Under Construction


Hello All,

It’s been a while, but growing a baby human can be quite exhausting at times. On an exciting front there’s only about 5 weeks left until Baby T makes his way earthside. I know that once he is born things will be even more wonderfully hectic. Between preparing for the baby and house hunting for our new forever home I haven’t been online very much.

Hopefully, there is some more exciting news in the works on the house front, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself yet. Stay tuned!

As many of you know I am in the process of writing my memoir of the adventures Richie and I have shared focusing on a lot of our time in Japan. I’m considering switching gears slightly and focusing a bit more on how anxiety has affected our journey.

I am also in the process of constructing my own website and online portfolio. A friend reached out to me requesting some editing help recently. I realized I don’t have any kind of portfolio or list of services for my freelance work. (I can do anything from ghost writing assistance to editing to constructing professional resumes if anyone is looking for some help).

I’m hoping this blog will be a main focus once I finish my new website so don’t go anywhere! I appreciate all the love and encouragement everyone always gives here and thanks for sticking with me.

Aly

 

 

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The Third Trimester


Hello Again, World

I’m up before everyone else again because – pregnancy insomnia – haha. I don’t know if that’s really what it is called, but it makes sleeping very hard to do. I think Sophia woke up 100 times last night as well. She’s snoring in the bedroom now. Anyway, as my fellow Moms know, it’s tough to get comfortable when you have a giant belly. Flip flop from one side to the other, put a hundred pillows around you, try to lay on your back, but you can’t because the baby crushes your veins. It’s a challenge. So instead of flopping around in bed trying to sleep I figured I’d just get up.

I’m really excited because this week marks the end of the second trimester and the beginning of the third. What does that mean? That means that there’s just just about 13 weeks until my due date and meeting my little man earthside. YAY! I vowed not to rush this pregnancy, to try to enjoy the little kicking moments and the round belly, but honestly I’m just so very excited to see him. The tremendous joy that we felt when Sophia was finally born is indescribable. I can’t wait for that moment again and this time to have Sophia meeting her baby brother will be amazing.

So I don’t want to rush it, but the beautiful light at the end of this journey is our new baby boy, and a baby brother for our princess. It’s hard not to be excited for the third trimester!

Some Happy News in a Sad World


Recently some beloved celebrities have passed away from fights with cancer. Even though we don’t know them personally, it sometimes feels like we did because we became so close with their characters/music. Farewell, Alan Rickman and David Bowie, you have touched the lives of many.

In a sad week for movie and music lovers, I have some joyful news to share. Our family is excited to share that we will be welcoming a beautiful, healthy little BOY come June. Yay! My husband and I were both blessed to grow up with brothers by our side and now our beautiful baby girl gets to experience that same joy.

There is nothing like a brother to tease you, drive you crazy, stand up for you, love you, and be your very first best friend. I’m happy that Sophia will have a brother to stand by her and be her friend for their whole lives. We are also super excited to see where our parenting journey takes us from one great little girl to two awesome kids.

This pregnancy has flown by so far. Here’s to the next 20 weeks or so :). I’m going to enjoy this time with Sophia as an only child and hopefully get a bit of writing in here and there!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year


Hi Everyone!

It’s December (finally? already?)! Another year is coming to a close and I can’t believe how quickly it has gone by. First and most importantly, my little girl is turning TWO in just a few days.  Where did the time go? I’m incredibly amazed at how quickly she has turned from a baby to a smart, loving little kid. She talks up a storm and is a great helper around the house.

Which is wonderful because come June I will need a big helper around the house! We are having our second little miracle! We announced our pregnancy over Thanksgiving and it was met with such joy. There is something special about being able to see the happiness on people’s faces when you announce good news. I will be entering my second trimester in just a few days (14 weeks coming up on Wednesday). As many pregnant ladies know this is a big milestone in a healthy pregnancy. For me, the first trimester has seemed incredibly long because we found out when I was only 3 to 4 weeks along. Technology is amazing these days! With Sophia I was almost 6 weeks before we had our first positive test. Anyway, I’m excited that I’m starting to show and have had several successful doctors appointments.  Baby Choo (like choo choo train) is healthy and growing right on track.

Also, this time of the year I give so much thanks to be home in the States. The holidays always made me homesick when we lived overseas. It’s great to be able to see our family frequently and especially at Christmas. I’m also thankful for my new job. I am able to hone my writing skills, help others, and work from home to be with my baby girl and baby bump.

I hope everyone is well!

Aly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waiting for labor


Today, we are officially 39 weeks and 3 days. That is 4 days from our estimated due date of December 12….for anyone wondering pregnancy is counted at a measure of 40 weeks gestation (10 months) I think they say 9 months because most people don’t find out they are pregnant until a month or two into their pregnancy anyway. The general consensus (as far I can tell) is that doctors count 40 weeks from your last menstrual cycle with actual conception being at week 2 not day 1. Why? Well I think that probably before all this technology, ultrasounds and what not, women would just generally have their babies about 40 weeks after their last period so there ya go. My take on pregnancy haha. (DISCLAIMER: That is my general non scientific description…if you want to know scientific, medical information please consult a doctor.)

We found out at 5 weeks (so 5 weeks after my last cycle started). It wasn’t anything crazy for me, I had just been feeling sick and kind of achy for a week or two. I wasn’t throwing up or anything like that, I just felt….not myself. So on a whim I took a test I was very surprised, but beyond excited. I went into our room and jumped on Richie and was screaming for him to wake up (it was very early in the morning). I can’t say I was very dignified haha. I then went to the store bought a whole bunch of tests and took like five more. It was official I was pregnant. We confirmed at the doctor’s office and that started our journey to our meet our Sophia.

Now, here we are 9 months later waiting very impatiently for her arrival. I’m more tired than anything else. I’ve been seeing a counselor twice a week to help with my anxiety and I can honestly say that it has been a very good thing for me. I’m in a happier and calmer place, which is good since our life is about to change completely! The only thing and I am going to be completely honest here, is that it is HARD to be this pregnant. I’ve gained about 22 lbs total and I’m feeling it on my joints and my back. Plus, there is a little human that likes to sit on my bladder so half my life is spent hanging out in the nearest restroom.

I’ve been doing some walking with my hubby and last night I spent a few hours dancing around in hopes that Sophia Bug would get the hint that we were ready for her to be born. According to my doctor, I have no signs of labor just yet but at least little bug is head down (it is considered breech if a baby is not positioned head down for delivery). The truth is she will come when she is ready and doctors will generally leave you be until you pass 41 weeks and get close to 42 weeks (that is two weeks after your estimated due date) as long as there are no medical issues. In wishful thinking, I would love it if she came sooner rather than later. First because we want to meet her and have been waiting for her and secondly, because I’m becoming a grouch (sorry, hubby!). I think at this point, many women start to feel anxious and a little apprehensive and I don’t blame them. You’ve spent the better part of a year growing this tiny miracle and you are ready for them.

I’m also doing a lot of resting because labor is kind of like a marathon and you need your energy. With the support of my husband and my wonderful doula, I am going to be delivering naturally and unmedicated so I need to make sure that I am calm, as rested as I can be and in a positive place. I’m honestly not afraid of labor or delivery, but I’m definitely impatient. I think I have always been because I was born 11 weeks early and couldn’t wait to meet the world. I don’t  have any great insights except that I want to meet my baby more than anything. I knew from the moment I met her Daddy that he was it for me and now I get to have the best thing ever, a baby who was created in love and is a piece of both of us. That’s why she is so special, she is a miracle and she’s both of us.

And just so he doesn’t forget….I love you buggle, you are truly my best friend, my other half and my lighthouse in the storm….I can’t wait for us to meet our baby and start this beautiful chapter in our lives and in our love together <3.

So if you are a praying person, say a prayer for a (soon) safe, healthy and positive labor and birth for our little family. If you see me out there walking and walking, words of encouragement, praise and chocolate are welcome! Hopefully the next post you see will be about our princess 🙂

Getting Ready


I know it’s been a month or so since I have last written, but we are getting down to the wire here in our pregnancy. I’m 36 weeks on Thursday and to be completely honest I am so ready to have the baby and be done with pregnancy. I am blessed to have been able to conceive and carry our little bug naturally and with little complications (besides the OCD). But I’m going to say 100% truthfully, this has not been an easy journey for me. I know there will be many people who comment on this and say, “Just enjoy your pregnancy, enjoy this time.” Well, I’ve done the best I can but I’m ready to start our next chapter beginning with a peaceful labor and delivery.

We attended our first child birth education class, for us it was not really new information because we have hired a wonderful doula and we have spent many hours doing research and reading. We watched two live births on video and even though I felt slightly squeamish, I was moved to tears because I realized that soon that would be us and our little one would be here in our arms. I am looking forward to the next childbirth classes because we will be learning more about labor positions, comfort techniques, and delivery. The last class will discuss c sections and a tour of the labor and delivery unit. I can’t wait to see the new delivery wing, it only opened up in March and has beautiful, large delivery rooms some with an ocean view. The best part is that in most cases you deliver and recovery all in the same room so it saves the hassle of having to move around a lot.

So for the next few weeks, Richie and I have to organize the baby gear we received at our online baby shower (Thanks, Mom!) and get our little bug’s bassinet set up. We have baby bootcamp and its just a waiting game after Thanksgiving. I just can’t wait in about four-five weeks we will have our own little darling miracle bug who is a real life testament to God and our love for one another. Plus, it’s pretty amazing that I grew her myself 😉

“The First Beautiful Thing I Ever Got Stuck On….”


I haven’t written in a while, maybe a month, as much as I love to write (er, type) the words just wouldn’t come. I was so strong and ready to share my stories, my anxiety and my journey through pregnancy, but one day I just couldn’t find the words. I opened this page hundreds of times and thought about writing, sharing what I learned, what I feel, but it was too difficult. Too difficult: the way it is for me to get behind the wheel of a car without panicking, the way it feels to breathe when an intrusive thought pops into my mind and it gets stuck. And like a broken gear I obsess over it for minutes, for hours, for days. I couldn’t sleep until I was absolutely too exhausted to keep my eyes open because my mind would not let me, because my fear was so real that I could taste it and I just knew I had to keep my eyes open. The days weren’t any better…the dangers in my house were all so real, chemicals, germs, medicines, what if I tripped and fell, but going out of the house was worse, there were too many scary things out in the world. Things I had never thought of that suddenly occupied my every waking moment and my dreams. The compulsions were meant to help my anxiety, counting the medicine to make sure they were all there and I took the right ones. Checking the stove 20 times before I laid down so I knew it wasn’t on. Washing my hands over and over, every time I touched something.  Avoiding everything that frightened me when the compulsions didn’t help.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Do you know what it is? I didn’t. First, let me tell you what it’s not. It’s not being a perfectionist, it’s not re-arranging your CDs in alphabetical order because you like being organized. It’s not a joke, it is never a joke. In simplest terms, OCD can be described as obsessive, unwanted, intrusive thoughts that your brain gets stuck on and the compulsions are too “cure” or make these thoughts and the anxiety they bring with them go away. I know many people have heard of OCD and think of hand-washing. That is one very common compulsion, but it’s not just washing. The root of the issue is fear/anxiety of germs and contamination…the very thought that your food, things you touch, your pet, your loved one ….anyone is contaminated and you have to wash your hands over and over and over until you finally “feel” that you are safe and clean. People with OCD spend HOURS a day on various compulsions. The problem is that feeling of relief only lasts a few minutes until your brain tells you to begin the cycle of obsession again.

But what’s so bad about washing your hands, you might ask me? Nothing. If you wash them once, but what happens when you wash them until your skin cracks and bleeds, until you can’t leave the sink because you just KNOW you are going to contaminate your food, your water, your home so you stay there and you wash over and over, until the bottle runs out of soap, until your hands hurt, until someone drags you away from the sink and you cry. This is just one example, symptoms can get much worse.

I’ve always been a “worrier” and a mother hen to everyone. I’d constantly check on  people to make sure they were okay, they were happy, things were good. When I went to sleep at night, I’d check the locks, three maybe four times to ensure they were locked or check the stove and take a picture to make sure it was really OFF. But these quirks and this checking only lasted a few minutes and I went on with my day. There were other small things, going back inside to make sure the lights were all off and things were unplugged. Texting Richie several times to make sure he made it to work okay. But overall, this was just me, I was a worrier, until it became more than that.

My first notable “episode” lasted several days. I was driving in the dark and began to panic about getting into an accident. I couldn’t stop obsessing for HOURS at a time. After several days, I calmed myself enough to drive. The initial fear went away and I became more cautious, driving even slower and trying not to drive at night. When I was first pregnant, before we even found out, a police vehicle passed me and I began to obsess again. What if I was supposed to pull over? What if I’m going to get a ticket for speeding or something? What if? What if? What if? For me, the compulsions were all in my head, replaying the scene, asking for reassurance that I did everything right, telling myself that I wasn’t going to get a ticket….

The anxiety and the obsessive thoughts got worse, I only felt safe if Richie drove. Getting to work was torture because I drove the absolute slowest I could go and was paranoid about driving. When Richie left for Korea, I began having panic attacks. I would worry myself so bad that my body would suddenly seize up, my heart would race, breathing would become difficult and I felt like I was going to die. Many people have panic attacks and anxiety without OCD, but mine were related. If I couldn’t stop my anxiety with a compulsion, than I fell into panic. My obsessive thoughts turned to my health, I was convinced something bad was going to happen to me, I’d get sick, the baby would get sick, there was something catastrophically wrong with my health and it was going undetected. The worst part of it all was that everyone (doctors included) kept chalking it up to “hormones” and it was normal to be anxious. But I knew this wasn’t just hormones or anxiety, I knew that I was barely functioning most days.

After one of my doctor’s appointments I came home and cried for hours because I was too afraid to move for fear of triggering more anxiety. I had been on a wait list to see a counselor, but I finally was so fed up I called and refused to call back until I had an appointment scheduled. Richie came home and things eased up a bit, but when we were not together, I was falling apart. My obsessive worry transformed over and over, germs, driving, bad food, contamination, medication, health anxiety. After seeing the counselor a few times I was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder. As terrible as it feels, my symptoms are mild to moderate. There are those with OCD who can’t leave their home, who can barely eat or sleep or function because they spend all their time obsessing then performing compulsions to quell the anxiety.

I resigned from work to help work on my anxiety. I’m taking a class and spending time preparing for Sophia’s arrival. Staying busy in the house, keeps me from obsessing. Though, there are some days I don’t have the strength and I mostly just cry because I’m exhausted. Leaving the house triggers intrusive thoughts and anxiety. Large social situations cause stress which is why for the past month or so I’ve pretty much avoided doing anything unless I have too.

But I don’t want to be this way. The reason OCD is so different than other mental disorders is because the sufferer knows that these thoughts/worries are not real and they do not want them, but they don’t know how to “turn them off.” There is so much more to it, but people can fear violent thoughts, health anxiety, contamination, religious fears and so many, many more. And most are ashamed of these thoughts and don’t want to tell others because they fear judgement. I felt the same way, I was sure if I shared how much I really worried people would label me as “crazy.” But then I realized that the only way to feel better was to conquer my OCD and get to a controlled level. Logically, I know that I’m healthy and germs aren’t just waiting to attack me and that driving slowly and cautiously will prevent almost all types of vehicle accidents, but the OCD is a tricky bastard and likes to plant seeds of doubt in my mind.

All that being said, I can feel myself getting stronger. Through a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy, habituation and erp (exposing myself to the things I fear and changing my response to realize that there is no real danger) along with research, reading and meditation, I am starting to feel a bit more like myself. There is no cure for OCD and in many cases it can be exasperated or come on due to pregnancy. My therapist thinks that my symptoms will lessen once Sophia is born and my hormones level out. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I don’t want to give up. While there is no “cure”, people can learn through meditation and therapy to control the OCD and not let it run their lives. I’m not there yet. I want to be and with the help of my loving, darling husband and my mom and my therapist I am getting there slowly.

I wanted to write this because I wanted to tell everyone out there, you are not alone. Whether you have anxiety, OCD, PTSD or some other mental illness you are not alone. It can happen to ANYONE at any point in life and it can be overwhelming, but there is treatment and support for you, just like there is for me. Don’t give up.

The following video is a slam poet sharing his take on OCD. Now, he doesn’t not suffer from the disorder but I feel that he gives a glimpse into the every day torture it can bring. If nothing else, I think its a good poem.

http://www.upworthy.com/the-most-honest-and-heartbreaking-reason-to-leave-your-front-door-unlocked-ive-ever-heard-10

I know this is long, it could be longer but I am exhausted. If you have any questions, comments, concerns let me know, ask me. I’ve read a lot and experienced A LOT lately. I’ll write more later, I could write hundreds of pages and never be done. You may not understand and frankly, some days I don’t understand. All I ask is for an open mind, compassion and prayers for strength.

I will leave you with this:

Be kind for everyone you meet, is fighting a harder battle.

Milk Was A Bad Choice


Can you guess that movie?!

One of the interesting things about pregnancy is how it changes your body. Now, obviously I have gained weight and grown a large bump to accommodate the ever-growing baby bug, but its the other things people don’t mention. The foods! I know I have heard people say, “Oh, I had so many weird cravings” or “I couldn’t even look at Chinese food or I felt sick.” None of that really happened to me (so far). What has  happened is that my taste buds changed around and things I used to LOVE to eat, just taste wrong and sometimes make me sick. I almost cried the first time I ate bacon and it just tasted wrong. It smelled delicious, looked delicious and I wanted to eat it, but it didn’t taste right. Neither did chocolate chip cookies. It was as if my body was teasing me and telling me to eat things it knew I wouldn’t like. The saddest thing for me and the “aversion” that is the worst, by far, is milk. 

For anyone who knows me, you know I love milk. I always drink it and have never had any issues. These days I still LOVE milk, but more than a sip makes me sick. It’s so disheartening when I would like to have a glass of milk with breakfast or in my cereal and I can’t. Last night, I decided to throw caution to the wind (very adventurous, right?) and had maybe 4 ounces of milk with my cake. (Richie and I made cakeeee…it was awesome!). Well, I thought I had won, but today I feel awful. My stomach is sick and I just want to lay down. Milk was most definitely a bad choice.

The point of that silly story is that you never know how pregnancy will change your daily life until you are experiencing it. I had lots of the normal symptoms: morning sickness, lack of energy, random crying jags, but there is so much more. And its not all bad things either, the feeling of amazement when we saw our girl on the ultrasound for the first time and realized there actually was a baby in there! The tears of joy when the doctor announced that we were having a little girl and the shared moment of indescribable happiness between Richie and I. Every little kick and flip I feel is like a victory dance. She’s here and she’s growing and she’s perfect. Last night, Richie and I were getting settled in for the night and he rested his hand on my bump. She must have liked it because she began to kick and spin so much that Richie could feel her. It was one of those perfect moments when we were all connected. And no one can every truly explain these feelings to you, even if they had the words to try.

I’m not going to say I will never complain because, let’s face it, growing a human is tough and sometimes its really hard to do, but I will try to remember to marvel at the experience I’m going through even when it gets really weird, scary or gross. I will never get these moments back and I really won’t drink milk again…maybe.

And Baby Bug is….


A girl! We confirmed today that Baby Bug is a healthy, 11 ounce baby girl-Sophia Elyse. The appointment went really well, minus the fact that you had to go with a full bladder (sort of uncomfortable) so that the sound waves can travel easier/faster. The ultrasound tech was extremely nice and told us each time she was doing a measurement. She checked out everything on me to make sure it was looking good…and then she moved onto the baby :).  She measured the arms, legs, the femur, from knee to hip, from knee to foot and from hand to elbow and elbow to shoulder. She also measured the head and checked for the brain, the four chambers of the heart (we saw the heart beating! It was 150 beats per minute), we also saw the two kidneys and bladder. Sophia was jumping on my bladder which was apparent as her little feet were kicking and wiggling away. She was also covering her face with her hands and hiding from the ultrasound camera as well. It’s obvious Bug is going to be a gymnast/dancer or something because she was rolling and swinging and dancing all around on the screen.

Richie and I are so estatic that everything is going so well so far. I have another appointment on Friday to read the radiology report with my doctor. Wish me luck!!