Get Active–And Look Good While You’re Out There!

*This post was first published on 1/4/17, and republished on 3/19/17. NEW sales are going on through the links provided.

The start of a new year always sparks ambitious resolutions, new life goals, and big plans and projects. Most of these usually have something to do with health or fitness. But, as we move toward spring, those goals sometimes start to fade. Whether you want to lose weight, get toned, improve flexibility (“I’m very bendy,” -Phoebe) or just get your butt off the couch and be active, you need to dress the part to make yourself do the work.

And because nothing motivates me more than a sale price, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite activewear deals happening right now. Get yourself some pretties and move your booty!

 

Old Navy is one of my all-time favorite shops–for activewear, sundresses, jeans and cute tops, as well as stylish (and sturdy) clothes for all my boys. And a sale code only makes me love them more. For TWO DAYS ONLY, you can use the code SPRING through my link to save 40% OFF your purchase! Go to oldnavy.com to shop–the code is only good online and only 3/19-3/20/17. Stock up on cute running shorts, graphic tanks and tees, or whatever motivates you to get up and move!

Fabletics (subscription membership for athleisure wear) is your go-to for stunning, live-in-it-every-day activewear that is delivered to your door. Fabletics by Kate Hudson  always has great deals, like 2 for $24 leggings! Sign me up.

Nordstrom Rack has tons of markdowns on activewear and sneakers. I’m eyeing the gorgeous Nanette Lepore line and the Adidas Colorblock Jacket. Yes, please.

Target is impressing us all with their C9 Champion activewear for women, men and kids. The whole family can join you on your new adventures! My favorite piece is this “Crunch Then Brunch” tank. Rewards are good. 🙂

Lucy.com has over 100 items on sale, including several yoga pieces, sports bras and graphic tees, and many are available in plus sizes. No excuses.

 

So, even if  your goal is just to walk into Starbucks instead of going through the drive-thru, it’s a start! It counts!

Part of my daily “workout” is taking laundry, toys, paperwork, children, etc., up and down (and up and down) my stairs all. day. long. It counts! Now, I’m making myself throw in some pilates and yoga too, so I need some fun new yoga pants, right!? 😉

However you choose to be active, treat yourself to some comfy, cute gear too–it may just motivate you to keep going! Happy Spring!

*Available at Old Navy*

Love (and move) more,

Dana

*This post contains affiliate links with Fabletics and Old Navy, which means I may receive a small % from purchases made through the links. Thanks for helping me in my blogging journey!

I Don’t Have a Tribe … And I’m Fine With That

Tribe, friend squad, mom club, girl team, whatever you want to call it. I don’t have one. I don’t have one set of friends who are my go-tos for shopping trips, coffee dates or girls’ weekends. There isn’t a trio of girlfriends I text every day, or even see every month. And guess what? I’m good.

I feel SO lucky to have the incredible friends I do. They are spread throughout my little world, from all areas of my life. My circle of friends is actually more like several circles intertwined like the Olympic rings … a circle from high school, a circle from college, one from my boys’ schools and activities, another from my previous jobs, and another circle of my family girlfriends (my mama, sisters, cousins, aunts, etc.).

So, when I say I don’t have a tribe, that doesn’t make me sad in the least. All of these amazing, caring women are in my life in some shape and form, and we love and support each other whenever and however needed.

They all crossed my path at different times and places, but I know it was for good reason.

Circles…

I’m blessed to have a group of friends from “back home.” Our high school class was (I think, unusually) close and so many of us still keep in touch. When I hear people say they’d never go back to high school, I shake my head. I’d LOVE to hang out in Coach Taylor’s classroom or at McDonald’s after a football game again. We had so much FUN growing up alongside each other, and now we get to share in the joy (and craziness) of raising our kiddos and becoming who we wanted to be “when we grew up.” While I don’t see them nearly enough, there is a crazy love I feel for my Lake Gibson people.

I graduated from the University of Florida in 1999 (yes, as my boys say “the 1900s!”) and my time there gave me some of the best memories and most beautiful friendships a girl could ask for. I didn’t want to do the sorority thing at first, so I waited until my sophomore year to rush. You know when you just feel good around some people? You feel like they get you and it’s just comfortable? That was the vibe I felt from ZTA, and I knew I was in the right house. While most of these friendships are now through Facebook because we’re spread all over the country, we continue to support each other through our small businesses, Christmas cards, and texts and phone calls. After all these years, I still have a connection with these “sisters” from college.

Almost 13 years ago, I was a nervous first-time mommy who hesitantly attended a postpartum luncheon at the hospital where my little guy was born a few weeks earlier. The women I met at that Tuesday luncheon (and the ones I attended eagerly for the next two months) became my one and only playgroup. I had no idea we’d still be friends when our little ones were in middle school! We’ve shared everything from baby constipation to tween drama, from nursing complications to cancer diagnoses. Our “babies” are in all different schools and activities now, but we try to get together and hug each other’s necks a few times each year, and thankfully social media lets us check in on everyone’s happenings. I will always have a bond with the women who helped me become the mommy I am … without judgment or pressure, and with just the right amount of wine.

Each change I made in my career brought some astounding friendships along with it. You tend to learn a lot about someone when you’re working toward goals together, and trying to squeeze lunch, errands and life discussions into your 1-hour lunch break. 🙂

While I was always hesitant to become “one of those PTA moms” at my boys’ schools, I’m actually insanely thankful I stepped out of my comfort zone and got more involved. Just like that need for a playgroup when your children are babies, you need a support system of mamas who now have elementary and middle schoolers. And you need to laugh with someone else who’s finishing her child’s history project at midnight, if that happens. 😉

And sometimes, the best circle you have in your life was created for you. My mom and sisters are a constant lifeline of support and friendship for me. It’s a beautiful thing when you WANT to hang out with your family. And you find yourself counting the days until you see them again. (Currently, 16 days until I see my little sister!)

So … I don’t have a tribe. I have circles of crazy, beautiful friendships that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Even Taylor Swift’s squad. Promise.

 

*Playgroup for life!

*Built-in girlfriends are a family blessing! (And the guys aren’t bad either!)

*Meeting up with high school friends makes my heart happy!

*Careers can give you SO much more than a paycheck, am I right?

*Our elementary school has kinda the best PTA moms! Think “Bad Moms” without the mean PTA president…

While sifting through my photos, I realized I don’t take nearly enough pictures with my girlfriends. So watch out, sweet friends! If I’m with you anytime soon, I’m snapping a selfie with you! 🙂

Love (and hug your girlfriends!) more,

Dana

Starting Fresh

February has been … hard. Not with my little guys. Not with my big guy. Just with my own heart and mind. I’ve been in a daze since February 3rd. It was the day I realized my website had crashed and was gone.

At first, I wasn’t panicked because my hosting company said they backed up my site, as I knew they were supposed to do. Great! But hours and hours of online and phone chats with them later, we realized the only backups they had were after their server crashed. So, every time they offered to “restore” the site, it just showed a new error page. Not great.

Then it hit me. I could not believe what I had dedicated every moment that I wasn’t being a mommy or wife to was gone. I had been building a portfolio of writing through my blog, and was planning to present it to media resources and brands for sponsorships and business opportunities. I had over 100 posts from this past year. Posts that I had worked so hard on, and was so proud of. They were from every aspect of my life … from tears at t-ball and more tears at Kindergarten Round-up (both times it was my tears!), to vacation memories with Jeff, fashion shoots with my baby boy, and a surrogacy timeline that I don’t know if I can recreate.

I KNOW it is not the end of the world. It just stings. A lot.

I have finally gotten over the initial shock; now I’m in “full steam ahead” mode. And I’ve realized this is a personal venture, this is my own hurdle. It’s one of those heartbreaking/soul-searching/adulting-is-hard moments that only I can deal with and resolve.

I know no one will care about your small business, special project, or personal interest as much as you do. It’s a fact. I learned that years ago when I owned a small business. It’s not an intentional or hurtful thing … it’s just a little morsel of life education you come to realize when you want to pour yourself into something, and you don’t mind the time it consumes, and that’s not exactly how others look at it. They want to fill their time with THEIR loves and obsessions. Of course! That’s why it’s YOUR project.

Still, those who love you will love whatever you’re doing, and will give support and encouragement that you didn’t even know you desperately needed. But, when it is your creation, you CARE about every little aspect of it. Others won’t even notice the little hiccups in design, or that you didn’t meet your personal deadline. They’ll be HAPPY for you despite your internal aggravation, despite the stress you put on yourself. And I should let some of that freely-given happy in, even if I feel like Johnny Lawrence just swept my leg. (80’s reference that just aged me, I know.)

So … I’m trying to look at the bright side of having a fresh start. I’ve started to rebuild my site, using some of my posts I was able to find in the vast Internet world, and I’ve changed several design elements along the way. It’s still not where I want it to be, but we’re getting there! I’m also breathing a little more each week. I’m not giving myself crazy writing deadlines that NOBODY cares about but me! Haha! If I get three posts out this week, yay! If I publish only one because my 3-year-old needs more of my attention, so be it.

I will find a way to make this a good thing. Maybe that means rewriting the lost posts and adding more (or less) detail. Maybe that means finding a new voice in my writing. Maybe that means letting each day dictate what happens with my writing career instead of trying to plan months in advance. I don’t know where I go from here. But, I’m going. Thanks for coming along. 🙂

Love (and back up your stuff!) more,

Dana

 

Learning Patience in the World of Blogging

 

I’m a pretty patient person.

I don’t growl or grumble when I have to wait in a long checkout line.

I just smile and wave when someone cuts me off in traffic.

I count to three and breathe deeply when my children are making me feel like I’m losing my ever-loving mind.

I understand there are so many things in life that just take time, and there are so many instances where having patience can put you in the best situation. Yep, I got that.

But I also know the feeling of that desire to have something you want … and you want it right. now.

Whether it’s a promotion at work, a new car, a vacation, or anything that seems juuust out of reach, your longing for it can be all-consuming. And no matter how often you pray for “God’s timing” to match with yours, we all know we have to just keep at it and we’ll get there. But, having patience while we work toward the goal is still soo crazy hard.

Blogging is my “job,” and as with any job, I want to grow and accomplish and succeed. I want to reach my goals and create new ones. I want to feel confident that my abilities as a writer can help support my family. I want to feel like “I made it.” (Don’t we all want that?)

Of course, success has a different definition for every person. For me, it doesn’t mean a million dollar paycheck or a fancy new car. It’s more about checking things off my personal bucket list. I want my blog audience and social media following to grow and allow me to become a source of fun, positive encouragement for others. I want some of the “big” blogs out there to notice 39ish Life and give it some love. I want to find more ways to monetize my writing so I can feel like all this time I’m putting into my work is contributing to my family. And beyond my blogging, I want my children’s book to get published, and eventually turn into a whole series. (OK, I’ve also dreamt about it becoming an animated series on PBS or Disney Jr., but, baby steps.) All of these goals are levels of success for me. And I’m zealously (and patiently!) working on all of them.

But, whew, it’s challenging to picture what it will be like when you reach each one, and you just want to fast forward to be there! I keep telling myself this experience is a great example to share with my boys as a real-life lesson in patience.

It helps tremendously that I’m part of a wonderful tribe of bloggers who constantly lift each other up and help promote our best work, so that we all continue to grow. It’s an awesome feeling to see one of our own have something go viral on social media. I’m still waiting on that myself, but … patience, Dana. I’m writing and creating as much content as my brain (and my house full of little ones) will allow. So, it (or something just as amazing) will happen … in due time.

Can I get an “Amen?”

Love (and practice patience) more,

Dana

My Current Obsessions: Winter 2016

I shared My Current Obsessions a few months back and had a lot of fun (and good feedback) with it, so I’m sharing a new version of some of my everyday obsessions. A fun way to kick off the weekend (and surround myself with all these yummy things)!

 

Thin Addictives: These are my go-to snacks at the moment. A pack of these with some iced almond milk–yumola! Just enough sweetness to make me think I’m eating cookies, but no guilt. I let the boys try a bite and two of the four liked them … so they are now hidden in the laundry room. The snacks, not the boys.

 

Benefit Roller Lash Mascara: This was part of my birthday gift from my sweet friend, Kaci, and I’m in love. I’ve tried SO MANY mascaras over the years and can name the ones I’d buy again on one hand. It separates, lifts and lengthens, giving you pretty, full lashes, without big chunky clumps. Done.

 

Kate Spade Chrissy wristlet: I am really trying to refrain from a giant purse, because it only gets filled with stuff I don’t need to carry around every day. I’ve been using a crossbody from Thirty-One since the spring and I love it. Then, my friend Jessica gifted me this beauty for my birthday last month. It holds everything I actually need–phone, keys, coin purse, license/cards, lip gloss. It’s my new date night staple.

 

Humans of New York Stories: I’ve followed the Facebook page for years, and it has made me laugh and cry on a daily basis. My mom bought me the book last Christmas and it’s now one of the things I’ll never not own. I keep it on my bedside table and have been flipping through it again in the last few weeks. There’s something about pictures of real people, in their environment, giving you a glimpse into their lives with just a few sentences. Humbling. And really, really good for your heart and your perspective.

 

Old Navy pj pants: These were a gift from my friend, Allison, last Christmas and as soon as the weather turned cool I pulled them back out and now I LIVE. IN. THEM. Cozy, warm, super soft and comfy. Old Navy has similar ones available again this year. Yay! You’re getting pj pants! And you’re getting pj pants! Everyone is getting pj pants!

 

Etsy: I love finding something DIFFERENT for a gift, something personal or super unique. I ordered a lot of my Christmas gifts from small businesses, Etsy shop owners, or friends who are trying to help their families through direct sales. My current Etsy obsessions are: Clarabella Vintage, Raise My Glass, Wilderland Print Shop, and Live Love Boutique. So fun to find really neat treasures created by some crazy talented artisans … and I can shop on my couch while wearing my pj pants. 🙂

 

John Mayer’s new single “Love on the Weekend”: You guys know I have a small infatuation with John Mayer. (If you didn’t know this, welcome.) I’ve been waaaaiiting for a new album and he released this new single right before Jeff took me away for my birthday. Happy Birthday to me! It is a perfect “weekend getaway” theme song, and Jeff let me play it over and over all weekend. True Love. John performed the new single on Jimmy Fallon, and I’ve watched it too many times to confess, so … enjoy!

 

What are you obsessing about lately? I hope it’s something that keeps you warm and makes you happy!

Love (and get comfy) more,

Dana

Fall 2016 Wrap-Up!

We are all moving into Christmas mode at our house (yaaay!), so I’ve been looking back at the pictures I took over the last few months (AMAZED at all we squeezed into this fall and how fast it went by), and trying to catalog the memories. There were so many moments I didn’t have time to share on the blog or Facebook, so I thought I’d do a wrap-up now. One more glance at the fall fun, then on to immerse ourselves in all things Christmas!

 

*Fall = baseball for Miles and t-ball for Sawyer (with Jeff coaching Sawyer’s team), so that means four evenings and one Saturday morning at the ballfield each week. Kinda feel like I should have a tent and cot set up there.

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*Living in a college town is so fun! The boys looove attending the UF Homecoming Parade each year (and getting a day off school for it–woohoo!). Their favorite “floats” this year were the UF cheerleaders on the fire truck and the Krispy Kreme bus.

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*It’s been nice weather here most of the fall, so we took advantage and got OUTSIDE as much as possible. We explored a new splash park with cousins, took LOTS of nature walks, climbed on construction trucks and visited all our favorite playgrounds.

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*Hurricane Matthew kept us indoors for a few days, but thankfully there was no damage to our house and we didn’t lose power! Just a few branches down outside and some creative entertainment inside/on the screened porch (Jeff taught Finley how to play some old school Atari games).

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*Every fall brings lots of celebrations for our little family–Sawyer’s birthday (Bouncin Big party), Jeff’s birthday (Gavin Degraw/Andy Grammer concert) and my birthday (getaway to St. Pete) all within about five weeks time. So. Much. Cake. 🙂

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*October was packed with fun–Fall Festival at Sawyer’s and Carson’s school, Trunk-or-Treat at Finley’s school and a Halloween dance at Miles’ school (where he wore his real costume because he wasn’t rushing to baseball after!).

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*And, of course it’s not fall without Gator football!

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*Thanksgiving with my daddy’s side of the family was a great fall finale!

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Thank you all for following along and sharing this blog with friends–I can’t tell you how happy I am to be doing this, and to be getting so much wonderful feedback! Life is good!

Love (and enjoy the seasons) more,

Dana

Celebrating Five Holidays in the Hospital

 

 

*This is the eleventh piece in my surrogacy story. Thanks for following along!

When I checked into the hospital, we prayed that I’d be there for a very long time. That sounds strange, but if I was in the hospital for three months, that meant three months of that sweet boy growing in my tummy and not struggling to survive in the NICU.

So, first we prayed I’d still be there for Sawyer’s birthday since that was two weeks after my check-in. (My last surrogacy post shared that memorable celebration!) And then we hoped I’d still be there for my birthday and Thanksgiving. Getting to those dates would mean reaching 30+ weeks gestastion–a huge milestone, especially for someone whose water broke at just under 20 weeks.

The holidays became a wonderful distraction for my worried mind.

Each day, as I was woken around 6 a.m. for the doctors’ rounds, I was reminded where I was and the scariness of the situation as I looked around my hospital room. The doctors would feel my belly, ask a few questions and tell me to keep hanging in there. Soon after, my PCA would take my vitals and my nurse would come in for a fetal heartbeat check. This nurse/PCA routine was repeated every four hours around the clock. They were some of the most wonderful people ever, so seeing their smiling faces and chatting with them every few hours, while yet another reminder of my situation, actually had a nice calming effect during those first weeks.

Trick or Treat!

Halloween marked just under four weeks in the hospital (and 27 weeks along!). I was sad to miss shopping for the boys’ costumes (Thank you, Mom and Aunt Debbie, for taking over that job), trick-or-treating, and school parties and festivals. But, Jeff and friends and family sent pictures so I could see all the fun. And I had some visitors who brought me some sweet treats (so many Kit Kats!) and festive gifts! 🙂

*Happy visit from three of my boys dressed in their costumes (my oldest was doing homework)…

*Candy corn socks from my sweet friend, Allison!

*Halloween was also the day of the FL-GA game, so I had a visit from my Gator-garb wearing boys on their way down to Grandmommy’s house for trick-or-treating.

And Carson brought me a painted jack o’ lantern t-shirt he made for me. (The Arts in Medicine lady brought it to my room for me to paint, but, yea, crafting…)

Happy Birthday, Jeff!

Almost two weeks after Halloween, we celebrated Jeff’s birthday. I was 29 weeks along (yaay!) and had been in the hospital for six weeks. We had made it to the magical goal of 28 weeks gestation and were elated that baby boy was measuring almost 2 pounds on the most recent ultrasound. So many things to celebrate!

*I ordered his gifts online and had the sitters hide the boxes when they were delivered to the house. On his birthday, I told him where they were and he brought them up to the hospital to open. And, yep, he picked up his own cake and candles. 🙂

39 Wishes!

We could not believe I was still there when my birthday rolled around–not in a bad way, just in shock that I hadn’t gone into labor or developed an infection (both are extremely common when the amniotic sac is torn). I hit the 30-week gestation mark just a few days before my birthday! 30 weeks! We still wanted him to stay where he was for several more weeks, but we knew his chances of being healthy were so much better now. Even with the situation I was in, this was one of the best birthdays ever because we were celebrating this milestone too!

*Blurry pic but I love it! This is my big sister, Dede, and you can see some of my boys’ artwork hanging from the poles behind me. We decorated the walls and bedside table with all the pretty things they were making in school for the holidays.

*My crew helping Mommy eat her ice cream! 🙂 And my belly was a crazy shape around this time because baby had decided to lay sideways!

*Cake and watching Sunday afternoon football! It felt like I was at home! 🙂

*Birthday entertainment brought to you by Mommy’s mechanical bed … little guy could do this all day long! (Don’t mind the blue icing on his face! Boy was partying! Haha!)

*Keeping this card forever! 🙂

Giving Thanks!

Thanksgiving was unbelievable. It started just as every day for the last 8 weeks had … doctors’ rounds, PCA/nurse check-ins, breakfast, and a stress test over in Labor & Delivery. But this morning I was watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (instead of my routine Today Show), and starting to really feel the loneliness of being away from my family. Normally, we watch the parade together and run around getting ourselves and the food ready to take over to my Aunt Linda’s house for lunch and family time. It felt so strange to know everyone else was getting ready for the day together, and I was alone in pj’s judging the terrible lipsyncing of the parade performers. But early afternoon … this arrived.

*Jeff brought a whole Thanksgiving dinner from Boston Market, a folding table, plates/utensils, etc., drinks, and a microwave to the hospital. I was floored. This man won the Husband of the Year award that day, if he hadn’t already earned it from the previous 12 weeks. He brought me out of my grumpy slump and made me cry happy tears.

*It wasn’t our “normal” Thanksgiving, but we weren’t having a “normal” year anyway. When I looked around that room … whew. My sweet little life was right there and I was SO thankful for it, wherever we were celebrating.

I was so thankful for Jeff, for our boys, for our loving family and friends, for the beautiful friendship we’d formed with the bio parents of this sweet baby, for how far we had gotten (31 weeks!!) when just getting to 24 weeks was a miracle, and for the unbelievable care by my doctors and nurses while I was in that hospital.

I don’t want this, even for one minute, to sound like a pity party. I knew when I became a surrogate, my commitment to carry their child might result in extra doctor visits, bedrest or even a hospital stay because of the chance of multiples and the unknowns of an IVF pregnancy. Even with four “easy” pregnancies, I didn’t know how my body would react to the fifth. So, yes, it was difficult emotionally to celebrate all these wonderful family holidays from a hospital bed, but it was also a crazy, beautiful experience to see my family compromise and make the best of the situation while I took care of this bambino. Teamwork! And we were completing. a. family. Sometimes that takes a little extra effort, and some unconventional celebrating! 🙂

Love (and celebrate, celebrate, celebrate) more,

Dana

 

Dear Mamas, Go on the Field Trip

I never like to hand out parenting advice. Even when someone comments that I “must know so much” because I have four children. Honestly … they are all so different that my hubby and I are constantly looking at each other and shrugging when faced with a new question to answer or problem to solve. It is still trial and error, even four babies in.

But, one thing I have learned in the past 12 years is to stay involved … with their school, with their activities, with their friends. That’s advice I’m happy to share. The secret is they do want you to see what their school life is like. (Even my middle schooler asks if I can chaperone his events and field trips.) I don’t think you need to hover over your child and be in his classroom every day; that’s not really helpful for anyone. But, going to the school’s family events, eating lunch with him in the cafeteria every once in a while, or chaperoning a field trip can help you feel like a part of his world away from home.

So many parent friends of mine are afraid of field trips. They imagine complete chaos and loud bus rides and being in charge of 15 children by themselves. Not one field trip I’ve been on has been chaotic. The teachers plan these things down to the last minute detail. They want everyone to have fun–and they don’t want to lose any children! 🙂 Most of the time, you’ll be in charge of your own child and 2-3 more. Totally doable.

And yes, I know it is difficult to go on field trips if you work full-time outside the home, but if you’re able to use a personal day, or even a half-day, I promise it will be worth it. I’m not gonna lie; there will be a lot of kiddos with shrill, loud voices. And you might have to endure a Kids Bop sing-along on the bus. But you’ll also have crazy good quality time with your little one, you’ll get to see him interact with his school friends (which is always pretty cool to observe) and you’ll get to know his teacher better by being a part of her/his “team” for the day.

Here’s another secret. You get to go to some really awesome places on field trips! Museums, performing arts centers, dairy farms, zoos, historical forts, planetariums … just a few of my boys’ trips that come to mind. And often these visits include a private tour or talk while the class is there, so the experience is a little more “special” for the kids and adults who come via a school trip.

This fall I went on a field trip with Sawyer’s kindergarten class. It was a walking field trip, so no bus ride. And it was SO FUN! We went to the UF football stadium and were escorted by student athletes around several areas of the stadium. I went on this field trip when Miles and Carson were in kindergarten too, and have loved it every time. The kids are so excited to be in The Swamp, and the parents are excited to see the underbelly of it. I took tons of pictures, but narrowed it down to a few to share here. If you’ve been hesitant to chaperone a field trip with your kiddo’s class, maybe this will encourage you to try it out. 🙂

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Pretty neat, huh? If you’re a field trippin’ parent, what has been your favorite one so far?

Love (and go) more,

Dana

Life on Bedrest

*This is the ninth piece in my surrogacy series. Thanks for following along!

Bedrest Boredom?

The #1 response from people who found out I was on bedrest was, “Aren’t you so bored?” Bored was not at all the term I’d use to describe it. You know how your brain turns on as you settle in to bed each night? And everything you need to do the next day (or week or month) races through your mind? That was my brain on bedrest.

Each person’s bedrest instructions are a little different, according to their situation and doctor. Mine included lying flat as much as possible, drinking water around the clock, a quick shower every other day, and keeping my stress level down.

Even though I was in bed all day and night, there was never a moment I was “bored.” Wonderful friends brought over great books and movies, I found TV shows I’d never had the chance to watch, there were lots and lots of texts/phone calls for updates and for touching base with my babysitters, and Pinterest and Facebook were wonderful sources of middle-of-the-night brainless entertainment. But on top of all of that, my mind was constantly wandering.

Having a smartphone that lets you Google every tidbit of information out there on your particular situation (24/7!) is a little dangerous. I wanted to read about every single person I could find who’d been in my shoes. I wanted to know how far along each person had gotten and how the baby had fared with each delivery. I wanted to know their secrets for getting past each milestone with PPROM. It was my constant “project” to find as much information as possible, so I knew what was going on at that point and what would need to happen (to me or to baby) with each “what if” scenario.

I texted often with the bio parents to let them know how the days were going, and the bio dad sent baby growth updates from an app on his phone.We loved seeing how each day made such a difference in this little one’s development. It kept us thinking positively and being grateful for each day we crossed off the calendar. Our first goal was to reach 24 weeks gestation. SO MUCH changes for the baby at that point. There is SUCH a better chance of survival. So, we just had to keep on keeping on until we got there. 🙂

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*My parents made a fun basket of goodies for Jeff and me to share while we watched the Gator game from bed. It was so strange not to be at the home games. This little guy was throwing wrenches in our plans left and right! 🙂

Just Calm Down

In order to keep stress at bay, I had to take a medical leave from my position as the managing editor of Giggle Magazine (a wonderful local parenting magazine) because that type of work is deadline-driven, and the stress level goes up as print day draws near. I felt horrible doing this because we were just days from going to print (which is when I normally edit like crazy), but as I’ve learned, your body doesn’t care what your plans are.

I desperately wanted to stay calm and keep the baby in a relaxed atmosphere. I talked to myself in my mind a lot (I know that sounds crazy but it helped!) and would remind myself to breathe deeply and slowly several times a day. It made me feel like I was doing something to help the situation. I guess we never know what’s going to happen next, but as someone who likes to plan and be organized, this “wait and see” thing felt so bizarre to me. My mind and body wanted to be doing something proactive all the time.

One of the hardest parts of bedrest was being secluded from my boys. We wanted to keep their routine as normal as possible, so the sitters still came each day and stayed until Jeff got home from work around 9-10 p.m. My parents and aunt also took turns spending several days/weeks at a time at our house caring for the boys. I stayed upstairs all day (to the boys it was like I was at work), and each evening they’d come up to “visit.” I could hear them downstairs, which was wonderful and painful at the same time. I loved hearing their sweet laughter, but hated being on the outside of what was going on. But, we had to limit their time upstairs because, as little ones do, they wanted to bounce on the bed and jump in my lap and have pillow fights … not good for my stress level (or Jeff’s as he’d watch me try to protect my belly). We knew it would be worth this odd, lonely arrangement when a healthy baby boy was born!

The Next Step

In my last post about the surrogacy, I shared our experience with our first perinatologist and that we were anxious to meet with a new specialist. Our appointment with Dr. Gregg couldn’t have gone better! He was welcoming and positive, and we left in happy tears this time! He had dealt with PPROM many times before, and even gave lectures at universities on the treatment for it. He never once said that the baby’s demise was inevitable, or anything along that line. We discussed what we’d done so far during home bedrest, and he shared his plan for us going forward under his care. That’s all we wanted. Someone to tell us they believed the baby could survive this, and what we needed to do to give him the best chance possible.

I checked in to the hospital on a Monday morning. I was 23 weeks and 5 days along. We had made it four weeks on bedrest at home! Now, we were going to be monitored around the clock until baby arrived.

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Jeff dropped me off at the entrance so I didn’t have to walk from the parking garage. As I sat inside waiting for him to park the car, I looked up at this gorgeous display of paper cranes. They were created by friends and loved ones for Joey’s Wings Foundation, a charity formed here in Gainesville after a sweet, local 10-year-old lost his battle with kidney cancer. I snapped a picture just to remember the emotional (but beautiful) moment.

I had my first of many (MANY!) fetal stress tests in triage and then a PCA took me to my room. Jeff put my bag on a small cabinet and my toiletries in the bathroom. I carefully climbed (scooted/eased/flopped) into the bed and adjusted myself to get comfy. This was going to be my home for a while.

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More soon.

Love (and rest) more,

Dana

Living on Coconut Water and Quinoa

*This is the eighth piece in my surrogacy story. Thanks for following along!

When I was sent home from the hospital (just one day shy of 20 weeks along), the only plan was for me to be on strict bedrest, complete my prescription of antibiotics, and to come back to the hospital if I started contracting or bleeding. There was a chance the tear would repair itself, but that was unlikely. Most often with PPROM, the sac completely breaks open, labor begins or an infection develops.

I had asked every nurse that came into my hospital room for advice. They were all so positive and told me uplifting stories of patients who had made it to 28 weeks and even farther! They told me to keep drinking water (to replenish the fluid I was losing), to lie flat (one even suggested lowering my head) and to try to stay calm. One even closed her eyes and prayed along when my daddy visited and was praying with me. 🙂

So, my personal plan as I started bedrest was to stay flat in bed as much as possible and do everything I could to keep my body from developing an infection. I knew if that happened, the doctors would immediately induce labor or perform a C-section.

I took my prenatal every day, ate tons of fruits and veggies, and drank more water than I have in my entire life. I also drank coconut water for added hydration and electrolytes, ate yogurt for probiotic protection and drank cranberry juice for urinary tract health. Watermelon and celery gave me even more water intake (and the natural vitamins they have), and a cold quinoa salad from the Publix deli became my obsession. Several friends had suggested quinoa for its antioxidant and repairing properties, so my family stocked up on it for me. My dad even drove across town to several Publixes when the one near my house didn’t have any left.

A huge challenge was keeping my bladder empty (to prevent the onset of contractions) because I was supposed to lie on my back as much as possible. But, I was drinking so much water that I needed to pee all the time! And every time I tried to get out of bed, I felt a fluid leak. Ugh. So scary (and gross) and I cringed every time it happened. I was terrified that was going to be the big one that meant baby was on his way.

I desperately tried to stay calm and positive. We were referred to a specialist and had an appointment with her the following week, if the baby didn’t arrive before then. So, I celebrated each day that got us closer to the appointment.

My regular OB/GYN, Dr. Werner, called and texted several times to check in on me. She knows me so well, and knew I was staying positive and doing exactly what I was told, but I was still scared. And I was sad to be moving to a new doctor because I have such a great relationship with her (and to me, feeling comfortable with and having trust in your OB/GYN is super important). But, in this case, I needed to be with a high-risk doctor for the rest of the pregnancy.

*Not the best picture, but this is what Jeff did before he left for work every day. I had yogurt, veggies and hummus, fruit, a sandwich, extra juice, coconut water and quinoa in my cooler so I didn’t have to go downstairs or ask the babysitter to get me anything.


WE MADE IT TO APPOINTMENT DAY…

We met with the perinatologist (fetal medicine specialist) with such anticipation (and almost an excitement) for what she’d say. We had made it another week and she was a “specialist,” so we thought she would know what we needed to do to keep me from going into labor and save this sweet boy.

The appointment was similar to other prenatal appointments–weight and urine check, questions about my overall health, and an ultrasound. It was SO wonderful to see him in there moving and kicking, even with very low fluid levels. We were all smiling and feeling so positive watching him. He didn’t know anything was wrong.

The tech never cracked a smile … we weren’t sure if she wasn’t supposed to show emotion or she was just having a really bad day. Very different than the friendly, sweet techs I’d seen while being under Dr. Werner’s care. We knew techs weren’t supposed to tell us the details that the doctor needed to explain, but a bit of warmth wouldn’t have hurt anybody. My positive attitude started to wane.

The doctor came in and solemnly looked at the ultrasound and proceeded to tell us that the fluid level was low (we knew this) and more leaking would mean major issues or death for the baby. We all asked questions (we’d been researching PPROM extensively and wanted to know details about our situation compared to others). Every single thing we asked about or suggested was shot down. There was a quiet sadness filling the room. She made a few jokes, I guess to lift our spirits, and I’m not sure but I think my mouth dropped open as I listened to her callous comments. This didn’t feel anything like I’d imagined.

She left the room and I immediately fell into the bio mom’s arms and bawled. When I looked up, I saw tears coming down Jeff’s cheeks. We all stood in the room for several minutes and cried. It felt like everyone we spoke with, including this specialist in high-risk pregnancies, just assumed that I was going to lose the baby. And in that moment, I questioned my optimism and gut. Was I just being ridiculous to think I could make my body hold onto this child, and ignore what we were being told? I really, really, really felt like I could do SOMETHING … that it wasn’t a wasted effort. He was still ALIVE in my tummy.

We walked quietly down the hall and into the elevators; I’m sure our minds were all reliving what had just happened. I could feel baby boy kicking as I walked and I rubbed my belly and silently talked to him/prayed to God. We sat in the waiting area and tried to construe our own plan. We knew our hope had just been crushed in a matter of minutes, and it shouldn’t have been. No matter what was “inevitable,” a specialist should know that if someone comes to her, they are in a scary, emotional situation and she should understand them wanting to TRY whatever they can to save their little one. She should not be crass and sarcastic, making us feel like this was just another day at the office.

The bio dad suggested we get another opinion, from another high-risk doctor, and we agreed. Jeff took me home to get in bed, I made a few phone calls and within hours we had scheduled an appointment for the next week and gotten my records transferred.

We were relieved to be DOING SOMETHING. None of us wanted to just accept that the baby was going to be born too early and there was nothing to do but wait for it to happen. And we needed to find a high-risk doctor who thought like we did. Someone who knew what “usually happens” with PPROM, but who also knew that it WAS possible to make it far enough for this baby to survive. Someone who would let us have hope.

We couldn’t wait to meet with the new doctor. We had a new plan and renewed positive vibes!

In the meantime, more coconut water. 🙂

Love (and hydrate) more,

Dana