Taylor

Is there a timeline to grief?  A certain number of days, weeks, months, or years that is an acceptable amount of time to grieve a loss?  Is there a set amount of time that society feels is an appropriate amount of time to mourn someone before it becomes uncomfortable for them to have to witness?

My maternal grandpa passed away in July of 1999 and I still cry about it.  I will walk past someone wearing the cologne he wore and it brings tears to my eyes because in that moment, for just a second, I think he’s there….except he’s not, and I obviously know that, but just for that second…..Or I tell my son, who’s middle name is in honor of my Grandpa, stories about the kind of man he was.  How he bought the first camcorder that was probably ever made and the size of briefcase to record everything his grandchildren ever did because he was so proud of us. How he lovingly called me Chatty Cathy, something that clearly has not changed. How he would walk in the door after a day at work and as he’s taking off his hat, he makes his way to my Gram and says Hi, Madre and gives her a kiss, before doing anything else.  How we would snuggle on the couch watching Matlock or Wheel of Fortune.  Or how he loved to listen to me sing since that was a talent we shared.  He is a man I looked up to and loved and there will not be a day that I won’t miss him or wish he had been around to meet my husband and my son.  But my faith makes me believe that my other children are with him and he will tell them his own stories about me until the day I am with them all again.

After our second loss, my husband and I had a long talk about giving the babies we lost names.  A lot of my friends had encouraged us to do it right after our first loss but for some reason, I just wasn’t ready then.  However after our second loss, it seemed silly to refer to them as Baby J #2 and Baby J #3.  So we went through a list of gender neutral names and Kyle picked the two he liked best.  Baby J #2 is Taylor and Baby J #3 is Morgan.  It was such a freeing feeling to be able to call them by a name and I regret not doing it right away.

Today is two years since Taylor went to heaven and my grief, although different, is not any less.  Two years ago, I cried everyday and wondered what I did to make that happen.  Why my body was not the safe haven it should be for my baby.  What could I have done to prevent it from happening.  And I am left to wonder what Taylor would have been like.  I have memories of my Grandpa that make me smile and I know exactly the kind of person he was, but with Taylor, I have nothing more than a name to hold on too.  So instead when I’m around other children that are the same age Taylor would be I wonder if they would have been friends or if Taylor would have had any of the same mannerisms or personality traits.  I wonder if Taylor was really a girl like my gut thought.  I wonder how Taylor and P would get along and how different it would be for him to not be the only living child.

Grief is not something that fits in a box…it comes in all shapes and sizes and there is no right or wrong way to handle it.  There is no expiration date on moving on or getting over it.  Whether it is 2 years or 20, I will never stop missing someone I love that is gone.

So Happy 2 year Angelversery sweet Taylor.  I will never stop loving you or missing you.

 

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The storm

This summer my husband lost the two grandparents he had left within 3 days of each other.  It was a sad and beautiful story all at the same time because although we were all sad to lose them, how can you not see the beauty in two people that had a love that was so great they simply could not be on this Earth without the other?  The day of their funeral, my Grandma fell and broke her hip, the same injury Kyle’s Grandparents suffered, and for the next two months she was between the hospital and a rehab facility.  I loved my Grandma but I was never particularly close to her, a product of having divorced parents and not seeing that side of my family often.  It is something my brothers and I discuss, usually after a wedding or a funeral, the two events we see all or most of them.  And it’s sad because we always enjoy being around them so much and regret all the missed time getting to know each other and form better relationships.  I had taken my son to visit my Grandma a couple times but life and distance made it not often enough and when she fell I realized how much I regretted not spending more time with her.  So while she was in the hospital, we went to visit her more and I got to hear stories I had never heard before and get to know her in a completely different way.  Those visits are the ones that I will remember forever and even though there is still regret that I didn’t spend more time with her, I am grateful to have those memories.

My Grandma was a feisty lady and she was never one to hold back what she was thinking about anything.  So on one of those visits when she started the “more babies” talk, I wasn’t surprised by anything she said.  She told me in her very matter of fact way, that the worst thing I could do was make my son an only child…..I smiled and told her we were working on it.  Then she said, “as soon as I go, you’ll find out you’re having another one”  and I smiled again and said, I hope it’s long before then Grandma.  That was the last conversation we ever had.

On August 14 my husband left for a 4 day business trip and I woke up and took a pregnancy test.  After almost a year of trying and being constantly disappointed, I wasn’t expecting much but the test came back positive.  I sat there shocked, almost unable to process that it was actually positive.  Then I broke down, full of so many different emotions…..pure joy…..excitement…..disbelief…..and of course, more than a little fear.  I couldn’t wait to tell Kyle…..except he had just left and there’s no way I was telling him this news over the phone.  People were surprised when I was pregnant the first time and I waited till the end of the day to give Kyle the news (doesn’t say much for what people perceive my secret keeping abilities to be) so imagine what it was like to wait 4 days to tell him this news.  After waiting a year to be able to even give him this news…not easy.  But I held out and he came home to a giant banner announcing the impending arrival of our rainbow baby…..April 23, 2018.  We immediately made plans to drive to Madison that weekend and give my Grandma the news, that evening I got the call that she passed away.

For those of you that have never heard the term, “rainbow baby” it is any baby born after loss and is described as,

It is understood that the beauty of a rainbow

does not negate the ravages of any storm

When a rainbow appears,

it does not mean that the storm never happened

or that we are not still dealing with its aftermath

It means that something beautiful and full of light

has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds.

Storm clouds may still hover, but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of

color, energy and hope.

On November 21, 2015, I woke up in a surgical recovery room with a nurse asking me how I was feeling.  My response, empty.  For anyone that has ever carried a child, I’m sure you understand exactly what I meant by that.  Sure, I was way to early to feel movement or kicking, but I felt different.  I felt like my body was no longer my own.  I felt the connection we already had.  So when I woke up and all of that had been ripped away from me, the only way to describe the feeling is empty.  For the days, weeks, months following that day, I turned into a version of myself I didn’t recognize, a version of myself that made me not a great wife or mom, not a good friend, sister, daughter, etc.  I didn’t want to be around people, and I doubt many of them wanted to be around me either.  I hated seeing people and getting the looks of pity or having to listen to them say all the wrong things.  And that’s not anyone’s fault, there’s no perfect thing to say to someone that has experienced any kind of loss.  But having to hear things like, at least you have one.  Yes, and I thank God for him everyday but no child can take the place of another and nor should that pressure be put on any child.  Or the, you can always try again.  Yes, we can but again, one child does not replace another and there’s never a guarantee we can get pregnant again.  Little did I know then of the fertility struggles we would end up having.  Some people said to me (shocking but true) you were only 10 weeks, think of the people that lose their babies almost to term or give birth to a baby that is stillborn.  I cannot imagine either of those things because yes, that pain would be unbearable but the thing we all have in common in any loss situation is a lifetime of birthdays we will never be able to celebrate.  A wedding we will never see happen.  Grandchildren that will never be born.  A lifetime of moments we never get to celebrate because instead of living on this Earth, our babies live in our hearts and in heaven.

This storm is called that for a reason, it takes you to a dark place and makes it so hard to ever see the light.  A rainbow does not clear the storm but it offers a peak of light through the darkness.  A promise that even the darkest of days will eventually start to clear.  The path of the storm has left behind damage that can never fully go back to what it was before but pieces can start to be placed back together in a new version of normal.  I was so excited that my storm clouds were starting to ease up and our rainbow was growing.  We told our families immediately for a few reasons, first, after so long and so many people praying for us, we could not wait to have them share in our excitement and also because we needed all of them praying that this baby would be born healthy.

On September 22, 2017 our glimpse of a rainbow turned into another storm.  I woke up in another post-op room with a nurse asking me how I was feeling and the pain and emptiness consumed me all over again.  Now my promise of a rainbow had joined our other child in heaven and we’re here, trying to ride out the storm.

Celebrating small victories

When it comes to any part of my journey, the end goal is always more important than the steps it takes to get there.  I have all these goals that I want to achieve and if I don’t achieve them, and quickly, I feel like I have failed.  Maybe this has always been my personality or maybe it’s something that has changed over time, I honestly don’t remember, most likely there were never goals I had that seemed this crucial to me before.

As part of the fertility treatment I am going through, I started seeing an acupuncturist.  I went solely for fertility acupuncture but at our initial consultation, she thought I would equally benefit from fertility treatments and treatment for my anxiety.  Not knowing really anything about acupuncture or even if it would work or not, I agreed to both treatments because maybe it would work, and maybe she could help me with my fertility problems which was my main goal and if in the process she helped me to not have panic attacks while driving….even better.

I should mention that since our loss, I have this overwhelming sense of losing everyone around me.  I get nervous about my husbands 50 minute commute to and from work, that someone could hit him or he could be fall asleep behind the wheel because his drive is long and to me it seems like he never gets enough sleep.  I worry about pretty much everything when it comes to our son….I would love to put him in a bubble to guarantee nothing bad ever happens to him.  And I panic when I have to drive, especially if it is somewhere I am unfamiliar with or if it involves going anywhere near downtown.  There are two major city streets by where I live that I am comfortable with, if I can take those to get to where you need me to go, then I’ll go, if I can’t…..maybe I’ll see you next time. It’s definitely not the way that I have always been (except for the driving downtown part) so I would love to go back to “normal.”

The first acupuncture treatment I had, I was terrified.  I felt like this was the last thing we could try before either doing an IUI or just coming to the realization that more kids were not in our future….also I wasn’t really sure how much those needles were going to hurt.  Turns out, they don’t really hurt at all….well, except for the ones in the fingertips, those kinda hurt, but no pain no gain right?!  The sessions consist of us talking for anywhere from 10 – 30 minutes about how I’m feeling, how or what I felt after the last session, then 5 minutes of her putting the needles in and 30 minutes of relaxing.  Turns out the relaxing part was a lot harder than anything else.  Those first two sessions, I could not turn my brain off to save my life and the more I tried to relax, the more worked up I got.  Who fails at relaxing?!

By the third session, I had been practicing breathing techniques she gave me, doing yoga and really trying to find some kind of peace with this whole process.  We really started talking more and more about how important it was to my physical body, to be mentally sound.  We also discussed the small steps you have to take in order to reach a goal.  With everything in life, so many people want it to happen right now.  They don’t want to think of all the little things that need to happen in order to get to that final goal.  They don’t celebrate the small victories they make on their journey, which can often time then lead to ultimate failure.  So celebrate the little things in life, every victory you have that makes you who you are and get to where you want to be.  For me, I ovulated for the first time in months, after starting the acupuncture so maybe there is something to it after all.  I may or may not be pregnant, only time will tell, but for right now, my body has finally started doing what it needs to for me to reach that goal, and that is definitely something that deserves to be celebrated.
For anyone interested in trying acupuncture, I see Kim at Jensen Health and Energy Center.

https://www.health-energy.com/

Hello again

I’m calling this post ‘Hello again’ because it has been so long since I’ve posted anything.  I could list out all the excuses as to why that is but they would be just that, excuses, and the real reason is I don’t like talking about what’s going on in my life right now.  I have multiple posts that I have written and not published yet because they are about superficial things and I don’t feel like it’s fair to only share the superficial aspects of my life without sharing the tough things too.  I thought when I posted the side by side pictures of my weight loss journey, that would be the hardest thing to put out into the cyber universe, but it turns out I was wrong.  I could just talk about the superficial things and keep the deeper parts of my journey to myself but that’s not being true to the people reading this and it’s not being true to myself.  Because really, as much as I hope that someone one day will read a post I write and find comfort in knowing they aren’t alone in an experience or feelings, I also write to get my emotions out and find a way to process them.

So here is my past year in a nutshell…..we have been trying to conceive.  It seems like such an insignificant sentence for something that has literally taken over my life, so let me expand further on that.  For those of you that have not read my previous posts, in November of 2015, I had a miscarriage.  It was and still is, something that is very difficult to think about.  Even a year and a half later, it brings tears to my eyes and a heaviness to my heart, something I think no matter how much time passes, will always happen.  After a few months of letting my body recover, we were ready to start trying again and my doctor found a tumor on my thyroid.  Trying to conceive plans were put on hold.  Fall comes and my doctors are on board with us starting to try again, only to have some female issues start and once again our plans are put on hold.  And at this point, I feel like we have had so many problems, I might never be cleared to start trying again.

Those thoughts started to consume me.  The chaos swarming around in my head would drive the sanest person, crazy and it only got worse when they finally did clear me to start trying again.  Because I was going to be turning 36 soon and felt like my window was rapidly closing, yes I know women can have children much later than that but a woman trying to conceive is anything but rational.  I started reading everything I could about the subject, using multiple apps to track everything I could, and treating it like it was my job….doesn’t that sound like optimal conditions for making a baby?!

A few more months go by and when we still are not pregnant, my husband and I are sent for fertility testing.  I went into this specialist thinking there was nothing wrong.  I honestly thought she was going to tell me that because I was a little older now, it was just taking a little longer but everything was great and we would have no problems….that is in fact, not at all what she said.  I was completely blindsided when I got my results and when my husband called to tell me his, I had to have him repeat at least 5 times because my brain could not process what he was saying.  Once again, the naïve bubble I lived in had been popped and real life was poking it’s ugly head in.

I have done 3 rounds of fertility medication now and let me tell you, it is no joke.  My emotions spiral out of control at an even more rapid pace now (sorry babe) and the weird aches and pains that you want to believe are pregnancy symptoms, but are, of course, not.  I am going to an acupuncturist for fertility treatments and also anxiety treatments, which is definitely a whole new experience for me but one that I am really enjoying….and will like even more if it works!  I’m only using one app now and try not to look at it a thousand times a day.  And most importantly, I’m trying to remember that my journey is in the hands of God and if it is meant to be, it will be.

Trying to conceive is hard….trying to conceive after a loss is even harder.  I wish that it wasn’t, I wish that everyone that wanted a baby could have one and never have to live with an underlying sense of fear.  I wish that nothing bad ever happened to our children.  But that’s not life, and instead of wishing, I pray, and that gives me comfort.

I do hope that after reading this, you think twice before asking someone why they don’t have any children or when they’re going to have another because you never know someone else’s struggle.

Nostalgia

It feels like forever since I have written a blog post!  Between looking for a new place, packing, moving, crashing with family till our place was ready and then unpacking, well, life just got away from me and my blog was unfortunately something that had to take a back seat.  But now that we are settled, all the boxes have been unpacked and life has pretty much returned to normal, I can sit down and take the time to write a post that I have been thinking about since we decided to move.

My husband and I have lived in the same apartment complex for 7 years, to say that it has memories for us is an understatement.  We moved in a month before our wedding so it is the first place we had as a married couple, it is where we said goodbye to our beloved yellow lab, Roxie, it is where we brought our son home and so many of his “firsts” happened there….the list goes on and on.

When we decided to move to get our son in a different school district, I was so excited to get him into a school that we felt would be the best fit for him, I didn’t really take the time to think of everything we were leaving behind.  Every part of that apartment held a memory for me. Not to mention for anyone that knows me, I am not the best with directions by any stretch of the imagination, so going from a place I knew where everything was to a place where I didn’t know where anything was…well, it was terrifying.  And what if we had made a mistake and this wasn’t the right school for him or what if he didn’t get in, then we moved for nothing.

But we had found a place and signed a lease and there was no turning back.  Before I knew it, we were packing up 7 years of our lives and our memories.  Luckily I have an amazing husband who would find me staring into space and hug me because he knew all the crazy thoughts swirling through my head or he would hold me when my eyes would well up with tears at the thought of leaving the only place our son had ever known as home. And he let me wait until the day before we had to move all our stuff to pack up our sons room because I couldn’t bear the thought of him not having all his normal things around him.

So much of this probably makes me seem crazy, everything we had in our old place would be in our new place and memories are something that I will carry in my heart forever no matter where we are living.  But to me, this apartment was more than just an apartment.  It is the place where all of my dreams came true, where I stopped being just me as a person by myself and instead became a part of a family, where an apartment stopped being just another apartment and became our home.

I am very proud of the work Kyle and I did on making that apartment feel like us and especially on how much love we put into making Preston’s room special.  So I am ending this post with some pictures I took of Preston’s room right before we started packing it up. I hope you see the love we put into it and how our “house” became a home.

 

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Misadventures in potty training

When it came time for potty training, I was a woman on a mission!  For months I had been pinning every semi helpful article I could find.  These complete and total strangers had potty trained their children in 3 days at 18 months….surely I could too!  Especially since mine was going to be 20 months when I started so he obviously had to be more advanced and thus make it easier on me. Maybe it would only take him one day to learn!  Yeah right!  But like I said, I was a woman on a mission.

So after months of research, i.e. pinning everything I could find on Pinterest and maybe even reading some of the articles too, I felt like I was ready.  My in-laws were going on vacation and since my MIL usually watched P a couple days a week while I was at work and I would have to take those days off anyway, I figured it was the perfect time.  I would have 12 solid days in a row home with him and since it was only supposed to take 3, the rest of the time we could just sit back and relax being a diaper free household.

Prep work for potty training actually started months before the actual potty training took place.  My husband handles the nighttime ritual, it’s their father & son bonding time.  Part of the ritual is to read him a book, for almost an entire year, that book was Superhero Potty Time, a book that probably haunts my husband considering how many times he had to read it but we were laying a foundation, or so I tried to convince him.

Meanwhile, I was collecting stickers for the potty chart I had made….what kid doesn’t love stickers?!  Obviously the prospect of getting to put a sticker on a chart was bound to make him want to use the potty!  And as an added bonus, he was going to get an M&M, which he still a year and a half later refers to as ‘vitamins.’  And I had a whole bag of toys to let him pick from when he deserved more than a sticker….if you know what I mean.

The first day I was starting was a Saturday and I thought it was perfect!  Both my husband and I would be home so he could help too….easy peasy.  I laid down plastic painting tarps over the carpet in our family room, armed myself with books, movies and toys and put his potty chair in there.  My plan was to have him naked from the waist down and every time he started to go, I would put him on the potty.  In theory, I felt like this plan could not fail.  Like I said, countless strangers had bragged about it working for them and so obviously it would work for us too.

Remember how I said my husband would be home and this was going to be an easy process?  I could not have been more wrong.  First off, my husband wasn’t home.  He had “car issues” which required him to be gone….the whole day…..Do I believe his car had issues, yes, do I think it required him to be gone the ENTIRE day, probably not.  So off he went to get his car fixed and I started my mission.

Turns out all those people writing about how easy it was to potty train their children were either big fat liars or my child just hated me because it wasn’t long into the day before he and I were covered in his pee and I was questioning my sanity for trying to potty train a child that was not even two yet…and a boy no less!  The day went on and we had a few stickers on the chart, I was starting to feel pretty good about myself, you know, other than the fact I was covered in my child’s pee.  And then it came time to make dinner….

My husband requested steak for dinner and being the optimist that I am and thinking my day was going to be a walk in the park, I thought, sure!  Why not have steak?!  I start melting butter in my beautiful stainless steel pan and hear a giant thud.  I run to see what happened and see my poor baby has squirted on the plastic, stepped in it and then slipped and cracked his head on the tile floor.  And he’s laying there, staring up at me with the silent cry….worst cry ever because you know it is going to be followed by the loudest wail you have ever heard in your life!  So of course, I pick him up and am trying to comfort him while there is butter now burning on my stovetop.  Fun fact, I lived in an apartment where pretty much anytime there was the slightest hint of smoke, the fire alarms go off.  To recap, I have a screaming child, I am covered in his pee, there is a pan of butter burning and the smoke alarm in our apartment is about to set off the alarm for the whole complex.   Immediately I forget about the baby and focus on the fire alarm, knowing if I can’t get it to stop, pretty soon the alarm will start going off in the whole building.  I go to the door of the closest bedroom and start swinging it back and forth desperately trying to stop the alarm.

Since my child is still pretty upset about his big fall and now is equally upset about the screeching of the fire alarm, he comes running over to me for comfort.  I am more concerned about the fire alarm and don’t notice him running over to me and in case you haven’t already guessed, he gets nailed with the door and is once again face up, on the ground wondering what just happened and I have the fire department knocking on my door. Definitely not how I had envisioned the day going.

A sane person probably would have given up but obviously I am not that person.  So even though my perfect day of potty training ended with a visit from our fire department and me explaining why they couldn’t come in to help get rid of the smoke (winter and dirty boots plus my tarp I had laid down was not a good combination), I still was determined to finish my mission.  It definitely took longer than the 3 days all those perfect Pinterest Mom’s claimed but within a few weeks, we were a diaper free household and I had learned some pretty valuable lessons.

#1 – next time order pizza

#2 – people don’t share the ‘ugly’ side of potty training

and most importantly….

#3 – people on Pinterest lie

When your boobs don’t work

My blog started as a way to get out everything I was feeling after the miscarriage, and it definitely did that but I never wanted that to be the only thing I ever talked about.  Life is a journey and while that was a huge part of my journey, there are so many other parts.  Obviously my struggle with my weight is another big part of my journey and honestly that was more difficult to talk about than anything else….especially posting those pictures!  But if I want to be honest and share every part of my journey, I have to post the good, the bad and the ugly….those ‘before’ pictures definitely fall into the latter category!  My goal is to do monthly updates on my weight loss journey so stay tuned for that.  This post however is going to be about the issues I had after the birth of my son.

I remember a lot of people asking me about my birth plan when I was pregnant…what plan?  I plan on getting an epidural because I have nothing to prove to myself or anyone else but beyond that, what kind of plan am I supposed to have?  My doctor never talked to me about a plan, although my doctor did not really talk to me about much of anything at all which is probably why I didn’t have a plan.  It definitely was not part of my plan to never progress past one and a wiggle…..what is a wiggle anyway?!

While my birth plan was unclear, one thing I was sure of was how I was going to feed my baby.  Of course I was going to breastfeed, it is what is best for my baby then it is what I will do!  No question!  Everyone I knew had breastfed their children without issue so I never considered the possibility that I would not be able to do it too.  During my pregnancy, while my belly (and most of the rest of my body got bigger) my breasts never changed.  In the back of my mind I thought that might be a problem but like I said, my doctor was not the best communicator and I had never heard of anyone else not being able to breastfeed so I just pushed all those negative thoughts out of my head.  Turns out, maybe I should have looked into that a little more.

When the nurses asked if I would like the lactation specialist, the answer was obvious.  I obviously was not an expert and would welcome the help.  When she came in, the first thing she said to me was, “well I have certainly seen women with breasts that small still be successful with nursing.”  Thanks lady, that just has me brimming with confidence.  But I listened to everything she said, I tried all the different ways of holding him until we found one that seemed to work.  And then I turned into a human pacifier.  It seemed like he wanted to nurse constantly…it was never enough but he was close to 10lbs, I figured that was normal for a baby his size.

By what I can only assume is divine intervention, the pediatrician we picked for him was also a lactation consultant.  I took him in for his first visit and he had dropped weight, a lot of weight, he was not getting enough to eat and I felt like a failure.  I had one job…one job…feeding my child, and I could not do it.  My body had failed me and as a result, I had failed him.  Every free second I had after I found out I was not producing enough milk for him, was spent researching ways to increase my supply.  My wonderful, supportive friend made me special lactation cookies, I was taking fenugreek tablets religiously, I was power pumping, I even tried drinking beer and I cannot stand the taste of beer….I tried everything I could find that had worked for someone else and still it was not enough.  And to make matters worse, he refused to take a bottle of formula from me because he could smell my breastmilk and wanted that but it was never enough….those days often ended with both of us in tears until my husband walked through the door and could take over bottle duty.  I was a wreck!  And a failure!  And I felt alone because no one I knew that had a baby ever said anything about it being hard to breastfeed or not producing enough milk.

As if I was not already making myself feel bad enough for being such a failure, then came the comments from others.  People were very quick to give their opinion on my giving my son a bottle with formula in it….with their reaction, you would have thought I said there was poison in the bottle.  And while I expect to hear opinions on my parenting from friends and family, not always opinions I want but will get nonetheless, it was the strangers that felt bold enough to say something that really got to me.  I was sitting in the expo center at the Wisconsin State Fair when my son was about 3 months old about to give him his bottle full of formula.  A woman, a stranger, walked up to me and said, “I certainly hope there is breastmilk in that bottle!”  I sat there in stunned silence unable to come up with a quick retort and once again feeling all the shame….

From all of that, this is what I learned…my child is just as smart (if not smarter in my very biased opinion) than the kids that only got breastmilk.  Turns out his brain developed just fine getting mostly formula.  While I am sure I missed out on some of the natural bonding that happens, he still tells me I am his best friend forever and even more (thank you Doc McStuffins) so we managed to bond anyway.  And I also learned, after I started talking about my own issues with it, turns out a lot of people have issues with breastfeeding and in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t make me any less of an awesome Mom.

 

It’s a marathon, not a sprint

I think that saying applies to so much in life….at this time in my life, it refers to my journey to get healthy.  I have been overweight my entire life.  And because of that, I have tried every diet under the sun, but like so many others, when I try a diet and the weight doesn’t immediately just fall off, I get frustrated and give up.  And then one day I will have a moment and think I need to do something to lose weight and I move on to the next diet.  And shockingly enough, the weight once again, doesn’t just fall off so I give up.  Notice a pattern?! Obviously since I am now 35 years old….it takes me awhile to catch on to my repeated failures and find a new way of doing things.  I can proudly say now, I have found a new way of doing things.  This realization came at a very big cost which you can read about here if you would like.  Although this realization came with one of the worst moments of my life, it has also helped me in a crazy way, because it introduced AdvoCare into my life and I can honestly say that my life will never be the same.

 

It is taking every ounce of courage I have to post my weight loss story and especially to post pictures to go along with it.  But, AdvoCare found me when I was at a very low point in my life and as I have said, if my journey helps just one other person in their journey, then it is all worth it.

 

These pictures were taken January 11, 2016.  I was starting an AdvoCare 24 day challenge not really convinced that it was going to be any different than any other diet I had ever done but really needing a change.

 

These pictures were taken February 4, 2016 after my 24 day challenge during which I lost 15lbs and 11 inches!  And that included a vacation to Naples Florida and  other random after holiday celebrations.  Things that would have completely derailed me before but this time, I didn’t feel like I was starving myself.  In fact, they have a product called  Crave Check that I bought thinking I was going to need it, and I never even opened the bottle.  Now don’t get me wrong, am I saying that I took a magical pill and all the weight I needed to lose just fell off me, NO, of course not.  And obviously you can see, I still have quite a long way to go in the weight loss department but I just felt different.  I had more energy and I just felt healthier.  So I kept using products which for me consisted of MNS 3, Catalyst and of course Spark, which I now cannot live without!  They recommend waiting 90 days in between 24 day challenges because the first 10 days of a challenge include a cleanse but when those 90 days were up, I was ready!

 

 

These pictures were taken April 24, 2016 and this time I was starting a challenge excited!  I knew the results I had last time, I knew how much better overall I felt taking the products and I couldn’t wait to see what this challenge had in store for me!

 

 

And I was right to be excited!  With this challenge I lost 16.2lbs and 13in….in 24 days!!!!  And to be completely honest, it was without working out at all.  I had surgery on my thyroid (which is why I have the words over my neck, to hide my scar) and since the surgery, I have had some complications which make working out impossible.  Hopefully those issues are rectified soon because with all this extra energy, I can’t wait to see my results WITH being able to work out!

I meant it when I said this is a marathon and not a sprint.  I know I have a long way to go in this journey but I am determined to cross that finish line!  If you need help crossing your own finish line or would like to hear more about AdvoCare products or the AdvoCare business, please feel free to contact me justjen0919@gmail.com or visit my AdvoCare site, justjensjourney.com

I will see you at the finish line….

 

 

Warriors

Mother’s Day is something that has changed in meaning for me throughout the years.  For the majority of my life, it was a day meant to celebrate my own Mom, a single parent raising 4 kids.  Not an easy job, to say the least.  Now that I am a Mom, I know firsthand how difficult that must have been. Thank you for always being there for us, even when it wasn’t easy, which was probably more often than not.

 

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Then in 2009, it not only became a day meant to celebrate the Mom that raised me, it was now also to celebrate the Mom that welcomed me into her heart, my Mother-in-law.  A day to thank the person that raised my husband to be the man he is today and the father that he is today.  Thank you just doesn’t seem adequate for trusting me, and the love I have for your son, but I will say it anyway….thank you.

My first Mother’s Day with a human baby (because before P, came Roxie our yellow lab), was 9 days after he was born. And I thought, now I really understand Mother’s Day!  Here I have carried this tiny human for 9+ months (42 weeks to be exact) and given birth to this not so tiny human(9lbs 10oz and 22.5″) and I deserve to be pampered.  So now from here on out, every Mother’s Day is going to be a perfect celebration of the love Kyle and I have for our Mom’s and the new love he and our beautiful baby have for me.  I blame lack of sleep for my delusions.

 

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Because of course, that is not what happened.  And this year, Mother’s Day took on an entirely different meaning.  And this is where I will explain what I mean by warriors…

Through tragedy, sometimes something wonderful happens and I am happy to say that in my case, something did. I met some of the most amazing Moms (and Dads too but today is about the ladies), that a person could be blessed to know.  These are Moms that, through cruel circumstances, love their babies without being able to hold them everyday or see their smiling faces.  They are Moms that fight to keep going when others might give up. They are Moms that listen to my story or other stories like mine and are always there to offer support, even when their own  is already like carrying the weight of the world. They are Moms that some may forget are Moms because they love angels instead and for that, they are warriors.  These women have been given the greatest gift there is, a child, and had it ripped away but they don’t give up, and for that, they are warriors.

A warrior is defined as a brave or experienced soldier or fighter…..

To some of the BRAVEST women and FIGHTERS I know, Happy Mother’s Day.  Because whether or baby is here or in heaven, you are a Mom and deserve to be celebrated.

 

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Living with the guilt

I told my husband I was pregnant on October 14, 2015.  I remember it very clearly, not only because of how happy I was that we were going to have another baby but also because it was his birthday.  I had taken the first pregnancy test exactly a week before and it was negative but after waiting a week and still not starting my cycle, I decided to take another one and it was positive.  I was elated!  I thought it could not have been more perfect!  To be able to tell my husband on his birthday that we were being blessed with another baby…you could not get more perfect!  And I already knew exactly how I was going to tell him, I had bought Dada by Jimmy Fallon (FYI, I LOVE Jimmy Fallon) and I wrote on the inside cover,

Since Preston’s first word wasn’t Dada

Maybe you’ll have better luck with the next one.

Baby Jacobs #2 is on the way!

Due June 2016

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The best part was, since it was his birthday, he didn’t think it was odd that I was taking pictures and captured his reaction the moment he found out about the baby.  Now, instead of the picture filling me with joy, I am haunted and full of regret. Did I ruin his birthday for the rest of his life?  Every year will he remember this particular birthday and the gift he got that was then just ripped away from us?  What if I had waited, even just one more day to take the test?  Then we would not associate this pain with a day that should be all about him. And then that is when all the other, what if’s start.

It’s very easy to look back at every decision I made and question if I could have changed the outcome.  Or what if I had gone to a doctor earlier and they found the tumor on my thyroid before it got so big, I could be in the final weeks of a healthy pregnancy instead of having to wait 6 months before we can even think about starting to try again.  It is very easy to think about everything I would have done differently now that I see what came of those decisions and to live in the could’ve, should’ve, and would’ve.

I talk to my son all the time about making the good choice (something I totally stole from my sister-in-law who is an awesome Mom).  When he is about to do something we both know is wrong, I will ask him, “What is the good choice?” And every time, he knows what the good choice is, he just doesn’t always make it.  Well, if I expect him to make the good choice, I think I should be making the good choice too.  I need to realize that no matter what I did, I could not have changed what happened and as much as that hurts, it’s ok.  The good choice is, to focus on our future and not live buried under heaps of regret.