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Hello!

Writing a blog has always been something I have been interested in but I wasn’t sure if I had anything worth reading about so I stuck to keeping a journal. That was until this past year changed my life drastically and I felt compelled to share my story and my continuing journey publicly. I am so excited to enter the blogging world and make connections with others who feel like they can relate to my life in some way.

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Thank you for visiting my blog!

Melissa

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.
Sisters.

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.
Finally.

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

NICU Journey – Part 1

Throwback Thursday – Life before LCA

Everyone knows what the NICU is. But you don’t know what the NICU feels like until you get there.

I never expected to end up there when I found out I was pregnant with my second. But when my amniotic fluid started leaking at 16 weeks pregnant it became clear that there was only two ways this could go. And let’s just say that premature birth was my best case scenario.

Photo of newborn Charlotte laying in a open incubator in the NICU.
Charlotte Grace

I went through hell with that pregnancy and was terrified for most of it. But my little fighter held out. It wasn’t until 35 weeks and 3 days that she was showing signs of distress and I was carted off for an emergency c-section.

She was taken to the NICU before I was put back together and I didn’t get to really hold her for over an hour. The nurse said they’d take me to her on the way to post partum and that was the first time I entered the NICU.

It was a weird and scary feeling. It was kind of dark because it was evening. And since Charlotte was a new arrival she was in the most critical section for the time being with one nurse to a max of two babies. The main thing I remember from that moment is the beeping from all of the monitors.

The baby beside her was a mere 1 pound. A micro preemie. Charlotte looked out of place next to her. After all she was a whopping 6 pounds 3 oz, quite large for a preemie.

I only got to hold her for just a few minutes before the nurse said she needed to take me to post partum.

I had just had a major surgery but I wanted to see my baby. One nurse told me that since Charlotte was doing so well with no issues they might release her to my room the next day.

So I used everything I had left to make myself stand because all I needed to do was move from the bed to a wheel chair to go back and visit. I wanted to bond and breastfeed and ensure she was doing well enough to be released to me, where she belonged.  

I spent the entire night awake with her and then went back to my room for a little rest when my mom needed to get going home. A few hours later, alone at the hospital, I needed to be able to walk all the way from post partum to the NICU if I wanted to go. It was an excruciating walk with my barely held together body.

Photo of Charlotte as a newborn laying on my lap holding my finger with both hands. she has monitors on her chest and a nose tube in.
Bonding with Mom.

That walk felt a little longer each time I did it.

When I entered the NICU I went back to her spot only to discover she wasn’t there. They had moved her to the final section, where you go before you go home. Which I found out after the panic of not being able to find my baby. And that is when I first felt like I had no say over my own daughter.

They told me she was doing well but was slow on her bottles. And said if she didn’t finish her bottle the next feed they would put a nose tube in. Then my unit called me to come back so the doctor could check on my incision. I told the nurse I’d be back to feed her as soon as I could. And I started the long walk back.

When I made it back to the NICU the tube was in. I was angry and upset. They didn’t even ask me. Isn’t this my baby, don’t I have a say?

The tube meant a 3 day stay at least because they wouldn’t discharge until it had been out for 2 days.

Those next couple days were emotionally exhausting. I was furious that my nurse wouldn’t even let me attempt to breastfeed (the NICU time affected my breastfeeding journey greatly) and I was in major pain from pushing myself so hard after surgery.

Photo of Charlotte on my lap on a pillow sleeping. All the moniotrs are on her and she has a nose tube in.
Snoozing.

The NICU is a place of high emotions. There was honestly a point I felt like they just wanted to keep my baby there because she was cute (irrational post partum hormones talking).

As much as you appreciate everything the NICU does for babies, being there during the already fragile post partum period is extremely hard emotionally and can bring out feelings you don’t expect.

When I got a different night nurse I figured it was my chance to advocate for breastfeeding. He told me if she did breast and bottle well through the night he’d take the tube out. And so we did it.

It was the first time through this experience that I felt heard. The first time I felt like I was her parent.

Photo of Hailey holding newborn Charlotte. Hailey is cuddling her.
Sister Cuddles.

This nurse advocated for me with the doctors and he did everything he could to get us on the road to discharge.

The next night we were in the rooming in room. It’s kind of like a hotel room in the ward often used for parents who live out of town or for a trial run of having the baby off monitors and with parents for a night before discharge.

That night was when Hailey could finally meet her sister. It was all consuming in the NICU and I felt bad for having Hailey be so left behind on those days. The next afternoon was going to be Hailey’s 4th birthday party and I remember her asking me if I was going to be there. I wanted to be there SO badly because I already felt like I had abandoned her since having Charlotte but I was also scared (overtired and a bit paranoid) that if I left they would put the nose tube back in Charlotte.

Luckily I still had my male nurse and he advocated for us to the doctors big time. Charlotte had never had breathing problems, never set off the monitors for heart rate or oxygen levels. She was doing good.

Photo of newborn Charlotte in her carseat ready to go home.
Taking Charlotte Home.

The doctor brought me in to examine Charlotte and said “I hear you have a birthday party today” and we were given the green light to finally take our baby home.

When we walked out of the doors with Charlotte in the car seat I was so relieved to say goodbye to the NICU. But I still heard the beeping of monitors and machines and the pulsing of breast pumps for weeks after.

I told myself I would never go back there.

And then came baby number three…

Thank you for reading, stay tuned for part 2!

The Story of Us – Part 1

Throwback Thursday – Life before LCA.

When I found myself as a young, single mother who was still in post secondary I didn’t think the world of dating would really be suited for me.  In the time since my last relationship dating had become a whole new thing, commitment was out and casual was in. But casual was never my thing, and especially with a two year old to consider. I still believed in something long lasting.

So in my attempt to hack the dating system when I went online looking for a potential partner I was REALLY specific in my search. First I filtered out anyone under the age of 25 (I was 22 at the time) because I figured that older equaled more willing to commit. Then I filtered out anyone who didn’t have kids, my theory being that someone with a kid couldn’t judge me for having one.  Probably not the greatest science ever done but hey I figured it was my best shot.

Photo of Hailey dressed as Mulan for Halloween standing outside smiling beside an inflatable ghost.
My little ‘Mulan’

I had been on these apps for awhile and probably went through every profile of the guys who made it through my filters; it wasn’t getting me very far. But after an eventful night of Trick or Treating with my little Mulan I remember opening my app to a message, “Hey, What types of things do you like to do when you don’t have your little one?”. Clicking the profile I immediately thought “nope”. I didn’t recognize the profile so I knew it wasn’t one that had came up in my filtered search, I mean this guy was 20 years old, lived in a different town, and definitely did not have kids (he was cute though haha). Even though I figured the conversation wouldn’t lead anywhere I was getting a little tired of talking to 38 year olds who lived in their ex wives basement (for real) so I decided why not reply.

Photo of James, Hailey, and I at the Zoo Christmas lights.
Zoo Lights!

Surprisingly the next day I found myself on the phone with this guy for over three hours. We talked about a lot; stories from growing up, our religious beliefs, our views, and our goals for the future. It was definitely not the type of conversation I was expecting to have with a 20 year old (because you know I was obviously much older and wiser at the age of 22). The one thing I remember the most about that phone call is that he asked me what I was looking for…friendship, something casual, a relationship, marriage? It was such an upfront question and it threw me off. I was thinking yikes it’s not like I’m going to marry you (I did haha) but I am looking for something committed and not casual.  

Out of all of the people that I had tried to weed out through my super (eye roll) scientific plan the only person I ended up agreeing to actually meet was this 20 year old guy… James, if you haven’t caught on yet haha.

For our first date he took me to this little Italian restaurant and we ended up being there for 4 hours talking and learning about each other (while my sister and best friend thought I had been kidnapped since I hadn’t answered their texts). After that we almost seamlessly progressed into a relationship. We talked on the phone for hours on the days we didn’t see each other, and he would take any chance he got to drive up to see me. I introduced him to Hailey and he never made me feel like including her in our time together was a bother or a burden to him. I very quickly learned that my scientific method might have been off. He wasn’t over 25 and he didn’t have a kid of his own but he had the same wants and goals for his future and wanted us to be a part of reaching them.

Photo from Melissa and James wedding. They are holding hands walking down the aisle.
Us.

Thank you for reading part one of our story. Stay tuned for part two!

And Now We Wait… Again.

Timothy Update.

In the world of parenting a children with disabilities I have always considered myself fairly lucky in regards to our diagnosis. Both in the sense that our diagnosis does not affect the expected lifespan of our son and also in the fact we received a firm diagnosis before Timothy was even 1. I didn’t even realize how lucky that second one was until I started talking with parents who were still awaiting diagnosis at 2 and 3 years old.

LCA seemed like our best case scenario when we went through testing because it wasn’t life threatening. Sure, Timothy’s condition was causing some other developmental delays but that’s to be expected…right? I mean if you can’t see it is pretty scary to let go and take steps on your own, and how can you learn the words for cup or bowl or spoon or fork when they all feel similar to each other. Not to mention the absolute lack in therapies for most of Timothy’s life in the times of Covid.

I’d say I have felt pretty secure in our trajectory and what the future held since getting the results. But maybe I was too comfortable, maybe I was missing something, or there was something I just didn’t want to face. At least that’s what one of my son’s doctors thought.

Timothy sitting in a infant swing at the playground smiling.
Playing on the swing.

So when I sat in front of a doctor in April for the first time and was told they would like to run a chromosomal array, well I wasn’t happy to say the least. I thought you don’t know Timothy, you just met him. How could this doctor sit there and question his diagnosis, it made no sense. And as I left that meeting with the words “he doesn’t look like he has a syndrome but we might as well check” ringing in my ears I started to feel a little off balance.

There was no way he didn’t have LCA. I mean we were all genetically tested. That can’t be wrong can it? It wasn’t. So after sending in our full retinal genetic report and finding out nothing came back on the chromosomal array I thought “Ha!” I won this round.

Unfortunately that was only round one. And this doctor was still not comfortable to say that his developmental delay was caused by LCA or at least not entirely. So when we spoke over the summer I was told that yes Timothy does have LCA…but (oh no) that doesn’t mean he can’t also have another condition affecting development.

Another condition? On top of LCA? I wasn’t ready for that. We got our answer a long time ago. We have accepted it (for the most part). Living with LCA is our life now. I’m not ready to go through another diagnosis.

Timothy sitting in his stroller rubbing his eye.
At our appointment in October.

Our next appointment to further discuss the testing and to possibly perform the test was scheduled for October. The reason we had to wait so long was because it is a BIG test and they had to apply for approval to fund it. It’s a test called Whole Exome Sequencing (WES) and it goes through about 20,000 genes, it can tell us a lot of information about Timothy’s genetic make up. So for the 3 months leading up to the appointment I went back and forth in my head about whether or not I felt another test was worth it.

Most of the time I landed on NO. I know my kid. I know him. I’ve watched him struggle and I’ve watched him learn. Yeah maybe he isn’t where we thought he would be, even with the LCA, but he’s making progress…isn’t he?

But as we got closer to the appointment I started to question myself more and more. Is he making progress? His speech has improved for sure but physically has he changed much this year?

I started to think about the disability funding we get and how they wouldn’t pay for therapies because he’s “just blind”. I started to think about the fact he will be in preschool next year and being able to access the appropriate amount of help for him. And I started to think of myself at the beginning of this journey. I started to think of the endless hours I spent trying to get Timothy to look at me, trying to convince myself it wasn’t what they thought it was.

And so I decided to do the test. Because not doing the test was for me. Because I’m not ready to have another diagnosis thrown at us. Because I’m scared of what could come back. Because I’m comfortable with how things are.

But doing the test is for Timothy. Because if something comes back we can manage it, we can access the appropriate help, we can learn about it and what it means for his future. And then we can begin to accept it.

So here we are 2 years later almost to the day sending blood work to Finland and beginning our wait…again.

Timothy sitting on the couch smiling.
Timothy.

Thank you for reading and continuing to support our journey.

What’s in a Name?

Throwback Thursday – Life before LCA.

Naming your baby is one of the first big decisions you will make for your child.

A lot of people have names picked out for their future kids at a young age. Something from a book or a movie, someone they look up to, or just a name they heard that stuck with them.

I had several names that I liked over the years but never really one specific name that I knew I wanted to name my children. It actually took quite a while during my pregnancies to decide on their names. But I wasn’t the type to wait and see what I felt fit when the baby was born. I’m way too indecisive for that, my children would have been nameless for months.

I had thought I settled on a boy name I really liked before we found out that Charlotte was a girl but then it became the most popular boy name around. And when I found out I was having a boy for my third I just couldn’t imagine having my son be the 7th Noah in his classroom every year haha. So we were back to square one. Except this time I did have a specific name I wanted to include, two actually.

Photo from my maternity pictures laying on my back with a baby hat that says "Timothy" laying on my pregnant belly.
Timothy Edward.

Something I haven’t talked about much on here before is the fact that I have lost two of my brothers. Eddie in 2010 and Tim in 2017. So finding out we were having the first grandson in the family was emotional for many reasons, and it was important to me to honor the memory of my brothers in someway.

James and I spent months going over hundreds and hundreds of baby boy names. All while trying to accommodate two middle names. Mixing and matching names to figure out what order flowed the best and what went with our last name (not a lot does – trust me) but we could never agree on one that felt right.

Then one day the thought came to me to just skip an original first name altogether and use one of my brothers’ names as his first name and one as his middle name. It was an emotional choice. Something I felt the pull to do as the loss of my brothers has shaped my life in so many ways. I also really wanted to keep the names together because it didn’t feel right to have one without the other. It was something I tried out in my head for a few weeks and kept to myself until I was sure I wanted to bring it up as an idea. I mean was James really going to say no to something that sentimental and meaningful? Of course not (there is also some sort of batman connection to the name he liked haha) but I was still nervous because I wanted him to feel like that was the right name for our son.

Once I felt like it was the only name I could truly think of using I decided to bring it up and luckily James agreed that it felt like the perfect fit. We also decided out of respect we would ask my immediate family how they felt about it because we wanted it to be a nice way to remember my brothers and not a constant painful reminder of their loss. Everyone was on board and it made welcoming the first grandson even more special and emotional.

Now everyday I get to remember two people I love deeply through my little boy who is the most special person I’ve ever met.

It was the first big decision we were making for our baby and it was made out of immense love. I can’t wait until the day I can tell him all about the two uncles he got his name from.

Photo collage. Left photo is of my brother Eddie. Middle photo is of my son Timothy Edward. Right photo is of my brother Tim.
Eddie – Timothy Edward – Tim

We love and miss you Tim & Ed.

Our Baby Boy

Throwback Thursday – Life before LCA.

We decided on three kids early on. We also decided we wanted to try to not make the end of the year anymore expensive than it already was so we’d aim for a spring baby this time haha.

The plan was to try from August to November and if it didn’t happen then we’d wait till the next year. But on August 21 2018 I decided to take a pregnancy test I had at home. I don’t know why I chose to, I hadn’t missed my period yet and I wasn’t feeling any sort of way. I just took it one evening after dinner. And it was positive.

I wasn’t shocked exactly but I was surprised. I didn’t really have the feeling I was pregnant that I had with my girls.  So I went downstairs where James was playing with 8 month old Charlotte and tossed him the test. Baby number three was on it’s way.

Photo of a card. The top is a picture of Hailey and Charlotte. The bottom reads "Hailey and Charlotte. Big sisters to be. To baby number three.".
Announcing our pregnancy.

The nausea hit pretty quickly but luckily it was mild compared to how I felt with Charlotte. The baby bump though? That hit even quicker. By number three my body just assumed position.

At my first ultrasound I was dated to be due on May 2nd. A true spring baby. But anxiety of Charlotte’s early delivery had me doing the math to be prepared for a baby at the end of March.

I was high risk this time due to my eventful second pregnancy and since it would be just under 18 months since my emergency c-section, I decided I would schedule a c-section this time.

I was followed earlier and more often by the same high risk OB as before but she said she felt my energy was different this time and that it would be a smoother road. And it was for the most part.

At 16 weeks I decided to sneak away during my lunch break at work to go for a early scan to find out the sex of the baby. I knew James would be happy either way but I also knew having a boy for our last baby would be the cherry on top. I had a feeling it was a boy but I couldn’t cling to it because there were no boy’s in this generation of our family. We have two girls, and 7 nieces between us. So when the ultrasound tech found it was a boy I was elated. We were having a son, and the first grandson on either side.

That night I gifted James a little newborn varsity jacket and baby size football. He couldn’t wait for his baby boy.

photo of a blue backdrop with a blue and white newborn varsity jacket that has an ultrasound picture laying on top of it. Under the jacket is a baby sized football.
It’s a Boy.

After that things were pretty calm for a while. We started to plan his room theme, Batman, and we picked out his name. It was a nice change of pace from my second pregnancy. But I still had that anxiety in the back of my mind about an early delivery.

As I started getting closer to the end I noticed I felt a lot heavier this time. My belly was bordering on painful to carry around. It was low and massive. I was measuring 7 weeks ahead by fundal height. So off to another ultrasound, the one where I figured the other shoe would drop.

But it came back all good. I had a big baby in there (no surprise as Charlotte was too) and my fluid level was teetering on polyhydraminos (too much amniotic fluid) but not over the cusp where worry should set in…but it did. The extra fluid and the heavy baby had me having contractions on and off almost daily when I was still only 30ish weeks along. I tried to remain positive that I would make it to at least 37 weeks, my personal goal, but I also prepared not to.

Then on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) at 33 weeks and 3 days the contractions became increasingly painful and weren’t letting up. I knew they weren’t Braxton hicks (practice contractions) and I was terrified. That was 2 weeks more premature than Charlotte. I went to L&D still hoping to be told I’m fine go home. But I wasn’t told that. I was dilating and contracting somewhat regularly, I was in preterm labor. They told me I would be going for my c-section that day but they also decided to try a medication to slow contractions. Over 32 weeks this medication doesn’t always work but we figured it was worth a shot. And it was, as it slowed things down enough to have them cancel the c-section and just admit me overnight for monitoring.

3D Ultrasound photo of Timothy's face two weeks before he was born.
Timothy the Tank.

Things stayed calm and I even got to have a 3D scan of my cute chunky little man before I was sent home where the ultrasound tech affectionately gave him the nickname “Timothy the tank” haha. He was weighing an estimated 7 pounds already which is what they suspected was putting me into early labor.

My OB decided we should just accept the fact he was probably making an earlier than anticipated entrance (definitely wouldn’t be making my scheduled c-section for April 24th) and that maybe I wanted to consider a new birth plan just in case. Choosing to try a vaginal delivery would maybe buy us more time, even in hours, if we went into preterm labor again.

I wasn’t sure as I was scared from things I had read about trying to have a vaginal delivery less than 18 months after a c-section but the idea of an easier recovery and most importantly the chance to actually hold my baby before he was whisked off to the NICU was appealing to me. James and I discussed the idea and concluded that I would decide if I wanted to try in the moment.

We also decided to move our maternity photos up a couple weeks, just in case. We moved them up to March 30th. I would be 35 weeks and 2 days then, and I had Charlotte at 35 weeks and 3 days. So it felt safe.

Photo from our maternity shoot. James and I are standing beside each other with a hand on my belly. Hailey and Charlotte are holding hands and walking towards us.
Family of Four.

I never did maternity photos with my other kids but it was a request I had for my last baby. I wanted to have them to remember that time. The day was really fun, I did my hair and make up, I got the girls all cute, and we went to the park and captured this special time in our lives. There were some jokes that the walking was going to put me into labor but I was feeling really good, no contractions, just enjoying time with my family of 4. Until we got back home…

Around 6 in the evening the contractions started again. Like St.Patrick’s Day but stronger. I got myself into a warm bath trying to ease the discomfort but I knew it was time. Although I was trying to convince James that it wasn’t, I wasn’t ready yet, I didn’t want to face the NICU again, it couldn’t be time. But my contractions were coming every 4 to 5 minutes and were intense. So we called my sister to come over for the girls, and headed to the hospital.

When I got there I was 4 cm and they knew there was no stopping it this time. And as discussed, in the moment I decided to ask if I could try to deliver without a c-section. As long as I could get an epidural because OUCH. I was told they actually prefer that with VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) in case it needs to become a c-section urgently so we signed the papers agreeing to the plan. And moved into L&D.

An added benefit of not having a surgery was that I could have two people in the delivery room with me. So we called my mom, who was fairly bummed she wasn’t going to be there, and had her join. My mom has been there for all of my deliveries.

Labor hurts a lot, in case no one has told you that. And due to a busy night on the ward I was waiting hours for my epidural, at which point I really regretted my choice (if I had a c-section he would be out by now!). But eventually it was my turn and after missing it twice (not a fun feeling) he got it in place and I could finally breathe a little. The hours ticked by, and after 2 am the Doctor came in to check me. She said I was about an 8 but if she popped my water it might help things along. Alright. She broke my water and started to leave the room but had to turn right back around, it was time to push.

I had only begun pushing when there started to be some heart deceleration’s in Timothy. They told me if I didn’t get him out in the next two pushes we might need to consider switching to a c-section. No way was that happening. I did not go through these last several hours of pain just to end up with a c-section still. And so I did it. I got him out in 8 minutes of pushing and behind him a tidal wave of extra fluid (RIP to James’ shoes haha).

And then I finally got to hold my baby boy. Born on March 31st 2019 at 2:43 am. At 35 weeks and 3 days just like Charlotte, and weighing 6 lbs 10 oz just like Hailey. He was perfect. He is perfect.

Photo of Melissa holding a newborn Timothy with James smiling down at him beside her.
Meeting our baby boy.

Timothy Edward.

Thank you for reading more about our journey!

Our Blended Family

Throwback Thursday – Life before LCA.

As a young single mother the idea of having to become a blended family was something that scared me.

Will anyone want to date someone who is a mom? Will they accept my child? What will it look like to create a family with someone who isn’t my daughter’s biological parent?

It’s not like being a blended family is something out of the norm these days, almost every person I know comes from a blended family. I even grew up in a blended family technically but since the word “step” was never used in our house it didn’t really feel like it.

I knew the type of relationship we had with my daughter’s biological father would also greatly determine the way our blended family worked. At first I was hoping to have a more modern family where we could all get along and support our daughter together. But unfortunately what I feared would happen, did, and my daughter’s biological father decided to not be a participant in her life very quickly after we were no longer together.

When James and I started dating, my daughter, Hailey, was always a big part of our discussions about our relationship and any of our plans for a future together. Unlike some people I had talked with, James never made me feel like Hailey was some unwanted baggage that came along with me. See he also grew up in a blended family and was raised by his mom and “step-dad” (just dad to him though) which gave him a unique understanding and care about how he handled a relationship with a single mom. He made me feel like getting to know Hailey was a benefit to dating me instead of a burden.

Photo of James holding Hailey on his shoulders they are both smiling at the camera.
James and Hailey.

I remember very clearly the day that Hailey started to call James, “dad”, it was after he attended the Father’s Day celebration at her daycare. He left work early to attend so that she didn’t have to be the only one without a dad to show up. When they got back home after, she kept saying “daddy” over and over again, and it has stuck ever since.

We were engaged and I was expecting our first child together when this took place. We had discussed it before because she would occasionally refer to him as “dad” or “daddy” but it was never consistent. Our biggest worry was that we did not want her to feel like she had to refer to him as that or that she couldn’t refer to him as that if she wanted to. We wanted it to be her choice.

Unfortunately this choice was met with some criticism from people at the time who questioned if it was a good idea for her to be getting too attached to another “dad” but we tried to not let them bother us.

One of the hardest parts of blending a family for me so far has honestly been the opinions from others. Everyone seems to have one and they always feel the need to share them. Why? I’m not sure. I think what works for one family to the next is always going to be individual and without being the people in the actual situation it is unfair to judge the decisions being made.

And so ignoring the noise from others our next big decision came into play a few months later when I experienced a scary event during my pregnancy. I ended up collapsing while I was out on my own and it seemed as if I was having a stroke (I will talk about this more in Charlotte’s pregnancy story). All I really remember from being in the ambulance was thinking about what happens to Hailey if I don’t make it.

Photo from behind of James helping Hailey paint her wall purple in our first place together.
James helping Hailey paint her room.

Well spoiler alert… I made it. But this moment opened my eyes to a fear so big that I couldn’t ignore it. It was unimaginable to me that if something were to ever happen to me, Hailey would be taken from the life she knows, to be forced into a life with someone who left her behind (and was also abusive but that’s a story for another time).

This is when we decided we wanted to make James being “dad” official and we began to pursue a step-parent adoption.

It was A LOT of paperwork. It took 3 months of work leading up to our wedding, and another 3 months of work after our wedding before we had it all submitted to the court. But it was all worth it on August 15 2018 when it became official and Hailey gained the same last name as her family.

A piece of paper saying that James is Hailey’s dad isn’t what we needed to feel like a complete family but it is what we needed to feel like Hailey was safe and protected in any circumstance.  

We know that we have only begun this journey and that there are many things that will come up and many obstacles to be worked through as Hailey gets older as being a blended family never ends but for now we are happy to be in the place we are as a family.

Photo of James and Hailey sitting together smiling taken on the day we got the official adoption letter.
First photo as father and daughter after the adoption was official!

Thank you for reading about our journey!

Acting Our Age

The Balance of being a Young Family.

I’ve been asked a few times how old we are and I usually don’t address it directly because it makes me uncomfortable. It really shouldn’t make me uncomfortable because it really shouldn’t make a difference. But in some ways I guess it does make a difference, hence my post today.

 I had Hailey when I was 19 years old so I am quite used to the judgement from others about how young I am to be living the life that I live. James and I were married at 21 and 23 years old. We had all three kids and even knew about Timothy’s diagnosis before either of us was 25.

The responsibility of raising a family is a great one, a family with three kids even greater, a family with three kids where one has a disability…phew. As you can imagine there is a lot on our plate. Heck it would be a lot on our plate at 35, but admittedly these situations did make us grow up a lot faster than some (let’s be honest…most) of our peers.

Photo at our wedding of James holding Charlotte standing beside me while Hailey stands in front of us.
Our Wedding.

We really don’t mind having to be more grown up. We both wanted and chose this life. Marriage was always in the cards and something we wanted for ourselves. Kids were always a dream of both of ours separately before we were together.

See we didn’t really fit in with others our age who wanted to party and explore their options…if you know what I mean…

Instead we mostly fit in with a more traditional lifestyle.

On our one year wedding anniversary we went to a comedy show and I was heavily pregnant with Timothy (he was born exactly a week after our anniversary). We sat near the front because that’s what was open, and as you can guess we were singled out.  I think he spent more than half of the show teasing us after he nearly died when we told him this was our third kid.

These types of instances have happened a lot over the years. I remember when I was pregnant with Timothy all of the nurses and blood lab technicians seemed so much nicer than before. I later realized they all felt I was now an appropriate age to be having a baby, and I was married, so I was worthy of congratulations. That nice demeanor often disappeared once they asked if he was my first.

“No, he’s actually my third”

“Oh…you sure have your hands full”

Anyone with more than two kids has probably heard that one a million times.

But as much as we love our grown up life, we can’t ignore the fact that our age does occasionally come into play. And what we have learned is that part of the fun in getting married when we were younger is that we do not only get to grow old together but we also get to grow up together.

We have found that having a balance between being Mom and Dad, and being Melissa and James, has made a world of difference in our relationship.

Of course we are Mom and Dad all of the time. But now that our kids are old enough to spend the night at Grandma and Grandpa’s we make a lot more time to be just Melissa and James.

What this usually looks like for us is a date night where the kids stay over at their grandparents when James is on his off time.  

Taking this night has been such a recharge in our relationship. It gives us the opportunity to connect without interruptions for a snack every two minutes. It gives us the opportunity to have fun as just a couple. And it gives us a moment in time where some of the pressure is off (because having three kids and dealing with a diagnosis is a lot of pressure).

Photo of James smiling sitting at a table with two sample flights of beer in front of him from our trip.
Radium Brewery.

This last rotation we decided to turn that date night into a little more and spent a couple of nights away. We went up to the mountains and went zip lining. We wandered the small town going to breweries and pubs and enjoying each other’s company. We got drunk and went to a karaoke bar.  We even ended the trip with some spontaneous mountain tattoos.

And then we went home, and were back to being Mom and Dad.

There was a point in our relationship where we did not do these types of things. Where date nights were few and far between. And when they’d happen it was rushed so we could get back to the kids.

I always spent a lot of time worrying about what others would think of us for taking time away from our children.

I didn’t want to be seen as the young, immature, irresponsible parents dumping their kids with the grandparents to go have fun. But I realized it doesn’t matter what people think because that is not what we are.

We are the young parents who spend 99% of our time doing whatever is needed for the family.

We are the parents who are constantly working, scheduling appointments, learning new techniques, struggling through delays and service restrictions. We are the parents who are trying to make a comfortable living for our family while still trying to make as many memories as we can together.  We are the parents who put everything we have into our kids.

So I’ve decided its okay that for 1% of the time we want to act our age.

Family photo from July 2020.
Our Family.

As always thank you for reading and keeping up with our family’s journey.

Number Four.

This is not a pregnancy announcement.

This is all I have left.
Photo of a newborn hat that says "future jedi" with a first response pregnancy test on top with 2 dark pink lines
Baby #4

For only two weeks my body was making a home for another baby. A baby we originally never thought we would have. Number four.

And then all of the sudden it was gone. And although I’ve lost others before this, the pain, heartbreak and guilt swallowed me whole.

See I was terrified when I found out I was pregnant. I did this weird mixture of hysterical laughing and bawling.

I had thought I might be pregnant after a random Thursday where I just couldn’t stop crying… but I didn’t actually believe the test would be positive. And so clearly positive, a whole SIX days before my period was even due.

I thought for sure this one was here to stay.

I was too scared to let myself show any excitement. Scared because although we had decided we wanted a fourth it wasn’t supposed to happen yet. Scared because I knew even people in our circle would question and judge our decision to expand our family. Scared what a baby would mean for Timothy at this age. Scared that this was my last shot at this and I wanted to do it all perfectly (which I already felt like I was failing from my initial response). Scared because we had a loss in December and I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of nervousness anytime I went to pee.

But through the scared and nervous emotions we began to plan. We discussed items we wanted this time (like a bassinet). We talked about baby names. We gave ourselves a pat on the back for buying a mini van. We ordered a little rainbow newborn gown. We talked about hospitals and doctors and logistics. We talked about how old we would be when all four of our kids had graduated.

And then it was gone. The conversations. The planning. The baby was gone. Those dark pink lines began to fade, a clear sign of the end.

During this process I have struggled with a lot of guilt about some of the negative emotions I had about being pregnant. How can I be sad now when I was scared? Well because I can be. Really it’s that simple. I can feel however I feel and it is all valid.

Because even though I wasn’t super excited yet…I still wanted this baby. And even though I was scared…I still wanted this baby. And even though it was unexpected…I still wanted this baby.

Photo of Timothy sitting on a chair smiling wearing a black t shirt that says "big brother".
Big Brother.

And they were taken from me before I had a chance to say how much I loved them and wanted them to be a part of our family. So I am sharing this today as my chance to say out loud that I loved this baby. I loved it, I wanted it, and I am heartbroken that it is gone.

Photo of a clearblue pregnancy test that says "pregnant 2-3"
Pregnant.

So I will continue to hold on to these little pieces I have left that prove my baby was here for even a little while. Because it was, and if you have been through this before… your baby was here too.

Another Year

Timothy Turns Two.

Two years ago today I fell in love with the most handsome little boy.

I remember being so afraid during my pregnancy for that first moment, the moment he would enter the world. Not because of the pain of labor or the whole pushing a baby out of my body thing but because he was a boy.

The first grandson in a family full of girls. My son. I just didn’t know how to be a boy mom.

I worried that I wouldn’t bond with him immediately the way that I did with my girls.
But when they first placed him on me I felt the power of the mother and son bond you always hear about. He had my heart in an instant and life has never been the same.

A photo from right after Timothy was born. He is laying on my chest and James is standing beside me looking at him.
Timothy meeting Mom & Dad.



Learning about Timothy’s diagnosis and the whirlwind of his first year of life was crazy and I didn’t know anything other than that I loved that little boy with everything in me.

Last night I was thinking about Timothy turning two and I got overwhelmed with emotions (if you watch my Instagram stories I’m sure you gathered that already haha). I just can’t believe that I was chosen to be Timothy’s mom.

I don’t know what I did to be trusted with this amazing task of raising him (I’ve talked more about this in an older blog post). But what I do know is that I don’t take it lightly… hence the emotions.

Part of my emotion was fear. That strong and deep Mama bear fear. A fear that we live in too harsh of a world. A fear that once I have to send my little boy out into that world that it will crush his joyful spirit. A fear that makes me want to just cuddle him close and keep him in our safe little bubble away from the bullies and people who don’t understand him for as long as I possibly can.

Another part of that emotion was worry. In my world fear and worry are not the same thing. If we wanted to interchange worry with anything it would have to be mom guilt. Because the worry is all mine. I worry that I am not doing enough. I worry that I am not supporting him enough to be able to catch up developmentally. I worry that I am not teaching him the right things. I worry that I don’t know how to do this, but really who does?

And of course the most predictable of my emotions? MY BABY IS GROWING UP TOO FAST. Because he is. How did my little Tiny Timmo turn into this blonde toothy smiled sweet toddler? It all goes too quickly. And yeah some days it feels like it doesn’t go quickly enough when you were up all night with a screaming baby, but then you get that cuddle, or that hug, or that overly sloppy kiss and you would do almost anything to stop time for just a few extra minutes in that moment. I have had a lot of those moments with Timothy.

Photo of Melissa cuddling Timothy in her arms and smiling down at him.
Mama’s Boy.



Now at the close of our second year I can honestly say that having Timothy has been the most magical and life altering experience. One that makes this emotional roller coaster a ride I would take over and over again.

Timothy has given me the chance to learn more than I could ever imagine, connect deeper than I knew possible, and appreciate things in a whole new way. His smile lights up my day and I could listen to his laughter for hours on end. He radiates happiness (I guess I really did choose an appropriate blog name).

So today we celebrate that two years ago I fell in love with the most handsome little boy. And I would relive every single second of it if I had the choice.

Photo of Timothy sitting in his stroller with a big smile on his face.
My big boy.



Happy Birthday Teeny Shark. Mommy loves you more than you’ll ever know.