Monday, December 28, 2015

21 Days of Happiness Challenge


I don't think I have ever really tried to have a new year's resolution. All I know is that they usually fail. I think the most common resolutions are working out or eating healthy, aka weight loss. Luckily, right now I'm supposed to be gaining weight for baby, so this isn't going to be what I'm talking about.

Though in the state of life I am in right now, I think it'd be a good idea to have a new year's resolution. Right now, I'm about done (for the most part) being sick and I'm about to be a full time student again this J-Term. I'm going to be honest, I'm really nervous.

I've learned that as humans, we function well and happily with these two things: routine and habit.

When we have the same morning routine, we can get ready for the day, no matter how zombie we are. This is the same for a bedtime routine, a routine when you get home, a routine at work (or school), etc. etc.

This is the same for habits. If it's a habit to bite your nails, by golly you will continue to bite your nails. (I'm still working on this. I know, I'm terrible.) Some habits I would like to have down pat someday is to pray 20 minutes a day (preferably 30-60 minutes), shower at night, and never go to bed without a clean sink.

When I worked at Catholic Youth Camp (Shout out! Apply to work there! Send your kids there!), mid summer you have a slump. The staff watched this talk on happiness and the science of it. I don't remember much from it, except that we did this awesome happiness project.

So, it takes about 21 days to start a habit. That is 21 days in a row without missing once. It's just three weeks right? WRONG. It can be tough, but the fact that we were all doing it together made it sooo much easier.

So what is this happiness project? Well, it consists of five activities. If done for 21 days, you are guaranteed a happier person. Really! I'm serious!

1. Write down 3 things you are grateful for. You will be literally rewiring your brain to look for the positive. I bought a journal to do this. I actually kept on doing it even after the 21 days. I even moved to writing 5 things a day. I have since dropped this habit, but hey it worked!

For example, I am thankful for my Grandma. her cookies, and the beautiful snowy day.



2. Journal about one positive experience that happened that day. For this I wrote in the same journal, I would usually pick one of the 3-5 things I wrote down already that I was grateful for and write a couple lines about it. Sometimes I'd write a whole page! The key is to write about it so that you relive the positive memory.


3. Exercise. 10 minutes a day (you can change the amount of time if you'd like. 10 minutes is the minimum). This is the hardest one for me. I have been blessed to not struggle with body weight. Besides the winter coat I gain in my face every year, it always goes back to normal, and I'm honestly not even trying. It's actually a totally natural thing to gain weight in the winter, but now that we don't live in huts, it's not really that big of a deal. ANYWAY. The big thing about this part of the challenge is discipline. Are you a spoiled brat? You probably are. I definitely am. Because I can't bounce around too much with the baby, how I'm going to approach this will be to do 10 minutes of either yoga, riding a stationary bike, walking on the treadmill, or walking around the track each day. I'm really lucky to have the school gym. My class gets out at noon so in the afternoons when I'm not studying theology or psychology I'll get my butt in the gym doing something called exercise for at least 10 minutes.

4. Meditation/Prayer. This one can be weird. On my phone I set my alarm for 2 minutes and look at a cross or a painting. Sometimes I will get my butt to the St. Thomas Chapel or St. Mark's Church for this. Others can close their eyes, but this is not possible for me. It can be hard to focus. Actually, it IS hard to focus, especially when you're not used to it. If after literally two seconds you start thinking about lunch or your plans later, THAT'S OKAY. This task is to help you focus, you don't have to be perfect at it already.

5. Affirmations. Random acts of kindness are the bomb, but they can be hard to plan. Affirmations are easier to plan though. Make a list of people now, or pick one each day. It's easier for me to pick someone on my friends list on Facebook and send them an email, Facebook message, text, voicemail, letter, etc. etc. to praise them or thank them. Again this is looking at the positive, but also describing it and reliving it.


1. 3 things you are grateful for
2. Journal about a positive experience from the day
3. Exercise for at least 10 minutes
4. Meditation/prayer for 2 minutes
5. Affirmation

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

How to Raise a Baby


Merry Christmas Everyone!

This year was our first year celebrating Christmas as a married couple. On Christmas Eve, we had brunch with Peter's side, and then headed to Iowa to visit my side. We got home, ate supper, went to evening Mass, and have spent the rest of our trip in bliss (aka eating delicious food and being vegetables).

It was great receiving gifts from my family (gifts is one of my love languages), especially some more clothes that fit. My closet has been running thin. I got some prego shirts that are super adorable, and some Star Wars shirts as well. We also received two really soft stuffed animals, an adorable pig and a big elephant. The stuffed animals will be great for taking monthly photos with the baby! I also received a super awesome book. It's called The Sh!t No One Tells You, A Guide to Surviving Your Baby's First Year, by Dawn Dais. The book was so good and I want to tell you about it. I got it yesterday and I finished it today. I don't think I've read a whole book for personal enjoyment since high school.



So in about 4-5 months, Peter's and my life will turn upside down, and boy am I pumped. Obviously it won't be all great, and in fact a lot of it is going to suck, but Peter and I know that being parents is something that we are supposed to do with our lives. I can't tell you how much he and I have prayed about this. We feel very called, and I am honored that the Lord has asked us to start right away.

The book as a whole was awesome, but there were a few things in particular that made me not want to put it down. (This is saying something because I have a terrible attention span.)

1. The author is hilarious and very honest.

I have a couple pregnancy/parenting books on my shelf now, but they all make everything sound like rainbows and butterflies. I'm going to be honest, reading them is pretty boring, although very informative. It feels like studying, which is kind of what it is, but it should be so different than school. Parenting is a part of life, whether you are the parent or you have the parents. This author really tells you how being a parent of a baby is. I've been told that I have the same writing style as her, blunt and hilarious (obviously).

2. A variety of moms have contributed to this book

At the end of each chapter, she has multiple moms share their experiences with said topic (breastfeeding, poop, vaccinations, sleep, etc.). The author instead of a husband has a partner, and she has a lot of great insight with that experience, but the other contributions include straight couples, single moms, stay at home moms, moms of one, moms of many, moms of twins, and so many other types, and it's really helpful to hear from all of them.

3. At the end of the day, there is no one right way to do anything when it comes to parenting. Every mom is different, every kid is different, and the decisions you make are what's right for you.

The author tells you of multiple different ways of approaching different parenting tactics, the pros and cons of each, and says what she chose and why. I don't think there is one true way of raising a child, and I feel very strongly about this. Everyone is so different and has different needs and priorities.

So I know a lot of my readers are young women in school, and I know I'm obviously not taking care of a baby quite yet (although I am growing a baby), these are some things to think about and pray about when it comes to at least the first year of a child's life.

Baby things to keep in mind

Birth. It's different for everyone, and no matter what, there will be at least one thing that is gross. You can create what's called a birth plan, but it can completely change because baby might say "it's actually time like right now," or "I'm stuck." There are c-sections, and there is the pushing. There are lots of drugs, some drugs, back up drugs, and no drugs. I'm not going to go into detail for those who don't need to know, but trust me, there are plenty of details when it comes to birth that you have never heard about, BUT, it's different every single time. There will be a problem in some way, shape, or form, but you really can't predict it until it's happening.

Baby things. I don't really have much experience with babies. My experience with kids is ages 5-18, so this will be an adventure. The nose sucky thing for boogers sounds very helpful. I plan on getting one of those. A diaper bag (or large purse) is important to hold diapers, wipes, spare clothes, toys, possibly formula if you aren't breastfeeding, and as the baby gets older snacks, books, and other fun stuff. There are also diapers, obviously. I don't have much to say on that yet. There are baby changing pads, which I think is a must. I'd like to avoid poop on the carpet, just a preference. There are pacifiers. Some do pacifiers, some don't. I don't really know what we will do yet. I think we're going to have some just in case, but try to not use them too much. I am a believer in figuring out why a baby is crying before just putting a sock in it.

Breastfeeding. It sounds so good for the baby and it seems beautiful and it's obviously natural. I really really want to breastfeed all my babies but I know there are times when it just doesn't and can't work and you have to do formula, and that is okay! I've learned when it comes to breastfeeding and other parenting decisions that "you are a bad mom" no matter what decision you make. And it's one of those things that you have to get over. You do you. Also, like all the birth details that I'm not talking about. There are also lots of fun breastfeeding details too! Some people have no problems, but others have plenty.

The first day home. Your first couple hours, days, and weeks will be weird. There is this baby and I don't know what I'm doing but there is a baby and it's drooling and what do I do because there is suddenly a baby here. This thought process is normal and also hilarious to me.


Baby blues and postpartum depression. This are very real and like Hyperemesis, not talked about enough. Some don't experience it, but most do in some way, shape, or form. Having experience with depression already, I won't be surprised if this will be a thing for me. Basically there is a lot of unexplained crying, but my dear, there IS an explanation. You are stressed, really tired, and have had a lot going on.

Love at first sight. This was new to me. It doesn't happen to everyone, but there can be a struggle with feeling in love with the baby at first. Yes there is a natural instinct to take care and protect the baby, but don't assume it'll be like the movies with music in the background and everything is magical. You might need to get to know the baby. I mean, you do get to know the baby while pregnant, but it's different. I don't know how this will go for me. I have a feeling it might actually be magical for me, but I'm prepared if it won't be.

Facebook. It is okay that you are not taking 400 photos and posting all these great milestones and adorable pictures. You baby won't always be adorable, and they won't always have the milestones on time. It's not a competition, and yes your friends and family care, but it's different. Almost think the less posts the better.

The body of a mama. Growing a baby does a lot to your body. Getting the baby out of your body also does a lot to your body. This is another section where I leave out fun details. For every mom, (guess what!) it's different for everyone. There are different problems, and everyone gets back to their "normal" body at different times. For some, they will never get back, and that is okay! My mentality is that I plan on having more than one kid, and hopefully many kids, so I think (hope) I'll be okay with looking five months pregnant post-baby.

Mess. This will be fun. Think of all the fun poop/pee/puke stories I will have by next year. I think I will have to be okay that things will be dirty, and that I should be ready to experience the gross, and that I should clean a lot. I want things to be clean, I really do! But I have to admit, Peter is cleaner than I am about most things, but I also prefer clean vs. messy. Since I've been sick I've been letting more go, but being clean is a habit I want to master. I think it is possible to have a clean place at the end of the day, if you don't sleep, but it's possible. Some days you will be able to go to bed with the place clean, and other days you just can't, and that's okay!

Vaccines. There are lots and lots of opinions on this. I'm going to say this. Talk to people you trust. Google is NOT a person you trust. After hearing pros and cons from all sides, make your own call. I'm afraid that no matter what decision you make, you will be "a horrible mother." It's a fact of life. Don't worry, I'm a horrible mother too.

Sleep. I admit, I'm nervous about this. Peter and I both need a lot of sleep. I'm also nervous because babies need to eat about every 3 hours. There's that, and all the five million reasons the baby will cry in the middle of the night. I don't have much to say except that I believe in grace. Peter and I received grace doing Totus Tuus Ministries when it came to lack of sleep, and I when I was working at camp, I was usually in charge of nightmares, bathroom breaks, nighttime homesickness, and anything taking place at night, and I definitely received grace for it. I'm not excited about this part of parenting, but hey, at least I know I'm actually really good with nightmares for when our kids are older.

Small space. Basically, no matter how big your home is, like goldfish, you will fill that space. This is a fact of life. I can't wait to move to a bigger place, but our place will do for now, and sometimes, you have to tell yourself that.

Money. Yikes. My favorite topic. You can buys things brand new. You can go to Once Upon a Child. You can go to Goodwill and Savers. You can go to garage sales. You can borrow. Besides diapers and formula (which isn't a problem if you breastfeed), you can do this.

Teething. It sucks. There is stuff you can do to help it, but the main thing is the baby wants to be comforted. This actually reminds me when I had hyperemesis. There isn't much we could do, and I mainly wanted to be comforted.

You will never be the perfect parent. I'm really sorry. None of us will be, there never has been a perfect parent (except Mary of course). You will be a great parent. You won't be perfect, and there will be things that your kids (who love you) might need to go to therapy about later, and that's okay! Trust me, everyone has something from their childhood. It's what makes us human, it gives us character, and it makes us into who we are.

Juggling. There is a lot that you're juggling already right now. If you're in college, things that come to mind are school, work, exercise, food, health, prayer, romance, clubs, friends, money, and we all know that the list does not stop there. You CAN live a happy life with children. There is definitely balance and sacrifice needed.

Marriage. Lack of sleep and screaming children might put a damper on your romantic life. With the grace of God and with the both of you working hard at being charitable, it'll be okay. I know it'll be hard. Here is a quote I heard from an older women "My husband and I have never considered a divorce. Murder? Sometimes, but never divorce." Please don't murder your spouse, but I thought this was funny. Until death do us part?

Memory. Apparently this disappears somewhere between pregnancy and newborn. It has something to do with being tired and having a lot of new things to think about all at once. For some, your struggle never goes away. For others, your memory does come back, but maybe not fully back to "normal."

Moral of the story

So there are a lot of super fun things to anticipate! Peter's and my world will turn upside down and it will be messy! I'm really excited. Everyone is called to have a cross, and I think our cross fits Peter and I well.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Baby, Star Wars, and Final Exams


Baby Update


It's hard to believe that I'm am already at 20 weeks. I'm halfway there! I've gained about 5-10 pounds since August, and it's now 1/2-1 pound a week from here on out!

This week the baby is the length of a banana, and one of the big progresses this week is the baby might open their eyes soon.




My appetite sure has grown. I usually eat a larger breakfast, then along with lunch and supper, I snack all day. By the way, Oreos are delicious.

I cry when I watch Star Wars, videos on Facebook of dogs or babies, and anything from Ellen Degeneres.

On Friday we find out if this little jumper is a boy or a girl. I'm so excited to have a name for this child.

I would say that now it is officially impossible to hide the bump. If I walk around campus, people who don't know me might not notice and just think I'm a bit pudgy, but those who know me definitely see my weekly growing.

I feel like I have to pee all the time, particularly if I move from sitting to standing up, (and if someone kicks my bladder).

Feeling this little one kick is becoming a regular part of my day. I notice it best when I sit still for a long time. It feels like someone gently poking my tummy, but from the inside. It's not as weird as it sounds. At first it felt like gas or me digesting. Now, it feels more like a "hi mom." Before we go to bed, Peter will put his hand on my tummy and after a minute or two he usually feels some kicks. It's so amazing seeing this awe on his face when the baby kicks or rolls over. Yesterday Peter and I were talking and the baby got really excited and I think it's from him/her hearing us! I'm pretty sure the little one can recognize Peter and my voices now.




It's been really comforting knowing that someone is always there with me, even though they have no idea what's going on. I think it's one of God's ways of showing his love towards mothers. I've especially been reminded of this because it is Advent, and Mary too had a baby with her for nine months (who happened to be God).

Star Wars

In the last three days I watched all six Star Wars movies to be ready for Episode VII. I know episodes IV-VI pretty well, but I didn't really remember I-III. Watching the original trilogy was fun because it's been awhile and it reminded me of when I would watch them on VHS with my dad. The second Trilogy I really wanted to watch again because it has so much information in it.


I know most fans don't like this newer series very much because it's more info and less action, but I liked them a lot after watching them again this week. I remember seeing Episode I in theatre with my dad, particularly little Anakin in the pod-race. This one came out in 1999. (I was five.) I think I also saw Episode II in theatre with my dad, but I'm pretty sure I fell asleep and all I remember is seeing stars and a bunch of ships shooting at each other in space. That was in 2002. (I was seven.) The third came out in 2005 and I remember my dad going to see it, but I wasn't as interested. I did watch it when I was 13 (I think), but I think it was such an information filled movie that I didn't understand it.

I actually think I relate a lot to Anakin. He was really passionate as a boy and had a lot of potential. The Jedi felt the force in him was very strong in him even as a little boy, and after a blood test he tested higher than Yoda himself! So the point of the pod-race in Episode I was to win money to buy parts for a ship to get off the planet, but they also won in the bet to free little Anakin. So they took him in and Obi Wan trained him up to be a Jedi.

Now Anakin was very good at what he did, but he had a hard time with his emotions. This is where I think I relate. When I tried in school or volleyball or whatever, I was really good, but I had a lot holding me back. Anakin would have dreams of his mother dying and it distracted him from his training. He promised her that he would come back and free her when he was a Jedi.

So the important part about being a Jedi is controlling your feelings. Fear is actually something huge that Jedi are encouraged to not have. (Which reminds me of the 365 times the Bible says "Do not be afraid.") Another part about being a Jedi was to not be attached to anything. (Which reminds me of priesthood and religious life, but in ways marriage and the Christian life in general as well.) Anakin definitely had an attachment to his mother, and also to Padme, who is pretty much one of the most beautiful people ever. So far, Anakin is basically failing at being a Jedi, except he's so stinking good at using his light saber and moving things with the force, but he really needs to let go of his fear and attachments before he can become a Jedi.

When Anakin went to find his mom, he was successful and freed her, but when she saw him grown into a (good looking) man, she died at peace in his arms. He was so upset about her death, he lost it and actually killed everyone in the village. So this is where my being similar to Anakin disconnects and I don't think I relate to him in wanting to kill everyone in sight, but I still used to (and still do) get very upset at times. I also used to have times when I would just lose it and get upset and either have a panic attack or not want to leave my room for a week, or both will happen.

In Honor of Finals Week

When I was first in college, particularly in my chemistry days, I felt a lot of pressure to do well. I felt like everyone I knew had a dad who was a doctor. I had to learn that it was okay that there were students who did unnaturally well in school. I used to get easily upset by it and think there was something wrong with me, yet in the classroom I followed along really well and asked really good questions. I learned that some people can naturally get six hours of sleep on a daily basis and be fine. I on the other hand would get very sick if I tried that too many days in a row. I need a solid 8 hours, more like 9 if I am able, and during my pregnancy realistically 10-12 hours. (Growing a baby takes a lot!)


So after my third chem class, second calc class, and first physics class, I called my chem major quits. I turned my Catholic Studies minor into a major (which was okay because I was really feeling called to do ministry), and I also picked up a philosophy minor on the way. Class can still be hard. I'm a slow reader but I still mostly got my work done and I was doing a lot better than I was in my science/math classes. Don't get me wrong, I still nerd out and am still pretty good at math and science, but it's not my calling.




With all the anxiety I was dealing with and the depression that just wasn't going away, we found a medicine that helped a lot. As I'm getting older and am finishing my last year of school, I realize more and more how much college really doesn't matter. I know the stats say that you need a degree to get a job, which is true most of the time. What's also true is that if you work hard without a degree, you can have a job, you can pay the rent, and you can feed yourself and even your family. That's what my family did. I grew up learning that it's hard work, not skill, that pays off. In my psych class we had a section on education, and I learned that a difference between Japanese and American education is exactly that. The Japanese care more about how hard one works, not how skilled they naturally are. In that class I also learned that we tend to forget that there are other ways to have jobs and be "successful" besides by going to college.

For all my friends stressing about getting into med school and law school and other grad schools, it's going to be okay. There are amazing doctors and other people in this world who do amazing things, and even failed a class or two. I could talk more about this but I will leave it here.

Down the road, five years from now, ten years from now, it won't really matter. Do you even remember what grades you got in high school? You may remember in a nutshell, but do your friends or professors really care? Your boss in the future won't really care either how you did in o-chem or ancient philosphy. What they care about is how well you are doing in the present moment. Jesus is like that too. He doesn't care what sins you did in the past (or how virtuous you were in the past). What matters is whether you are living a virtuous life now.

So study hard, don't panic, don't lose too much sleep, eat healthy, love your friends and family, and be merry, because Jesus has a birthday coming up, and the only reason He was born was so that he can party with you in Heaven where there is no such things as finals.

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Monday, November 30, 2015

Season of Cold


This time of year is an odd time. I'm all happy and cheery about the hot cocoa and Christmas lights, but school is getting busier. In fact, it's even more busy for me because I'm just starting to do school work again after being so sick.

A reminder

Advent is about waiting for God to come into our lives, but I also find it to be a reminder that He already IS here.

Some need the reminder that He is coming again, like a thief in the night. So we must be prepared! (This is when I encourage us go to confession if it's been awhile, or if you feel a little tug to go.)

I have found that though I need this reminder, I also need to be reminded that He is here with me now through all this garbage in my life. I've been stressed about making sure I can get a lot of school work done, but I also need to not overexert, otherwise my eyes twitch, my head thumps, and the next day is typical a relapse day, and a day wasted.

One side is saying to get this done! The other side is saying to take it easy.

My lesson

I have to be honest, I've been really sick of being in my apartment so much these last three months. It's been feeling like a cell, when in reality, it should be a sanctuary and my new home with my husband and child. It was tough to be able to look at only the ceiling fan and cross in our bedroom without needing to crane my neck. Luckily now I've been able to walk to the living room on my own and look out the window from the couch, but my lack of getting out of the building has been driving me nuts.

I've been really passionate about being outside these last few years when I work with children. As a Totus Tuus Missionary, I would "sneak" my kids out of the classroom and have class outside. It was summer and a classroom is literally the last place they (and I) wanted to be. As a camp counselor, when there was free time to be in the cabin, I often opted for our free time to be by sunset beach where we could skip rocks, hang out, and be free.

Freedom. I usually think of red, white, and blue when I see that word. Lately, I've been seeing green when I think of that word. I think of grass between my toes, a flower behind my ear, and all the different trees that flood the world with life.

Now that we've had our first big snowfall, the green is officially gone. The world is white and brown, and as winter goes on, it will continue to be brown. I am one in the winter to gain weight in my face and have my depression grow. I'm stuck inside because of the harsh winds and bites of cold.

I was stuck inside for the end of summer and most of fall. I spent my time in prayer saying "Pleasem anything but this." I knew that I should have been more aware of what was happening to me. I was learning more about my body and really learning about love by becoming pretty dependent on Peter. (He makes a great nurse by the way.)

I am not made for comfort, but for greatness, and in that greatness, I am free. I still believe that I am called to spread the joy of the Gospel through our Lord's creation, but right now, not the creation of all that is outdoors, but very deep inside me in my womb.





Simplify

So though the stress around Christmastime is impossible to avoid, there is peace to be found. I find myself blessed that I too wait for my baby to come just like Mary waited for Jesus to come into the world.

I've been learning to simplify my life literally to only eat, sleep, and poop. Slowly but surely, when God thought I was ready, I could take on more. It was good for me to learn that I didn't need to go to all the events on campus and that school actually isn't the most important thing in the world. (Side rant: as important as college is, it is way overrated.) Oddly, God even cut my prayer time that I was finally getting good at doing on a daily basis. He was actually cutting out my pride. I wasn't giving my time to Him. I was showing off. So my life was becoming simpler, which I think is important for mothers, because things will get complicated at times and we need to know how to take things simply.

I think we all need to simplify our lives, especially as Christmas and finals come closer. We should ask ourselves what things on our calendar are actually necessary. Maybe we should visit the chapel more, or work a little harder on that study guide, or get coffee with our roommate, or even go to bed earlier that night. Now is a great time to get out the planner (or buy a planner?) and see what should get cut, and maybe see what should be added.

Advent is short for adventure!

Take a look at this time of year as an opportunity to make someone proud, your mom, Jesus, me, yourself, whoever.


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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Prego Adventures


Fun fact: we have a honeymoon baby.

I know of many couples that want children so badly and they have been trying for years, and they are having infertility problems. Peter and I are very blessed to conceive on (probably) the first try. We're due May 5th, you do the math. We've had a couple reactions. Mostly the squeals and jumping, but also concerns since we are still finishing our last year of our undergrad.

I'm going to be honest. I am at peace. We were called to show that young couples can be successful. Since before 1980, the average age to get married was 22 or younger. Peter was 22, and it was a week before my 21st birthday. Now the average is between 25 and 30 because people are waiting until they are done with grad school or are settled in their jobs, or have figured out how to live financially independent. I wanted to figure out all of those things together. Also, I'd rather have the energy to be a mom now, than start getting old and not being able to carry my children or run around with them.




Month 1

So we are married and I am pregnant. (That's how it's supposed to work.) Now what? Well, we found out at 4 weeks. At five weeks I started feeling very faint a lot. Then I threw up. Definitely pregnant. We went in to the Life Care Center (now called Abria, look them up!) and got another test done and learned some morning sickness remedies.


Month 2

I continued to throw up and feel lightheaded. It was actually getting worse. At this point I was going to classes, working, and mostly keeping it together. I'd throw up twice in the morning and have headaches the rest of the day.

It continued to get worse. I was so weak, dizzy, lightheaded, and faint, that I needed to lay down a lot. My social life dropped immediately so that I could keep up with school. I then lost my appetite. All food started sounding absolutely disgusting, even bacon! Peter would make something for himself and I would have to hop out of bed and run to the bathroom to hurl.

Again, it's getting worse. I would have days where the moment I open my eyes, my stomach was in a lot of pain. It didn't like that it was empty. So it would make me heave. (It doesn't make sense to me either.) So I was eating saltines, drinking ginger ale, trying all the remedies. About a half hour to an hour, I'd throw it right back up. Drinking water was worse. I would lose that in about 10 minutes.

There were a lot of tears. I wasn't able to keep any food in. All food sounded disgusting. I couldn't really sit up without my head throbbing. I spent a lot of time on the floor of the bathroom, crying, looking at my reflection in the toilet, praying for the pain to stop. This turned into an all day experience for two or three days.

We got an appointment with a doctor as soon as we could get in. We tried more remedies. After a couple days I was becoming malnourished, losing color, and sleeping so much because I was exhausted from retching all day. We called the doc, and it was time to go into the hospital to get IV fluids. I was there overnight. They said I have Hyperemesis Gravidarum, or Severe Morning Sickness. About 2% of pregnancies get it, and I was one of those lucky gals. It's different for everyone, but kind of looks like food poisoning. Some throw up all day. Others get really lightheaded. Either way, it's really bad, and there isn't really a cure for it. You just have to suck it up.

After getting back from the hospital, I started going to class and work again. As the days went by I continued to be sick and get dehydrated. So we had a nurse come to our place so that I could get two bags of IV fluids a day. It was helping a lot, but it took three hours for each bag so I was restricted in movement a lot, but I was feeling better than I was before. The problem with IVs is they can't stay in for very long. You have to get repoked. These nurses were also very bad at it, and I was very bad with needles. (Picture someone shaking in fear and closing my eyes shut tight and me silently crying.) It took them seven tries to get the next one in. The next day, I kid you not, the IV needle leaked and fell out. I was done with this, and got discharged from their services.

My life feels like a movie.

Month 3

My classes became independent studies and I was home in bed all day, trying to keep fluids, crackers and apples down. The doctor and I decided that it would not be beneficial for me to get up that much since I was so faint all the time and at risk of falling. I was on bed rest for two months. Prayer sucked, I was mad at God, and I was in chronic pain and agony. According to Peter, "You were pretty grumpy."

Eventually, I stopped having as many days with puking 10 times a day. It turned into only puking once or twice a day, with having a really bad day here and there with constant retching. I was still really dizzy and light headed, but I wasn't in the bathroom as much, which I really appreciated. Things started to improve nausea-wise as time went by.

I made a deal with God. It went kind of like this: "Okay Lord, if you let me be better enough this weekend for the Campus Ministry retreat on prayer, I will be a better person." Yeah, we have a weird relationship, but Jesus works in funny ways, and I did really well that weekend. I only took one nap. I did have to sit on a couch a lot instead of the chairs, but I was present and retreat-ing. I grew in prayer and it was really nice being somewhere other than the apartment.

After we got back, I got really sick and had one of those days where I lived in the bathroom, but I had a much different attitude. I learned more of why I'm doing this. My suffering for my child now is preparing me for a newborn that will cry all night and day, a defiant toddler, a child accidentally breaking the window, a sassy teenager, and all of the other sufferings of having children. After teaching Totus Tuus Ministries and being a camp counselor, I can confidently say that I do well with children. Babies on the other hand, I don't have much experience. Peter has a lot of experience, we are taking classes with Abria, and we have friends that are parents and I have been "practicing" with their baby, so I feel fine. Back to the point, I realize that this morning sickness is teaching me to love my child through everything.

Month 4 

So I originally did a ton of research on hyperemesis gravidarum, but I was getting a lot of explanations on what it was and that there is basically no cure, but I started to type in my search bar "Catholic" or "Christian," and I started finding what I wanted. I wanted to read what others have gone through and how they dealt with it. I learned that women like me are prone to depression during this time (something I already struggle with), and many actually have abortions because they want to get rid of this sickness.


Okay I realize this post is getting depressing. SO. Slowly I have been throwing up less, and my lightheaded-ness is also lifting a little bit. Last week my friend got into an accident, had brain surgery, and was in the intensive care unit. It was oddly enough actually motivation for me to get up and go to the hospital to visit him. I have to sit a lot to visit him, but his accident helped me. His accident has taught me to wear a helmet, be grateful, and most importantly from this, that attitude truly truly truly is key. Evan is already in rehab, and he got hit only a week ago! He's been so stubborn, he's getting better miraculously quickly. So it's his fault I'm getting better.

Now that we know that Evan is alive and will get better, my adrenaline from that has gone down and I did have a bad day or two, but I'm still seeing a lot of improvement. So much improvement that I'm able to walk to the coffee shop with my laptop, drink a hot chocolate, and sit up long enough to type this.

This pregnancy has actually been a blessing. It's helped me grow as a daughter of God. It let me get really mad at Him, and then have it resolve. It let me be a grumpy lady to my husband, and then have it resolve. It let me suffer, and then have it resolve. These are all lessons I'm glad I got to learn and I know I would have needed to at some point.

We had an ultrasound and I saw the baby's head, back, rump, arms, legs, and he/she was dancing! Note: every time I say "they" I mean "he/she." I am NOT having twins. There is only one child growing inside of my tummy. They were wiggling and rolling over. It was amazing. Right now I am in the middle of my fourth month and this kid is already half the length compared to when they will be born!

They have eyebrows, eyelashes, fingers, toes, fingerprints, eyes, eyelids, and all of their organs! They can suck their thumb. THEY CAN HICCUP. They can hear Mommy and Daddy talk, (and all the Christmas music I've been listening to). They can feel when I poke my tummy. They can see light. And now, I am starting to feel them ever so softly. I only feel them when I wake up and roll over. It's really soft and feels like a very light poke, but eventually Peter will be able to feel it, and it will get to feel more like karate kicks.

Month 5

So overall, I'm still lightheaded a lot, but if I sit or lay down, I can usually get back into business. I only throw up once or twice a week now, and it's usually right away in the morning. I'm doing school stuff again, and getting out of the apartment more. I'm excited for Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas, and I'm so excited to see my little baby in May.


Food baby beats real baby.


Tips to help a mom with Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
1. Ask her if she needs anything at the store. She might need milk or underwear in a bigger size.
2. Do not suggest ginger or saltines, or any remedy/treatment. She's tried it all.
3. Visit her. She misses company. She probably won't be able to sit up, but she's lonely being in bed and the bathroom all day.
4. If you want to make her a meal, ask her what sounds good. She might have weird aversions.
5. Text her pick me ups
6. Offer to come over and clean. She feels terrible that she can't stand long enough to do dishes for her husband, let alone shower.

Remember, as Peter's mom told me, "Nobody is pregnant forever!"

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Wait, We're Married?!



On a Saturday in August 2015, Peter and I got married. It was a beautiful Mass and the reception was a blast. It was beautiful seeing people from throughout my life all there at once to celebrate us coming together to live for Christ.




Moving In

Then I moved all my stuff in that Monday, and holy cow that was stressful. I didn't want to make his apartment all girly and everything looks much more intimidating in piles. It is also a small apartment for two students that have lots of books. We also didn't really want to keeps storage at our parents' anymore, so that added even more piles. I still have two paper bags of papers that I haven't sorted through but can't get rid of yet, and it's November!

Honeymoon

After a week of living together we packed up and stayed in a cottage on Lake Superior for five days. It was romantic and consisted of food, wine, coffee, prayer, hiking, campfires, sunrises, bubbles baths, movies, and obviously love. It was really nice being able to keep our phones off (except mine was on airplane mode so that I could take pictures). We slept when we were tired. We ate when we were hungry. They had a mini fridge, a toaster, and microwave, so we before driving up made fajitas and pasta, and would warm them up for our meals. Gosh it was so delicious. For breakfast we had coffee, mimosas, and bagels. One of my love languages is definitely food. My mouth is watering right now. We had a WHIRLPOOL BATHTUB. I took way more baths than Peter. It was fantastic. If he decided to take a nap, you bet your bottom I hopped in that tub. At night we would snag a spot for a fire and have smores and a drink. We actually had a skunk visit us. Yes, he did get the marshmallows. They say those creatures spray 15 feet, so we took off quickly. 

We visited Duluth, the lighthouse, and Gooseberry Falls, and did a bunch of hiking. It's amazing how fresh that air is up there. I forget that it exists being the city girl that I am. Also, the stars, there are so many up there. We definitely want a place someday with less noise and more stars.


The lake was so beautiful.


FIRE


Breakfast


The North Shore is awesome.


We got up really early for this, and it was worth it.


Family photo at Gooseberry Falls.


I was actually really scared of falling off during this picture.

Post-Honeymoon

When we got home, I continued to unpack. Peter went back to do his job. We only had so much time before school started, and I discovered my inner household wife. I was just missing an apron. I learned that I liked to love Peter through service, such as dishes, laundry, making food, etc.

Living with a man wasn't as weird as I thought it would be. I mean, waking up to Peter kicking isn't the most romantic, but I enjoy to see his face and know he is always there. He keeps the toilet lid down, and his workout clothes only smell a little bit. I think I do many more annoying things than he does. My hair sheds everywhere, and I keep the fridge door open gawking more than most human beings. 

One thing that I have been loving about marriage is that I have someone else to talk to about important things, and the not so important things. Aside from the silly conversations involving Harry Potter and Star Wars, we also have to communicate about bills, insurance, the car, groceries, and now being parents.




Tacos by candlelight

I will leave you with this. At night, we crawl into bed and pray. We thank God for our day, a roof, food, and whatever else comes to mind. Then we pray in petition, asking for the Lord to bless those that pray for us, to bless our family, to heal us in when we are ill, to help us with whatever tests are coming up, and for whoever/whatever else needs prayers. Then we finish our prayer with an Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, then ask Mary, Joseph, and Saints Joachim and Anne (patron saints of marriage) to pray for us.

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