Our Family is Growing…

On Friday I turned twenty-six and the weekend has been action packed. Before sharing all of that, I have something especially important to tell you guys. On top of getting another year older, my family has expanded by four paws.

Everyone, meet Max! He’s an Old English Yellow Lab. He’s super good with Mila and follows her around. Comes and gives me kisses when I pat on the ground. Last night he did amazing in his crate, but was super happy when it was time to start the day. Potty training a puppy and starting to notice Mila being ready to start is going to be a challenge, but I’m happy with our little family.

Max and Mila already love playing together. I can’t wait to see how they grow up and become closer. For now, I’m soaking up every moment… even through all the madness.

And hey, it’s National Dog Day to boot. A perfect way to celebrate the second day with our new pup.

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World Breastfeeding Week.

August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week!

Breastfeeding is a completely personal choice and doesn’t work for everyone. Fed is ALWAYS best, but I thought I’d share my experience with nursing. For all 475 days of Mila’s life she’s been breastfed and she doesn’t look like she’s going to wean herself off anytime soon. Nursing has been such an important part of mothering Mila. When I was pregnant with her, I hoped to be able to nurse for a while, but she’s led our breastfeeding journey and really didn’t want any other option.

When I was pregnant with Jensen, I was 100% certain I wanted to breastfeed. Like a lot of things, I was pretty naive in what it all entailed. I just knew that’s what I wanted to do. One of the strongest memories I have after he was born was getting my milk in. I was sitting in my parents kitchen, felt this pressure (which was milk letting down), and my shirt was soaked. It never occurred to me that my body wouldn’t understand there was no baby to feed. That first interact with breastfeeding absolutely crushed me and I was embarrassed. I didn’t know it at the time, but Jensen and this incident helped me with Mila. Although I didn’t nurse Jensen, my body learned how to make milk with a vengeance. It was hard to experience that part of loss, but Jensen has always helped me in ways I never imagined.

As I said before, Mila never really gave me a chance not to breastfeed. If you’ve ever been around Mila and I in person, you’d definitely know she still nurses. She’s pretty aggressive about showing her wants at this time, but, admittedly, she always has been when it comes to this. After our golden hour when she was born, the nurses asked what I wanted to do when it comes to feeding her. They encouraged me to get her to latch and I was a little nervous about a mix of things. What if she didn’t latch? What if she wanted to nurse, but my body didn’t produce? What if it hurt? What if it just doesn’t work? I knew if breastfeeding felt overwhelming we’d go straight to formula, but as the nurses were showing me what to do, Mila instantly latched and she’s never had a problem.

Our normal post newborn breastfeeding session… cute and cuddly.

Breastfeeding was a little bit harder for me.

Mila was hungry every two hours on the dot for months. She didn’t like to be put down and would wake up instantly if she was. It was hard making sure I had enough nutrients for the best of us and getting a good eating and snack schedule. I was also thirsty all the time and still am when she goes through growth spurts. Another challenging obstacle for me was blocked ducts. I don’t get them now, but in the beginning I was producing so much and she didn’t always empty a side. Blocked ducts are so painful and I’d get fevers. I’d have to work hard to get them to unblock. Most of the time that would have to include pumping, which I hate to do. Any mom who exclusively pumps.. you’re the real champion. I don’t know if it was a mix of associating pumping with blocked ducts or just hating the sound, but I’ve not pumped unless I’m away from Mila for an extended period of time. I thought I wouldn’t mind it and how it would help free up some time if others could feed Mila… but I couldn’t. But after those first few months of trying to get things right, breastfeeding just became normal.

A nursing toddler is easier in the technical stance, but it comes with its own unique set of ‘problems.’ I think it’s a little shocking to some to know Mila is almost 16 months old and still breastfeeds. A lot of people think it’s just for infants and after they turn a certain age it doesn’t help. I get a lot of jokes about it and people telling me I still breastfeed because I need her to do it. There’s a lot of criticism that goes along with it all and it can be hard to take. For Mila and I, it works. I really don’t see her stopping for a long time and I’m perfectly fine with letting her self wean whenever she prefers. Do I love getting kicked in the face when she climbs on me to nurse? No. Do I love that she thinks it’s okay to nurse anytime, anywhere? Not really, but we make it work.

Our normal post toddler breastfeeding sessions… cuddly, but dangerous.

Breastfeeding has been such a beautiful part of my motherhood. There are so many benefits that I’m going to list and it really has let Mila and I bond on such a deep level. I’m happy with our journey, even when it gets hard or excessive and in that moment I wish she was done. When she decides to be done, I’ll fondly look back on the moments I was able to give her all her nutrients, comfort, and warmth.

Breastfeeding Benefits:

For baby…

  • Provides ideal nutrition for baby to grow.
  • Easily digestible.
  • Breast milk contains antibodies to fight off bacteria and viruses.
  • Breast milk changes to what the baby needs.
  • Lowers risk of asthma and allergies.
  • Linked to higher IQ scores.
  • Promotes independence.

For mom…

  • Can help lose pregnancy weight. (It also makes you super hungry so if it doesn’t come off as easily as you think, it’s okay. You’re beautiful just the way you are.)
  • Helps get your uterus back to pre pregnancy size.
  • Reduces bleeding after birth.
  • Lowers risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
  • Lowers risk of osteoporosis.
  • Saves money and time.

For both…

  • Physical closeness, skin-to-skin contact, and eye contact helps baby bond and feel secure.
  • Provides quiet time to relax and bond.

Why I’d Choose Toddlerhood Over Infancy Any Day.

Before Mila was mobile, I got asked all the time what kind of baby she was and how motherhood was treating me. I’d look down at her and see the cutest baby I’ve ever seen. When I was pregnant, I dreamed I’d love all her cuddles and babyhood. I wanted to be obsessed with her infancy and to some point I was, but she wasn’t an easy baby and PPD wasn’t allowing me to enjoy motherhood. Maybe it was the mix of not sleeping or feeling like I should have been doing more. I think the more probable answer is her wanting to be nursed and held all the time let me have too much time to think. To much time to wonder and open new doors in my grief. It was such a juxtaposition of having this healthy baby, but feeling dread on the inside.

I thought it would last forever and I was scared. No one tells you that you might not like the baby stage and they tell you to beware of toddlers. I needed to enjoy those cuddles before I had to chase after her all the time. Almost every person I talked to told me that first year was the most special. Then I started feeling really bad and thinking maybe I just wasn’t a good mom.

Then she started walking and everything’s changed. I know she’s only fifteen months old and just starting toddlerhood, but I finally feel that awe I thought I was ‘supposed’ to a year ago.

A toddler is full of defiance and tantrums.

I can’t tell you how many times in a day I tell Mila no and she flops on the ground, kicking her feet. She’ll look me right in the face when she’s doing something she’s not supposed to and smile. If I tell her one thing, she instantly does the other. She hates nap and bed time. Fights me tooth and nail when she needs to settle. Her scream is the loudest I’ve ever heard and if you’ve been around her, you’d know she does it just to hear her own voice. My house is constantly a mess. As I’m cleaning, she comes up behind me and puts everything back where she had it before. She wants my full attention all the time and when something doesn’t go her way, she lets me know.

These are the hard parts of toddlerhood and I’m sure as she continues to grow, that list will too. But there’s the moments during these times that make it worth everything. The special moments or routines that just melt your heart.

Having a toddler is seeing the world so differently. It’s waking up at 5:30 in the morning to kisses and her saying, “Mama. Gee dog,” as she points to the tv and somehow I know it’s time to put Benji on for her in hopes to get a few more minutes of sleep. Yet, for some reason not because watching her dance and smile seems so much more important. It’s doing something you always do unknowingly and then seeing them pick it up and do it too. Sometimes it’s a word you say and you know it’s not a good one. Toddlerhood is her pushing around a bag of Doritos in her baby doll’s stroller and sharing by giving you one every time she passes. It’s in the moments where you wonder how this little human you have can be so frustrating and then they give you a trillion kisses to make it all better. All the hand holds, toothy smiles, and big personalities make up toddlerhood too.

To every mom or dad who’s in a spot they don’t particularly like, it gets better. It’s okay to not like a spot. It’ll be over soon and you’ll look back and feel like you can accomplish anything. Through a persons life, there’s always hard times and things that aren’t great in that spot. BUT there’s so many moments that sparkle and with those we make it through.

My journey with motherhood has been anything but easy, but I’m thankful for this season I’m in. Even when she pours cheese all over herself. She’ll only be little once.

My Favorite Way to ‘Capture’ My Toddler.

Her ‘yeah right, I can’t be captured or contained, mom‘ look.

Okay… so the title of this blog post is a tad misleading. I’m definitely not in the business of setting up traps to keep Mila from messing with things she’s not supposed to have; although, it wouldn’t be a bad idea. Instead I’m talking about all the pictures I capture of her.

Let me put this in perspective for everyone. Currently, I have 10859 pictures on my camera roll. By the time this gets posted there will most definitely be more. I’m actually afraid to look how many pictures I have on Google Photos (which is an amazing app with unlimited space!), since it has all my pictures from college. Most of that gigantic number is pictures of Mila. I’m always snapping photos of her so I don’t forget a thing. She’s probably going to be pretty embarrassed of all of them when she’s older, but I’ll worry about that then. Even though I love Google Photos and feel like they’re safe on there, I still worry about losing them. I would be heartbroken if they all just went away. The one thing I regret with Jensen is not having enough pictures of him and we unfortunately lost one of them. So this is a big deal for me to capture and keep hers.

Before she turned one, I wanted to make a HUGE scrapbook of her first year, but I didn’t have time. Instead, I started browsing for photo book apps. After I compared a few of them, I chose to start using Shutterfly and all I can say is I wish I would have started using it earlier.

Every month you get a FREE 6×6 softcover book with 40 pages. It may seem a little small, but I love mine and have put all Mila’s month pictures in from her first year. I also upgrade it to the hardcover book which is a minimal charge. If you have the app, they always have freebies you can get to add to your order. I’ve bought three easel back canvases (a 5×7 canvas of a picture of your choice), a leather pocket that holds my cards for my phone, and other sized photo books too. The only negative to Shutterfly is the shipping prices. They’re not awful, I think I just hate paying for it.

Mila LOVES looking through her books and trying to say everyone’s names in them. For me, it’s so nice to actually look at hard copies of pictures. I don’t know about everyone else, but it’s a relief when I can just not have my phone on me for the night. When I want to look at pictures and not stare at my phone, I just flip through our photo books. I know it probably sounds lame, but they’re just so nice to have. It makes me miss the days where my family would get out the picture totes, look at as many as we could, and tell the stories behind them. I hope Mila and I will do the same when she gets older too… maybe with the pictures being more in order though. Sorry mom!

Honestly, I wish I would have started getting my free books as soon as they started doing it. I actually recommend people to Shutterfly as much as I can, especially to new moms. It’s awesome you can make the books from your phone and recap the month or whatever. Not saying that new moms have the time.. LOL.. moms have no time. BUT, I know how many pictures we take and love to see. So, when I got my notification today that I could order this months freebie, I knew I wanted to share about it on here in case someone didn’t know about their offers. Like I said before, there are a ton of other photo book apps out there too! If you use one of them, let me know about it and if they have great freebies too. I can’t ever have enough pictures in my house.

Mom Fail: Early Morning Edition.

Ever since Mila slept through the night (well mostly slept through), she’s liked to sleep in. The earliest she’ll wake up on her own is around 8, but usually around 9:30/10. After the initial wake up, she likes to be cuddled and ‘tells’ me about her dreams. Totally not complaining about her desire to sleep in… unless we have somewhere to be in the morning. This weekend happened to hold one of those times.

All week, I swore and told everyone I had to be up early on Saturday. We had to be in Zoar by 9am. I set alarms two days before and tried my hardest to get Mila to sleep early so she could wake up on time the days before too. On Friday, I set our outfits out, made overnight oats, and struggled to get her to sleep at a ‘normal’ bed time. Before I went to sleep, I triple checked to make sure the alarms didn’t somehow go off and you know I had 15 of them set to make sure we woke up.

Fortunately, everything went semi smooth on Saturday morning. I woke up when I needed to and got ready before Mila even stirred. When I woke her up, she did fairly well. I’m pretty sure she was still half asleep, but we got packed up and we’re on our way. Although everything went smooth, I was still running a little behind. After I passed Mila’s overnight oats back to her, I sent a text letting the person know I’d be a little late. I was about halfway to Zoar, so 15 minutes out, when I got her text back... turns out, our pictures were the next day, Sunday. I had completely read the previous message wrong and my mind was set. After the stress of making sure Mila was up and we got there at a decent time, I just started to laugh. This was just our luck and my little mom fail.

We ended up making my little mistake into an adventure by going to play at Tuscora Park and crossing another item off our bucket list. Mila absolutely loves going to different parks and even though we’ve been there before. She still had a blast. It’s fascinating to see how much she’s changed in her play and interactions with other kids.

She can’t quite get up the big slide, but refuses to sit in the baby swing. If kids are smaller than her, she’ll go up and try to touch them. If they’re bigger, she thinks she’s big too and tries to talk to them. No matter who’s around though, I’m still her safe place and home. She runs to me when she’s scared or upset or just needs a hug. That warms my heart more than anything and let’s me know she loves me no matter how much I mess up.

I love being that for her and I hope I always can be; even though I think she’ll be less and less forgiving when I get her up early for no reason.

If you’re wondering, Sunday went fantastically. She smiled for pictures, went to a birthday party, and got to play outside. She took TWO naps after fighting me to take one lately. We even had to wake up early this morning and she did so well. Hopefully tomorrow, the fourth day in a row, she does the same. Fingers crossed.

So instead of getting mad at myself for my early morning fail, Mila has taught me to not take everything so seriously and to make adventures out of missed ones (or ones that we were just way too early for).

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Mila and I have a busy week ahead and I can’t wait to share our next adventures; fails or not.

“Is She Your Only One?”

A few weeks ago, Mila and I went to the mall. It’s her favorite place to run around and play. On this particular day, she was waving at everyone around her and it prompted an older couple to strike up a conversation. They told me how cute and friendly she is. Asked how old she was and that she was big for her age. Then the inevitable question was asking…

“Is she your only one?”

The awkward silence that took place following this question was me deciding how I’d word my answer…

“Nope. She has an older brother. He’d be three.”

Usually the past tense sort of ends the questions, but then there are others who like to ask more.

“Oh, I bet they love to play with each other. Siblings make such good friends when they get older.”

I just thought, how do I get myself out of this conversation. I’m not embarrassed Jensen died and I advocate for him and stillbirth all the time, but I chose to just nod instead. It sort of felt like a loss, but I didn’t have the strength to say it out loud that day. The nod satisfied them and they went on to talk about how two kids is the best and they keep each other occupied. They kept going on and I just stopped listening and watched Mila smile and play.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I just had said, my son died, then walked away. Would the face they would have made make me feel better? Would it have let them know their invasive questions can actually hurt those who’ve experienced loss and/or infertility? I think they would just think I was bitter and rude for outwardly expressing my grief and maybe that’s why I didn’t want to say anything.

There was a time in my grief, I would answer very direct that I had a son named Jensen and he died. So yes, I have children, but he’s not in my arms. Sometimes I think I did it for the shock factor and other times because I needed to talk about him out loud. Other times I’d love when people asked me because I wanted to talk about him and often they would share stories about their or someone close to them’s experience with loss.

It’s been a harder question to answer with Mila. I’ve always said that I have to kids and usually just speak about Jensen in the past tense and it’s clear with what’s happened. Sometimes I completely ignore them because a new response has came with Mila…

At least you have her with you.”

I’ve said many times throughout this blog that the ‘at least’ platitudes are the worst. It ALWAYS seems like a response when they find out I have both Jensen and Mila. Honestly, it hurts so bad to hear this. I’m so thankful I have her here with me, more grateful than anything, but there’s no at least with child loss.

Yes, I have her, but I also have her big brother too. He should be here. Jensen should be running around the mall with her, showing her the best places to be ornery. He should be giving her love and teaching her. Moms or dads shouldn’t have to bury their babies and siblings shouldn’t have to miss their brothers and sisters.

I wish I could be strong enough every time in answering the way ruin, “is she your only one?” by saying this: No. She’s not my only one. She has a big brother named Jensen, who’s in heaven. He should be here playing with her everyday and it’s devastating he’s not. I’m thankful to have her here with me, but wish he could be here too.

But we’re not strong everyday and not everyone gets the same answer. Some days I’m short and others I’ll talk about Jensen for as long as they’ll let me. I hope one day people will pick up on when someone’s comfortable with talking about children because it’s not an easy subject for everyone. Or there should be an understanding that babies die and it’s okay to talk about it. It shouldn’t be a taboo subject and for many of us, it’s our reality.

How do you answer this question or ‘do you have any kids?

I Got My House Blessed After Spooky Occurrences and This is What Happened.

**Warning: this post talks about sensitive issues that some may or may not be comfortable with. There may also be people who don’t believe in what I’m about to write about. No matter, this post will describe my experience with spirits in my house.**

Over the last few weeks, weird things have been going on. It all started after I painted my front door. Mila started having nightmares and some electronics acted up. I didn’t really think anything of it because the house has always had strange things happen. Usually the smoke detector in Jensen room will go off; like every single morning. My remotes always go missing, then mysteriously end up in the middle of the floor a few days later. Then there are just times I feel like I’m being watched. BUT it all got worse after the door was painted.

A week after it was done, I had gotten everything ready for bed and I was laying down on my phone. Mila was in bed with me and everything but her white noise was shut off. All of the sudden I heard this woman sobbing. The crying was coming from my living room, like where the couch sits. All the hairs on my body stood up and I couldn’t let myself look in the doorway.

The very next day, I told myself I wasn’t going to let something get to me in my own house. I sat out in my living room, watching TV, and waited. Just when I thought everything was all in my head, I heard three taps on my window…

I immediately knew something was wrong.

Throughout the next few weeks, there were unexplained noises and Mila started to change. She didn’t want to sleep and when she did, she’d wake up screaming. I wondered what I could do, but figured it’d be okay.

On the day Mila fell, everything changed. Before she fell, the barn door between my living room and bedroom unlatched and closed right after she woke up from a nap. There was no explanation of how it could have just up and closed. I’d be lying if I told you it didn’t terrify me, but I did not feed into it. About two hours later, she fell. After making the decision to take her to the ER, I had my friend come over to pick us up. Right before we left, there was a huge crash or unexplainable sound. We couldn’t find anything that fell, but there was a loud noise. There were more important matters at hand so I didn’t think about it until I knew Mila was okay.

The day after she fell, I made the decision to contact a paranormal group to come cleanse and bless my home.

I’ve NEVER done anything like this and was pretty nervous at the thought. What if it stirred up more things? Or I didn’t like the thought of pushing Jensen out of my house if he was here too. There were a lot of things running through my mind, but the most important? Mila.

After making the call and talking about it to my friends and family, the house sort of calmed down. Besides Mila waking up every morning, going into the laundry room, shutting the door, and playing/laughing/talking to someone in there. Then on Thursday night, the day before the blessing, the house… was very active.

A ball that has to be hit to light off kept going off after Mila went to sleep. It went on for the whole hour I watched it. I’ll post the video I took at the end of the post. Then when I went into my living room, I heard footsteps in the room behind me and in my kitchen. There were unexplained noises and shuffling all over the house. Plus, I just genuinely felt uncomfortable. The next morning (Friday) the light up ball started acting up again and another ball rolled all by itself.

Yeah, I was a little freaked out, but I was hopeful the blessing would help. I know this post is getting long, but I’ll keep the next part short.

The team came to my house around 6pm. My mom, my brother’s fiancée, and I were there for them to start their investigation. The guy I was most in contact with says he’s a medium too. From what I could tell, he was able to tell which spots had the most activity before I even told him. He identified four different spirits in my house: an old woman, an old man, a young woman, and one that he couldn’t really get a good read on. The two older ones had a strong attachment to my house and the other two just were here. They weren’t related to me, but were pretty grump that I was in their house and changing things. He also let me know there were four ‘portals’ in my house and then went on to close them. After closing them, the blessing started. I was involved with this to reclaim my home and it really felt like I was taking back power in a productive way. He ended up blessing us and the house before he left and the other two are going to send me any other evidence they caught on tape.

I definitely went through physical and mental changes through the blessing. When he was closing portals, the temperature in my house rose and it got so hot. Usually my house is freezing so this was weird for me. Then right before the blessing started, I felt completely drained. I had a horrible head and neck ache that came on all the sudden. As it started though, I felt my strength come back and I was able to really help throughout it. Afterwards, my house feels lighter and more peaceful. The temperature is more consistent than it ever has been before too.

So do I think it was helpful? Absolutely. It’s just happened and I think I need to wait a few weeks, but for now it has.

In regards to one of my biggest fears, pushing Jensen out, the medium gave me some solace. He let me know Jensen passed through when he died, but he is one of my spirit guides. Whenever I need him, I can just picture him in my head or talk to him and he’ll be right here.

Just knowing he moved on and is safe was such a good feeling for me. I want him around me always, but I never wanted him to be stuck. It makes me smile to know that he comes here and wants to help me. I’ve always known he’s been nearby, but it was nice hearing it from someone else. Not everyone believes in an afterlife or spirits or any of this, but if you do, I think this brings some peace of mind about loved ones. I know it did for me.

As we move forward, I hope my house is just safe for Mila. If this gets rid of her nightmares, I’ll be so happy. I’m also looking forward to see how it’ll affect me and maybe my anxiety and depression too. As always, I’ll keep you updated with anything that happens onwards.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! If you’ve ever done anything like this, I’d love for you to share your experience in the comments or in an email. I’m curious to see if anyone else had a similar situation.

He Wasn’t a Bad Deal in Life.

When I was a little girl, I would never have guessed I’d be here.

I wanted to travel the world and had/have a huge list of places I want to explore. As I got older I realized that, you know, took money and you had to have a job to make that money. Before I knew I wanted to travel, I wanted to be a teacher; really even before I knew what that entailed. I loved knowledge and letting others know new information. In high school I wanted to teach during the year and travel during the summer. Then in college, it changed to being a travel writer. I didn’t want any strings attached to anyone and just be free. Being married and having kids was never on the top of my list. I didn’t want to be that person who never left where they grew up. Nope. That wouldn’t be me…

Obviously that’s not what happened.

Instead of moving away and being this single, empowered woman with no worries, I bought a house in my hometown and got pregnant with Jensen. With him, my view of the world changed. I wanted to be the best mom to him and I really did my very best. His death absolutely crushed me. I had never really been an optimist (for no reason really), but after I was a zombie walking around.

I became this person I didn’t recognize in the mirror. The world didn’t seem as big and bright as it did before. Everything I had ever known I distrusted. I had changed, the world had changed, and life had changed.

And honestly, who wouldn’t think that? You don’t go into a pregnancy thinking this baby that I love with every part of me is going to die and you certainly don’t walk out of an experience like that thinking everything is just good still. Excuse my language, but your child dying fucking sucks. I honestly wouldn’t wish it on any person in the entire universe. Not even the worst person. No one is deserving of that.

Losing Jensen is my first ever loss. That grief shakes me to my core and anyone who has been through losing a child only knows that pain. I can also tell you that me and any of those other moms and dads would never have taken away that time with their child. And for me, I don’t think I’d ever want to go back to the way it was before.

I wasn’t ‘dealt shitty hands in life’ by Jensen’s death, a miscarriage, or anything dealing with Mila’s ‘dad’ or that whole mess.

Do I wish I could have Jensen here with me? Absolutely. I wish with every fiber of my body that I could go into his room and just look at him sleeping. I wish I could watch him play with Mila. I wish I could be sending him to preschool this fall. I wish for all the things I’ll never have with him. If I could change anything in my life, it’d be having him right here with Mila and I.

There’s no child that’s a shitty deal. Yeah, Jensen’s death was awful, but he taught me how deeply a person can love. He taught me how I can get through anything by myself and honestly so much more that I’ve written a trillion times. I would relieve those thirty-eight weeks over and over again and still not think the life I created was shitty. My miscarriage, although tragic and still find myself processing it, was not a shitty deal. That baby gave me so much hope and that hope made me know I wanted to eventually have another child. Then there’s Mila. God, there’s no part of her that I regret. Like Jensen, she taught me how to love again and showed me how strong of a person I was. Again, like Jensen, she’s pushed from highs to lows and I will never be able to thank her for what she’s done for me. I have this vibrant little girl all to myself and if anyone thinks that’s shitty..

Maybe I’ve grown through a lot of pain in the last three-ish years, but to say I’ve been ‘dealt shitty hands in life’ is probably the most untrue statement I’ve heard about my life.

I don’t have the life I planned I would have when I was a little girl, but I think my life is better than that (don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to travel the world with Mila and write Jensen’s name wherever we go). I love where I am right now. Three years ago, other bereaved moms told me I’d never forget Jensen and I’d always grieve for him, but I would get to a place where I could smile, be happy, and not feel guilty (there’s guilty days plagued with grief still though). I remember thinking that they were nuts, but here I am. It’s not entirely Mila induced, it’s all the lessons I’ve learned and knowing the fragility of life. There’s not darkness when I think of Jensen, there’s light and love and knowing he’s rooted so deep in my heart. And yeah, there’s Mila who has this radiant smile and is so full of life. I would do everything all over again to have them both, even with the knowledge I have now.

Because I haven’t been dealt shitty hands in life. I’ve been given support (by amazing family, friends, and the loss community), independence, confidence, security, intelligence, experience, and love that I wouldn’t let anyone take away from me.

To you who thinks this of me… I’m not sorry about the hand you’ve been dealt.

Mila: 0 – Kitchen Counter: 1

***Warning- The pictures I’m going to post here are a little upsetting. There’s swelling and bruising on Mila’s face and I understand some can find them uncomfortable to see.***

I had this AMAZING idea the last week to try a new Pinterest recipe per week and share how it goes. Mila loves to watch and ‘help’ me cook, so I thought it’d be fun to do this with her too. For dinner last night, I decided to try out this kid-friendly (not spicy), Indian dish. I had everything cut, measured, and ready to go. As usual, Mila sat in her spot on the kitchen counter, which is in the corned where the countertop comes out furthest. She was pushed clear back and playing with the spice containers as I began cooking.

Everything was going normally. We do this for two meals a day since she’s been super steady. I didn’t even have a second thought when I turned around to grab the chicken from my island. When I looked at Mila, she was sitting happily. Then, literally, one second later, I turned around and heard a thump on the ground…

Instantly I knew she fell. I was scared to turn around, but I had to. She was laying there, conscious, and rolling on to her back. As soon as her eyes locked on to mine, she let out this blood curdling scream and I picked her up so fast. I went to our couch and held her close. She leaned back to look at me again and I realized she fell straight on her head; her left eyebrow in particular. It had already started swelling and was so red.

The only thing I could do in those first twenty minutes was just hold her and try to calm her down. She was scared and I’m guessing in a lot of pain. She still nurses so I offered her that and it helped a little. I could feel her sobbing in my arms and grabbed my phone to see what I should do. Family/friends messaged me back and I eventually called the nurses hotline, which they prompted me to take her to the ER to just get checked out. I did check her eyes to see if she had a concussion and after calming her down, she named who was in the pictures on the wall. This made me feel better, but seeing her eye get worse and worse I knew it was best to take her.

Thankfully my friend, Dana, was able to drive Mila and I to the hospital. I needed to sit in the back with her. One because she hates the car normally and two because I needed it for me. At the hospital, Mila wasn’t happy at all. She screamed at the nurses when they tried to get her blood pressure or if the touched her at all.

Again, I could finally get her calmed down enough and we stripped her down to her diaper. This made her happy of course, my little nudist. After throwing one more major fit when the nurse gave her Tylenol, she started playing and talking more. The same nurse who got to witness all the meltdowns gave Mila a stuffed, rainbow dog, which she LOVED. She played with the bed that reminded her of the lawn mower and reorganized some medical equipment I’m not sure she should have been playing with.

We were in the emergency room for a few hours for monitoring. The doctor was worried about a concussion, but when he observed her he realized that she was acting like a normal one year old and there was no way she’d stay still for any testing. He mentioned how he’d prefer to get an x-ray of her eyebrow bone (I’m aware that’s not the technical term, if you know it and let me know, I’ll change it on here), but told me to just keep an eye on it. She was discharged and I was given papers about head injuries, directions on how to keep the swelling down, and contact information if anything changes.

She went right to sleep on the car ride back and did well through the night. I was up for a lot of it, but wanted to make sure she was herself. I watched her facial expressions as she dreamed and there weren’t any nightmares tonight, just smiles. For that I’m so thankful.

Her face is very swollen this morning. I’ll be following her lead throughout the day and will constantly be offering snuggles. She’s so tough. I’d love to say it looks way worse than it feels, but I think she just is a little badass.

Honestly, I’m so afraid to share this with all of you. TWO DAYS IN A ROW she’s been hurt: one out of my control and the other I could have prevented. Accidents happen within seconds and they’re so unpredictable. Mila literally sits in that same place everyday and never tries to get up or if she wants to move, she tells me up. I would have NEVER thought she would try to stand up, but she did and she fell. It only took one second. I go back and think why was I so dumb? Why didn’t I just pick her up to grab what I needed? So much mom guilt and at this moment I feel like I deserve feeling like crap.

Here’s the thing, this stuff happens all the time to moms (dads and guardians too) everywhere. Kids fall, they get stung by bees, and way worse even under a watchful eye. I am so thankful nothing worse happened to Mila because it could have easily been a fall to her death. There are so many different way kids die and here I am, knowing this happens, but putting her in a situation like this. I honestly feel awful, but I know it doesn’t make me a bad mom. There’s going to be many more ER trips and thinking I could have prevented them. But things happen and that’s motherhood for me and childhood for her.

Will I ever let her sit up on the countertops without me being right in front of her? Probably not.
Am I going to forgive myself for letting this happen? Eventually.
Has it taught me that Mila is stronger than I ever imagined her to be? Hell yes.

Even though I was so scared to be judged to tell you about Mila’s fall, I think it’s important to show that motherhood’s not perfect. It’s not always how you plan it to go and bad things do happen. She’s going to be okay and will have no memory of it as she grows up. I’ll always remember this and will make me even more aware of what I do with her. Everyday I’m thankful for having her and think how much peace and happiness she’s brought me. I have no idea what I’d do without her and that’s why I feel so bad for this incident. But I already know she doesn’t think any less of me as she looks up at me (with her face half swollen) and smiles like I’m the only person in the world.

Thanks for reading and understanding everyone. I’ll still be posting a million pictures of her, like usual. Even with a puffy face, she’s the most beautiful girl I have ever seen.

Mila: 0 – Bee: 1

I had something else planned to share today, but life always has its own plan. Today was one of those scary days when a moment happens and you question everything. Our moment wasn’t that big, but it did the trick.

Mila loves to be outside. She points to our door when we’re inside to let me know she’s ready to go play. When she has to go inside, she screams until she realizes she’s not going to win. I’m so happy she loves to be outside. On the flip side, Mila is fearless. She’s not afraid of heights, animals, the water… anything. I mean, she’s a little young to know real fear, but when something hurts her or if she falls, she just keeps redoing it. It’s a little scary for me, but I like her a little wild. I don’t play into things and just let her experience what she needs to. Obviously I don’t let her get injured, you all get the gist.

Anyways, today we went to my mom and dad’s house to help maintain the pool. They have a hot tub with steps that she loves to sit on. After playing for a little while and eating her snack, she took my mom over to the steps to sit with her. As soon as she swung her legs under them, she started screaming. Not an attention scream, but a ‘I’m really hurt, help me’ one. Mom instantly picked her up, brought her to me, and said a bee stung her. This is the first time (of many that’s sure to come) that she’s been stung. I just help her close and kept reassuring myself she would be okay.

Then that little voice in my head was playing tricks on me.

What if she’s allergic? She could die if she was. What if this is the last time you get to comfort her? My mom is allergic, is anyone else she’s related to? Please don’t let her die.

I put a strong outside appearance on, but I was terrified. Immediately, we tried to get the stinger out, washed it out, put a cold compression on it, then baking powder to stop the burn. After a few minutes she calmed down and wanted to walk. Her foot was bright red and swelled right up, but the swelling stopped at her ankle and she’s been fine since. My mom joked and said handled it better than she did, I can agree with that.

Now that she’s fine and I can take a deep breath, I realize how scary that was for me. I kept thinking about the movie “My Girl” and was so upset. Thoughts about what I’d do if Mila died went through my head.

Sometimes I wonder if these are just normal, mom thoughts. She’s my first living child and I know there’s a lot of worry with that. Then I think life is fragile and it sometimes ends just like that. I’ve been there. I lived that. That’s one of the lessons from Jensen dying that I’ve embraced. We make each day special because it could all just be done in an instant. I recognize this and I realize it’s okay to be scared when these things happen. Being scared to lose her isn’t so unbelievable for me, but I hope one day I don’t instantly have those thoughts.

So today the bee got Mila, but she took it with grace. I’m also proud of myself in how I was able to handle my thoughts and mothering her. Losing Jensen will always play into how I parent Mila and I think it’s made me an even better mom.

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Since it’s her first bee sting and I was paranoid the swelling would get worse, we took pictures of her foot. Her little foot was so hot, red, and swollen. Here’s a visual. It might make me look like I overreacted, but who cares.

Her little toes which are normally pretty skinny got so big. They’ll be normal by tomorrow. Thank goodness she can walk normally. She’s freak if she couldn’t run wild. Again, swelling has stopped and I’ve been putting wet baking powder on there to stop itching. If you have any other suggestions, let me know.