One baby to another

I’ve talked about Project Reveal here a time or two. My recent absence from regular blogging can be attributed directly to this amazing nonprofit organization and my role in planning its first-ever event.

The amazing Stacey Godbold utilizing the photo booth and showing off the back of her dress!

The amazing Stacey Godbold utilizing the photo booth and showing off the back of her dress!

The organization’s creator, Stacey Godbold, and myself have been working on birthing the baby that was named Embrace Your Body. This baby was a fundraising event Friday night and an outreach event on Saturday. We certainly are not the only two involved; lots of other people played big and small roles in bringing this baby into the world. But I’m not sure if anyone else went through the “labor” that Stacey and I experienced with this amazing event.

I’m not going to lie though, it was pretty painful. Remember, I’m just three weeks shy of birthing another baby (this one actually is a human!) I was so tired and sore when I dragged myself home after 11 p.m. Friday night that I couldn’t even walk upstairs to bed; I slept on the couch.

Let me first say, baby Embrace Your Body came into this world at 7 p.m. on Sept. 5 at 56/58 Adams Avenue and was a healthy, happy and super inspiring gal. OK, enough with the metaphor … The event was fabulous. There were more than 200 people that came through the door; we raised a lot of money; we had a great time; and, most importantly, we touched and inspired a lot of people! That was the most important part of what we did.

One of the inspiring photos Erin took.  Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

One of the inspiring photos Erin took. Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

Two of the photos on display during the exhibit. Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

Two of the photos on display during the exhibit. Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

The super-talented photographer Erin McCracken took hundreds of photos of women from the Evansville area of all ages, shapes, backgrounds and ethnicities back in June. And let me point out that these women were in their underwear! They were truly embracing their bodies and entrusting us. We narrowed the photos down to 24 and made huge prints (seriously huge — two feet by three feet.) Those photos were then displayed in a swanky feeling gallery space in Evansville’s Haynie’s Corner Art District. Add to that live music, a fun photo booth, delicious food, a bar, an amazing green lemonade and the inspirational words of Stacey and Erin and you have a perfect night.

We also made sure those that attended the event (and also supported us with their positive words, encouragement and donations) felt like they could be a part of Project Reveal. They participated in our interactive art piece that will forever be a part of Project Reveal and then also had the opportunity to either “embrace their body” or “reveal” something about themselves on luminary bags that meandered and glowed around the Haynie’s Corner fountain.

People walking to the luminary display at the fountain.  Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

People walking to the luminary display at the fountain. Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

Luminaries on display.  Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

Luminaries on display. Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

I’m not going to lie, when I walked outside and saw that at the end of the night my eyes got a little wet. It was beautiful. Not only was it just an impressive site seeing all the luminary bags glowing and the words written on them but it was validation for what we’d worked so hard to do.

Each of those bags represented someone that believed in something that I’d invested so much of myself into recently, something I’d made so many sacrifices for in recent months and something that I too really believed in.

Luminaries at the fountain. Picture courtesy of Project Reveal

Luminaries at the fountain. Picture courtesy of Project Reveal

It meant a lot that my mom, twin sis, family friend and boss all took their time (and money, this event wasn’t free folks, it was a fundraiser after all) to support me by showing up. There were other co-workers there supporting the organization as well. It really meant a lot.

I know my husband is so very, very tired of hearing me say, “I’ve got to work late tonight on Project Reveal,” “I won’t be home until 10 or 11 because of set up for the event,” “I’ve got to leave to do a radio spot for Project Reveal,” “We’ve got a Project Reveal event all afternoon, sorry I won’t be home.” But every time he said, “Go, have fun. It’s fine.”

Coworker Megan Erbacher posing with me and Erin McCracker during the event. Photo courtesy of Megan Erbacher

Coworker Megan Erbacher posing with me and Erin McCracker during the event. Photo courtesy of Megan Erbacher

Without him completely taking over all of the house maintaining and child care duties the last couple weeks I’m not sure what would have happened. I certainly couldn’t have done what I was able to do with and for the event.

I know I wasn’t the only one making these sacrifices. Stacey, mom of triplets who just turned 1 and a 4 year old, made even more sacrifices and put even more blood, sweat and tears into the planning. And Erin, who got married in the midst of all this event planning craziness, also was super dedicated and involved.

And the most important thing to stress here is that I WANTED to do it all. I’m the kind of person that likes to be involved in something. I want to channel my passion and energy into something I believe in. I hadn’t really had that in the last few years, especially since I’d had Miles. I’d get involved with specific events (I was on the planning committee for Relay for Life in Madison County, was on the Heart Walk team here, etc.) but had not really found a place where I really felt I belonged and could have an impact.

People enjoying the gallery.  Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

People enjoying the gallery. Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

But I think Project Reveal is it. The mission of the organization is to create a forum where “women can help other women by sharing their stories, strength and hope about a defining time in their lives.”

So until I hear otherwise from Stacey, she and Project Reveal are stuck with me.

But I have to say, now that baby Embrace Your Body has made it’s debut it is time for me to focus on the other baby I’ve been working on for the last eight-plus months — baby Owen. His debut (if all goes as planned) is in 21 days. It’s been hard to focus on preparing for his arrival with all the event details and deadlines. So now my focus is on this baby and back on my amazing and supportive husband and kiddo Miles.

If you want to learn more about Project Reveal visit projectreveal.org.​

Throwback Thursday

Way back then the hubby and I did actual touristy things every once in a blue moon. This trip to Memphis was our version of a one-day vacation. Most of our vacation time back then was spent driving up to Indiana from Louisiana to spend time with my family.

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These days most of our vacation time is spent driving down to Louisiana to see his family.

During those trip five or so years ago we would try to make an overnight stop midway somewhere different so we could have a little mini-vacay.

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This trip to Memphis in 2009 was a fun one. Here’s some of the memories from it. We look so young. And I still wear that shirt ALL THE TIME!

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Not listening … my son, never!

Today when my husband picked Miles up from preschool he gets pulled aside by one of the school staff that helps with the drop-off/pick-up routine every day.

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“Miles had an especially difficult time listening today,” she said. I have no idea what the tone was as I wasn’t there and Michael doesn’t have a great brain for those kinds of details. But in my imagination it was pretty disappointing. Oh wait, no, it was ominous.

Dum, dum, DUM! *Insert suspenseful music here*

OK, let’s get real. The kid is three. Like just turned three. Actually, during the open house last week I learned from the teacher that this year is unusual as many of the kids are on the young side of three (although Miles is by far the youngest having only turned three nine days before the first day of school.) Most years the preschool class there is filled with kids who are either three and almost four or already four. So she admitted that things weren’t going as smoothly as normal.

I certainly want my little guy to listen. I want him to contribute to the classroom and not be a distraction. But I’m not really sure how you achieve that. We talk about the importance of listening. We try to practice it at home (trust me, we ask him to listen A LOT!) But what more can you do? What other strategies are there out there for “encouraging” listening.

We model listening giving him lots of opportunities to talk and to really be heard by my husband and me. And we certainly point out when he interrupts someone while talking and ask him to listen.

But again, he’s three. And a spirited, strong-willed, stubborn-at-times three at that. He is my child after all! My mom keeps apologizing to me for “cursing” Michael and me with a kid that apparently is just like me when I was a kid.

I don’t want to “squash” his spirit. But I do want him to be a productive and active part of the classroom, not a distraction. Advice for strategies to meet in the middle? What have you seen with your kids? What’s worked? What was a flop? Any teachers out there want to give me advice from your perspective?

Things don’t always go as planned…

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Parties are my thing. I love being a hostess. I love everything about it — themes, baking, planning, making lists (seriously, I really enjoy lists), making people happy … OK, you get the picture.

So when I was thinking about my son’s third birthday weeks ago I got pretty excited. We weren’t going to go nuts or anything. It was 15 people and was going to be a small cookout with the kiddos playing in the little splashy pool we got Miles as an early birthday present. But I was stoked.

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But, as often is the case, things don’t always go as planned.
I was released from the hospital after three VERY long days a little more than 12 hours before his party was scheduled to begin. And if that wasn’t enough to put a damper on plans the fact that I was released with strict orders of bed rest flooded out any plans for a party.

Elvis wrapping paper -- I know you are jealous! :)

Elvis wrapping paper — I know you are jealous! :)

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Miles got Thomas the Train sheets and comforter!

Miles got Thomas the Train sheets and comforter!

My son deserved a party. I’m not sure if he really understood what was going on or what he was going to miss, but every kid needs a party. And my body was just incapable of providing one. Of course my amazing family wouldn’t let Miles be deprived of anything. My mom brought the party to us — an amazing Thomas the Train cake, a spectacular Thomas balloon, Mickey straws and noise makers and Spider-Man plates and napkins — and we had a little get together. I celebrated from the couch, but Miles was happy. He had CAKE! And to top it off, my mom and sister took Miles to the zoo Saturday so he could celebrate with my nephew, the monkeys, otters, giraffes and jaguar.

Miles and Charlie at the zoo

Miles and Charlie at the zoo

As much fun as I know he had at the zoo and during our impromptu, multicharacter/theme party it made me a little sad. OK, I’ll be honest, it made me a lot sad. I even cried when they were leaving for the zoo.

You can blame it on hormones (I am eight months pregnant) or the emotional roller coaster of the past days in the hospital. But what it came down to was that my little guy was now 3. Yes, I was sad I didn’t get to celebrate with him like I’d planned. But deep down I know he had a great time, maybe even more fun than he would have with the party I’d imagined.

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Another year has passed. Sentences are the norm now; he is out of his toddler bed and in his very own big boy bed. My baby is growing up, and I can’t do anything about it.

Will every birthday be this tough?

One small step for Miles, one giant leap for his mom

My son started preschool today.

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It’s kind of a landmark moment. Miles has been a stay-at-home kid for the last 18 months or so. At barely three years old, that’s probably all he remembers.
But now, he’s going to have a schedule to keep, get up on time, get dressed and ready to go. That’s a big enough adjustment for a kid who spends many mornings lazily camped out in the living room playing with trains with no pants on.
But now there’s the preschool.
Miles doesn’t have much experience being around lots of other kids. He plays well in small groups of two or three, but put him among a bigger play group and he usually stands around on his own watching, seemingly unsure of what to do.

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There’s also the structure to worry about. Miles isn’t a kid who really likes to sit still for more than 30 seconds or so at a time. At school, he’ll be expected to do so for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. And since it’s a Catholic preschool, he’ll also be expected to go into the church sanctuary and be quiet. That should be interesting, considering one of his most-loved activities is running and screaming random nonsense at the top of his lungs.
But he’s a little kid, and they’re flexible. He’ll figure it out, I’m sure.
His parents, well into their 30s, maybe aren’t as flexible when it comes to changes these days.
The school he’ll be going to has wonderful staff and a great program set up. My concerns are not that he’ll be mistreated or put in an unsafe situation. I don’t worry about that one bit.
It’s just the fact that he’ll be going into the world, all on his own. It may be only for a few hours, four days a week, but those are going to be some pretty interesting hours for him.

He’ll be learning new things not just from his teachers but also from the other children. He’ll be bringing home new germs and new ideas along with macaroni-glued artwork and fingerprinted Thanksgiving turkeys.

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There’s no doubt that it will be a beneficial experience for him, but still, there’s just a little bit of fear, or trepidation. You hope he won’t be a bully, or be bullied. You hope he’ll listen to and obey his teachers. You hope we’ve taught him well enough to go be a productive member of his little preschool society.
But when you really get down to it, all that is kind of out of our control.
Here goes nothing.

Luck and blessings in uncertain times

We all have that place in our head — it’s dark, scary and typically void of all rational thought. And no matter how hard we try, we are sucked into that spot every once in a while.

I’m learning, through experience and advice from family and friends, to not beat myself up for the trips to those places but instead to make each of these “adventures” a time to learn and become a little better, a little less likely to venture back to that place.

I made one of these trips Thursday.

Since last Saturday night I’ve been one giant, itchy, swollen poison ivy blister. That morning my son and I were outside in our backyard. While he played on the swing set I decided to tackle a patch of poke weed that was staring me down. I made sure not to touch anything that looked suspicious and immediately came in and washed all exposed skin well. It did no good.

By Sunday my face was swollen with the rash threatening my eyes and I was itching like crazy everywhere. Since I’m about two-thirds of the way through my pregnancy I checked with my OB about what to do. She sent me into the OB emergency department Sunday where they prescribed me a steroid. In the coming days it just got worse and more intense. Wednesday, during a regularly scheduled appointment with my OB she sent me to a dermatologist that afternoon. He prescribed a high dose steroid shot. I got the shot in his office with the assurance that in a few days I should be feeling better.

I left the office feeling itchy but fine. I was walking to my car thinking about what I had ahead of me for the rest of the day at work.

Then I woke up, sun beating down on my face blinding my eyes from what felt like about 20 people (but probably closer to eight) leaning over me as I laid on the hot asphalt of the dermatologist’s parking lot.

I’d passed out and was unconscious. A man thankfully noticed me in the spot he’d started to pull into and didn’t run over me with his truck.

All I could say was, “I’m pregnant with a pacemaker. The baby!”

The rest went fast — stretcher, ambulance, needles, EKGs, tears.

I’m not really your standard pregnant woman considering I’ve got a pacemaker. And on top of that, I was covered in this monster-like rash. I went to the same OB emergency department I went to on Sunday, only this time it really was an emergency. Their concern was to determine why I passed out. My concern was for my unborn son. Had he been hurt when I fell to the ground? I had a huge knot on the back of my head so there was an obvious impact. Was he OK? What did this mean for him?

Tests, monitors, ultrasounds — they all assured the doctors and me that my little guy was OK. Around 10 p.m. that night they transferred me to another part of the hospital where doctors could better monitor me and my heart and would send people over to monitor the baby every few hours.

I didn’t sleep, at all. Part of it was the misery of the itching and the pain from hitting my head and back so much. But mostly it was the guilt and anxiety.

Passing out is something that happens with this lovely heart condition I get to call my own; but it hasn’t happened in more than a year and never happened during my last pregnancy. And while it is never fun and always scary, the intensity of my fear, anxiety and guilt of what happened that day and what might happen again felt incapacitating, like I almost couldn’t breathe.

All I could think was, “Thankfully my little guy looks great. But what if it happens again? What if the outcome isn’t the same?”

I couldn’t live with myself. What would my husband think or do? Friends, family, strangers? It would be my fault.

All day Thursday people were coming and going telling me I was doing fine, the baby was doing fine. I didn’t want to be at the hospital; I wanted to be home with my son who didn’t understand where his mommy was. But I was terrified to leave. “My baby was safe there,” I thought. “He might not be safe with me.”

Rationally, I understood that “I” was not hurting him; it wasn’t my fault that I lived in Bangladesh 10 years ago trying to help people as a Peace Corps volunteer, and I seemed to have caught some virus that damaged my heart and forever changed my life and is now impacting his life.

But when I was sitting in my hospital room feeling his tiny, helpless body rolling around inside ME, and I know I am the one responsible for keeping him alive and healthy, rational thoughts aren’t really the first ones to rise to the top.

No shiny bow. I’m still scared out of my mind. And I know that I’m not the only one; others are going through much more terrifying things. That thought only makes me grieve for them, not take comfort.

But, with my promise to myself to make these trips to irrational, scary land more productive, I left the hospital late Friday night in a much better place. I had a plan; the doctors had a plan. I can take good care of myself and this baby but I can’t change the fact that I have a heart condition that might impact my pregnancy again. I can’t loathe myself for that fact. I have to accept that and accept the limitations that come with it.

One of those is living the next week from my couch, overstuffed chair or bed and allowing those around me to help during this (hopefully just) week of doctor mandated bed rest.

I’m blessed with amazing family and friends who have made this experience manageable. My husband didn’t skip a beat, taking over full responsibility for Miles while I was in the hospital and doing his best to help me maintain my sanity. My mom swooped in, providing a birthday party for my son this past weekend and is keeping him for the week so I am truly allowed to rest. My sister provided clothes, S’mores pizza, company and support. And friends kept me sane with phone calls, visits, baby snuggles, a fridge full of food, perspective and milkshakes.

So, writing this from my eerily quiet house while my husband slaves away in the yard, I am reminded — even in the midst of some scary and uncertain times — just how lucky I am. And this little guy that is thankfully happy and healthy dancing around in my belly will be equally blessed when he gets to join the rest of us in about 10 weeks.

So far so good

By Abbey Doyle
abbey.doyle@courierpress.com
812-464-7516
As parents I think we question every move.

Well, at least I do; and I don’t think I’m the only one who does it.

In the last couple weeks we’ve made some pretty big parenting decisions in the life our little guy. The first involved food. Not to get into icky details, but my son has had some issues with pooping. I know, I know, everybody poops. Well he wasn’t, at least he wasn’t for several days in a row way too regularly.

Part of the problem was that this kid boycotts eating on a regular basis. He won’t eat the super nutritious four course meals I prepare or the crap-laden kid’s meal from a fast food joint. Miles eats a bite or two a meal (if we are lucky) for a few days and then, all of a sudden and with no explanation, will eat every thing on his plate. Then we go back to the no food thing for days. It’s a cycle. And I can’t force feed him.

So after much fretting, research and medical consultation we decided to cut all dairy products, a big move when that was one of the food groups he pretty regularly consumed (even if only on a small scale.) Cottage cheese, cheese and yogurt were among his favorites. We switched to almond milk and stopped the others cold turkey. We also consistently started him on a probiotic daily and have noticed a world of difference.

He still won’t eat. He still occasionally will get constipated, but it is far less than before.

But that felt like a huge decision. Am I depriving him something important? Is he getting enough fat and calories, calcium and vitamin D? He loves those foods, is he going to hate me?

The second big parenting decision in some ways has been easier and others tougher — school. Miles turns three on July 20. He’s been a stay-at-home-kid for most of his life so I felt like he needed some organized, outside of the home, structure and socialization. Preschool seemed like a great option.

My husband and I both seemed to be on board with the idea but got some pushback from some extended family members. Isn’t he too young for school? He has 18-plus years to be in school, let him have fun while he’s still a baby!

My response has been, “It’s preschool people! It will be fun!” They color and sing about animals. They read books and have circle time. They talk about shapes and dinosaurs and monkeys and eat cookies. He will have a blast. And you know what, if he doesn’t, if we discover that maybe he isn’t ready, he won’t go to school! But I think he’s ready.

Let me tell you though, the “standard parent doubt” coupled with doubt from family and friends made the decision a little harder. Is he ready? Will he feel like we are abandoning him, especially with the new baby around the corner? Will he like it; make friends? Is it the right fit for him?

Tell me this agonizing and doubt goes away? It does, right? Soon?

I did get a little reprieve. Miles went to his 3 year old check up today and the doctor said he was perfect. Yes, he’s under the 15th percentile for weight (what do you expect from a kid who doesn’t eat much) and has only gained three pounds in a year but he’s healthy, is passing milestones on schedule or ahead and has tons of energy. Our decision to cut dairy, it was right on, she said, encouraging us to “keep up what we are doing.”

Shew.

What have been some of your bigger parenting doubts? How did you deal with them?

Becoming a dad inspires awe — then you just do it

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I wasn’t ready for it.

Don’t get me wrong, I was prepared. The nursery was painted in a soft shade of green and adorned with all the cutesy owl décor my wife was so enamored with at the time. The crib was assembled. The tiny infant car seat was even installed. My video camera was fully charged and had a fresh memory card in it. I had been rubbing my poor wife’s swollen feet for months.

I knew this was coming.

Still, nothing could have emotionally prepared me for the moment when I stuck my finger into my newborn little boy’s hand and he squeezed it, tighter than I ever could have imagined.

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A sensation came over me that is still hard to describe.

The closest thing I can compare it to was the time I got hit in the head by a fastball when I was about 10 years old and knocked unconscious. That felt very much like the pins-and-needles feeling you get when your foot is asleep, but encompassing your entire body.

It was just like that, with an added wave of almost-heat, and I think joy on a different level from anything I had ever felt. I understood the meaning of the word “surreal.”

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It’s hard to be ready for something like that.

The flip side of being an often-underemployed journalist is that I’ve also been a stay-at-home dad for a big chunk of my son’s 3-year-old life. While the circumstances that make that a reality aren’t necessarily ideal, I am grateful that I can be right there with him every day. I’m learning more every day.

Photo by Bluebird Photography

Photo by Bluebird Photography

With another little boy on the way (joining us sometime in October), I find myself thinking a lot about the first weeks and months with Miles.

It’s not always easy or fun. But you keep plugging away, through diaper changes, midnight feedings, teething pain, temper tantrums and all that other stuff, because that’s just what you do. It’s worth it.

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And then one day, it’s like you wake up and there’s this little person standing in front of you.
Somehow, he’s managed to put his shoes on all by himself and he wants you to take him to the park to watch the ducks. Or fix him a peanut butter sandwich or get down on the floor and play trains, or play Rush’s “Fly by Night” on the stereo for the millionth time that week.

I think that’s really when you start to become a dad. That’s the time when you begin to understand that your actions are really going to shape that little person’s world.

Let’s be honest: the diaper I changed two years ago doesn’t matter. He doesn’t remember it.

But if I blow him off now and don’t get down on the floor to play trains, he’s going to remember that. Or when he’s eight and wants to play catch, or when he’s 15 and wants to learn to drive.

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Because someday he’s going to be 30, in some delivery room somewhere, getting ready for his own pins-and-needles moment.

So I get down on that floor anytime I can.

Because I know that’s not just what he wants, it’s what he is entitled to. I owe it to him.

After all, I’m his dad.

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