My Heart Will (Hopefully) Go On

30 May

Life certainly doesn’t ever slow down. While we’ve been traveling to and from Asheville obsessively over the last month to visit and house hunt, I’ve also been taking a deeper look into my heart. This is not just psychological heart ache (per usual), but recently I’ve been to see the “family cardiologist.” My grandmother, my aunt, and my mom have all been his patients.

My mom’s mother is almost 94 and is still going strong. She’s at a nursing home and has been since her strokes the summer after Dave and I were married, so just about six years ago. She actually looks better now than she did Christmas of 2011. My mom’s older sister suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhagic stroke over a year ago, and it’s such a miracle that she’s alive. She’s doing fantastic now and has really seemed to mellow out.

Four days after I had Rex, I couldn’t fall back asleep at 2am because I had a fever and my back hurt when I breathed. When I called my MIL around 7am, nursing a sleeping baby — and crying — to see if she could watch Walter so I could schedule a visit with my midwife, she told me that Pop would come get the 4yo and that I should go immediately in to the ER because I might have a pulmonary clot. This is a woman who usually dismisses my flus as mere colds. So Dave and I did as she said, deliriously tired with the tiniest of babies, and they took an EKG and a chest x-ray. The EKG read as slightly abnormal but the x-ray was fine. The blood they drew had elevated numbers, so both they and my MIL, who was an OB/GYN at Piedmont hospital for over 30 years, recommended that I should get a CT scan.

To make things more fun, they totally freaked me out when they said they were injecting me with a radioactive dye and that I shouldn’t breastfeed for 24 hours. My milk supply had just come in, so I didn’t have any saved up (hello, I had just left the other hospital!), and I was totally unprepared to feed my baby another way. Besides that I just cried because I had spent two years yearning for another baby to nurse, and here he was, brand new, and I had to give him up for a day.

We researched it as best we could — called the MIL, the ER doctor brother, Google — and were given the CT disclosure, and as best we could conclude, the stuff leaves your body in 15 minutes and isn’t a big deal. So we decided to ignore what the one nurse had suggested that started the whole debacle, and I continued to nurse Rex post procedure. Maybe his insides glow in the dark now.

The hospital then kept me somewhat hostage, denying me food and water in case of possible surgery, for about four hours after the procedure. I was a newly nursing mom, horrible postpartum hormones, body out of whack after growing another human being for the last nine months, and I couldn’t get a sip of water for about six hours total (wasn’t allowed it before the procedure also). The hospital I had just left after giving birth told me that I needed to drink 5 big cups of water and 2 cups of milk every day to establish my milk supply, and it wasn’t until I literally started crying and begged for the results and for something to eat or drink (I’ve never known hunger and thirst like when I’m pregnant or nursing around the clock) that they produced all three and told me I could go home. I did, at some point before this, sneak some water from the bathroom sink in the ER. God knows what diseases I could have picked up there doing that.

Right before they sent me on my way with my $900 bill, they described the irregularities of the EKG and told me that I should follow up with a cardiologist. Low and behold, I kinda already had one! I’ve read those stories of women in their thirties having heart attacks etc (and not knowing about it because the only sign was that they threw up twice or something like that). Well, I don’t want that to happen to me. So I made an appointment with Dr. McGorisk, who is this very lovely cardiologist at Emory with a to-die-for Irish accent. He knows what he’s doing and has the greatest glasses. When I told him that I was related to the Fleeman women, he brightened up even more.

Unfortunately, the repeat EKG showed that the irregularities were still there — even though I’ve been working out 2-3x a week recently! How very unlike me! — so I’m getting an echocardiogram this week, which he says is a much better diagnostic tool than the squiggly lines of the EKG. He’s not worried (as the results still fall within normal range), but my blood pressure was super high at the appointment. Hopefully that was related to white coat syndrome. I did wake up earlier than normal and drive through an hour of I-85 collapse traffic to get there. I have struggled with high blood pressure in the past (runs in the family on both sides), but it has usually been pretty good since I had Walter. I stopped regularly eating ramen noodles around that time, so that might have helped. But it’s something to keep an eye on.

I have been hurrying to get it all in before my husband quits his current really great job for our adventure in Asheville. I pretty much had met my out of pocket maximum for the year the first two weeks of January, and this new job change means our insurance is already starting over. I better not need a doc in the second half of 2017! Dealing with insurance (and then still owing a ton of money on top of our deductible) is a huge stressor for me. No wonder I (might) have heart problems.

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Huuuuge News

26 May

This is one of my top five biggest announcements of all time:

We are moving to Asheville, NC in less than a month!

Woah. Just woah.

Some people move around a lot (or at least once!), but I have never lived anywhere but Atlanta, Georgia. Well, except when I was three — my first memories of life are out in the desert in Claremont, California. But everything else in my life has been right here in this metro area.

This is why my brain has been so frazzled lately. I am trying to live life to fullest, transition us up there in the next few weeks, and all while needing to keep the house clean and running after two tinys.

I thought we were done moving for a long time. We finally just got settled in the new house and were enjoying our suburban life as a family of four, when this opportunity came to us. It was literally only a couple weeks after I said to Dave and my mom, “I want to live somewhere besides Atlanta,” but I was thinking of something like Alaska or Canada. Thank goodness we’re only going to be three hours away by car, not six hours by plane. The Universe knew I didn’t really mean that far away.

I’m nervous, but also really excited.

IMG_20170520_221652_716Life will be like this all the time. #SierraNevadaBrewing

It now feels like moving to East Cobb was a baby step for this move. I was very happy to get where we are now, but it had its challenges. I was pregnant, feeling terrible, and spent a lot of time being lonely. Moving 30 minutes away at times felt like an entire state away. But I navigated (and cried) until I got to a place where the boys and I are happy and busy — almost too busy!

Besides uprooting the great life we have here and leaving our beautiful home and yard and all our friends and family, one of the things that makes me the most sad about leaving is the diversity of East Cobb. I have been very happy to be a part of a really diverse (and not just black and white too!) community over the last year. We are sometimes the only white people at an event, like story time at our local library. Asheville, unfortunately, is pretty white-washed. I know the mentality is open-minded there, but still. I like being in a melting pot of culture.

However, I feel in my soul that this is the right move for us right now. Dave is very excited about his new career path. We met our realtor — and so far our only friend in Asheville — through our current next door neighbor, who has been super great to us ever since we moved to Marietta. I’m a hippie at heart who cares more and more about the earth, and I love the artsy, green, sustainable, local culture up there. I’m looking forward to this next challenge and all the opportunities we’ll have. I’ll really miss where we are, but sometimes you just gotta take a leap!

 

A Time for Renewal

24 May

In the past month, as Spring has come to the land again, we’ve been out and about celebrating with friends and family.

I attended my first Seder dinner, which might have been my single most moving religious experience yet. A new friend couple who live in Inman Park had us over for their first time hosting Seder at their house.

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It was a beautiful dinner with great friends.

The next day we drove up to Chattanooga to celebrate Easter with my in-laws. The rituals of Christianity are always interesting to witness.

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And it’s a great excuse to dress up to celebrate the rebirth of earth (well, in this hemisphere)!

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A couple weeks later we went to A Perfect Circle concert. Finally. It was my first time seeing this band live, although I’ve seen Tool seven (nine?) times and Puscifer three times. All three bands are led by Maynard James Keenan: vocalist, poet, musician, and guru. Seeing him perform is usually like “church” for me.

He started his show with giant black and white shadows of the band, then turned the primary colors to red and yellow (the first colors we supposedly see as infants after black and white), and then spent most of the rest of the show in purple light, which I imagine as a very complex and enlightened color.

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Keep it coming, world! This is fun!

 

Trumpcare, Obamacare, Whatever

5 May

It’s all the same mess to me. As a health care consumer (do I consume health care?), I am thoroughly disgruntled by the entire scam.

I am a relatively healthy person, and so is my family, thank goodness. Yet what we pay for health care and insurance is outrageous. Dealing with fertility testing, treatment, pregnancy, and birth recently just solidified my feelings regarding the health care industry in this country.

One thing I will never understand is why there are not menus at doctor’s offices where you can see, upfront, how much a procedure will cost. When hit two years ago with a surprise $1,200 bill for a test that included saline water, a plastic syringe, 30 minutes of my doctor’s time, and my fallopian tubes (not fun), the billing department literally could not even explain the charges to me. But I owed it to them anyway.

When I gave birth, the hospital charged me $3,000 just to use a “private” doctor (whom they almost failed to get into the room before my baby was born). They charged me $1,000 for cold packs I never even touched. I spent less than three hours in the labor and delivery room and a day and a half practically being tortured with inedible food, constant wakeups, and needle pricks in my recovery room, only to be charged around $13,000 for the whole shebang. I shudder to think what the cost would be if I had used any anesthesia.

The question I wonder is, am I truly paying solely for my care? Or is this some kind of crowdfunding?

We need to be a cash system. There needs to be transparency and competition between doctor’s price points — and the ability to negotiate cash costs with your doctor. We should have catastrophic coverage only (which would include long-term illnesses no matter how old you are). We need to be encouraged to save the premiums we are charged every month, building up equity for any problems that should arise. We should be able to keep someone on our plan no matter who they are or how old they are, as long as we’re willing to pay for them.

My guess is that our income is high compared to much of the country (and low compared to others — hello middle class!), and I find health care costs to be overwhelming. It didn’t get better for us during Obamacare, and I don’t see any change in the future with Trumpcare. I can only hope I’m wrong and that someone in power will see the light.

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A Little Mommycation!

3 May

A month ago I got to go on a little trip to Asheville, NC.

IMG_20170408_223427_508Yay don’t we look happy! I was actually a bit disgruntled until this picture because we hadn’t come up with a good plan of what we wanted to do and had pretty much aimlessly wandered around downtown Asheville to no avail. Thank god for the beautiful scenery.

This trip was a little present for surviving two whole weekends home alone with the kids while my husband traveled — once for work, and once for fun. I felt like SuperWife saying, “Yeah, no problem, go hiking with your friends out of cell phone range while I take care of the 4 year old and 2 month old!”

When W was three months old, I was barely able to make it outside to the front porch. It amazes me the difference in my ability to cope with a baby now versus then (though Rex’s personality is way more chill than W was as a baby). For example, we didn’t take Walter to a restaurant for dinner until he was six months old (and we were exhausted and overwhelmed by the experience). Rex, however, by three months old, had been in six different states.

Both weekends alone with the kids presented different challenges. The first weekend Dave was available by text and phone, but all grandparents were out of town, and I was also dog-sitting my mom’s sweet pups Tashi. Just to make life more fun, the dogs were throwing up around the house, the cat got a bladder infection, Tashi got a couple hot spots that needed frequent attention, and Rex had one of his worst night’s sleep ever. There might have been some crying around 3am one night, and it wasn’t the 2 month old.

The second weekend all grandparents were in town, and we hung out with them, but Dave couldn’t be reached 98% of the time. This is very unusual for us as we have seen each other almost every single day since we met (literally), and we also talk a lot anyway. I had an upsetting dinner Friday night, so I spent almost the entire weekend getting depressed and unable to talk it out with my husband. And then Sunday morning I started reading a really psychologically crazy book The Hike for our book club, making me further nosedive. It took me until Wednesday to get out of my funk.

Hence, a little trip for mommy.

IMG_20170409_113322_732 - CopyHoly crap the chicken and waffles are good at King Daddy’s. We both got the sweet potato habanero sauce on our chicken. Perfecto!

IMG_20170409_100446269Walter loved the crayon bucket.

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We returned to a “favorite” — Juicy Lucy’s — for dinner Saturday night. It was yum but the boys were tired (although cute as always).

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We really are mountain-loving people.

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Soothes the soul to see all this land.

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I wanted to go hiking before we came home. The views were fantastic, but I probably won’t be back to Chimney Rock again. I love climbing mountains, but this was a staircase bolted onto the side of a mountain. And you drive halfway up the mountain on harrowing roads just to get to the bottom of the staircase (which you pay a ton to “climb”). My fear of heights did not enjoy this very much. My legs and brain were jelly so the baby and I didn’t climb the last two staircases to the very top. But my other boys did!

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A boy and his American flag. He’s the most patriotic kid I know.

 

Finding God Within

1 Apr

I hesitate to use the name “God” because I know so many people who are atheist or agnostic or other religions (and where I land on that scale I don’t quite know), but I think we all at least believe in the magic of the universe. And that’s really what I’m talking about too, because it truly is magical that we’re all here.

I came home from the hospital with my newest little boy, somewhat ready to take on the world as a mom of two. I was feeling much better than I did after W’s birth. But of course, there had to be something that humbled me.

With Walter, he cried and turned a horrible shade of red. This sounds jokingly easy in retrospect. I had thought I was a baby guru. I had babysat and nannied for babies 3mo+ since I was 12 (so for about 16 years). I thought I knew what I was doing. But oh how I cried when he cried, because newborns are way tinier than babies that have had three months of growing under their belts. And let’s give a little credit to raging post-partum hormones too.

With Rex, I was determined not to get so upset when we got home that I wanted back in the horrible place we call a hospital. But my first humbling experience with him was much worse.

He shivered and shook almost constantly starting (of course) as soon as we got home. He had done it a few times in the hospital, and I had asked the pediatrician about it. I didn’t trust that the ped commented on what I was talking about though, because he said, “Oh it’s OK, the baby calms down when you soothe him and the shaking stops.” But this wasn’t shaking related to crying. This was awake, asleep, happy, upset, constant little tremors. And babies that little don’t shiver from cold temperatures.

I was resolved, after wasting so much of my sleep time when Walter was a newborn, not to lose myself in Google researching everything bad that can happen to a baby. But I had to find out what it was! Did we need to go back to the hospital? What was going on? And Google pretty much said it could either be a) pee shakes, b) nothing, or c) horrible, irreversible neurological problems.

I don’t think I cried (yet), but inside I was full of fear. After a few hours of this and talking over our options with Dave, I took my baby into his nursery and sat in the glider in the low sunlight of the winter afternoon. I held him and I rocked him and I spoke to him and for the first time ever, I said, “Dear God, please take care of this boy. Whatever is going on I give it to you. He is your boy that you have given to me to take care of, and I love him. Please keep him safe.”

Turns out he stopped his shivering almost as soon as my milk came in, so we think it was low blood sugar. But sitting there with him was a life changing moment for me, when I fully felt the universe hold us in its arms. The universe decided to take care of us at that moment, and I’m grateful. I have the happiest little baby full of joy and smiles that I could only have ever hoped for.

IMG_20170330_212107_613Springtime outside as well as in the heart. I love how these boys love nature.

Stress Dreams

18 Mar

 

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My body has been telling me that I am stressed out. I didn’t think I was, but I went to the dentist recently, thinking I had my first cavity in about a decade, or possibly more, as several of my teeth were hurting. My dear dentist tried very hard to find a cavity but concluded that my teeth couldn’t look better (thank goodness). He then used a device to make them very cold (which was a super fun sensation), and determined that my nerves were upset, probably from stress, extra grinding, and lack of sleep due to the new baby. My bite has always been an issue because of my TMJ problems, so he adjusted one tooth and sent me on my way. I had to agree with him, thinking about how my jaw has been hurting more than normal, causing me to wear my nightly retainer occasionally during the day.

I was under the impression that I was getting great sleep. After the first couple mind-numbing weeks of trying to sleep while holding a baby (because sweet Rex wouldn’t sleep if he was put down), we have been slowly figuring out a system. This system evolved to what we do today, which is swaddle him tight and put him down around 11pm. He sleeps about 5-6 hours, I feed him once, put him back down, and he sleeps for another 4-5 hours. This is what I would call “winning”. But as both he and my husband can be somewhat noisy sleepers, and I am a light sleeper, and the baby is still in our room, I have taken to finishing out the night on our deliciously soft guest bed in the purple room, guaranteeing me a couple more hours in the wonderful land of nod.

However, and I’m not sure exactly why, but every night (well, really morning) for the last week, I have had intensely vivid stress dreams. Maybe because of the shortness and intensity of the sleep?

  1. I was trying to call 911 because a girl was choking. A firefighter was helping her, but 911 thought I was making a prank call, so they hung up on me. The girl died and the firefighter threw her roughly onto the floor. After a moment she got up again (but was still dead) and chased me around the room.
  2. I was at my childhood home hosting book club. I was trying to cook something and I couldn’t control the flames on the gas stove, so they rose too high and burned the cabinets. A small panda was apparently on top of the cabinets, getting burned as well. I handed him to a friend and his singed hair came off in clumps as I tried to clean him up.
  3. I was hosting my birthday party at a new house I purchased with an awesome basement. My realtor was there and he built a human sized sling shot which he wanted to use to catapult the baby across the room. Everyone was drunk and I was mostly sober, and when I went to the fridge to grab a beer, mine were gone, having been drunk by other people.
  4. I was at a hotel, smoked some wacky tobacky in the gardens, and then attempting to get back inside I realized I was in charge of the baby, had to pass by my in-laws to get to the baby, and some lady stopped me to tell me how strongly I smelled of the illegal substance.
  5. Walter had his first soccer match. Instead of attending, Dave and I dropped him off and went out to dinner (maybe book club) with our friends. We got the timing wrong, and I realized not only had we missed his entire match, but we were ten minutes late to go pick him up. Dave argued with me, saying we had more time to go get him, but I left anyway and tried running there, which I was having a hard time doing and at one point my wedding ring caught on something in my hurry and part of it ripped off. When I realized it was too far away to get there by foot, I tried calling an Uber, but I couldn’t use my phone correctly or get my credit card number entered or sign up again or all the things I needed to do to get to my son.
  6. I was trying to find my new coat to leave a very large school (everyone else had their coats but someone told me mine had been destroyed), and I realized I was dreaming. Once I realized I was dreaming, people started looking very crazy and I wanted to wake up, but I couldn’t figure out how to wake up. I realized if I could find my way out of the school into the parking lot, I might wake up in real life too — and that’s exactly what happened!
  7. I was in class and knew I had to take three different tests. Afterwards I was supposed to go directly to the symphony, but I realized I had worn my pajamas to class and milk was leaking all over my shirt. I didn’t have my car with me, so I figured I could Uber back home and make it back in town just in time to make it to the symphony. I tried to get the baby in the car seat, but the car seat was flopping around and I couldn’t figure it out. So I found another car seat that worked, but this time when I looked down the baby didn’t have any arms. Bypassing that issue, I wondered whether I should grab Walter from his class to take him home with me, but I couldn’t find the Kindergarten classroom, and none of the teachers I asked in the hallway could tell me where it was either.

I think maybe I need to take a Xanax before going back to bed.

Rex: Male Model

28 Feb

img_20170221_175556“Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?” – Derek Zoolander

Last Monday night I was getting ready for bed when my friend texted me about LalabuBaby wanting newborn models. Because I was a model for a midwifery magazine ad with my parents when I was three days old, I thought I’d give at least one of my sons the chance at the same type of stardom.

Newly joined to Instagram, I figured out how to DM them a super cute picture I had recently taken of Rex and some basic contact info. After a little back and forth, I agreed to bring my sons the next day, completely unsure of what this adventure would entail.

Tuesday after lunch and my six week postpartum appointment, I wasn’t sure why I had agreed to go do this. It was looking like rain, and we had just gotten back from Ohio, plus the baby had basically been crying since we got home. We figured he was either going through a growth spurt or thoroughly expressing himself after being in a car seat for four days straight. However, I had made a commitment, so I got the boys in the car yet again and trekked into town. We made it to their office in Old Fourth Ward only five minutes late.

When I approached the door a very nice woman came out and told me filming was running late. I could only go in if we would be absolutely silent. With a four year old and a new kiddo I knew that would be impossible, so we went back to the car to wait. Walter played on his Leap Pad, and I nursed baby Rex. Soon they were done, and we headed back in to wait some more. Turns out they just wanted newborns on call, to work as possible stunt doubles for the model and her newborn who were really doing all the shots. At this point I was genuinely wondering why I had bothered to leave my house, but I decided to wait it out so that I could get the free $75 baby-wearing shirt they had promised.

Two other new moms were there. One was a first time mom with a 5 week old boy. She and her husband own The Big Fake Wedding, which was really interesting to hear about, especially since I love all things wedding. The other mom had a 5 day old boy, one of a set of twins, the other still in NICU at North Fulton, even though he was ready to come home. I was super impressed that she was there. She had brought her husband as well, and they also had a two year old girl at home. It didn’t take long for all of us to start talking, and it was a great, albeit brief, new mommy support group. It made the whole trip worth it.

Right when we were about to leave to avoid rush hour traffic, they asked if anyone could spare their baby for a few. Rex was just finished nursing and happy. The other boys were either nursing or sleeping, so Rex went to makeup… just kidding. I put him in a white onesie, and he got to be the baby model in a video showing how to get a baby in and out of the shirt. When he started fussing after a couple of takes, it was time for us to go.

We were parked in the neighboring church parking lot. The car next to us had its windows open and the three occupants were in there drinking beer and smoking some wacky tobacky. I had to ask them to shut their windows before we got close to the car because the smoke was billowing out around my car, which they did of course. Walter didn’t mention it if he smelled anything funky!

Gotta love in-town Atlantans and random experiences.

I am Woman, Hear Me Roar: the most extreme road trip I’ve ever been on

24 Feb

I don’t know which makes me feel more accomplished as a person: giving birth twice without any drugs, or road-tripping up to Cleveland, OH for a long weekend with my husband, 4 year old, and 6 week old in an RV.

We left Wednesday night around 9pm. I tried to sleep, as the boys, our most precious cargo, were both asleep, but somehow the back of an RV in the dark feels like a plane about to take off. And I don’t really like planes that much, so every time I was about to drift away, I would suddenly wake up fearful we were going to crash into something or drive off the road.

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One of Dave’s best friends, a former Marine like himself, was getting married. We’ve been friends with the couple for a long time, so we knew we wanted to all attend, especially since Dave was asked to be a groomsman and W was asked to be the ring bearer. And there was no way I wanted to leave young Rex with grandparents for the weekend. After Rex’s birth I became unsure if I would attend, and this uncertainty stayed with me until I got into the RV to leave. I was even texting Jason, who was staying at our house with the animals, thirty minutes into the trip that I was insane and I should have stayed at home.

But I didn’t.

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I won’t lie, it was rough. It was a long trip for an already tired woman, but honestly I did it for Dave. He wanted his boys there, and his wife, to be with him as he celebrated this grand event with some of his dearest friends. There were other Marines there with their wives and kids whom we get together with every couple of years. We are scattered across the United States, but these people are very important to us, so we all make the effort to see each other when we can.

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Wednesday night we stopped at an RV park in Knoxville, TN. We figured the only way we could sanely make the 10+ hour drive was to not have to do it all in one day. We didn’t buy plane tickets because of the expense, for one, and also because we could never be sure who would go, given that Rex’s birth was so close to the wedding.

The first night was a bit of a disaster. We got in around midnight and tried as quick as we could to set up the RV for sleeping. Walter woke up and asked questions as we moved stuff around, and I got Rex fed. Then we all settled down for the night’s sleep (or what was left of it)… and the heat in the RV didn’t work properly. It was also 34° outside. The furnace would turn on briefly, get nowhere near the temperature we set the thermostat to, then turn off for good. If we wanted it back on, we’d have to restart the heat ourselves by getting out of bed and flipping the switch.

Walter seemed cuddled in his comforter (thank goodness I had brought a million blankets), but I was super worried about the baby. My face and hair were freezing to the touch. I bundled the baby up (which made me worry about him sleeping with loose blankets and a hat on in bed), and I climbed in with Walter in his twin — I abandoned Dave in the double bed because it was too cold on his side near all the windows. Eventually we just turned the RV on and ran the heater. I was having visions of all of us dying from exhaust fumes when I finally passed out around 3am. Soon enough I woke again because the inside was too hot, and I immediately ripped the blankets off the baby, worried about him overheating, and turned the engine off, worried that we were going to run out of gas. Falling back asleep, this cold/warm cycle continued until we all, rather tiredly, woke up later in the morning.

img_20170216_091557_648The boys were completely unfazed, of course.

img_20170216_091251_283First time in an RV park. Made me think of this romance novel I once read where they traveled around the country in an RV.

img_20170216_101413Keep both hands on the wheel, little man.

Thursday we drove the rest of the way, and I have to say, I love traveling in an RV. Dave has lots of experience driving large military vehicles, so during the day he seemed very at ease, plus the front seats are more like recliners than regular car seats. Walter got to watch TV, sleep, or draw on his clipboard. Rex slept for the most part. We had food, cold drinks, and a toilet at our convenience, and a comfy and easy place to nurse Rex when we stopped. And best of all, I got to buckle myself in to the couch and rest and read books when I wasn’t tending to other things. That’s the way to do it if you’re going to spend that much time traveling!

img_20170216_142006You know you’re redneck enough for an RV when your food prep area is the same as your diaper changing area.

Around 7pm we pulled into the hotel parking lot in Cleveland, unloaded our stuff, and parked by the trees. We quickly took showers to wash off the drive and headed into the chilly night to meet up with our friends for dinner.

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After a wonderful meal with the group, I actually asked Dave if we could hurry and go, which is very unlike me. I’m usually literally the last to leave any type of party, but I was about to fall asleep on my feet. Another night passed uneventfully. I had been very worried about all four of us sleeping together in the same space, but Rex only woke me during the night when he wanted to nurse. Walter, thankfully, is as deep a sleeper as his daddy!

Friday was reception-prep and rehearsal day. We were late to the reception venue to help everyone and drove the RV there (what else could we do?), and unfortunately a Pyrex dish fell during a turn-around-pothole-miscalculation and shattered all over the tile floor. Consequently we learned where the RV vacuum was and how to use it.

Later that evening we piled into our friend’s van, rather awkwardly but gratefully, to get to the church. I sat there nursing while the big boys practiced their roles. Because of my annual Christmas card mailings, I was approached by the best man’s wife, Dina. She said our card was on her fridge, and she loved the book list I put on the back. It was nice to make another friend, and we chatted during the rehearsal and sat together during dinner as well. She was a very lovely Jordanian woman who is a performance aviation engineer for GE. I find it very interesting to learn about the different, highly specific engineering jobs out there.

img_20170218_095822_584Walter knows how to dress sharp.

Saturday was the big day. It turns out that David had many hours of obligations as a groomsman, so for most of the day I was on my own. This brought out a few tears as I was exhausted and hadn’t made this big a trip so quickly postpartum to be on my own. It was made worse when Walter, after having come to sit with me mid-ceremony when his ring-bearing duties were over, saw Daddy walking down the aisle with a bridesmaid and asked, “Mommy, did Daddy just marry that other woman!?!” I kinda laughed and said “No, honey, he’s only married to me” and Walter replied, “But that was David.”

img_20170218_123409175_hdr#handsomemen #idontliketoshare

img_20170218_175051767We had several hours to kill in between the ceremony and reception while Daddy took pictures around town with the newlyweds. We played in the RV since we had checked out of the hotel earlier that day. Plans were to leave that night and repeat the driving procedure we had followed on the way up.

img_20170218_175129152#cutebaby #cutebabyjeans

img_20170220_095637After watching the first dance, finally in the same room together, Dave bee-lined for us. We ate a delicious dinner — one of the best wedding menus we’ve had — drank some tasty beer, took photos in the photo booth, danced (me with the baby at the breast, Dave holding an almost sleeping Walter, who had run around the dance floor with the other kids all night), and left early around 9:30pm. I didn’t want to go, but we knew we had to get out of there if we wanted to get to Cincinnati at a decent time.

img_20170219_032826631We rolled in around 2am and the blackout shades in the brand new hotel room proved to be very effective. We all slept until 9:30am, ate our last breakfast in the RV, and drove home. We even got to enjoy an extra hour and a half of driving time due to Sunday night road construction. Thank you, Georgia.

img_20170217_121004Thank goodness he loves his car seat. He probably thought we were going to leave him in there permanently.

48 hours of travel, 48 hours of partying. Totally worth it.

Round 2

10 Feb

This time pretty much couldn’t be more different than the first time, except it’s still a story of Mama Johnston having a little boy. I am definitely more prepared, having gone through it before, but having my husband stay home for three weeks made all the difference in the world. We also had lots of grandparent help. So while I was busy getting my physical footing again after the marathon months of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, we were all getting looked after. And as it turns out, I didn’t need to be scared about how Rex would fit in to our family. He, and we, transitioned like he was always meant to be with us, was always with us.

And I’m so glad he is here.

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Taking the boys to the playground when he’s six days old. With Walter I had a hard time making it to our front porch the first couple months.

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Everyone needed their hairs trimmed, and we even made it on time! When I had Walter, Laura made a house call for the first trim I needed postpartum.

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First sushi in 9 months at Ra with Dave’s coworkers.

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Walter is the best big brother. He loves soothing Rex when the baby cries and singing him songs to make him happy.

And then David went back to work. I was scared. I cried the morning he left, missing him more than I’d ever missed him before. Those three weeks with him at home were the best three weeks of my life.

But I forced myself to get out of the house (thank goodness for W), and we got to storytime at our local library. I even cleaned the house when we got home.

img_20170130_112402555Homeschooling benefits me as much as Walt!

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Walter also started a computer class – this month’s theme is Lego robotics – that first week Dave was back at work. I swear this kid turned into a teenager when we were busy blinking.

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Rex even came with us to Couples Book Club. Here he is meeting Uncle Luke.

img_20170209_140314042We haven’t slowed down at all — thank goodness Rex is a fairly good sleeper already (though I still haven’t gotten more than four hours straight in a month). Having so many activities scheduled is a bit difficult, but I get to meet up with friends too, which is very important for new mommy sanity.

I feel a little drained, and I wish with all my heart that David could still be at home with us, but we’re more than surviving. We’re having a blast.