born a girl.

A year and two days ago my ultrasound tech took a photo with my baby’s gender and placed it in an envelope for my mom.

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Prior to this appointment, at a 14 week checkup to monitor the subchorionic hematoma that developed just under my placenta, the tech had mentioned that she was fairly certain it was a girl.

On my 23rd birthday, we announced publicly that the word ‘girl’ was, in fact, written on the black and white photo inside that envelope.

Since that day I have been praying. I want to be able to equip her with everything she will need to navigate this world as a girl.

In four days Kinsley will be 7 months old. She isn’t old enough to know yet, but as soon as she is, it will be my number one priority to make sure she understands that her being female is something we celebrated. I will make sure she knows that we love her no less because she was born a daughter.

I will make it a point to tell her that, even in a world where women and our opportunities and rights are interrupted and shushed by men’s hands over our mouths and around our necks every day- even under these circumstances, her voice can be as loud,  her message just as important, and her will even stronger than any man’s.

I pray that I can help her recognize when something isn’t okay, and to decide that she will take what is rightfully hers.
I pray that I can teach her to be brave, and to plant her feet on the ground firmly as she stands up to fight for what she believes in.
I pray that I can show her how to make her voice heard and to speak out against things that are unjust.

I want her to do these things like so many great others have done before her and are still doing today.

Kinsley was born a daughter, and I’m glad for it. When she grows up, I will make sure I have raised her to be one more strong woman in the crowd, marching, fighting, standing, and making a case for respect, equal pay, the right to control her body, a livable planet, the end of violence against women, health care for all, public education, the constitution, and the bill of rights.

Kinsley was born a girl, and nothing will stop her. Someday she will stand among daughters who pledge not to be silent, not to be interrupted, not to be sidelined, not to be stopped, and not to be afraid.

I hope you will teach your daughters the same.

 

 

 

 

 

Growth in 2017

The last two years were hard.
But hard is good, because it causes people to evolve.

In 2016 I learned to be brave.
I learned to find inner strength to push through, and I realized that bravery goes hand in hand with strenght. The strength & bravery I found in 2016 carried me through 2017.

In 2017 I learned to grow.
I learned that life can change drastically and when it does, there will be things you cannot control. As a result, I had to embrace the changes and learn to grow through what I go through. Using strength and bravery, I embraced hardships to make me better, not bitter. The growth I experienced in 2017 is going to help shape my 2018.

Let’s have a look at the highlights (and low lights) of 2017 before I reveal what my mantra for 2018 is going to be.

JANUARY

Because we were pregnant since late October, I wanted to formally announce the pregnancy after the first of the year, so late December of 2016 I sent out pregnancy announcements to all of my family with a Christmas card.

January 3rd I announced on social media that we were expecting a baby in late June/early July.

Following the pregnancy announcement, I began moving to Petoskey.

We officially picked two names.

Late January I had my anatomy scan and found out the gender of our baby.

FEBRUARY

After the move was well underway I began some work in transforming the spare bedroom into a nursery.

Mid February I had a maternity shoot.

February 19th I left behind 22’s wishes and welcomed 23’s with a big celebration…

That celebration was our gender reveal party. We shared with family and friends that we would be having a girl via a cake that my mom made for the party.

MARCH

Due to some issues with the gender party, and many people showing their true colors, I realized it was time to begin a social media cleanse to start removing the toxicity from my life.

It took a few months, mostly because I was pregnant and it was winter, but I finally finished moving to Petoskey and let my lease in Conway go.

On March 17th we brought Merlin, our border collie, home from an Amish farm near Grand Rapids.

APRIL

At 28 weeks pregnant I decided there was no better time to visit my BFF in Florida, so for the second time ever, I put some stuff in a bag, drove to Detroit, and caught a flight to Panama City for a week. It was literally the best time. We sat on the couch for almost the entire week playing a game we have both come to love called Stardew Valley.

Shortly after returning from Florida Nick and I had Easter with all of his family in Traverse City.

Just a few months from Kinsley’s birth I finally got around to ordering and building her crib and crafting a few unique pieces for her nursery.

MAY

After enough pregnancy troubles and a difficult decision I decided to leave my Home Decor Department Manager position at Lowe’s.

I got to see my step sister get married to the love of her life in Tecumseh, Michigan.

I finally got around to sending out baby shower invites.

Traded in LaFawnduh the Ford Fusion for Pearl, our new JEEP Cherokee. (Thanks to a fellow named Jim at Brown Motors, who was MOST helpful.)

JUNE

At 37 weeks, on June 11th, I had my baby shower at a beautiful church in Cheboygan with family and friends.

We found out the news that Kinsley had a one vessel cord, so the doctors ordered some extra tests, which included these lovely stress tests, all of which we passed.

Miss Kinsley Estelle June made her debut to the world on June 25th, 2017 at 7:37 pm at McClaren Hospital in Petoskey, MI. She was 6lbs, 11oz, and 19.5 inches long.

Minutes after Kinsley was born, it was determined that something wasn’t right with her anatomy. She was taken to the DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan where it was confirmed that she was born with a rare congenital defect called Tracheoesophageal Fistula (TEF) / Esophageal Atresia (EA).

We traveled to GR the next day after I was discharged from the hospital, where we received the most helpful support, humbling kindness, and amazing medical care for our daughter. DeVos is such a special place. I could not be more grateful that she ended up there. Every occupational therapist, social worker, nurse, nurse practitioner, neonatologist, ENT, surgeon, that had their hands in her care was simply the best. We are forever indebted to DeVos and their team, as well as the nurses at McClaren who saved Kinsley’s life.

JULY/AUGUST

As it turned out, Nick and I would end up spending a lot of time in Grand Rapids. 6.5 weeks, to be exact. Between our visits at the hospital with Kinsley and her doctors, Nick decided to help me experience the town while we were there, since it’s where he grew up. I kept track of a list of places we went (in no particular order) that I’d never been before.

FOOD

+Red Robin

+Omlette Shoppe
(my favorite restaurant in GR)

+Paleos Italian Restaurant

+Firehouse Subs
(umm their italian is to die for)

+Sonic

+Olive Garden
(a traverse city favorite)

+Twisted rooster

+Vitales at Comstock Park

+Panera Bread

+Cold Stone Creamery
(I got cake batter something or other)

COFFEE SHOPS

+Dunkin’ Donuts

+Bagel Beanery

+Tim Horton’s

FUN

+AMC Theater (saw The House)

+Celebration Cinema (saw Spider-Man)

+Barnes & Noble

LOCAL BREWERIES/PUBS

+Atwater Brewery

+City Flats

+7 Monks

+Founders

+Flat Lander’s Barstillery
(holy shit their fries!!)

OUTDOOR ATTRACTIONS

+SkyWalk

+Grand Rapids museum

+Downtown Grand Rapids

+Frederick Meijer Gardens

+John Ball Zoo

We traveled to Elk Rapids for Harbor Fest as well.

I also finally got to meet Nick’s sister Schae, who lives in Arizona but flew in for a few weeks to see us and attend to other family members in their time of need as well. (bless her heart)

We also came home for a minute to attend my mom’s and step dad Don’s wedding.

Finally on August 9th, Kinsley was discharged from the hospital.

We got to do some normal family things which felt so good after 47 long days in the hospital with her.

SEPTEMBER

In early September I started my final prerequisite for the nursing program: A&P.

Nick and I ventured over to Friske’s Orchard, this place he’s been raving about since we met.

Enjoyed a few last warm days in the remaining ‘summer’ sun.

And last but not least, we celebrated Nick, Chelsea and Schae’s birthdays with this awesome peanut butter chocolate cake I made.

OCTOBER

I started the month out swallowing some major frogs. We had to get the medical bills from Kinsley being at DeVos organized and taken care of. Even being home for 2 months at this point, I was still adjusting to the ‘new mom’ and ‘household secretary/appointment scheduler’ roles.

We had oddly warm temps this fall, which we took full advantage of. Nick and I took Kinsley to Pond Hill Farm for some family photos and fun.

We were also able to make it to Uncle Frank’s Orchard.

And we took the opportunity to go to Tequamenon Falls before the colors were officially gone.

Kinsley was Raggedy Anne for her first Halloween.

We also cannot forget that my dear Sparky Berlin turned 2.

And I also started a part time job, one to two shifts per week at Marshal’s.

NOVEMBER

This was a month jam-packed with appointments in Grand Rapids.

I got the foundation to help us with one of the trips, and they were able to pay for a king suite hotel room with a Jacuzzi tub (best decision I ever made).

Kinsley had her second and last (so far) esophageal dilation.

Nick and I finally got to go to our local Beard’s Brewery, which is something we’ve been trying to do since before Kinsley was born.

Kinsley had her first Thanksgiving!

At her first Thanksgiving I for a 4 generation photo which means more to me than most things.

DECEMBER

My A&P class ended mid December so I took a weekend to get completely caught up in order to lock in a good grade.

When the grades were finally submitted I ended the class with an A (by .03%). Which is something I’m extremely proud of.

Kinsley finally made sufficient progress at feeding therapy and got her feeding tube removed and started using a special bottle. By the last week of December she was cleared to start baby food at feeding therapy.

December was full of celebration; Kinsley turned 6 months old on her first Christmas.

Nick decided it was time to get me a promise ring, which he gave me on Christmas Eve.

We started our own Christmas Eve tradition.

My three absolute best friends made it all to the same place at the same time to spend an afternoon of baby snuggling, cookie baking and visiting together.

And on the very last day of the year, we had a family dinner with my mom and step dad Don, and nick’s mom and step dad Jim. It was a perfect way to end a year full of family times.

Now, if you’re still along for the ride, or if you just skipped to this part, we’re dont recounting everything that happened in 2017, and we can move forward to 2018.

As I mentioned before we took a trip down memory lane, in 2017 I learned that life can change drastically and when it does, there will be things you cannot control. As a result, I had to embrace the changes and learn to grow through what I go through. Using strength and bravery, I embraced our hardships to make me better, not bitter. The growth I experienced in 2017 is going to help shape my 2018.

In 2018 I’m going to remember “I have the power to create change.”
And it’s going to be my mantra.

It only makes sense that my 2018 mantra would evolve from my 2017 year. We were stretched, tested, pushed, and put through so much. And from that we grew. And grew, and grew, and grew.

And now that that’s all finished, we have to keep that in mind with 2018 and continue to grow through what we go through, because while hardship and unexpected changes are inevitable in life, we also have to make sure that we realize another thing heading into 2018 which is that we have the power to create change.

We’re going through things now that stemmed from the uncontrolled, and we can only grow from things we can’t control, but some of the strain caused us to make bad habits, or fall into crappy circumstances, and now it’s time to recognize that those things have to change, and we are the ones with the power to do it.

With our experiences with Kinsley being born, and the resulting financial hardships we endured and the debt we adopted, we need to go into 2018 with a mindset that we have the power to create change, to squash the debt and do what needs to be done to prevent further financial hardship.

Last year I learned to grow through what I go through. This year I’m reminding myself that I have the power to create change. And I’m already on the right path with the to-do’s I’ve completed, the frogs I’ve swallowed, and the changes I committed to in the last week. All those specifics with have to wait for another blogpost coming soon.

YOU HAVE THE POWER TO CREATE CHANGE, FOLKS.

Grab 2018 by the balls and make it your bitch. I’m gonna.

Cheers to 2018!