Adrian Curtis’ Med-Free Birth Story

I actually dreamed of getting to give a blog post this title, and the day has come.

(This is a long post. You’ve been warned.)

Our son was born last week after a tiring cycle of ups and downs. I’ve hardly caught up on my sleep with having a newborn and a toddler under the same roof now, and my memories of his delivery have been swirling back up in chunks, but here’s the story:

The first question most people ask when you explain your labor is, “How long did it take?” It’s hard for me to answer that because my labor with Adrian was spread out over several weeks. At week 37, I was dilated to 4cm, 60% effaced. My OB didn’t expect to see me again after this appointment, but I still kept my schedule with him. At 39 weeks, he checked me again and found me to be dilated to 5cm with 70% effacement. He scraped my membranes at this appointment, and I left feeling a bit nauseous. On the way out, I stopped off at my acupuncturist’s office. We made an appointment for the following morning at 10:30am, assuming I didn’t have a new baby before then.

I went home feeling some irregular contractions, and decided to do some walking and bouncing on the exercise ball to see if that’d bring on anything significant. My contractions got stronger with physical activity, and came as close together one minute. However, they weren’t consistent, ever. I’d experience contractions every two minutes for about 10 minutes, but then I’d have one spaced out to three or four minutes apart from the one before it. It was frustrating, because I’d been trained to understand that true labor is exact; if your contractions don’t stay exactly the same interval apart for at least an hour, you’re not in labor. So, by popular definition, I wasn’t in labor.

I left a message for my OB’s nurse, and she called back and told my husband that though my contractions were not consistent, they were all indeed less than five minutes apart, and that my doctor would like to see me. I’d settled in to take a bath and do some meditation when my husband relayed the news, and I had fears about going back to the hospital. If this wasn’t actually labor, I’d be faced with another stalled situation like I faced when I went in for Kennedy’s birth. I didn’t want to place myself in a situation where doctors and nurses were pushing things on me. I didn’t stick to my birth plan before, but I was adamant about doing it right this time. If I never give birth to any other children, I don’t want regret to loom over me because I never had the wherewithal to stand up for myself in labor and delivery. I sat in the tub and prayed, I asked for a sign of something and got nothing, but ultimately figured I’d go back to the OB just to see if I was dilating anymore.

About 40 minutes later, I was back with the OB, and he confirmed I was dilated to 6cm. I’d dilated one more centimeter between seeing him late that morning, and at about 4:30 in the afternoon. I was clearly progressing through something, so my husband and I agreed to go down to labor and delivery.

Once in L&D, I began moving and staying in motion to bring back and keep my contractions coming. Maybe now they’d get consistent, my water would break, and I’d be pushing out a baby a couple hours later.

They didn’t.

Five hours after my admission, my contractions stopped. I’d dilated a little past 6cm, but overall, nothing was happening. I requested a discharge, and the attending physician advised me that going home wasn’t a good idea. For starters, this was my second child, and labor with second, third, fourth babies tends to go faster than the first. Given that I was so far dilated, if my water indeed broke en route to the house, we could be faced with an emergency situation where baby is born in the car on the side of the road, or possibly at home. I didn’t want a home birth (or a car birth…). She also had a feeling that something might happen during the course of the night, and perhaps my baby would be born in the morning. We went back and forth for a while, but ultimately, I decided to stay the night. I still refused Pitocin as well as an artificial breaking of my water. I also declined all medicines offered to help me sleep except for Benadryl, only because I’d taken it prior in the pregnancy for the same purpose.

Morning came, and still nothing. I looked over at my exhausted husband, told him we’d need to go home, and asked the nurse for discharge papers. Thankfully, they let me go without a fight. I was already defeated, so I’m glad they didn’t come at me with swords raised. I felt embarrassed. I felt like a failure. I felt like I had let my husband down, though he insists that I didn’t:

We grabbed some breakfast at IHOP, went to my parents’ house to check in on Kennedy, and killed a little time before my acupuncture appointment. Acupuncture helped release some tension, and I felt a few more contractions while lying on the table during treatment. I thanked my doctor for his help and left for home. I needed a nap and a shower. I wanted to relish in the environment of my own house. I wanted to give my body a chance to do what it needed to do without pressure, though I’d stayed relatively calm through everything thus far. And I needed to find a safe space to just pray and be still. I took a nap and woke to my husband walking in with a fresh Cobb salad he’d crafted me (Cobb salads were my main craving during those last few weeks of pregnancy). We ate together, snuggled up to watch some TV, and then he asked if I’d like to take a walk with him. We took the dogs and decided to walk around the block a few times. My contractions returned, and once again they were close together. We agreed that if they came closer than three minutes together, we’d go to the hospital and continue walking around the pond there. We knew we were close, and we didn’t want to chance having our baby at home. I also told my husband that if labor stalled again, I’d take the Pitocin. He asked if I was sure, and truthfully, I wasn’t. But after two days of back and forth, my body was tired. I was tired. I couldn’t keep putting him through this. I just wanted it to be over.

It’s 5pm, we’re back in Labor & Delivery, and I’m even back in the same room as before. My mother showed up, much to our surprise, and decided to ride it out with us. I chat with the nurses about what had happened the night before, and I ask if I should just go onto Pitocin right away. The nurse admitting me advises that if I want to indeed stay natural for this process, perhaps breaking the water is a better way to go. Given how far dilated I was (which was 7cm at this point) that’d be sure to kick start things for real, and help me avoid the drugs. I refused at first – and this wasn’t because I had a logical reason for doing so – I was afraid. I used the excuse that having my water broken ruined my labor with Kennedy before, but that wasn’t an informed deduction of my process with her. When my water was broken with Kennedy, I had already been on Pitocin for about three hours. Pitocin is known to make contractions much more intense, so the pain I felt after having my water broken was indeed painful, but beyond what it probably would’ve been had I just had my water broken on its own. Another more glaring reality that I didn’t want to face: The water would have to break at some point, regardless. Delaying having my water broken was like delaying the inevitable end that I claimed to want so bad. Labor hurts, Antoinette, and you said you wanted to do this, so just do it. Thank you, internal voice. Once again, you knew exactly what to say.

I had to wait two hours to have the doctor come break my water. A host of other pregnant women came in around the same time as I did, but they were all progressing through their labors and required immediate care. I sat and waited, and waited, and waited. I got frustrated with myself again, snapped at the nurse whose fault it wasn’t, and finally got the doctor to “crochet hook“ my amniotic sack. “This is when shit gets real,” I whispered to my husband. My mother nodded…

Hour One of Dry Labor:

The first few contractions weren’t so bad, but by the fourth one, I was feeling it. They were about five minutes apart, so I had some time to rest and crack jokes in between them, but they were rough when they hit. I coped by squeezing my husband’s hands and practicing slow breathing. “This isn’t so bad,” I thought, but I was nowhere near the peak of what was coming.

Hour Two of Dry Labor:

At this point, I’m sitting on my exercise ball exclusively. Somehow, the ball helped alleviate some of the pressure in my back. Not by much. Pain was at level 10 at this point during contractions, and I was feeling extremely nauseous. The contractions were also lasting longer, making them harder to endure. I squeezed my husband’s hands, and my mom did things like apply lip balm to my lips and pass me drinks when I asked.

About an hour and a half after my water was broken, the nausea became so bad that…I vomited. Everything hurt so bad, and I’d been pounding clear juices and water to stay hydrated. The breathing I had to do to cope with each contraction left me with dry mouth, and my once freezing hospital room suddenly felt like a sauna. I had to pee at one point, and the walk from the exercise ball to the bathroom felt like miles. Despite what others had said, laboring on the toilet wasn’t any more comfortable. Get me back to my ball I thought. Walking hurt; gravity turned my level 10 pain into 11, and I just couldn’t do it. I shuffled back to the ball as quickly as I could after peeing. The mesh panties and pad they’d given me to wear were soaked in amniotic fluid. I asked for a change, but ultimately decided that I’d just stay commando. They’d only be in the way later.

I remember speaking to the nurse between contractions and not finishing my sentence before the next one hit. Nothing had really been textbook up to this point, but I do remember reading very clearly that labor is progressing when the woman is unable to speak through contractions. I definitely couldn’t talk through these. It was all I could do to intentionally breathe. Around the end of this second hour was when I asked to be checked for progression. I felt more pressure in my pelvis, and was hopeful that perhaps I’d be there.

I was dilated to 8cm with 100% effacement. Only 8?! F—!!!!! The nurse told me not to be discouraged. I was progressing, these contractions weren’t for nothing, and my baby’s position had descended significantly since her last check. She told me to be calm and trust in this process. Fatigue was setting in at this point, but I nodded with her. I wanted to cry, but I didn’t. I looked at my mom, and my face must’ve explained it all, because without my speaking she just said to me, “You are almost there, and I’m so proud.” I couldn’t respond. I didn’t know how to feel. I just whispered ever so softly to myself, “I can do this…I can do this…” That’s when my husband whispered to me, “You ARE doing this, my queen…” My cracking heart healed over.

Hour Three of Dry Labor:

At this point, the physical and mental fatigue was taking its toll. I told my husband and mother repeatedly that I wasn’t sure how much more of this I could take. About 10 minutes after I’d been told I was at 8cm, I asked for another check. The nurse found me to be at 9cm, and I heard her call the doctor…”Doctor, she’s dilated from 8 to 9cm in 10 minutes. I think you should stay nearby.”

Is that a good sign? Will I breeze through this last centimeter quickly? Jesus, please, if there was EVER a time for you to step in and save me, it is now. Please…

They left me in the bed at this point (all these “checks” you’re reading about are happening in the hospital bed – not on the ball). It’s not the most comfortable place to be, but nothing really is anymore. From this vantage point, I can see my mom’s face clearly, and my husband is on the other side of the bed, still holding my hand. The nurse quietly encourages me, and I keep hoping that the immense pressure I feel with each contraction is helping me dilate that much faster to 10. The contractions seem to be lasting longer at this point, but it’s hard to tell if they’re just longer, or if they’re doubling up. The nurse is talking me through each one by saying things like, “That was the peak…” “You should start to feel some relief…” “That one’s over…” Yes, I could feel these things myself, but having someone to “coach” me through these painful periods gave me something else to concentrate on. However, as I’m barely holding on to get through the peaks of these contractions, I catch a glimpse of my mom’s face as she’s glancing at the monitor and back at me. I see a look of panic cross her face as she views the monitor, and she looks away from me quickly. I thought, “Oh no. This is gonna be a double…yep, this is a double.” The contraction strengthens to its peak, lessens in intensity a bit, but then strengthens to peak again. This all lasts for about 90 seconds. I’m still breathing slowly with longer exhalations, but that measure is really just for keeping me calm. The pain is what it is and will not go away until this is over.

I gasp and whisper the word “pressure” to the nurse, and she decides to check me again. “You’re about 9.5cm,” she says. I wince. She calls the doctor again and says, “Doctor, she’s at anterior lip. Are you close?” quick pause “All right, thank you.”

“My wife pushes fast,” my husband advised, “so make sure the doctor is ready, please.” (Refer to Kennedy Faye’s birth story to understand why he said this)

Then she turns to me and advises that only a small piece of my cervix is lying in the way. Baby is in perfect position, effacement is complete. She advises that with the next contraction, I give a gentle push – she will attempt to pull the cervix up so that it’s out of the way. I pull my knees to my chest as she instructs, and give the best push I can. It was weak. I was out of energy. Oh, and if I didn’t mention it, I was in the worst pain of my life.

But her strategy worked.

The next part is a little blurry, but a lot of folks started showing up. A doctor, another nurse, a respiratory therapist, a pediatric nurse, and at least two other people associated with baby’s care upon birth. The end of the bed detaches, and my waist is suddenly at the edge. The doctor instructs me to pull my knees back, wait for the next contraction, take in a deep breath, and push with everything I have. It’s go-time, finally. THIS is what I came here for. C’mon, Antoinette, let’s get this done.

In come my knees, here comes the tightening of the next contraction, I take a deep breath, and start pushing. Up until this point, my noise level hadn’t reached much above a whisper, but upon starting the push, I screamed. I let out a feral, raw, maternal scream. I was that voice you hear behind closed doors when a woman is in labor. My entire bottom half seemed to be coming apart. My mom’s face was sympathetic, as well as impressed. She did this twice, and now I was finally getting to see what it was all about.

Another deep breath in, and another push. I gave this one more of me because I wanted to this part to just be over. Suddenly, it was as if the Earth was opening up. I saw the moon and stars, heard a symphony playing, saw a dolphin swim past, felt an earthquake, and oh my gosh, ring of fire, ring of fire, RING OF FIRE. RING OF FIRE.

I couldn’t tell how far I’d gotten, but I kept taking in deep breaths and concentrating on the push. Everyone seemed to be cheering. My entire body was trembling. I was covered in a cold sweat. I’d ditched the gown and was completely nude. I didn’t care who saw or what anyone thought; I just wanted my baby.

Somewhere amidst the chaos, I found my doctor’s voice. She calmly advised that I look down at my baby, whose face was looking up at me with two arms free. “Reach down and pull up your baby, she said.” I paused and looked to my husband’s face. “Pull him out,” he said. I reached down and pulled a slippery, slightly grayish blue, extremely warm newborn out of my own birth canal and up to my chest, and the post-birth euphoria I’d met last time pounded me in the face, heart, and lungs with unbridled, unmedicated intensity. This was the greatest moment of my life.

And just like that, it was over. Placenta came out, breastfeeding went off without a hitch, I got moved to a recovery room, and my family and I got to celebrate our new blessing. I’m still piecing together my observations after this experience, but having done this with an epidural before, and without any drugs this time, I’d have to say that I will choose the med-free route again if we decide to welcome a third child.

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8lbs, 5oz, 21 inches of perfect

I’ll be back to write more about second-time momhood later.

Thankful

Trans Siberian Orchestra is pumping through my speakers, my homemade cranberry sauce is cooling in the fridge, and the smell of green bean casserole is wafting through the house on this beautiful Thanksgiving morning. I have about seven different tasks I need to tend to, which include getting showered to head over to my parents’ house for dinner, but I wanted to stop in and quickly chronicle all that I am grateful for this year.

It’s been a year of twists and turns as the place I was when the year started is vastly different from where I sit now, with only about 37 days left until 2016 is up.

I am grateful to have mustered up courage this year.
I had to defend my thesis for the MBA program, put myself out there for a job I wasn’t even sure I was qualified for, and walk away from certain things and people that I decided weren’t serving me anymore. It isn’t easy to decide to walk your own path, but I stepped out onto my own through redefining my priorities this year, and for that I am both proud of myself, and grateful to have done.

I am grateful for my faith.
I should’ve listed this first, and it’s pretty obvious for anyone who knows me that the aforementioned accomplishments I attribute first and foremost to the grace of God, but my faith carried me through some very difficult and testing times this year. I am so grateful to not resist Jesus, His calling to me, and His will.

I am grateful for my family.
We’re finally adding a new member…! My marriage is back on track! I have the most beautiful daughter imaginable! My parents are spectacular! Nuff said.

I am grateful for this blog.
I’ve ditched all other platforms of social media (more on that later) but this blog is and will always remain my greatest outlet for publicly sharing anything I want. It’s been my baby since my last few days as a 29 year old, and I’ve grown through having it. I love chronicling parts of my life journey here, not so much for people to read about (though I do adore all of my readers) but to have something to look back on later.

I’m also grateful for good food, which I will be chowing down on soon.🍗

Here’s to FOOD COMAS!!

Happy Thanksgiving 🦃

Mommy, AF.

I love the fall season. It’s the coziest season of all where temps are low, but not uncomfortable, trees are changing colors, fun smells come back out of hiding, and there’s a slew of fun things to do with family. Similarly, I love the nesting/maternal feel that kicks in during pregnancy. Truth be told, it’s always there, but pregnancy hormones put me on a whole other level of mommy. This second pregnancy has elevated me to a new level of mommy that I love.

For starters, I’m taking better care of our home. I’ve never been a poor housekeeper, but I’ve also never really had much of a knack for decorating, sprucing up, or building environments. In my first home, I was just so focused on having a place to drink and play video games that I owned that I didn’t put much thought into choosing accent furniture or wall art. The rugs and few wall pieces we had were out of necessity. They were cute, but nothing was deliberately put together to create a full ambiance. I was too much of a rookie to do that.

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Comfy selfie in my cozy living room. I would’ve posted a room pic, but I blogged this at night and the room photographs better in the daytime.

I also only had a child for the last year that I lived in that house, and regardless of what any home stylist might say, having a family that includes small children adds to your sense of urgency for making your home comfortable. Growing up, my mom always dressed the walls in family portraits. Yes, some were cringe-worthy photos of the Olan Mills variety, but regardless of whether they were from Sears, a cheap Polaroid, or done at a professional studio, they were our faces and faces of people close to us, related to us, whom we loved. I grew up with a strong sense of family identity because of that. As I got older, my mom took to adding family achievements to her walls, such as copies of my diplomas, her diplomas, my dad’s diplomas, and my grandfather’s flag, folded into a triangle as it was presented at his funeral. It’s important to me that Kennedy and her baby brother grow up with the same sense of feeling like they’re loved and part of a family that cares.

I used to always think that well decorated environments required lots of money – not true! In fact, you can improve the look of a room with a few simple changes, I’ve learned (thanks, Pinterest, and overall general Internet). I am not Mrs. Moneybucks. I’m in frugal, stash money in the savings account mode right now, so I’m definitely not picking furniture off the showroom floor for delivery. But for just a little over $100, I gave my couches a facelift, decorated my walls, and added pops of color to my living room with accent pillows. A living room that my family used to hate to sit in has been transformed into our favorite place to hang out on Sundays.

Similarly, Kennedy’s room has been an anomaly since we moved in. She’ll go to sleep there, but won’t always stay in there. She hardly went in there to play on her own. I wanted her room to become her sanctuary, but I knew I’d have to create a cozy environment for such. She’s a girly girl, so dialing up the pinks and frillies was a must, but with a toddler, that’s easy to do with inexpensive florals, fun wall decals, and more affirming wall art. My plan is to add a few family photos to her walls too, after I find frames. With the new facelift, Kennedy loves her room again. I’m over the moon to do the same for our son before he arrives.

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The dragonflies were in our living room at the old house. Now they fly among flowers on Kennedy’s wall.

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Not the best photo, but you get the idea. Thank heaven for little girls.

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Grey, white, and pink with toys about.

Aside from decorating, I’ve also been taking to the kitchen more, cooking up family favorites and trying new recipes. Having a bun in the oven makes me happy to stand by the stove, I guess. I’ve also been playing with essential oils to create allergy-fighting blends for Kennedy and Fabian to stop all the sneezies and sniffles around my house. I’m not a medicine woman. I’m not even an essential oil expert (I just read). But keeping our home as close to chem free is a priority for me and has been since I entered motherhood. Together we’ve chosen cleaning solutions, shampoos, shower gels, detergents, and everyday health remedies that are paraben, hormone, and animal cruelty free. Note: This isn’t a smug nose upturn to folks who choose to clean or bathe with commercial products. Like everything else in life, it’s a choice. But in my own house, I like to stay as natural as possible because it makes me feel better, and my family agrees.

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Seventh Generation, Trader Joe’s laundry detergent, Method all purpose, and The Honest Company bathroom cleaner. All are our favorites.

Decorating, cooking, keeping the family well, and of course, baking this baby bean are all making me feel like mommy to the max. I used to fear that being this into motherhood meant sacrificing who I am as a professional and as an individual. I’ve had over three years to learn that this isn’t true. I’ll clock in tomorrow and contribute to building new curriculum for the university I’m employed with, and then clock out and be Antoinette out of the office again. I must say, the more 2016 wears on, the more I love who I am.

More Lessons I’ve Learned (in no particular order)

I haven’t blogged in a while, so this is a bit of a conglomerate post. Part of the reason I’ve been away for so long is because every time I sat down to write something in the past month, my message began to take on a stance of criticism and negativity cast toward other individuals, and as much as I’m a supporter of free expression and cleansing through the release of feelings and emotions through words, I didn’t set up ThirtyReimagined to be that kind of blog. First and foremost, this blog is a chronicle of my journey through life after my 29th year, and I don’t wish for that journey to include berating or self-aggrandizement. On occasion, I will rise to the defense of people or principles that are important to me (see Leave Karlesha Thurman Alone Already or Cold Tofurky), but this blog is mostly centered around the ways in which my life has changed in my thirties.

This includes the many, many lessons I’ve had to learn – the most salient of which I will dispense now:

  1. Be kind.

There are many versions of me – the hilariously witty Antoinette, the quiet and pensive Antoinette, the adventurous “try anything” Antoinette, the no excuses Antoinette (mostly exhibited in classrooms), the hardcore bitchy Antoinette (mostly exhibited in situations of extreme hunger), and the super sensitive Antoinette. Many of these versions overlap, but I’m never just one way all the time. By far my favorite version of myself is the kind, spreading positivity, keeping her head and shoulders held high Antoinette. Though I prefer to be kind and compassionate, that’s not to say I don’t get met with opposition, criticism, judgment, and ridicule. Many folks don’t agree with the choices I’ve made for the path my life will follow; it’s unfathomable that a woman can be a mother, be a wife, be a musician, be a student, be an educator, be a pole dancer, be a fitness coach, be GOD FEARING, be an ally to gays, lesbians, and transgendered individuals, be a mentor to former drug addicts, be a fan of rock, country, rap, and pop, etc. Not everyone else gets it, and that’s really okay. But no matter how many people choose to whisper negatively, smile in my face while thinking the worst, or even label me as less than worthy, I plan to carry forth with kindness. Chalene Johnson, a woman I’ve come to admire a lot through my Beachbody journey, is constantly driving home the message that we should lead with gratitude. I’d much rather lead that way than with crudeness. My feelings will be hurt, but they will heal. We attract what we emit…

  1. Count and cherish ALL of your blessings.

Recently, my daughter spent some time in the hospital. She’s well now and back to herself, but during the two days she spent there – with tachycardia that confused the doctors, a high fever that was tough to break, with tubes and monitors and other devices attached to her limbs and chest – I had a lot of time to think. As I struggled to sleep on an uncomfortable pull out chair while monitors and machines beeped and pulsed next to her bed, I found myself missing the most simple elements of life. It’s been a journey to restart after the move, but even our humble home is still our home. I longed for our tiny living room and the Powerpuff Girls DVD playing in the background. I missed my own bathroom sink, tub, and shower. Even something as small as holding my baby girl and pacing became a norm I longed for as her mobility was restricted to the length of the telemetry monitor cords.

At times, as parents we become really frustrated with our children. I spend the 40+ hours most adults do working in offices working from my home with my daughter’s antics happening behind me as I desperately try to satisfy my obligations to the 50+ students who are in my classes, as I correspond with people who are desperate to regain their health back, and as I try to maintain some sort of order to our home as Kennedy throws toys and sippy cups about. I lose my patience with her at times, but I’m working hard to modify this behavior now. Trust me, your kids can be annoying as they run around and knock over your pictures and don’t listen to what you’re saying or cry incessantly because of one slight request like “Put on your socks,” or “Eat your peas,” but in those moments when you want to lose it, find some shred of gratitude that at least they have the energy and ability to be a kid in those moments. Believe me when I say it’s much better to have an overactive toddler who goes nuts watching Sophia the First at home than it is to have to a toddler who looks like this:

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I’ll take a hyper Kennedy at home over this distressed version of her any day.

  1. Just because one or two friends may have burned you, that doesn’t mean you can’t still have true friends.

My best friend of 16 years wasn’t my friend anymore when I moved from California to Florida. I’ve chosen not to speculate on the reasons why, but found comfort in knowing that though my actions in our friendship were never perfect, I did all I could to be there for her and honor the tenure of our relationship. I wasn’t always met with the same level of dedication, but that didn’t matter to me after a while. Anyway – I came to Florida determined to be a loner. I figured that if I couldn’t trust her, then who could I trust? Well, you’d be surprised. We talk all the time of how we can’t trust others and how you shouldn’t reveal too much of yourself to others, but God’s way calls for us all to help each other, trust one another, and look out for one another. I’ve learned that the people who show up and prove that they’re on your side are the definition of friends. It’s not always in how long you’ve known someone. I still keep my inner circle tight, but in the past month there are people who have gone to bat for me who I need to give a lot of credit to.

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They’re fellow coaches like me, but they’ve also been there for me when I was down and in need.

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My pole mama, and the first friend I made after moving to Gainesville. She challenges me to do more and be more.

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Words of love from my success partner, Dorilin.

  1. Treat your marriage like a flower. Water it with love, kindness, and support, and it will grow and blossom.

In our journey from bad to good, I’m really grateful to have my husband as my MVP. I’ve mentioned it before on here, but I will say again that I’m really, really glad we stayed together.

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I do…

It’s my anniversary today. Ten years with the same guy, and six of those married. I’ve been watching anime on Saturday nights with the same guy for a decade. We’ve been laughing at YouTube videos together for 10 years. We’ve had to watch each other grow and change for 10 years.

Please don’t confuse our tenure with endless bliss and fantastical romance. Our love story is a beautiful one, but not because of how much it resembles a romantic comedy – it DOESN’T resemble a romantic comedy at all. This relationship has made us both stronger. We’ve experienced euphoric highs, and pain staking lows. We almost called it quits in 2014.

Six years ago, I stood at an altar with my hands wrapped in his and I repeated the lines that our officiant spoke that were to be my vows. Being that I am a writer, and English is his third language, he told me he didn’t want us to write our own vows. I obliged, understanding the circumstances. However, on this sixth anniversary, one that I wasn’t sure we would make it to just six months ago, I do have some important vows to write…

We said, “I do,” as so many other couples have before and after, but “I do,” continues long after the ceremony ends.

I do reflect fondly on the decision we made to marry six years ago.

I do cherish the family and life we’ve built together.

I do see how we’ve changed, for better and for worse.

I do love that you love my faults.

I do love your faults, too.

I do appreciate that you go easy on me when I am hardest on myself.

I do accept my share of responsibility for allowing our marriage to become what it once was.

I do thank you for being willing to try.

I do want us to have more kids.

I do look forward to our future.

I do…always.

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