But…do I?

Friday, one of my best friends married the love of his life. Seeing them celebrate their step into holy matrimony made me think, Where is my happily ever after?

In 2013 I met my significant other while taking classes at a local community college. Five years late, we’re parents and simply stuck into a routine. As working parents know, it’s very easy to fall into a pattern as the days go by in the blink of an eye but I had goals. I wanted to have my bachelors degree by 25, Married by 28, and children around 30. Life doesn’t always go as planned so it went more like college dropout by 21, child by 24 and no direction in life. Usually, it takes no more than a good episode of ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ for me to begin planning my perfect wedding. But this time was different. I asked myself “Is marriage really for you?”.

My parents, though highly disfunctional, have been married for over 40 years. Growing up, I was apart of a close knit family so all I know is the strong marriage dynamic. My significant other, on the opposite end of the spectrum, lived in a home where his parents were never together, though they are married. His father is Mexican, believing that a man can do as he pleases, with whom he pleases while his wife raises the children and struggles with mental health problems among other things; the typical machismo. Until we started seeing each other, he’d never thought about getting married; marriage does not work!

I love my significant other but when it comes to making me a priority, he falls short. I’m not one to make excuses so I won’t start now. He takes care of his mom who suffers from a number of mental health issues in addition to ulcerative colitis and osteoporosis. She also speaks very limited English, doesn’t know how to drive, and is separated from his father. When we first got together I knew this was the situation. It wasn’t so bad because I had my own apartment while he held a place for him and his mom, though he was at my place majority of the time. Life got rough and I ended up losing my apartment and was forced to move in with them. It wasn’t until then I began to see the true hierarchy in our new family.

My mother in law is Queen Elizabeth on steroids. When she says jump, he asks how high. At first, I felt bad for her. Then I realized, she is a demanding B-I-T-C-H sometimes. It’s not her that’s the problem ultimately, it’s her son. He forgets everyone and everything when his mom calls upon him, which is more often than not. Even after we had our baby, it turned into having two babies.

GOD! WHEN DOES IT STOP!

I reached a breaking point when I lost a much-needed job because he wanted me to choose to help take her to her doctor appointments. Major bummer especially with a preemie infant. I bit the bullet. I declined the job offer. Did that get me any recognition or brownie points? No sir. It was the beginning of my depression; depression that lasted for two years, on and off.

My moment of liberation was re-enrolling into college. I’ve been taking college classes since I was 15 years old but I have NEVER declared a major. I boasted to my family over Thanksgiving dinner 2009 about how I was a pre-med biology student, I was going to be a neurologist. STRAIGHT PAID! BIG BILLS ONLY! Little did I know, three semester later I would receive a certified letter from the Dean of my college informing me that due to subpar grades I’d lost my financial aid and I was being put on academic suspension aka getting kicked out of college. I had failed.

Six years later, I find myself at the precipice of nursing school. I met with a counselor at my local community college who informed me that I only need to take four classes before applying to the nursing program. Taking all of those classes in high school really paid off for me in the end, especially since my math requirement was met by a class that I took in 10th grade. Before applying to the program, I must complete Chemistry, Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, and English; the mountain in the distance was a hill.

My focus since has been on self-growth, which is hard when you are in a serious relationship. I am important. How will my daughter ever understand the importance of being an independent strong woman if I can’t do it myself? With this came with many thoughts, including property ownership. I’m not currently married, my career is about to take front seat next to my daughter, of course.

Does that leave room for marriage? The horse and carriage? Am I becoming one of those progressive, feminist that neglects the home for the advancement of her career, or so the story goes? No. I’m improving myself for my childs future. 

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Beat the Meat: Let’s go Vegan

By Leigh

I’m your average American. I love MEAT; steaks, hot dogs, BACON. You name it, I want it. For the past weeks I’ve heard, through social media mainly, about the newest documentary on Netflix called “What the Health?”. Most of my friends would post messages about how this two hour film changed their lives; they could finally see the light! I’m quick to tell my plant loving friends “veggies aren’t my thing”, “healthy is plain”, or any countless number of ignorant remarks about why I don’t enjoy eating plant based products. Plus what makes this documentary so different from the others; using footage of the disgusting livestock conditions as a means of encouraging Americans into a healthier lifestyle. I’ve seen Supersize Me, Food Inc, etc and I still eat at fast food establishments with no regard as to where my food is coming from. As I sit at work, starving, because my McMuffin didn’t pack the nutritional punch like I wanted, I started thinking about “What the Health?”. So I found it on Netflix and immediately found myself absorbed.

 

Kip Andersen, narrator and director, started by telling his story. He explained, at the beginning of his researched he assumed that the illnesses that we suffer from (diabetes, high cholesterol, cancer, osteoporosis, arthritis, etc) were purely a result of our genetic disposition. Unfortunately and fortunately, this is not true. Though a small percentage of us do contract illnesses from our genetic makeup, the main cause is diet. It was found that those that consume large amounts of animal product, including but not limited to meat and dairy, from all domesticated livestock such as cow, pig and chicken, have significantly higher chances of contracting these diseases.

 

WHAT?! How is this possible?! My entire life I’ve eaten cheese burgers, chicken wings, deli meat with no concern about the effects that it was having on my body. It took for me to step outside of self before I realized: I’m my own problem. I’m the reason why I can’t seem to get healthy and lose weight. I’ve been going about it the wrong way.

 

Starting today [July 15, 2017] I am going to experiment to see what will happen to my body over the next month by living a semi-vegan lifestyle. As a lover of cheese, processed cheese, that is going to be the hardest thing to give up, so I expect to have some problems with that. Substituting tofu for my beloved steak is going to be so so sad. Right now I sound like an addict and to a certain degree, I am addicted to the unhealthy lifestyle that I live. So with that being said, wish me luck as I detoxify myself over the next 30 days.

 

Have you seen the documentary? Did you love it? Thoughts? Please feel free to leave us a comment letting us know what you think.

Dust Yourself Off

By Jenna

I have a problem. I am a sugar junkie. I like sweet foods. When I am craving sweets, I’m usually craving chocolate. This week I satisfied my chocolate craving by making avocado brownies. Oh man, were they delicious! I made a double batch because I had already mashed up two avocados instead of the one needed for the recipe. I also had used a base recipe which endured multiple changes. Coconut oil is out as a fad and I am using real butter in my cooking when I’m not using another oil. I also had to swap sugars for raw sugar and honey, instead of the called for maple syrup. These changes amounted to a decadent fudgy brownie. They also made sure my already sugar laden treat was even more sinful! I baked the brownie in a bundt cake pan because it is easier to cut up and serve to others.

 

I didn’t make it so far as to serve my creation with my family though. I ate almost a half the brownies on the first day!! That evening I started my spiral into shame and guilt. I had let myself slip up on food and exercise, and my body is paying the price. I fell off the wagon. I am tired, sluggish, and overall lazy. I am trying to get rid of the rest of my indica too so I can get to the dispensary for sativa. I had gotten some Skywalker because I embrace my geeky side rather than remembering I get mad munchies with indica. I gained a whopping 5 pounds back that I had worked hard to lose.

So, today is a new day! I have a plan to getting back on track.

Step 1: Medicate (Aka get HIGH!)

Of course you know that sativa strains can assist you with weight loss! The sativa helps suppress my appetite. Mostly out of coincidence and some planning, I often wait to cook and eat until after I’ve smoked. I don’t feel the pangs of hunger which drive me to reach for a less than healthy snack.

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Step 2: Throw out junk food

I have thrown out the last ⅕ of the still yummy avocado brownie. It hurt to throw that last bit of brownie out instead of eating the deliciousness, but eating it would push me back another day. I also threw out Snack Crate leftovers, more on that in another post maybe. I’m proud of myself that I got all the junk snacks that don’t provide nutrition. There were a few things I kept though. I kept crackers, easy Mac, ice pops, and a little gummy candy because my kids or husband eat those. I don’t typically eat those items, even during my munchie times. While I’m writing this post I’m munching on cucumber with the kiddos.

 

Step 3: Meal Plan

Food is the key to successful weight loss and a healthy body. To that extent, so is a plan for what you are going to eat. When you have a plan for a healthy meal you are more likely to execute that plan. Defrost things a day or two in advance. Use the calendar on your phone to track what you are doing throughout the day. This will let you plan healthy snacks instead of rushing to grab fast food because you and your kids are starving! I have seen the bins in the fridges with the snacks and meals set aside, but those always seem to take a lot of space. Instead, I leave the snacks that my kids, 2 and 1 years old, can grab and eat them without me fearing their quantity or messiness. I don’t plan meals more than a week in advance because life changes too much. I use a weekly whiteboard from the dollar section at Target.

 

Step 4: MyFitnessPal

I have learned that I am most in control of myself when I am accountable for what I eat. Even when I eat the same thing every morning, actually logging the food has helped keep me in the habit of logging my food for lunches and dinners. It also helps that I can simply scan the barcode and the nutrition and serving size is added for me. I can also track my weight loss and goals with the app.

 

Step 5: Water

A healthy body starts with what you put inside. I don’t drink enough water, period. I haven’t tried to do the water challenges. This is what I am working on doing today. I’m not a fan of carrying around a gallon of water with me, but I’m at home most of the time. I have a 24 oz Contigo bottle that helps me keep track. If I can drink a minimum of two per day I’m good. If I can drink 3 a day I’m hitting my “recommended amount”. One thing I am doing different is adding fruit and veggies to my water. My favorite foods to add are lemon, mint, cucumber, and chili powder. (Not all at once).

 

Step 6: Exercise

A short 30 minute, high intensity workout is all I need to get my body rebooted. I need a fast exercise to restart and boost my metabolism. I have a short workout that can be done in 30 minutes and gets my heart rate going. It is primarily body weight exercises that require me to use multiple muscle groups so I can get back on track.

 

Here I go, it’s time to jump back onto that fitness wagon. Once I get my routine started up again, I will feel stronger, more alert, more active, and most of all healthier! Got any questions or comments? We want to hear from you!

 

Fictitious Nonfiction: A Tale of a Ghetto City Part II

By Leigh


Things were good. Too good. The calm before the storm. The weather started changed as September came to a close. Jaime made it a point to prove that he was in charge; went from dressing like a normal 23 Year old to Don Juan. His oversized white tee had outgrown him but the flamboyant satin ones that he bought at the swapmeet fit just right. The white linen pants that he wore had to be creased and cuffed; like Tupac, the goal was to always look like Tupac.

He needed to show people that he was a boss. My half brother, Robert, had a friend that knew someone who’s cousin could help them get pounds of their own. They started transporting from San Diego around Christmas. I’ll never forget the first time they came home after a hit.

“C! Ay, C!” Heavy knocks pounded my bedroom door so hard I could have sworn it was the police. Before I reached the knob, the door flung open. Two clumsy giants stumbled into the room with black duffle bags. They were too eager to tell me what was going on, before I knew it, my bed was covered in bricks of light green marijuana. And it was all theirs.

“Now who the boss?!” Jaime gloated as he tore open one of the firmly compressed packages and began rolling up.

“Shut up stupid.” Robert packed their investment back into the duffle bags.

Somehow, they were able to move 6lbs in about a month. Once they ran out, the plan  was to take the money and reinvest but unfortunately the partners didn’t have the same intentions. Robert wanted out. It wasn’t really his thing anyways. I feel somewhere deep down he made that first move just to help Jaime.

Now Jaime was stuck between a rock and a hard place. He didn’t have the money to get another 6lbs or anywhere near that amount. The little money that he had made was quickly splurged on girls and alcohol. He needed a plan, fast.

Six months passed in a blink of an eye. My brother moved out of the house with his baby mama to the East Side. We stopped seeing him as much but we knew he was alive. Jay took a small leap of absence but I kept things afloat while he was gone.

Jaime started buying from Jay once he was back on the scene. This was keeping his image afloat but it wasn’t a forever thing. His regulars started disappearing. The crips two blocks over were picking up the slack where Jay wasn’t.

Jaime befriended one of my childhood friends, Christian, but everyone called him Tiny. Tiny was a cool guy; about his family and money. He got caught up in the gang life when he was 10 years old. He’d done a few bids in juvie and 3 years in prison for robbery. His name did not reflect his reputation; Tiny was well connected.

I’m not sure how it happened because around this time I met the girlfriend from hell and had my own drama. From what I heard, Jaime was able to convince Tiny to hook him up with his connect in Sinaloa. Jaime played the roll perfectly. He gained the trust of some smaller guys in the Mexican mafia.

“So are you ready to get that?” Tiny asked Jaime.

He had arranged for Jaime to pick up 6lbs of the best weed that Mexico had to offer. The agreement was that Jaime would meet with their friends from Mexico, give them $5,000, flip the weed, pay the connect. Because of his connection with Tiny, Jaime was finally going to be the hood Tony Montana.

“Yeeep. I’m more than ready nigga. Look at this.” Jaime pulled a stack of hundreds out of his pocket in a rubber band. He smiled, stuffed the money back into his pocket and took the last swig of his beer. He needed liquid courage. He got into his car, giving Tiny one more reassuring look before taking off.

The pick up was between Hesperia and Las Vegas. Usually a busy road, the 15 highway was eerily empty due to massive amounts of construction, plus who is driving to Las Vegas at 4am on a Tuesday. Behind him red and blue light began flashing. As he slowed the car and began pulling over, a black dodge pick up truck pulled beside him.

“Sigue el desvío!”

Follow the detour the driver yelled as he pulled ahead of Jaime’s car. About three miles down the road was a broken down, hand made detour sign with a guy waving it like it was a ad for a nail salon. He followed with caution, the dirt road came to an end shortly. The driver of the truck that had flagged him down was standing behind his truck bed. He seemed much older and taller inside of the truck but in reality, he couldn’t have been more than 19 years old. Before Jaime could come to a full stop, the young man walked over to his car, yanking open the back door.

“Aqui?!”

Jaime couldn’t move fast enough for the anxious young man. Before he could open his trunk, two overstuffed black Jansport backpacks sat in his back seat.

“Donde está dinero, cabrón?!”

Jaime shoved the money into his palm. Without counting it, the younger man shoved the money into his pocket. He walked with haste to his truck, started it and took off before Jaime could turn the key in his ignition. After picking up his accomplice, the two men headed towards Las Vegas.

Jaime pulled off the detour road, heading back to the hood with the biggest score of his life. It took everything in him not to call his boys for a smoke sesh but if he’d learned anything it’s TRUST NO ONE.

——————————————————————————————————————————-

A small diner was the first well lit place to stop and count the money. The two men in the pick-up truck knew what their responsibility was; make the drop, get the cash, bring it back to jefe.

Though they were alone, they whispered.

“Is it all there?” The passenger asked anxiously through a thick spanish accident.

The driver pulled the large wad of money from is pocket and began counting…100…200…300…320…340…390…400…401…402…403…404…

It was dollar bills. The entire stack was one dollar bills.

“Puta madre…”

The Creative Struggle

By Jenna

I live a good life. I have a wonderful husband and two fantastic children. We live in a one bedroom apartment with our dog and cat. My husband has a good job and I am a full time student. That last part is what makes our lives a little more difficult. Being a full time student and a mom has put me in a position where I need to be a stay home mom instead of working mom. Though the trials that led me to this position were less than friendly, I am almost done with school and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The hardest part of being a stay home mom isn’t taking care of the children constantly, it’s the struggle to keep our head above water.

 

In 2014, my daughter was born. I had a good job working in hospice as a team coordinator. Right as I was asking to go back to work from a set maternity leave, not paid for by the company since they only would allow me to work per diem, the company advised me they were looking to downsize. Guess what that meant. The person who worked nearly 40 hours a week on per diem and had just had a baby was now the most expendable person in the company. My boss had refused to give me a termination notice for fear that I would take legal measures. I had begged her at least to write a letter for my apartment so I could get out of my lease. Without a job, we couldn’t afford my previous apartment. My boss refused and instead wrote a letter saying it was my decision to be a stay home mother instead of work. I cried because her lies and fears were controlling her actions to make my life harder than it was already.

 

I did not sue the company for wronging me. I did not have enough funds to hire a lawyer and I knew my heart couldn’t handle a new baby, searching for a job that would pay me enough, and a lawsuit. It simply wasn’t worth the misery I would have experienced. Instead, I went back to school. It was a long term goal of mine to have my BA in History. I chose history because I am passionate about history. I have one more year of school and I want to share how my little family of four survived this far on a single income in Orange County California.

 

When I started school, about 2 years ago, I was working a part time job making calls for a company, but wasn’t even making grocery money. This, plus my husband’s $20 an hour income was just enough to get us through my first year with our first newborn. Part way through the first year, we had to get creative with our finances because there was another baby on the way. We already had school debt from both my previous semester out of state, my husband’s education, and credit card debt from a vacation or two. Coupled with paying for my both of my children’s home water birth, we have been strapped tight with debt.

 

The first thing my husband started doing to help us is begin consolidating our debt. We were able to take out a bit extra in the student loans to cover some of our credit card debt and our children’s births. The student loans were at lower interest rates, and it allows me to postpone paying of that debt until I’m more financially stable. We have decided to stay in a one bedroom since we have that flexibility. We are in a downstairs unit with a backyard so we are as comfortable as we can afford for the short run.

 

As the years ticked by (I say that, but only 3 have passed), I was able to find cheaper groceries at stores like Aldi, how to make meals, where to find cheap and used baby clothes, and my husband was able to secure a bit of a raise. Even through all of this, he still had to get a second job. That is what being an adult is about though, I guess. Doing what you need to do, even though it isn’t fun or easy.

 

What’s the smartest animal? A fish because they stay in schools! Our visit to the Aquarium of the Pacific

By Leigh

IMG_9559Happy summer to all of our followers in the northern hemisphere! If you live in California, you are aware of the current “heat wave” which is just typical summer weather. To fight the hot and stickys, Jenna and I took a trip to the Aquarium of the Pacific with our children this past Saturday. As a child, I loved going to the Aquarium! All of the sea life and fun facts always aroused my little mind. Now that is a joy that I would like to share with my baby.

IMG_9486.JPGThe first thing that caught my attention was the massive reconstruction project. They are remodeling the front portion of the aquarium, unfortunately. The construction took away from the amazing structure but luckily it is temporary. The second ‘Woah’ was the entrance fee. For adult, child(3-17), and senior respectively, the prices were $29.95,$17.95,$26.95. I was not expecting those prices at all! But for a experience with my daughter, I’ll bite bullet.

IMG_9490.JPGThe first stop that we made was lunch! We stopped in to the Scuba Cafe to see what they had to offer. The menus was fantastic; not too complicated and just the right amount of items. I tried the fish & chips. Definitely try the fish & chips! The kids options were tasty as well.

IMG_9497.JPGAfter lunch, we headed to the exhibits. Jenna was our tour guide for the day. We were lucky to catch the end of the scuba diver show in the large tank in the main hall. It’s not very accessible for us stroller baring parents but there is a nice parking area for strollers on the first level if you are willing to live on the wild side.

IMG_9523.JPGThe new Frogs exhibit was nice for the 8 and up crowd. The exhibit hosts a large number of frogs, many too small for our toddlers to see. Our favorite exhibits were the Shark and Jellyfish, for obvious reasons. The kids loved being able to touch animals! 

Before you leave, don’t forget to validate your parking! It will save you so much money with the parking structure

Aquarium of the Pacific: A Member’s Perspective

By Jenna

Birthdays have always been a bit of a let down for me. This past year, I knew exactly what I wanted; a gift that keeps giving. I wanted a membership to the Aquarium of the Pacific so I could visit throughout the year. Our children are still under three, so we were able to get the dual membership, which is two adults for $110 a year. It has only been 6 months and I have already gone enough times to make it well worth the money!

IMG_9517.JPGThis weekend, me and the kiddos got to take an adventure with Leigh and her lovely family! Parking wasn’t as hard as I expected. Since there are constantly people coming in and going out, there were parking spots available while driving around the structure. I felt confident in passing a few spots further away for a spot closer to the elevator. Once Leah and her SO got to my truck, we let the other adults in our party care for our littles while we took a quick toke!

While Leigh got her tickets, I went through the Member’s entrance. Since I have been to the Aquarium of the Pacific a few times this year already, I was able to map out all the exhibits and stops we wanted. I did manage to get us lost once though, but I covered it up with a restroom break. We ate a quick, but delicious, meal at the Scuba Cafe before heading to the Sea Lions. We also got to touch the sharks and moon jellyfish! We explored the tropical climate aquatic life including the Frogs exhibit! I couldn’t leave without watching the sea otters cuddle and play though!

IMG_9588.JPGOn our way out we got our ticket validated so we only paid the $8 fee instead of the higher rate the structure offers. The kids ran around and admired all there was to see. I was surprised when my youngest showed so much more interest than my older had shown at the same age. We had a fun filled day, and I can’t wait to get out to the Aquarium of the Pacific again! Since I am a member, my visits can be as often as my kids can enjoy!

July 3rd, My Independence Day

While America is celebrating it’s 241st birthday, I’m celebrating my 2nd. July 3, 2015 was the day of my rebirth. My second coming. That is the day that I became a mom. As a person that vowed to never have children, I’m so much happier as a parent. Sometimes life gives you blessings, wrapped in tragedy.

I found out that I was pregnant at 27 weeks. How the hell did I make it 27 weeks without knowing that I was pregnant?!

Let me answer all of the FAQ:

Was I on birth control? Yes. I used the birth control patch faithfully.

What about missed periods? There were not missed periods. I had my normal menstrual cycle until I removed the patch.

Did you not have morning sickness? Uh no. I medicate daily so I never experienced any of the nausea, vomiting, etc. that comes with pregnancy.

Don’t worry. There is only a 1% chance of this happening to you. I was that 1%. For the first and only time in my life I was in the 1%. Yay me! The only symptom that I had was weight gain. I attributed this to my love for a good joint and munchies. My SO and I were in the gym as much as my new found plus sized body would allow. I went as far as taking laxatives because I was constipated, explaining the extra belly weight.

I don’t know how far I would have made it had I not woke up wet in the middle of the night. I thought that I had pee’d myself, so I rushed to the bathroom. As I removed my bottoms I smelled semen. Ladies, you know that smell. The liquid that was dripping from me smelled like semen, with a consistency more slippery than water. No matter that I did, I could not get the dripping to stop. I thought that my bladder was malfunctioning so I pushed with all my might, forcing a stream of water out. The dripping continued. I put on a pad and went back to bed.

The next morning I made a appointment with my gynecologist. There weren’t any appointments until Friday and it was Monday. By Wednesday, I knew something wasn’t right. I was going through about 12 pads per day. My best friend had done research on the mysterious fluid but kept coming back with amniotic fluid. How could it be amniotic fluid?

“You are most definitely pregnant. Let’s check the babies heart beat…”

As my gynecologist stepped out of the room to retrieve his utensil, my brain completely stopped. PREGNANT?! I’m planning a trip to Las Vegas in a few months, how can I be pregnant?! It was too farfetched for me to comprehend until I heard the strong heart beat coming from my uterus. Woah.

“Not sure of how far along you are but if the measurements are correct, you are about 27 weeks. I’m going to send you to a specialist since you are having this leaking.”

That was not what I wanted to hear AT ALL. I remember driving home, crying to my best friend over the Bluetooth, telling her how my life was over. There was a part of me that was excited but mostly I was shocked and scared. My SO is seven years older than me but I felt that he too was not ready for a baby; how wrong I was. He was beyond elated! His entire family was ecstatic. That’s when I remembered, my mom and dad.

Even though I was 24 years old, I was terrified to tell my parents. They noticed that I’d gained a lot of weight but thought I was just over eating. My dad questioned me about being pregnant on separate occasions but I never took it seriously.

I met with the specialist 4 days after finding out that I was pregnant. My SO and mother-in-law went to the appointment with me. It was so nerve wrecking watching the doctor take measurements of my baby on a ultrasound. This would give me the actual factuals. Was the baby healthy? How far along am I? Is it a boy or girl? The doctor finished the exam after 20 minutes of clicking buttons and turning knobs.

“Let’s start with the easy part: it’s a girl. You are 27 weeks and 5 days. However, you have a hole in your amniotic sack so your amniotic fluid is very low. The good thing is you are holding some fluid and as long as the baby is still making it everything is fine. But we have to admit you to the hospital.”

“Admit me? Can I go home first?”

“If you don’t go straight to the hospital from here, you must sign a waiver stating if anything happens to you or the baby we are not responsible.”

This was serious. We immediately drove to Cedars Sinai to admit me to labor and delivery. It didn’t click that I would be staying until that evening. The head nurse came to explain our plan for the next 7 weeks. Ideally, our little bundle of joy needed to make it in the womb at least 35 weeks. BUT should she come early, we were hoping it would be after 30 weeks. At 30 weeks, the brain is fully developed which is vital.

The days went by slow. Sitting in a hospital bed, watching hospital T.V, eating hospital food, isn’t as glamourous as it seems. Besides the nurses coming to put me on a fetal monitor every three hours, it was quiet. My naps were frequent and long. It wasn’t until around 7pm, after a long days work, that my SO would show up to stay the evening with me. This was our routine.

My first night I started having terrible back spasms. When I was 10, I broke my tailbone. Those hospital beds are not for people with back injuries. It got so bad that they had to give me Norco (pills that are stronger than Vicodin) twice!

On July 1st, my back spasms were particularly bad. I found myself pacing at 2am because the spasms kept me from laying in bed more than a few seconds.  The next morning, my doctor gave the green light for me to have Norco for the second time. It made me feel like crap. I just wanted to curl up into a ball. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I was MISERABLE. Suddenly a wave of nausea swept over me, causing me to jump from bed and rush to the bath room. I squatted and strained against my the toilet as my stomach heaved, empty. When I stood up, there was a huge pool of amniotic fluid on the floor. I was constantly leaking so I assumed this was okay.

I crawled back into bed just as the nurse entered.

“You don’t look like yourself. How are you feeling?”

“I think the Norco made me sick. I’ll feel better once my boyfriend gets here.”

It was Wednesday so we were planning to watch the Fox tv show Wayward Pines. The baby had other plans. Around 9pm, as the show was starting, I couldn’t take it anymore. The pain was at a 10. I thought that maybe it was because I was constipated from all of the prenatal vitamins.

“I’m going to try to poop. Maybe my back will feel better.” I scuffled to the bathroom.

As soon as I sat on the toilet and pulled my hospital issued mesh undies down, blood streamed into the toilet. There was blood everywhere.

I could hear my obstetrician, “If you see blood, tell the nurses. You are going into labor.” I was going into labor. I took a deep breath before reentering the room.

“Babe, get the nurse. I think I’m going into labor.”

“DON’T SAY THAT! WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT?!”

“BECAUSE I’M FULL OF BLOOD! LOOK!” I lifted my hospital gown to reveal the horror scene underneath. He didn’t say much of anything after that. Just rushed to get the nurses who immediately came to examine me.

“You are most definitely in labor….3cm dilated.”

As I was wheeled out of the room, I looked up at the board where we would count the weeks and days. 29 weeks, 5 days. Missed 30 weeks by 2 days. You’re killing me smalls!

Seven hours and 20 minutes later I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl; all 2 lbs 15oz of her.

This changed my life forever. I found a new appreciation for life as I entered a new chapter of my own: Premie Mom. Spending 46 days in the NICU was the hardest time of my life. Never knowing if my child would be okay from one day to the next. Waiting on brain scan results. Learning to breastfeed. At the end of my experience I was a new woman and mom.

 

Home Sweet Home

By Jenna
I’m home sweet home! Las Vegas was an adventure that made me want to go back, or just stay there permanently. I even took the time to notice jobs that would be available. Yet, like all good things, it had to end. Now, I get to recollect my fondest memories for you lovely people! Also a few things to avoid doing.

 

Day 1 Wednesday night

Before heading out on our trip I got super elevated. Partly because I get car sick, and partly because I needed to readjust my attitude before leaving. The drive wasn’t long because we left on a Wednesday. Once I was out of California traffic, it was smooth sailing. The kiddos slept the first 2.5 hours, cried for about 40 minutes, then relaxed the rest of the way. As we came up, we decided to drive down the strip and see the lights instead of going straight to the hotel. I felt a bit lame that we didn’t do anything Wednesday night, but I have a two year old and one year old. We got to the Venetian Hotel at 11pm, so we were exhausted. The Venetian Hotel is absolutely beautiful! We had two queen beds, but what really set the Venetian apart is the sitting area. The room had a full couch, two large sitting chairs, a desk, a table, as well as the mini bar area. I didn’t want to leave that room because it was so comfortable. I even got to take a video of the classic jump onto a cushy bed. I want to be super excited about the strip view from our hotel, but the hotel that was in full view was a certain Trump hotel.

Day 2 Thursday

Breakfast was at the of the small restaurants in restaurant row. The food was amazing! We then threw on sunscreen and started walking the strip. Of course I stopped by Fat Tuesday for a frozen margarita! We didn’t get too far, but the walk got hotter the longer we were outside. We went back to the hotel to relax and get ready for the evening. We went to dinner at Cut by Wolfgang Puck for some wagyu filet! It was my father-in-law’s first time eating filet, he typically eats his steaks cooked completely. We also had, for the first time, pork butt cutlets. The worst part is the dish came with only 4 bites distributed among the adults, but those bites were heavenly! I ate them so quick I didn’t even get a picture! I was a bit surprised to be able to get a table without a reservation. I skipped dessert, to my dismay, because the little boy was ready to go, like 15 minutes ago. I had warned my husband that as soon as our steaks came out the baby would start being done, and I was right.

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Day 3 Friday

Friday we switched from the Venetian to Treasure Island Hotel so that the family could all be on the same floor. I had hoped to go swimming at Mandalay Bay because they have a lazy river that I was dying to enjoy. Since that didn’t happen as I had planned, we waited for everyone else to arrive and check into their rooms. Friday night was planned to be Guy’s Night. We had enough time before the guys took off to go to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. By the time we got there I was just tipsy and that made me have a great time! The guys departed from the women and children and proceeded to hit the town. I convinced my SILs and MIL to do at least one thing before turning in for the night. That one thing was to walk and see the fountains at the Bellagio. The show was beautiful as expected. This was one of those times when it was fun to have a kid because they were astounded by the show. The down side is the walk was hard on the kids and they saw pictures that made them ask questions. I ended staying awake until my husband got home at 5am.

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Day 4 Saturday

Saturday was surprisingly easy for how little sleep I achieved. My son woke me up at 7am! I don’t know how I was completely functional Saturday on less than 2 hours of sleep. We went to breakfast at Denny’s then back to the hotel because no one could agree on what we should do or where we should visit. My hope to visit a pool was let up and then dashed again as only a few people wanted to go, then no one wanted to go. I couldn’t go alone because my husband wasn’t functional, at all. We went back to the hotel and got all packed up to go to the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay. It was a cute little aquarium for the kids. Saturday night was Girl’s Night out and our first stop was the entire reason we were in Las Vegas. We had bought tickets to the Backstreet Boys concert at the Axis at Planet Hollywood. The concert was fantastic! I wasn’t excited to go but it ended up being exactly what I hoped for and needed. I was starving before hand though, which fell on deaf ears. I ate my only edible available which only got me high for 30- 45 minutes. That was the most disappointing edible EVER! After the concert we grabbed a quick bite at La Salsa Cantina, I would go here again. My youngest SIL was being drama queen, per usual, and didn’t want to go out anymore. She was the reason we were going out to start. I bought a round of shots in hope to improve her mood, to no avail. We then went to a bar with a DJ along the strip. She didn’t enjoy that either and immediately wanted to leave. We finally walked back to Senior Frogs. The walk was extra long because the girls didn’t want to listen to me about which bridge to cross. The youngest SIL was the only one wearing heels, so she suffered from the walk. At Senior Frogs I had a blast dancing with the two older SILs, but the youngest still was a stick in the mud. We finally retired from our night at 2am.

Day 5 Sunday

We packed up and headed out early. I grabbed food from Starbucks while the rest of the family went out to breakfast. I wanted to try and get a head start on the majority of traffic, and I was done with family time. It worked! We made the drive back in about 5 hours.

 

Next time I go to Vegas it will be with fewer people. I didn’t mind going with my kids, but I would wait for them to be old enough to stay the weekend with their grandparents. I wanted to go to the pool, but never was able, so that is still on my To Do List. I also didn’t get to eat at a buffet or try many drinks. I also wouldn’t go without the ability to smoke. I am an adult and absolutely can handle not smoking, but it helps with recovery from a night out. It also relaxes me so I can enjoy my time better.

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