Remembering Christina Grimmie

Christina Grimmie was such a beautiful, kind girl, and an amazing talent. She was my sole inspiration to upload videos of myself singing to my old YouTube channel, over four years ago, and I related instantly to her fun personality, and love of Zelda. She had a powerful, unique voice, amazing keyboard skills, and was known for performing in her room, in front of her iconic Sonic poster.

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Hello, friends. I wish I had something positive to write about at the moment, but due to some recent events, I’m left feeling quite numb and sad. As many of you may have already heard, Christina Grimmie, talented YouTube phenomenon, and ex-contestant on The Voice, was shot last night while signing autographs at a hometown show in Orlando, Florida, where she was performing. The male shooter, a man who is rumored to be a deranged fan, then shot and killed himself. Christina’s brother, Mark, is being hailed a hero for tackling the shooter before any more harm could be done. Christina was in critical condition when she was brought to the hospital late last night, but her injuries were too severe, and she passed away. She was only 22.

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Christina Grimmie was such a beautiful, kind girl, and an amazing talent. She was my sole inspiration to upload videos of myself singing to my old YouTube channel, over four years ago, and I related instantly to her fun personality, and love of Zelda. She had a powerful, unique voice, amazing keyboard skills, and was known for performing in her room, in front of her iconic Sonic poster. She got her start on YouTube, performing beautiful covers of popular songs, but later moved into writing her own music. The first video that I ever watched of Christina’s was her 2009 cover of Rascal Flatt’s “What Hurts the Most”, one of my favorite songs of all time, and I was blown away. She inspired me to push past my own fears, and post my first video of myself singing on my own channel.

As well as singing covers, Christina’s channel is also filled with videos of her performing her own, original works, and a handful of music videos. She put out her first album, Find Me, on June 14th, 2011. It is bittersweet to think that just three days from today will be the 5th anniversary of the release of Find Me. She later moved onto the big time, and was a powerhouse and crowd favorite on The Voice in 2014, impressing audiences across the world with her talent. She performed in numerous concerts in the United States, as well as overseas.

Last night, the hashtag #PrayersForChristina was trending worldwide on Twitter, and many YouTubers and celebrities tweeted their support. Unfortunately, this morning, the hashtag changed to #RIPChristina, with over 1.7 million people tweeting. This is a sad day for the YouTube community, as well as the rest of the world, and many YouTubers, celebrities, and fans have posted their condolences to various social media platforms following the tragic news of Christina’s passing.

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Today is a sad day indeed, as the world mourns the loss of a great talent. Today is also the 25th birthday of fellow popular YouTube star, and radio personality, Dan Howell, and I sincerely hope that he has a good birthday, despite this sad news.

Rest in peace, Christina.

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Thanks for reading, friends.

Jan

Mom’s Visit | Day 5

I sat on the floor with this stranger’s children, and my own son, and we all talked about milestones, and the joys of having boys. Their father was an absolute doll, and his words about raising his boys, and when they each started talking, walking, and getting their teeth, were so comforting to me, as I often worry about Liam hitting his milestones on time. They were such a lovely family.

[You can read about Days 0-1 here, Day 2 here, Day 3 here, and Day 4 here.]

Hello, friends! Today was another great day, with only a few minor low points to share. Today is my mom’s 50th birthday, and once again, we decided to go to the pool at the Metro Center in Princeton, and it was even better than it was yesterday! We decided to schedule our whole day around the pool trip this time, so that we could get as much time in the water as possible, and left much earlier than yesterday, as soon as Liam finished his breakfast, and we all got showered and dressed.

It was barely 11:00 when we got to the pool, and there were only a handful of swimmers in the large pool. Once again, we had the kiddie pool to ourselves, and Liam could hardly contain his excitement as we approached the shallow pool. There was no hesitation this time, no clinging to my legs, no fear, just pure happiness, and so much splashing. He really wanted to put his adorable, new swim shorts to good use! He came 100% out of his shell, wading through the water, going after the pool toys, dunking them, pouring them, and being so much more curious and adventurous with the water. My mom managed to get a dozen more pictures of him today, and he was smiling in every single one of them. It filled my heart with so much joy to see him having so much fun.

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We stayed at the pool for about an hour, but had to leave around noon to grab some lunch, because Kyle had a meeting about a scholarship for his CDL class at 1:00. Luckily, the meeting was in the same town, so we stopped at a nearby Subway to get some lunch, but because the lines were so long, Kyle had to leave his sandwich with us, and leave for his meeting. While he was gone, my mom drove me a bit nuts, which has been happening off and on for the last couple days, but I managed to have a good time. I ordered Liam his own sub for the first time, and he sat in a booster seat at the table with me for the first time ever. He did so well! It was amusing to watch him pick apart the sandwich, and decide which veggies he did and did not like (his absolute favorite Subway veggies are pickles and olives, just like his mama!).

Unfortunately, my happiness faded when I saw Kyle pull up, just a short time later, with a very obvious frown. He did not get the scholarship. His income was too high, thanks to his last two, abnormal paychecks, and he did not qualify. He was upset, and my mom kept saying that she would pay for it for us, which made me upset. She already paid $5000 toward my failed college education, and I still owe my old school, and her, money. I didn’t even want her paying for things for us while she was here (despite her many protests), let alone dish out thousands for Kyle’s class. But without her help, we don’t know if we can make it happen, and that is absolutely crushing. Maybe I should put my pride aside? I don’t know.

After lunch, we headed back to Peru to do a little grocery shopping. Despite our fridge being absolutely empty, and only having $80 to buy food for the month, I found myself feeling offended when my mom offered to pay for our groceries, and turned her down yet again. She left the store to have a cigarette (she quit years ago, but started smoking again recently, and hasn’t told her boyfriend), and never came back in. Things were a bit tense between Kyle and I, as they usually get when the topic of money comes up, and we grabbed only a handful of things, like milk, bread, bagels, cheese, and bananas, to try and stay under budget. We warmed up again once we left Walmart, and headed home.

Liam had not taken a nap yet, so I put him down as soon as we walked in, and he passed right out. I put something on Netflix for us to watch, but our internet stopped working shortly after that, and despite our best efforts to revive it, I ended up having to call our internet provider, who had me do a handful of ineffective things, before informing us that there was a actually massive service outage in our area.

Fantastic.

With no internet, cable, movies, games, or really anything to do, we all just kind of sat around in silence for a bit, not knowing what to talk about. Eventually, the internet came back on, and we continued on with watching Netflix, and fiddling with our phones. Around 4:30, just about when Liam would be waking up from his nap, my mom suddenly stood up, and left, telling us to text her if we wanted to get food or something later. Sure enough, not even 10 minutes later, Liam woke up, and we texted her to come back. She hadn’t even gone back to her hotel, she had gone to the park up the street, because apparently the trees and grass are better company than we are.

We decided to go to the large, Chinese buffet in Peru, located right near her hotel, since it is a favorite spot of ours. We pigged out hard on all the delicious things, and left feeling miserable, and hating ourselves, as usual. It was delicious. Afterwards, we decided to take Liam to the mall play area to burn some energy, and tire him out, since he had taken such a late nap. When we got there, there was only one man in the play area, with four boys. We immediately hit it off with him and his sweet boys, and Liam made two friends. He was there with his wife and mother, who were across the way getting their nails done at the salon. He had a baby with him, who was just four months old, and the sweetest little thing I’ve ever seen. He made my ovaries weep, and made me crave having a tiny baby again. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about.

He also had a little boy who had just turned two, and another boy who was four. They were absolutely enamored with Liam, and the four year old asked me a million questions about him, and me.

“Does he like cars? What kind of car do you have? We have a Diesel truck!”
“Does he eat a lot of food?”
“Does he cry a lot? I cry a lot, and scream, because my parents irritate me.”
(LOL!)
“Does he talk a lot? My brother is two, he doesn’t talk.”
“Do you like bouncy balls?”
“Do you live here? We’re from far away. We’re driving.”

He was adorable. I sat on the floor with this stranger’s children, and my own son, and we all talked about milestones, and the joys of having boys. Their father was an absolute doll, and his words about raising his boys, and when they each started talking, walking, and getting their teeth, were so comforting to me, as I often worry about Liam hitting his milestones on time. They were such a lovely family. The four year old kept giving Liam hugs, and saying he wanted to be friends, and the two year old would walk up to me and share his bouncy balls. They were the absolute sweetest, and it was so wonderful. We talked and played for a while, before we all had to go our separate ways and head home.

Oh, I forgot to mention that right before we left the mall, my mom got a FaceTime call from her boyfriend back home (who she has been with for 20 years, but they aren’t married, so I still call him her boyfriend instead of my step-father), and we were able to introduce him to Liam and Kyle, and chat for a little while. It was nice to see him, and for him to meet the boy who is basically his grandson.

We also stopped to introduce my mom to our upstairs neighbor when we got home (the one who has helped us with many, many problems we’ve dealt with since living here), and we all chatted outside for a bit, before I insisted on going inside, since it was an hour past Liam’s bedtime. Liam was half asleep before I even put him in his crib, and I sat down with a cup of coffee, and began typing shortly after. Kyle goes back to work tomorrow, after having these last two days off, and I think I might take a day to myself to catch up on housework and cleaning, which has gone completely undone since my mom’s arrival. We’ll see.

I am also trying to arrange a nice dinner with Kyle’s mom, my mom, and Kyle, Liam, and I on Friday, since it will be my mom’s last full day in Illinois, and we really want her to meet Kyle’s mom, who is basically my second mom. It is the only day Kyle’s mom has off, though Kyle works until 6:00 that night. I’m hoping we can work something out.

Anyway! That’s all for today! Thanks for reading, friends!

Jan

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Take A Walk With Jan #6

Hello, friends! I haven’t written one of these in a while, despite having gone on dozens of walks in the last couple of months, so I figured I would tell you all about our walk today!

iPod Sampling:
Skyscraper ~ Demi Lovato
Cold ~ Evans Blue
Take It Away ~ The Used
Try ~ P!nk
Second Chance ~ Shinedown

It was absolutely beautiful outside, both today and yesterday. Despite it being February in Illinois, it was 60 degrees and sunny outside today. Liam took his first nap around 10:oo this morning, woke up at 11:45, ate his lunch (mac ‘n cheese, bananas, and apple pieces), and then we took off. This was the first walk that we didn’t need to use our weather protector on our stroller, and it wasn’t windy at all. It was seriously beautiful! I was warm wearing just a long-sleeve t-shirt and jeans!

We took off around 12:20, and our first stop was Subway, so that mama could eat lunch. I got there at the same time as a large family, and the mother smiled at me, and told her son to hold the door open for me, which I appreciated! I said thank you, and got in line behind them. The woman then gestured for me to go in front of them. I thanked her and told her we were in no rush, and that they were there first, but she insisted. I thanked her again and ordered my sandwich: Six inch veggie on Italian bread, no cheese, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles, olives, banana peppers, jalapenos, and oregano. Complete with a half iced tea, half lemonade. So. Good. I decided that I would eat at the park, and turned to leave, only to see that the line was now backed up out the door. A nice woman held the door open for us, and off we went!

At the park, I was forced to eat on a bench, as opposed to under one of the five gazebos, because there were gangs of pre-pre-teens running around, wreaking havoc, and being obnoxious. I sat down on the bench closest to the playground, and put Liam on the ground so that he could walk around. He immediately tried climbing onto the bench, so I decided to relocate to the bottom of the smallest slide, so that we could sit together. The playground was empty anyway.

Halfway through my sandwich, which I was picking apart to share with my tiny human, a group of 3 boys crossed the street, and met up with 3 other boys, who had been jumping around in the nearest gazebo to us. All the boys were around 6-9 years old, and were completely unsupervised. Whatever, they’re not my kids. Not my problem. Moments later, the whole group walked over to the tiny playground, and began running around and messing with each other. Two of the boys grabbed another boy, and tried to push him down the slide that we were sitting on. On purpose. This was the smallest slide, meant for tiny toddlers, and we were very much in plain sight. They were just being jerks. I ignored them, and they eventually stopped. The two boys walked away, but the third sat at the top of the slide, dangling his feet down by us, mere inches behind my back. I could feel him staring at us, but kept ignoring him. His friends called for him, as they were walking to the other end of the park, and he shouted back, “I’m waiting for this lady to move so I can slide!” Sassy.

At that point, I turned to him and said, “There are four other slides in this park. Leave us alone.

His eyes widened, and he took off.

We finished our sandwich, and went down the slide a few times. I could hear the group of boys coming back, and kept ignoring them. Liam was sitting at the bottom of the same toddler slide, trying to climb up, when another one of the boys sat down at the top, and started banging his heels against the slide. I looked right at him and said, “Seriously? Stop.” And he did.

I could hear them bitching about me, and using language that would (hopefully) make their mothers slap them silly, when suddenly, an SUV pulled up by the park. The woman driving rolled down her window, and shouted to a boy named Spencer, who happened to be the boy I just scolded. She asked him if he was behaving, then looked at me, and asked if he was leaving me alone. He protested loudly, and I just smiled. I should have ratted the little punk out, but she drove away, and he was embarrassed, and that was good enough for me.

We picked up our stuff, and walked to Dollar General after that, where I encountered a man walking around with two unbelievably cute chihuahua puppies in his arms, a sweet 2-year old girl named Emily who was absolutely in love with my son, as well as a very old woman, who asked me literally 100 questions about my schedule, and what I was doing that day. I grabbed a few things from there, checked out, and crossed the street to the grocery store to pick up some pineapple, one of Liam’s favorite foods.

As I was checking out, I smiled at the young woman who was at the register, who couldn’t be bothered to look up from her phone to notice. She did not greet me, or say a single word to me, the entire time. She didn’t ask me if I wanted paper or plastic (yes, this place still does that). Not only was she texting in plain sight, but there was another young woman behind her talking to her about something that was definitely not work related. I’m not sure if she even worked there, because they won’t wear uniforms of any kind, just street clothes. She made eye contact with me and gave me my total, and I swiped my card. They also have to ask you if you want cash back at this place, that’s how old school they are, but she didn’t, and just hit NO on the screen. I didn’t need cash back, and she did give me a plastic bag, which I prefer, but she was seriously rude. I almost went to look for a manager, but decided against it, and just left.

Then, we went home. Liam got sleepy on the walk back, and my feet were killing me, because I decided to wear my boots, instead of my sneakers, because my sneakers look weird when I wear jeggings, which were the only clean pants I had left. First world problems, right? We got home, and I thought he would take a good nap, so that I could nap, but it never happened. So we ended up playing with our Mega Bloks (I ordered a second set off of Amazon, along with a nice baby gate, which should get here this week) for a while until dinner.

The rest of the week is supposed to dip back down into the chilly temperatures, so we’ll see if walks will be possible. I really need to get back into walking, and eventually back into Zumba. I’ve already gained 4-5 pounds back, and my new clothes are starting to feel tight. Ugh. I can not wait for spring!

Thanks for reading, friends.

Jan

One Year Ago, Liam’s Birth Story

Today, my beautiful, baby boy turns one. I’ve had him in my life for a whole year, and it has been the most incredible experience. As well as writing a post about all of his milestones up to this point, I thought I would share the story of his birth. Warning, it is a bit graphic in some parts.

On January 23, 2015, my life changed forever.

I woke up at 5:07am with stomach pains. It was one day past my due date, and I thought I was just having Braxton Hicks contractions. I hadn’t had a single contraction through my whole pregnancy, and honestly had no idea what to expect. I waddled to the bathroom, barely making it to the toilet before I threw up. I hadn’t thrown up once during my entire pregnancy either. In fact, I hadn’t thrown up in years. After throwing up a second time, I walked back to my room, and tried to fall back asleep.

Several minutes later, more stomach pains caused me to jolt awake. I walked to the bathroom once more, and threw up once again. Then, it hit me. This was it. My son was on his way. I sat there for a while with my phone, timing my contractions, to see where I was at. They were anywhere from 8-13 minutes apart, and not too severe. I walked out to the couch and turned on Netflix, deciding to let Kyle sleep in a little longer.

Around 7:00, I walked to the room to let Kyle know that my labor had started, but told him there was no rush. He immediately got out of bed, and began making sure our hospital bags were ready for us to leave. I just laughed and sat back on the couch.

At 7:30, I decided to take a shower. I was still able to stand and walk without much difficulty, and my contractions were still around 7-8 minutes apart. I put on a little make up, double checked our hospital bags, and sat back on the couch to watch Netflix. I labored at home until around 8:45, when my contractions started coming every 2-3 minutes, and even walking them off was becoming painful. We left the apartment at 8:50, and arrived at the hospital just minutes later. I checked in (I had submitted all my paperwork weeks in advance), and waddled up to the maternity ward.

I changed into my hideous hospital gown, and waited for them to tell me which one of my midwives was on duty that day. I was relieved when they told me that my favorite midwife, Liz, would be delivering my son… if I gave birth that day.

Liz came in to check me, and was surprised to find that I was already 7cm. dilated, and that I wasn’t in much pain. She commented on being able to feel my son’s head, and mentioned that she could feel that he would have a lot of hair, which made me smile. She also mentioned that he was in the posterior position (head-down but facing your abdomen), which could possibly lead to complications during delivery, but I wasn’t too worried. She asked me if I wanted an epidural, and I quickly answered yes. The anesthesiologists came in to administer the epidural, and I made the mistake of catching a glance at the needle that they were about to insert into my back. The extremely attractive duo informed me that I would only feel a pinch, and then I wouldn’t feel anything.

They were absolutely right, and it was glorious.

Unfortunately, my painless high did not last. The nurse came in to check my blood pressure, which had been a bit high in the last week of my pregnancy, and informed me that they thought I may have Preeclampsia. They tested my urine, and sure enough, they found protein. Because I was already in labor, they chose to let things progress on their own. My heart rate was fine, and my baby was doing great. They gave me Pitocin to try any speed up my labor a bit, as well as a Magnesium drip for my Preeclampsia, and fluids to keep me hydrated, as I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything. I had forgot to have breakfast that morning, and I was starving.

The Magnesium drip made me so, so sick. I was able to get some sleep, thanks to my epidural, and was in and out of consciousness for several hours, only waking up to vomit, or when the nurses needed to check me. They did not insert a catheter, even though I had an epidural, and also had to wake me every hour so that I could pee into a bed pan, which was really awkward and strange. I couldn’t feel anything! Despite the nausea and exhaustion, I felt great, with zero pain. Kyle and I excitedly talked about the arrival of our baby boy, and Kyle started sending out the texts to let family know we were in the hospital.

Hours passed. Many hours. I could see that it had gotten dark outside, but I had no idea what time it was. The pressure was getting intense, and I could no longer sleep, so Kyle and I watched some TV for a few hours. The nurses kept coming in to check me, but it felt like I was stuck at only 8-9cm. dilated for the entire day. Finally, just after 7:30pm, they told me it was just about time to start pushing. Since 12 hours had passed, the anesthesiologists came in to touch up my epidural, which had started to wear off. I still didn’t feel any pain from contractions, but there was definitely pressure. And it was incredibly uncomfortable.

Suddenly, I was terrified.

Liz, my team of nurses, and Kyle were at my side. Liz and Kyle each held one of my legs, and I was instructed on when to push, and what I should be feeling. After several minutes of practice pushes, Kyle left the room. While I had expected this to happen, as Kyle has a weak stomach, and does not do well in high pressure situations, it scared me, and I suddenly felt alone. Liz took charge, instructing one of the nurses to grab my other leg, and the pushing continued.

Once again, no pain. Tons of pressure.

After 45 minutes of pushing on my back, Liz instructed me to get on all fours, and rest my chest on the top of the bed. This is when I started to feel some pain. Or something.

I found pushing in this position to be much more difficult, but Liz informed me that it was progressing much more quickly that way. I don’t remember much, just a lot of pushing, and the nurses laughing at me when I responded with, “I can do better!” when I was told that I was doing great.

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Another 45 minutes of pushing, and Liam was finally here. He came out sideways, of course, and caused quite a bit of damage with his shoulders. One of the nurses passed him to me between my legs, and I was able to finally lay my eyes on my son. He was perfect. His head was covered with thick, black hair, and his skin was perfect, and not wrinkly or splotchy like some newborns are. He looked just like his daddy. I remember thinking, that is a BIG baby!

Kyle came back into the room to cut the cord, and I remembered repeating, “Hello, baby boy!” over and over again, before they took him away to get him cleaned and measured. I sobbed with joy. And shock. Kyle was at my side, holding my hand when I was instructed to push again, to push out my placenta. It came easily, and unfortunately for him, Kyle got to see the whooole thing. He handled it quite well!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t hold my son, or attempt to nurse him, for another hour and a half. Liz informed me that I had a 4th degree perineal tear (the worst kind), probably because of the position that I was in when I delivered, and the position Liam was in when he came out, and would need a lot of stitches. I then met the newest doctor to the practice, who was almost unbelievably good looking, and he proceeded to sew my lady parts back together.

I remember Liz and the other nurses laughing and commenting on how calm and talkative I was, considering that I had just gone through 14 hours of labor, and 1.5 hours of pushing, and a pretty significant degree of tearing. I was calm. I was happy. I was exhausted. I still wasn’t feeling any pain. I wanted to see my son.

There was also a comment made about how my lady parts didn’t look like “ground hamburger“, which apparently some look like after experiencing this type of tearing… good for me?

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My baby boy came into this world at 9:01pm, at 21 inches long, and 7 pounds 15 ounces. He was absolutely perfect.

Unfortunately, despite my plans to exclusively nurse, Liam was unable to latch. There was nothing wrong with him, he just didn’t want to, no matter what we tried. Even the lactation consultant couldn’t help us. He also would not use a nipple shield. I ended up pumping, but it broke my heart, not being able to have my baby latch onto me, to feed him from my breast.

It got worse.

I was in the hospital for a total of 4 days. For the first 2 days, I was horribly sick from the Magnesium that I was on, and was extremely nauseous and drowsy. Kyle also spent most of his time throwing up, due to stress and exhaustion, which made for a very stressful environment. I sent him home on the 3rd day so that I could have some quiet.

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I also received harsh criticism from Kyle’s family, who were not allowed to visit in the first 24 hours, which was hospital policy, and was told that they wouldn’t be visiting because that was the only day any of them could come, despite only living 15-30 minutes away. Kyle’s youngest sister, who was 17 at the time, was also not permitted to visit, because no one under the age of 18 is allowed to visit the maternity ward during cold and flu season, once again, hospital policy. For four days, I had no one. No one came to take pictures. It was just me, my broken body, my beautiful baby, and my baby’s father, who couldn’t get up from the couch without throwing up. Not to mention, the unnecessary drama that my son’s birth had created. It was hard, and it hurt.

When we went home, Kyle was called back into work immediately, despite having taken a week off to help me in our first week as new parents. He went back to work early, and I was alone with our baby, who still refused to nurse. He also would only sleep if I was holding him, and refused to sleep in his bassinet, swing, or bouncer, which made finding time to pump impossible. I had no help from anyone, and experienced a lot of frustration and depression over not being able to nurse or breastfeed. After a few weeks, I switched to formula, and have harbored so many regrets.

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My healing process was relatively smooth. When I went in for my 6 week postpartum exam, she commented on how great a job the doctor had done sewing me up. Despite my 4th degree tear, I didn’t have much residual pain, my bleeding had completely stopped, and I hadn’t experienced any incontinence. I felt great… despite having some pretty bad postpartum depression, which I wish I had talked about more. I gained 31 pounds during my entire pregnancy, but lost all of it, plus an extra pound, before we even left the hospital. I was put on blood pressure medication, but after a few months, my blood pressure returned to normal, and I haven’t needed it since.

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I also ended up sleeping on the couch for 3 months with Liam, before we got a new couch (our old couch was actually a small love seat), and Kyle switched with us, allowing Liam and I to co-sleep in the bed together. When Liam was 6 months old, I transitioned him to his crib, which went fairly smoothly, and he has been sleeping on his own, mostly through the night, ever since. My back, however, has still not recovered from those several months of love seat sleeping.

It has been quite a journey, this last year… but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Not one, single thing.

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And I can’t wait do it all over again in the future.

Thanks for reading, friends.

Jan