My story.

I had three, fairly easy deliveries.  So in my head, I thought baby #4 would be just as easy.

I was wrong.  As I have written before, the baby of the family wanted to make her entrance a little more memorable.  After hours of pushing, I met my precious Aria after a C-section.  Then came the infection that landed me back in the hospital when Aria was less than a week old.  After several rounds of antibiotics…I was back home with my family…and I was finally feeling like myself.

That was short-lived.

I had the chills a lot.  I thought it was because I was low on iron…or so that is what I had been told.  So every morning and night, I took a steaming-hot shower.  I needed to get those chills out of me.

At the 6-week mark, I still couldn’t bend over.  When I tried…I would nearly cry it hurt so badly.  I couldn’t understand it.  Everyone I talked to…everything I read…all said by 6-weeks out, they felt “normal again.”

Then came the stabbing sensations. Pain so intense, it would literally drop me to my knees.  It happened at a store when I was with all four of my kids by myself.  I crouched down and held on to the cart and loudly whispered to my oldest, “You’re going to have to call Daddy for me.” It would even hurt to have any clothes touch my stomach.

“What is happening?” I would ask that over and over.  “Nerves reattaching…normal recovery pain…your incision scar is sensitive.”

I knew whatever was happening…it wasn’t normal.  It wasn’t recovery. Something was not right.

Then came that Tuesday night. (This part is a tad gross…and TMI)

It was the week of Thanksgiving and my family was in town.  We decided to take all of the kiddos to the indoor trampoline park.  I was standing there with my sister-in-law when the pain became unbearable.  I could barely walk…I had shuffle my feet to get anywhere.  Then something was happening…my sweatpants were soaked. Soaked. From the waistband…all around my legs…down to the floor. Soaked.  I made my way into the restroom to try and figure out what was happening.  I stood in front of the mirror and lifted up my sweatshirt when I saw it…there was some kind of liquid gushing from me.  It looked like it was shooting straight out of my stomach but I couldn’t tell. There was so much and it was coming out so fast.

Next thing I know, I am in an ambulance on the way to the ER.

Abscess.

That’s what formed inside my body from the infection. And on that night…it basically exploded…and started leaking.

I was readmitted to the hospital…my incision was reopened…and the abscess was drained. (Most. Painful. Thing. Ever.)

I thought it was done. I thought I was healed. Nope.  Now I had to pack the wound. Basically, stick gauze inside the wound…so my body can heal from the inside out. Again, not a fun procedure. Once-a-day packing…that required me to take some pain meds before it was time to get started.  And my mother-in-law, who is a doctor, was the one packing my wound. Talk about a humbling experience.

The packing wasn’t going to work well enough.  “Let’s vac her.”

Let’s vac me??

At the wound clinic, I was told that I would need to wear a wound vac for about 8 weeks. Basically, a sponge is put inside the wound (near incision scar)…tubing is attached…that tubing sucks out all of the “bad stuff” inside of me and sends it into a canister that is tucked away in a black pseudo-purse.  I wear it like a cross-body purse on most days.  I haven’t found a sweater or jacket that can hide the four-feet of tubing I have folded up in the bag…so, I will just get used to all of the stares I get 😉 But I don’t care because this wound vac is a little bit of magic attached to me…it’s healing me!!

For now, I am loading up on protein because I’m told that will help rebuild my tissues and cells and help me recover more quickly.  I’m back at work because I missed it…and I need my “normal” back.

But I’m bitter. I’m angry. I’m sad.

I feel like Aria got cheated.  I wasn’t able to fully enjoy all of my moments with her because I was in so much pain. I spent most of my maternity leave in tears.

I feel like I broke Luciana’s heart.  She didn’t understand why I couldn’t pick her up for SO long.  She didn’t understand why I couldn’t get down on the floor and play with her.

Nico & Gia kept asking me, “Mom, are you ever going to be better? Why are you always crying?”

So this is my story. This is my now.

I never truly appreciated good health…until now.  I miss it. But I’ll be back…more attentive than ever.

Trust your body. Trust your instincts. If you don’t think it’s normal…than it’s probably not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Forget the plan

Baby #4 was supposed to be the easy delivery.  I joked with everyone I knew that I would be able “to sneeze her out.” I know…TMI…sorry.  But my third baby weighted more than 10 pounds and was more than 22 inches long.  THAT was my difficult labor and delivery.  Or so I thought.

At my 38 week appointment, I didn’t feel right.  I joked with my midwife, “Just take me in now…I won’t tell!” I went back to my office where I had a meeting.  The others sitting around the table kept saying, “You don’t look like you feel too well…you okay?”

Fast-forward to a couple of hours later around 1:30pm, I was calling my husband from the L&D wing saying, “It’s time.”

I remember thinking, “wait…I was supposed to get induced next week! My family isn’t here…who is going to watch the three older kids? Is my bag even packed? OMG my desk is still cluttered at work…I didn’t finish that brochure yet…I haven’t tied up the loose ends yet.” A million and one thoughts went though my head.  While I was READY to have the baby because I was over pregnancy…everything else in my world was not ready.

My upbeat attitude lasted until about 9pm. That’s when I felt the most excruciating pain I have ever felt in my entire life. I remember looking at my husband and saying, “What the —- is going on?”  That’s when he noticed it…my epidural fell out. Yep.  At the height of intense contractions, I somehow managed to knock that sucker loose.  I’m not surprised though…with all of the readjusting I try to do on my own in the hospital bed.

You know those scenes in the movies where the husband tries to soothe his wife who is in labor with sweet words and motivational “you can do it babe” lines? Yeah. That was my husband. Sweet guy.  But if you have ever felt a full-blown, crazy intense contraction…the last thing you want to hear is something sugary-sweet from someone who has NO idea what this pain feels like.  Let’s just say…I was a monster.

About an hour later, the new epidural was in and I was finally in an apologetic mood to my husband…and thought about calling our priest so I could schedule a confession session.

Around 12:30am, it was time to push. I was banking that by 1:00am…I would be holding our new daughter.

Nope.

I tried every single position.

Nothing worked.

Three hours of pushing.

She was not budging…she was stuck.

At 4:00am…it was time to call it. It was time for a c-section.

I remember my midwife, nurses and the doctor all apologizing to me…saying they were sorry that I had to have a c-section.  This is the thing…I never had a plan.  The only plan I had was “get my children out safely.”

I remember being exhausted…like just climbed a mountain exhausted…when they wheeled me into the OR. I remember it was bright white…and very cold.  I could barely keep my eyes open…I was absolutely spent.  Then I remember thinking, “am I going to be ok? I’ve never done this before. What if something goes wrong? My other kids don’t know I am having surgery.” I started to panic.  I remember closing my eyes and saying the “Hail Mary.”

Then I heard it.

I heard her cry.

Aria Isabella came into this world on her own terms…she wanted her birth day to be just as memorable as her big sister.

We all have a plan of how we want things to be…or how we want things to go.  We have expectations because that’s how it’s always been before.

We can have our schedules set…everything written down on the dry-erase calendar in the kitchen…but we can’t control life.

There is a much greater power who controls all of that.

Just embrace the ride…and have faith.

xx

 

 

Ask.

“Amanda, what are your thoughts on kneeling and the National Anthem…are you going to blog about it?”

This is the thing: no blog, social media post, quote, essay or argument will change someone else’s opinion. And honestly, that is okay. People are entitled to believe what THEY believe. Whether we like it or not.

What we need is this: conversation. Because conversation leads to understanding.

If you don’t understand why people are kneeling during the National Anthem…ask.  Because you will probably find out that it has nothing to do with our military who risk their lives for us…or our actual flag. It goes much deeper than that.

If you don’t understand why people continue to stand during the National Anthem…ask. Because you will probably find out that they are not standing up AGAINST anyone else…but they’re standing up for what the flag means to them. What this country means to them.

This whole situation is like an onion…there are so many layers to it…peel one back, there is another issue.  At the core…is racism.

I recently overheard someone say “I am so sick and tired of hearing about racism!” Hmm. If you’re sick and tired of hearing about racism…imagine how tired some people are of experiencing it.

I am a white woman.  I have never experienced any direct racism. Sexism, yes. But not racism.

My husband has.

My close friends have.

Just because it hasn’t happened to YOU…does not mean it doesn’t happen.

Racism is everywhere. It is a DAILY thing.

We all have to open our eyes. Take the rose-colored glasses off. Remove the blinders. Let’s take a 360 degree look around us…not just what’s happening in “our world.”

My hope is before we take to social media to bash the “other side,” we start having conversations first.  Get a little understanding of why your neighbor believes in what they believe in.  I guarantee it will give you a new perspective.

It’s about respect.

It’s about empathy.

It’s about compassion.

We don’t all have to be right.

But it would be nice if we were all understood.

Advice to my daughter…

Baby number 4 is going to make her appearance in the near future 🙂  And this is going to be my third daughter.  While my husband broke out into a deep sweat over the thought of having three daughters (need more bathrooms, dealing with BOYS, paying for weddings)…I looked at it a little differently.

It’s an amazing thing to have a daughter…especially, to help guide her through this world.  I had to learn to be tough…but still have finesse. Assertive…without being called a b**ch.  Passionate…without being called emotional.  Vocal…without being called pushy. Being a woman is tough.  But I have never felt more empowered.

So this is my advice for my daughters…mainly for my 9-year-old right now. (My 2-year-old’s only concern right now is Peppa Pig)

I’ve done a list like this before…and it’s hanging on her closet door 😉 So in honor of National Daughter Day that was yesterday…here it is:

1. You are loved
2. You are beautiful
3. Dry shampoo will always be one of your BFFs
4. Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Notorious BIG – they have a song for every mood. Learn them
5. Don’t be friends with people who say “everybody’s doing it”
6. Never act mean to fit in
7. That said, you’re not going to like everyone. And that’s ok
8. You will make mistakes. Good. That’s when you will learn about life
9. Speak your mind
10. Command respect. Don’t demand it
11.  Your Daddy will never like any boy. Ever
12.  Tell me the truth and I won’t get mad
13.  Don’t be afraid to sweat. Not glisten. Really, really sweat
14.  Order fries
15. Don’t rely on boys to make you feel good
16. “The Godfather” is not a mob movie. It is a movie about FAMILY
17.  Life is not a Disney movie. Never wait for Prince Charming to “rescue you”
18.  Always use proper grammar. Always
19.  Be a face-to-face girl. Don’t rely on social media
20.  Be smart, kind and genuine
21.  When in doubt, DANCE YOUR BUTT OFF
22.  Don’t diet
23.  A pint of Ben & Jerry’s can solve everything
24.  Always walk into the room with a smile on your face
25.  Be loyal. And only surround yourself with LOYAL people
26. Make sure your nails are always neat and clean
27.  Be modest. Classy not trashy
28.  Laugh. Laugh a lot
29.  Your mom and dad were once really, really cool. And hot too. No…seriously 🙂
30.  Never feel guilty about putting sweats on, ordering take-out and hanging out with your Mom on a Friday night
31.  You will always be THE most important girl in my life. Always

32. Pray. Morning, noon and night

33. There is nothing more beautiful than being smart

34. Know your current events

35. Don’t post so many selfies and don’t stage photos. It’s obnoxious

36. Stand up for what you believe in, but don’t throw stones to make your point

37. One day, you will realize that I DID know what I was talking about. Trust me

38. Don’t compare yourself to others

39. Take chances. It’s better too say “oops” than wonder “what if.”

40. There will be days you hate me. But I will always be your biggest supporter…and I will always love you. even on the bad days.

Venting vs. Slander

I am a part of many online social media groups. Groups that focus on professional women, former journalists, mommy life, womanhood…and so on.

If you are part of those groups then you know…it’s a great resource for finding referrals, venting…it’s basically one giant tribe of women who offer a much-needed support system.

But…there are times it morphs into something that leaves me asking: “where the hell is the supportive tribe?”

Look, this blog may tick people off.  But for as much as I talk, post and blog about bullying and mean-girl nonsense…I would be the biggest hypocrite to sit back and say and do nothing.

I get it, online groups are great for asking for referrals, questions about anything & everything, and looking for support. They’re safe zones.

But there are FAR too many times they have become the hot spot for defaming someone individually, slandering their good name and character, and basically…talking grade school level crap about them.  At this point, they can’t be defended as “safe zones” when posts are ripping lives apart. And we can’t stand by quietly and let it happen.

I’m used to being the topic of conversation.  It became second-nature for me to log onto social media to read something about my lipstick, hair or weight.  My name would get thrown and flipped through the mud without a second of hesitation.  That came with the territory of being on TV.  You learn to have extra-thick skin…but the hateful words still cut.

But recently, my friend came under attack.

I’m not going to go into the details of what was said. But my initial thought was: everyone wants to know why the bullying epidemic is so bad?? Look no further than the adults…look what they’re posting. It’s all learned behavior.

Instead of sharing what was SAID…let me give you some insight into what happened AFTERWARDS.  My friend, the one who was the topic of the vile and hate, is also my midwife.  You know why she is my midwife? Because when I had my 3rd child, she was one of my nurses at the time.  I trust her. She knows her stuff.  She puts EVERYONE else’s needs before her own.  Her patients become family. She will answer a question about my pregnancy in the middle of the night if I text her. She saw me at my most vulnerable and she helped me through those tough moments (Do you really have to be in here when I bathe?? )  My friendship developed with her because of the AMOUNT OF RESPECT I had for her PASSION for her job.

So when I saw the vile things that were being posted about her by an individual…I became a little irate, to say the least.

I saw her today. And as I was hooked up to the monitors checking out these contractions, we sat and talked about all of the drama. I saw absolute HURT in her eyes.  I saw a woman who spends more time with her patients than she does with her new husband.  I saw a woman who is deeply affected by hurtful words.

I get it: we’re not going to like every doctor we see…every nurse…every teacher…every manager…the list could go on and on.  But rather than putting someone on blast on the BIG, BAD INTERNET…how about we “woman-up” and have a one-on-one conversation with that individual who “did us wrong?”

Why do we continue to post shit online in an effort to stir the pot?? Online groups should NEVER allow one person to start attacking another. You may feel big and bad while posting trash…and you may feel like your words are helping others…but have you ever thought about what you’re leaving behind? You’re destroying another person.  You cannot mend the cuts made.

Yeah sure…freedom of speech. Cue the eye-roll.

Freedom of speech doesn’t give you a free pass to wage an all-out verbal assault online.

The fact is this: bullying among our kids is worse than ever.

Why?

Maybe we should look no further than the people who are driving around town in mini-vans, station wagons and SUVS…shuttling kids to and from practices…volunteering on the PTO…having spa days…having OB/GYN visits…organizing bake sales. Because in between all of that…some are spending too much time being keyboard bullies.

We may be the problem. But we can fix it.

 

 

 

Why.

86.

That’s how many messages from parents I have gotten in the past 12 hours.

They’re asking for help…they’re asking me to use my voice to keep talking about the bullying epidemic…they’re offering to help me in order to finally put an end to all of this nonsense.

But the biggest thing everyone is asking me is this: Why? Why does this continue to happen?

Not everyone is going to like what I have to say. And that’s okay. But if you know me, or of me, then you know that I am unapologetically real.  I have zero minutes in my day to sugarcoat anything…because let’s face it, it just wastes everyone’s time.

Ok here it goes: stop blaming teachers for all of the bullying.

This is not like the movies in the 80s and 90s where kids are getting thrown into lockers or meeting out on the playground to settle the score.  It is NOTHING like it was when we were growing up. Back in the day, Friday was the day everything came to a head. By the time the weekend was done, everything had blown over.

Now, thanks to social media, Monday is the new Friday. Things build and build over the weekend…and it all collides just in time for classes on Monday.

Our kids are bullying and harassing one another from the confines of their bedrooms.  Their fingers are assault weapons…typing and posting away.

Teachers can NOT be held responsible for something that is happening in our own homes.

Here is the thing: parents, take back your house.  The privacy your child thinks they deserve? Umm…nope.  Your house, your bills, your rules.

Privacy comes when our children are “off our payroll.”

Stalk them. Know everything they’re texting. Know everything they are posting.  Know everything they are receiving. Know everything that’s being posted about them.  Follow them on social media.  Follow their friends.  BE IN THE KNOW.  Set a time every night where every damn device is turned off and turned over to you. Sure, your kids will roll their eyes at you…they’ll probably call you clingy or annoying.

I call it parenting.

Am I a parenting expert? Hell no. Most days I have no clue what I am doing.

But I have been involved in the anti-bullying movement for QUITE some time now.  I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of messages from bullies and mean girls.  I’ve read the diaries of the victims where they outline the pain.  I’ve sat down with the parents of the victims who told me they had no clue their child was struggling.  I’ve sat down with the parents of the bullies who were shocked that “little Johnny could do this!” I have been to the FUNERALS of young children who have killed themselves because they couldn’t take it.

Let that sink in.  FUNERALS of young children…because they couldn’t take it anymore.

Our kids need to learn empathy.  As much as our children know that they are the center of our world…they need to understand that everything doesn’t revolve around them. Feelings matter…words hurt…words scar…words kill.

There are so many children who don’t have parents who are willing to be involved.  We need to know who those children are…because they need us.

We, as parents, need to take off our rose-colored glasses and realize that our kid could be the mean girl…the bully. We need to stop feeling thankful that “at least they’re not the one getting picked on.”

Our kids don’t need to be friends with everyone.

They don’t need to like everyone.

Not everyone is going to like them.

And that’s okay.

Because that’s how it works in the real world.

There are several people who I know who I have no plans to have a pizza party with, hold hands and sing Kumbaya.

It’s about being respectful and civil.

So to answer the question “Why is this happening?”

I believe that answer can be found in our own homes.

P.S.

No matter who you are, I will always fight for your kids…I will still be a voice.

 

 

 

 

 

Make ZERO apologies

I remember the days when I would watch the MTV Video Music Awards.  I was much younger…and the show was about the amazing performances…and less about zooming in on a reality TV star who contributes next-to-nothing.  I guess I’m too old-school but I still hang on to performances like those by Prince, Michael Jackson, Madonna and Bon Jovi.

So I didn’t even realize the music awards were on last night…until today.  Singer Pink was honored last night…and her speech is the talk of the internet today…for good reason.

I have always been a huge fan of Pink.  She makes ZERO apologies for speaking her mind and being herself.  It’s refreshing.

She shared a story about her daughter…who out of the blue told her mom that she thought she was the ugliest person alive.  Pink shared some of the conversation she had with her young daughter: “When people make fun of me . . . do you see me growing my hair? ‘No, mama.’ Do you see me changing my body? ‘No mama.’ Do you see me selling out arenas all over the world? ‘Yes, mama.’”

Pink went on to tell her daughter this:  “So, baby, girl,” Pink said, “We don’t change. We take the gravel and the shell and we make a pearl. You my darling girl are beautiful, and I love you.”

Over some waffles and OJ this morning, I was talking to my oldest about Pink’s speech. She said, “sounds like you and your fitting in a box thing you tell me.”

What I try to teach my kids on a daily basis is this: Don’t let society put you in a box. Because what works for you…may not work for your friend. It’s simple really…just be YOU and never make any apologies for it.

I spent years trying to “fit the mold.” I thought my waist had to be a certain size…my shade of red lipstick had to be just right…my hair had to be in place and the perfect blonde tone…and the smile had to be glued to my face.

Nobody remembers any of that. They may remember when I put my foot down against the guy who called me a “floozy” for wearing red lipstick 🙂 But I doubt people remember the shade of red I was wearing.

I am who I am.

My daughters are who they are.

My son is who he is.

Everyone is a unique masterpiece who isn’t supposed to fit a mold.  We’re supposed to break the mold.

Don’t let anyone define you…instead, defy everything negative they say about you.

And if someone wants to make fun of you because you don’t fit in their box?  Tell them to grab the popcorn…because you’re just getting started 😉

P.S.

Thank you Pink for inspiring this morning’s breakfast conversation