Celebrations… without libations

Last week Cody and I announced our amazing news that we are expecting our first baby bean!

It was the day of my girlfriend Kim’s baby shower – the entire day I had felt so sick, tired and dizzy. I went to her shower with my other love, Ashley, by my side, smiled and cooed at all the adorable blankets and stuffies, all the while thinking about the day she would get to hold her baby boy in her arms. She would make an amazing mother, and all these women where there surrounding her and supporting her.

I excused myself early. I was ready for my bed, but had cleaning to do and dinner to make.

As I was preparing dinner, I thought and calculated as to why I would be feeling so crappy…and suddenly it came to my mind…it wasn’t a tumor…It was a little bundle of something growing in my belly slowly exhausting me.

I had planned before how I would tell Cody and suddenly it all melted away, I screamed, cried and jumped up and down, then ran outside to tell Cody the news.

Best. Feeling. Ever.

Cody has always told me he wanted to be a daddy. I remember a conversation when we first moved into our house 5 years earlier about how he could see us having a baby sooner rather than later. I wanted to wait, I wanted to be married and get into the groove of owning a house – but that conversation always stuck in the back of my mind.

To be able to tell him that he was going to be a daddy, and see the excitement flood his eyes will be a memory I forever hold dear.

Now, I am a researcher and I google EVERYTHING – and from previous searches I know that people, doctors, and other baby professionals tell you that you should wait until your 12th week to announce to the world that you are expecting – which I don’t understand.

Well, we didn’t wait. I called my mom and told her to come over. Cody called his dad and told him and then called his mom and told her. We wanted to share our news – and I am so happy we did! My mom has done this before. This will be her 5th pregnancy announcement coming from one of her daughters, but the hug I got was one of the tightest I have ever had. Cody’s mom screamed for joy and still has not stopped telling me how happy she is. I told my sisters right away, because that was one reaction I was BEYOND excited to experience. In our group of friends, we are one of the…actually, we are the last couple to have a baby (2015 will forever be known as the year of love with all the weddings and babies), so we immediately announced to our friends too.

We told our family, and our friends and then when we hit 12 weeks, we announced it to the Facebook world.

The thought behind holding off until the 12th week is because a miscarriage is more common during the first trimester, but for me, I thought if something happens, and this feeling of love and joy (which is also known as nausea) goes away, then I am going to need support. I am going to want to talk about it, I am going to want to try to get through it, and work through it.

Why was I waiting 12 weeks for something bad to happen instead of celebrating something good? The something good right now! I am pregnant! I GOT PREGNANT! Suddenly every neurologist who told me that there was a high chance that this could not happen, it happened. All the doctors appointments and the wishing and waiting – it happened.

This week we announced to Facebook AND I celebrate two years seizure free. I am counting my blessings, and holding my belly tight.

Cody and I are beyond excited to start the next chapter of our life, and we and can’t wait to share our journey with you all!

~ Jacqui and Baby Bean ❤

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A working mom with a twist

In keeping with last week’s theme of friends named Krista, Julia’s friend from high school and university, Krista Pelton, joins us a guest blogger. It’s her first time with the Sisterhood and we’re so glad she’s here! 

I am a working mom.

I went back to work when my son was 14-months old, part-time, and it slowly progressed to full-time. I worked when my husband was not working, mostly, and friends and family watched my son.

Then, it became hard when my son turned 3 and no longer napped. I could no longer work from home in the afternoons. My little bubble burst.

So, our solution? It was not full-time daycare. It was Daddy-took-a-leave-of-absence-from-work. One that extended until junior kindergarten starts this fall.

Aleksandr Ryzhov/Shutterstock

Aleksandr Ryzhov/Shutterstock

When junior kindergarten starts this fall, my husband will have been away from his job for 22 months. So I could pursue my career without any barriers. He had a job and I had a career. There is a huge difference. The pursuit of my career path far outweighed the job.

After almost 22 months it is still the best decision we have made. Besides getting married and having our son. I wake up and go. I worry about myself and no one else every morning. I don’t feel guilty or stressed out. I get to be 100% present working and when I come home I can be 100% present.

I leave the rest to my husband who has picked up the duty of stay-at-home dad like a pro. He is the one that potty-trained him in two days. Even through the night. True story.

Sure, eventually he is going back to work but until our son settles into school it won’t happen. These last 22 months have been extremely rewarding to see my son and husband become so close. Their routine and bond is something only a father/son can understand and I am thankful I had my 22 months and my husband had his 22 months fair and square.

I can’t speak much to being a working mother because I have the fortunate backing of a stay-at-home dad. I don’t have crazy daycare challenges, rushing around and worrying about who’s getting our son every night, or worrying about how much time I get to see him in a day. He wakes up when he is ready, has a great day with his dad and dog and then I come home to a smiling, happy boy.

It was an unconventional decision, although it’s becoming more common in today’s society.

We simply don’t like chaos. We didn’t even like the thought of being stressed out. We did it because it made sense to us at the time and it still rings true today. It’s only money after all, but being 3 and 4? Money can’t buy that.

~ Krista Pelton

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!

Days like these

If you had asked me when I was younger what my life would look like in my 30s, as a mother, as a wife, I would never have been able to guess it would be this.

That my house would be a complete disaster every single day, unless company was coming over, and then it was a minor disaster to be put on hold for a small number of hours.

All the dishes. All the time.

All the dishes. All the time. (That dishwasher is there purely for aesthetic.)

That I would go to bed thinking about all the laundry I need to fold, wash, put away…yet never ever get to.

How many loads of clean laundry can I hide behind my couch?

How many loads of clean laundry can I hide behind my couch? (That chair is tipped over because Isaac likes to climb).

That I would be a stay-at-home mom, walking babies to school, cooking all the meals, in charge of all the cleaning, and watching my hard-earned degree gather dust on our wall.

Have you tried cooking dinner with acrobatics happening at your feet?

Have you tried cooking dinner with acrobatics happening at your feet?

That I would be forced to negotiate with the most unreasonable creatures on the planet just to put on their shoes so we could go to the park FOR THEM, or eat their food because they were the ones sobbing at my feet hungry, or to go to bed and sleep because all of the hysterics that they are currently stuck in are because they are tired.

Waiting for snack time...weirdly patiently.

Waiting for snack time…weirdly patiently.

That I would not get a hair cut in over a year simply because I would need to orchestrate a child-care/salon hours/extra time formula that only works once every 15 months or so.

Can you see my kitchen table? I haven't either.

Have you see my kitchen table? I haven’t either.

That I would donate all of my dress pants, skirts, blouses because I don’t need them anymore – my uniform consists of durable material, wash-and-wear ensembles with denim being the star.

Dress pants are no match for a breakfast thrown by Isaac.

Dress pants are no match for a breakfast thrown by Isaac. And the random dirty sock.

That we would not go to church in months simply because we are too sick/too exhausted/too worn-out to get to one more place on time.

That sitting on the couch and zoning out for an hour, followed by an early bedtime is my idea of the perfect night.

That eating hot food is an anomaly so rare that I regularly burn my mouth whenever the opportunity does present itself.

That I would drink and seek out and need coffee to fuel my day, every day.

Sweet nectar that makes all of my efforts in futility possible.

Sweet nectar that makes all of my efforts in futility possible.

That the feeling of not having a body on me or near me or touching me would be more alien than having three children piled on and around me.

That sleep would be the most precious and most scarce commodity in my life, so much so that on days where the babies are overnight somewhere, sleep is all I can think about.

That when planning our 10-year anniversary trip, that it’s a legitimate toss-up between Europe and an all-inclusive tropical resort because all I want to do is SLEEP.

That I would be fulfilled by the feeling of a smooth, not sticky counter, kitchen table, coffee table, floor.

That I would find pleasure in finding miracle cleaning products that worked instead of just made me work.

That I would write more, clean more, cook more, and walk more with babies hanging off of me, screaming at me, crying on me or asking a million things of me, than not.

He's not really a fan of this blog post.

He’s not really a fan of this blog post.

That I would love my babies more fiercely than anything ever. That I would do all of the above and more for them because it’s ingrained in my DNA that they are mine and I must fight for them.

That I would get up and repeat over and over and over again, regardless of the fact I make no money, have no sick days, and no vacation time.

If you had asked me then, I wouldn’t believe you. And yet, it’s the most natural thing today.

~ Julia

Help wanted

Dear readers, fellow parents, and strong-willed-children-turned-upstanding-citizens,

I need HELP. I need massive amounts of advice and ideas and guidance. And I need some reassurances.

Lillian has turned FOUR and I thought that meant her reign of TERROR and INSANITY and TORTURE TACTICS were over. But, I was wrong.

I love that she LOVES Spider-Man...I don't love how she tries to shoot me with webs when I ask her to put on pants.

I love that she LOVES Spider-Man…I don’t love how she tries to shoot me with webs when I ask her to put on pants.

She’s still a force to be reckoned with. She’s still a whirlwind of demand and stubbornness. She still won’t do whatever it is you want her to unless SHE wants to, and even then, she probably won’t because it wasn’t her idea.

It’s enough to make me weep with impatience and exhaustion and I-wanna-quit.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE HER FIERCELY. I DO.

I especially love her like this...

I especially love her like this…

But, I feel like all of our interactions of late have been a battle of wits and a war of wills, that every time I open my mouth to ask her to put her shoes on so we can go to her school, or go pee so we can go play, or get her coat on so we can go fetch her sister, I’m met with this horrible noise and a temper tantrum for the ages and a lava-filled “I don’t want to!”

I’m getting close to breaking. And I’m afraid I will break her spirit and her happiness and some days, SOME DAYS, I feel like I might physically lose it and break her and me and our family.

It’s awful. And scary.

So, I’m posing this question to you, dear readers, what would you suggest? How would you handle a ball of fury that will be awesome in the future, that will lead to a crazy incredible adult human being, but right now is slowly killing my will to be a stay-at-home-parent? How would you discipline? How would you negotiate without actually losing ground? How do you compromise without giving in?

She is one of Isaac's favourite people...mostly because she's INSANE and he thinks it's AWESOME.

She is one of Isaac’s favourite people…mostly because she’s INSANE and he thinks it’s AWESOME.

If you have any ideas at all, I’m all ears.

Because I love my baby, my troubled middle child, the one who tests me and pushes me and ultimately wows me every single day.

But I’m afraid for us, for our future, for our path. I want her to grow up as strong as she is, but kind and able to navigate this tricky world of ours. I want her to thrive and succeed and become the best she can become without being hindered by a childhood laced with anger and yelling and being in constant trouble. And I want us to still love each other when we both grow up…and not the obligatory love you hand out to the relatives you have to see and hug and chat with on the big holidays.

I adore that Sophie and Lillian are sisters...and I pray that they can have that sister bond the Sisterhood is blessed with.

I adore that Sophie and Lillian are sisters…and I pray that they can have that sister bond the Sisterhood is blessed with.

When (if) she has babies, I want to love on her and them. I want to be part of their lives. When she wins all the awards, I want to be in the front row or at the front table, leading the standing ovation, embarrassing her with my display of love, not making her resentful because it’s for show. And when she falls, as every person in the world does, I want to at least be considered on her list of people to call to help her stand back up again and make sure she knows she’s worth standing back up for.

She's growing up so fast...I don't want to ruin any of it.

She’s growing up so fast…I don’t want to ruin any of it.

I want all the things. How do I get them?

~ Julia

Dear Baby Stuehler

I met Ashley at work. At first we were co-workers, then friends. Now I like to think we are soul mates. At work we call her Smashley. She has become another sister to me. I bring her along on hikes, she is known by my nieces, sisters, and my  mom. She truly has become a soul mate of mine, and someone I look up to.  She has shown me how to be more confident in my own skin, she has been there with me through some pretty tough times and I am so honored that she is standing with me on my wedding day.

Ashley and her husband Marty are expecting their first bundle of joy – a baby girl. This week will be the last week of work for her before she goes on her maternity leave. This pregnancy has been anything but easy on Ashley – although she has been healthy, she has also been blessed with “morning” sickness, even though it lasts all day, heartburn, back and butt pain, hip pain…and caffeine withdrawal.

To send her off in true, loving, sisterhood fashion, I have decided to write a letter to the future love of her life – her baby girl. I hope one day she will read this, and know that even before she could love them – they loved her.

I love you Smash, and can’t wait to watch you become an amazing mother.

Every brunette need’s a blonde best friend ❤

 

Dear Baby Stuehler,

Welcome to the world!

I hope you realize that you are one of the luckiest babies as you are born into such a loving family. Your Grandparents, Uncles and Aunt all can’t wait to meet you. I can’t wait for you to know how loved you are. 

Your mom has nurtured you since the beginning, and has has been anxiously awaiting your arrival. She is counting down the days until you arrive, preparing in every way. I wish you could see her face when she talks about you, all the worries for that moment melt away as she rubs her belly. I cannot say it enough – you are so loved.

Remember that as the years go on and you start to grow – your best interests are what she has in mind when she tells you that the shorts you are about to wear will not be worn out of the house, or that the makeup you have on is beyond too much.

When that first boy breaks your heart, it will be her shoulder you will cry on, as she promises you that the heartbreak won’t last. She will tell you how she met your Daddy, and she will tell you that one day the right one will come along.

She will be your shopping partner, your mentor and the wisest teacher you will ever come across. She will be your cheerleader and your coach. Your mom will be there for you when you call her late at night about anything – even if it is just to hear her voice.

Your Mother will teach you confidence, that I am sure of. She will teach you how to be a strong and compassionate woman, and to stand ever steadfast in who you are. She will teach you self love and self worth. She will teach you how to stand alone, and work as a partner.

Your mother is an amazing woman. She will love you even when you slam the door in her face and challenge her. She will love you when you sneak out or when you try to lie to her (just a suggestion…don’t…she knows everything!).

Baby Stuehler, the world you are being born into is not always kind, it can be quite scary, but that’s why you were given your Daddy. He is working so hard to make sure that you are provided for, and will always keep you safe.

You are his princess, his baby girl. When your dad talks about you, there is a twinkle in his eye. Everything he does is with you in mind. Your daddy will be your knight in shining armor. 

Your daddy will ward off boys who will try to steal your heart, he will be your confidante at times when you feel alone. He will battle you when you are a teenager, and side with your mother more times than he will with you (just let it happen, trust me it’s for the best).

Your daddy will teach you so many things you won’t know are useful at first, be careful to try and remember them all. One day these memories will be all you have.

Your daddy will be your first love, and your favorite dance partner whether in the kitchen or at your wedding. You will be always be his little girl. Your teenage years will be hard on your relationship, and you may break his heart. Don’t worry – he will still love you, and will always remember holding his little girl and kissing her bruises to make them better.

Baby girl, I can not wait to meet you. I can not wait to watch you grow up into a young lady. I can’t wait to listen to your mom brag of your accomplishments and look back with her on this moment when you were still in her belly giving her the worst heartburn. 

Your parents are two of the most amazing, compassionate, people I have ever known. They will do anything for their friends, and I can not wait to do the same for them. 

Welcome to the world Baby Stuehler. We have been waiting for you. 

 

Congratulations you two – I can’t meet your little one.

The expectant parents – Love you guys!

~ Jacqui

Signing up for the mess

There was a time about 4-5 years ago, before I had this ring on my left hand, when Cody and I were seriously considering having children. Before marriage, against the grain. We were already living with each other, bought our house and wanted to start “The Rest of Our Lives.” Marriage was the “Next Step,” but for some reason we wanted babies first. I longed to be a mother, and hearing that Cody was just as excited as I was to have babies meant more than a proposal; it meant together forever – a part of Cody.

Then reality hit us: we were young, we had one vehicle, we were in debt with the house, I was in debt from school. We didn’t want to be at home all the time when our friends were still very young. And most of all, we didn’t want to regret each other, we still had growing to do in our relationship – I mean we weren’t ready for marriage but we were more than ready for a baby? We were crazy!

I was not ready for late nights that were not late because I chose them to be.

I was not ready to ask Cody for a shower because I was too busy with the baby and couldn’t get one in until he got home.

I was not ready for poo on my face…

Sweetie you have shit on your face

Sweetie, you have shit on your face.

 

I was not ready.  Or was I scared…

I was scared. I was scared I would never be able to have a baby the conventional way, that I wouldn’t be able to feel a baby in my belly, that the medication I was on would never allow me to have these ups and downs of pregnancy. That even if I did get pregnant, I wouldn’t be able to carry it to term because of a seizure, that I would be on bed rest as soon as I peed on that stick.

So, I decided to focus on getting healthy, for me and for Cody and my family of the future, and I put that feeling in the pit of my stomach, the maternal need, on the back burner.

Then we were asked to write this post, and I dug those feelings back up. These are the same feelings that make me happy for all 6 of the women I work with, all of which are in my department that are expecting. The same feelings I have when I pick out baby outfits for one of my best friends.

I want to be a mother, I want the messy, tired, exhausted, blessed, loving life of a mother. The one where you ask your significant other to take the baby for 5 minuets while you hop in the shower. The one where you fall asleep with your baby in your arms. Where the days melt together.

I am healthy and I am ready…if you can ever be ready.

~ Jacqui

That room

Cody and I live in our first home, and it’s perfect for us. Perfect size, perfect location (I work a house away…literally), and perfect for learning what to do differently next time around.

When we first started to look for a house, it was just a conversation that quickly turned into a purchase. One of our family friends heard we were looking and she led us to her home where she was raising her two girls in at the time. As soon as we walked in the back door my heart soared! I was in love! One thing lead to another and we were signing the dotted line. It was meant to be!

Our home - Originally in 1834

Our home – Originally in 1834

Since then the love has gone with the leaky roof we have discovered this cruel winter…and come back again with the moments my very large, very loud family share; however one thing remains the same – our spare room, future baby’s room, current room of stuff, is THAT room.

Do you have a room that holds another side of you? The side that doesn’t want to throw out that once perfect-fitting dress, just in case, but you can’t keep it in your closet? The side that simply wants to keep the decorations from a friend’s sister’s wedding (which you did not got to) because you may need them some day?

The room...

The room…

Here lies clothes I have yet to donate, broken furniture, Christmas decorations, a bed frame. Hidden are bags from shopping trips, paid bills and the piles of paperwork my hoarding fiancé requires to keep. The bed holds Cody’s crossbow, duck calls, and duck decoys.

 

That room part

That room part 2

The door stays closed and no one goes in, because it’s uncertain if they will be ever come out. The colour has not changed since the last owner, and it has been on my to-do list since there was a house to-do list! Just to put this into perspective for you – we have lived here for 4 years.

How did it get this bad you ask? Why don’t you clean it? Well!

I blame my mother…

And before you roll your eyes, let me explain!

There have been three houses in my life I can remember during my childhood and they have all had a spare bedroom that grew stuff! A haven for the forgotten and broken. A resting place for the boxes that moved from one house to the other and never unpacked. If you didn’t know where to put something, you discarded it among the piles of boxes and bags. She called them her “sewing rooms.” I called them the land of the forgotten!

Hours could be spent looking at old pictures, going through boxes of saved baby clothes and general tchotchkes. You could reminisce, or find something you never knew existed. Beads, books, Barbies, computer parts, furniture, projects started and left – they held everything! Therefore, since my childhood it has been instilled in me that every house NEEDS one of these rooms. The thought of these rooms causes my brain to revolt every time I go to clean and organize it. So Mooommm – it’s your fault!

For now, it will be that room, the room we don’t show, the room that holds memories had and to be made.

For now …. 🙂

~ Jacqui

Three years and countless battles

Three years ago, I was 41 weeks and 1 day pregnant with a stubborn, stubborn baby who refused to come out. And if you think for one moment that that 1 day is insignificant, you have never been pregnant.

Her name is Lillian. And three years ago on this day she was born.

She was high up in my rib cage, far away from any exit strategy, and had made zero progress or move to come out. She was happy in there. Coming out was not her idea. And therefore, she would not participate or help in any way. This should have been a sign of things to come.

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Lillian has always forged her own way, doing things in her time on her schedule according to her plan. Always.

The doctor who performed the C-section to get her out of my belly said she had never seen a baby who was so overdue that high up before. She literally had to reach up into me to pull her out. After hanging out with Lillian for three years, I’m not surprised in the least that was the case.

She had a striking white patch in her black, black hair, just like her daddy. We knew this meant she had been born with the same genetic disorder Ben has. It was the talk of the nurses in the delivery room, our family, and anyone who met her. All I knew was all that hair was the cause for all of my heartburn during my pregnancy with her.

DSCF0111

She needed hearing aids and got them when she was just four months old. We were so new at the whole baby-with-hearing-aids thing that we had to be told by the audiologists that we shouldn’t let her have them in while we were driving because she’d probably eat them. They were right. She did.

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She also took them off and threw them, hid them, chewed them, lost them, delivered them to us, and generally gave us countless panic attacks around them (you try putting thousands of dollars of equipment in a baby’s ears and you tell me how calm you are).

She also rocked them. They were pink and she was and still is a rock star at every appointment, sitting still while molds are formed, while tests are run, while tubes are cut and while adjustments are made.

And she used them as an act of defiance when she was mad at us, looking us straight in the eyes while pulling them out and throwing them. Luckily they were attached by a cord and for a while tucked under a cap that made her look like she was a 1920’s bather or an old-school pilot, but still no one could lose her ‘ears’ like Lillian could.

Lillian was a candidate for a cochlear implant, giving her the potential to have near perfect hearing. Since she was completely deaf in her right ear and had a mild loss of hearing in her left ear, this was miraculous. It has since proved to be just that.

During the operation she was amazing, even collecting a Dr. Seuss as her anesthesiologist (at a children’s hospital! Seriously!). But afterwards she was true to form, pulling out three different IVs. And while I would have milked that operation for all it was worth, she was up and bouncing around like her normal self in no time afterwards.

Lillian has always been her own person, quiet and reserved in a new place, loud and rambunctious where she feels safe. Roaring like a tiger or ARGHing like a pirate at the top of her lungs. Lauding every fart or burp that comes out of her little body or anyone else’s for that matter. Reveling in chaos yet thriving in comfortable situations. Refusing to smile for posed pictures but cackling for anyone’s phone camera.

She is the buttliest of butts and I mean that in the nicest, kindest, most loving way possible. She has taught me the art of negotiation, the art of patience, the art of snuggling on the couch until she can’t sit still anymore. She has taught me that bravery often comes in the smallest of packages and that even though she was handed an extraordinary set of circumstances she is a completely normal kid.

DSCF1492

Today is her day and I’m so glad she is mine. Ours. In our family and in our lives.

Happy happy birthday, Lillian!

Love, Mama (a.k.a. Julia)