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C-Section in 4 Min

It was 5:00am on Thursday, September 20, 2019. My husband and I grabbed our bags, headed to our car, and quietly slipped out of our neighborhood. As we drove the mostly empty highway toward the hospital, we tried to predict the size of a 36 week baby. Would he be big enough to host lungs that could keep his little body going without help?

9.20.19

“As I walked into the non-emergency entrance to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning for the birth of our son, I glanced at my phone. ‘C-Section in 4 min.’ The moment felt too simple. In 4 minutes, I would check in with the nurse waiting for me. I’d change into my hospital gown and meet with my doctor and anesthesiologist. I’d walk into the operating room, and after a quick procedure, I’d come out with a son.

It was 5:00am on Thursday, September 20, 2019. My husband and I grabbed our bags, headed to our car, and quietly slipped out of our neighborhood. As we drove the mostly empty highway toward the hospital, we tried to predict the size of a 36 week baby. Would he be big enough to host lungs that could keep his little body going without help?

We parked our car in the parking ramp we were told to use and walked towards the door. I glanced at my phone. “C-Section in 4 min,” my calendar reminder read as if this were as simple as a dentist appointment or dinner party. I took a screenshot as I took in the weight of this moment. These 4 minutes, these are the final moments. We walked through those doors as 2. We’d walk out as 3.

As we walked the hall to OB Triage, the woman at the end was waiting for us. Expecting us, she knew my name. She checked me in and led us to the room we were to get prepared in. I changed into my gown, put my hairnet on, had my IV started, chatted with the nurses, my doctor, the anesthesiologist…

As 7:30am rolled around, I walked with my nurse into the operating room. I hoisted myself onto the table. My doctor held my hand as the anesthesiologist administered lidocaine and then my spinal that was literally over before I knew it. They helped me lay down, brought my husband in and got to work.

One labor and delivery team, the anesthesiologist, a NICU Nurse Practitioner (just in case) and my husband. Together, we brought my son into the world less than 20 minutes after the procedure began. As the doctor removed him from my womb, he cried. And I cried. Because I forgot that was a thing healthy babies would do at birth. He cried. He had breath in his lungs. He was doing it.

The doctor held up my son for me to see. Through my tears I took in his tiny, scrunched up face. His long arms and big hands. His pinkness. My boy. There he was.

They measured him, assessed him, wrapped him up and handed him to my husband who held him by my face as the doctor finished her part with me. And then the three of us made our way to my recovery room, and I was finally handed my son. Winslow – Win – we snuggled skin-to-skin. He filled his tiny belly up with milk as I filled my big heart up with love.

It was 8:00am on Thursday, September 20, 2019.

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 36 weeks, 4 days
Doctor’s Appointments: 11
Ultrasounds: 4
Makena Injections: 19

The Final Hours

we buttoned up any project we had left, packed our bags and took Oaklee out to ice cream to cherish our final moments as a family of 3 before dropping her off at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. We drove home to an eerily quiet house – one chock full of a palpable anticipation of the events coming the next morning. 

9.19.19

“Taking a hot second to try to breathe and reflect in the middle of a crazy week. Tomorrow, we will have a son. We will become a family of four. Oaklee will have a brother. I’ve got all the emotions. I’m mourning the loss of Oaklee’s only childness. I’m anxious about the procedure and baby boy’s development and overall health. I’m trying to soak in what could potentially be my final hours of ever being pregnant. I’m thinking about the nursing journey ahead – a journey I just concluded with Oaklee only 4 months ago. I’m wrapping things up at work and at home. I can’t believe this day is here. I can’t believe we made it. I honestly thought we wouldn’t.

I have no idea what to expect of these next 3-4 days. I don’t know what to pack. I don’t know what the procedure or recovery will be like. I don’t know how Oaklee will do away from us or when she comes home to a baby brother. I don’t know what our hospital visits will be like…

But I feel like I’ve done everything I can to prepare ourselves for this. For the most part, I’m ready. We will figure out anything we didn’t prepare for, and we’ll make accommodations there. We’ll be fine.

Praying for a safe, healthy and happy arrival of baby boy… TOMORROW.”

On the 19th, we buttoned up any project we had left, packed our bags and took Oaklee out to ice cream to cherish our final moments as a family of 3 before dropping her off at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. We drove home to an eerily quiet house – one chock full of a palpable anticipation of the events coming the next morning. 

We turned in early that night – attempting to get any sleep we could before our lives changed at the crack of dawn.

We’d made it. Our baby would be born on the day agreed upon by us and our doctor. He’d be early, sure, but he’d be as late as possible.

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 36 weeks, 3 days
Doctor’s Appointments: 11
Ultrasounds: 4
Makena Injections: 19

August’s Book and Bike Break Down

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

Booking and biking my way through 2020.


Books

30. Circe by Madeline Miller (Fantasy, Mythology)
100% this was me trying to be all intellectual and well-exposed to all the genres. I have never liked mythology. It’s always felt old, staunch, boring to me. And, well, Circe was no different. I can’t say I regret the experience I had of pushing myself, but this was a definite challenge to get through. I feel like I could have read a synopsis of Circe’s story and skipped the book. 2 STARS

31. Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson (Historical Fiction)
This little highly rated book tackles topics of identity, class, education, parenthood, generational expectations and more. But while it’s a heavy hitter, I really struggled with the writing style. The book jumps around, focusing on the coming-of-age ceremony of 16-year-old Melody, but exploring her family history as well. I found it difficult at times to know when we were in what time-frame and who we were talking about. However, I loved the emphasis on Melody’s comparison to her mother who, at 16, gave birth to Melody and did not have her “coming-of-age” ceremony. 3 STARS

32. The Lies That Bind by Emily Giffin (Chick Lit, Contemporary)
I was so unexcited by this choice of book by my book club. Emily Giffin has always just seemed ok to me – light, chick lit, airy, cute – I’m just looking for more right now in a book. The first half or so was everything I expected of it. However, the further it got, the more solid the plot lines were for me. I pretty automatically dock a star on any book that references pop culture in a way that limits its ability to be timeless, and references such as those were very frequent in this book. There were things that made me roll my eyes, but then September 11 happened in the book and things got serious and the story got real. 3.5 STARS

33. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Non-Fiction, Memoir, Race)
This book is not new, but it speaks so strongly into what we’re facing in our country right now in regards to race, that it felt as if Coates wrote it just a month ago. A letter from a black man to his son, this book dives into the history of our country and shockingly confronts the reality of why growing up black is different from growing up white. I think every middle- and upper-class white American should read this book. It might make you feel uncomfortable. It might make you cry. But it’s probably time that us comfortable, happy whites learn what it feels like to be uncomfortable and saddened for our black brothers, sisters, children, neighbors… For me, the greatest conviction was that of my chasing the white Dream. I cannot say I am not doing this, for we are programmed to do it. We are taught from a very young age that we are to aspire to one day live in a beautiful home with our perfect family and work at our steady, overly-sufficient jobs and be happy as fricken clams. This had come to my attention shortly before reading this book as I moved into my new, semi-rural, cul de sac neighborhood. I felt both a sense of a arrival and a sense of shame. Who am I to deserve this? Who am I to even want this? And while I grappled with those questions, the concept of race could not be ignored. I am chasing my white dream. I am chasing the white Dream. It will take me time to come to terms with this and to learn how to compensate for where I feel my lifestyle might be wrong, but reading books like this, I believe, are imperative for any of us to make a change. Some quotes, because I just can’t hold back this beauty:

“… enslavement is not a parable. It is damnation. It is the never-ending night. And the length of that night is most of our history. Never forget that we were enslaved in this country longer than we have been free. Never forget that for 250 years black people were born into chains—whole generations followed by more generations who knew nothing but chains.”

“The galaxy belonged to them (whites), and as terror was communicated to our children, I saw mastery communicated to theirs.”

“And she [the mother of a highly intelligent, murdered by police, black young adult] could not lean on her country for help. When it came to her son, Dr. Jones’s country did what it does best—it forgot him. The forgetting is habit, is yet another necessary component of the Dream. They have forgotten the scale of theft that enriched them in slavery; the terror that allowed them, for a century, to pilfer the vote; the segregationist policy that gave them their suburbs. They have forgotten, because to remember would tumble them out of the beautiful Dream and force them to live down here with us, down here in the world. I am convinced that the Dreamers, at least the Dreamers of today, would rather live white than live free.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

At times the book was so high-level that I had to re-read portions, that is why I’m not giving it full marks, but this book is not only worth your time, it should be a priority for you. 4.5 STARS

34. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (Fantasy, Young Adult)
Back from my HP hiatus, I tackled this chunker via audiobook during my move, and 870 pages later… I think I made the right choice (though I could use an arm workout I suppose). But the content: what even happened in this, the 5th, book? Probably 700 pages of this were just meh. The last bit was great, and interesting, and I can only imagine that the reason for this being the longest book yet the shortest movie is because the movie really only had content from the last 170 pages to work with. I’m enjoying the HP process, because, this far into, I know these characters and care about them, and want to know where they’re going, but I can’t help but realize that each book has a similar flow and many of their several hundred pages are kind of pointless. 3 STARS


Biking

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

My current total: 1662

498 of those miles having been outside (257 of them pulling a kid).

This month held an extra special ride as we made our final departure from our old house via bikes. We looped around our favorite trail one last time and then went the 5 miles to our new house.

And now, our new neighborhood taps into a trail system I have already (slightly) begun to love! It’s challenging to ride more than 10 miles max because I am always on a kid’s napping/eating schedule, but I cannot wait to get on that trail and seriously take off one day.

Hope you had a great August! Stay healthy everyone (ugh, why are we still telling people that? 2020 is over halfway done)!

The Week of Threes

It was the week of threes. At 33 weeks pregnant, I was 3 full weeks from birth week, had 3 more Makena injections to endure and had 3 final trips to make to the doctor. Our time as a family of 3 was drawing to its close.

8.26.19

“Our days as a family of 3 are rapidly approaching their end! I can’t say I’m a fan of pregnancy, so I will welcome that end and look forward to the joys and challenges of loving and parenting this little guy. Praying like ever he will not see the NICU like his sister. I’m feeling optimistic…

It was the week of threes. At 33 weeks pregnant, I was 3 full weeks from birth week, had 3 more Makena injections to endure and had 3 final trips to make to the doctor. Our time as a family of 3 was drawing to its close.

We started really pushing the bucket-list items we wanted our two-year-old to experience before we’d presumably bunker down a bit for the fall and winter. We took her up north to go canoeing, we had campfires, we took her to the toy exhibit at our public museum, an aquatic center, the local children’s museum, the community fair, a wild animal park… it was go, go, go.

It felt like we were really crushing the whole soak-up-these-final-moments-as-a-family-of-3 thing. And I had everything I needed in the nursery except the baby.

Really our only major downfall was still having not decided on a name. In the grand scheme of things, it felt like we were sitting so well. We’d overcome so much and appeared to just be cruising toward the peachy keen birth experience we’d dreamed of – though I can’t really say a repeat cesarean was ever truly a part of my dreams. But could this really be possible?

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 33 weeks
Doctor’s Appointments: 10
Ultrasounds: 4
Makena Injections: 16

Expanding and Contracting

Babies born at 32 weeks usually do pretty well. At 34 weeks, a solid NICU team can do everything on the outside that mom can do on the inside for a baby. At 36 weeks, your chances of sending your baby to the NICU drastically decrease. Staying as far away from that NICU life as possible was my only motivation to stay pregnant.

8.19.19

“I’ve had some contractions, though nothing to cause me to go in yet. Kiddo’s moving around like crazy. Just 4.5 weeks until we get to meet him!

At 32 weeks pregnant, I was 4 weeks into a third trimester (territory I’d never traversed before), 4 weeks and 2 days past the gestational age we delivered our daughter at, and just 4 weeks and 4 days from meeting our son.

A natural planner, I crocheted my way to pregnancy-induced tendonitis making all the baby things I wanted for my son. I’d sewn a quilt, burp cloths, baby toys, etc. I stocked up on diapers and cute baby clothes when I found them on the cheap. Aside from having a name for our son (which is arguably one of the most important and challenging parts of preparation), I was ready.

I was also expanding.

Between the heat of summer and being pregnant, my body swelled up like a balloon and my morale deflated. Woof. With just 4.5 weeks to go, I could not imagine another 4 after that like a normal pregnancy. I’d already been contracting, but they’d been the kind of contractions where you drink a glass of water and lay on your side for an hour – not the kind where you rush to the hospital. And while I clung to this concept of staying pregnant as long as possible, I was also just very ready to not be pregnant any more.

Babies born at 32 weeks usually do pretty well. At 34 weeks, a solid NICU team can do everything on the outside that mom can do on the inside for a baby. At 36 weeks, your chances of sending your baby to the NICU drastically decrease. Staying as far away from that NICU life as possible was my only motivation to stay pregnant.

I started worrying that I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to visit my son if he was sent to the NICU. How could I go back after spending not only so many days, but so many of my darkest days there? I was counting on carrying as long as allowed, on the genetics that were on our side for the size of this baby, on the Makena Injections that would help me stay pregnant, on the pleas I made to God. 

Please, don’t send me back to that NICU.

We were getting so close to our goal – 36 and 4. I was finally allowing myself to feel a little optimistic.

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 32 weeks
Doctor’s Appointments: 9
Ultrasounds: 4
Makena Injections: 15

July’s Book and Bike Break Down

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

Booking and biking my way through 2020.


Life has been crazy – I kind of feel like I’m dragging my feet on my goals, despite the fact that I’m still sitting very comfortably on both. 40 books. 2020 miles. I’ll make it, but I like the months that I come out of so far ahead that I feel like I should take a bow at the end.


Books

24. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet (Contemporary, Race, Historical Fiction)
Well, this one was my final Book of the Month selection. As of June, I am no longer a member (WHAT?!). BOTM was so fun, but once I started falling behind and not reading them as they landed on my doorstep, it began to feel pointless to me. Why not just wait and borrow them from the library then? Regardless, this one also got picked in my book club as our July book, is written by a black author, and touches on currently trending topics (notably race and transgenderism). While I’d hoped for more depth on the obvious topics at hand, I found myself really enjoying this story and the way the author took “abnormal” situations and made them seem normal/non-controversial. 4 STARS

25. The Dressmaker’s Gift by Fiona Valpy (Historical Fiction)
I’m not sure when or why this read ended up on my Kindle as it took a back burner for quite some time, but in search of a book that would make me cry, I assumed one involving the concentration camps would do the trick. What kept me from the 5th star was Harriet’s plot line. Interwoven with her grandmother’s story, I did not care for Harriet’s part until the last 10% of the book. However, Claire, Vivi and Mirielle’s story was great. This was, of course, not an easy book to read because of the content, but I reminded myself the whole way through that we read these stories so we do not become ignorant to what others have had to face in life. With that perspective, yeah, I cried a lot. But at one point I thought I was giving it 3 stars because of the level of cheese with Harriet. 4 STARS

26. We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nonfiction, Feminism)
Ope, read a book with the word “Feminists” right in the title, there. For a short book, a long explanation: As the Black Lives Matters movement engulfed our nation, I became aware of two things. One – I don’t know much about what it’s like to be black. Two – my only real experience of oppression is a result of my being a woman. While I’ve never been denied the right to vote, I have a respectable level of education and I have made many large decisions on my own, I cannot say that I feel equal to men because, among countless one-off conversations/experiences, I have simply assumed my gender role. And in beginning to understand what that means as a woman, I begin to understand what it means to be black. The entire way through this book I was shocked by how easily I could remove the words “man” and “woman” and replace them with “white” and “black” and have the content resonate the same way. Chimamanda is right. We should all be feminists. It means something powerful to be a woman, and men and women should take pride in that. We should all also acknowledge that black lives matter. It means something powerful to be black, and whites and blacks should take pride in that.

I can’t do this book justice without sharing an excerpt:

Some people ask: “Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?” Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women. That the problem was not about being human, but specifically about being a female human.

For centuries, the world divided human beings into two groups and then proceeded to exclude and oppress one group. It is only fair that the solution to the problem acknowledge that. Some men feel threatened by the idea of feminism. This comes, I think, from the insecurity triggered by how boys are brought up, how their sense of self-worth is diminished if they are not “naturally” in charge as men.

Chimanada Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists

5 STARS

27. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games #0) by Suzanne Collins (Dystopian)
Ironically, The Hunger Games was, for the longest time, the only book I ever quit. I picked it back up last year and zipped through the whole series, throwing 4-5 stars at each book and excitedly awaiting the release of this, the prequel. Before getting the chance to dig into it, I watched the ratings come in as slightly less than the raving success of it’s counterparts. I had friends read it and tell me their critique of it and why it didn’t really hit home like the others did. But when I got to the end of it myself, I couldn’t see a reason to not give it 5 stars. The book is probably about 70% focused on the 10th Hunger Games and 30% focused on a short bit of Snow’s life thereafter. Like any book, the climax was within the last 10% or so. But unlike most books, the first 90% was also incredibly engaging. I mean, it’s the Hunger Games. It moved slow at times, but I would expect the games to move slow at times, too, which made it feel more realistic. And while Snow doesn’t exactly grow up to be our vision of a model citizen, his rise to presidency felt oddly natural. Not to get super political, but what politician do we love and trust? If we lived in a dystopian world, would our politicians not take more extreme morally questionable measures than they currently do? I don’t know, folks, it didn’t seem that far off from reality… 5 STARS

28. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Historical Fiction, Mystery)
In search of my 5 star read, this is actually the one I chose thinking it would be it. Everyone loves this book. And it was great – I understand why it’s well loved. But it didn’t pull me in as much as I had hoped. While I cared for the characters, I felt parts of it were predictable and (tiny spoiler alert), as it drew towards the court case, I found myself thinking, why do we love books about court cases? Why do we rally around wanting to decide who’s right and who’s wrong? By all means, serve the justice where necessary, but why does that have to excite us? Still, this was a great book. Earlier this month I realized my library has seriously upped their digital game on account of COVID, making books like this one more readily available for Kindle users. I went through and requested several highly rated books – just looking to push me over my 4 star average right now… 4 STARS

29. Educated by Tara Westover (Memoir)
To be honest, I’d seen Educated around and judged it right by its cover. I love memoirs, but the title and the image did not resonate with me before I knew more about it. For over two years, now, it’s been raking in great reviews, so I finally checked out this eBook and dove in. And I loved it. Like a good, strong memoir should, it cracked into Tara’s soul, sharing everything from major successes to literal and metaphorical deep wounds. Tara has overcome so much in her life, and it’s all been in such a unique setting. I’m fascinated by her story because I see myself so easily in the shoes of multiple character. Could I be the crazy, convinced parent? Probably. Could I be the daughter trying to escape? Definitely. Could I be the outsider trying to help? Of course. I loved getting to know more about the many settings of Tara’s story, and I’m so grateful she chose to share the innermost caverns of her heart. 5 STARS


Biking

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

My current total…

1442

We’re now up to 388 of those miles having been outside (183 of them pulling a kid). Oh, and we’re also up to one flat tire – which I suppose had to happen sooner or later.

I’m a little disappointed in the amount of miles I’ve ridden outside. I would like to get that number up, but (1) it’s hot, and I don’t do heat and (2) I’m in a phase of life where I need to multi-task if I want to do everything I want to do. When I bike inside, I can read, crochet, watch TV, etc. The stars have to seriously align in order for me to do the work of getting my bike all set up with our Burley and getting both kids out there with me.

Hope you had a great July! Stay healthy everyone!

27 and 5

With things going well, we began our weekly celebratory Starbucks on July 20. In 2017, we celebrated each new week of pregnancy with a s’mores frappacino. In 2019, we celebrated each week at/past 27 and 5 with a s’mores frappacino.

It’s like our pregnancies were already becoming sibling allied forces. Let’s make things scary. Let’s overcome some real crazy stuff. And let’s celebrate.

7.20.19

“Do I feel like this baby is ready to be born? Absolutely not. Am I ready to bring another baby home? Mostly, yes.”

It was a hot July day. My husband was up north, taking part in his family’s annual summer vacation. My daughter and I stayed home, afraid to venture too far from our local hospital because in my last pregnancy, this was the gestational age I delivered my baby at.

27 and 5.

Two numbers, three words – they meant nothing to me until June 29 of 2017. And then they became a mantra because every doctor, every specialist, every neighbor, every extended family member, every passerby in the grocery store wants to know the gestational age your horrendously premature preemie was born at.

At first, they want to know because of how small she is. Then, they want to know because of how great she’s doing. And then, you want to remind yourself because of how miraculously she overcame so much in just one year of life.

Yet when pregnancy number two hit 27 and 5, it felt terrifyingly too early… as it should. Babies are not meant to be born that early. And we prayed hard for the 62 days I would be allowed to continue carrying of the 86 I should have had left.

With things going well, we began our weekly celebratory Starbucks on July 20. In 2017, we celebrated each new week of pregnancy with a s’mores frappacino. In 2019, we celebrated each week at/past 27 and 5 with a s’mores frappacino.

It’s like our pregnancies were already becoming sibling allied forces. Let’s make things scary. Let’s overcome some real crazy stuff. And let’s celebrate.

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 27 weeks, 5 days
Doctor’s Appointments: 9
Ultrasounds: 4
Makena Injections: 11

Survivor’s Guilt

My husband and I were the couple who received the abnormal diagnosis that miraculously cleared up two ultrasounds later. Between ultrasounds three and four, we’d accepted our fate. While we didn’t want our son to be “abnormal”, we knew we couldn’t expect God to hand us miracle after miracle. We knew at some point it was our turn to stay in the muck and mire. And we also knew God would not give us more than we could handle.

7.13.19

“Baby boy is healthy! While we’re grateful for this last ultrasound’s results – no more echogenic bowel – Kevin and I feel, again, as though for some reason we barely squeezed by on the ‘good side’ of a bad situation while so many others do not. We are not immune to struggle, to tragedy, but here we are again. Who are we to deserve saving from strife? I never anticipated the level of survivor’s guilt I’d feel post-NICU with our daughter. And I never thought I’d feel it again with kiddo #2. Blessed, lucky… I don’t know what to call it, because I know neither would sound fair to those who are ‘less fortunate’…

We were at a place where we were praying for who/what our child would be, not against what he might face. We were, in a weird way, ready, but now we’ve been spared again. I don’t know why…”

In 2017, amidst an incredibly tumultuous pregnancy, my husband and I had been prepared to deliver a potentially terminally ill baby. We held on by a thread for 35 days before delivering said baby at 27 weeks and 5 days gestation, 12 weeks and 2 days shy of a normal, 40 week pregnancy. And then our daughter joined 7 other babies fighting for their lives in Area 11 of the NICU of our local children’s hospital.

For 69 days, we watched Oaklee’s roommates come and go. For 69 days, we envied the parents who were ushered in alongside 5, 6, and even 7 pound babies – those who needed little to no respiratory support and those who would be going home in a matter of days. For 69 days, we gave jealous smiles to the parents who brought in their car seats and prepped their babies for a homecoming. We wanted that good thing for us, too, and we eventually got it.

But in those 69 days, as our daughter got better and better, our hearts were wrecked for Oaklee’s roommates, too.

Shortly into her stay, we watched a baby come and go for multiple surgeries while his young, unmarried mom and dad struggled to be there to support him. Our hearts cracked open when we listened to his grandma sing Jesus Loves Me as his tiny body clung to the life Jesus gave him – Little ones to Him belong. They are weak, but He is strong – was he not among the littlest of the little ones?

As Oaklee’s stay spanned days, weeks and eventually months, our broken hearts broke further for the families of the babies who had been admitted far before Oaklee and were still there. We began to know their names, their stories, if not from the run-ins in Area 11 or the pumping room or the cafeteria, then from the overheard conversations of nurses. Was there a light at the end of their tunnel?

And on the final day of Oaklee’s NICU stay, we entered Area 11 drunken with happiness but quickly sobered up, becoming flies on the wall as we silently watched every parent’s nightmare unfold. Why them?

I was 27 years old. I’d felt that God had brought us to the border of death only to bring us all the way back to health and happiness and “normalcy”. He gave us everything we wanted and prayed for in a situation where statistically we should not have gotten everything we wanted and prayed for. I was 27 years old, and I was facing my first bolus of survivor’s guilt. 

I didn’t just passionately want the good thing for my daughter. I wanted it for her 7 roommates, too. And for the 70 other babies in that NICU. And for the other 15 million babies born prematurely every year.

I have no regrets for praying hard that God would heal my daughter – that He would make her not just survive, but thrive. Like any parent, I wanted the best for her even when it felt like that meant relying on a miracle. Our miracle came true. And while I prayed for the babies who occupied the 7 other isolettes of Area 11, I can’t say the same for all of them.

And I don’t understand it.

Then, just two years later my husband and I were the couple who received the abnormal diagnosis that miraculously cleared up two ultrasounds later. Between ultrasounds three and four, we’d accepted our fate. While we didn’t want our son to be “abnormal”, we knew we couldn’t expect God to hand us miracle after miracle. We knew at some point it was our turn to stay in the muck and mire. And we also knew God would not give us more than we could handle. We were ready to love our son. We were ready to let him be a light in this dark world in whatever fashion that might look like. 

But we were spared again.

And I don’t understand it.

At 29, my second bolus of survivor’s guilt.

God, I want the good things for us all.

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 26 weeks, 5 days
Doctor’s Appointments: 9
Ultrasounds: 4
Makena Injections: 10

June’s Book and Bike Break Down

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

Booking and biking my way through 2020.


Life has been crazy – I kind of feel like I’m dragging my feet on my goals, despite the fact that I’m still sitting very comfortably on both. 40 books. 2020 miles. I’ll make it, but I like the months that I come out of so far ahead that I feel like I should take a bow at the end.


Books

21. A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler (Contemporary)
This one was a Book Of The Month choice of mine. I like contemporary fiction. The third paragraph of the synopsis grabbed my attention: “Told from multiple points of view, A Good Neighborhood asks big questions about life in America today―What does it mean to be a good neighbor? How do we live alongside each other when we don’t see eye to eye?―as it explores the effects of class, race, and heartrending star-crossed love in a story that’s as provocative as it is powerful.” What I didn’t know was just how relevant it would be to current events while I was reading it. It took me a bit to get to the meat of the story, but once I got there, it just took off. I absolutely loved the writing style – so unique and fun! I have to highly recommend this read on account of it’s relevancy. It could be a game-changer for your perspective on racism. 4.5 STARS

22. The Honey Bus: A Memoir of Loss, Courage and a Girl Saved by Bees by Meredith May (Memoir)
How many times can I say how much I love memoirs? I just think it’s incredibly beautiful and empowering to allow people to tell their stories. Some hit home with me, some are shockingly different from my experience and some are less meaningful to me. This fell into that third category. What I loved was her comparisons to and knowledge of honeybees. That side of it was so interesting. While Meredith experienced far more than I did as a kid, parts of the written story were slow. The last quarter of the book had all the makings of a great book and arguably made the book as a whole worth a read, but I struggled to get into it quickly. Though I should mention, I’ve already suggested to my husband we start a hobby honeybee farm… 3 STARS

23. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood (Contemporary)
June’s book club book was this highly rated/reviewed story. I had nabbed in as a Kindle daily deal because of the ratings. I wanted it to rock my socks off. I wanted to cry, but here’s why I didn’t. First, the story had an ick-factor to it; an inappropriate relationship that I struggled to get over for approximately the first half of the book. By the time I got over the icky-ness and started rooting for these characters, the book felt entirely too predictable. I had figured out the ending far before the end and was unsatisfied with the amount of proper resolution. It felt, to me, as though the bad guys got bad things and the good guys got good things. That being said, I did appreciate the points of view/writing style. And the story as a whole was interesting. 3 STARS


Biking

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

Again, 2020 miles in a year means approximately 5.5 miles/day. Some days I ride 12. Some days, 8. Some days I don’t ride at all, but my current total…

1232

We’re now up to 258 of those miles having been outside (147 of them pulling a kid).

We ended June in a horrendous heat wave, and as someone who really only tolerates temperatures up to about 75 degrees, that means I’ve been back to biking inside. I don’t hate biking inside. I get to read at the same time when I do that. But it’s harder to get motivated to bike inside. As the heat wave spills over into July, I’ll just be over here racking up my indoor miles I suppose…

Hope you had a great June! Stay healthy everyone!

Is It ok for Me to be at Home?

But by the 21st of June, we’d entered into new territory. I was living at home in a stage of pregnancy where I’d lived in the hospital last time. Though I probably didn’t need to, I felt like a time bomb once again. But this time, I wasn’t down the hall from the nurses and doctors who could help me. I was a 25 minute drive away.

Oops, sorry for the delay – coming off from the COVID quarantine and heading right into a last minute decision to buy a house and move this summer. 2020 is truly the craziest.


6.21.19

“We’re 5 days past the day we landed in the hospital with Oaklee. It is crazy and emotional and stressful…”

Just over two weeks past the diagnosis of an echogenic bowel in our son, we’d already found peace in the unknown there. We’d gone through the same phases of shock we’d been through beginning the day we landed in the hospital with our daughter when they told us everything that would probably be wrong with her if she were born that day.

Shock, grieving, mourning, depression, acceptance. We felt all the feels.

When it comes down to it, though, here’s our thing about “disabilities”. We believe in a purposeful God. If God had wanted my daughter to be blind, for example, like the doctors told us she probably would be, he would have done that. And we would have survived. We would have figured out how to do life with a blind child. Would it have been easy? My guess is no.

And if God wanted our son to be “abnormal”, we would figure out how to do life with whatever that might look like, too. Would that be easy? Probably not.

But by the 21st of June, we’d entered into new territory. I was living at home in a stage of pregnancy where I’d lived in the hospital last time. Though I probably didn’t need to, I felt like a time bomb once again. But this time, I wasn’t down the hall from the nurses and doctors who could help me. I was a 25 minute drive away. With our daughter, I went into labor for my first time at 22 weeks and 6 days. The doctors and nurses reversed it 5 times before I delivered my daughter on the 6th time. 

If I went into labor now, with my son, what could be done? What would it look like? The whole point of only carrying to 36 weeks instead of 40 was so that my body wouldn’t have to go into labor and risk a uteran rupture on account of my previous classical cesarean section. How fast would things move? Would I be ok? Would my baby be ok? Is it ok for me to just be living at home right now?

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 23 weeks, 4 days
Doctor’s Appointments: 7
Ultrasounds: 3
Makena Injections: 7