HOPE : A Really Big Update

I am so thrilled to be home from a week long adventure to the Children’s Hospital of Orange County. As you read in my last post, we fought hard to get there and it was worth every step! The evaluation and treatment for Jane was well executed with no time wasted, and our hearts connected with some very fine nurses and doctors.

An immediate 5 day EEG told us a lot about Jane’s seizure types, which led to a fantastic drug that has our girl in new spirits. Her demeanor is less cranky and irritable and we watched her go from 10-15 seizures a day when we first arrived, down to only 3 that the EEG picked up. A well deserved break for our little girl. We are so thankful for this discovery and pray that it remains successful and causes no harmful side effects to her blood and liver counts, which we will be checking once a week for the next 6 weeks, and intermittently for the next 6 months. This medication change has been a huge victory!

Jane also provided them with urine, blood and spinal fluid for metabolic and genetic testing, to rule out any inborn or underlying issues that may be contributing to her seizures. Those results will take weeks to return.

The last step of our stay included a very necessary MRI since Jane had not received one since her first week of life. We knew this was a mandatory step but we did not realize this MRI would give us some much needed answers as to what our Jane has been dealing with. Note, I said answers we needed, not exactly answers we wanted.

I should mention that my mom and I intended on being in Orange County tentatively on our own. Rich would only join us if the stay was extended for a lengthy amount of time. But since he’s the best in the whole wide world he surprised us 6 days in and spent the last 3 days of the stay with us. So when our MRI results were presented, he was there.

Our very smart, trustworthy, firecracker of an epileptologist came in with her team and told us some things we knew and some things we didn’t. The MRI, at this point in time, did not look good.  Janie’s brain muscles have suffered great atrophy considering all the seizures she’s endured for the last 7 months of her life. Small infantile spasms had developed into full blown tonic seizures (full body stiffening) and it has taken a toll.

What she explained next is difficult to write, but I know it is only ammo for us all to keep fighting for her. We were told the back part of Jane’s brain is significantly damaged. This is the part of her brain that processes vision. Jane’s optic nerves are well in tact but her brain cannot see well what her eyes are looking at. The epileptologist mentioned the words “clinically blind”. Although, since she is only 1 yrs old, we do not know the extent of what she can and cannot see.

We were told that Jane will be cognitively challenged. We were told she will need special education to get her into and through school. We were told complex thought and analytic thinking will be very difficult for her , to what extent we cannot know.

We were also told that this year is critical and if Jane is not sitting up on her own or walking by age 2, it is unlikely she will ever walk.

We were told to add speech and physical therapy on top of her pre-existing occupational, developmental and vision home therapy visits.

We will have a “long term” relationship with our neurologist as they do not expect her seizure activity to ever go away. We will start by one of many follow up appointments in 6 weeks in OC. (Could be worse. Can anybody say “DISNEYLAND”!?)

Those were the things we were told about our daughter yesterday, on our 3 yr wedding anniversary. But please realize that those are facts, and they are not necessarily truths. These were things that were told to us, not things that are written in stone.

Our hearts are very heavy for our little girl. We don’t know what her future looks like but we have great hope. Great hope that God absolutely does miracles and He will absolutely use Jane’s powerful little life for a purpose we may never know until heaven. We have great hope that these are not impossible obstacles but challenges to be beat and conquered. We are disappointed by not destroyed.

Please understand that we will cry, be saddened and grieved, but our vocabulary will always be one of faith and hope. Not because we are faking it, but because we absolutely believe in it, and it is the only way.

Thank you for always praying for Jane. Stand with us as we watch her plow through her challenges victory by victory. And when she is walking, talking, thinking and playing we can all stand back knowing we were the ones that kept hoping for her, and standing in faith for her life.

Not just in work but in life you must have hope. Weather you have a little or your have a lot you must have it in order to keep going.

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Moments of Victory:

Jane’s seizure medication is supposed to make her very restless and unable to fall asleep on her own. In the hospital she was given melatonin to help her rest. Its been 2 days now of full naps and sleeping at night without any aid. She is taking a deep nap as we speak :)

For 2015 we have been generously supported by a dear couple enabling me to not work and stay home with Jane. This past week before Rich came to see us, he informed me that due to some changing circumstances I would be able to continue not working after the year is over. God had lifted that burden of finances before we even had to ask.

Isaiah 65:24 While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!

Jane has only eaten her food in a reclined pink bouncy chair (as seen in most of my pictures of her) for her whole life. Sitting up in a Bumbo or on my lap would illicit lots of drooling and hunching, making it almost impossible for her to eat that way. This morning I sat her in a full blown Ikea high chair and fed her her breakfast with minimal drooling and no tears. I woke Rich up by telling him, “She’s in a high chair babe… and she’s eating”

More to come <3

We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.

My Life Time Movie Moment

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I’ve never been much of a fighter. I can get heated over some issues, but I don’t care for confrontation. I’d much rather relax and drink lattes and forget our differences. Since Jane, I’ve had no choice.

We’ve watched our daughter lose physical capabilities, as well as mental function, as seizures daily attack her body. She has now failed two medications (Or rather, they have failed us), which in laymen’s terms means there’s only a 10% chance that medication will ever work for her.

Something has to be done.

Last month, I encountered a divine connection through many mutual friends with a lady who will remain nameless for now since I don’t have her permission to blast her business. We’ll call her Katrina. A Russian ski instructor who moved here with her husband who took an analyst job in Silicon valley, but they live in Vacaville. (This whole story is made up for your reading pleasure). At any rate, Katrina’s daughter experienced epilepsy and is now 3 yrs old and on the turn around. Her healing came through care and treatment given by the Children’s Hospital of Orange County. After about a 5 min phone conversation with Katrina it became obvious to me that this was the next step for our Jane. What was not obvious is that this was going to require a fight.

For 3 weeks we worked daily to convince our hospital and every tier of medical staff thereof that they should refer Jane to CHOC, which happens to be a level 4 pediatric epilepsy center (Aka: It’s really really good at seizure treatment!) We were denied this request, for various reasons, a total of 4 times in 3 weeks.

*Cue my Life Time movie trailer* . “The powerful drama based on true events, of a family fighting for the thing most precious to them. In the face of opposition, the relentless uphill battle is proof that there is nothing that can stand between a mother and her helpless child, no matter how high the cost!”

But really, this helped me. So many actresses have fought for their child. Like Angelina Jolie in that movie the Changeling. I never saw it, but pretty sure she played an intense mom in that movie. And imagining myself as Angelina helped me press through.

Everyday was a new reason for declination, a new person to talk to that needed to talk to another new person who would talk to another new person who may find our reasons for referral legitimate, possibly. After almost a month of this we were tired, discouraged and seeking the next best option since our first choice was seemingly not going happen. Just then, the phone rang.

No seriously, like RIGHT then. “Hello Mrs. Harris, I have good news”

No sweeter words. We had been approved for a referral to the Children’s Hospital of Orange County.

This was and is a HUGE victory for us! And we are so excited to get on this track to healing. But the truth is, our battle is not about a hospital, or a doctor, or a referral. The battle is about continually advocating and fighting for our daughter. If it wasn’t this, it would be against the weird preschool teacher or the rude kid on the playground, common core math, or the over competitive dance coach. It’s all training to fight. It’s all little pieces in our own personal Life Time movie.

Our journey has really just begun all over again. We hope to get in to an appointment for brain monitoring, diagnosis and treatment options for Jane. This could take days, weeks, or months.I hope that in the meantime, as we keep fighting, that any parent who finds this blog, who’s child is sick, who needs a boost, will know that they are not alone and they should never give up.

We don’t know what our next fight will look like, but as far as I can project it looks like it may get more intense before it gets easier. But we can do this because we are not alone. Saints and angels are rooting us on. And between the tears there are friends to laugh with and hold your arms up. And for every defeat there are little victories. And for even just a moment, we can breathe in deep rest and satisfaction. Knowing that we fought, and we won this one. But it’s time to gear up because it’s not over. And fighting for what’s best for Jane will never be over.

 

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A Love Letter: To Kidless Friends

A short while back we talked about how to maintain your friendships after having children. It was a popular one. Girls like to talk about relationships. Another theme that seems to circulate around the web regarding post mommy hood is that of kidless friends and how they just don’t quite understand what us mommy’s go through. Some of these posts and videos that I’ve seen are for sure hilarious to watch and read, but as I’ve navigated my own transition from kid free zone to mommy-hood, I’ve found nothing but the most selfless souls in all my friends without offspring. So kidless friends, this one’s for you.

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To my friends with no children,

Thank you for still being my friend.

Let’s be honest, I have done absolutely nothing for you in the past year and a half. I’m talkin’ no birthday gifts, no coffee drive bys, no spontaneous pedicure trips, nothin’. And yet, you are still my friend.

Thank you for dropping off coffee to me in the middle of the day and pretending to care about how tired I am. You do a really good job. Thank you for listening as I talk about teething habits and food transitions and how “we” just tried spinach for the first time and how “we” are having explosive green poops in “our” diaper now. You listen so intently, almost like you actually care, and I love you for it.

Thanks for holding my snotty kid as I use the bathroom “real quick”. For we all know that unless it’s YOUR child, no snotty kid is adorable, or clean.

Thanks for talking like an old librarian whenever you come over, so as to not wake my precious lovebug. You make indoor voices seem like it’s the only way you ever wish to talk again. You’re so good at it. You make whispering cool.

And thanks for still confiding in me, the sweetest details of your life, when most of the time, I’m not listening. I’m really, really trying to. But, I’m most likely not.

And when you’re over at an hour that is past baby angel’s bedtime, thanks for acting like you don’t hear anything as my child violently screams the scream of a thousand screams. Your selective hearing means so much to me.

Thanks for learning how to use my Britax stroller and carseat. Eight months ago you though Britax was a new face cleaner, but now, now you know.

And thanks for still inviting me places, even though you know that the chances are slim, and even if I do show up, it will be with a little being drenched in slobber attached to my hip, and the chances of getting bowel excretions on your belongings is very, very, high.

All to say, I love you, I appreciate you, and when you someday have kids of your own, I probably won’t do the same for you, but you will understand.

Yours Truly,

Your Mom Friend

 

A Crunchy Conventionalist

I’ll never forget the disdain on the MD’s face in the ER.

“When was the last time she peed? Has she recently experienced any head trauma? How much did she weigh at birth? Did you have a natural birth or C section?”

I tried to gather my emotions and mental stability in order to answer all these questions, yet they seemed to lead to no resolve. Until she asked me “Did she ever get the flu shot?”

“No”, I answered.

“Ooohhh…….Well you may reconsider now huh?”

You see, we had brought Jane in to her newborn appointment after having a quick, natural birth 3 days prior. Jane was not interested in eating and getting more and more lethargic. I planned on meeting with a lactation nurse and addressing this issue at the appointment. I did not foresee the trauma that was actually at hand. When we arrived for our appointment it became apparent that Jane’s temperature was dropping, along with her heartrate, blood pressure and respiratory rate.

A very kind, sweet nurse who I will remember forever dealt with our emergency in the most calm/hasty fashion I had ever seen. Jane was immediately rushed to emergency. Upon arrival it was quickly discovered that her blood sugar had crashed and this was the cause of her lethargy and some ongoing seizures, although it was unknown why.

Nurses held our hand, social/care staff made sure we were hydrated, fed and supported. And actually all MD’s involved were patient and understanding of our trauma.

Then there was Flu Lady.

I had decided not to take any vaccinations during my pregnancy. And wanted to take our time researching, praying and figuring out what was best for Jane’s vaccinations schedule. But Flu Lady led me to believe that my newborn was blue, sick and dying due to my ignorant choice of not administering the flu shot.

Wow.

1 point for the Crunchy Team.

Image via redbubble.com

 

Then there was Natural Nancy. Natural Nancy was a medical professional of the opposite sphere. She heard of Jane’s story months after we had been discharged from the ICU. “Finally, this is someone who will empathize with me.. Who will really have some insight and answers”, I thought. I politely gave Natural Nancy a play by play of our traumatic ER experience. How some of the finest specialists took 1 month to discover Jane’s underlying cause of sickness. I eagerly replayed the events just knowing she would have something thoughtful to say, or have a great direction to suggest.

She answered, “Ooohh…. Is it because you vaccinated her?”

1 point for the Conventionalists

………..

Mommy’s, the best thing I can say to you was already said by Tina Fey in the movie Mean Girls, “There’s been some girl on girl crime here”.

Jane had not been vaccinated. One camp blamed me for not doing it and the other blamed me for thinking I had done it. As a new mom, you can imagine the feeling of just simply not belonging.

This should not be.

HERE’S MY GIGANTIC DISCLAIMER BEFORE I GO ANY FURTHER:

I consider myself a “crunchy” mom. I eat organic. Some of the greatest people I know strictly abide by natural practices. I believe in whole body healing. I do not think medicine or vaccinations are a cure all. I believe you need to honor what you put in your body and how you treat your body. I believe health is a gift. I believe you need to be wise and limit sugar and processed ingredients. You should try essential oils. Go outside and hike. Don’t use Splenda. Try not to put parabens on your face and scalp. I believe God has given us all we need and His way is best.

ALSO:

I eat Hot Cheetos ( And I won’t stop ). I have tried to use essential oils to control my daughter’s seizures and they have not worked. But her medication has. My daughter could not go outside for 1 month after birth and did not have my immune boosting breast milk for 3 weeks, so yes, she received some vaccinations. I would love to be her doctor and provide everything she needs, but in the instance of her initial emergency, I could not help. MD’s, IV’s and ongoing medication saved my daughter’s life.

And the truth is, I carried trauma from a perfectly healthy natural birth all because I was induced (due to high blood pressure). Trauma that I believe would not exist if I was a part of a different “camp”. You know, the one that schedules C-sections to better accommodate their pre-existing Italy trips? (Please see my post on judging others, of which I am a criminal offender right now).  I imagined taking a hike and birthing my child on a mountain, and read lots of books about how if that wasn’t how it happened then I was interfering with mother nature. (Okay not exactly, but you catch my drift).

I wept in devastation when they told me my daughter may have a very rare disease called galactosemia, in which she could not take my breastmilk. I imagined all the other mommy’s glaring at me while I fed my baby thick white liquid out of a bottle while they sat underneath paisley printed breast feeding covers. (By the way, she did NOT end up having that unfortunate disease and she IS breastfed. To find out how I went from ZILCH to exclusively breastfeeding, please ask!! And I may just post about it!)

And yes, I continue to get comments and am treated like a child, as you can imagine, at most doctor’s visit (of which there are many) when told that if I don’t give my daughter the Tdap vaccine she’ll probably catch whooping cough and have another near death experience. By the way, one of the adverse effects of the Tdap is possible seizures .. “So, would you like to schedule those 6 rounds for today or tomorrow Mrs. Harris?” Um, let me think about it….
*Takes her Britax stroller and high tails it away from those crazies while she obsessively takes care to NOT touch any hospital door knobs…* 

If I forced myself to choose a side, I will never win. My daughter will not get ALL she needs. And I will inevitably be lacking something. 

AND MY FREEDOM MESSAGE FOR ALL TO HEAR IS:

You do not have to choose.

Phew. Everyone go enjoy a Pepsi while you rub essential oils on your feet. (And seriously, take it easy on the Pepsi, it’s pretty gnarly no matter which side you’re enjoying it from).

I have found that there is only one way to live when it comes to navigating the crunchy vs conventional medical world and its moment by moment. Hour by hour. Sometimes minute by minute.

Some days you need to say no to chocolate cake and yes to a big ol’ spoonful of garlic and apple cider vinegar. Other days, you need to enjoy a day in the city and eat some funnel cake from a hipster food truck.

One moment all you need is coconut oil for your little one’s ailment. The next you may need a doctor’s advice or help that only an emergency department can give.

My point is to simmer down everyone.

Embrace your moment, and follow your gut.

Fear no man.

Hug everyone!

Be patient. With yourself. And with others.

Say goodbye to guilt.

Crunchy or conventional, you do you!

 

I will forever be grateful for Flu Lady and Natural Nancy for teaching me that only I know what’s best for my baby. And guilt helps no one, even when it’s self induced. For helping me live in freedom of expectations and thriving in a place where I trust my gut, know my baby, and live with heavenly wisdom, even if it comes in the form of MD’s or Naturalists. And I dream of a world where Crunchies and Conventionalists live in harmony, exchange their unique gifts and findings and laugh about life over a big bowl of organic hot Cheetos, for if that is not harmony and the perfect unification of camps, I don’t know what is.

 

 

Jane’s Space

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It has been a rough couple weeks friends, and I am so happy to post something refreshing and fun. As our battle for Jane’s health continues, I long for a serene getaway and I have learned to take solace in the smallest of things. An unexpected latte, a moment alone, a talk with a friend, a cool summer night, her first high five (yes!!), how she said “Charlie” out of nowhere for the first time the other morning (no, I don’t know a “Charlie” and I’m not sure who he is but I’d like to know why my daughter knows his name), her first pony tail, and the small details of our home.

With so many things out of our control, it’s nice to have a space that is entirely up to our say. A place to rock her, make her feel comfortable, in routine, peaceful and happy. While it is far from finished, I want to share a little bit of our sweet “Jane space” with you.

I am far from a Pinterest mom, but I do my best ;-) I wish so hard I could handle grey walls with matching neutral upholstery and meaningless Ikea furniture, but I just can’t. I thrive on messy, eclectic and personal. And don’t forget, inexpensive! Everything below shows my attempts at just that. Get ready for an overload of sentiment and meaning and cutesie things!

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1. Jane’s crib was a hand-me-down from my nieces. Pottery Barn FREEBIE for the win!

2. The banner above Jane’s crib was made for my baby shower and it lives on :)

3. The frame below the banner was found at a garage sale by my mom. I framed one of our very favorite verses for this season of our lives in it and hung a peacock feather that someone gave us from our wedding. I’m so personal and sentimental right now!

4. The rocking chair was my great grandpas. ( I know, you can’t even handle me right now). The faux fur throw is Ikea $9.99! And the white pillow was specifically picked out by my mom if we had a girl. Spoiler alert, we did :) Rich and I picked out a mustache pillow for if it was a boy. The mustache pillow lives on in our living room.

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How bout that thumb tack huh!?

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This pillow is the pillow of a princess. Also great lumbar support.

The window wall of Jane’s room is my second favorite view. With the windows open during the day you can smell gardenia’s blowing in from the plant right outside her window (A gardenia bush, one of my mom’s favorite scents. Jane is named after her, “Jane Margaret”). Too much precious, I know. It’s also another wall with more space for me to show off my sentimental values :)

20140815-224455.jpg1. This is a picture I made for Jane the day we found out we were having a little lady. Her name was a secret but anyone who saw the initial pre-birth took their guesses :) The snow white tin was mine (or maybe my sister’s? Well it’s mine now!) growing up. The bird was in my parent’s house and actually used as decor in my friend’s wedding. I’m unstoppable!!

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1. Both the air plant and stitched “J” are gifts from my dear friend who lives on the E.Coast. She hasn’t met Jane yet but they are both tiny and fierce and have overcome a lot and continue to do so. Christina, this is my tribute to you. <3


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The bedtime corner. A fru fru lamp. Another “pre-girl” purchase (meaning you keep the receipt in case it’s a dude baby). And our little reminder that Jane means “God has been gracious”.

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I used to not like this wall with Jane’s changing table/ dresser as much as the others but now I do. It was the “catch all” station. But after hanging these ADORABLE garage sale little girl pictures it added just the thing for me to take pride in this space. I’ve asked for it’s forgiveness and promised to never abuse it again. Jane has thick wavy hair. My husband loves dogs. It was meant to be.

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Hidden high above the world is this little detail. A koala given to Jane by a small friend, who happens to be the daughter of fellow Eco Chic Diaries blogger, Julie Hamilton. She’s a quirky one and little does she know I actually am in love with this little guy.

 

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My advice for your space? Keep it fun. Don’t decorate like a grown up. Make it meaningful, don’t play by rules. Love your space.

And now for the gag reel:

 

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That’s real life people!!

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A Blog Tour

I’m so honored to be invited to ” A Tour Through Blogland ” by Sarah of “Little Bus on the Prairie” (She lives on an actual bus… with CHILDREN. Champion award). A weekly snippet of bloggers all around CA and beyond who live life simply, beautifully, and realistically! I’m fairy new to blogging so it’s quite validating that someone finds your life stories worthy to be read, let alone explored! Thank you Sarah for inviting me on the journey, and to all new readers, welcome to Hil’s Kitchen!

ORIGINS

Harris Family

 

 

2.5 years ago I married my best friend and was a simple living, semi bored house wife who worked from home and volunteered at our church, and enjoyed a more natural way of life. I have always had a love for food (I get it from my parents) and happened to marry one of the most selective eaters of all time ( he’s gotten better, and I’ve learned how to put it nicely ;) We are also frugal, tight budget, normal people so I liked making the most out of what we had when it came to meals, and always had a knack for writing, thus Hil’s Kitchen was birthed.

Fast forward 2 years later, we became youth pastors, we bought a house and had a little baby girl named Jane (We like to do things all at once). Jane almost died on day 3 of her life and spent 28 days in the ICU for a condition called hyperinsulinism (which she no longer has! ) . The after effects still follow us everyday as Jane is now 7 months old and (for now) experiences frequent petite mal seizures. Our days are filled with hard prayers, neurology visits, and as you can imagine, budgeting for cheap meals is  no longer the topic at the forefront of my mind, but rather my precious little 13 lb. tinker bell fighter of a baby girl, Jane Margaret :) She and my new journey of mommyhood are now what you’ll mostly find on Hil’s Kitchen.

 

How Does Your Writing/ Creative Process Work? 

Oh dear, I am a hot mess when it comes to organizing thoughts!  That’s why I love my “note” app on my Iphone. If I ever get an idea I am quick to jot it down in there as life is too busy to assume I will remember anything! I also am horrible at self discipline so finding fellow bloggers (like Sarah), or a community of people that requires me to write is absolutely perfect. I need the pressure. Without the pressure I will eat nachos and lay by the pool all day. Or practice “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” on the piano in the middle of August. (You think I’m joking). I am currently doing a summer series for a local business in our area called Eco Chic. Check out some of the amazing diaries! Things like that push me into structure and this little wild flower needs that.

 

My Muse’s 

My main inspirations are obviously my husband and my daughter. Though I never want to label us as a family with “needs”, I obviously have a little bit of experience that I’m sure other mom’s with sick babies want to hear about. It can feel really lonely so I’m happy to provide some light :) I used to think that I needed to come up with some fabulous photos like the blogging queen herself, The Pioneer Woman, or travel to Italy to be a legit blogger. But most of my musings come from every day experiences. Jane is only 7 months old but she is hilarious. And motherhood, it is super humbling. Like the other day, I forgot Jane at Cost Co. It was on Fathers Day. She’s alive and okay so lets be honest, that’s hilarious. I couldn’t help but immediately think, “That one’s going on the blog”. Or sometimes we have super sweet mother daughter moments, and instead of keeping it to myself, it’s my civic duty as a blogger to share it with ya’ll. It’s humbling and takes boldness, and the audacity to think that people actually CARE, but if there’s anything I’m learning through my sharing and our journey with Jane it’s that people want REAL. So I try to document that as much as I can, even if it’s not pretty.

 

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JaneHilBed

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What am I currently working on? 

Currently, I’m trying to work on a post for Eco Chic Diaries. What has been hard with Jane and her current bout with seizures is it’s hard to process what lessons are just for me, and what lessons I need to share with the world. Some things should be kept sacred, but some things may actually save a person’s sanity. So right now, I’m trying to sort through those thoughts before I post :)

 

Why blog? 

People need your story!  Whether it’s how to eat organic, being single at 35, how to train for a marathon, or living in a bus to save money, someone out there needs to hear it. I know I love finding stories that speak to my hurting heart. I’ve already connected with one specific mama through Instagram, Katie Ewing of Praying for Paisley. It’s seeing stories like her’s that help keep us inspired as a family, and help remind us that we’re not alone and we can keep fighting and keep dancing :) . I think that is what blogging really comes down to, and why it’s so popular… people want to know they’re not alone. Whenever I feel insecure or like no one cares to read what I write, I try to remind myself of that. So when in doubt, just do it! You never know who needs to hear what you have to say, no matter how happy or sad it may be.

 

Our next stop… 

Faye

I’m so excited to introduce you to the next stop on our Tour Through Blogland , From Faye! Some of you who don’t know me probably already know who she is, and to that I would like to say, why yes, I do know her personally ;-) She’s one of my inspirations, she’s hilarious and all about green living and knows how to keep house work interesting, which is a gift. Check her out and your welcome in advance for forever changing your life and introducing you to your new obsession. :-)

28 Days of Jane: Everybody Has a Story

Before Jane, I was a judger. A hardcore judger. If you gave your baby formula. Judged. If you couldn’t kick postpartum weight. Judged. If you gave your kid sugar too early in life. Judged. It’s a wonder I had any friends at all!!

But then came Jane. Jane taught me that everybody has a story.

See before Jane was born I had a great story. Simple really. My husband and I dated for 2 years. Married on the 2 year mark. Got pregnant and had Jane on the next 2 year mark. We had good jobs. We had just bought a house. I had an easy pregnancy. We went on vacations. Young wild and free. Easy. That was my story.

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After Jane, I had a different story. I had messy unkept hair. I never wore make up. I wore the same navy blue zip up hoodie everyday in the hospital with maternity leggings. It was suspected that my baby had galactosemia, a disorder in which she could not absorb my breast milk. So my baby was fed soy formula (a HUGE no no if you had asked me prior, and a huge no no amongst the “natural” minded people I hung around) through a feeding tube.

With such exposure to diseases that lie dormant in a hospital environment and no first line defense of my skin to skin contact, or breast milk, vaccinations seemed almost like a no brainer where before we were “on the fence”. My sciatic nerve was pinched in giving birth to Jane and made walking postpartum almost unbearable. So I hobbled everywhere and it took me double the time to do “normal” things during our 4 week hospital stay. I ate nothing for 1.5 weeks out of nervous shock, then ate EVERYTHING for the next 1.5 weeks out of… aftershock?

My how my story had changed.

We would go to places like Whole Foods (ya know, where all the cool soccer moms shop? Oops, I just judged again…), and a little hip coffee shop full of entitled college students (Whooooaaa, judging again!) that became our oasis. It was in these public places that I could feel the eyes. The questions. The judgement.

“Wow that girl should do her hair”

“Well that girl’s not a threat in those grungy clothes”

“Why is that girl limping?”

“Oh, she must be like 5 months pregnant” (All you postpartum mommies feel me on that one)

It was then that I realized that they didn’t know my story! They didn’t know that I had JUST had a baby. That she was currently getting hooked up to IV’s in ICU. That we hadn’t been home in 3 weeks. That I had only used a public/community shower since I had given birth. That my husband and I weren’t just 2 college kids on a date, we were celebrating our 2 year wedding anniversary in a way we never expected right after being told that I could no longer breastfeed my baby.

I just wanted to scream, “Don’t you judge me! I have a story!”

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Or more recently, today at Big Lots I did a REALLY bad job of pulling into a parking spot . I guess I cut off a lady walking in the street because she not only gave me a really dirty look but started talking to another guy in the parking lot about me. Then as she drove away she pointed her finger at me and her lips were moving really fast and her face looked really mean and based off her countenance I’m guessing she was thinking things like,

“Irresponsible”

“Selfish”

“Rude”

And probably lots and lots of expletives :)

What she DIDN’T know was that I hadn’t slept in 2 days. Jane is teething or growing or manifesting demons. Not really sure which one. Maybe they’re all the same? She didn’t know that I was a sleep deprived woman thinking about money, groceries and the evening’s dinner plan, trying to squeeze in an errand between work phone calls and while my mom watched my cranky child. And while she may have been right about my horrible parking decision, she was most likely not seeing that I actually had a story.

And everybody does. The trendy hipster at the coffee shop. The nurses who do or do not administer your child’s vaccines. The mom who doesn’t breast feed. The one who can’t lose weight after baby. The one who loses “too much” weight after baby. They all have a story.

Instead of seeing a person at face value I began to try to my very hardest (we are only human afterall) to see passed the “obvious”. That woman looks really happy on Instagram but is she actually really lonely right now? That mom acts so protective over her children but did something traumatic happen to her as a child? That woman sure does post a lot of selfies! Is she reaching out for compliments she never receives? That single girl does whatever she wants, what a life! Is she really longing to settle down and for a family of her own right now?

I guess my point to all of this is, be kind mama.

Be kind to the woman handing her kid a bag of cheetos for a snack, be kind to the one who breastfeeds till 2 yrs old. Be kind to the full time working mama who can’t wear her baby all day long and the one who doesn’t let her baby go. Be kind to the one who cosleeps and doesn’t cosleep. To the telemarketer and the door salesman. To the one who vaccinates and to the one that doesn’t. To the one who is back at the gym and the one who can’t get out of bed. To the angry checkout clerks, or hasty baristas. To the mommy who wants to work. To the one who doesn’t , and to the one who has to.

Their story may not be yours, but they have one. Everybody does. Even the soccer moms at Whole Foods and the cranky ladies found in Big Lots parking lots :)

 

 

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28 Days of Jane: And We Danced

This summer I am thrilled to be writing for a fantastic team of  REAL women, sisters, daughters and mommies at Eco Chic Diaries!

Stay tuned every week through the summer for what I’ll be posting here and there for the Eco Chic team! 

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28 Days of Jane: And We Danced

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I have watched You’ve Got Mail over 475 times. You can not beat 1990’s/early 2000’s Meg Ryan. Can. Not. Beat.

I love the line in You’ve Got Mail where Kathleen Kelly talks to big business owner Joe Fox about how her and her mother used to “twirl”.

“What is that you’re doing in that picture” he asks.

“Twirling. My mother and I used to twirl”.

Love. It.

You see, Kathleen inherited the bookstore she operates from her mother and her mother has since passed. Her mom must have built a pretty successful business in order to pass a healthy retail store along. That would mean long hours, meetings and agendas. But what does her daughter remember most about her? Twirling.

This month I had the opportunity to speak at our church’s Mothers Day Service. Code for: Watch out! Your kid is not going to sleep and everything is going to fall apart as you prepare! And that’s mostly what happened :)

Jane was absolutely crazy, she slept maybe 2 hrs in 5 days ;-) I had my actual job to do, groceries to buy, house to clean, and still prepare something encouraging to say for all the nice church people. All the while my daughter had the nerve to NEED me, and was actually being quite cranky and somewhat of a bully. Did you know you can be bullied by a 4 month old? You can.

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In that moment I realized I had 2 choices: I could remain a stress case and get bitter at my messy house and crying daughter, OR, I could dance.

Hard decision, easy choice :)

I put on a new song we love from the album “You Make Me Brave”, entitled “We Danced”, I picked up my baby girl, and we danced around the living room. I think we did the waltz. Not really sure. Either way, I pressed her little cheek next to mine, sang her the words I knew, started praying for her future husband who would someday sweep her around a dance floor, and my baby and I had a little moment.

I still had a lot of things to do. I was barely prepared for the message I had to speak at our 3 Sunday services, I had no dinner planned, I still had laundry and vacuuming and dusting and and…

But I decided that while I hope Jane would someday recall me as a strong, brave, successful woman who loved her God and was dedicated to her work, I would LOVE, if when asked about me, she would say,

“She danced”.

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