it seem like I am unhappy with our decision or not excited to meet this BIG goal of ours. Of course I’m happy and excited but I’m nervous and maybe a bit scared too.

I need to honor those negative feelings so that when we go to pick up those keys this afternoon I can fully appreciate the positives of this new chapter.

This is a goal years in the making and we have finally reached it. Buying a house was always important to us but after Timothy’s diagnosis it became the highest priority. We wanted a place he could get comfortable in that we didn’t have to leave. We wanted to be able to make adjustments for him. And it was important for us for the girls to have a steady home growing up. We’ve moved with Hailey three times before this and didn’t want to have to keep doing that to her, especially now that she is in school. We wanted a place Charlotte could make friends and feel comfortable enough to talk and participate in her environment. I know that the community and town we chose will make all of these things possible for us. And I am excited to live somewhere different, I’ve never moved out of the city I was born in. I think that this will be a new chapter in our family unit that will help us grow closer together.

These are positives feelings I need to honor.

Photo of James walking to the front door of our new house. There is grey siding and white pillars.

Sometimes in life we get to caught up in how we are supposed to feel about things that we can’t even figure out how we really feel. But life isn’t black and white. This week has been full of grey areas. I’ve switched between sad and happy tears, excitement and anxiety. And although it can be confusing and feel wrong, It’s all a part of the journey.

And Just Like That I was a Mom.

Throwback Thursday – Life Before LCA.

I knew I was pregnant before I saw those pink lines. I don’t know how but I just did.

I was only 18. I was on birth control. I was in university and living with my parents still. My relationship wasn’t the most stable and I wasn’t sure how he’d react but I knew what I wanted to do the second the thought popped into my mind.

I remember taking the test upstairs in the bathroom during my youngest sister’s birthday dinner. It didn’t look like anything was there so I threw it out. When I came back later to really get rid of it so no one saw, there looked to be a second line. And even though the box says to disregard anything past 10 minutes, I knew I shouldn’t.

I waited a couple days and decided to take another test. This time in the university bathroom right before my statistics final. It was a blazing positive. And although I really had thought I was pregnant, my mind was spinning. I couldn’t focus at all and I ended up walking out of the exam.

I told my boyfriend at the time and his response was mostly denial. Even after I saw a doctor at the University he didn’t believe me. For some reason he thought we couldn’t be “sure” until the 12 week ultrasound they had booked for me that was still weeks away.

Photo of Melissa laying on her back showing the profile view of her pregnant belly. There is a gifaffe stuffed animal resting on her stomach.
Baby Bump.

He begged me not to tell anyone and went on living as though there was nothing to worry about. Luckily I wasn’t that uninformed and I made sure to take care of myself and not do anything that could be harmful. But I let him pretend that there was nothing going on, I don’t know why, looking back I think it was to save myself the headache.

I went to the 12 week ultrasound alone. Everything I had done at that point had been alone. I had cabbed from work and made up some excuse to my dad who usually picked me up. And then had made plans to meet my boyfriend after work at a restaurant.

When I slid the picture across the table you would have thought I never uttered a word about the possibility of a pregnancy. He was honestly shocked. I can’t help but laugh at that image in my mind now wondering how he could really be so naieve.

After that things got stressful. Not physically. I had barely felt any nausea or really any symptoms at all. But emotionally things were hard. He wasn’t particularly excited about the situation and he was very clear that it was to be kept a secret until a decision was made. Although I made it very clear from the start that my decision was already made.

The next couple months were full of secrets. I had to sneak out of work again to go get my 18 week ultrasound. I could only share the news of finding out I was having a girl with my best friend. It was a lonely and confusing time.

Then around 20 weeks I remember sitting on the couch and my pajama shirt riding up a little. My mom made a comment about me looking a little bloated and tried to touch my stomach. I all but jumped out of my skin. Terrified the baby would kick at the exact wrong time.

Knowing that the jig was almost up I told my boyfriend it couldn’t wait any longer. I was starting to show and it was getting too far along. His first response when I said I was going to tell them was that he should just leave town back to his mom’s since they’d be so mad (sometimes I wish I told him to go but I know that is selfish). After some thought he decided to stay but he came up with a story that I was expected to follow. To keep the heat on myself. I was to tell them that I just found out a few weeks before and that I had just told him that day. And because I felt like I had no choice and I didn’t know how to explain why I’ve been hiding it for 5 months, I told the story.

When I told my mom I was pregnant she said “Are you sure?”. Oh yes I was sure. But from the very first night I told them, they were supportive. They never tried to make me feel bad or like I was disappointing them.

The following months were fairly calm. When my seasonal job ended I started working at a maternity store that gave employees a big discount. I was in university and still attended classes. I celebrated my 19th birthday quietly at home. And I did what was needed to prepare to bring home a baby. My parents never pressured me to move out or drop out of school. They helped me rearrange things in the house so that we would be able to mainly have the basement space as our own. I bought a TON of baby gear during baby days at Toys R’ Us and my mom threw me an amazing baby shower where people really spoiled us.

photo of Melissa cradling and looking down at her baby bump smiling.
Baby Shower Day!

For that period of time it seemed as though everyone (including my boyfriend) was on board and excited for the new arrival. I was starting to feel prepared.

I was due on December 22nd but I really didn’t want to be in the hospital for Christmas. One because that didn’t sound like a great way to spend my Christmas and two because I didn’t think sharing your birthday with Christmas would be very fun.

But nine days before my due date I remember slightly waking up to a weird popping sound just before 6 in the morning and as I laid there for a minute I started to feel the gushing. My water had broke.

Being my first baby, and being 19, I had no idea what to expect. I thought your water just breaking was really only a thing that happened in shows. Everyone I had known made it seem like there was hours of contractions before their water maybe broke or that the doctors had to do it for them. So when I woke up to that with no previous signs of labor I definitely went back to feeling unprepared.

I still remember how much water it was. I never thought it would be SO much. And I remember being confused about where the pain was. Oh those innocent 15 minutes before my first contraction hit haha. I was changing in the bathroom telling my mom I didn’t really feel anything when I got the first one. It hit me out of nowhere and it was long. I started having contractions 5 minutes apart and 1 minute in length from the very first one. Since I was struggling and my water had already broke we decided to head to the hospital pretty quickly.

I had to stop several times in the hallways to fold myself into a ball and struggle through the contractions. When we finally got to the right floor they told me to go change and then they would check how dilated I was. Since I was only 38 weeks and my doctor was pretty hands off I had never had a cervical check before. The nurses face when she checked looked so confused I started to feel embarrassed. All I was thinking was that here I am this little 19 year old folding over in the hallway in unbearable pain and I’m probably not even dilated yet and am about to be sent home to wait.

But I definitely misread that confusion as my triage bed was quickly rolled down the hall and nurses were trying to set up so quickly they were dropping the sterile tools on the ground in a panic. I was dilated to 9 cm.

I was scared because my mom was still downstairs registering me and I wasn’t prepared to have a fully natural delivery. Luckily I was saved that fear when the OB came and checked me and told me that we were gonna be awhile since the baby was facing the wrong way. So even though I was already 9 cm I was allowed to receive an epidural and we weren’t in a hurry.

After that things were pretty calm for being in active labor. The epidural made the contractions barely noticeable. It was a few hours until I was told I could start pushing. It was just the nurse, my mom, my boyfriend, and me. When I was close to delivering they brought in the doctor (and six interns) and I was still pretty heavily numb. The epidural caused some struggles with delivery because I couldn’t tell when was the most effective time to push (during contractions) but soon enough she was here.

On December 13th 2013 at 2:23pm, Hailey Olivia was born.

Photo of newborn Hailey swaddled in a pink blanket laying in the hospital bassinet.
Hailey Olivia.

And just like that I was a mom.

Thank you for following our journey!

The Time I Fainted in a Wedding Dress.

Throwback Thursday – Life Before LCA.

Have you ever thought back on a moment in time and been completely blown away wondering how you ended up at your current state. That sums up my second pregnancy.

If you told me everything that was about to happen when I peed on that stick in that public washroom waiting on my fate I probably wouldn’t have believed you.

We were young and in love. Maybe a little too consumed with the thoughts of our future but I wouldn’t change any of it because of where it lead us. See something most people think (sorry Mom) is that Charlotte was a surprise.

Ultrasound photo at 12 weeks gestation with Charlotte.
Baby Charlotte.

Well, that’s not exactly the case…

I had an IUD but it failed, I found out I was expecting in February 2017. And after shock, many tears and more worry then it was worth I learned I was in a very different relationship than my past one. James was supportive and even a little happy. But then as plans and dreams swirled in our minds we lost the baby.

And although it was maybe a little rash we decided we didn’t want to say goodbye to those plans and dreams, and by April I was pregnant again. But this time there was no shock and no tears. And not enough worry haha.

I quite quickly learned this pregnancy wasn’t going to be the easy breeze that my first one was physically (massive understatement). I had horrendous morning (all day) sickness, just moved out of my parents house with Hailey, just started a practicum for school, I was tired and always sick. And then the depression hit me.

I had thought I went through periods of depression before but they were nothing compared to this. It is probably the most unhappy I have ever felt in my life. And it was scary, not just for me but for James. This whole plan we had imagined wasn’t working out like we thought.

And then it got worse.

Photo of Melissa holding a "Lil Sis" baby onesie in front of her pregnant belly standing beside Hailey wearing a "Big Sis" shirt.

One day I was sitting on the couch watching a show before I had to leave for class and I felt a gush. Panicked I ran to the washroom prepared to see blood. But it wasn’t blood, it was more like water. My mom took me to the hospital where I tested positive for amniotic fluid and was told to prepare for the worst. At only 16 weeks there is no way a baby could survive birth.

We got wheeled off to an ultrasound and almost immediately were relieved when my little bean was wriggling away in there doing just fine. And because she could see how nervous and upset I was the nurse even shared with me that it was a girl.

After that there were more questions than there were ever answers. I was put on modified rest (I could still attend school and do light walking) for two weeks to wait for the anatomy scan and left without any reassurance that this pregnancy was going to continue.

Getting antsy doing nothing and being home mostly alone all the time was getting to me. So one day I thought I would take just a little trip out of the house to try on some wedding dresses (we were engaged at the time) I liked and to try to get some happy hormones going.

I didn’t really tell anyone where I was going because it was the middle of the day and I was planning to be home within a couple hours at most. I texted my closest friend a picture of me in my favorite dress impressed it still fit okay… and then I started seeing black dots. It felt like minutes but it was probably much less. I told the worker I wasn’t feeling good and as she came to walk me to a chair I fainted.

The next hour or so I only remember in small pieces of consciousness. I remember the firefighters and EMT arriving, although I didn’t see any of them, one of their voices sounded so much like Sandra Bullock haha. I remember them lifting me and pulling me out of the wedding dress while I was still mainly out. And I remember as I came to that I couldn’t move one side of my body.

Melissa standing in a wedding dress cradling her baby bump.
The time I fainted in a Wedding Dress.

I remember the urgency of the EMT when they radioed that they had a pregnant 22 year old having signs of a stroke. I remember how fast we were going turning a 30 minutes drive into a little less than 15 minutes. And all I could think about was Hailey and how no one knew where I was.

I had so many people around me immediately upon arrival. I remember the frustration I felt when I couldn’t lift my leg. I remember the feeling of my earrings being ripped out. I remember the claustrophobia I felt in the MRI machine unable to move.

And then I remember the sudden calm. It wasn’t a stroke. (I would later find out it was a hemiplegic migraine causing neurological symptoms).

And as much as that day still goes down as my most embarrassing day it was the push they needed to get me into more monitoring.

I started with the high risk OB clinic and had appointments weekly; one week with the OB, the next week with maternal fetal medicine for ultrasounds. They discovered the cause of my waters leaking. Something called a Chorioamniotic separation, the chorion layer and amnion layer of the placenta had separated from each other which leaves the baby sort of “free floating” in the placenta. The biggest risk they told us was that amniotic bands could form and could cause strangulation to limbs or worse case scenario to the baby herself. Due to the risk we were offered a medical late term abortion (I was over 20 weeks at this point). But we didn’t want that. So knowing the risk we decided to hope for the best.

The stress was immense. We would be monitored by ultrasound to watch fluid levels and growth and to look for any signs of amniotic bands forming. They told me if I made it to 24 weeks and she had to be born that there would be a fighting chance. And so every day became a challenge to get one day closer to viability.  

I struggled for months with threatened preterm labor. If it wasn’t contractions, it was fluid leaking. I think most of the nurses in Labor and Delivery knew us by name we were there so often.  We had steroid shots for Charlotte’s lungs. We did some time on the prenatal ward. But we were making it through, viability came and went and she was still in there growing away.

Then on Thanksgiving I felt like I had got a UTI. What’s the big deal? Well unfortunately a UTI in pregnancy can lead to contractions and preterm labor. So in we went again. A quick check and a prescription later we were sent on our way. But a couple days later the pain had gotten much worse.

Photo taken from Melissa's prespective looking down at her baby bump and arm with IV in it receiving medication.
IV Treatment.

Back in L&D for the thousandth (or so) time we learned that my UTI was resistant to the type of antibiotic they gave me and it had travelled to my kidneys. I was admitted and put on a harsh antibiotic (my options were limited because of allergies and my pregnancy). I got released on my birthday but as everything in this pregnancy it didn’t end there.

This kidney infection just wouldn’t go away and it was causing preterm labor contractions. So in the end it was decided I would do some at home IV treatment for a few days to try and kick it for good. Well a few days turned into 10 but I was finally declared infection free.

After that I had maybe a handful of peaceful days before I ended up back in L&D but this time it wasn’t for the infection. I was having contractions and they felt REAL. And they were. I was dilating and it seemed like I was progressing into active labor. But at only 34 weeks they didn’t want to touch it. This meant that I was too far along for them to give me the drugs to attempt to stop the contractions, but since I wasn’t term they also didn’t want to do anything to encourage the labor to progress. This resulted in three days of consistent contractions with no real pain relief and no end in sight. As much as I knew it was better for her to stay put I couldn’t help but feel a tad of resentment to the 10 to 12 women I saw come and go with their babies.  

Things finally hit a plateau and after some very emotional begging they allowed me to go home. I mean at this point I was seeing my high risk OB twice a week.

The days following that adventure were some of the calmest. I attended school (yeah I was still attending college this whole time), and we took Hailey on a family date to zoo lights which is a night I will always treasure. Things were going okay at the beginning of the next week and James job was slow so he decided to go work for the day with his Dad about an hour and a half away. I had an OB appointment in the morning and then classes in the afternoon so I was going to be checked up on and busy.

When I went to my OB I learned that baby girl was breech again (she kept flipping) and was told that if she stayed that way we would need to do a c-section.  Everything else looked okay, I hadn’t dilated anymore than I was previously, and I was feeling pretty good. When I asked the OB if there was anything I needed to do before our next appointment in two days she just said “stay pregnant”…ha if only it were that easy.

I went home from my appointment and decided I would take a nap before school and awhile later I woke up in a panic. I couldn’t quite place why but as I laid there for a few minutes I realized I wasn’t feeling movement from my usually very active baby. So I continued to lay there. I pushed at my belly, I drank something sugary, and I waited. Still nothing. I knew the drill was 6 movements in two hours so as I drew closer to that mark with no signs of movement I decided to go get checked out.

I was almost embarrassed to show up at L&D since I had been there so often and I had just been checked a few hours before at my OB office. And that embarrassment grew when she started moving around a ton the minute they attached the monitors. But due to my pregnancy history they decided to keep me for a couple hours. I sent James a text that my mom took me in, we were all good, and that I’d let him know if I was still going to be at the hospital when he got back to the city.

Photo of Melissa holding Charlotte on the operating table after her c-section.
Meeting Charlotte.

It was getting close to the end of my monitoring when all of the sudden monitors started sounding alarms and my little area was filled with doctors and nurses telling me to move into different positions. The baby’s heart rate had dropped dramatically. It went back up fairly quickly but they decided that added a couple more hours to my monitoring so I sent James a text that I would likely still be there and that he could come replace my mom when he was back.

I sent my mom to the car to grab my phone charger and I got to take a quick break from the monitors to go pee (I was 35 weeks pregnant after all) but when I came back to the room it happened again. It still went back up but the doctor, one who had been the recipient of my emotional begging to go home the previous week, decided that he was no longer comfortable waiting and that I would undergo an emergency c-section in an hour. Sooner if it dropped again.

My head was spinning. I was terrified of the thought of a c-section. And I was alone. My mom was away getting my charger; James was over an hour from the city. I wasn’t prepared for this when I went in (although that sounds silly after everything).

I had to call James and tell him that he would likely miss the birth of his daughter. I could barely keep it together I was so scared. I had to call Hailey and tell her mommy wasn’t coming home tonight because she was having the baby early. And then I just sat there and panicked until they walked me to the OR.

When I got there I was surprised at how bright it was and how small the table seemed. There were a lot of people. Doctors and nurses for the surgery and the NICU team. My mom had to wait outside until they began.

The freezing needle wasn’t as scary as I was expecting but when they told me they were going to start and I could still feel my toes my heart jumped into my throat a little. But I didn’t feel anything…well I felt stuff but not pain. The best description I have ever heard of a c-section is that it’s like unpacking a suitcase, and you are the suitcase.

I was much calmer when my mom got to join me so I wasn’t alone, and I was happy they allowed her to video the moment Charlotte was born so James could see it.

And so on November 28th 2017 at 7:30pm at 35 weeks and 3 day’s gestation my little 6lbs 3 oz Charlotte Grace was born.

The pregnancy and birth experience were nothing like the plans and dreams we had in our mind for it but the entire struggle was made worth it when we finally got to hold our little girl together. That part of the dream came true.

Photo of Melissa holding newborn Charlotte on her chest beside James. Taken in the NICU when we first got to be all 3 together.

Thank you for reading our story and joining us on this journey!