Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

A pandemic. How is one supposed to react in a global health crisis? I’ve watched the news and numbers rise, I’ve panicked, I’ve let anxiety creep in. With my hands chapped from obsessively washing, I’ve sheltered in place for WEEKS, not even leaving my neighborhood. Why had it been so hard to follow my past advice of FAITH OVER FEAR?? How could I get back to the trust that I had just six weeks prior?

When I have a question, it’s not long until life gives an answer. That answer came last weekend. I found myself on Saturday not feeling quite right. My Apple Watch proved something was off with a high heart rate. I also noticed a dull, constant pain in my side. After monitoring with some Tylenol, I knew what I had to do. I drove myself to the Emergency Room, abiding by the current rules of no visitors or extra support. By the end of the night I was diagnosed with an infection in my colon and mild sepsis, earning me a stay in the hospital overnight.

Sunday morning, I watched the sunrise through my hospital room window. I had been so careful to stay in place, to socially distance… but it didn’t matter. I was in our local hot spot. Every medical worker wore a mask the entire day, every tv station mentioned the virus, there was no escaping it. It was time to face it and I realize that it is what it is. I could have let myself cripple with fear and emotions in that moment. But watching the skies turn pink, I realized that there will always be tough times, that’s nothing new given what I’ve been through in past years. But just as before, it’s what we learn in those tough times that make it worth it. It’s the strength we gain and the knowledge given. Here’s what I’m taking with me going forward:

1. First, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! I’m so glad my Apple Watch was a tool to monitor what I felt was wrong. But I’m thankful that I’m in tune with how my body works. Are there things I want to change? Of course! But I still know the body I’m in. Even if it’s not perfect, it’s my responsibility. It’s mine.

2. Did that previous anxiety help anything? NOPE. Worrying did nothing. I still ended up sick and in the hospital. Sweet and simple: I can only do what I can do and I know God’s got the rest.

3. Even if you’re up against a challenge you have to face alone, your support system will get you through. I was loved from afar. Adam and Charlie made me a sign and came to “visit” outside of my hospital window. My mom and sister brought me clothes to the front desk and picked me up at discharge. Even though I had to be strong and do my part, they leaned in and gave a nudge to keep me going. I am, and always will be, so grateful for my tribe ♥️

4. Kindness goes a long way. For anyone. Anytime. The nurses simply appreciated my please and thank you’s. Colleagues around the country appreciate a check-in email. I’ve texted “have a great day” to each of my DoorDash delivery drivers. This can be stressful for all of us, so I’ve learned a smile or a small gesture goes such a long way. AND… it’s easy!

This week has been so refreshing post-hospital stay. I’ve relaxed, I’ve slept better, I play with Charlie. I handle all that I can and I don’t sweat the rest. And when we’re all on the other side of this virus, I’ll be thankful for my time in the hospital. I’ll be thankful for my lessons learned.

Thank you Wellstar Paulding Hospital
Benign

Benign

Benign. You don’t know how much you love the word benign until it’s given to you on your own piece of paper. I’m so thankful to have received that notice officially after a December thyroid nodule biopsy. But what got me to that Benign result?

It’s true that I’ve learned a lot through supporting my family through a series of hospital stays, traumas, and now my own experiences. But what surprised me is that through each of these instances, one word continued to surface repeatedly: ADVOCATE.

While the odds were in my favor, the nodule was stealing moments of joy with my new family. The “what if’s” camped out in my brain for weeks. I waited for a call to schedule a biopsy, assuming they were on top of things. Surely it’s important to me, so it’s important to them, right? Not quite… After I initiated a phone call, I realized I needed to become the squeaky wheel to get it done. I fought for peace of mind and I fought for this result. I advocated for me.

With large patient files and case loads, I’ve learned that it is up to YOU to fight for your care and to stay on top of it. Once I learned this, I realized how many in our society have no one in their corner. I challenge each of you to help a loved one in the same way.

Doctor wants a biopsy? Call until it’s scheduled. Something doesn’t make sense? Question it! Get your answers. Find a lump? Get the appointment, don’t wait. It’s worth it. You’re worth it.

Like a Mother

Like a Mother

To my baby boy as we transition from maternity leave to our new normal,

On December 8, 2018, that positive pregnancy test was the first time I was able to dream of our future together like a mother.

Nearly every day for 7 months, I conquered morning sickness like a mother.

You were growing and healthy, so I happily dealt with the usual aches, swelling, and carpel tunnel, even when it hurt like a mother.

July 24th came, I met you for the first time, and I knew unconditional love like a mother.

We were readmitted to the pediatrics unit for jaundice treatment and I cried all night wishing I could take it away for you, like a mother.

Every day of your life, I’ve tried to teach and to comfort like a mother.

No matter what comes on a daily basis, I try to greet it with gratitude and positivity like a mother.

And today, with the click of a button, maternity leave will be over. I will re-enter the working world a changed person knowing it’s what is best for my family, just like a mother.

While I adjust to my days not spent with you exclusively, I’ll tearfully sit at my desk in Atlanta and stare at your pictures, like a mother.

I’ll wonder what you’re doing. I’ll think of you every single second, but I’ll get the job done and get to you as fast as I can, like a mother.

And starting now, I will give my trust to others as we begin to build our village. A village where I know you’ll thrive, you’ll learn, and you’ll grow. And in this village, I have just one wish when I can’t be there… that they love you like your mother.

I’ve got this. We’ve got this ♥️ I love you

1959

1959

Today my Dad would be 60 years old. He actually was looking forward to 60. It would be Vegas: Round 2. And this time my sister and I would’ve been old enough to join in. But, instead,  this is our third November 6th without him and the heaviness on this day will probably always be there. Each year, this day has had its challenges. But 2019 is the hardest for a new reason – my son, Charlie. 
He wore a flannel button-up shirt today in the same plaid that my dad had. The sleeves were rolled up and his shoes were canvas slip ons. It was a mini replica of the regular weekend ensemble for Scott Frost. I took cute pictures, I beamed with pride. But Charlie won’t get it. Not   just because he’s 3 months old, but because he never saw that Saturday outfit in person. He doesn’t get to know first-hand why his grandpa is so funny. We’ll try and tell the same jokes, but we won’t do them justice. He doesn’t know the plans Dad made for the two of them before Charlie was even a thought. I’ll try to take him to as many stadiums and National parks as I can, but the original vacation planner won’t be there to take the credit for his itinerary. It will be up to me and my family to teach Charlie about his grandpa. It will be up to us to share the many life lessons that Dad taught us: 

Never open a new ketchup before the old one has been used. 

Always finish what you started.

If a team is counting on you, see it through.

If there’s cake, then you should go.

Dad, I promise it won’t be perfect, It won’t be as good as if you were here to teach him yourself, but I’m still going to try. 

So, while ten years ago we thought we’d all be in Vegas celebrating another decade of Dad, this year we found ourselves in a corner booth of our local Carrabba’s. We toasted him with waters as they packed up our food very quickly because our baby was out past his bedtime and was making it known. It wasn’t perfect, but we tried. And we always will. 
Happy 60th Birthday, Dad – We miss you everyday.
Even If

Even If

37 weeks. That’s what I had originally titled and drafted for this post. I knew that the weeks in my pregnancy were dwindling and I wanted to summarize all I had learned in weeks 8-36. But now? Now it’s ALL about week 37 and what it taught me.

I actually had a scheduled c-section for week 38, on July 31st. So I was ready to savor week 37 and all it had to offer. The last 7 days with my son on the inside. I will 100% tell anyone that I am one of those women who LOVED pregnancy. Did I throw up a lot? Oh Yes. Was it challenging juggling all of the appointments and numbers? Sure. But it amazed me everyday that I was growing a little human. Not just growing him, but doing it better than even I thought I could. Every week we got another thumbs up because of the effort I was putting in. I felt like superwoman and I knew I had 7 more days of those kicks, the belly movements, elevating the feet and finishing the nursery. But there was another plan at hand.

On Wednesday, July 24th, I had a routine check-up. I was tired, so I let myself sleep in. I threw on some comfy clothes, no makeup, no washing of my hair, and went on my way. During my drive, I decided to skip around some radio stations and landed on our local Christian channel. I was so happy to hear the beginning of “Even If” by MercyMe. That song got me through a lot of bad days after losing my dad and it felt like a bit of a hug from him. That song always reminded me that even if my best scenario isn’t God’s plan, it’s still going to be ok and I still have faith and trust. I remember listening to the whole song and really enjoying it since it had been a year or so since I’d heard it on the radio.

I arrived to my appointment and we did our usual ultrasound. The nurse and I laughed at the amount of hair my baby had. She took a picture for me to show the family. Fluids looked great and my little guy was moving and grooving. But then she took my blood pressure and said we’d have the doctor check it out because it was quite elevated. I was shocked, I had never had BP numbers that high. Without another check, doc decided to call my OB to discuss and let me know that he thinks week 37 would be it for me. Naively, I thought they’d just reschedule my c-section for the end of the week instead. He came back and said “well, she agrees… you’re going to head to labor and delivery.”

WHAT.

I said something along the lines of “oh wait… like today?” He found that pretty funny and responded:

Oh, you’re 100% having a baby TODAY.

I was stunned. I didn’t have my hospital bag, my husband was 90 minutes away, and I’m alone. My heart started racing. He reminded me that it was going to be ok. This healthy baby is what I worked so hard for and we were going to keep him that way. We hugged and I left the office in a fog of disbelief.

I started to make calls to Adam and my mom, but looked down and realized my phone was calling my Dad’s cell. I paused, quickly hung up, and I walked the 100 yards to L&D to check myself in while trying to remember to breathe. This was not exactly how I pictured myself starting the whole process of meeting my baby. I waited for a nurse to come and get me, was taken to my room, and from there I changed into the very fashionable hospital gown and socks. I had a few moments to myself, realizing that all of the plans I had for this week were quickly being thrown out the window as each wire was connected and IV was being set up. I mentally said goodbye to the thought of the 31st as my son’s birthday. To me, it was perfect because It was 13 backwards, dad’s favorite number. I said goodbye to the idea of driving to the hospital with my husband and holding hands for the last time as a family of two. The only certainty I had was that I was about to meet my son… today. And that was scary.

That’s when it hit me… the song from that morning:

But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

Sure, I could believe my own plan was ideal for when this baby should come, but it wasn’t. My obsession with what I thought should happen was replaced with faith and excitement for what WAS happening.

Family members arrived, Adam just barely made it (phew!), changed into scrubs and I walked into the OR. We met our sweetest gift, our baby boy, at 2:05PM on July 24th, 2019. After time in recovery, they wheeled us up to our room… P413. There was my 13! ♥️

I knew in that moment that my dad was with us and he knew all along that this would be happening. From making sure I heard the song that morning, calling his phone, and to our room we’d call home for 4 days. He was there and wanted me to know it was all ok, even if it didn’t go according to my plan. And he was happy his grandson was now in my arms!

4 weeks later, I still look at this sweet face we created and can’t believe he’s here and he’s mine. His smirk reminds me of Dad’s at least 50 times a day and I can’t imagine him coming a day later than July 24th.

This new chapter is so great and is teaching me so much daily. The biggest lesson? That Even If it’s taken me at least 2.5 weeks to write this post (#MomLife), Even If some days feel long and I’m frustrated that I felt clueless, I’m so grateful for them. I prayed for them, that prayer is here and answered, and I will cherish every second and give thanks for them…

Starting with this next nap (I hope). 🙂

The Gift

The Gift

Well…it’s certainly been a few months since I’ve written. I just re-read my last post and am still in awe of how good God is. The last few months have held some of the highest highs of my life, but not without doubt or some hardships. Writing my last post on choosing Faith over Fear was all I needed to jumpstart the journey we’re currently on. It was the last piece of the puzzle God was putting together. I just didn’t know it then…

If you recall, my last post discussed a dr’s appointment. On November 12th, Adam and I visited a fertility practice to look into our future of having kids. Things hadn’t been happening on our own and we just wanted to make sure all was good. I was nervous, but the doctor was very sweet and said, with his help, we should have no issue getting pregnant in 2019. we made a game plan for testing, but that wasn’t God’s game plan…

Let’s rewind just a minute and visit an important piece to this story that I’ve yet to write about. Since losing my dad, my family and I have met with a medium a couple of times. Whether you believe or not, it does bring a sense of comfort that none of us can explain. It just helps bring Heaven a little closer. And, in our experience, there’s so much accuracy that it can be a little eery. Throughout 2018, Adam and I were flustered with ovulation tests and charting and it seemed that kids weren’t going to happen for us easily. I had thought about other possibilities and giving up. In our June session, my dad could tell it was bothering me. He communicated to me to calm down, take it easy, eat more vegetables, and gather information. He always believed in having all the details to make a good plan. He reminded not to put the cart before the horse, that there was no reason to give up yet. But, he said, it’ll happen for you and perhaps in the next 6 months. And when it does happen, I was to know that he and God had a hand in picking the perfect baby. Looking back, Dad knew in that moment that I had more grief work to do. My body wasn’t at all relaxed, I was angry and heartbroken. Not a healthy habitat for a little one. Fast forward 5 months to that last November blog post… I was finishing grief share, we found a church, and I had really done the emotional work. I was on the way to healing. I knew I was ready to gather more information. Horse, then cart. Faith over Fear.

So we had our appointment and I felt good, at ease. What will be, will simply be. I’m not in control. So, Thanksgiving came and went, Christmas shopping began, and the company Christmas party had arrived. But something else hadn’t come yet (are you with me? 😉). I was looking forward to a fun night with coworkers and margaritas, but something in me said “let’s double check that this isn’t a fluke.”

And on December 8th, 2018…

Our lives changed! I was shocked, elated, in disbelief, crying. I didn’t know if I’d ever see the day this could really happen for me. I immediately thought of Dad. I took this test 3 days shy of the 6 month period he had hinted at. There is no doubt in my mind that this is my gift. My Christmas gift, my gift for doing the hard work, a gift to lift some sadness. A piece of him handpicked for me, a recipe of putting Faith over Fear.

After a blood test confirmation, we got to surprise our families for Christmas. Neither of them were expecting this little miracle, knowing the journey we had been on. It was emotional, but so exciting!

On January 3rd, we saw our baby for the first time…

And ever since then, we just keep reminding ourselves of Faith over Fear. We saw baby C again on Adam’s birthday, growing so much already. (Have you ever seen a cuter nose??)

And just this past weekend, we found out our little bambino is a BOY! 💙 We are thrilled and can’t wait to meet him in August.

Please know I don’t tell this story to gloat. I know all too well the pain of watching friends start families so easily. Wondering when will it be my turn. Will it ever be my turn? I needed to write this because I never want to forget. I want to always remain grateful. So, so grateful. With every bout of morning sickness, I give thanks. No matter what hurdle comes, I put my hand on my stomach and thank God. And if any reader of this is looking for a glimmer of hope, I hope that this is your sign. Horse, then cart. Faith over Fear. God’s got this. God’s got YOU and your puzzle is coming together.

Thank you for the reminder, Dad ♥️

I Saw the Sign

I Saw the Sign

Sometimes all you need is a sign.

I’m so happy to say that recently Adam and I have found a church we are enjoying. So much so that we haven’t been able to try any others because we are so ready for the next week’s message. And we find ourselves excited about our new Sunday schedule:

Leave by 8:30 am, get in the coffee line (two hot brews, one of them with three pumps of sugar-free vanilla), 9 am service, and then a nice Sunday breakfast together.

However yesterday, I found myself inundated with thinking about what this week holds. As the congregation sang, my mind would drift into thoughts about Dr appointments, my grief group’s candlelight ceremony, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season already beginning, and Dad. I always think about Dad in church.

The service continued and while holding my coffee in one hand, I attempted flipping to the precise chapter that our Pastor was teaching with the other. It wasn’t going well… But what I landed on was no mistake. It couldn’t be.

The Bible I’m currently using belonged to my Mema Frost, my dad’s mom. When she passed in 2011, I knew how much her church family and Bible meant to her and was grateful to inherit it. I’m so happy to be putting it to good use now and I can feel her every Sunday, always tucking it in close to my heart as I walk in.

And yesterday, while thinking of the unknowns of the week and attempting not to spill my coffee, I landed on a section highlighted in blue. Ephesians 3:16-21. My eyes big, my mouth open, my brain hungry to take in the words. My Mema knew where my mind was wandering and at some point in her time with this Bible, her mind had wandered there, too. But she found comfort in this chapter, marked it, and now she was passing it on to me. Right when I least expected it, but exactly when it was needed.

In that moment, my faith became greater than my fears and my eyes filled with tears. Mema heard me. God hears me. And while tomorrow is a mystery, He’ll get us through it. Just as he always has. I’m on the right path, things will fall into place the way they should. I just need to rely on my strength, my patience, and my faith.

Sometimes all you need is a sign. ♥️