What I Didn’t Know (or thought I knew, but didn’t) About Pregnancy/Labor

Writer’s Note: I honestly have been wanting to write on this topic for a long time, but I was scared of how graphic I think I’ll be, and I know there are a lot of people who don’t want to read that. But at the same time, giving birth is graphic!! Like super, super graphic.

So yeah – if you are uncomfortable with reading about my personal experience/about the female anatomy, stop now!! Cause I am pretty blunt.

 

For those who are unaware, we were not planning on having Jack. That does not make him any less loved; on the contrary, I have learned more about love and how to love while being his mom than I ever could have imagined prior to getting pregnant.

Another thing to note for those who don’t know – my mom died when I was 12 years old. I literally got my period for the first time A MONTH after her death. #stressed. Fun awkward fact: I thought you only bled when you peed. That was not the case. I had some embarrassing moments.

I didn’t know I was pregnant yet, but I remember vividly feeling “off” the night before I took the test. It felt like a mixture of nausea and menstrual cramps. I figured either I was about to start my period, or I was pregnant. Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner. The next day, I took the test, and there it was, that + sign. “Oh my gosh,” I said. “YES!” Wes proclaimed! He started jumping up and down with joy. He wasn’t about to go through 9 (more like 10) months of extreme physical and emotional change.

I was lucky. I didn’t have extreme morning sickness like some do. But I did have a lot of other-end sickness, if you know what I mean – and that sucked when I was at work. How embarrassed I felt! I didn’t want anyone to know!

Here’s another tidbit about me – there is not a single person in the world, well besides Jack who is a baby, that I feel comfortable passing gas in front of. So do you think I was super crazy about the idea of needing to use the facilities for that kind of need in a public place?! This is just the beginning of things you deal with when pregnant.

Skip ahead to the second trimester. I started getting horrible headaches. Every. Single. Day. I mean, debilitating. Apparently, it was a posture thing that can happen when pregnant. Cause yeah – bowling ball starting to form on my abdomen.

OH! Another super awkward thing. So you have a lot of exams. The first ultrasound is actually done with a wand they stick right up on in there. I was not prepared for that. That was not my favorite thing.

Another thing that I wasn’t prepared for: how upset I was at the fact that I wasn’t allowed to lose weight, in fact, I was supposed to gain it. At the time of getting pregnant, I was actually trying to lose weight. I was so mad, for literally the entire first trimester, about the fact that I was having to gain weight. I don’t think I started “enjoying” the fact that I was pregnant until about week 16 or 17 when I could feel those special first flutters of movement. When I think about that, it makes me excited to be pregnant again… But not yet!!

The second trimester really is pretty great. You’re feeling better, you can feel the baby moving, you get to learn gender, you’re showing but not super huge – pregnant life is (mostly) grand.

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Second Trimester – Feeling Good, Feeling Great

And then the third trimester hits…

“This is happening! I’m going to have a baby! I’m not ready! Why can’t I sleep at night? Why do I have heartburn every. single. night?! Give me all of the foods, I’m huge anyway!! Do I really have to do this?!”

The third trimester is when it gets really real. It’s a mixture of wanting it to be over and not wanting the birth to ever happen. Life will literally change forever in an instant. It’s a great change in so many ways, but for me, it was very, very difficult. More on that later.

I have never been one to sleep with anything in bed with me. I like a single pillow under my head. I never had stuffed animals or blankets that I slept with as a kid. That changed while I was pregnant.

I decided not to spend $$ on one of those specially designed pregnancy pillows. Instead, I used a long pillow from Target between my legs and a normal pillow behind my back every night. I kept a tub of Tums next to my bed and ate about 3-6 throughout each night. Probably for a good 8-10 weeks. Maybe more.

Just a quick reminder that I literally didn’t know about any of this until I was pregnant. Like, you see in movies that people are uncomfortable, but they really don’t show you how “un-glamorous” the whole shebang really is.

Let’s skip ahead to December 24, 2016 at 2:00am. Oh, and this is probably a good time to tell you that Jack’s due date was January 1, 2017, and all I wanted for Christmas was for him to not be born on Christmas. LOLOLOLOLOL.

So yes, it’s the wee hours of Christmas Eve. I have woken up at literally 2:00am (I looked at my phone) and needed to pee—that’s the one thing I *did* know going in to this whole thing – I was going to pee a lot. I go to the bathroom, and as I am about to crawl back in bed, my water breaks. I know it must be that because I had just peed, and although it’s very common to tinkle just a little more after using the bathroom (so many underwear changes), this was like a whole new level of liquid.

I couldn’t believe it. I was in the 15% of women whose water actually breaks on its own! Oh crap! I’m going to have a baby! And it’s Christmas Eve! Better wake up Wes.

I started pounding on the bed and yelling at Wes that it was time. I looked like a crazy person. Here’s where I really didn’t know what to expect.

Apparently, when your water breaks, you keep leaking. Like, it’s a constant flow. I didn’t realize that. I immediately grabbed a huge maxi pad that I was told I needed to buy for after having a baby, and proceeded to soak it through. I went through about 3 or 4 before we left the house.

Also, there was blood on the pad. That can’t be right?! I called the nurse. It was fine, that’s normal. Phew!

An hour after my water breaking, we are on the way to the hospital thanks to my dad. I’m still leaking and hating every second of it. But I wasn’t in any pain. Like, no contractions as far as I could tell. But because my water broke, we had to go in.

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About to leave for the hospital. Is this actually happening??

Here’s another tidbit about me. I’m a very modest person. Well, I used to be more so, but there are still a lot of areas where I’m pretty modest. For instance, I didn’t see a male doctor my entire pregnancy. I had a good feeling I’d get a male doctor for the delivery, because that’s my life, I never get what I want usually (like, ya know, a son not being born on Christmas!), but I knew my female doctor that I had been seeing was on call the 23rd. Lo and behold, at 3:30am she was still there!

So here’s another thing I didn’t know: when you arrive to the hospital, it takes forever for you to get “checked in.” I was in this room getting asked all of these questions and having things poked into me and my temperature taken… it felt like forever. And I still wasn’t in pain.

My doctor came by and let me know she’d be off duty at 7am, and that Dr. Thor Svendsen would be taking over. I’m sorry, what? An Avenger will be delivering my baby? Before Dr. Graham left that morning, she got me started on pitocin at 6:30am. Soon I understood what contractions were.

Oh. My. Gosh. Contractions suck. They are like the worst period cramps you will ever have. You can’t even think sometimes when they are happening. I tried to be really tough, but four hours later, at 10:30am, I asked for the epidural. But you have to wait until the one anesthesiologist can fit you in with the many other women who were smarter than you and asked for it right away.

Finally, at about 12:30pm, I had an epidural and life was so, so good again. The thing about epidurals are, you can’t feel below your waist. So you can’t get up and go anywhere, which means you need a catheter. Again, another thing that I wasn’t too thrilled about – my urine was just flowing through a tube for any visitors to see. Sure, they tried to make it discreet, but I know the tube was visible hanging out of my sheets!

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I guess I felt good enough to take a selfie…

I met Dr. Thor. He was nice, but kinda… different. I wasn’t sure how I felt about him. He’d pop in every couple of hours to check and see how dilated I was. I was moving a little slower than he’d have liked.

See, once your water breaks, you have 24 hours to deliver, or you need a c-section. I was trying to avoid that at all costs, so I was really worried. Finally, at about 10:00pm, I was at 10cm and was ready to push. Oddly enough, that day flew. And so did pushing until the last 30 minutes.

So when you’re in labor, you can only have clear liquids like chicken broth and Sprite. Jello is an option too. I made the mistake of having red Jello right before starting to push. Yeah I threw that ish up.

When you are told to push, they say to imagine you are pushing out a big poop. Not even kidding. And that is exactly what it feels like. It is horrible. Many women do, in fact, have a bowel movement while pushing. This was my biggest nightmare before I went into labor. Remember when I talked about not letting anyone in on that part of my life?! Well, I must say, I was quite lucky. I might have had a tiny little bit, but I don’t think Wes could even see it before the nurse had covered it up. #stayclassy

I pushed for 2 hours before Jack’s head crowned. At that point, Dr. Thor came in to deliver Jack. Now, it’s important to note that I had a slight fever. So there was some concern that the baby would have a fever too. Because of this, an entire team of nurses was needed to be in the room, and I wasn’t going to be able to have a lot of time with Jack when they first put him on my chest.

I’m the kind of person who worries about everything. I believe that information is the key to getting over fear. I wanted to know what problems could arise, but all I was told was that he wanted to be prepared “just in case.” Just in case, what?! No answer.

Which is why when Jack was finally delivered and put on my chest, I asked, “What’s wrong with him?!” You see, I didn’t realize that he would be as purple as he was, and I also didn’t remember (or maybe never knew) that his head would be cone shaped since he, ya know, just traveled through the birth canal.

Speaking of, I wasn’t done giving birth yet. I still had the placenta to deliver. Let me tell you, after popping out a 7 lb 6 oz baby, the placenta was a freaking breeze. That thing looks like an alien though. It was on a metal tray, and I swear, if I hadn’t literally just pushed it out, I would have thought that it had once been alive. Like a thing out of Stranger Things or something. Oh, and uh, yeah no, I did not eat it.

Finally, I think, I can have my baby and be done with all of this and life will be grand again!

HA! Wrongo! I stayed in the bed for what felt like 45 minutes (I genuinely have no idea how long it really was) getting stitched up because I had a 2.5 out of 4 degree tear. Yeah, that whole being modest thing. That went out the door. Here’s Dr. Thor all up in my business, literally sewing me from pee-hole to b-hole. So. Embarrassing.

I do want to say really quickly: Dr. Thor Svendsen was absolutely the best doctor for me that Christmas. He pushed me to the point of being able to literally push Jack as opposed to having a c-section, and he gave me the encouragement that I needed when I felt really overwhelmed. It was probably for the best that he didn’t tell me all of the wrong that could have happened with Jack (he was fine BTW), and he told me I should definitely have more kids because I did a good job. That made me really happy.

I didn’t see Jack for hours. They took him away to make sure he was good (cause of the whole fever thing), and I still couldn’t move my legs. Again, after being stitched up, I thought, “Finally! I’m done!” Nope. They had to move me to the post-delivery room where we’d be for 2 more nights. I would be spending Christmas in the hospital.

The next 48+ hours are a bit of a blur. Highlights:

  • being in a huge amount of pain from ripping open while giving birth
  • leaking lots and lots of blood
  • getting examined very, very often at all of those places you usually cover up
  • not being able to poop for fear of ripping stitches back open (you can’t do that)/being in a ton of pain (yeah, that’s a thing). I literally didn’t poop once at the hospital. That was horrible.
  • trying to breastfeed and allowing strangers to watch me stick my nipple in my son’s mouth and letting them help me
  • having cracked and sore nipples from trying to breastfeed
  • already not being an adequate enough mom (or so I felt) because I needed a nipple shield to get Jack to latch
  • not knowing how to console my crying son
  • feeling really guilty about not feeling as maternal as I thought I would have

Ouch – that last one was really hard to write. But it’s true. I remember thinking I was going to have this immediate unconditional love. And I did love him. But it wasn’t as passionate as I thought it would be. I certainly didn’t want any harm to come to him. But I also wasn’t necessarily trying to hold him all the time. I still felt very selfish. I didn’t feel like a mom yet. That feeling probably didn’t come for awhile, actually.

I really had no idea that for the next 4-6 weeks, I’d be in pain down there and bleeding continuously. No tampons allowed, so I had to sit in nasty maxi pads for a really long time. I had ice on my lady parts. I couldn’t walk well. Pooping was agonizing. And I was supposed to be taking care of an infant now??

Breastfeeding is exhausting. Pumping hurts, at least it did for me. Jack was jaundice, so we had to start supplementing formula. We never stopped. My milk took forever to come in. It wasn’t easy!! Jack slept horribly during the night. I was really, really unhappy.

I felt guilty for being so selfish. I wanted my mom. Gosh, more than anything I wanted my mom! Who else could I talk to about my leaking vagina?! Or my sore nipples?! Or the fact that this crying child is driving me insane! Sure, Wes could hear me, but he couldn’t understand. It was a really hard time.

I tried to remind myself that I needed to be grateful that there were no complications. The entire pregnancy, there were no problems! What an answer to prayer! And yet, I had spent the majority of the time complaining because I hadn’t wanted to get pregnant then. And once I had my baby, I spent the next many months complaining about how hard it was. But more on that for another post.

There you have it—that was my experience of being pregnant and giving birth. I left so much out; there’s no way I could have included it all. But it’s my story, and if you were able to learn one thing that will help you one day when you give birth or help you understand what someone who is close to you is going through when they are pregnant or giving birth, that will make me happy 🙂

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A Musical Lament

 

A Musical Lament by Kiersten Hogan, August 7, 2017

Take me back to those glory days in The Suburbs. To those days when I’d play music in my Neighborhood that had meaning, that made me feel. That kind of music where Soul Meets Body, and no matter what time the Clocks would say, all I’d want to do is Just Dance. Those days are over now. This Love I once had for my favorite artists, bands, etc., may not be the same, but it is still there. I Will Wait for them to return to what made them special to me, and even if they never do, I’ll still stand by them Til Kingdom Come.

This lamentation has been a long time coming. Many of my favorite bands and musical artists have so completely changed their sounds that they aren’t even the same group that I originally fell in love with. You may not like the same artists as me, and you might even like the new stuff by these particular ones, but I think we’ve all had at least one experience of loving an artist’s music the first time we listened to them, but then didn’t enjoy some of the albums that followed.

Like I mentioned above, I stand by my favorite artists, even when they create something that I don’t enjoy. What sparked this post is the release of Arcade Fire’s “Everything Now,” which is literally one of the worst things I have ever heard from them. Like – I just can’t even believe it’s Arcade Fire. And it’s SO sad to me!! They are a band that has meant so much to me, and I’m almost hurt by the fact that they created this album that I think is just horrible. But guess what? When they release another album in a few years, you better believe I’ll be giving it a shot. Just because their last two albums haven’t been as great doesn’t mean I’m going to abandon them completely.

The other artists that I linked above fall into the same category. Here’s a breakdown:

-Arcade Fire: The Suburbs is my last favorite album by them. Reflektor was okay, but Everything Now is not good.

-Death Cab for Cutie: Narrow Stairs was my last favorite album. Codes and Keys and Kintsugi have like one or two songs that I like, which isn’t enough.

-Coldplay: They completely changed their sound with Mylo Xyloto and haven’t gone back to their original sound since. This has been the most devastating to me. There are many songs that I’ve liked on their albums since then, but I used to LOVE Coldplay. Now, they’re incredibly mediocre, which kills me to say.

-Lady Gaga: Here’s an artist who changed her sound completely with Joanne, but at least I can respect her change. It is an incredibly well-done album and has some great songs, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it wasn’t my favorite from her. Hoping there’s another dance album to come now that filming has wrapped on A Star is Born (CANNOT WAIT!!).

-Maroon 5: They used to be one of my all-time favorites. And then they released “Moves Like Jagger,” and I have maybe loved one song since. So disappointing. I mean, I’ve seen them in concert more than any other artist I think!

-Mumford and Songs: They abandoned their bluegrass style for pure “rock” on Wilder Mind, and I was not a fan. Why can’t you stick to what made people love you?! Also, the featured image on this post is from their concert in 2016. Even though their latest album wasn’t great, I went to their show, and it was AMAZING!

Basically, I’m sad so many of my favorite musical artists have changed their sound since when I first loved them, but I will always have a special place for them in my hearts. I’ll continue to play their old stuff like a hipster until their new stuff come back around full circle.

 

 

Jack’s Helmet

Ah yes, the helmet saga. I really haven’t talked too much about it on social media, so for those who are interested/for those who have infants or will in the future, here’s the full story:

While I was pregnant, I remember reading that babies must sleep on their backs these days to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS is one of those things that terrifies you to your core as a new parent and makes you really learn to trust God. It’s really not that common (in 2015 there were only 1,600 infant deaths related to SIDS), but it’s just one of those things that scare you enough to follow the recommendations.

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Jack sleeping on his back as a newborn. Head is not flat yet.

Also, about those recommendations. Some are a bit of a pain. For instance, one of the recommendations is for your baby to sleep in your room their entire first year. Yeah, that lasted about four months, and then we put Jack in his own room. We didn’t register for a $250 video monitor for nothing.

But one of the most stressed guidelines is for your baby to sleep on their back. It’s supposed to help the airway stay open. The problem with this is that your baby’s head is growing quickly and is also very soft and malleable. Also, your baby can’t support his/her head, which means they are either in your arms or laying on something.

Well, as a terrified new mother, I didn’t want to put Jack on his stomach at all the first 2 or 3 months of his life. I knew there was a chance he’d get a flat head, but I guess I was more concerned about him having SIDS and dying. Shocking, I know. The last two sentences were a little sarcastic in case that didn’t come across 😉

Another factor for my poor son—he has an unusually large head. Like, 90th percentile large. So he hated tummy time and struggled to hold his head up.

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He probably held his head up for like 10 seconds here before “thunking” it back down

I really shouldn’t have been surprised at his 2 month check in when the pediatrician told me I should try to get him on his tummy as much as possible; he was “looking a little flat.”

I did try. I really did. But when you’ve also not slept very much, you kinda will do anything to get your baby to be happy and take a nap so that you can sleep too. And if I were asleep, I certainly couldn’t put Jack on his stomach.

By Jack’s 4 month appointment, I’d really been noticing his flat head. So I asked the doctor if he needed a helmet.

“I’d say he’s moderate. It could self-correct, but I also would hate for you to look at him when he’s 12 years old and think, ‘Gosh, I wish I’d gotten him the helmet.’ If you go see someone, they will tell you that you should get it.”

K’boom. Bomb. Dropped.

I immediately felt like a failure. How could I have let this happen? I should have just held him at all times unless he was sleeping. Even when he was sleeping. I can’t believe he’s going to have a helmet. What will people think of me?

Sometimes I’m such a narcissist. What will people think of me? How about what’s best for Jack? Ugh, whatever, moving on…

So it wasn’t even a week later that me, Jack, and my father-in-law (FIL) were at Cranial Tech getting a consultation. I asked Mark to join because he has a good eye for whether or not people are selling you something because they want your money or because you genuinely need it. With Jack having a “moderate” flat head, I wasn’t sure if I was fully sold on him needing a helmet. That was probably just my wishful thinking.

The occupational therapist (OT) had pictures taken of Jack’s head with a 3D camera. We were shown a side-by-side comparison of his head next to a “normal” infant’s head. Yep. His was way flat.

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Here you can see how flat his head had gotten.

By the end of our time there, I knew Jack needed a helmet. Less than a month later, he was being fitted for his.

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New helmet and new food!

Since Jack was 5 months when he started treatment, he was given a timetable of about 10 weeks of wearing the helmet 23 hours a day. The one hour off was for a bath and to clean the helmet, which, trust me, was a very good call. That thing begins to reek.

Until he turned 6 months, Jack needed to go weekly for adjustments, which meant a lot of driving on I-77N for me. The great thing, though, is that the whole staff at Cranial Tech is literally the nicest group of people I know. One time, I literally slept through Jack’s appointment. Like, we woke up early that morning, then we both fell back asleep, and boom, I had missed an appointment. But they were like, “You feel better?! I’m so glad you got that extra rest!” Major thumbs up for Cranial Tech.

We decided that since Jack would be wearing the helmet all summer that it would be fun to have it painted. There is an amazing woman who paints helmets in the Lake Norman area. Wes and I could not agree on what design we wanted—I really didn’t want it to be sports-themed, but would be okay with a “house divided” Panthers/Patriots helmet. Wes, true sports lover that he is, wanted the helmet to painted like an actual NFL helmet, down to every last detail. I wasn’t thrilled with that.

Wes decided to scroll through the work she had done on her Facebook page and came across a Raphael ninja turtle helmet and knew immediately he wanted that for Jack, but the purple turtle, Donatello.

I have never watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in my life, but I wanted Wes to be happy, and I also didn’t want a sports helmet, so I agreed wholeheartedly.

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So there you have it—that’s how Jack got the helmet design that he did.

After two days of helmet-wear, I could already see a difference. A week in, at our first “adjustment,” the clinician was incredibly pleased with the progress. We continued to return for weekly visits, and even ended up going to the Dallas office while we were visiting my family in TX (that’s one of the many great things about Cranial Tech—you can go to any office nationwide and they pull up the report on your kid!).

Six weeks in, Jack looked like a different baby. At his adjustment, it was decided that at most he would wear his helmet for one more week. And at seven weeks, Jack “graduated” from his helmet for good!

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They are the best and gave him this certificate!

So what are the takeaways from this whole experience?

  1. Never think you are a failure for doing what you need to for you and your child. I realized I needed to stop beating myself up about Jack getting a flat head. I did what I needed to for his safety and my sanity, and it was fixable.
  2. Those weeks fly. Your child will be out of their helmet before you know it.
  3. You’ll wish they were still in it. I found myself worrying that he’d get a flat head again since he’s still not sitting or crawling, but the clinician said here would be less than 1% regression.
  4. Babies don’t even know they’re wearing it. Jack had no clue if that thing was on or off his head. He was more concerned with his toys, passy, bottle, and toes.
  5. I was really scared of Jack needing a helmet, but honestly, it was so painless and kinda fun! Everyone loved his Donatello helmet, and as he started rolling around, I was way more comfortable knowing that his head was protected. If you think your baby may need a helmet, I’d really recommend it!
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Jack, before and after the Doc Band! Amazing, right?!

 

 

I fondue, do you?

Thank you to all of my readers for sticking with me after I needed to lay an honesty bomb last post. I promise, most of my future posts should be fun, but I just had to get that off my chest.

Now – for fun and fondue!

The Charlotte, NC Melting Pot

Guys – if you have never been to a fondue restaurant, what is keeping you? It is just such a fun experience, and the food is delicious too!

My friend Maura and I went to The Melting Pot because it is restaurant week here in Charlotte! The four-course menu was $35 each as opposed to the regular $40+, and there were even drink specials!

 

Furthermore, since it was Tuesday, all bottles of wine under $75 were half price! We got a bottle of Riesling that was $24 during restaurant week for $12! So I basically had 2 glasses of wine for $3 each – doesn’t get any better than that!

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Our “inexpensive” wine!

(By the way, check out this site if you’re in Charlotte and looking for half-off wine bottles while dining out!)

The first course was cheese fondue. We chose the Green Goddess and Tomato option.

 

The Melting Pot’s “Green Goddess” is a delicious dip of cream cheese, sour cream, chives, onions, and who knows what else that literally makes everything 10x better. Adding it to our cheddar cheese fondue was sheer perfection.

Cheese was followed with a salad course, but of course I forgot to get a picture! I love their House Salad – it comes with a tangy dressing that pairs incredibly well with the hard-boiled egg slices.

Next was the main course of assorted meats and veggies that are cooked in one of four different cooking styles. We did the classic seasoned court bouillon, but the coq au vin is a favorite too!

 

I opted for all beef: filet mignon, blackened filet mignon, and NY strip. Maura was a little more varied with her choice, which included beef, chicken, and some seafood options. We shared a bowl of broccoli, squash, potatoes, and mushrooms. It’s crazy how much flavor those veggies absorb!

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The Green Goddess is the bottom left. It’s my go-to along with the teriyaki sauce, which is top right.

We were given 6 different dipping sauces to accompany our meats and veggies, including the Green Goddess that I raved about earlier.

And then we made it to the Grand Finale – chocolate!

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Oh yeah. We chose s’mores.

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My portion of this plate was gone in maybe 3 minutes.

Delicious dippers for the chocolate included bananas, brownies, marshmallows, pineapple, strawberries, pound cake, Rice Krispie treats and more!

All in all, we had a fantastic fondue adventure! I will certainly be back next restaurant week (and hopefully sooner)!

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Fondue Can Wait

I’m already feeling angered enough that I need to write a somewhat political post, so leave now if you want, although this message is for all:

I wanted my next post to be about my time at The Melting Pot, but after the news that came out today re: the military/transgender rights, I have decided to change plans.

I’m friends with many different people with many different beliefs. I know people who voted for Trump. I know people who voted for Hillary. I know people who voted for neither (3rd party candidate). I know people who are pro-LGBTQ, and I know people who are incredibly against anything besides sex between a man and a woman.

I’m not writing to get into who is right and who is wrong.

I decided on this post after reading Lady Gaga’s status re: this issue. She writes:

President Donald J. Trump The message you have just sent has endangered the lives of people all over the United States and overseas bravely serving our nation. Research says at least 1/2 of High School, University Students, & Employed Young People rarely/never discuss mental issues w/ anyone. Many of these young people are transgender & suffer daily from the exact types of social isolation & targeting ur message encourages. Sincerely, did you know of the group you singled out today, 45% of them ages (18 to 24) have attempted suicide already? Within the Trans Community are many also who are strong & brave. They should be able to serve if they wish. To have honor if they do”

I really appreciate where she is coming from because suicide is always horrible, whether or not you are pro-LGBTQ.

What I was horrified by were the comments on her post. They were atrocious. On BOTH sides.

I can understand how people in the military feel that anyone outside of the military doesn’t get to comment. I can understand how transgender people feel incredibly targeted and infuriated. I can understand how there are those in the general public who are for and who are against this issue.

What I DON’T understand is how vicious everyone is being towards everyone else.

Whether or not you support what President Trump said, there is NEVER a reason to be hateful to another human being simply because they have a belief that differs from yours. I am saying this to Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and any other political, or even religious, group.

If you don’t like what someone believes, try talking to them about it. See why they believe what they believe. You don’t have to change your mind, and you don’t have to try to convince them to change theirs. Have a conversation.

And if at the end of that conversation you’d rather not be close to them because you just can’t get past the fact that they believe what they believe, you can respectfully remove them from your social media or stop engaging with them in a social setting, but, please, I beg of you, do not respond in a hateful manner.

Our country is despicable right now, and it’s not because of our president (though he certainly doesn’t help), it’s because of the citizens who are self-centered and bull-headed, and I’m getting pretty sick and tired of it. You want to make America great again? Love your neighbor. You want Republicans to hear you out? Stop hating on them left and right.

I, for one, am going to keep loving everyone and praying for this country and ALL who inhabit it because my Savior created and loves every single person on this earth, despite their sexual orientation or who they voted for.

“but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

 

Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers – Oh wait, that was us

Okay, actually we didn’t pick anything. We were going to, but good grief, this heat is ruining things for everyone! It was deemed “too hot” to pick anything at Bush N Vine in York, SC, which actually was such a good call – we struggled just taking a brief walk on the grounds!

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A little backstory—I’m lucky enough to have gotten my writing job from a fellow Forest Hill church-goer. Her name is Sheila, and she has been a huge blessing in my life in so many ways. Sheila is an amazing baker and cook, and she shared with Wes and me that she enjoys pickling things.

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Caitlin and Sheila!

Unbeknownst to Sheila, Wes has literally been talking about learning how to pickle for as long as I have known him. It’s kind of an inside joke for us now, so when we learned that Sheila actually does it for fun, we knew we had to join her. She and her daughter, Caitlin, invited us to get fresh produce to pickle!

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Like Father, Like Son #buckethats

Since we couldn’t do any picking, we at least did some exploring of the farm. First, we saw their bee hive, which was terrifying. Just because the bees were behind glass did not make the fact that I was in the same room with hundreds of them any less intimidating.

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So. Many. Bees.

We left the “bee hut” to go see the farm’s surrounding landscape. There was talk of a pond, so we were on a mission to find it. After walking way too far in the heat, we came across a meadow…

 

I have a silly video that was my Snap-story, but I’m too cheap to pay for the version of WordPress that lets you upload video 0:) Needless to say, the “meadow” was underwhelming, and after walking across it, there was no pond. We turned around.

Time to get homemade ice cream and buy fresh produce!

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We were so hot, but had a lot of fun!

The summer vegetable and fruit options were great (although they ran out of blackberries): We got lots of okra and cucumbers for pickling, avocados so I can try to make my own guacamole, peaches (I think I’m going to make some ice cream!), an onion (cause I’m obsessed), lemons, and red & jalapeño peppers, which Wes proceeded to eat like they were nothing. Oh, and they had delicious strawberry ice cream that I got swirled with vanilla—I ate it before I remembered to get a picture!

On the way back to our house, we stopped in super-cute downtown Fort Mill and ate at Hobo’s. Y’all—if you have not eaten there, I’d highly recommend you visit very soon. It was delicious. And they have a burger called the “T Money” that uses grilled cheese sandwiches as buns. We all considered ordering it, but then we all also chickened-out. Next time…

After our “linner” (we ate at like 3:45, 4pm and we hadn’t had lunch), it was time to get to pickling!

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I wish I could tell you what exactly went into the pickling, but I can’t. Sheila’s “recipe” is basically using her nose. She had made up some spice blends (one literally smelled like a savory Christmas, that’s really the best way to describe it) that we put in the bottoms of the jars before adding the vegetables.

 

Wes did his fair share of pickling…

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He was adamant I get a picture of him pickling from the back so you could see the “Jack”

We added spices, peppercorn, lemon slices, and some sort of pepper to the jars for the okra:

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Then we added the okra and some red peppers to make them “pretty!”

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Then Sheila whipped up some beautiful concoction of vinegar, water, sugar, and salt to make the “brine.” And voila! You have a jar of soon-to-be pickled okra!

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It’s been a little over 24 hours, and Wes has already finished a jar (they had to sit overnight, you know).

Then we made some hot pickles out of the cucumbers (in case you didn’t know that pickles come from cucumbers, sheesh).

 

Same process—spices and jalapeños in at the bottom, add some pickle spears and red peppers, then top off with some more jalapeños. Another brine solution is made and then you get…

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And there you have it! That was our pickling fun this past Saturday. My husband is a very happy man. A multi-year-long inside joke has finally come to fruition. Oh, and if you’re interested in having something pickled, he’s apparently going to start his own company. We got you.

I’m so grateful to have such fun people in my life! Despite the fact that I personally don’t like pickles or okra, I had such a happy day! And really, what more can you ask for?

The Importance of Being Honest

Honesty is incredibly valuable to me. It’s very hard to be honest with others, and sometimes even more difficult to be honest with ourselves.

Something that I really want to do with this blog is be 100% honest with you, my readers. It scares me to open myself up like that. Because—if we’re being honest—you might not like me as much when you find out that I can curse like a sailor (that’s an entire blog post I plan to write, actually). You might not like to hear that I only breastfed my son for 6 months as opposed to the recommended entire first year. You may hate the fact that I think Coldplay is one of the greatest bands of all time (at least for the first 3 albums).

But I think for this to be cathartic for me, for me to engage with you in the ways I want to, for you to fully realize who I am—a completely messed up daughter of Christ, who just wants to experience the life He has in store for her—I have to show you who I am fully. And that means the good, the bad, and the ugly.

If you don’t want to ruin any “good image” you may have of me (ugh, I literally hate what I just wrote, that sounds so narcissistic), this blog might not be for you. Because I’m going to be incredibly honest. But I think in the end it will be 100% me—the me that God already knows, and the me that my closest friends and family do. Making who I am public is me being real, and frankly, there’s not enough of that these days.

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Notes for this post:

  • I am not going to be constantly talking about my issues! They just might come up every one in awhile, and I want you all to be aware of that.
  • Just because I admitted above that I do curse at times, I do not plan on doing so here. That is not something I think should be a part of my writing—again, there is a blog to come on that subject, and it will give you better insight about language (not just bad!) in my life.
  • While I want to be completely honest with you about myself, I will not be compromising the integrity of others and including any information about people I know. This is only about me.
  • And yes—the title of this post is a play on The Importance of Being Earnest 😉