Life Takes Courage

courageous

Y’all, life comes at your kinda fast sometimes. Case in point – pregnancy #2. It didn’t even feel real to me you guys, I just knew, based on peeing on a stick that another baby was in route. So I go to the first ultrasound, of course (for me at least) these interim steps of a pregnancy are always pretty stressful so naturally you sigh a relief when the baby measures alright and the heartbeat is there and they check all the proverbial boxes. A few days later I went in for my routine visit with the Dr. after the ultrasound and she sorta chortled that my medical history was so insignificant that we were all good to go, see you in a month, yada yada. As she was leaving the room, she mentioned that a student would be coming in to tell me about a research study. I’m just thanking Jesus the pap smear is done and kinda absentmindedly nod my head at something else that sounds routine, and frankly, sorta like a pain (ahh research hospitals, if you’ve delivered in one, you know what I mean…)

So this young grasshopper of a Dr. comes in and tells me all about a research study they’re doing where they’re testing women for something called CMV – essentially a cold that won’t go away that can be potentially dangerous to the nugget growing in utero. It’s totally free to participate so I say what the heck, sure, I’ve basically had a cold since I delivered my first one 2-years ago (so. many. germs) and I think nothing of it. She tells me they’ll call me in 2-3 days if I test positive and not to worry – that like.01% of the women they test pop up and get flagged for having a primary transmission (or first time of getting the virus), while pregnant, or immediately prior to becoming pregnant.

A week goes by and life is so busy it’s completely out of my head y’all when I start getting calls from Chapel-Hill (where the research hospital is located). I don’t recognize the number, so I let it go to voicemail – forget about it – and a day later, they call me 3 more times, the third time I answer. The research nurse goes right into it – within the first few sentences I’m starting to feel my heart drop y’all. Shit, I think. I know you. I know who you are. I’m thinking back to my conversations with the research assistant the week before and the words 40% transmission rate and neurological damage are sticking out, like hot, glaring, neon danger signs in my head. So I hear maybe 10% of what she says and I try to piece together some brain cells to process what I need to do next – and to what degree I should panic. So she sets me up with a high risk OB at my medical system and off I go to get an ultrasound and learn more about what to do – which is basically – sit around and wait for the fate of this little baby.

I had a full day to read the internet before my appointment, so of course, that provides ample fodder for basically the worst possible outcomes. I learned some positive things, like first trimester pregnancy have a lower transmission rate (20% – since umbilical cord is not fully established) but also some really scary things, like if the child tests positive, a first trimester infection has a 24% chance of leading to severe hearing issues (deafness) and a 32% chance of leading to neurological issues like mental retardation, cerebral palsy, blindness and seizures. Reading over reports you see things like “If contracted in the first trimester, patient should be consulted on pregnancy termination options” – so yes – this is pretty real deal stuff we’re dealing with and a pretty big pivot from my pregnancy with H which was healthy and uneventful and full of frozen pizzas. Ok, the frozen pizza part will probs remain unchanged (let’s be honest).

I’m *lucky* in the sense that the research team that approached me about testing my blood for the virus is also looking at a randomized treatment option, which has been studied for nearly a decade, and shows significant promise for curing and preventing infection of children in utero. It’s frustrating however, since the treatment option is completely randomized, I only have a 50/50 shot of receiving the CMV hyperimmune globulin (HIG), and a 50/50 shot of getting a placebo. The results are nearly unanimous that this treatment works, but the sample clinical size is still too small for them to proceed with offering this in anything other than a trial form. It’s humbling, and scary, to be at the mercy of a large, bureaucratic, and broken health care system. I think about things now like – will this child have a pre-existing condition at birth? What will that mean for them? What will that mean for us?

So right now, we’re tracking the pregnancy closely, and once a month I will go to UNC hospital and receive a 5-7 hour infusion treatment where they (God willing) administer the HIG (vs. placebo) into my blood stream, and I’ll sit there and think about this baby – and wonder about what they’ll look like – and who they’ll be – and how this world will impact them and how they will impact this world. Testing positive for this virus is actually so rare that I am the only participant in the region that is actively pregnant – so I will be the only patient receiving treatment for it at present. Only 10-15% positive cases will exhibit symptoms in an uttrasound, so unless I get an amnio done around 21-weeks, we won’t know if we’re looking at a positive or negative diagnosis until birth, and even then, if they test positive, they could be asymptomatic at birth and lead a very normal, healthy life. If they do exhibit symptoms, that could put them on a much more difficult trajectory with potentially severe disabilities including compromised neurological function.

Y’all Jay and I have talked a lot about this, obviously, and it’s been a heart breaking week for us. So much uncertainty but also so much hope that this child is meant for this world and is meant to be a positive agent of change within it. Sobbing through tears of anger and disappointment and fear this week – I looked up at Jay and told him, I don’t want a child that’s severely disabled, I don’t want a vegetable that lacks an ability to interact and explore and understand and impact this world. But more than that, I feel this deep, deep calm within me that this child IS meant for this world and it’s not my job to decide or intervene in that process, rather, as their parent, it’s my job to tell them, from 11-weeks out, that I believe in you child. That I am your biggest advocate, that I’m always in your corner and that I know you are fierce, I know you are strong, and I know that you are capable of fighting this (and any other battles that come your way in this world) and of persevering through to join us come February.

I keep seeing in my mind, the ultrasound image of this child kicking and moving so healthy in my womb. I have a little profile shot of them ready to go for my desk come Monday – I can already see my little H in the profile. We are family, and families stick together.

A few facts on CMV for woman who are, or are considering becoming pregnant:

  • Did you know you have an up to 50% chance of contracting this virus if you have a child under 2 in childcare (germs!) 😉
  • You’re not supposed to kiss your kiddos while pregnant (lol, right) or share food with them – apparently the germs can be transmitted this way (I can think of a few slobbery smooches that came my way that may have been the culprit)
  • Wash your hands extra vigilantly when pregnant, always a good policy – but taking extra precautions when pregnant never hurts!
  • Most woman of child bearing age have contracted CMV before – if it’s not a primary infection (first time you’ve had it) you’re incredibly less likely to pass along to fetus (like less than 1%). If you’re considering becoming pregnant, you could ask for a test from your OB to see if your CMV negative, and have never had the antibodies. If not, you’d want to be extra vigilant during pregnancy

Welcoming Entry Way and Hall

Keeping up with my last few posts of providing an update on the abode, now that we’ve been in it 1-year, I thought I’d share small changes we’ve made to the entry of the house over time as well.

When you enter in the house, the first room you see is our hallway, and dining room to the right. I’ve been pegging for a persian runner in this space and finally found one for a song on ebay – this runner was just over $100.

Sources_Antique_Persian_Runner

Here is a better shot of it, where you can see more details.

Persian_Runner_Sources

Locally I was having trouble finding an option that had the right dimensions on it, so I’m glad I held out and ordered it online (from ebay). Plus the price was an extra incentive!

Speaking of good deals, I knew I wanted to put an art wall up on this long hall way, but I was grimacing a bit at how expensive frames can be. Day after Thanksgiving Target had these frames BYGO, so I stocked up on a bunch of 16×20, with matted 11×14 artwork. It cost around $2 per print at our local print shop to put in a few family photos and I love how it all turned out! It’s so fun to see photos of our little gracing the house a bit more now and Henry will often point up and say “Baby Henry” which is cute 😉

Family_Artwork_Collage

Back to the front when you first walk in, we popped in an antique side table and crystal lamp (craigslist, obvi) 😉 along with some artwork! The bike print is a birthday card from a few years back and the other artwork was something our local newspaper had a high res image of they were encouraging folks to print – I loved the message and though it was a good note to have first thing when you walk in our casa :)  Yall_Means_All_Artwork

Another fun craigslist rehab was this bench, which was already black, but had plaid seats prior. The fabric was $6 at Joann’s… Staple gun and 5 mins, done and done!

Entry_Bench_Options

I like how our house is relatively open, but still has some nooks and crannies and hallways to design and make things feel more homey. Plus, H loves that this hall essentially creates a loop/race track/place to hide from daddy-o. Lots of giggles come down this hallway on the daily.

Antique_Persian_Runner_Affordable

Although frames are not cheap – overall I have to say I really do love this hallway and I’m glad I chomped down and ate the cost to make this space feel more like home. I’ll never get tired of looking at the munchkin all swaddled up and staring back at that camera – ready to take on this world.  Black_And_White_Art_Collage

 

 

Navy Blue I Love You

Poor Henry. Poor us, lol. That kid shared a room with his parents for his first year of life and man am I ready for him to have his own pad here in the new house. See when we sold the house last fall, the babe was still sleeping in a pack and play – thinking we would only be in our new apartment a few months, we opted for a great location and a SMALL space. 1-bedroom. So, the baby slept with us.

Which was fine – until it wasn’t. The last month or two living in the apartment we slept on the living room floor so he would sleep through the night and not wake when we’d come in each night. Ahhh, the things you do for love – and a full night sleep.

So this is a long story – which has a happy ending. Mr H has his own room now and after a painting blitz a few weekends back with Behr Night Club, it’s now lovely and dark and dreamy and perfect for my little one. Literally, I think this may be the perfect navy blue paint for a room. Love. It.

Dark Blue Baby Room

It’s definitely not finished but it is DEFINITELY better than our starting point.

In all honesty, since the baby is a crazy monkey that pulls things out of their places and just want to run around generally anyway, we probably won’t add a ton more to the space. Right now it has a reading nook we use each night before bed.

Dark Blue Boys Room

Henry loves reading Little Blue Truck each night, lol. We ride bikes over here, so not sure where his love for this truck book came from. He must like all my highly authentic animal noises 😉

Dark Navy Baby Room

I love the way this little blanket looks draped over the side of his bed against the navy blue walls and it actually helps me to escape (most nights) unnoticed after we tuck him in. :)

Ikea Lenda Curtains

He had this book shelf in his last room. We still need to add some accessories to it, but for now, it’s a good placeholder for our night time reading books.

I’ve also had these Lenda curtains (from IKEA) stacked away for over a year. I’m so glad they finally have a home. Need to be hemmed still, but H loves using them for peek-a-boo whenever he gets the chance 😉

Inexpensive Linen Curtains

Items still on my short list for this room include getting a ceiling fan for his room. This 90’s builder grade classic is just not making my heart skip a beat – and let’s face it – if your light fixtures don’t make your heart go pitter patter, why have them. YOLO man.

Ceiling Fan in Child's Room

I also got this lamp base at my favorite local thrift shop. Still need to get a side table for next to the chair, but I think this will look really cute in the space once we have a shade and everything for it.

Thrift Store Lamps

Here is a close up of the sweet constellation photos we had up in his nursery, before we sold the last house. I LOVE these!! True story, my OCD self has a hard time when these get knocked around and slightly out of place though. Especially that bottom row that’s right at Henry’s reach level – ha ha!! Yep, they’re not straight very often.

Constellation Prints Childs Room

And a final view, from the hall with the navy blue walls up against the white trim. It’s a dark room man, but I love it! (Color is Behr Night Club, for anyone looking to recreate the look)

Night Club Behr Paint

 

 

 

Dark Blue Nursery Inspiration

Oh it’s true – our little squirrel needed a room of his own. I think it’s probably one of the main reasons we started to get like desperate for a house after looking for a year. We just could not share a room with the babe any more – he more or less kicked us out anyway, so yeahhh. :)

Henry’s room in the new house is perfectly sized for the little tike and a few months of living here, we decided it was high time to get some paint up on the walls and transform his space from a room with a crib and some baskets – to an actual baby space! True to form, we started out with some mood board/pinterest inspiration. I knew I wanted to do a dark baby room this time. No white walls here.

Mood Board Boys Room

For reference, this is what the room looked like when we moved in. Along with the rest of the upstairs, the walls were painted a dark green color that wasn’t my jam. Upstairs Office Space

They were using the space as an office, as you can see from the photo above. It’s not a huge room, but for a little person, I mean really – how much space does one need?

Now if you’re new to this blog, you probably never saw H’s nursery. Funny story – but since we moved pretty much right after I popped this child out, he never slept in his carefully created little nursery – not even once. We did take some newborn shots in there after he was born. Look how cute and so little!!

Raleigh Baby Photography

And one more, just so this momma can bask in her little human that is now a much bigger human.

North Carolina Baby Photography

Here are some inspiration images I have pulled up for the space.

Dark Navy Nursery

I mean, really – I think the room above may just be the perfect dark blue nursery EVER. Love that persian rug – love it all.

And this one – I’ve got a special spot in my heart for this dark blue nursery. See we’ve always had constellation prints up in H’s room (his old room) and I’ve been dying to give them a dark, dramatic background, like a midnight sky.

Constallation_Art_In_Childs_Room

Here are the constellation prints up on the wall in his nursery, before we moved (Ballet White on the walls).

Constellation Artwork

Truth be told, I do wish we had wood floors in the upstairs sometimes, since the second room above (with the rug over the rug) is just not quite as cute (IMO) as the rug right up on a wood floor back drop.

Quick spoiler before I show you how H’s room is looking with the paint up on the walls next week, as a point of comparison – THIS is what the constellation prints look like with his dark blue nursery walls in the background! :) I LOVE it! :)

Constellation Prints Childs Room

 

 

 

On Parenting

I think every parent has moments where the insecurities creep in, I know they do. I know we all have too much capacity to doubt our own abilities and our own actions. I mean – truth be told – overall I’m pretty confident in our parenting so far. We make choices (good or bad), we live with them, we move on, we love, we try to always be quick to forgive. I know over time those tests will change, along with our son. That the battles will sometimes get lost and those moments of defeat (for him, for us) will creep in.

I find it interesting, as a society, that we’re so obsessed with the concept of what others are doing. You see it so much right now it scares me sometimes – why do we do that. Why can’t we find individual worth vs. knocking another down to build ourselves up? Another ethnic group, another sexual orientation, another parent – it’s ubiquitous and permeates through our society. I think it’s to validate our own choices and life path, that we need to compare ourselves to others so we can feel like we stack up in some way. Like we’re doing something right – especially when it comes to parenting. As a working parent (mother) I am a bit flummoxed at times with the push back I get. It’s gentle at times (that must be so hard… or, so, you’re working full time?), and more pointed at others (You work full-time? Oh, I see. Who takes care of your son?) – but it’s consistently there. My husband, take note, has never once gotten the line of inquiry ending in “why do you work”. He is a man, these things are expected. He provides, I nurture.

It’s like I’ve chosen a life path that somehow compromises my son, by working full-time. Like I’ve opted for my needs – a career, financial security, my own independence – over his. And as a parent – our roles – are to put our children’s needs first. Our needs from this point out are secondary, they’re periphery to the needs of our child. So sometimes, you sit there and take a hard look at your circumstances and think – yes – I AM choosing those things over spending time with him. I AM opting to meet my needs before his. I guess you could say, these are hard truths of being a working parent. No matter how you slice it – the time I spend with him in his youth is more limited by choosing a career path. And sometimes, deep in my heart that burdens me, that saddens me.

But then I go out, about my day, ready to take it on, to own it, to show this world what I’ve got, and I’m reminded of a deep debt I have to my son to show him my truest self, my deepest identity. You see, as my son, he holds the deepest part of who I am. My husband is my partner, my confidant, my backbone. My child is my soul, my heart, my home. Without him, what would I be? But the truth is, before him I was my own self – and it’s that soul that I yearn to share with him. I want him to feel my fire. I want him to know that he is capable of all things. I want him to know that this world may knock him down, but he will always get up, with his mother’s hand to guide him at any moment he should need it. I love that boy – I love him more each second and it’s the most humbling, jarring and pure form of love I’ve known.

Each day that passes is another day gone. Another day bigger, longer, faster, stronger. I marvel at your growth and your wit and your sweet laughter. I marvel at your heart – so big and your love – so abundant. I can’t believe how much you are like me – how you frustrate easily and want (so much) to be able to take this world on. It will come, sweet Henry, in time – it will come.

So – my dear child – my dear, sweet, funny, beautiful boy. Please know that I never, ever choose anything but you. Quite simply – how could I. Every moment you are with me – the deepest part of my heart – I carry you each step I take, as if you were still there, flesh of my flesh, right there in my womb.

Pullen

Built In DIY Closets

Man – ladies, gotta come out and say it – I’ve got quite the catch :) He went up a solid 10 points in my book after he helped to bust out a built in DIY closet from heaven. See, old house = small closets = hair brained pregnant woman without enough places to store baby stuff. Why do baby’s come with so much stuff – it’s sorta ridiculous.

So one afternoon, I started sketching up some built in closet solutions for our Master Bedroom. A whole lotta work, and more money than desired later – we now have this!

Built_In_Armoire

AND this!

Closet_Armoire

Which equals a whole lotta storage! Here are the insides of our built in DIY closet project. One side just for Jay.

Closet_Storage

And one side just for me!

Built_In_Armoire_Storage

Although it’s not much space (and it’s pretty high up) there is also a shelf at the top of the built in closet that I’ll get some baskets for down the line. I figure it’s a great spot for seasonal stuff I don’t need on a daily basis.

Basket_Storage_In_Closet

In other news – my life is pretty much complete now that these little beehive handles have made their way into my house :)

Martha_Stewart_Hardware

Nothing like adding some more storage to make me happy as a fool on a warm summer’s day. Here is a final view of our built in DIY closet project. Love the storage, y’all!!

Built_In_Closet_Storage

Constellation Nursery Art

Well, our little one is mere weeks away, so Jay and I have been trying (trying) to get some things beautified over here. At the top of that list is the little man’s nursery. I keep telling Jay that before I pop this human out, I want the house to (as much as possible) feel done, serene and like a peaceful place to bring baby back to. That’s my goal. Some days I feel closer to it than others – we’re a work in progress over here.

So a few weekends back, Jay and I (and my sister, too) tackled some constellation nursery art arranging in Henry’s room.

Constellation Artwork

For a galaxy inspired nursery, I can’t think of a much nicer addition than some constellation nursery art charts for our little guy.

We hit up IKEA a month or so ago to get the frames and I found some free archived constellation prints online (here) that we just took them to Kinkos and paid $20 to have them cut to size, and printed on nice heavy cardstock. Not too shabby.

Constellation Art

Notice another addition in this shot?

Constellation Nursery Theme

When we were at habitat scoring the $11 sink for our bathroom, I also spotted a nice little chandy sitting in the lighting section. After our steal of a deal on the sink, the $20 I spent on it felt a bit steep, but heck – still not bad!

Wooden Chandelier

I love how the constellation nursery art looks up in the space and I think it adds the perfect focal point for this main (previously empty) wall in the room. A few final details and this space will be ready for baby!

Constellation Artwork

If y’all haven’t noticed – I’ve been recalibrating a bit over here the past month or so. As I look ahead to motherhood, and to raising our family, I really want to be actively present for my kids. I want them to know that mom is always here for them, and that I’m never too busy and can always make time for them. I don’t want to miss the details of my life. I want to see each moment, cherish each second, for the beautiful gift that it is.

I think in our modern day, technology driven world, that it’s very easy to become distracted from truly living and embracing our day to day and I’m feeling the need to put blogging in a space that it belongs for me in my life – and daily logging of our renos and home life just felt like a bit much. I’ll still be here – just a bit less! :)

After all, before you know it, April will be here and we’re going to have another human in the house – crazy sauce!

Constellation Nursery

Christmas Time Is Here

Yo, shame me now, but being straight here – Jay and I have never decorated the house for Christmas. Knowing us, it’s probably because we were unpacking from one of our many moves, but this year we finally felt settled enough to spread some Christmas cheer.

I’m so, so glad we did. I love coming home and turning on the lights and I love sitting in our living room and just basking in the soft glow of the tree. It’s absolute perfection.

Blogger Christmas Tour

We decided to keep the tree simple this year, and just used a bunch of gold ornaments I paid a few bucks for a few days after last Christmas.

Gold Christmas Tree

It sparkles ever so nicely at night.

Last year I also got these stockings at World Market. I LOVE them, and I love that I thought to get extras for our kiddos. Certainly did not know last year that kiddo #1 would be well on his way to us!

Traditional Christmas Stocking

I love these stockings though because they’re simple and understated and they look so stinking nice up on our mantle. I’m in love.

Mantel Decorated for Christmas

Our living room is my favorite place now! I’m not sure if we’ll ever take it all down I love it so much! 😀 Can’t wait until next year when I can sit in here with a baby that’s out of my belly with a glass of wine in hand. 15 more weeks people, it’s coming!

Decorating House for Christmas

Twin Bed Set

Two is twice as nice, isn’t it? Remember when I introduced you guys to our sweet little nursery addition last week? Well I’ve been looking for a twin bed set for as long as I can remember, and I’m so glad I found one!

Antique Twin Beds

The best part about our new bed, is that it comes with a matching twin bed, so it’s a twin bed set! For the age of these beds (80 years+) it’s super difficult to find a matching set, so I’m pretty pumped about it.

My favorite little human rooms have always centered around two flanking twin beds. Something about it just looks that much more cozy and inviting and warm. Do you guys love that look, too?

I pulled together a few of my favorites this week with twin bed sets:

Gold Child's Room

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Lisa Ly By Ryan

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Double Twin Beds

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Two Twin Beds

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Rustic Child's Room

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Although the day that our little people room has two twins in it instead of a twin and a crib is still years away, I like to imagine what the space would look like! Hopefully we’re able to get something that looks close to these gorgeous spaces :)

No Other Babe Will Do

See, I thought I’d be this poised, confident, ready to take on the world pregnant woman. I thought that I wouldn’t worry, that I’d be certain in my ability to bring this boy into this world, in my body’s ability to carry him and my heart’s ability to provide space for him. But, quite frankly, I’m not. I’m scared. That I can’t do it, that my body will fail me, that I won’t be here for this baby from the first second he needs me. It scares me to the brink sometimes, just takes it all from me and shakes me to my core.

I thought I would be confident and brazen and ready, but I do worry. During my anatomy scan the Dr’s measured my cervix and found it was 3.2 cm – for the record – that’s totally normal. Anything between 3-5 cm, is totally normal. But I saw that low end of normal number and ever since then I’ve just been so damn worried that my body is going to fail this boy. That I’m somehow just not going to be able to get him to the entrance gate of this beautiful, wonderful life. A life I want so badly to share with him. A life I now, can’t picture without him.

Be Brave

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I count down the weeks now until viability, when he’ll be able to make it outside of me if my cervix fails and he joins the party early. I know it’s probably irrational, but damn, do I feel it. If I have a night with more Braxton Hicks than normal, I totally freak. This is it, I think. You’re going into labor and baby boy won’t make it. All because your body couldn’t hold out a few more weeks.

So I worry, and I cling to hope and I create irrational dialogues in my head. Because, so badly, I want to be enough for this little boy. I want to be the mother he needs, I want my body to provide for him. I want him to come into our home and be happy and healthy. My heart has so much space for him, more than I think I know what to do with. I just need him here with us. I just need a happy, healthy baby home and here with us.

courage

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See the thing is, I know as this pregnancy progresses, that I more or less need to get used to the worry. The love you feel built up, the fierce love and deepest desire to protect this human – is so incredibly real. I know after he’s here that I’ll worry too. But God, is it a vulnerable love, and that vulnerability can just shake you sometimes. So as I inch toward the 3rd trimester (still 6-weeks away) – could I ask of all of you to send me some good vibes. I’m new to this mama thing and need all the extra strength I can get.

You Got This

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