Changing My Life

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A few years ago I decided to change my life. I didn’t begin with a New Year’s Resolution; it wasn’t a decision based on economic or personal reasons. I just felt I needed to make a change in my life.

So… the story begins with my being home sick from work in spring 2012. Somehow I started thinking about my working career, a colorful patchwork mess without an overall focus. I’d worked in archives years earlier but had been forced to leave the field when the recession hit and I’d been laid off and was unable to get back into the field due to my lack of education/the never-ending recession. I was working in a different field at the time and wanted to get back into archiving again.

I was lying down, staring at the ceiling when I thought to myself, “I’m going back to school to get a master’s degree.” Bored mindless by inactivity and my cold (my roommate and I didn’t have TV) I grabbed my laptop and did some research for possible graduate programs. By the end of the afternoon I’d pretty much decided on a program and the general requirements needed for application. My timeline said would take me 18 months before I started school. That meant I’d be starting school seven years after graduating with my bachelors. That scared me but I went ahead with the idea.

The first few weeks were all about planning: seeing what needed to be done and figuring out how to do them. Within a week I’d looked up GRE testing times, purchased a vocabulary study aid and started research into the schools which offered programs for archival degrees. Soon I had a short list of schools and cracked open the study guides for the GRE.

I went to my boss and explained my goal to attend graduate school. He was extremely supportive and encouraging, daily asking me questions about the process, my studying progress, offering me a reference and advice, etc. I was so grateful to have him as a supervisor, he was an excellent manager and a wonderful support person. All my coworkers were helpful and supportive overall; I was really sad I’d be leaving but knew I had to go if I wanted to grow.

Over the course of the next nine months I retaught myself basic arithmetic and algebra for the GRE. Forgive me, previous math teachers, but you lied to me. Except for adding and subtracting, I’d not used any other form of math since high school (three years later… still haven’t). My roommate helped me by quizzing me daily on vocabulary and then drove me to the GRE testing site one cold, frosty winter morning for the four-hour nightmare.

Five frightening college applications later, I decided to go to Indiana University. I submitted all the paper work and prepared to radically change my life. Now, the basic logistics are easy to go to school. Basic school supplies, maybe a new outfit to boost your flagging confidence, enrolling for classes, etc. I had five months to pull off all that AND a cross-country move.

Over the course of those five months, I almost broke down to pull away from the whole idea a few times but someone was always there to prop me up and give me courage to keep going. Yes, it was a big change, but I could do it. Someone pointed out to me the panic attacks were probably all hype and probably end the minute I climbed in the car to head east (they were right…). In the end I’d have a lot of fun and it would be really good for me to go. An adventure-filled week of traveling cross country with a U-Haul landed me in Indiana realizing that while my life was changing, it had already changed.

Oddly, school didn’t change me so much as the journey to get into school. By the time classes started I was so different than when I’d made the decision to return, school was barely a blink in time in comparison. The next two years were amazing and educational and absolutely wonderful. I wouldn’t trade a minute of them. I grew in so many ways I couldn’t name them all. Would I do it all over again if I get a chance at another degree? Only if I have to. Because right now, I’m pretty happy. Then again, in the future, I might be one day be staring at the ceiling again and decide to change my life in another direction. Though hopefully that won’t be for a very, very long time. Because the 18 months to get into grad school the first time was long enough, thank you very much. I have no desire to do it again any time soon.

Higher Education Sources:

GRE: http://www.ets.org/gre/

FAFSA: https://fafsa.ed.gov/

Federal Student Aid: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/

What I Wish I Knew When I Was in School

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Preschool

Learning to play nice is a lifelong skill.

Don’t miss your chance to work  and associate with new and different people. The meaningful people in your life are going to come from the most unexpected places.


Kindergarten

Following directions is working smarter not harder.

It might pay off to dig your heels in once in a while. But usually, the one giving directions knows why each direction is important. Do what you’re asked when you’re asked to do it.


1st Grade

Just because one girl has dangly earrings, doesn’t mean I need dangly earrings.

I loved those colorful earrings and they distracted me on the first day of school. But, her earrings that matched her new clothes wasn’t the most important thing about her; my clothes and bare earlobes weren’t the most important things about me.


2nd Grade

It’s okay to feel special.

On my eighth birthday I was so excited because right after school I was going to be baptized as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But, I didn’t know if my teacher would care so I never said anything. During the school day, she brought up that it was a special day for me and it was okay to be excited! She knew! If you are celebrating something special or even happy with the way your coat matches your snow boots, BE HAPPY! It’s not going to hurt anyone else if you choose to be happy!


3rd Grade

It’s okay to be smart.

My teacher would race me on the timed multiplication tests. I don’t know if she was slowing down for me but I really was pretty quick. After I beat her a few times, I started to slow down because I didn’t want her to think I was too smart because she might make my work harder and I didn’t know if I could learn anything else. When she saw my time change she saw right through me. She called me out on hiding what I was good at. Don’t hide the things your good at even if it’s just multiplication. That’s what makes you unique!


4th Grade

Appreciate others for their talents and skills.

Students were really developing their own skills and interests this year. My teacher didn’t lump us all as 25 fourth graders. I heard her say specific things to individual students about what she saw in them. She helped us identify our strengths and our weaknesses and showed us that it’s okay to have both.


5th Grade

It doesn’t make you stupid if others are smart.

I’m not sure how they chose the fifth grade students for our fifth and sixth split grade class. But I was left feeling challenged by the students I was surrounded by. I got a little confident in previous years and hadn’t ever had to try very hard to keep at the top of the class but this year was different. The teacher did not cut corners or take easy roads through curriculum. As an adult, I can see what a good teacher she was but, man, I struggled with my confidence that year. As I watched other student succeed, score higher, or get voted class president I felt like I was pushed down. I didn’t appreciate the idea that cheering others on doesn’t make them better than you. When others succeed it doesn’t mean you fail.


6th Grade

People change and you change. It’s not personal.

The closer we came to junior high the more noticeable the “groups” were. Boy/Girl parties were happening. Kids were “going out.” And, it mattered who was where and when. My social life changed. I didn’t realize I was changing just as much as the kids around me. And, we all continued to change throughout junior high and high school. The thing is, no one moved on or went different directions to personally hurt others. At some times, some friends will be closer to you than other times. It’s okay. Just make sure you’re not burning bridges or doing harm while you figure yourself out.


7th Grade

Pay attention and keep up. Don’t be lazy.

Oh my goodness! Seven classes, seven teachers, catching a bus, figuring out a locker, home-life, and the Young Womens church group was a lot to juggle for a twelve year old. (Today, a co-workers seventh grader brought back such a real memory of the smell of the junior high bus in August. Oh, the B.O.) There isn’t time to procrastinate or cut corners. Get someone to help you manage it all. You’ll get the hang of it. Life stays busy from here on out. Learning to prioritize now is going to pay off in the long run.


8th Grade

Everyone is dweeby sometimes.

That haircut. Those round glasses. P.E. My round little self. Girls worried about “becoming women.” Is there anyone who feels like junior high was the high point of their life? I can’t say I felt better about any of it until sometime around my senior year. Dweeby is okay. Figure out who you are and how to be you. We all gotta do it.


Freshman

Be true to yourself even if you end up alone.

By now, you probably have a little idea about your personality, your values, and some of the things that are important to you. But being a teenager is hard because some of those things still feel a little fluid. And most of your day is spent at school with your friends who, you don’t realize, are figuring those things out too. Spend time deciding what is important to you and make it apart of who you are. Once in a while, you’re going to have to stand alone when you stand up for what you believe. That’s not something you’ll regret later. But, changing yourself to “fit in” in the moment of pressure from your friends is something you’ll wish you had done a little differently. Be true to yourself.


Sophomore

Pity parties only get you so far.

During the first year of high school an aunt, who I was very close to, got sick and passed away. I allowed this hard time to crush my motivation and ability to make any progress or succeed at school. Two quarters later, I was still unable to rebound what I had done to my grades earlier in the year. I couldn’t change my bad attendance and poor scores because I let it become too big of a problem. When I was feeling bad about myself, academically, I was feeling justified because I had suffered a great loss. If you are struggling and having a hard time, ask for help. If your behavior and personality changes it’s a sign that something isn’t going well. Sixteen year old girls aren’t qualified therapists. Ask for help. There are parents, siblings, teachers, and others who know how to help.


Junior

Teachers and mentors know what you are capable of. Trust them.

You are going to be blessed when a teacher or parent or mentor takes an interest in pushing you forward. I’m not talking about “pageant moms” but someone legitimately interested in helping you discover what you’re capable of. Seventeen year old kids aren’t well known for their interest in doing what adults tell them to do. Do it anyway. They know something you don’t know. Trust what they are telling you and try it. Even when it seems like they don’t understand how hard it is for you, let them help you through it. You’re going to find that you are powerful, capable, smart, talented, unique, and loved in many ways. You might not stick with what they teach you throughout your life but you’ll never forget or stop loving the person who walks through this part of life with you.


Senior

It feels good to do good.

Why did I wait until now to care about doing good at school? I found out that I could do it! I wasted so much time! This good feeling carried out of the school into volunteer work, my spirituality, planning for my future, with my family and with my friends. Having a hard time finding the motivation? Just do ONE thing RIGHT NOW. That’s right. Stand up and walk away if you need to and do the one thing you were thinking, “I should do that soon.” Go.


College Freshman

The easy way out of one thing is probably going to make the next thing more difficult.

Did someone ever give you an easy out? I had a teacher who let me slip through my computer literacy class because on the first day of school I wore a softball shirt (from Old Navy). I don’t like computers or computer classes. It’s foreign and hard for me. I didn’t keep up because I had no idea what the assignment meant or what I was actually supposed to turn in to prove that I could operate a computer. Don’t worry. If you’re unprepared, just turn in a sad story. Even better, that’s not just a pass to turn in late work when you figure it out. The sad story counts for the assignment. I’ll do you one better. Don’t write out the whole sad story. Just write the words “Sad Story.” Done. I got an A. Man, the rest of college and even going to work was a heck of a challenge with no computer skills.


College Sophomore

Make choices that get you where you want to go.

I started school without a major but quickly found an interest in Political Communications. Two semesters later an English paper led me to Financial Education. I had to transfer schools, move, find out there was a better school for my goal, transfer again, and move again. When you have an idea or a goal, you can’t get there by staying put. Goals don’t come you. Do some research about what you want and, most importantly, GET GOING!


College Junior

Push through hard times. They only last a minute.

There is a lot to do. There are a lot of things you can do and a lot of things you don’t have time to do. Be careful when you’re loading your schedule to prioritize what is good, what is better, and what is best. If you’ve committed yourself to something or someone, stick with it.


College Senior

You’ll miss every opportunity you don’t ask for.

Business ideas, job opportunities, education, travel, etc. Go for it. What if I had applied for the internship in Denver? What if I had pursued the master’s and doctorate degree? “If if’s and but’s were candy and nuts….” Don’t chicken out. If there’s something you want to do, DO IT! I took a sort of easy path after college graduation because I don’t like hard things. I don’t like to be turned down. So, I stuck with what I knew. Looking back, I am happy with how things went but I wish I would have allowed myself to be more vulnerable. I might have had more opportunities to choose from if I would have thrown my hat in new places. Or, maybe I would have learned that being turned down is okay too. Your value doesn’t come from your transcripts, resume, or passport stamps. Get out there and try something new.

Back to School Feast & Theme

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Fresh haircuts, a cousin hot dog party, and checking out the new classroom are important things my kids love about back-to-school. It’s something they can count on every year, without a lot of thinking on my part.

One thing that I didn’t realize the first year we prepared Abbi for school, is how important traditions are to her. Routines have always been how she goes from day to day, but I didn’t know taking her shopping for school clothes would have to happen on the same day every year. It does.

Because I’m into celebrating little things, I probably called dinner (on the night before school started) a Back to School Feast. And so, the feast was born and must happen every year. I don’t mind, I just didn’t do it on purpose. Another “Abbi Tradition” is blueberry cake and the star egg and cheese croissant I made on Christmas one time. Be careful what you introduce her to because it may be a lifetime commitment🙂

I like the idea of having a theme for the Back to School Feast because it gives the kids something positive to think about as the school year begins. We start with a purpose. Whether or not we continue learning about the theme is hit or miss, but starting with a purpose is important to us.

Usually, the theme my husband and I select is relevant to topics we’ve been talking about and teaching in our home most recently. The theme is a message we want the kids to internalize and find value in for themselves. Starting the year with a purpose, gives them the idea that they can choose to act rather than be acted upon. By gaining their own values and making choices on purpose, they can discover the power they hold as good, smart, and loved little humans.

Our feast isn’t incredibly fancy but full of favorites. No one wants to fight over taking just three more bites and you can be done! The meal is ready to go right after we visit their teachers on Back to School Night. This feast was grilled chicken Alfredo lasagna, garlic bread, salad, sparkling cider, and strawberry brownies. It was delicious! A secret we shared after dinner was the chicken came from our own yard. Haha! Ya gotta eat ’em sometime!

The theme we used at this feast was “Stand for the Right. Be true, be true.” As these kids get older and more independent, we want to make sure they are building strong foundations for their faith, values, and lives. We desperately want them to remember that no matter what is going on in their lives or in the world around them, they have the power to choose what is right. And, by choosing to be true to what they know is right they will gain faith, confidence, and blessings from the true source of happiness, our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

We kept the framed theme in our great room all year, a reminder by the family calendar, and a banner with good things we can seek (good friends, good books, honesty, etc). Although we didn’t talk about the theme every day or week, it was right in front of us all year long.

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And, with that message, we sent them off to another year of school. First and fifth grade. It’s a big deal, you know. To a child, every year is a milestone and represents a big part of their life. There’s no time to waste in building these good babies into strong adults.

 

Back to School Traditions

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Our back to school traditions include, picking out the first weeks’ worth of outfits. On the first day of school I usually drop them all off and then (after crying maybe a little) I take whoever is left at home out to breakfast.

This year I have 3 out of 4 of my kids at school all day.

The one left? This kiddo here, he cracks me up with his silliness! He ordered a grilled cheese sandwich for breakfast!!!

I am obsessed with hair so I make sure my kids get sent to school with some fancy do’s.

I have had to tone down a little on the fanciness since my girls are getting “too” old for it but you better believe that I still make my 5th grader wear the bows I made to match each of her school shirts!

My favorite part of school starting? I LOVE buying school supplies!!!!!  I may have a problem there…

One quick memory from when I was a kid.

My sisters and I would have a sleep over the night before school started and my mom would give us random school stuff…like socks and folders…. Good times.

Las Vegas?

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I was asked to do a post for the Misses Blog, and I need to write anyway! I’m at week 37 of a miracle pregnancy, and currently hobble around like a pirate.. I’m a little sore. I stay down, and I’ve had a lot of time to think.

Anxiety can be a prevalent go-to emotion for me. I could write on any number of my concerns: massive, worldwide contention, ambivalent feelings toward back-to-school season, money management, keeping house, future career pathways, newborn babies? But instead, I want to escape all that and share some trip tips.

Namely, Las Vegas. My husband and I used to frequent there once a year. We last went two years ago. Once, someone asked what a person who doesn’t gamble could possibly find appealing about that sinful city. Frankly, it all comes down to the fact that Las Vegas intrigues me. It’s one of the most well-known cities in the world, and it’s about a 6-7 hour drive away.  That really isn’t bad for a long weekend getaway. At first, I wanted to find out if it was really worth exploring. What’s so great about that city if you don’t drink and don’t gamble? Won’t it spontaneously erupt into flames one day? Would a good parent really expose their kid to it?

I love it. Usually. And here’s why you might, too.

The Hotels

There are so many hotels in Vegas competing for attention. They want gamblers to stay, so the prices are much lower in comparison to other cities. Sure, a night at the Bellagio can start at a steep $229, but this is a high class, specialty, Oceans Eleven hotel. In most any other city, you’re looking at a nice chain hotel for that cost. I liked the New York hotel because it was less expensive, clean, and still mostly central on the strip, so we could walk to the other attractions.

Look. At. This. Pool. We had it all to ourselves.

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The Food

People. There are so many high class restaurants here. Literally, anything famous you’ve heard of is probably in Vegas. We splurged once and went to a swanky restaurant where we had two waiters. One stood in a corner and watched us, and any time we looked like we needed something, he would magically appear. The other made sure all the food was perfect. We usually choose a buffet, and they are amazing. They have to be, because of competition and gamblers. We just smile and enjoy the benefits!

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Free and Inexpensive Attractions

All you need to do is consult Google, and you will be presented with 100 free things to do and see in Las Vegas. My personal favorite is always going to the gardens at the Bellagio. We window shop as well, and just enjoy the pretty malls without making expensive purchases. It totally entertains us.

There are hundreds of shows to go see in Las Vegas. The most popular are the cirque de soilei shows. It took us years to finally justify the cost of their cheapest show, Mystere, and we loved it. It was incredibly impressive! One year we got nosebleed seats at Alicia Keys, and loved that, too. There are many comedy and variety shows that are appropriate for all audiences, and I think it’s worth it to book one special thing like that. But not necessary!

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In essence, most of our memories in Las Vegas are of wandering around, people watching, eating good food, and just being together in warm weather!

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Cons of Las Vegas

Of course, some people hate the city, and you deserve to know why if you haven’t been there! It’s so good to be prepared for the headaches that you will almost always encounter before planning a trip.

1. The sidewalks. If you look up, you will be amazed at the lavishly decorated hotels and casinos. If you look forward, you will find plenty of interesting people to chat about later. But sometimes, we must look down to avoid tripping on a curb. They are littered with inappropriate ads. It’s against the law for the distributors of ads to talk as they hand them out, but they are allowed to make clicking noises. They follow mostly men a couple feet, trying to hand them the ad for their “entertainment.” These solicitors go mostly ignored, but it’s annoying, degrading, and horrible. Kids walking the strip is questionable for this reason, and because there are so many people, they could get lost.

2. The drivers. The combination of tourists, local, irritated drivers, and taxi drivers is downright terrifying. We usually park at Caesar’s palace because it is free parking and pretty close off the freeway. Once you’re in town, get parked and out of your car as soon as you can. Crossing intersections is usually pretty safe, because hoardes of people cross at once, providing a nice buffer.🙂

3. The smoke. It is allowed in the casinos, and you usually have to cut through them to get to your hotel, show, or restaurant. So book it and hold your breath.

4. The crowds and partiers. Of course, many people go to Vegas to be wild. You will be exposed to weird or intoxicated people. Most people quietly mind their own business, even when drunk. I’m just saying, once you get around dinner time, watch out. You will know when “it’s happening”. Suddenly, people go from fanny packs and visors to 5 inch heels, 3 inch skirts, and all out glam. The party guys usually stay in their same outfits. Sometimes these people are obnoxious, and sometimes I feel uneasy, like something bad might happen. So, if I’m feeling nervous, we stick close to our hotel, have dinner, and keep to ourselves. Like old people.

Is Vegas okay for kids?

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I have only brought my daughter with us there when she was a baby, during the day, in a Moby wrap. Which was awesome. Everyone went crazy over her, because who brings a baby to Vegas? We did also take her to Serendipity for lunch when we were staying in St. George, and one other time for a quick daytrip to the Bellagio Gardens. If you want to have a family vacation there, I would recommend choosing a hotel that has a kid friendly pool, lots of restaurants, and kid friendly attractions. Mandalay Bay tends to be a favorite for that. It is on the south end of the strip. I wouldn’t go wandering up and down the strip with kids. Choose a pretty set schedule with shows, go visit circus circus, and take taxis between casinos as it is not too costly.

Overall, I think there is a lot to be said for Vegas, and it can be an awesome choice, especially for the couple who needs a quick getaway. There’s plenty to do for even the most conservative of visitors. I cherish all the memories we have there, and look forward to going again!

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What do you like to do in Vegas?

20 Back to School Ideas

The Misses Community have put their heads together to share this list of 20 easy and great back-to-school ideas!

But remember this:

Whether or not you celebrate back-to-school is up to you! You already are and still will be a good parent even WITHOUT celebrating back-to-school, St. Patrick’s day, and Elves of the Shelves!

Year’s ago I picked up a saying from my best friend’s husband. I can’t shake my head the way he does but it goes like this: “I do what I want!”

Just do what you want to do and not what you think you have to do!

On that note, I love back-to-school so it’s a big deal at our house. Come over at Christmas and you’ll hear that our Elf must have broken his leg or something because he never moves.

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  1. Have a Back to School Feast to kick the year off. Use the nice china and decorate. Make the kids feel special! {Mechelle Thomas}
  2. Spend the last weekend together playing and shopping. {Staci Potter}
  3. Start the year with a Father’s Blessing to remember God’s love, Spirit, guidance, and protection. {Kim Henderson, Teisha Tracy, Lisa Judkins, Melissa Armstrong}
  4. Send kids with notes and treats to share on the school bus. {Whitney Stimpson}
  5. Write messages on the sidewalk between school and home. Wait outside with treats! {Melanie Hansen}
  6. Have fresh baked cookies waiting after school. {Amber Hansen}
  7. Serve breakfast to the kids at the bus stop. {Alleson Bushman}
  8. Take first day of school pictures in the same spot every year to track their growth. {Joey Tracy}
  9. Buy school shaped cookies to celebrate back to school! {Tammy Bills}
  10. Have a fashion show with new school clothes. {Tammy Bills}
  11. Lay out first day of school clothes with a paper plate face. {Joey Tracy}
  12. Buy a few new clothes to help the kids feel special on their first day. {Lisa Judkins}
  13. Interview kids with the same questions each year to see how their interests change. {Lisa Judkins}
  14. If the kids are attending a new school, take them to the school grounds and playgound a few times before school starts to get used to their surroundings. {Amber Waters}
  15. Take the kids shopping for their school supplies to get them excited to go back to class. {Amber Waters}
  16. Ask kids questions all about their first day, their teacher, the other kids, etc. When everything is new it’s an exciting day! {Wendy Hansen}
  17. Buy a small item for their pencil box/backpack/shoe to remember “Mom loves you!” {Julie Malan}
  18. Take your grandkids a couple special school supplies and a “Good Luck” treat the night before school starts, or send a little package in the mail. {Julie Malan}
  19. Make sure to take advantage of the great prices on school supplies. You can never have enough fresh crayons! {Katherine Cranford}
  20. Choose a theme to have as a family goal during the school year. {Mechelle Thomas}

Do you have ideas to add to our list? Tell us in the comments!

Pregnancy is Hell, Babies are Heaven

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First, I want to write that I have several friends who have not had the opportunity to be pregnant or who have struggled with miscarriages and stillbirths. My heart goes out to those amazing women! While pregnant I had a few friends that did not like me to complain about being uncomfortable because “at least I was pregnant.” My post is not meant to complain about becoming pregnant….my post is meant to be humorous and (in a way) educational. For those who can relate I hope you get a laugh. For those who don’t know what to expect when becoming pregnant I hope you get some knowledge.

Head to Toe: Things I Wish I knew Before I Got Pregnant

  1. Headaches: I didn’t know that headaches are common in pregnancies. I don’t know why they happen; but I got some seriously bad headaches my first trimester. The best part is you can take Tylenol….NOT! Tylenol does nothing….so don’t expect it to.
  1. Mental and Emotional State: People often say the “pregnancy brain” is not a real thing. It is real! I promise. Mentally and emotionally I struggled while I was pregnant. I had a hard time focusing and I forgot a lot of things (I am usually very organized, so it sucked). Also, being worried every day, all day, that your baby will pass away or have serious problems is normal, I hear. I had anxiety everyday about my baby not being okay. It was probably the hardest part of being pregnant.
  1. Sleep Deprivation: People say that you will have a loss of sleep when the baby is born. Actually, I started losing sleep around my 6th month of pregnancy; when I had to get up to pee every 2 hours or earthquake roll to get comfortable.
  1. Morning Sickness: Before I was pregnant, I thought morning sickness happened in the morning and that I could just vomit and go on with my day. NOPE. Morning sickness can happen any time of the day and can happen all day (I learned the hard way). Also, after vomiting the nausea does not go away (this is NOT the flu). I was nauseous every day for the first 2 trimesters of my pregnancy. It is debilitating!
  1. Breasts & Nipples: My breasts were tender my whole pregnancy; but that was nothing compared to my nipples….which were on fire! That’s all I’ll say about that!
  1. Back: My back hurt a little towards the end; however, I have friends who had back pains for their whole pregnancy. Ouch!
  1. Kidney infection: In my 8th month of pregnancy I started have contractions that were unbearable. I also had a fever of 102 F. I called my nurse and she asked me to come right in. I thought I was going to the hospital to have a premature baby; but, turns out it was a really severe kidney infection. The doctor could only give me a small dose of medication and….wait for it…..Tylenol. Have I mentioned yet that I hate Tylenol? While with the doctor I had a contraction that lasted for 45 minutes!!!! I remember looking at my doctor and saying “Doctor, I definitely want an epidural; because, if labor is worse than this, I’ll die.” My doctor looked down at me with kind eyes and said “my dear, labor is not worse than this.” He was right. To date that kidney infection has been the worst physical pain I have ever undergone. I was in the hospital for several hours and on bed rest for a week. The doctor explained to me that kidney infections, UTIs and bladder infections are common in pregnancies, because the baby takes up room there and the organs are under a lot of pressure. So ladies….drink a lot of cranberry juice, pee often, and rotate which side you sleep on!
  1. Arms & Hands: SWELLING! It is insane! Ladies….take off your rings before it’s too late! Or you will regret it. I once spent over 2 hours trying to get my wedding ring off so it didn’t have to get cut off. My finger was sore for days!
  1. Internal movements: While I was pregnant I had to 2 other friends that were also pregnant and due a few months before me. I got to watch as they cooed over their babies’ movements and said things like “Oh…I will miss this when the baby is born.” The whole time I am thinking, “If this baby moves one more time I am going to barf!” I liked that my baby moved; because, I knew he was alive. I hated the actual feeling of it though; because, I was always so nauseous.
  1. Crotch: My pelvis and crotch were under a lot of distress carrying a ten-pound baby. I felt constant pressure “down there” for my entire last trimester. Sometimes I was concerned that it was cramps or that I was going in labor. Turns out, it was just a heavy baby that was sitting low.
  1. Braxton-Hicks Contractions: I had contractions all throughout my last trimester. It made me very uncomfortable and even made people around me uncomfortable. That one is for you Joey🙂 Make sure you are counting the minutes when you have contractions. If you are a new mom and you think you are going into active labor you should go to the doctor. Better to be safe than sorry.
  1. Legs: More swelling! Prepare to not be able to get your maternity pants up over your calves! Invest in a few dresses and skirts….a nice breeze never hurt anyone.
  1. Feet: MORE swelling. WaaaaWhoooo for flip flops!
  1. Hairy: While pregnant I got a little hairy on my belly and noticed that my hair grew faster too. Normal. For me, it all went back to normal after my baby was born.
  1. Stretch Marks: I am not someone who had stretch marks before I was pregnant. My mother and my grandmother, both, did not get stretch marks during their pregnancies. So I thought I was in the clear. Literally, one week before my son was born, my stomach could take no more; and, exploded with stretch marks. My doctor, after my son was born, told me to exfoliate my stomach where the stretch marks are and use oil/lotion after the shower. It has helped them lighten up a lot. I am not bothered by them though. I think of them as battle scars that I have earned!

I had a rough pregnancy…not the worst….but not the best. The crazy thing is that I want to do it all over again! People say you forget how inconvenient and miserable it is to be pregnant. I disagree. I remember it all; but, having a little angel from Heaven is the best! So, like all the other crazy women out there I am willing to give it another go if I am able.