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36 Hours to the March

Could you donate a dollar per hour ($36 total) Win spent in the NICU?

Even the smallest donations help the smallest babes.

Friends,

We’re just 36 hours away from our 3rd (and this time virtual) March for Babies! These 36 hours will go fast. It’s just a day and a half. But say you had to spend them in your personal hell with the thing you loved the most just inches from your grasp. Time might drag. Tears might fall. Turmoil might rule.

For Win’s first 12 hours in this world, I was not allowed to hold or feed him. I could only look at him through the plexiglass of a NICU isolette. In these next 12 hours today, my husband and I will take turns rocking Win to sleep the multiple times he wakes up in the middle of the night. I will most likely feed him four times. He’ll smile at us. He’ll snuggle with us. He’ll feel secure with us. 

In the 24 hours that followed Win’s first 12, we fought tooth and nail to get him discharged from the NICU while I, myself, struggled to even walk the hall to the bathroom on my own on account of having just had the major surgery that is a cesarean section. In the 24 hours that follow these next 12 today, our family will play, enjoy time outside, share meals together, go through our bedtime routine and wake up to walk our virtual March for Babies in the comfort of our own neighborhood as a family of four. 

36 hours looks different on the outside. Will you donate to the March for Babies to make it look different on the inside, too? 

When you join my donation to March for Babies you stand with me and thousands of people across the country who share your commitment to building a brighter future for us all.

You raise money to expand programs and educate medical professionals to make sure moms and babies get the best possible care. You advocate for policies that prioritize their health. You fund research to find solutions to the biggest health threats. And you support moms like me through every stage of the pregnancy journey, even when things don’t go according to plan.

Could you donate a dollar per hour ($36 total) Win spent in the NICU?

As of tonight we met our goal of $1500 right on the dot! I’m so proud of my friends and family who rallied. But I would love to be able to give more still!

Even the smallest donations help the smallest babes.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to those who’ve already given…
Grandpa and Grandma G
Grandpa and Grandma Merritt
Aunt Jenna and Uncle Josh
Aunt Sharon and Uncle George
Ryan and Becky Grasmeyer
Dan and Claire Larabel
Bill and Emily Madsen
Betsy and Eli Cromwell
Alesha and Jeremy Schut
Mandy Scott
Sarah Stuitje
Anne Jansingh 
Erica Osman
Colleen Kondratek
Ethan Dean
Sarah Potter
Catherine Vlieger
Dale Waite

P.S. If you need a reminder of what March of Dimes does (and their further impact on our lives, personally), click here.

The Invisible Brick Wall

For most women, 16 weeks is the sweet spot of a pregnancy. At 16 weeks, you’re usually past the morning sickness/exhaustion of the first trimester, but not quit into the phase where you feel like an injured whale. You’re excited to be out of the territory where so many miscarriages happen, and you get to start putting together a nursery. Your baby bump is just making its true appearance, but you can still wear a lot of your normal clothes. For most women, 16 weeks is beautiful. 

4.29.19

“In our last pregnancy, this is the day we learned our fate. It was the day my world spun out of control… I’m not stressed about having previa/abruption/PPROM again. It feels like I already drew the short stick there, but preterm labor? I’m terrified. Weeks 16-20 will be emotional, but weeks 30-36 will be terrifying. Going into labor could mean losing the baby and/or my ability to have future babies. Our family isn’t complete. I’m too young. I can’t have that taken away from me…

It’s April 29 – did you think I forgot about this story? There just honestly were not any updates – things were going smoothly –  but on April 29, we hit the invisible brick wall of 16 weeks. Physically, we had no reason to be scared. Emotionally, I knew this day would hit me hard.

For most women, 16 weeks is the sweet spot of a pregnancy. At 16 weeks, you’re usually past the morning sickness/exhaustion of the first trimester, but not quite into the phase where you feel like an injured whale. You’re excited to be out of the territory where so many miscarriages happen, and you get to start putting together a nursery. Your baby bump is just making its true appearance, but you can still wear a lot of your normal clothes. For most women, 16 weeks is beautiful. 

In pregnancy #1 for me, 16 weeks was horrendously bloody. I thought, for sure, I had lost my baby, but instead learned that I had simply become the statistical minority – the friend of a friend – the person with placenta previa/abruption. Our fate was sealed on that day with that pregnancy.

But this one would be different.

And still, 16 weeks was hard. 

Physically, I felt great. Emotionally, I began my trajectory of the many outlying emotions that would come with this pregnancy. We’d had one ultrasound and were anxiously awaiting the next one as the first didn’t tell us much other than that the baby was, indeed, in there and alive. 

With our last pregnancy, we prayed for 40 weeks, then pleaded for even 34, and then craved just the 24 weeks that would give our baby viability status. With this one, I was already praying that God would just get it over with. Get us through the fear and unknown. Make it go fast. And, please, let there be a healthy baby at the end. I didn’t want to be in a perpetual state of waiting for something to go wrong. 

It’s 16 weeks. I’m emotional. I’m anxious. And I’m in the middle of making the 342 calls with my doctor’s office/health insurance provider/specialty pharmacy to coordinate my Makena (hydroxyprogesterone caproate) Injections that will “lower the risk of having another preterm baby” because I just. Can’t. Do it. Again. 

Things were fine. But I needed to know things were going to stay fine. 

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 16 weeks
Doctor’s Appointments: 3
Ultrasounds: 1

March’s Book and Bike Break Down

Catch up on what Mandi’s reading and how may miles she’s riding!

Booking and biking my way through 2020.


Books

6. The Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia (historical fiction)
Ears deep in a search for that book that I can’t put down, I thought this one could be the answer so I grabbed it for $1.99 when it was a Kindle daily deal. It’s got an average rating of 4.28 on Goodreads with over 15,000 ratings. That’s incredible, but it just didn’t do it for me. I see that it has all the making of a good book, I really do, but it just dragged on and on. It had a solid beginning and end. The writing was heart-felt, but there was lots of wandering. 2.5 STARS

6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (fantasy)
First, why is this 734 pages long? I genuinely liked the story, but, yeah, it felt long, and I’m not certain it needed to be that long. The idea of the Triwizard Wizard tournament was a fun twist from the first three stories. I also really liked that I could not figure out where this one was going the entire time. I like a book that keeps me guessing. 3.5 STARS

7. The Magical Language of Others by E.J. Koh (memoir)
I generally love a memoir, but this one was not deep enough for me. I won it at my library’s book bingo back when we were allowed to go to public things and read it this month because I thought it was a sure-fire answer to my search for that really good book since few memoirs have let me down. This one was interesting, at times, but I wish the author would have cracked herself open more. I think her experience is so unique, but the delivery was just flat. 2 STARS

8. The Infinite Pieces of Us by Rebekah Crane (young adult)
This cute, quick read (free from Prime Reading) was written by the same author as The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland, which I read last month. I mostly saw a trend. Her thing appears to be writing about young adults who pave their way on their own. I don’t hate the concept, I just felt like this book mirrored much of the other I read of hers and was therefore overly predictable. It’s probably worth the read, but of the two I would recommend The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland before this one. 3 STARS


Biking

And now, onward with the goal to ride 2020 miles in 2020 on a bike.

2020 miles in a year means approximately 5.5 miles/day. I’ve been trying to do at least 8 each time I sit down, with the goal of 202 (10%) per month in these lead-off months. So far it’s happening! My total?

612 miles.

So far, only 26 of those miles have been outside (18 of them pulling a kid).

I can’t say for certain, but I would imagine my pace will quickly begin to change. COVID-19 is actually making it harder to find time to ride (as we quarantine, I don’t have childcare during the day, so I spend my days with the kids and my nights working). And then as it gets nicer out, I have hopes of riding more outside, but my plan was to front-load my year, knowing my outdoor riding would take me longer on account of pulling kids behind me.

In an ideal world, I’m not quarantining and can spend my free time riding… whether I’m pulling kids outside or riding at night inside. Nothing is really ideal right now, though, is it?

Hope you had a great March! Stay healthy everyone!

36 Days to the March

Could you donate a dollar per hour ($36 total) Win spent in the NICU?

Even the smallest donations help the smallest babes.

A COVID-19 update (have you had enough of those?) – I am so disappointed that the March for Babies, among most things in life these days, has been cancelled. While much of life has felt unstable, the same needs for moms and babies remain – the work of March of Dimes is no less important with the presence of COVID-19 (if anything, it’s MORE important). 

However, I can acknowledge that right now your hearts might be more heavily inclined to donate in other directions as some people are being denied basic needs. Donate to the organizations who are continuing to feed our community’s kids who rely on free and reduced lunches at school. Order takeout to eat the food the restaurants already have, help the employees who are losing their jobs as they knew them, and keep the doors of our favorite local joints open. Order curbside pickup from the shop your neighbor just opened and now might be struggling to keep open. Give extra to your church, as some are now unable to give the money your church might have been relying on.

And if you have extra, please consider still helping me reach that $1500 goal – we are SO close!


Friends,

We’re just 36 days away from our 3rd March for Babies (though this one will look much different from the others)! If you’ve been tracking with me, you might know that 36 is a special number for us – Win spent 36 hours (1.5 days) in the NICU. Please help us continue our mission to donate $1500 to March of Dimes for Win’s 1.5 days spent in the NICU! We’re getting close!

While 36 hours is nothing in comparison to Oaklee’s 69 days, those first 36 hours are absolutely crucial to the health and bonding of baby and mom. For the first 12 hours, I was not allowed to hold or feed Win. It was excruciating and, to be honest, I’m still furious about it. 

While we think it might have been possible, we’ll never know if Win could have thrived without a NICU visit. Our hospital followed protocol, as they’re meant to do, and sent Win to a place that could help him immediately should his low blood sugar become an emergency. Win only improved in his time there, but many (if not most) NICU babies face tumultuous stays. The NICU is a place of ups and downs and it takes a significant toll on families. 

When you join my donation to March for Babies you stand with me and thousands of people across the country who share your commitment to building a brighter future for us all.

You raise money to expand programs and educate medical professionals to make sure moms and babies get the best possible care. You advocate for policies that prioritize their health. You fund research to find solutions to the biggest health threats. And you support moms like me through every stage of the pregnancy journey, even when things don’t go according to plan.

Could you donate a dollar per hour ($36 total) Win spent in the NICU?

Even the smallest donations help the smallest babes.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to those who’ve already given…
Grandpa and Grandma G
Aunt Jenna and Uncle Josh
Aunt Sharon and Uncle George
Ryan and Becky Grasmeyer
Dan and Claire Larabel
Bill and Emily Madsen
Alesha and Jeremy Schut
Anne Jansingh 
Colleen Kondratek
Ethan Dean
Sarah Potter
Catherine Vlieger
Dale Waite

P.S. If you need a reminder of what March of Dimes does (and their further impact on our lives, personally), click here.

It’s a win/Win

Please consider donating (and praying) to keep babies safe and provide the care they need to go home with their families.

This year our goal is $1500… that’s $1000/day Win spent in the NICU (36 hours). Can you donate $15? Or even $150? Your donation is a win/Win. It supports March of Dimes, and it makes Win happy.

Friends, we’re at it again for our third year with March of Dimes’ March for Babies.

I hoped we would never march this march for Win, but here we are.

This year, we’ll march for our second NICU grad (and our first, too, of course). While we prayed and prayed we’d avoid the NICU and all the amazing March of Dimes resources this time around, we found ourselves there again in 2019. I won’t lie, at the time, we were filled with anger and frustration. We didn’t think Win needed to be admitted. And we definitely didn’t want to go back there ourselves. Hands down, the most emotional moment of my life was watching my first NICU grad meet her brother for the first time… in the NICU.

His stay was short, but many babies do not get that same narrative (his own sister didn’t), and some do not ever come home. 

We need to get to the bottom of this. We need babies to be born strong and moms to stay healthy. I don’t know how to make that happen on my own, but I know of an organization who’s more than qualified to do so as they’re already working on it…

Please consider donating (and praying) to keep babies safe and provide the care they need to go home with their families.

This year our goal is $1500… that’s $1000/day Win spent in the NICU (36 hours). Can you donate $15? Or even $150? Your donation is a win/Win. It supports March of Dimes, and it makes Win happy.

P.S. If you need a reminder of what March of Dimes does (and their impact on our lives, personally), click here.

February’s Book and Bike Break Down

Catch up on what Mandi’s reading and how may miles she’s riding!

Booking and biking my way through 2020.


Books

5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (fantasy)
So I haven’t given up on HP. Book 3 has brought some redemption. It was deeper, more exciting, and, now that I know the characters better, much more emotional. I really liked the change-up in this one from the Voldemort focus to the prisoner of Azkaban. We needed a change and this one was perfect. 4 STARS

6. The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray (contemporary)
This was February’s book club choice. I campaigned hard for it because the author is from St. Joseph, MI and the book takes place in that area. Plus, she’s black and it’s Black History Month. I wish I could say it was a homerun, but I was a little disappointed with it in the end. Once it got going, the bones were there, but it took a while for me to sort out the characters and then I found the ending dissatisfying. 3.5 STARS

7. Don’t Miss It: Parent Ever Week Like it Counts by Reggie Joiner, Kristen Ivy (parenting)
I can see why this book is so necessary for a lot of people, but it mostly just felt like a 78-page panic attack for me. The entire book is a reminder of how fast your kids will grow up and that you should make the most of it. I already feel the pressure to do that and think about it constantly. However, my church suggested we read this per our child dedication process, and so I did. For me, personally? 2 stars. But because I think a lot of people do need to hear this message… 3 STARS

8. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (contemporary)
March’s book club pick already – did anyone hear about “the controversy” of this book? Because it was deemed one of the most-anticipated books of 2020 and then there was all this fuss over it and I’m like kind of confused about the hype. The first quarter of this book had me on the edge of my seat, and then it turned into a rather predictable immigration story. I didn’t feel controversially threatened (and I kind of wanted to feel that way). The story was good, and if you have strong thoughts about undocumented immigrants, I would recommend the read. But it did start to drag for me at about the halfway mark. 3 STARS


Biking

And now, onward with the goal to ride 2020 miles in 2020 on a bike.

2020 miles in a year means approximately 5.5 miles/day. I’ve been trying to do at least 8 each time I sit down, with the goal of 202 (10%) per month in these lead-off months. So far it’s happening! My total?

410 miles.

As of yesterday, I was 20% done with 2020 in 2020. Eek!

My knees seem to have adjusted to all of the riding, which is a major relief. I can’t exactly afford an injury with a baby and toddler at home. There have been other minor discomforts, but as a whole, I’m just cruising along!

Hope you had a great February!

And Now We Start Over

I always knew I was a little bit of a hippie. When it came to my role as a mother, my hippie self wanted to love being pregnant and breastfeed my many babies for as long as I could.

And then I hated being pregnant. 

And then I got pregnant again.

And I was still breastfeeding that first baby.

2.13.19

“I’m mourning the loss of this summer. I thought I wouldn’t be breastfeeding or pregnant. I thought I’d have my body to myself...”

I always knew I was a little bit of a hippie. When it came to my role as a mother, my hippie self wanted to love being pregnant and breastfeed my many babies for as long as I could.

And then I hated being pregnant. 

And then I got pregnant again.

And I was still breastfeeding that first baby.

Oaklee was almost 20 months old, and I was still pretty comfortably breastfeeding her. I had planned to breastfeed for a year, but I hoped our breastfeeding journey might extend through a second flu season, pending a child-led weaning approach. As my new reality – my second pregnancy – was beginning to sink in, I realized that not only was this journey with Oaklee naturally coming to an end, I needed it to come to an end if I wanted any time to myself. 

It never occurred to me that I would enter a stage of life where I would share my body with my babies for, literally, years. Oaklee was conceived in December of 2016. It was February of 2019, and my body had been sustaining a baby from either the inside or the outside (or both) for 26 months already, with no obvious end in sight. 

I had imagined that the summer of 2019 would be a break for me – no pressure to stay pregnant, no tether to my breastfeeding baby – and that I might be able to get out and do things I’d otherwise been unable to do the past two years. This surprise pregnancy quickly dampened that dream. Until this second baby was born, I would be too scared to travel or partake in various activities for fear of the whole gamut of pregnancy-related issues I could face (and have faced in the past).

I had entered the pressure-to-stay-pregnant phase that would one day end with a transition into the tether-to-my-breastfeeding-baby phase. I was starting all over again.

Kevin and I knew our family was not complete after our daughter was born. We knew there was more for us. Naturally, that means I knew I would “start all over” one day. I knew I would be pregnant again. I knew I would breastfeed again. I think I just imagined that “one day” would be after a little rest and relaxation for this mama’s body, because now my child-led weaning approach to my breastfeeding baby was being led by the child within me. 

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 5 weeks, 1 day

There Goes the Mojo

It’s the morning of Wednesday, February 6, just two days after I made my appointment to meet a new lady doctor, and my period is now three days late. I’ve been late before – it’s not the craziest thing to happen – but this time I’m feeling anxious because of all the conversations we’d been having about the prep work that needed to be done before considering getting pregnant again. 

2.6.19

“I’ve panicked. I’ve cried. I’ve laughed. I’m shocked. I’m confused. I’m scared. This was not planned. We were at the stage where the plan was to get some things in order… and then make a plan.”

It’s the morning of Wednesday, February 6, just two days after I made my appointment to meet a new lady doctor, and my period is now three days late. I’ve been late before – it’s not the craziest thing to happen – but this time I’m feeling anxious because of all the conversations we’d been having about the prep work that needed to be done before considering getting pregnant again. 

As my husband gets ready to leave for work, I joke about taking a pregnancy test, because it still seemed so impossible that I might actually be pregnant. He tells me not to take one without him there, but when he leaves, I check the expiration dates on the two pregnancy tests I’ve had stored in the drawer upstairs for two years now. Expired. 

I’m looking up online what an expired pregnancy test can do for me. 

The internet is telling me that the results from my expired pregnancy test will most likely be negative, whether it should be or not. 

Test #1 – positive.

Test #2 – positive.

Mandi – panicking.

I text my husband to let him know my daughter and I are going to head to the store to pick up some pregnancy tests… just in case. He encourages me to wait, and just take the ones we have at home before buying more. I then inform him, via text, “I did. They’re positive.”

Mandi – crying. 

I’m a planner. Something this huge, catching me off guard, really takes my mojo out of me. So to keep from being a complete basket case while taking care of my daughter, I keep us busy with errands all day. We end our busy day at my former doctor’s office, requesting them to send all of my records to the new doctor I’ve not yet met – the one who now holds the basket I’m putting all of my eggs into. 

Mandi – laughing. 

I’m shocked. I’m confused. I’m scared.

I guess it’s time for a new plan.

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 4 weeks, 1 day

But Before We Do this Again

It’s Monday, February 4, 2019 and I’m laying in my bed next to my husband at the end of a long day. Our 19-month old daughter is sleeping in her bed in the room next to ours. I’m crying, because I don’t know if I can do it again…

2.4.19

“I’m afraid I’ll never be able to say, yes, let’s do this again. I’ll never be ready. Because I don’t want to do it again. I just don’t.”

It’s Monday, February 4, 2019 and I’m laying in my bed next to my husband at the end of a long day. Our 19-month old daughter is sleeping in her bed in the room next to ours. I’m crying, because I don’t know if I can do it again.

We promised each other we wouldn’t talk about our next baby until our daughter turned two, but we both agreed I needed to find a new doctor before then. And on this day, on Monday, February 4, I made my appointment with a new doctor. 

As we reflected on a pregnancy riddled with issues – previa, abruption, premature rupture of membranes, premature birth – we began compiling the list of questions we would need to ask this new doctor, hoping she could fill the big shoes that’d been left empty when our last pregnancy went horrendously wonky. 

What are the chances those issues could happen again?

What does it look like for my body to be pregnant?

How long can I carry a baby?

What could we do differently to take precautions?

And is this even a good idea at all?

I’m crying, and I whisper, “I just wish I could close my eyes and wake up pregnant so I wouldn’t have to make the conscious decision to put my body through that again…” 

 

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 3 weeks, 6 days

January’s Book and Bike Break Down

Catch up on what Mandi’s reading and how may miles she’s riding!

Hi friends! I didn’t forget about you – I just needed a break from the weekly posts for a minute there and that lead me to my decision to switch to a new format here. Instead of one post per book, this year I’m changing it up a bit and lumping a month’s worth of books together so I don’t clog your inboxes and because, well, my time is a wee bit limited with another little at home.

And also, just for fun, I’m going to share an update on my 2020 goal (ride 2020 miles on a bike in 2020) each month in the same post.

From this was born… the Book and Bike Break Down.

Let’s get to it!


Books

1. A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardson (legal thriller)
This was our January Book Club pick and one I nabbed for free from my local library’s Book Bingo event. I was honestly excited for anything but historical fiction given the many historical fiction novels I read last year, so I went in really optimistic. I can’t say that it disappointed – I was en route to at least 4 stars until I rounded the corner toward home and felt like it kind of fell apart at the end. Like, why build and build if that’s it? 3.5 STARS

2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (fantasy)
How late is too late to jump on the bandwagon? We’ll say I inherited the entire HP series from my in-laws and I’m finally getting to it now. I’ve never had an interest in reading HP. My mom read the third book to me as a child and it scared the bejeebers out of me so I never cracked one open again until approximately 22 years later. Now that I can handle it, I’m kind of surprised it did as well as it did. Book one read fast – it’s a children’s book – and it really seemed mostly cutesy fantasy with very little depth. Sorry HP lovers. 2 STARS

3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (fantasy)
Like, why did I read book one? Because they entire thing is summed up in the first ten pages of book two. And was book two not just a repeat of book one with minor tweaks to the plot? If Voldemort just keeps coming back in various forms in each book I’m not sure I can stick this out to the end. 2 STARS

4. The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane (young adult)
I bought this one as a Kindle daily deal because it looked cute and cute it was. First, it’s set at a summer camp in Michigan and I’m fairly certain it’s the exact same one I grew up attending – at least that’s all I could picture when I read it. Similar to Extraordinary Means, teens with “problems” are sent away to a place where they’re to deal with their problems together. I think that’s a really unique environment for a writer to tackle, but int his book, too, I loved it. There were laugh-out-loud moments and moments where I was on the brink of tears. All-in-all, it’s a feel good, young adult read. 4 STARS


Biking

Ok, so my goal is to ride 2020 miles in 2020 on a bike. I specifically use the word “a” in there because I’m including my stationary bike as well as my actual bike given the fact that I live in Michigan and get a not-so-solid five months of outdoor riding.

2020 miles in a year means approximately 5.5 miles/day. Obviously, I will do more or less depending on each day’s schedule to allow myself time off here and there, but my current status?

212 miles.

I won’t lie, my knees feel a little too 30 for this right now, but I’m hoping that is something that’s going to get better as my body gets used to this. (Right?)

Oh, also, a stationary bike is a great place to read a book…

Hope you had a great January!