2016 – Oh Baby, What a Year It’s Been

I always recap the year on New Year’s Eve or some date close to it, so here I am again…but I don’t have nearly as much time to be as detailed as I’d normally be, so I’m going to do my best at summarizing my takeaways over the last 365 days.

The first thing I have to say is that 2016 has been a monumental year. One of my best. I’m ending it in a different place than I started, which is always a feather in my cap, and while my life has taken a dramatic turn from what it once was, it makes me happy that this year I finally found the courage to be myself.

1. I kept my faith first this year, and as a result, I got some of the things I’ve been longing for. No, it wasn’t always easy to choose Jesus first, to not act and wait for His word, and to stick to what He states for us is right. But I did. I chose the hard path. And He rewarded me for it by helping me grow by leaps and bounds.

2. My family is growing! I thought we couldn’t have more kids. I thought something was wrong with me. Something was definitely wrong with me, but it was my thinking, not my reproductive system. Our son will be here in March. Though Kennedy is a fantastic kiddo, she doesn’t deserve to be an only child, and as it’s looking now, she won’t be. (I’m so, so happy for that)

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Just us, the founders of Team Oesterlein. ❤️

3. My marriage is on the upswing, after a long period of downswing. We have no fairytale romance or whirlwind story to speak of. We’re just two imperfect people who like having each other around and tend to do some great stuff when we stick together. I don’t speak for him, but I will go so far as to say that we both learned this year how to put aside the bullshit, and dial up the realness. I’ve enjoyed abandoning the periphery in favor of growing closer to the person I said a vow to grow with almost nine years ago.

4. My career moved in a positive direction this year. I was finally able to move away from teaching in favor of something else related to education. I love the field, but I wasn’t in love with teaching anymore. I’m currently in love with curriculum, though.

5. I stuck to my biggest New Year’s Resolution for 2016 by abandoning Facebook…as well as Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. Yes, it did mean I had to give up being a Beachbody coach as well, not because it’s impossible to work that business while not on social media, but because I wasn’t willing to invest the time to learn to do so. I walked away. Certain people are still mad. That’s okay, I left on a good note and have nothing bad to say. People’s opinions of me are really none of my business or concern.

6. I got the upper hand on my anxiety this year. I did this through a variety of measures including prayer, meditation, journaling, speaking to a counselor, subscribing to The Anxiety Coaches Podcast, my semicolon tattoo, setting new boundaries, being wholly honest with others about my feelings, and what I view most important: practicing emotional detachment. I found the courage to release myself from the weight of things I was under and didn’t need to be. Don’t ask me why I felt like I had to assume these burdens; in some way, I think I thought I was being a good friend or person by doing so. But no more. Especially when referring to the phenomenon that was #5 of this list, I have learned to confidently view myself as being in control of my life and its direction. I cut my obligations to others by cutting people out who only expect things of me but offer nothing. I toughened up. I’ve learned how to say no, how to stand up for myself, and how to not care about pleasing others. Did it cost me anything? Yeah, I suppose. But what I gained? Priceless. I have clear perspective on who I am. I recognize that my feelings are not my reality and therefore I don’t need to be victimized by them. I’ve learned how to pick up a thought and also put it down so that I can live in the moment. I was never like this when I was a Facebook user. I’m a better wife and mom now. I love who I am. And I’d rather love me and be hated by others than do things the other way around. My husband and daughter seem to love me for this too, and they (as well as our impending arrival) are the only ones I’m interested in making happy. (Mom and dad too, but we’re all 32 years deep, so they can’t really get rid of me. Did I mention they celebrated 35 years married this year?!)

Okay, well, I’m off to take K to my parents’ house for a bit. I can’t effing wait to see you, 2017. Many thanks to 2016 for everything it brought. I couldn’t have written a better year for myself if I’d tried.

Traditions

Christmas is five days away and while our home has looked festive for the last month or so, I am still scrambling to get everything in order with regard to gifts, accommodations for my parents, and ingredients for what will be on our Christmas Day menu.

I enjoy this time of year a lot more now that we live so much closer to my family. It’s also fun to get to share the traditions of the holidays with a toddler Kennedy, who is now old enough to understand and get excited for the big day. She’s also debuted some new traditions with my mom and me. Well, new to her, anyway. We’ve been baking cookies together for decades!

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Cutting cookies! ✂️ We introduced K to my grandmother’s recipe box this week.

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…and decorating 🌈

She also did a lot better with Santa Claus this year than in the past!

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2014 vs. 2016

And we all got to enjoy a Christmas party together that my fabulously talented husband catered (to perfection!).

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Fam bam❤️

Each year, I’m sure we all hear an earful from someone aiming to point out the overly commercial nature of the Christmas holiday as it is celebrated in the Western world, so I won’t start down that path here. What I will say, though, is that even if you are someone who chooses to indulge in the holiday for all its sparkly capitalism, do not do so devoid of generosity, making memories, and kindness. I’ve seen way too many people use Christmas gifting as a means for trying to prove their love or make others jealous, and that’s definitely not the right emotion to place behind giving.

Help! My House is too Quiet!

Kennedy spent the night with her grandparents last night, and Fabian left the house early today to go work on prep for a party he’s catering this Saturday. This is the first morning I’ve had alone in…years! It’s so quiet in here that I’m confused.

I’m used to having someone asking me for something constantly, or hearing children’s shows/music as consistent background, as well as being interrupted while I work, and wondering every two minutes, “What’s she doing?” if I haven’t seen or heard my daughter in a while.

I got five hours of uninterrupted work done. I cooked eggs and bacon for breakfast and nobody hounded me for my bacon. I didn’t have to fight with anybody over first use of the master bathroom this morning. I woke up on my own – no toddler alarms or under the sheets nudging.

Even now, as I get ready to head out the door, I only have myself to worry about.

And while all of this probably sounds like a paid vacation or something, I’m actually not sure how to handle it all. I miss my husband! I miss our daughter! I like the chaos of mornings as a WAHM. Can’t wait to get back to normal tomorrow.

This all just affirms that I really have become Mommy AF.

 

I have to pee. #PregnancyProblems

Kennedy Faye’s Birth Story (x-posted)

I decided to copy this over from my old blog. Having this posted here will make it easy to compare her birth story to our son’s after he’s born. 

August 16, 2013

Well, my unborn princess decided to be “borned” during the wee hours of the morning on August 14th, and I’ve just now settled down enough to pen her birth story for all who are curious. There are some details that I’d like to share first, though, to give her birth some perspective.

I am at a place now where I can admit publicly that conception of our first child was neither an easy nor quick journey. We stopped preventing pregnancy in April 2011, and we began actively trying to conceive in February 2012. With no reproductive health issues, we just figured it was a slam dunk for us to get there, but it took a little longer than expected. I have other friends who have sought fertility treatment/alternatives ranging from Clomid to Tamoxifen to in-vitro fertilization and for some, surrogacy. We were never under any sort of clinical care like that, but the amount of time it was taking did bring us to a place at the end of 2012 that we considered seeking medical help in the 2013 new year. It was almost at the same time that we were picking up the phone to discuss options with the doctor that two pink lines lit up on my home pregnancy test. God’s will and timing taught us to be patient and prepared us to receive the blessing that is our dear daughter.

I’m choosing to share this information because not everyone understands why parenthood and pregnancy can be such a big deal. People throw ill feelings and judgment around like a set of car keys or a pair of socks, (me included) but it’s important to remember that unless you’re in a person’s shoes, you have no clue what their struggle is like. I’ve had to become very sensitive to this fact over the last two years. I tuck it into the folder in my life’s file cabinet marked, “Valuable Lessons Learned.”

Now, on to the good stuff…

Here’s a rough timeline of what labor and delivery was like:

8/5 – My OBGYN does a cervical check and finds that I am dilated to 3cm with 50% effacement. Though I’m scheduled to see her again on 8/16, she seems confident that I won’t need that appointment.

8/7 – Mom arrives in town. Yipee! Operation: Get Baby Out can begin!

8/8 to 8/10 – Mild contractions happening 20 mins apart in the morning, but disappear as soon as I start walking around or become active.

8/11 – Contractions show up on and off, coming as close together as 5 minutes apart, but they aren’t strong in intensity and tend to space out when I’m active.

8/12 – I’m walking my ass off circling the block in my neighborhood in hopes that something will begin. I feel some contractions while walking, but ultimately they aren’t strong nor consistent.

8/13 – “LABOR” DAY

2:00am – I’m awakened by semi strong contractions that appear to be happening every two minutes. I wrestle out of bed, shove my glasses on my face, and start doing laps through the hall, dining room and living room to see if they disappear as the other ones have.

3:10am – Mom’s awake, we’ve timed contractions for about an hour and they’ve stayed consistent at two minutes apart. During this time I’ve also been walking laps through my house and using my exercise ball intermittently. The contractions have not stopped. In fact, they’ve gotten stronger.

3:13am or something – We throw all the shit in the cars and head to Palomar Medical Center

3:35am – The nurse hooks me up to the contraction monitor and fetal heart rate monitor to get a closer look at what’s happening. She also does a cervical check and finds me to be 3-4cm dilated with a stretchy cervix.

3:55am – I learn a new term, “ballottable” which means that though Kennedy’s head has descended into my pelvis, it is not engaged and secure. The nurse can still push her up into my cervix. In active labor, babies heads are fully engaged.

At this point, I’m told to walk the halls a bit in hopes that gravity with the contractions will help Kennedy fall into place.

5:00am – I return to the exam room and the nurse finds I’m at the same dilation and effacement, but Kennedy’s head is more secure than it was an hour ago. I’m admitted to the hospital.

3:00pm – After hanging out in the delivery room for hours, my contractions have slowed and lessened in intensity. The doctor gives me four options:

  1. Go home
  2. Stay and wait
  3. Have my water broken in hopes contractions will return
  4. Receive Pitocin to kick start contractions

After much prayer and consideration, I settle on option 4. Already, my birth plan has been compromised with the acceptance of drugs, however, leaving and waiting were unattractive options for all I had been through up to that point, and should having my water broken fail, it would lead to further medical interventions which would have most likely included a C-section. Those who know me well know that a C-section was the one option I went into labor dead set against.

7:00pm – I’ve been on the Pit for four hours, contractions are back but they are still pretty spacey at 6-7mins apart.

7:01pm – Shift change. I meet my new nurse, Leeann, who says that with my permission we can take a more aggressive approach and increase Pitocin at 30minute intervals to bring the contractions closer together. She asks twice if I want an epidural, but I refuse, holding tightly to the last shred of my birth plan that I can in order to ease my control freak mind.

9:30pm – Contractions are strong and frequent. The doctor on call checks me and finds me to be dilated to 5cm with an even stretchier cervix and per my request, breaks my water.

10:00pm – Contractions are excruciating. My pain level has reached level 10. I fight tears and heavy breathing and admit to my mother that I will need the epidural. I apologize. She brushes it off and begs me to just have a healthy baby and take care of myself. She says there’s nothing I need forgiveness for. I grab her arms and shoulders and breathe through what is accurately summed up as the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. Leeann calls the anesthesiologist.

11:00pm – Doctor “Make the Pain Disappear” FINALLY shows up and has me sign what seems like an endless stack of papers and explains some shit I wasn’t listening to. I was barely hanging on. Just stick the shit in my back so I can breathe, dude.

11:30pm – Epidural is administered, but I need a double dose as it doesn’t take hold right away.

8/14 – “BIRTH” DAY

12:15am – I’m finally feeling the effects of the epi, and I’m dilated to 8cm. Leeann advises me to rest and relax and tells me she’ll return in approximately an hour and a half to see where I’m at.

1:45am – I ask for another check as I can feel lots of pressure with each contraction. Kennedy has descended into the canal at this point and I’m feeling like I need to push.

2:00am – Leeann confirms that Kennedy is low, I’m dilated to 10, I’m 100% effaced, I’m there. She asks if I want to wait a bit for my perineum to soften some more or if I’m comfortable pushing now. Anxious to meet my daughter, I opt to start the push.

2:10am – My husband grabs my left leg and my mom my right, we wait for the next contraction wave and I start to push. Immediately, I hear my mom shout that she can see Kennedy’s head. Victory is in sight. Two more contractions and rounds of pushing and Leeann asks me to stop so that she can call the doctor.

2:25(ish)am – The doctor comes back in and is pleased to see that we’re basically at the finish line. She begins changing into surgical attire and setting up stirrups and I continue to push as before.

2:28(ish)am – The doc yells for me to stop pushing because Kennedy is coming out too fast. Too fast?! Lady, I’ve been waiting three years for this. If YOU aren’t ready, I suggest you GET ready, NOW.

2:33am – Kennedy Faye is out, alive, vibrant, loud, and in my possession. A flood of emotions runs over me as I begin to bawl at the sight of her tiny eyes squinting as she wails.

8/15 – “HOMECOMING”

1:45pm we are discharged from the hospital into my comfy house where my mother and father have made a delicious dinner of meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Blessed be!

So, was labor everything I thought it would be? Sure! And then some! I was prepping for it like a prize fight, and I went in giving it my all.

Do I regret having my daughter the way I did? No. Labor was my experience to have and I needed to just…well, labor. I needed to feel what everyone was so fearful of and decide for myself it was something I could cope with. Ultimately, with my mom and Leeann’s wisdom, I came to see that though I could struggle through the contractions of dilating from 8 to 10, it would’ve made for an unpleasant, unhappy ride when I had been looking forward to a joyful ride the entire time I carried Kennedy.

I’ve forgiven myself for choosing comfort and reprieve over suffering it out like a battle axe. And, at the end of the day, I still came away with the prize – a healthy, beautiful baby girl who breastfeeds perfectly, has no digestive or gastrointestinal issues, who scored high on the APGAR, who is alert and focused at only five days old, whose body has maintained its weight since leaving the hospital four days ago, much to the astonishment of her pediatrician. I have also learned not to fault any woman for the choices she makes when giving birth. It’s serious business. All that really matters is that the choice is hers when it is made.  Every decision made during my labor with Kennedy was mine, and I’m proud of myself for that.

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‘Tis the Season

The season has finally changed here, as evidenced by this crazy cold temp we welcomed in the other morning…

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Brrrrr!

The seasonal pattern down here is very different from how it was in SoCal. In California, I’d spend most of the year longing for the sunny, warm weather of spring and summer because summers there are bearable. Fall and winter are bearable too, but beach-going in those off season months means ridiculously cold water, so you just kind of chill on the sand, and it’s usually windy, so not always the most ideal beach conditions. With the beach only about a 10-minute drive away, a dip in spring or summer is easy and comfortable; water temps are much warmer from March through August/September. But overall, the weather is easier to contend with because there’s not much severity (or at least there had not been in the first 20 years of my living there) with regard to heat or cold. Climate change (whether anyone wants to admit it or not) has brought severe heat and dryness to the area, and winters have gotten colder (it even snowed in certain parts of the Inland Valley in December 2014).

This post isn’t about weather patterns or global warming. Sorry if that’s what you came for.

Here in Florida, the opposite is true – I pine after cool weather months as they are a relief from the severe heat and humidity we face from May through September/October. I live much farther away from the beach now, so a dip in the Atlantic requires a day trip. I don’t mind that so much, but it limits us to only going on the weekends. We have plans and the room to add a pool to our backyard, so that will help us cope in the future. For the time being, we celebrate when the leaves change and the air becomes cooler and our AC unit stops kicking on regularly throughout the day.

Combine this change in temps with my current urge to nest, along with some killer specials at Michael’s, and Christmas has exploded early at our house.

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My nutcrackers are back 🙂


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I ALMOST bought a new wreath this year, but I opted to dress up the old one for a fraction of the cost. This wreath originally was all green and silver.

I know, I know…”But Antoinette, you love fall!” Yes, that’s true, but I love Christmas even more. And, Kennedy is just that age where Christmas is becoming that perfect level of magical. She’s old enough to understand what the holiday is about, and young enough to still believe in Santa Claus (a nifty tactic for controlling tantrums and other bad behavior, by the way). She’s old enough to help out with Christmas baking and decorating, and young enough that she isn’t too cool for family traditions. I’ve been waiting for her to reach this point since she was born, so I’m in mother-daughter heaven with her a bit.

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Christmas card teaser! This isn’t what went to print this year, but it is one photo we took. Super easy to do with some holiday props and a selfie stick. 

I’m also in mother-son heaven with a growing bump to show off in fall/winter rather than spring/summer. When I was pregnant before, I thought it’d be better to be pregnant during spring/summer for ease of wardrobe. Perhaps that is true in San Diego where the temps are easier to deal with, but here, the North Central Florida heat killed my spirit and motivation during my first trimester. I wouldn’t wish such a fate on anyone, even those I can’t stand. Nausea + sticky hotness is just a fucking chore, so needless to say, I’ve been LONGING for it to get cooler out here.

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23 Weeks. Fall/Winter bump > Spring/Summer bump.

I’m not nauseous anymore, but I have other things to contend with by way of sciatic nerve pain, low back pain, hip joint pain, and Braxton Hicks contractions (which are more uncomfortable than they are painful). None of them are fun, but I’ll take those over the nausea. My back might hurt, but at least I can eat Chipotle again. 🙂

A growing bump also means a growing baby with bigger kicks and rolls, and though they sometimes send me rushing to the bathroom to pee, or keep me up at night, I’m so enamored with feeling my son’s movements. We’re also in the fun phase of planning for him where we’ll start (I say “we,” but really it’s just Fabian) painting and purchase matching sheets. I got curtains on sale at Kohl’s a few weeks back and plan to have the glider rocking chair reupholstered. Decorating has kind of been my jam lately, so it’ll be fun to create a new space for a baby boy – something I haven’t done before.

The incoming holidays also mean more time that we get to spend with family, something that has always been a priority for me regardless of the time of year. As I’ve grown and changed this year, I’ve found myself clinging tighter to my family as my inner circle, basing more of my activities around my opportunities to involve them. Especially as my parents get older, it’s important to me to keep setting aside the time for them, even through the differences I experience with them (particularly, my dad). We aren’t meant to move through this life alone; my belief in God and Jesus means that they serve as my Creator and Savior, but belief in them doesn’t cancel out the need for companionship and a sense of purpose. My purpose used to be vague to me, and in many ways it is still undefined to me, but through the growth and development of my own family I’ve come to appreciate the place I have in relation to them, and the value they all hold for me. That’s probably one of the things I am most grateful for this holiday season: realizing my importance through my family.