On Overcoming Pain

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So you may be looking at this photo, thinking “What the heck does this have to do with pain?” Bear with me. You all know I typically love to keep this space a happy, positive, fun place, but if I only shared the happy stuff, that wouldn’t be real life, right?

The other night, I was sitting on my couch prepping for my Leadership class that will go on tonight, and turned to the Chapter in John Maxwell’s “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Leadership” titled “The Law of Pain.” Ugh. To say that I was less than excited to dive into this chapter is an understatement. But this class has been so amazing and eye opening for me that I knew I had to continue on and reading this chapter is all part of the growth process.

So I dove in…and it was not easy. This chapter forced me to go back and think about all the painful experiences I have had in my past. And it asked me to evaluate how I had responded to this pain. Because no matter what…you can be the best person out there…but bad experiences have a way of finding you. It’s just a fact of life that there are ups and downs that we are unable to control. But what we CAN control is how we react and manage the pain.

As I looked back into my “pain file” of bad experiences, I looked over at my Christmas Tree and thought about one of the hardest times I have ever had in my life. It was a fall of 2012. It was supposed to be a happy time. I had just found out I was pregnant with my first baby. We named the baby Peanut. We were ecstatic. We called our closest family and friends and shared the news. Everyone was bubbling with excitement. We started looking at baby things online and thinking about how to shift our apartment around and decorate a nursery. And then only a few short weeks later, when I was 7.5 weeks pregnant our world came crashing down. I had started having some complications, but we were hopeful because we had seen a heartbeat on the monitor. But after one rough weekend, I knew something was wrong and come that next doctor’s appointment, our little Peanut was no longer on the screen.

It was the first time I saw my husband cry. And actually now writing this…as I thought I had come a long way from my pain, I am seeing that maybe it’s not true and it’s still very much there…as the tears are welling up in my eyes once again. I don’t know if I dealt with my pain very well at the time. I know I cried. A LOT. I know I felt empty inside. Like something was missing. Like I was supposed to be a mom, but then I wasn’t. It was just ripped away from me. Stolen. Like it was a fake, imaginary, dream…well more like a nightmare. Like this couldn’t possibly be my first experience at being pregnant. This negative, awful, scary feeling. Thoughts rushed through my head of “Would I ever be able to have a child?” and “Is there something wrong with me?” I think I closed up into a ball for awhile when I was alone and just wailed…and in public, I tried to put on a brave face and pretend that I was okay.

I think I finally decided to truly embrace my pain when I wrote about this experience on this here blog. When I decided the walls needed to come down. I decided that it wasn’t my fault, and that this terrible experience was out of my control. And that I wasn’t some weird anomaly. This happens to a lot of women, and they just don’t talk about it. So I decided to talk about it. And deal with it. And I pretty much wrote that post as therapy for myself I guess…but I never expected what would happen in return. I got an outpouring of messages, comments, + e-mails from other women who had gone through the same thing. People that I was close to, and had NO idea they had gone through this. People that I hadn’t talked to in years came out and wrote me. People said “thank you” for sharing this, and I realized wow…I am not alone. And neither are they. I truly wish no one ever has to go through this horrible loss of an unborn child…but if they do, I am glad that I was able to be there for them as someone who could relate to their pain.

Now what does this all have to do with the photo on this post? Well, this wooden rattle was the first toy that we had gotten for our little Peanut. My husband brought it home from work, and we just loved it. We were so excited. And when we found out the horrible news, I just couldn’t bear to hang onto it for another child or to give it away either. It was Peanut’s rattle. We weren’t really sure what to do with it…so when Christmastime came along, we decided to make an ornament out of it as a symbol of our little Peanut. So that we would never forget that first little ray of sunshine. I suppose this was a positive way to deal with our pain.

Each year we open our Christmas box, and we take out that ornament to put on our tree…and I don’t get sad anymore. Instead I feel happy. I feel that Peanut is a part of us. That he or she is watching down over us on this special time of year and is blessing our little family, which now has two happy, healthy little boys. And I keep that hope that eventually one day I will get to meet my little Peanut in “person.”

I hope that whatever pain you have dealt with in your life or you may be dealing with now during this holiday season, that you can find a positive way to overcome it and growing stronger because of it.

Lots of love and light this Thursday evening to you all!

XO,

Gina

Our Snow Family is Growing

Baby Notes 2 Announcement

Surprise!  The Notes Family is growing!

We are very excited to announce that we will have a new addition to the family on or around August 31 of this year!  Yes, that is two days after Nico’s 2nd Birthday.  What are the odds?

Now I know I mentioned in a recent post, “I know I’m not pregnant.”  I promise I wasn’t lying!  I just really didn’t know!  Boy did I feel stupid when I found out why I had really gotten sick that day.  At least I know it wasn’t because I was that terribly out of shape haha.

Speaking of getting in shape, it’s probably obvious, but I have had to put P90X on hold for awhile, because it’s pretty much the most intense workout ever, and not exactly made for pregnant ladies.  Also, my fitness goals have clearly changed.  Instead of six-pack abs, I will be looking at a basketball belly here in a few months.  However, I’m not going to use this pregnancy as an excuse to “go crazy and eat whatever the heck I want, because I’m going to get fat anyway”.  I am going to try my best to stick to a healthy diet (even when I’m nauseous and all I want is crackers), and I have also started on the PiYo workout program, which is pilates and yoga.  Much more prego-friendly!

It’s been hard to share what I have been up to lately, because of carrying this big “secret,” so while I am now at 10 weeks during my pregnancy and not quite through the first trimester, I have decided to share our baby news a bit earlier this time around.  Mostly because keeping secrets is exhausting (especially now that I have a toddler running around).  I’m already exhausted enough!  But also, because a post written by a good friend and local neighborhood mom, Sascha, really hit home for me.  I support the decision to announce your pregnancy whenever you so desire, but for me…. right now… this is the right time.

If you have been following my blog for awhile now, you know that I lost my first pregnancy with our Little Peanut.  When I got pregnant with Nico, I lived a lot of the pregnancy in fear of what could happen.  I was constantly scared and anxious that we would somehow lose him too.  But getting through the first trimester also isn’t some sort of magic number of weeks that sends you off on a sweet sunset sail toward labor and delivery.  I have had many friends lose pregnancies in their second trimesters too.  Things happen in life that we have no control over, and as heartbreaking as that is, I felt that even though I know there is the possibility of losing another pregnancy, it wasn’t going to stop me from being happy this time around.  No matter what, you will ALWAYS worry about your children.  It doesn’t matter how old they are.  So I am not willing to let fear stop my happiness.  And God-forbid if my family has to go down that dark path again, at least I can be rest assured that I have a supportive network of family and friends around me to get me through.  Every life is worth celebrating, and right now I am happy to celebrate the 10 week old growing baby in my belly.

That being said, pregnancy with a toddler is crazy!  I’m trying to get through each and every day while exhausted and nauseous.  It’s strange to be going through it a second time around.  It’s sort of like we’ve gone back in time a bit.  Not gonna lie, it’s hard.  And I imagine it only gets that much harder once the baby actually arrives!  But thinking about Nico being a big brother this summer makes me so excited.  He has even started giving the baby kisses (kissing my belly) which just melts my heart.  He is the sweetest thing.

World's Best Big Brother

We cannot be more thrilled to grow our family, and I am looking forward to sharing my pregnancy journey with you for a second time around.

Hope you are all having a fantastic week!

XO,

Gina

Women Should Talk About It

Now, my blog is usually a place of happiness, fun, fashion, & adventure…and I don’t intend on changing that.  But my blog is also about life.  And life is not always rainbows and butterflies.  As much as I would like it to be sometimes, that is just not the case.  So if I sat here and only talked about happy things all the time, then this blog would just not be real.  And I think sometimes we need a dose of reality.  It may be tough for some of you to read this.  It has been a struggle for me to sit down and write this and go back to this place.  But this is a topic that most women don’t openly talk about, and I honestly think that they should.  There is no reason to hide it.  It happens more often than we think.  We just don’t realize it, because no one talks about it.  You’re probably now thinking “just go ahead and say what you are talking about!”  So here we go…

At this point, most of you now know that we have a Little Monkey on the way.  And we are SOOOOO incredibly excited!  What you may not know is that before there was a Little Monkey…there was a Peanut.  My sweet, sweet little Peanut.  My husband and I found out in September that we were expecting a child.  I had a feeling that maybe I should take a pregnancy test.  And let me tell you, I am not one of those people that freaks out and takes pregnancy tests often.  I actually had NEVER taken one in my entire life until that day…when we got those two lines.  It was actually quite surprising, because it pretty much happened “right away.”  We were shocked and ecstatic at the same time.  We said we wouldn’t tell anyone for awhile since it was so early…but then the next day, we just got too excited and told everyone.  Well, not everyone.  But all of our family, close friends, etc.  Let’s just say it was quite a few people.

The day after we found out, we were on Cloud 9.  We went to lay out in Prospect Park, pretty much skipping the whole way there.  We hung out on a blanket under the sunshine and just daydreamed of what our life would be like when our little Peanut arrived in May.  Right in time for our 2 year wedding anniversary.  We daydreamed about Peanut coming to his/her first Outer Banks vacation with the family, the 1st Christmas, taking the stroller around the city in the summertime.  It was pretty much the best day ever.  To think that we would be bringing this beautiful little life into the world.  We named the baby Peanut, because “it” just sounded awful, and we didn’t know the sex of the baby yet to say “he” or “she.”  My husband and I are both kind of small, so we figured Peanut was a perfect name for our little one.

I immediately went into “Mom” mode.  The smell of cigarette smoke at a party made me flee the scene immediately.  Alcohol was not even missed on a Saturday night.  I started reading up on all the websites and blogs for the right things to eat/not eat, pregnancy tips, etc.  I was completely protective of my little Peanut, and felt like I was already a Mom.  Although it had only been a short time, it felt like I had been carrying Peanut for much longer.

A week and a half or so after we got the good news of being pregnant, I started to have some complications.  I wasn’t sure if anything was really wrong at first, because sometimes these symptoms can happen, and everything can be just fine.  I called my mother-in-law (a midwife herself) constantly asking questions.  But as the week progressed, my complications started to get worse, and I started to get worried.  I didn’t have a doctor in NY yet, since prior to getting pregnant, I only needed to go to my OB/GYN once a year.  I had just scheduled my appointments to go when I was in Maryland during the holidays or family vacation.  Luckily, I had done some research in the NY area, and found two options that I was going to try out.  When the complications started happening, I called them both immediately.  Because, I was not already a patient, the first office I called pretty much told me there was “nothing they could do.”  If I was going to miscarry, I was going to miscarry.  That if things started to get “really bad,” then I should go to the ER.  I was kind of shocked, but I didn’t accept that for answer.  I called the other office, and luckily they brought me in for a sonogram the following day.

That day was very promising.  We saw our little Peanut on the monitor.  And there was a heartbeat!  It was the most amazing feeling, and it was extremely encouraging.  We left that day feeling very optimistic into the weekend, and overall happy that someone cared enough to help us and make us feel comfortable during this scary and terrifying time.

Unfortunately, my complications didn’t get any better, and they started to get worse throughout the weekend.  I had severe pains that weekend, and I started to get extremely worried.  I cried.  And cried.  I thought the worst.  My husband consoled me.  He was still optimistic.  We scheduled an appointment for another sonogram that Monday.

We looked up at the screen for our little Peanut…and there was nothing there.  Blank.  Just an empty uterus.  My husband was in denial.  He thought maybe we needed to do the internal sonogram again, because the baby was just too small and we couldn’t see Peanut.  But they tried that too.  And still blank.  Gone.  Just completely gone.  We both broke down at that point.  It was the first time I ever saw my husband cry in my life.  And we have been together for over 8 years.  It was my turn to console him, yet it was almost impossible as I was pretty inconsolable myself.

It felt like Peanut had just been ripped away from us.  Stolen.  The day before I had been a Mom.  And now I wasn’t.  I had been planning a baby nursery and summer plans…and now I was sitting here empty-wombed and broken.  Like I had never even been pregnant.  Like everything should just go back to normal life.  It was horrible.  I do not wish miscarriage on anyone.  We tried to be optimistic.  We said we would try again.  But we also acknowledged that the next baby would still not be our little Peanut.  We would always feel that we should have had Peanut as our first child.

Fast forward to becoming pregnant with Little Monkey.  Because we had lost Peanut, we really, really, really wanted Little Monkey.  We were lucky it did not take long.  Not that Little Monkey will ever replace Peanut.  There is no way that would ever be possible.  But maybe…just maybe there was a reason for all of this.  If we hadn’t lost Peanut, there would also be no Little Monkey on the way.  Now, I could never choose one child over another.  But maybe something was wrong with Peanut in the womb.  Maybe he/she wasn’t healthy or wasn’t developing properly.  And maybe Peanut took the sacrifice by allowing Little Monkey a shot at this big, bad world instead.  We’ll never really know, but I do hope that one day we can see our little Peanut in Heaven.

I have to say it was difficult to get excited about Little Monkey at first.  I wanted to be.  I felt like a bad Mom because I felt like I was forcing my excitement, and it wasn’t as real as my excitement with Peanut.  “I should be more excited,” I thought.  “Why can’t I be?”  Well, the reason was because I was so damn nervous.  I was terrified actually.  I couldn’t get excited, because I couldn’t deal with the loss if another child was torn away from me.  If I got excited, then it got real.  I might jinx it.  I couldn’t bear being in that dark place of unhappiness and sadness again, and so I just tried to get through day by day as if things were normal.  If I didn’t think about it too much, then the time would pass by, and before I knew it, BOOM I would be in the “safe zone.”

Well, it didn’t exactly zoom past, but it did get easier and easier with time to get excited and be less nervous.  We passed our 7 1/2 week point where we lost Peanut and that was helpful.  Then, every week after that, we got more and more excited and confident that this time things were going to work out for us.  When we went to hear Little Monkey’s heartbeat for the first time, I was extremely nervous.  After it was confirmed that there was a little one inside me, I said “OH THANK GOD,” in the office.  The midwife said, “What, were you nervous?”  And I explained what had happened the first time.  She then told me, “Well, just get ready, because this is the beginning of being nervous for the rest of your life.”

She makes a good point.  I’m sure I won’t stop worrying just a little bit throughout my entire pregnancy.  And I’m sure I will worry the first time Little Monkey gets sick, or something goes wrong, get his/her first injury, grows up and gets his/her drivers license, goes off to college, etc. etc.  That’s just what motherhood is.  Constant worrying and nervousness.

But it’s important to also ENJOY it.  I don’t want to live life saying that I was a nervous wreck and didn’t enjoy my pregnancy at all.  I want to enjoy as much of life as humanly possible.  I accept that we are presented with challenges and complications in life.  Nothing turns out perfectly.  And things don’t always turn out the way you would expect them to.  But I think it’s important to enjoy what you can.

So far my pregnancy with Little Monkey is going really well, and I am determined to relish in these moments while I have them.  So farewell to any negative thoughts.  I am staying positive from here on out.  I am back to my typical self of planning and daydreaming about what lies ahead for our little family.  Zack and I are really excited for the arrival of our Little Monkey, and we are ready to take on whatever challenges we were meant to face.  We are strong and we can overcome, and we hope to teach our Little Monkey these same life lessons come September. 🙂

XO,

Gina

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