Mason’s Voice

So this entry is to thank and spread awareness for the amazing Mason’s Voice foundation run by Baylee and Louis Joseph. Baylee received fetal surgery at CHOP just like me! She is a fellow Florida mom, and reached out to me when I got my diagnosis and was in the process of setting up things with CHOP. We spent weeks communicating and texting and she was an incredible blessing, as I was feeling so lost and caught up in a whirlwind. She explained to me about her inspiring story, and her incredible daughter Mason. Mason is not only completely beautiful, but as also so far exceeded all of her doctor’s expectations! She is doing amazing! She leads a happy and fulfilled life, full of love from her amazing brother, parents and support system.

After speaking to Baylee and Louis for a few months, we were the very first recipient of the Mason’s Voice donation for fetal surgery families. I cannot express how completely grateful and happy we were for this truly amazing gift. I was overwhelmed with emotion.

Please check out the video of the same below, when I learned the news! I have also linked the foundations Facebook page. Please donate if you can, they do such amazing things for Spina Bifida babies and families and are a true blessing of a family. I am eternally grateful to them, as is my son.

https://www.facebook.com/MasonsVoiceforSB

Temporary Living

Temporary setbacks are overpowered by persistence

Quentin L. Cook

After condo hopping for a little over a week we were able to move into our new “home,” at the Ronald McDonald House of Philadelphia. I was thrilled. Not only was the constant moving really hard on me physically, but I was ready to just feel secure and know that we had a long term place to stay that was close to the hospital. I had all of those worst case scenario situations about early labor running through my mind and my anxiety was through the roof constantly. We arrived and I instantly felt better.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with this charity let me share a little background. The string of Ronald Mcdonald House charities act as homes away from home, for families dealing with pediatric illnesses and treatments at hospitals in the host city. It is a place for the parents and siblings of sick children, and or the children receiving treatment to stay at little to know cost to themselves. You get a room for your family, a ton of therapy and group resources, access to social workers, as well as free meals while you stay there. They have big play areas for the kids, and constantly try and keep it positive for the children, which I think is amazing. They have enough to deal with. It is a truly incredible charity, and once we are back in the black financially I plan on donating to them yearly, as they have done SO much for my family. The PRMH was the first of its kind in the entire country, and was founded in 1974. At that time they could support 7 families at a time, and now with various moves and expansions that number has increased to over 100. They just expanded and built a brand new building, which is where we are currently staying. We are the first people to ever stay in our room, and I am completely comfortable and taken care of. Every week on the day of my appointment there is a shuttle service to take us to and from the hospital, so we dont have to worry about driving. Its not home but like.. truly is amazing, and I am completely grateful we get to stay here.

We have been at PRMH over a month now, and its been ten weeks since I have seen my home. Its difficult. Some days are really hard. I am about five weeks from my scheduled C section, and am holding out that he makes it to 37 weeks, which would be the absolutely best case scenario for his development. My goal over the past month or so has just been…. STAY PREGNANT. Take your meds, keep calm, rest, dont over exert yourself. Stay pregnant. Strict bedrest was really rough because its hard to convince yourself to take care of yourself when you arent going anywhere. Luckily that only lasted three weeks, but I had to bargain with myself and convince myself to do basic things like brush my teeth, and shower, change shirts etc. There didnt seem to be a point if I wasnt allowed out of my bedroom anyway, plus for the first week or so I was still dealing with a fair amount of pain. I dipped into a little bit of a depression but luckily once I was cleared to modified bed rest and was at least able to take walks and have short excursions in the real world, it has made a HUGE difference. Now we can at least go to the store, or the movies, lunch etc, my husband and I can have SHORT dates together, although inevitably I come back to the room and fall asleep. The tiniest things make me exhausted and I am … really hoping my normal energy level returns after the baby is here… because its non existent currently. All my nurses have assured me it will! Fingers crossed! I feel like a bit of a hot mess, although every week its a little easier to walk, bend, and do basic tasks. So far I have not had any contractions, bleeding or signs of early labor but I am still being very cautious. Probably a little over cautious but, better safe than sorry.

Thursdays are my favorite days of the week because its appointment day. That may seem strange that my favorite day of the week is going to the hospital, but it is! It means I get to see my baby! Every week we have a short ultrasound to check his progress, and its nice to see his tiny face, and hands, and know that he is doing well. I like the reassurance of seeing him, and getting to see my reason for going through all of this really hard stuff. My baby <3. The love of my life. So while the rest of the weeks may be really hard and repetitive, Thursdays are ALWAYS a good day ❤ So far the little guy is doing well. His brain and heart are looking great. His Chiari II brain malformation has virtually reversed and his ventricles in his brain are currently well within the normal range. He does not currently suffer from Hydrocephalus, this may change but I am holding out hope. This was my main goal for getting this treatment done. Any mobility/orthopedic/other issues we must face moving forward, at least I was able to do what I could to make sure that some of his neurological issues and surgeries could be avoided. if I could improve ONE thing it would be worth it, and mean less invasive intervention later in his life. I am so pleased with his progress and healing so far, and he is already stronger than almost anyone I know. Mommy’s little warrior for sure.

Thursdays also mean prenatal class aka “Mama Care,” at CHOP. I … LOVE Mama Care. Its a voluntary group weekly meeting with a small group of parents also getting treatment from the Special Delivery Unit. Varying diagnoses, varying backgrounds etc. I had felt so alone until our first group meeting. Its definitely a form of therapy for me, to hear that I am not alone. There are other families, and other mothers who have the exact same fears as me. Fears about this really scary and hard situation, fears for their beautiful and innocent children, and the future. These women are so beautiful and strong, and I am so grateful that I get to see them once a week. This coming week is the last one for the session and I am somewhat devastated its ending. Some of the women in our class have already given birth or are set to in the next few weeks, so the sessions have been getting smaller, but I really have gotten SO much out of it. Several of the mothers and support family members are also staying at PRMH and its nice to see familiar faces in the hallways and the cafeteria.

We will be here until delivery at the end of July. Send good vibes that the little man behaves that long! I need to have this bun in the oven for as long as possible!


Ciao for now.

Recovery

“Health is a state of body.

Wellness is a state of being.”

J. Stanford

Recovery from Fetal Surgery is no joke. For anyone reading this who has had, or is considering the procedure I just want to say that in the interest of transparency. I have had major surgeries before, including a kidney surgery when I was 18 that led to a cumulative 17 days in the hospital. My recovery from any of my previous surgeries was a cake walk compared to the week after my fetal surgery. I am sure a part of that is, I wasn’t ALSO pregnant during those hospital stays. I think with my medical history I assumed that I would bounce back super quickly, and given the nature of the incisions, and the medical needs after the fact, that just wasn’t the case. Getting this treatment was 100 percent the best choice for my baby, and my family, but after the fact I can see why they are somewhat picky about who is eligible, and I can also see why a mother would instead choose to do the lesion repair post-birth. This isn’t a cookie cutter condition as far as the babies go, and its not a cookie cutter decision for every family. Was it the best decision for my baby? Yes. Would I do it again? Absolutely. But it was challenging.

[ Also just a warning, today’s blog is a little yucky, and talks about bodily functions, if you are not willing to hear about my body in a really personal and medical way, maybe skip this one]

The day of the actual surgery I slept for the next ten hours. I would wake up periodically when the nurses would come in to take my vitals. We would chit chat, they would ask about my pain level. I still had my epidural in, and was on a pump of pain meds, so it was well taken care of. Nothing by mouth, but I was too sleepy to think about food or water, so I just napped off most of the first day.

2nd day I was able to take fluids and ice chips. Some broth by lunch time. I was still hooked up to all pain meds, but was more lucid, and able to talk and converse with my husband and the nursing staff. They told me I was doing really well. I was still taking lots of naps. Day three was the hard one. My epidural was taken out, and I was switched to oral pain medicine. We were trying to work on moving my legs and feet so we would move up to walking and showering. Everything hurt. I had heartburn, and cramping, and general soreness from laying in bed. I was hooked up to a belly band that measured if I was having any contractions. The machines were loud and beeping which I hadn’t noticed when I was on the stronger medicine. It was hard to sleep. My oxygen saturation monitor kept going off every two to three minutes.

Around late afternoon/early evening we tried to have me walk to the restroom and get used to movement again, I got into the bathroom and then promptly passed out. It was very dramatic and the entire nursing staff came in. I woke up. Very embarrassed and very discouraged. I vomited, and in general felt really disgusting. I was in a lot of pain, and I also hadn’t been able to pass urine since my foley catheter came out, and knew my time was running out before they cathed me again due to just.. physical NEED for me to urinate before it could cause some other complications. I sat on the toilet with the sink running for almost 40 minutes. NOTHING. Nothing happened.

My very sweet nurse kept coming in to check on me. I cried. She was sympathetic. We ended up having to cath me when I was awake. I cried the whole time. Not because it hurt (although lets be real, its not PLEASANT) but because I felt like I wasn’t doing a good job healing. Between passing out, and throwing up, and then Pee-gate 2019, I just felt like I was failing at recovery, and being really hard on myself. She reminded me that there weren’t many medical procedures that required both general anesthesia as well as an epidural, and what I had done was really hard. She reminded me to be kind to myself. I was beating myself up, and sure that entire care staff thought I was annoying and a huge baby. I was sure my husband thought I was nuts. It was a lot of self judgement, mixed with physical pain, mixed with mental exhaustion. She calmed me down, and I went to sleep, and she said we could try again in a few hours. I fell asleep crying softly while watching the hospital TV. Around the fifth episode in a row of House Hunters I got up. I warned my husband that I was going to talk and try to make it to the bathroom again. He made me call the nurse just in case, given the days excitement from before. AND THEN IT HAPPENED YA’LL.

I peed. I PEED. I know this sounds ridiculous out of context but I am telling you it was a HUGE deal. It had been DAYS. The secret? I’m not even kidding, but it was essential oils. I am dying laughing typing that. The nurses had put peppermint oil in the toilet, it helps things dilate it what I have been told. So that is the secret to post surgery help with passing urine, if you ever need to make that transition quick, HIGHLY recommend that trade secret. I showed the nurse that I had peed (McKenzie if you ever read this you are amazing) We both did a happy dance and freaked out. Its weird how excited everyone gets over that type of thing, but really it was very exciting, and meant that my time in the hospital was coming close to being over.

I continued to urinate on my own, was able to finally take a shower. The shower was REVOLUTIONARY. I had been dry shampooing and using baby wipes only for about a week, and it was SO nice to actually shower. I had to shower sitting down, but was able to wash my hair, and freshen up. I put on my own clothes, and was taking short walks around the room, only a few steps at a time. I was getting discharged soon, and we only had a vague plan where we were going. I had been too drugged up to really realize that in a few short hours we would be… out of there.

So we had applied for the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House earlier that week. Unfortunately space there is limited, and we were on the waiting list. I had set up a condo rental for a few days for us, and when we were discharged we headed there in an Uber. Driving fresh off of surgery SUCKED. Every little bump in the road felt terrible, like my stomach was going to be ripped open. I was positive I was going to have contractions and have to go straight back to the hospital. We got to the condo, all the while figuring out how my new wheelchair worked, and how it didn’t always fit through tiny urban doors and hallways. Funny story I actually booked a different room initially and had to cancel with that building because I hadn’t checked first that they had an elevator, and I wasn’t allowed to walk or climb stairs. yet. This new place had an elevator, and was a small but cute and modern space. I was comfortable and we were happy that we were in a less clinical atmosphere, and able to sleep in the same bed! A small luxury that we hadn’t been able to do in over a week.

I made a pillow nest and took lots of naps, and lots of pain pills. My incision was healing well, but still quite sore, and very large. It has now healed a lot and shrank, and I think over time will just be a faint white line (Thanks Doc!) At the time however it was raw, and new, and really a hit to my already dwindling body image. Its hard to not be able to do anything for yourself. I could only walk from my bed to the ladies room. I would even tell Jesse every time I was going in there so that he could listen and make sure I didn’t pass out. I showered sitting down, and with the same warning to him to listen for any signs of distress. As a very independent person I was frustrated, and stir crazy. I had to wear compression socks during daylight hours, which made me feel 90 years old.

I was to be on strict bed rest for around three weeks. So I was in for a few …. booorrrriiinnnggg weeks. I just tried to focus on the positives… I was out of the hospital. My pain was managed. I was with my husband. I had a clean place to stay that was close to the hospital pending any emergencies.

Its the little things.

A Wrinkle in Time

” “She believed that the Buddhists were right- that if you want, you will suffer; If you love, you will grieve.”

Anne Lamott

Today I fully intended to write about my first few days of recovery and continue this blog in a linear fashion, but I am not having the best day and so instead I think this will be a little bit more abstract. Today marks a little over eight weeks since I have been home. I have not seen my pets, my house, or the majority of my friends in a very long time.

I do not regret making this decision. I one hundred percent think that this was the best medical decision for my son, I feel incredibly lucky that we were both candidates for this treatment, as its harder to get than one would think. I am grateful to be in a safe place to stay, and I am grateful that my husband gets to be here with me, and continue to work so that we aren’t going into complete financial ruin. But the mental and physical toll of not only recovery, but being away from anything and everything familiar is hard. Its really hard. I miss walking my dogs, I miss seeing my mom. I spent several hours two days ago just crying.

Crying because I feel displaced.

Just a short vent. Some days are easier than others

D-Day

“She was never quite ready. But she was brave, and the universe listens to brave.”

Rebecca Ray

April 25th I went into the hospital bright and early for Pre-op. They did a blood panel, an ultrasound, and a vaginal ultrasound to check on my cervix, a quick check in with the team and my vitals and then I was cleared to go home. They gave me an anti bacterial wash to use at some point before the next morning, and gave me instructions to drink “an unreasonable amount of water.” I was allowed food until midnight and clear fluids up until 5am, we were due back at CHOP around 6am the following day.

Our previous night had been spent in a condo rental in the neighborhood of Rittenhouse Square. It was comfortable, and right near a book store, which to me was the best part. We would stay here until after I was admitted, and then of course Jesse and I would be staying in the hospital until I was discharged. We spent our last night perusing the Barnes and Nobles at the end of the street, I bought some activity books to fill up my time on bed rest, and looked at comic books and novels with my husband. Since it was my last chance for solid food for the foreseeable future I was allowed to pick dinner. We got Italian, and I ate WAY too much. I stuffed my face with ravioli, and garlic bread, and a lemon bar, and I didn’t regret it at all. After stuffing my face with carbs, and drinking what I hope could be considered the correct amount of water, I took a shower, neurotically used the pre-surgical wash they gave me about four times, and tried to sleep.

Spoiler alert. I did not sleep. I was much too nervous and anxious to sleep, and spent most of the evening, and into the early morning staring at the ceiling listening to everyone else’s snoring and the sounds of the city below our window. I think overall all night I probably cumulatively slept around an hour and a half, and woke up around 4:00 am, as we had a scheduled Uber rider coming to get us and take us to the hospital. I packed a small bag with some pajamas, and toiletries, my phone charger, and a few other little things. I knew I wasn’t going to be super active during the hospital stay, so kept it light. With everyone awake, but sleep deprived, we hopped into the Uber around 4:45 am and headed to CHOP. Kim grabbed a coffee, and we went headed into the Special Delivery Unit to check in to my room.

My room was big and airy, there was more than enough room for visitors, and a pull out bed/sofa for Jesse so that he could stay with me. My nurses came in and introduced themselves to me, we put in my IV, and switched me over from my street clothes into a hospital gown. We all tried to keep the mood light, as I’m sure people could sense my anxiety. I had spent pockets of the night before crying, both out of relief and fear. I had gone through two surgeries before as a teen and in my early twenties, I knew and was confident that I was healthy enough for the procedure, and that I had no adverse reactions to medication or anesthesia. I was worried about my baby. All medical procedures have risks, and while this team was the best around, and their record was amazing I was still nervous. The baby would be effected by my anesthesia and would be given pain medication, he was going to be operated on and he wasn’t even born yet. Its a lot for a mom to take in. I feel like Jesse was even more afraid than I was. I was in mom mode, I wasn’t worried about myself at all, but he was worrying about both his son, and his wife concurrently. I just feigned over the top positivity, (Fake it until you make it, right?) I made jokes with the nurses and the surgical team. They eventually came in and gave me my epidural, which was way less terrifying than movies and TV would lead you to believe. To be fair I told them to make sure to place the epidural when Jesse was out of the room, and also not to show me the needle beforehand so I couldn’t picture it. But after numbing the area it just felt like pressure, and then nothing at all. They were just about to whisk me back to the Operating Room when my parents rushed in. They had been stuck in traffic, and I wasn’t expecting to see them until after I returned. We all had last minute hugs and kisses. My mom cried a little bit saying bye to me, and reminded me that as much as I was worried about and loved my baby, she felt the same way about me. I was HER baby, even at almost 30 years of age.

I was whisked down the hallway. I normally don’t remember being IN the actual OR, or at least I didn’t in past surgical situations, but I was very much awake at this time. I transferred myself from the hospital bed to the operating table. I wasn’t crying, I wasn’t hysterical, I was calm, made conversation with who was in the room, and mostly just wanted to be asleep. Besides not getting any sleep the past few days I knew the faster I fell asleep the more quickly it would be over and I could feel relieved and focus on recovery. They must have sneakily given me a sedative because I started feeling super calm, and then eventually they placed the mask on my face and told me to take deep breaths and count. I didn’t even make it to 99.

While I was sleeping, I was given a breathing tube, an arterial line in my wrist, (Those are kind of like, super IV’s used for blood pressure monitoring and strong meds) My epidural was turned all the way up, and was under the effect of the general anesthesia. My vitals as well as the babies were constantly being monitored. They opened me up in an incision slightly higher than you’d see for a traditional C-section, they opened up my uterus, exposed the baby’s back and did the repair on his spinal lesion. They then replaced some of my amniotic fluid and worked on sewing me back up, all the while making sure both me and the little man were doing okay. I of course don’t remember any of this happening, I just was very aware of the steps of the surgery.

I awoke in my hospital room. Very tired and very loopy, but not in any pain. I could not feel anything below my belly button, as my epidural was still in, and I wanted to sleep for a thousand years. The surgeons had periodically come in while I was still being operated on and updated my family about our progress, both myself and the baby did fantastic and we had no complications. They were very pleased with us both, and would check on me in the coming days. I was on IV drip only as far as sustenance went, which was unfortunate because my throat was very sore from the breathing tube, and I would have killed for a glass of water. My parents and Kim stayed for a few hours to make sure I was stable, I’m sure I slept through most of it, I hope I didn’t say anything super embarrassing, I had forbidden Jesse to record me in any way … just in case. Eventually they headed out back to the suburbs, and Jesse and I settled in to our temporary home. The nurses came in periodically to take my vitals and make sure I wasnt in any pain. And that… was that.

It was done.

It had happened.

Now what?

Back in the city// Museum of Art

“Art is the highest form of hope”

Anonymous

Our last day in Philly pre fetal surgery we decided to head to the Museum of Art. This is bar none my favorite place in town. I’ve probably been at least three times and continue to always prioritize it on my list of things to do when I am in the area. The museum has varied time periods ranging from medieval and renaissance art, all the way through impressionism and more modern artists of North America. They have a huge eastern art exhibit where they have re-created entire rooms of Asian temples, and a very impressive arms exhibit if you are a nerd like me and love looking at swords and armor. I would have spent the entire afternoon looking at jousting armor but eventually they dragged me out.

We spent a lovely day looking around, enjoying and reading about beautiful things. I think this was just the medicine I needed before getting my procedure done. I needed to look at beautiful and historic things. It was a way for me to travel from the place I was, even just for a few minutes, and distract myself. I am a very artistic person. I spend a lot of my time expressing myself through my voice and theater hobbies, I assistant direct a stage show every summer for a local convention, (Shameless plug go and check out Metroconventions.com) and help edit and make creative choices for the same. When I’m not doing any of those things I perform with a local radio play company founded by my husband, called the Tales of Mild Interest Radio Theater. (Another shameless plug you can find us on FB @ Tales of Mild Interest OR on Instagram at TMIRadioPlays, we also can be found on Spotify as we were recently featured on there as part of the Atlanta Audio Fringe Festival) Art is what keeps me sane, its what keeps me moving and functional from day to day as it gives me an outlet for my feelings. Being without it for so long has been really difficult as there are many moments that I feel not only disconnected from those forms of expression, but also the many friends and huge support systems I have cultivated through said hobbies. It was so hard for me to have to talk to my various performance groups and let them know I was taking the summer off, that I would be very far away and out of touch, and unable to perform and also unable to just…. be WITH them for a very long time. As much as I knew and still believe that I was doing the right thing for my family and my baby, its hard to just pack up and leave your many friends, and especially for my convention schedule, it would mark the first time in 13 years that I wouldn’t be spending my summer with that group of people to create something amazing. That was tough to swallow. But I know they will welcome me back with open arms when I am able to return.

Luckily I can say that this outing was a good day. I hadn’t had many of those since…well since exactly March 27th during my anatomy scan in Tampa. Truly good days had been hard to come by, and I was grateful for this one. We looked all around the HUGE museum, my husband visited the statue of Rocky they have outside (yes just like in the movie, you can visit him on the front steps) We had a nice meal, and the weather was gorgeous, and I was surrounded by people who loved me, loved my baby, and wished us nothing but hope and good fortune.

Some pics and relevant links below. 🙂

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Stock photo of Front of Museum (mine came out blurry)
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This one reminded me of me and my little sister
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Aphrodite and Eros

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Dionysus
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Jousting Armor
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Various Helms
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Me and the husband ❤

If you feel like supporting/following any of the Art that is close to MY heart. Please see below. Thank you!

METROCON- Florida’s Best Anime and Video Games Convention– Check out our entertainment under the EVENTS tab- https://metroconventions.com/

or the METROCON Facebook Group- https://www.facebook.com/groups/30239647731/

Tales of Mild Interest- Radio Theater

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/TMIRadioPlays/

Instagram- TMIRadioPlays

Youtube- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6S30oZxJo7pQ0P41HzERKQ

The Keystone State

“If I have a monument in this world it is my son.”

Maya Angelou

We last left off with my approval of the fetal surgery and a date set. So that was both awesome but scary. We had checked out of our hotel already, and weren’t really sure what the next week and a half would entail. My parents had been staying with a long time family friend Jim, and his wife Chris, in a suburban area called Royersford. They had offered us a place to stay, but I couldn’t help but feel that we would be a huge imposition, and I didn’t want to burden other people. I already felt like I was taking up so much of other people’s space and energy, but at the same time, could not afford to pay hotel costs for the next ten days, if I wanted to keep my house and pay my mortgage.

So we agreed, very graciously, and were on our way to the suburbs. Jim and Chris (last names excluded for privacy) are amazing people. They are funny, well educated and kind people who have been like family to my parents over the past several decades. There is no way for me to thank them properly after letting us stay in their home for the week and a half we were there. They have a lovely house, which had enough bed space for both myself, Jesse, and all three parents. My mom and dad had been staying in their proper guest room, and even insisted that they let me stay in there, and switch to an air mattress, as everyone wanted to make sure I was as comfortable as possible. This only made me feel slightly guilty as I was feeling bigger and bigger by the day.

Now for a little bit of background, my parents (and the majority of my family) are actually from Philadelphia. So it was kind of kismet that the doctors and facilities we needed for the baby ended up being a stone’s throw from their childhood homes. Most of my aunts, uncles and cousins love Philly, and are huge fans of the local sports teams. My Parents? Not so much. My mom lovingly refers to Philly as a shithole, and was less than thrilled to be coming to Pennsylvania for an extended period of time. She hates the grey and yucky quality of a lot of the neighborhoods, the weather in general, and the Schuylkill expressway makes her hair turn grey from stress. My dad’s driving had reverted to terribly aggressive Yankee habits, and it was driving her nuts.

I didn’t mind the city. I had visited several times before to visit family, and had done most of the touristy attractions over the years, such as Liberty Square, the historic district etc. I was used to urban spaces as Jesse and I had lived in Chicago for several years. There are some amazing museums and libraries all over the place, and some very good theater if you are interested in the same.

We spent the next week and a half exploring various parts of Pennsylvania, and for the most part pending some of my emotional breakdowns, had a really nice time. One of our first field trips was to a Wegmans. Wegmans is basically the… Disney World of grocery stores. I know locals will read this and laugh, but I am telling you that down south we don’t have ANYTHING that compares. Its a magical fairy world and my husband would have spent days in there if we hadn’t dragged him out. It was nice to be in a more homey environment, and have some wide open spaces to explore.

There were a lot of cool “specific to Pennsylvania adventures” we had in the coming days ahead. We visited the Amish Farmers market, which was one of my favorite days. I say Amish, but in reality it was a mix of Amish, Mennonite, and general Pennsylvania Dutch baked goods, groceries, meat, dairy etc. They even had a huge greenhouse with beautiful seasonal flowers. We all bought various goodies, and had some of the best desserts and baked goods I have ever had. Me being the token pregnant lady really enjoyed the donuts. We explored some of the local smaller towns, including making a stop in Skippack, which was where my parents lived as newlyweds. We drove by their first house, and my dad’s old medical practice that he opened fresh off his residency, as well as the local places they used to visit when in their 20’s. It was really cute, and I think it helped my mom realize the parts of Pennsylvania that she had forgotten she actually loved. My mom used to work for the Department of Agriculture, so she would habitually geek out over the various farms we would pass, as well as the animals, and tell us stories about her time working for the government and visiting the different rural regions of PA. It was like looking into a scrapbook in real time. I think as children we all assume our parents didn’t have full fledged lives before we were born, so it was nice to see this early chapter of their marriage and experience those memories secondhand.

One day, my mother, Kim and myself made the trip out to Valley Forge. For those of you who, like myself had no idea what that is, Valley Forge is the site of a winter encampment used by the American army during the Revolutionary War. You can tour the camp, and see the shelters and dorms used by the soldiers during the war, and the entire surrounding area is a historical park. There are picnic areas, monuments, bike trails, and overall its just a beautiful place to visit. You could spend multiple days there and still not see everything, we just did a short day trip. I WILL say that the cell phone tour is terrible, and not worth it, either just grab the map and make your way around on your own, or wait until the actual guided tour groups. I have included some pictures below.

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Example of encampments
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Memorial
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Here is a very pregnant and unflattering picture of me in the wild! Pretty tree though!

Its been interesting to spend so much time in a place that is so different from ours geographically and as far as horticulture. I have loved the beautiful hills, and different colored trees (Why cant I have purple trees in FL? its not fair!) And a plus side to being in a place that doesn’t constantly have 90 percent humidity, my hair is looking AMAZING. Minus hospital days I have not had a single bad hair day since we have been here. I feel like a Pantene commercial. 🙂

We went to mass on Easter Sunday with my mother in law Kim, had a nice family dinner with the entire household. I got to wear the one nice outfit I had brought with me, and felt pretty and feminine for the first time in weeks. It was a nice change of pace.

The next few days were spent running errands and just reveling in domestic normalcy. We bought myself and the baby some new clothes at the King of Prussia Mall, did a few Target trips. I enjoyed just being in a suburban environment, where I could close my eyes and pretend I was home. I ended up chopping about six inches of my hair off, since I wasn’t sure at that point how long Id be bed ridden, and didn’t want to have to deal with it for a while. Unfortunately, when you’re constantly taking prenatal vitamins, your hair grows insanely fast, and mine is already back to the length it was and looking scragglier by the day. Oh! And for those following along at home, Jesse and I tracked down a piercer who was able to safely and quickly take out my nose ring. She was very sweet and confirmed that the style I was wearing was difficult to get out. It took her two seconds, and when I related to her that I had to take it out for a surgery she didn’t even charge us. Sadly my nose has since closed up, and Ill need to get it re done after the baby is here, so it was a long side quest that didn’t really result in anything, and was disappointing. I had looked.. SO CUTE. What a bummer.

It was nice to have a relatively low key and normal week. I had no idea what the recovery or procedure was going to feel like physically or emotionally, so this little reset was… very welcome ❤