Get Checked!

I sit here tonight writing about something I openly admit that I know nothing about.  I could type out statistics and spout out facts, but you can Google them yourself.  And although I have never personally gone through it, I doubt anyone would argue with me when I say, “Cancer Sucks.”

There are people in our lives that impact us good and bad.  Sometimes the other person is aware of their influence on our lives, other times not so much.

I went to a small college in the Hudson Valley region of New York.   It was small enough that even though you might not personally know every person, you do recognize their face.  This blog is in particular about one girl who was a grade below me.  She actually was in lot of my now husband’s classes.  She always had a smile on her face.  Even though I did not know her very well it was apparent how friendly, caring, and nice of person she was.  I look back at that time in college and wish now that we had been closer.  I know I would have been a better person then if we had been.

However, I am a better person now because of her.  Because of the wonderful age of social media that we live in today we are friends on Facebook.  I have traveled along her journey through breast cancer.  She is the epitome of courageous, strong, persistent, inspiring, and amazing.  Her honesty in her posts put a face to all of the statistics you read regarding breast cancer.  It is hard not to laugh and cry with her during her triumphs and her bumps in the road.  Her infectious smile and her beautiful family have captivated an audience who are all cheering for her on the sidelines.

While many would take this opportunity to worry about themselves she went a step further and became involved in a beautiful PSA video about getting checked regularly.  I have posted it below.  I urge you to watch it.  While none of us know what the future has in store for any of us, I can guarantee you this, the light the she shines and her fabulousness is and will continue to change lives.


Blood On Our Hands

I don’t normally start out like this, but since I recently had a very unpleasant experience I have decided for this blog entry I would add the following disclaimer.

Disclaimer:  We all come from different walks of life and we all have our different views on things.  But if we can just take a moment to listen to the “opposing side” and truly listen to them, we might get further in our own path when we understand where the other side is coming from.  Different opinions are what makes the world go around.  We don’t have to agree with them, but we should respect them.

I grew up in a conservative home.  My father hunted.  He literally put food on the table.  He still does.  With that being said it’s quite apparent that he owns a gun.  As a child, teenager, adult, I never saw the guns just lying about.  My father when he had to clean it would be downstairs out of sight.  To this day I still do not know how to get into his locker where he keeps them.  My father was and still is the epitome of responsibility.  He understands the awesome power and responsibility that comes with owning a gun.  If all gun owners were like my father the epidemic that is running rapid in our nation would not exist.

Unfortunately, not all people are as responsible.  Not all people obtain their guns in a legal way.  Not all people understand the sheer magnitude of what owning a gun means.

I support the Second Amendment.  I believe that those who are capable, law abiding citizens, if they so chose should be able to own a gun. However, I do believe we need stricter laws in gun control.  I have been ridiculed in the past saying that if I believe this way then I do not support the Second Amendment.  I am not sure when it happened, but our nation has become an all or nothing nation.  If you are liberal you have to be 100% liberal with no wavering conservative views. If you do, you are a traitor.  If you are conservative, but you don’t believe in the death penalty, you are an idiot and discounted as a conservative.  Just because you support something does not mean that you don’t see the possibility for change.  I support the Second Amendment, but it needs to be revised.

Our forefathers when they wrote the Constitution wrote it based on the world they knew at the time.   Schools, churches, movie theaters (didn’t even exist) had never been shot up.  Slavery was not illegal.  Mind you the thirteenth amendment (Abolishes slavery) did not occur until 1865.  Yet when the conversation comes up in regards to gun control somehow all extremes come out to play and the life that has already been taken from our world no longer matters.
A month ago I was at a holiday party at a friend’s house with my husband.  The host said to me in conversation regarding this, “If Newtown did not change anything, nothing will.”  At the time I nodded my head and agreed with him.  However, in the past several weeks that statement has ecNewtown--Sandy-Hook-memorial-2-jpghoed in my head.  If killing 20 children at the mere age of 6 and 7 and 6 adults did not get our nation to do anything, nothing will.  At this point we are all guilty.  We all have blood on our hands.  Each and every shooting that occurs in which we made no attempt to change it, is our fault too.

I am not ignorant in thinking that if we pass some stricter gun laws our problems would be solved and there would be no more shootings.  Of course there would still be the outliers.  Just like there are outliers in other illegal activity.  We have laws against stealing, many of us have home security, but that doesn’t stop some to attempt robbery.  But it does deter many.

Recently legislation has been placed to undo “No Child Left Behind”.  It was an education debacle for the simple fact that not every child is the same.  Not every child learns the same way, will achieve the same heights, and go the same path.  In a similar regard not every person is emotionally and mentally capable of pulling a trigger.  I am not even touching those who are mentally or emotionally impaired.  I am talking about the average Joe or me, who in the moment of crisis would not effectively be able to load, point, or shoot a gun.  It’s just not in me to do.  However, somehow the answer to this gun epidemic, is guns for everyone.  This mentality of a one size fits all, lays the burden on the innocent while the criminals can have their free for all.

My son will start Kindergarten in the fall.  I have many mixed emotions about this.  I am excited, happy, sad (where did my baby go?).  I have one more emotion that I have yet to express to anyone.  Not even my husband.  Fear.  I am not so naive to think that where I live in rural suburbia the possibility of a school shooting could never happen.  And although I do not let this fear run my life it has quietly crept into my thoughts and dreams when I have a least expected it.   It’s funny (not really) my parents would have never dreamed to have that kind of worry when I went to school.   And yet somehow we have accepted the fact that our kindergartens not only should learn fire drills, but also lock down drills in case of a shooting.  We have accepted this.  We have changed our lives because of this, and yet we refuse to change our laws.

You might not agree with me.  You might not like my opinion.  I am not asking you to.  But the next time you hear about the latest shooting (because it will happen again) ask yourself this, in what other problematic issue out there today; the solution is to add more fuel to the fire?

“Out, damned spot! Out, I say!—One, two. Why, then, ’tis time to do ’t. Hell is murky!—Fie, my lord, fie! A soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?—Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him”  Lady MacBeth ~MacBeth



I’m Not Lucky

I was talking to a mother the other day about bedtimes and how my kids go to bed without a fuss.  She said to me, “You are so lucky.”  Later on that day I started to think about our conversation and how “lucky” I was.  That is when I came to the conclusion, I’m not lucky.  It was not by some random stroke of luck that this occurs.  I didn’t pick some numbers and win the lottery.  As I have written in the past one of the things my husband and I decided early on was that we would dictate bedtimes, schedules, etc., not the children.  It is not by luck at all that my kids go to bed without a fight.

In any schedule, rule, or manner, that we wanted our children to maintain it took a lot of patience, time, and sometimes tears to accomplish it.  It was hard at times and my husband and I sometimes would have to take turns to give the other person a break.  There were moments when one of us was on the brink of giving in.  I questioned myself and fought internally debating whether we were doing the right thing.  No there was no luck about it, it was work.

parenting LuckLike any good parent I have doubted myself in my methods, read numerous articles regarding whatever particular topic we were trying to hurdle, and surveyed other parents to get feedback on what they did.  I asked my pediatrician and read books on parenting.   No it was definitely not luck, it took a lot of studying and research.

I admit there were times that we headed down a path and realized it was not working.  We were not getting the results we wanted.  The kids were not responding in the way we thought they would.  We had to go back to square one, decide what we needed to tweak or change altogether, and start all over again.  I made my mistakes and I will continue to make them, but as the bumps come up we will iron them out.  No it was not luck, it was perseverance.

So I guess what I am trying to say is that it was not by some small miracle that my kids are acting in a way that you admire.  And believe me they do act up.  They are not perfect, my husband and I are not perfect, but it was not by luck they behave they way they do good and bad.  It was work and I am so proud of it.




The Unexpected Gift

TimeWhen I decided to be a gestational carrier my main focus was helping out two amazing people in their quest to parenthood.  I never imagined that through this journey I would gain something from it other than some additional attention.

It has now been 5 months since the baby was born and in hindsight this pregnancy in many ways saved me.  I had been at my past employer for nine and half years when I went out on disability a couple of months prior to the birth.  It was not an easy time for me.  I felt poorly.  I was unable to take care of my children and the simplest things were very taxing to me.  After the baby was born, they could not get me to stop bleeding and because of this my hemoglobin count dropped to a 7.  The doctor told me average range was 12-14.  Because of this drop in my hemoglobin I was anemic.  I never realized how debilitating that could be.  I had body aches and pain, chest pain, shortness of breath, and fatigue.  About a week and half post-partum I started to feel like myself again (thanks to the iron supplements I was taking) and that is when it hit me like a bolt of lightning.

The first time I was taking a shower when I burst into tears.  Not realizing how loudly I was crying my husband came in to see what was wrong.  I looked at him and said, “I do not want to go back.”  There were no additional words needed he knew what I meant by that.  A week later he had just finished drumming and I was working at the computer.  I turned around on the chair to face him and burst into tears again, and said “I really do not want to go back.”  Without hesitation Will said I do not how we will do it, we will figure it out, but you aren’t going to go back.  He then said you better write your resignation letter.  Just the thought of that made my stomach do flip flops and caused me to feel anxious, but I sat down and wrote it.

To say I had been unhappy for some time would be an understatement and the details aren’t really important.  For some reason however, I never had the courage to do something about it.  After the baby was born something inside of me changed.  I can’t really explain it, but I will say this.  Seeing how in a split second the lives of two people changed so much, was like an epiphany to me.  These two incredible parents now had their family.  A journey for them that had many bumps in the road, but they never gave up.  Somewhere along my own journey I had silently cried defeat.  But in that moment something renewed me and gave me the sense that I needed to make some changes.

That pregnancy as a gestational carrier will always be different and special for many reasons.  However, one of the biggest reasons will always be for the first in many years I finally took a step in the right direction towards my road of happiness.  There were some sacrifices I had to make, but it has been more than worth it.  With this renewed feeling of life and love I truly believe that my future has endless possibilities and for that I will always be indebted to “Baby Wednesday”.

The Brave New World

So today I became part of a heated debate.   I usually steer clear of these kinds of things on the internet, but today I couldn’t resist.   This morning I was flipping through Facebook and I saw an ad for an app in which you can install on your phone that can monitor your children’s activities on their cell phones. You can see your child’s text messages, social media sites, emails, etc.
I happen to click on the comments and this woman was making very condescending and judgmental comments.  She felt as if you couldn’t trust your children then they shouldn’t have a cell phone. And by snooping at what they were up to, you were destroying the trust you have between you and your child.  I actually agree with her too a certain extent.  I do believe if you can’t trust your children they should not have a cell phone.  I also agree with her that snooping does harm a relationship between parent and child and should be avoided.  However, if it was all that easy I do believe the teenage years would be the easiest time to raise a child.  Yet, that is not so.

The truth is a lot of children need phones.  It is not a want, but a necessity.  Children go off to school while the parent(s) go off to work.  After school the kids either go on to some activity or go home to an empty house, because mom and/or dad are not home yet.  The cell phone is one of the few ways a parent can easily and quickly get a hold of their child to know where they are, how they are doing, etc.

We would all like to think our children are going to be 100% open and honest with us, but reality is that is not so.  Whether it is not giving every detail about something, hiding the truth, or full out lying, some form of deception is being done.  Think about when you were a teenager; did you tell your parents everything?  Think about your own adult life.  I am sure there are things you keep to yourself.  Now is that bad thing, no.  Shouldn’t teenagers have that same respect applied to them? Yes.  Unfortunately, in today’s world it goes a little deeper than that.

Between the cyber bullying, the pressures of sex, drinking, and drugs our kids have a whole new world of problems to deal with that we didn’t have to.  Of course there was always the pressure to try something or do something illicit, however in today’s world the minute you do or don’t something, it is documented for the entire world to know until the end of time.  There is no getting around it, hiding from it, or denying it.  Kids will bully and torture other kids via text messages and all of the social media outlets.  It is devastating how kids can tear each other down and it is more disturbing at what lengths the victim will go to end it, including ending their own life.

While I do not want to know every little thing that goes on in Liam and Ava’s life, I am still their parent.  I need to look out for them and protect them to the best of my abilities.  It would be naive for me to sit here and think that Liam and Ava would always come to me if something upsetting in their lives were happening.  Teenagers by nature think they know it all and many times try to fix it.  Other times they are just too embarrassed or hurt to say anything.  While I do not think this app should be used as a 24 hour monitoring device for your child.  It would be most helpful to check in once in a while to make sure nothing detrimental is happening.  Of course like anything else this app needs to be used wisely and with discretion.

I will end with these few statistics.

“Despite the potential damage of cyber bullying, it is alarmingly common among adolescents and teens. According to Cyber bullying statistics from the i-SAFE foundation:

  • Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying.
  • More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyber threats online.
  • Over 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet.
  • Well over half of young people do not tell their parents when cyber bullying occurs.

The Harford County Examiner reported similarly concerning cyber bullying statistics:

  • Around half of teens have been the victims of cyber bullying
  • Only 1 in 10 teens tells a parent if they have been a cyber bully victim
  • Fewer than 1 in 5 cyber bullying incidents are reported to law enforcement
  • 1 in 10 adolescents or teens have had embarrassing or damaging pictures taken of themselves without their permission, often using cell phone cameras
  • About 1 in 5 teens have posted or sent sexually suggestive or nude pictures of themselves to others
  • Girls are somewhat more likely than boys to be involved in cyber bullying

The Cyberbullying Research Center also did a series of surveys that found these cyber bullying statistics:

  • Over 80 percent of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it the most popular form of technology and a common medium for cyber bullying
  • About half of young people have experienced some form of cyber bullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly
  • Mean, hurtful comments and spreading rumors are the most common type of cyber bullying
  • Girls are at least as likely as boys to be cyber bullies or their victims
  • Boys are more likely to be threatened by cyber bullies than girls
  • Cyber bullying affects all races
  • Cyber bullying victims are more likely to have low self esteem and to consider suicide”


Summertime With the Kids

I remember my mother telling me about waiting on the playground on the last day of elementary school.  She would hear a few mothers moaning about how they had to “deal” with their kids for the whole summer.  I remember my mother telling me how she did not understand these mothers, as she was excited about what she was going to do with us for the summer.  And it’s true; my mother did a lot with us.  She took us to the library, trips to the city, friends’ houses, swimming lessons and the list goes on.  I never really understood exactly what she meant until today.  I knew she enjoyed her time with us, but I never understood how annoying those other mothers were until now.

I went to pick up pizza at our local pizzeria and there were two women ahead of me waiting for their orders.  It was obvious that these women knew each other.  I overheard the one woman say to the other, “Julie is in camp till the end of July.  Thank God.  I have no idea what I am going to do with her in August.”  That was followed by an exasperated sigh.  The other woman was nodding in agreement and replied, “I know exactly what you mean.”

Family Fun Times
Family Fun Times

The problem is I do not know what they mean.  Without fail everyday Liam and Ava try my patience, they get into fights with each other, and have standoffs with my husband and I; and yet I would not trade it for the world.  I go back to work in a week and half and I am half looking forward to it and half not.  Since my husband is home for the summer (he is a teacher) we have been jam packing our days with family “funness” before I have to go back.   I don’t understand these women’s sentiments especially since I have been accused (and rightfully so) of jam packing our days too much.  I just want to do so much with them and I feel like there is not enough time.

I am not trying to be preachy or anything like that.  I know I am not perfect by any means.  I guess it comes from one fear that I have, which is when I look back in twenty years I don’t want to say I wish I had ….but instead say I’m glad I did.

Lesson Learned From a Four Year Old

After my nightly run, I hopped in the shower, and threw my hair into pigtail braids.  When I got out of the shower Liam excitedly ran up to me and said, “Mom your hair looks so stylish.”  It brought a huge smile to my face and made me laugh.  It was a quick reminder on how I would like to see things more like him.  Instead of being so critical, enjoy the moment.  Important lesson learned from a 4 year old, take a deep breath and enjoy.


Baby Wednesday is Born

“And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make.”

June 10, 2015 my journey as a gestational carrier ended.  “Baby Wednesday” was born at 2:59 PM and altered the lives of everyone in the room with me that day.  For me it was a moment of closure of a process that had carried on for a lot longer than 9 months; for the intended parents it was a moment of joyous tears; and for the medical staff that were there that day they watched in awe over this rare moment.

June 5th was the first day I thought maybe my journey was coming to end as I began to have contractions that went on for several hours, but then it stopped.  The following day was Saturday and my family went to my parents’ house as they lived closer to the hospital that I was going to deliver at.  During the day I began to have some serious contractions and then they stopped.  We stayed at my parents’ house thinking that it might start up again overnight, but it didn’t.  The next morning after breakfast my husband and I packed up our kids and went home.  In the late afternoon I began to have some very painful contractions and I was convinced this was it.  We drove down to my parents’ house again and then the contractions stopped, again.   Frustrated and tired I was looking forward to my appointment I had the next day with the midwives to find out what was going on.

During the appointment I found out I was dilated 2 cm, but no signs of immediate labor were apparent.  I was scheduled for the next day, Tuesday to be induced.  I was so excited as were the parents.  Overnight there was a storm.  I am not sure if it was the change in the barometric pressure or just coincidence, but apparently every woman in the tri-state area (I might be exaggerating a little bit), except for me went into labor.  By 8:00 AM my inducement time got pushed back till 3:00 PM.  Needless to say I was more than ready to have the pitocin drip begin.  Unfortunately, after hours of having the pitocin drip in me it was 1:00 AM and my contractions were still rather irregular.  It was thought best to quit until the next morning (6:00 AM) to get some rest.  I however got no rest.  I was still pregnant with a baby leaning heavy on my bladder and no position was comfortable.  On top of that, every so often a nurse was coming in to take my blood pressure, check the baby monitors, etc.  I was exhausted by the time the morning came.

Since the pitocin had proven not to be so effective the next morning it was thought best to begin with an oral inducement as well as the pitocin.  But I was warned that if my body was not ready this could possibly not work.  The midwife spoke to me about breaking my water, however if the baby was still not born within 48 hours of breaking my water, a c-section would have to be done.  Tired and so done, I was up for anything.  The intended parents really did not want to see a c-section happen as they were concerned for my well-being.  I anxiously waited to see what would happen.

As luck would have it a couple hours after the pitocin, the midwives felt pretty confident with breaking my water.  My labor was progressing and I was well on my way to an epidural.  Needless to say the epidural for me was glorious as I was unaware of how imminent delivery would be.  It was not until I asked the midwife at around 2:30 if she thought they baby was going to be born before dinner and her reply was, “She will be born in the next half hour,” that I realized that “it” was happening.”

Nine minutes of pushing, that’s all it took.  Beautiful, miraculous, “Baby Wednesday” was born.  The moments that followed were ones filled with relief, joy, and tears.  It’s funny in hindsight I can see how we were all part of something so much bigger than what we realized at the time.  The staff kept saying what an awesome moment it was to see and experience, but for us it was just living, experiencing the moment.

It was not easy for any of us to get to that moment, but it felt good to be there.  Now there is one family completed and full of so much love.  I am so happy that I could do that for them.  For me, I am glad that I can now focus on my own family.  If there is not one thing I have learned through this experience is that love is a very powerful thing.  It can transcend us to do things we thought we would never do.  Never take love for granted and never underestimate it because love truly will get you through anything and everything.