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!

Sweet Girl.

Somehow my tiny 6 pound 11 ounce NICU baby is going to be 6 months old in exactly 2 weeks.

Somehow my TEF baby has been tube free for 4 whole days now that she’s doing oral feeds and taking a whole bottle now.

Somehow my silly girl has discovered her tongue and her voice and her feet and hands and can lift her head and grab things and sit up and roll over and play and laugh and sleep through the night in her crib.

In the blink of an eye.

I’m literally shocked. Four months ago (plus three days) we brought Kinsley home from the NICU and our next chapter began, and now we’re turning pages almost weekly.

People really aren’t over exaggerating when they tell you how quickly the time will go by, how fast your baby will grow, and how short each phase lasts. They aren’t kidding when they say you’re going to miss this. My sweet baby is so many things right now, and I want to recognize them here, and hope that 10 years from now she’ll still be everything she is right now, plus even more.

I can’t stop the time from passing so quickly, but I can make sure that while it does I am teaching her the most important things about living. So here’s my first #dearKinsley post.

Dear Kinsley,

Please stay loud.

May your coos and screeches continue in the form of words heard. Voice your opinion. Laugh out loud. Be joyful and thankful and happy and never stop talking about things that are good.

Please stay sweet.

May you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar- not that you’ll want flies, but regardless. Smile. Use kindness as your secret weapon. Don’t say mean things. Always say what you mean. Words are powerful but powerful is great when it’s used for good.

Please stay curious.

May your eyes stay filled with wonder and curiosity toward everything in this world. Ask questions. Seek answers. Learn something new every day and never stop because the world truly is your oyster and knowledge is power.

Please stay strong.

May your strength overshadow any obstacle in front of you. If there’s a will, there’s a way. Push forward. Life is hard and I’m here to tell you it will only get harder, but you can always lean on me and I will help you find your strength if you think you’ve lost it.

Please stay true to you.

May you grow and learn and with time find yourself, who you are and what you love. Embrace you. LOVE you. There’s nothing more important in the world than to nourish the roots of who you ARE. You are beautiful inside and out and self love FIRST will get you wherever you need to be.

Please keep growing.

May you continue to challenge yourself and push for progress. Set goals. Achieve them. If you fail, try again because failure IS NECESSARY since it helps you grow, and besides, success is so much sweeter when you have to work for it.

And please keep in mind…

No mountain is too high. No sea too wide.

Hard work breeds rewarding results.

That boy you think you love, he’s probably not worth it.

Believe in yourself ALWAYS.

Chase your dreams no matter how out of reach they may seem.

Put yourself first when you need to.

If you fall down 100 times, stand up 101.

You can do ANYTHING you put your mind to.

Sometimes I may not take your side, but I will always do what’s best for you.

I will love you unconditionally, no matter what.

XOXO
Love,

Mom.

 

No Big Deal

Tomorrow morning Kinsley will have her first swallow study since July, which means that soon after we will be able to start oral feeds (hopefully) at occupational therapy. After this test we will be one step closer to getting the NG tube out of her nose, and one step further away from needing to have the G tube surgery.

Because all of her appointments are at a children’s hospital 3.5 hours downstate, when we have appointments I often spend a lot of time preparing for them. This morning while I was packing Kinsley’s diaper bag, our overnight bag, getting the pack and play together, and tidying up the house so we can return tomorrow afternoon and rest without any chores or errands, I had the opportunity to spend plenty of time thinking about something mentioned to me a week or so back.

It was said that Kinsley’s problems are “no big deal” and that I don’t do anything but sit at home [and twiddle my thumbs].

Initially I laughed it off, because I know that’s simply not true. I know that a comment like that could only be made from someone ignorant, someone clueless- someone who has obviously never seen or heard my child breathe, because if they had, they would understand immediately that an airway disorder IS a big deal. Breathing sustains life, and airway disorders threaten that action.

Initially I wasn’t super offended that someone thinks I don’t do anything but sit at home, because once again, that’s simply not true. Furthermore, how would anyone know what is done daily if they hadn’t spent a day in the life of a mom with a child who has special needs, appointments and routines? So, I shrugged it off.

I chose not to defend my position and said nothing because proving what I do on a daily basis is useless- I know that there are a number of people who have seen first hand all the work that goes into taking care of one happy, healthy child, let alone one with health issues. I know there are several people who can attest to the time I have spent on hold, making calls to doctors offices, and scheduling countless appointments to make sure my child gets the care she needs and can continue to develop normally. I know there are many who recognize the struggle we face with finances, travel, work, and life in general, given our situation. More importantly, my partner and I recognize how far the other goes in order to provide our daughter with everything she needs, which is the most important thing here- above what anyone else thinks.

That being said, this post’s purpose is not prove what I do for my daughter. I don’t need to list everything here that I do day in and day out to prove someone wrong. Instead, I am writing this post as a call to action for anyone who looks onto another person’s life making assumptions and conjectures without any actual knowledge about it, to STOP.

Making comments when you don’t know if they are true or false is rude and hurtful and can be especially oppressive to a person dealing with a lot already. If you don’t know something, either ask, or don’t say anything at all.

Quit whispering. Stop staring. Don’t be a coward- find some courage to understand a diagnosis, situation, lifestyle, struggle- whatever it is you are unsure about…until then, you are not entitled to an opinion.

If you haven’t asked me about my child’s diagnosis, or our daily routines, and if I haven’t shared with you what they consist of, you are not entitled to an opinion about either. That aside, why anyone would feel the need to put down a person in a difficult situation they have no true knowledge of and have never been in, is unbeknownst to me. Perhaps before projecting opinions on others’ lives, we should spend a little more time critiquing and improving our own.

Good day, friends- enjoy your cozy Tuesday- I’ll be spending mine calling my job to give them my availability involving next week’s appointments, finishing a few lab write ups, studying for a midterm for the last class I need to get into the nursing program this spring, and completing housework before I fill the Jeep with what our family needs to stay overnight downstate to make our daughter’s appointments tomorrow, you know, because her issues are no big deal. First I’m going to sit at home and twiddle my thumbs all day, though. 😉

Kinsley Estelle June 🌸

I want to share a piece of writing that means more to me on this day than any other words have in my life:
“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.”  Ecclesiastes 11:5

I have no understanding, and there is no logic to what I feel, but if there is anything I am certain of, it is that she is ‘the work of God, the maker of all things.’


Welcome to the world, beautiful baby girl.

Kinsley Estelle June Hoebeke
06.25.17
7:37pm
6lbs 11oz
19.5 in long


 

Countdown to Kinsley: Leading up to the final days

In my first countdown to Kinsley post I chronicled the first two weeks of the countdown. Now we’ve been given our induction date, so instead of posting the second and final two weeks of the countdown together in one post, I’m going to post the third week, and then the last few days before induction will be in another post.

So! Here are countdown days 17-10!

June 15, Day 16:
-try something new

June 16, Day 15:
-do absolutely nothing (except wash baby clothes and sterilize bottles)

June 17, Day 14:
-take a hike (with nick and merlin)

June 18, Day 13:
-go grocery shopping alone

June 19, Day 12:
-make some homemade food

June 20, Day 11:
-take the jeep for a drive

June 21, Day 10:
-spend time with Berlin

So, that sums up what I’ve done for the third week of my countdown to Kinsley, and with induction occurring early next week, we don’t quite have 9 days left, but we have a few. In my final countdown to Kinsley post I will chronicle the last days of my pregnancy and non-parent journey, and include a cumulative, running list of everything I got to do during my last month of pregnancy.

 

Nursery

I think we’re ready to have a baby!

Today I am 33 weeks and 4 days pregnant, and according to my doctor given due date (July 1st) and my handy little pregnancy tracking app, we have 46 days to go.

Finally, I am finished with the nursery. If miss Kinsley June decided to come tomorrow, we would be ready for her.

I love this room, and I am so proud of all the work that went into making it look the way it does. I got almost all the furniture from second hand shops and refinished all the pieces except the crib, which we bought new. Everything was hand picked and thought out for the theme we chose and I am so happy with the way it turned out.

She is more precious than rubies, and we are so incredibly blessed.

xoxo