While pregnant, I started writing weekly updates to family and friends. Some liked it, other tolerated it, but I enjoyed sharing. Once Tony was born, I decided to do monthly updates for his entire first year. Well, here we are at his first birthday. And here are all of those monthly updates for you to enjoy.Continue reading “What A ONE-derful Year!”
Today is the feast of the immaculate conception, and it’s one of my favorite feast days. I especially love the gospel reading for today. And while I was reading the readings before I attend Mass this morning, I thought I’d be struck by what really is my favorite part of the gospel “for nothing will be impossible for God” because if you know my journey, this statement speaks so true to my life, but today something different stood out to me. Mary’s response. She says, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
So simple, yet so profound. And really something I’d like to live up to in my own life. Being open to God’s call. Being open to God’s plan. Always responding with grace, humility, and trust to what God wants for my life.
I’ve been pregnant 3 times in my life. Two pregnancies resulted in two of my beautiful children, Sydney and Tony. One resulted in an early miscarriage. Each time I was pregnant, I was pregnant on this feast day. And since I teach at a Catholic school, I’ve always attended Mass. Twice I was visibly pregnant, and once I was one of very few people who knew I was pregnant, but I always felt a special connection with Mary and Elizabeth while listening to the gospel. I imagined visiting with both of them, us three pregnant women rejoicing for the miracles we carried inside our bodies. Miracles we never expected. Nothing is impossible with God. I saw myself there with the two of them, laughing and praising God as we felt our babies move inside of us. Anticipating, wondering what motherhood would be like, rejoicing, already so in love with our children even though we hadn’t ever seen their faces, probably some worry. Moms worry.
It also makes me think of Vinny, who if you don’t know was adopted. St. Joseph wasn’t Jesus’s biological father, but the love he showed his son is incomparable. It’s what all fathers, all parents, should use as example of parenthood. It’s how I need to remember to parent Vinny and Zack, not my children from my own body, but very much my children. Loved deeply. Wanted. Chosen.
It also makes me think of the triumphs and try-agains my mom friends and I share daily. Whether through texts and phone calls or prayer or visits… the support from my mom friends gets me through.
It makes me think of my own mother, knowing she experienced much of what I’m experiencing as a mom. Thinking about how she still is a mom but in a very different way. Thinking about how parenting her adult daughter who is parenting her young children. Watching me struggle and wishing she could fix everything, but knowing I will learn through the struggle. Loving me, guiding me, helping me, all while feeling her own feelings about motherhood, about being a Nonna, about life. Inspiring me. She truly embodies Mother Mary to me in many instances.
It makes me think of my best friend, she is childless, but she is Vinny’s godmother and the greatest aunt to my kids. Anytime Mary and Elizabeth are mentioned together, I think of her. She has been with me through my single life, married life, infertility, adoption, pregnancies… She is my rock. She is the Elizabeth to my Mary. (I mostly say she’s Elizabeth because that’s her name, but she also is Mary to me.)
The homily at Mass today was about glory. God wants to give us His glory, through Mary and through the holy family. I just continue to pray that my husband and I can guide our family using the holy family as the example. The standard. God, please find us and let us receive Your glory.
May it be done to me according to Your word. Amen.
I love a good “theme day” at school. I participate in all of the wacky dress days, hat day, silly sock day…you name it, I’m down for the theme. So, as I got dressed for the day of 2/2/22, we had a T theme. I wore a tie dye shirt, a tutu, tennis shoes, and put my hair in 2 pigtails. I was hoping to snag a tiara from the drama club storage room once I got to school.
Like most mornings, I was getting the kids dressed and downstairs, making them and myself breakfast, nursing the baby, and trying to get out the door before 7:00am. Since Tony is very mobile now (and I noticed some toys he shouldn’t play with left out on the floor) I put him in his police car walker in the kitchen while I made breakfasts.
What happened next took seconds. I heard Tony choking/coughing while near the fridge, so I immediately ran over and swiped his mouth with my finger. I didn’t find anything, but he was still coughing. I picked him up and swiped again, making sure to feel under his tongue and as far back in his mouth as he would let me. My mom instinct said he swallowed a magnet (we have a bunch of magnetic poetry word magnets on the fridge-they are all high up, but apparently one got moved) because he had a few minutes of such a painful cry. The kind of cry all moms know and dread. Accompanied by drooling and a runny nose, I went into a small panic flipping through so many possible scenarios.Continue reading “2/2/22”
On Monday, May 3 I had what I dismissed as a passing thought – “I bet I go to the doctor tomorrow and she tells me I’m going to have a baby that day.” I’d had no consistent contractions and really nothing to base this thought on except the fact that at over 39 weeks I was certainly ready to not be pregnant anymore. So, I went about my day. But I made sure to really enjoy my time with Sydney since it was going to be our last Monday together as just us. Tuesday started off well enough. I got observed at work and then walked to the hospital for my 10:00 doctor appointment. I got on the non stress test machine (because at 37, I am “advanced maternal age” and have these tests as a precaution every week from 36 weeks on) and normally baby shows off for these tests, moving like crazy, heart rate doing what it’s supposed to do, just generally being an awesome baby. Well, Tuesday was the exception – he barely moved and his heart rate stayed steady instead of spiking like it should. They called it a non responsive non stress test and sent me upstairs for an ultrasound to check fluid, movement, and baby’s practice breathing. I had noticed some decreased movement in the previous days (he always moved the required amount, but it wasn’t like he normally moved) and I mentioned that to the doctor, along with the fact that I was nauseous and throwing up the past few days. The ultrasound came back fine. He did what he was supposed to do, so when the tech said, “Let me see if the doctor wants to talk to you.” I figured I’d be scheduling an induction for Sunday (his due date) and going home to see if spontaneous labor started prior to then. But she didn’t say that, she came in and told me it wasn’t an immediate concern, but, essentially, because of the non responsive NST and the decreased movement, she recommended inducing that day because the risks of that were close to zero while the risks of waiting increased the chance of complications.
That was a shock. It took me a minute to process before I asked my questions of “are you sure?” And “what’s the next step?” And (probably most importantly) “can I eat lunch before I come back?” (The answer to that was thankfully yes since I wasn’t having a c section.) I walked back to work and called Nick. I told him we were having a baby today, so he should pack that bag that I’d been telling him to pack for weeks now. I called my mom and made sure she would pick up Vinny from school. I went into my principal’s office and said, “I’m having a baby today!” Then I found both boys and explained to them what was going on and what they would be doing for the next few days while I was in the hospital. Then I went home and talked to Sydney, explained everything, and waited until my mom came over to get Sydney before going to pick up Vinny. Nick and I drove up to the hospital, and I’m pretty sure I was still in shock. For some reason, we started off in triage, but I got hooked up to the monitors and was there for a bit before heading to labor and delivery.Continue reading “Tony’s Birth Story”
When I visualized this blog in my head, I was going to title it “My Covid Journey – The Last Day”, but then I realized that’s sort of misleading… Because while, yes, it’s our last day of quarantine (WOO HOO!) I will never underestimate this virus, and, while I don’t believe in “jinxes” I don’t even want to take the chance of saying my “last” day of anything we still know so little about. My best friend has been sending me a song a day to keep my spirits up, and today’s song was “The Final Countdown”. Perfect. Here’s hoping we are ALL in the final countdown of dealing with Covid.
So, here’s the update: the kids both haven’t had any symptoms. Seriously, I can probably count on one hand the times they both have even sneezed this entire time. For that, I am beyond grateful. That’s the biggest blessing. My symptoms are essentially gone. I still get random bursts of fatigue when I have to sit or lay down for a bit until it passes, but I’m sure that being 25 weeks pregnant and having kids doesn’t help with the fatigue. I’d describe my smell and taste to be at 50%. I can almost always now smell and taste everything, but it’s like I’m only experiencing half of it. My brother said “nothing has an aftertaste” and that’s absolutely true. It hasn’t stopped me from eating donuts (one of my inside baby’s favorite foods), but it still is a bizarre sensation. Also, it’s strange because this whole pregnancy I have really had an aversion to vegetables, especially raw veggies. I couldn’t finish a salad if I tried. Even the idea of a smoothie with spinach (which, pre-pregnancy was my breakfast most days) turns my stomach. I’ve eaten, and finished, so many salads while not being able to taste, so…mostly healthy choices for the win? But, I’ve heard that loss of smell and taste can last months, so I’ll take that over being in the hospital any day.
Tomorrow I get to go back to work, and Vinny gets to go back to school, and Z gets to come back home! It will be nice to see my coworkers face to face, to teach my students NOT through a computer screen, and have some sense of normalcy back in our lives. I’m so excited for Vinny to get to play with his friends and be back to regular learning at school. I know it’ll be a transition for him coming back, but I’m hoping that seeing his friends and getting to play will make it easier for him. It will also be so nice to be able to play with our neighbors again.
I will say, knowing that we have the antibodies for awhile gives a sense of relief. I no longer get a crippling sense of dread every time I open an email with “Covid” in the title. I still get anxiety for the people it’s affecting because I know not everyone is as lucky as we turned out to be in this Covid journey, but there’s some comfort in knowing we can’t spread or get Covid for awhile anyway.
Thank you again for everything – the prayers, texts, food, thoughts…everything. We are so grateful for our amazing village.
Now, I have to remember how to put on real clothes, drive a car, and pack lunches…wish me luck!
Here’s what people don’t get about Covid – the mental toll it takes on you. Sure, the majority of people survive. Sure, the majority of people get mild symptoms. Sure, the majority of people have been sicker with something else then with Covid.
But, since March, the world literally changed before our eyes. My kids know terms like “pandemic” and “social distance”. Schools closed. Businesses closed. Churches closed. Everything stopped.
Now, I will admit, when my kids or I get sick, my anxiety is triggered. I know kids get sick, but it causes me great anxiety when they do. However, most often when you get sick, you rest, take care of yourself, deep clean the house if you’re me, and in a few days when you feel better you go back about your life. Pre-pandemic that’s just what you did. And, ok. Even with knowing about that extra anxiety, I was never especially concerned about germs or crowds or anything like that. I’m an extrovert – I thrive when being around people.
Now, I feel like that’s all changed. This past year has changed me, and I don’t know how or if I will ever get back to where I once was…
Like I said in my last blog, I’m not the type to say “I have the antibodies, let’s party!” I still think there’s something irresponsible about that. Maybe because I’m a rule follower. Maybe because there is inherently something irresponsible about that. Maybe there’s not. I don’t know, but living through this year has made me question a lot of things I would’ve just taken for granted previously.
And being quarantined for most of January has not helped my mental state. Yes, going places is good for your mental health, but at what cost? I want to go places, and maybe now is safer than before because I do have the antibodies and, at least for awhile, I can’t spread or contract Covid, but there is still that anxiety about going anywhere. What is with the risk? It seems like nothing really. Nothing is worth the risk, which I know isn’t true, but I feel like I don’t know how to judge that anymore.
I honestly don’t know when I’ll be comfortable again going to the theatre or even a baseball game. I don’t know when I’ll be comfortable having larger groups of friends over my house. Right now, I want to take zero risks because yes, I survived and yes, I had mild symptoms, and yes, my kids still don’t have any symptoms, the mental toll is rocking me.
I know we can’t live in fear. I understand that, but what do you do when everything seems wrong in your brain? I’ve said that during this pandemic, there have been times of no right choices, you just have to figure out what the least awful choice at the time is and do that.
Maybe this is all me, but after having Covid, and seeing my quarantine time just keep on being extended, I am appalled that there are still people out there not taking this seriously. Sometimes I just want to scream, “stop being so selfish!”
People need to live their lives, and I can only control what I can control. I get it. I really do, but think about how great it would be if everyone was able to take a step back from their own lives and really think about someone else for a change. Maybe we’d all be a little bit kinder and a little less judgmental.
First of all, thank you to everyone for the outpouring of love, prayers, help, and support. This virus is so isolating in many ways, but it also does show that the world really is good, despite all of the chaos.
You feel like such a pariah or a leper. Just…unclean and like you’re a terrible person, even though I’ve been so worried about Covid that every risk I’ve taken has been only within my bubble, and my hands are raw I wash them so often, religiously masking, and literally, I don’t go anywhere besides work. But I know, the virus is out there, it’s unforgiving, and it doesn’t care what steps you’ve been taking. It can still reach you. I know. It’s just… sometimes it takes its toll.
So, updates – my symptoms have significantly lessened. Physically, I’m still feeling some extreme fatigue (Covid and pregnancy fatigue combined…yikes) and my senses of taste and smell are basically gone, although, I’ve noticed that sometimes it comes back in random spurts. I’m still masking in front of the kids, but I will most likely loosen that tonight since Nick goes back to work, and I will be sole parent overnight.
Speaking of the kids, thankfully Z has tested negative. Praise God. Unfortunately, both Vinny and Sydney tested positive. Ugh. But, good news, they both have been completely symptom free this entire time. As a matter of fact, we only got them tested just so we would know. I’ve kept my mask on as just an extra precaution while I still have some, very mild, symptoms.
But, with their positive test comes extra quarantine time – not too much extra since there is some overlap, but, barring anything extreme, January 26 is the day we will be allowed to “get out of jail free” as it were. So, my prayer request is simple this time – that my symptoms continue to get better and that the kids (and Nick who also tested negative and somehow had the antibodies when he donated blood in December) do not develop any symptoms so our quarantine can really be over on January 26.
Now, I’ve heard of people going on vacation or just sort of thinking they can do whatever they want because they survived Covid and have antibodies, but that’s not my personality. As a matter of fact, the mental toll Covid takes is heavy today, and even when we’re allowed back into the world, I will continue to do so with caution. Because, a lot is still unknown about Covid, and if I can continue to do my part to stop the spread, I’m going to keep doing that.
Despite being isolated, we have gotten outside to play in the snow. I’ve walked a bit, but it does wear me out, and I am still overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone. I am grateful and appreciative and so so so so so so blessed.
Thank you, all. I know we’re not quite out of the woods yet, but I am seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.
Yes friends, it’s true. I have Covid. Covid sucks for many reasons, but Covid on top of pregnancy is it’s own special form of hell. Granted, my symptoms are mild, thankfully. They started Sunday, January 10 in the evening with a slight cough I didn’t even think twice about, then the next day my runny/stuffy nose got worse – ok, but still, who doesn’t have a runny nose in January in Cleveland? – then Tuesday morning I had body aches added to the list. Shit. Maybe it’s pregnancy? Maybe it’s sore muscles from working out? But, I knew my body, and I could differentiate between the pregnancy aches, the sore workout muscles, and this which felt for sure like I was getting sick. So, I call the doctor. See, we were already quarantining after being exposed to Covid, but we’d been symptom free in our house for 10 days – we were at the tail end! 2020/21 strikes again. I had a virtual visit with the nurse practitioner, she said I should get tested, I went to the Cleveland Clinic testing facility. I don’t know why but the movie ET kept sticking out in my head when they’re in the hospital and everything is white and roped off and sterile. That’s what I felt like. I swabbed myself, and it wasn’t terrible, but the nurse was in full PPE (which is a good thing, I know, but man does it make you feel like a leper) and I pulled my mask down, keeping my mouth covered while I administered the test. The entire experience including the walk in and back to my car was maybe 5 minutes, and again, I get it, only symptomatic people are coming in here and there’s no need to unnecessarily expose anyone else.
So, I drive home and the waiting begins. The kids were both up very early on Wednesday morning, Sydney to the tune of 4:00 (she fell back asleep) and Vinny around 5:00. Well, I grabbed my phone when I came back from the bathroom, and saw I had a MyChart test result that was in. And then I saw the positive test result. Fuck. That was the first word I said (in my head because my kids were in bed with me) and the tears started. I knew it was a possibility, but I really wasn’t expecting it, and when you see that positive result it hits you in a way that’s hard to explain. There’s incredible guilt when thinking – who was I around? Thankfully I was quarantining, but Nick was still going to work (as a matter of fact, I texted him my results because he was at work when I found out), and my stepson went back with his mom, step dad, and young twin siblings that Sunday.
I called my stepson’s mom crying in the morning and just apologized to her so many times. To her credit she told me that she’d “wash my mouth out with soap” if I apologized one more time. I really do love her, but that’s a subject for another blog. I called my principal and cried to her. I didn’t stop crying nearly all day. I told Vinny because 1. I was crying and he wanted to know why and 2. he’s a perceptive kid, he knew something was going on, and I’m not going to hide this from him. I texted some friends and family. And I cried. I zoomed with some of my students that day to try to keep some sense of normalcy. I took our dog for a short walk outside, wearing my mask the entire time even though I didn’t see any other person the entire time. But mostly, I cried.
My physical symptoms are not that bad, and I’m praying they stay that way – it feels like a bad cold – cough, runny/stuffy nose, some body aches that come and go, but today I woke up with a sore throat (it’s better now after continuously drinking water) and I’m very tired. Plus, I’m pretty sure I’ve lost my sense of taste and smell. I can distinguish between bitter/sweet/salty, but everything sort of tastes dull. I rested a lot today which was nice. I will zoom with my students again tomorrow for some of their lessons.
It’s really the anxiety, the guilt, the mental turmoil that gets you. I want these days to go by fast, and they just seem to drag on and on. This virus is no joke, and I’m very thankful to have mild symptoms, and I’m even more thankful that my kids and Nick are ok. But, it’s only day 5 for me after the onset of symptoms, and so I just have to wait and take care of myself and my family as best I can. Being pregnant adds another layer of anxiety into the mix. If I needed it, there’s only certain medicines that are safe to take while pregnant. Every time the baby kicks is like a reassuring “Hi Mom, I’m doing ok.” My OB told me to rest, drink lots of fluids, and make sure I eat at least 3 meals a day, you know, in addition to all of the other Covid things I’ve religiously been doing – washing hands, masking, distancing, etc. Our master bedroom/bathroom has become my “sick room” where I can take off my mask, and when I’m anywhere else in the house I mask and try to keep my distance. It’s especially hard when my kids are 4 & 5 years old, and, let’s be real, no one loves you like your mom.
SO MANY PEOPLE have reached out to me with phone calls and texts and flowers and food and care packages and prayers…I am grateful in ways I cannot adequately express with words. Honestly, yesterday I didn’t stop crying except for maybe 30 minute stretches at a time, and today I cried because of the goodness of the people in my life. Many people also have asked how they specifically can help, so I wanted to make a little list because when I’m typically asked I just say “we’re ok,” but I know many of my friends are just as stubborn as I and won’t take “we’re ok” for an answer, so here are some ideas I was thinking of that would be greatly appreciated and helpful:
- Prayers – Any prayers will be the greatest thing you could do for me and my family, but I’ve specifically been praying for 2 things: That my kids and my family stay safe, healthy, and happy and that I don’t get a fever. So, if you’d like to add those to your prayer list, I’d appreciate it.
- Text, phone calls, emails… – Yes, I’m resting more, but even if I can’t answer a text or phone call right away, know that they don’t go unappreciated. I love voicemails. And honestly, any distractions to keep the days from dragging will make me so so so happy. If you know any good, mindless shows to binge-watch, let me know because I’m spending more time in my room by myself, and I can watch shows that aren’t cartoons.
- Food – If you’re someone that wants to bring food, trust me, I’m Italian, and even with my lack of taste and smell, food will not go to waste. Kid friendly items and things that are pre-made/easy to prep would be best because I don’t feel much like cooking. I know Covid isn’t necessarily spread through food, but even with obsessively washing my hands and masking, I just don’t feel comfortable yet preparing food for other people, so if it’s something I can stick in the oven or microwave, that would be best.
- Cleaning products – It’s amazing how many things you touch in a day, even when you’re trying hard not to, so if there’s a non food item you wanted to drop off, we’ll take pregnancy friendly cleaning products like lysol or clorox wipes. The kids actually really like using them!
- Anything you can think of – Honestly, if you think, “maybe I’d like to do this” I guarantee it will be appreciated. We are so so so so grateful for the amazing village we have. It’s not nearly enough, but THANK YOU!!!!
I know we will get through this, and I know with the vaccine on the horizon, it feels hopeful – the beginning of the end of this terrible pandemic. I may blog again about it, or this might be my only post, I’m not sure. But, please know that I’m grateful for all of the prayers and well wishes the most. Keep them coming, they are being felt. Covid sucks, but God is greater.
I just finished a wonderful Bible study meeting I began a few weeks ago as something to help me in my spiritual growth. I figure since I’ve been working very hard on my physical being, I should also make sure to work on my mental, emotional, and spiritual well being. To be well rounded and strong in all elements of my life. To be the best me I can be. To be intentionally trying and working on all elements of my human being. I’m trying. I’m really, really, really trying. But, I have been having some high anxiety days lately. I mean like days I haven’t had in years. Where all I want to do is crawl into a hole and hibernate. Quit life for awhile until the anxiety passes. Get rid of something. Sleep for 10 years…or at least until Covid is over.
I told Nick that I wanted to be 8 or 108, because then my anxiety would be gone. Or at least lessened. Because at 8, everyone else is worried for you and you’re just having fun, and at 108 you’re either dead and the anxiety is also gone, or you’ve lived a great, long life, and you don’t worry either.
Now, I recognize these are not viable options. They are not realistic. They are not helpful. They are not “being the best me”. And they’re also not what I’m choosing, but I need to acknowledge that they’re there. They are very real and very mind consuming and very very very very very persistent. Essentially the entire month of August my brain has looked something like this: It’s August, the “Sunday” of the summer, I need to spend as much precious time with my kids and family as possible, but wait! I also need to set up my classroom and plan my lessons because school is starting, and I can literally only teach about 10% of what I’m used to teaching in the way I’m used to teaching it. How can I teach music when I’m not allowed to sing?! But, my family (obviously) takes priority, so let’s do something fun with them. Maybe we could even adventure somewhere. AHHH! It’s corona time! Why would I think to take them anywhere that’s not our house or our yard? Because it’s so life giving to spend some time in new scenery and you’re being safe, distancing, wearing a mask, etc… But then I come home and second guess every choice I’ve ever made in my life and guess what? My lessons still aren’t planned, but I don’t have time alone to work on it because Nick is working and sleeping when he’s not at work and when he’s awake I can get some work done, but then I’m missing on my kids playing and time with my husband and time together as a family, and I don’t want to miss out on that, but I can’t go into school unprepared because I literally don’t have an arsenal of “I need to fill 5 minutes, so let’s play this game” songs anymore because I can’t sing and we can’t touch each other, and everything needs to be sanitized and how many times a day will I have to say “please keep your mask on your face?” And then what happens if we go to online learning? How am I supposed to have Z and Vinny and myself all on different zoom calls at the same time and helping the boys with their school work and teaching classes and getting Sydney snacks because I’m still mom and Daddy is sleeping because he still has to work. And what about Christmas? There’s no way we can have people over or go anywhere because it’s also flu season and corona and probably wave 2 or will there not be a wave 2 because no one even cares to take this seriously enough, and am I even taking this seriously enough? I think so, but maybe not. And am I still going to be able to work out every day when I go back to school? What if I get sick? How will I quarantine? What if Nick gets sick? How will he quarantine? I don’t even want to think about the kids getting sick because that will spiral me into even more anxiety and and and and and and and…
I know. Be present. The past is gone and the future hasn’t happened yet. Stay in the fricken boat. But, wow…these waves are strong. The boat is rocking, and maybe I’d be better on my own. Maybe I could jump out and make it and save myself and my family.
Nope. No, I wouldn’t. That would not be a good idea.
And so, we circle around to the Bible study I just finished. We’re talking about Philippians, but there was a reflection passage that was titled “Midlife Crisis” so, of course, I read it because, even though I think I’m too young for a midlife crisis, maybe that’s (part of) what this is, and it brings me to this Bible verse: Proverbs 31:25 – She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
It’s a pretty popular phrase, one often seen on posters and quoted a lot, but, the reflection included these 4 extra words “…because she trusts God.” She can laugh/smile at the future because she trusts God. We talked a lot tonight about obedience, and how we need to be obedient to God’s word and God’s will for our lives. That just hit me and stuck.
I can smile and the future. I can laugh at the days to come. I am clothed in strength and dignity. Because I trust God. He will provide. He has already provided. Because I am here, my family is safe, my friends are safe. My life is beautiful and blessed. My anxiety is high, but He can also calm that. Because I trust God, I can and I WILL smile towards the future instead of wishing it away.
One day at a time. One moment at a time. One breath at a time. Be strong, trust God. I am clothed in strength and dignity; I can laugh at days to come because I trust God.