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1 in 4: My Miscarriage Story

Preface: Hello, lovelies. I wrote this post originally in April of 2019. It’s been sitting in my drafts since then, but I feel like I should press publish and release it into the world. I hope that it helps someone feel less alone. After this happened, I ended up having an ectopic pregnancy, which will be a story for another time. I now have a one year old daughter, so for anyone going through this, don’t lose hope. Hugs to you all.

Up until 7:12 this morning, I was pregnant. At 7:12, my doctor called. I picked up, hopeful. Maybe he was calling to tell me great news. Maybe the HCG levels that I had worried myself sick about had suddenly gone up over night, and my baby was safe.

In my experience, doctors don’t call for great news. This morning was no different. My HCG level had dropped from 86 on Monday to 32 on Wednesday. I tried to keep it together on the phone, but I know my doctor could tell I had already begun to cry. My heart had sunk and I felt sick. I pulled to the side of the road and fell apart.

Today, I would have been 5 weeks pregnant. I had done my research. If I could have made it through this week to 6 weeks and 2 days, my baby would have had a heartbeat. We would have been good, and our family would be growing.

When I took that first pregnancy test and saw the faintest of lines, my heart skipped a beat. As all neurotic people do, I proceeded to pee on more sticks. The lines kept getting darker. I peed on more sticks, you know, just to be extra sure. From all the articles I’d read, this was a good sign. This little bean was going to stick. I was going to be a mom.

I found out I was pregnant 8 days ago. In those 8 days, I had built a life up for this baby in my head. I imagined carrying him for the next 9 months. I imagined how it would feel to hold him in my arms for the first time. I imagined making funny little purees for him out of kale and strawberries. I imagined walking him to kindergarten and then waving him off on his first date. I imagined driving him to college – how excited he would be about decorating his dorm room!

I imagined all of this, although I knew I shouldn’t have. I knew that up until the second trimester everything was up in the air. I know now, despite the blame that I put on myself, that there was a 20% chance that this would have happened. I know I will try again, and that one day, I will have a baby. Maybe two.

I’m hurting. I didn’t think it would hurt this much but it does. As of 7:12am, I am no longer expecting a baby. I am now expecting blood, to remind me of what could have been. I hope this part comes soon, and leaves quickly. As much as I hurt, I know that I need to hurt in order to heal, and to try again.

For something that happens so often, it’s a shame that it’s so taboo. If I am hurting, I imagine every woman and couple who has gone through this has hurt as well. I am now one in four women who will suffer from a miscarriage. That’s a lot of hurt to keep bottled up. So I’m not going to. I’m writing it out, for the whole damn world to see. This hurts, and that’s okay. I’ll be okay too.

My pregnancy tests after the news of the miscarriage

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Quarantine Day 1 Minute by Minute Updates of an Extraordinarily Busy Lady

I am extremely grateful that I live in a state that recognized that schools are a breeding ground for germs and closed us down for the next two weeks. In the meantime, I’ll be staying at home, except for walks outside (don’t worry – I live in an area where no one takes walks outside so social isolation is easy). I thought it would be amusing to do a play by play of how my first day of quarantine went. Read on ya’ll!

8:30am – Wake up startled that I’m late for my first period class. Calm the feck down and lay in bed for a while.

9:10am – Haul myself downstairs (hauling is not an understatement – I am 27 weeks pregnant). Greet darling husband, who happens to work from home. After a few minutes, he exclaims that “this is going to be a long two weeks.”

9:30am – Wrestle my duvet into the duvet cover. Have to take several breaks because my heart rate is too high. Have a thought that a duvet stuffing class would make an excellent cardio class. Will come back to this idea when the crisis is over.

9:40am – Realize I’d be a terrible housewife.

10:00am – Finish folding the laundry that I’ve been putting off folding for the last three weeks and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. (See thoughts from 9:40am).

10:30am – Eat some dope breakfast tacos (shout out to Siete for making those yummy grain-free tortillas) and finish reading Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Taleb. I feel like a God damn scholar. Decide that after the quarantine, I will come out much more intelligent.

11:00am – Sit down to get some work done. Procrastinate by Googling “coronavirus.” Learn nothing new.

11:30am – Actually start working. At this point, I am convinced that I would not only be a terrible housewife, but also a terrible WFH employee.

11:35am – Get distracted from work and start writing this blog out.

11:45am – Get back to work.

12:30pm – After a solid 45 minutes of intense work, I take a break to watch the new Bert Kreischer special. Laugh a lot. You should go watch it.

1:30pm – Decide to go take a nap.

1:31pm – Decide that before I take said nap, I should eat a bowl of oatmeal so as to sleep better, like a baby.

1:35pm – Eat a bowl of oatmeal, with some bananas and a spoonful of peanut butter. Say “yum”! Whilst eating, the mail arrives, including a massive bag of maternity clothes. Realize I will not have to wear real clothing for at least several weeks.

2:00pm – Take my well deserved nap.

3:00pm – Wake up from nap and go for a leisurely 2-mile walk with my husband. Get spooked by how quiet the neighborhood is.

4:00pm – Do a light workout with kettlebells. Before doing so, read the news that I obsessively refresh. 55 new cases of coronavirus in Illinois, and the first death.

4:30pm – After exerting so much energy today, decide to make dinner. Tonight is super fancy – kale a la chicken nuggets. Leave my pregnant taste buds alone bruh.

5:00pm – Sit down to watch an episode of Sex Education, while eating my super fancy dinner.

6:00pm – Actually sit down to do some work for the first time all day. Get confused about how so much time has passed, and so little productivity has happened.

7:30pm – Get ready for bed. Yes, I start to get ready for bed between 7:30 and 8:00pm. I like sleep. A LOT.

And that, folks, is how my first day of quarantine went.

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In My Feelings, a la Drake

I’ve always seen self care as a bougie massage, a fancy workout class or a face mask. I never thought there would be the day where self care was a nap and a shower, but I guess this is part of transforming into a mother. Today, with my husband’s guidance, I took an hour long nap and a hot shower, and I swear I feel like a new woman.

My feelings have been all over the place lately. I have great days, shit days and okay days. Last week, I had a series of shit days that made me question if I would ever see a great or okay day again. It hit me hard. I spent a lot of time crying and wallowing. I felt fat, useless and exhausted. I felt scared and anxious about the future. I feared that I would never be Jeanette again, that I would just be mom.

Thankfully, I have an incredible husband who has been patient as hell through the last six months of pregnancy. He listened to my every cry, reminded me that my body is working it’s ass off to grow this baby, and helped me to get myself out of that slump.

I know that that was probably not my last slump, but it feels good as hell to be out of it. I would describe it as that feeling when you can breathe again after having a stuffed nose for a week. It’s heavenly.

Becoming a mom is not how it looks on TV – a perfectly round tummy, a great self esteem and boundless energy. The truth is that pregnancy is a body that changes constantly. Pregnancy is having to catch your breath after going up a flight of stair. It’s questioning whether or not you have what it takes to be the mom of your dreams. It’s looking in a mirror and missing the “old” you.

While that is depressing AF, pregnancy is also the knowledge that your body has done something absolutely incredible in growing another human being. It’s the feeling of having your hand on your tummy and feeling your baby kick. It’s knowing that you, along with the person you love and value most in this world, have created life together.

This last week I’ve been focusing on taking care of myself, whether that be a hot shower and clean hair or a fun workout class. As frustrating as pregnancy can be, I’m amazed on a daily basis by what our bodies can do. I’m so grateful for a body that is able to move, support me and my baby.

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2019: A Year in Review

2019 – damn were you a year. Like everyone else on the planet, there were highs and lows and days that just felt fine. 2019 brought me lessons, laughter and my fair share of tears. 2019 brought me travel and adventure with the people I care about. So before 2019 melts into the other years, I want to reflect on what happened and what I learned.

Travel

If you’ve been reading for a while, you probably understand the role that travel plays in my life. It’s always been important to me, but it’s importance grew during my first two years of teaching. I wasn’t able to find much joy in my day to day life, so I escaped by planning trips. Maybe it’s my vice or my coping mechanism, but honestly, I’m okay with that. 2019 was a travel heavy year for me.

In January, my husband and I wrapped up our road trip through Texas, during which we learned that pick-up trucks take a LOT of gas and that creative pursuits are worth spending time on. This year also brought me to New Orleans with one of my best friends, where I saw my first Banksy piece and binge watched too much Yummy Mummies.

Studio Be in New Orleans
Obligatory beignets in New Orleans

I had two trips out to Denver to see another best friend of mine, one of which had me gambling for the first time (I lost a whole $10). The other trip brought me to New Mexico to see the hot air balloon festival, which absolutely blew my mind.

The hot air balloon festival in New Mexico

For spring break, my husband and I ventured to Italy, where we ate some delicious charcuterie boards, but were overall not that impressed. We did get some dope matching tracksuits and made some pasta from scratch though!

Vintage tracksuits, vintage building (!)
Pasta making classes

During the summer, we traveled to Singapore, Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. Of those places, New Zealand is the spot that truly took my breath away. As my husband says, cities are cities are cities. New Zealand, however, had nature that we don’t get to see very often.

The black sand beaches of New Zealand
Marina Sand Bay, Singapore
Kawaii photo in Japan

I rounded out the year with a trip to Spain with my mom. It was great to be able to spend quality time with her, especially as I grow older and life gets busier. While we did get on each others nerves, it was a trip that I will hold dear to my heart.

Mama y yo in Barcelona

Work

2019 was the year that I finished my first year of teaching outside of Teach for America. It was the first year I didn’t hate what I did. When I decided to teach for a third year, I was nervous. What if it wasn’t where I was teaching that I hated, but just teaching in general? Thankfully, I discovered that I love teaching. I love working with kids and seeing their excitement when things click for them. I finally can say that I love what I do. I am so grateful for that – how many people can claim the same for their jobs?

My first day of my fourth year

I was unsure if teaching was the right path for me, so I completed a fellowship on career choice this spring. While a lot of paths seem interesting to me, the fellowship reinforced my decision to stay in the classroom, at least for now. It was great for me to be able to have dedicated time and space to really think out my career plan. To be honest, I don’t have much of a “plan” at the moment. All I know is that I am happy teaching right now, so happy I will remain!

The fellowship I was so damn grateful for

2019 was also the year that I bit the bullet and got my real estate license. My husband had been encouraging me to get it for quite some time, and I finally sat down and did the damn thing. Working with real estate on the side allowed me to work skills that I don’t generally have to work while teaching – like talking to adults! While I didn’t do much with it this year, I look forward to what kind of endeavors it brings in the future.

Relationships

The older I get, the more important quality relationships mean to me. This year, my husband and I celebrate four years of marriage and five years of being together. I would say that this year brought us so much closer to one another, through the hard times and the good times. Leaving 2019, I feel more confident than ever in my relationship with my husband and excited to see what the future holds for us and our growing family.

My incredible husband

In terms of friendship, I invested in the relationships that mean the most to me and drew myself back from those that did not bring me joy. The older I get, the more I realize that one or two solid friendships is all I need. If I’m not truly thrilled for a person when good things happen to them, then I know that I can’t be a true friend to them. 2019 is a year that brought me a tight circle whom I truly trust and care about.

Self-Improvement

I worked on myself a lot this year. For the first time in a long time (maybe ever), I felt comfortable in my skin. I attribute a lot of that to hot yoga. One of my friends convinced me to give it another shot and I fell in love. The fact that in one hour, I can sweat, meditate and grow stronger absolutely amazes me. The funnest aspect of yoga is watching myself improve. To see my body move into positions that it previously couldn’t made me think about how incredible the human body truly is. While I’ve had to take a break from hot yoga during the pregnancy, I am excited to head back in 2020!

My happy place
My form isn’t perfect, but damn was I proud of my body

In 2019, I also invested in my health in other ways. I (very casually) took up meditation and mantras, and found peace and relief through acupuncture. My body and mind had gone through quite a lot this year, and I am grateful that I found coping mechanisms to help me rise above it. Listening to and making music helped put my soul at ease. Books helped me get lost when I needed to escape the most. Writing played a role in my self improvement as well. While few people may read this blog, every time I post, I feel relief. Writing makes me feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I hope to do more of it in 2020.

Cupping therapy

Overall, 2019 has been wonderful to me. I had new experiences, both good and bad. I felt low so that I could feel really high. I surrounded myself with people I love. I became a better version of myself. 2020 has a lot of changes in store for me (cough motherhood cough) and I’m excited for it all. But for now, I pay respect to what 2019 brought me. Cheers to 2019, and to 2020 vision.

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A Casual Day at the DMZ/North Korea

We have a scratch off map at home with all the countries we’ve been to, and I’m having a serious moral dilemma. Can I scratch off North Korea now that we’ve been to the DMZ?!

When we were in Korea a few weeks ago, we booked a tour to go to the DMZ – the area between North and South Korea that serves as a buffer zone. The tour included stops at the Doransan Station, 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, the Dora Observatory, Imjingak Park. The tour itself was $40 – so quite a good bang for your buck, in my opinion. Now let’s break it all down.

Dora Observatory

The Dora Observatory is an observatory (duh) that you can see North Korea from. Well, usually. The day we went was extremely hazy so this was the best that we could do.

View of Dora Observatory

According to our tour guide, on a clear day, you can actually see a North Korean town (although she claims it’s a facade and not an actual town). From the viewing deck, you can also hear North Korean propaganda music!

South Korean Artwork

Downstairs, they had videos playing about North Korea, as well as artwork made by South Koreans. All of the art centered around how it felt to lose family in the separation. The picture above was one of my favorite pieces. (For anyone looking for a latte – this is the one of two stops on the tour where you can get one. You’re welcome, in advance).

Imjingak Park

I will preface this by saying this is the second stop on the tour where you can get your coffee fix. Aside from that, this park is located in Paju, South Korea and is known for the Freedom Bridge there.

Train shot by North Korean military
A train that was shot by North Korean military that sits within the park
Train sign to North Korea
Prayer ribbons
Prayer ribbons put up by vistors
Prayer ribbons
South Korean army man
Obligatory South Korean cheerful army man near the entrance to the bridge

While Imjinak Park is an important landmark, as an outsider it was just an okay stop along the way. I think my favorite part would probably have to be seeing all those prayer ribbons, because it made the war and the separations that followed feel real to me. It made me understand that there are people, to this day, that are hurting because of it.

Dorasan Station

The next stop was a train station. Random, right? It’s actually the last train station in South Korea, and if trains were allowed, it would continue on to North Korea. Not so random after all, my friends!

Dorasan Station map

At the station, we learned that South Korea refers to itself as an island. If you look at the map above, if it weren’t for the inability to go through North Korea, you could hypothetically travel Europe via train from Seoul!

Dorasan station and tickets

At the station you can purchase a “ticket” to get inside the station. I guess it was cool to see where we would hypothetically catch a train to North Korea.

Ticket to Pyeongyang
The ticket – pretty official ya’ll

3rd Infiltration Tunnel

After the Armistace Agreement, South Korea found a series of tunnels that the North Koreans dug into South Korea. Most of them routed themselves to Seoul, making the South Korean believe that they were planning a massive attack on their largest city.

DMZ sign
Peep the soldier with the peace sign between the M

Interestingly enough, North Korea claimed they were mining for coal, and after getting caught, painted the interiors of the tunnel black to look like coal.

DMZ

We decided not to go down into the tunnel as it was incredibly crowded but did watch the video that South Korea made to discuss the tunnels. Holy propaganda guys! If you get the chance, go to the tunnels and watch the video. Bring some popcorn. It’s pretty damn amusing.

DMZ chocolate
Didn’t purchase this, but was mildly amused by it.

Also – pro tip, buy the hoodies at the gift shop there. They are the comfiest hoodies I’ve ever owned.

In Conclusion…

No travel post would be complete without a food pic, so here ya go! For lunch that day, we had a choice between bulgogi or bimbimbap. We both went for the bulgogi and it was surprisingly delicious. Lunch was served in what looked like an old government building and was buffet style. I would just like to point out that they had cherry tomatoes in the dessert section. I did not snap a pic because I was too infuriated by the fact that someone could call tomatoes a dessert.

Traditional Korean lunch

At one of the many gift shops, we picked up a bottle of North Korean liquor. It was fine. It tasted like plum wine and communism.

North Korean liquor

That’s all folks! I personally enjoyed the tour, although I don’t know how much of that is just because I can now (kind of) say I’ve been to North Korea. If anyone is looking to book it, book it far in advance as they do tend to sell out! We went through a tour group called Kooridoor, although there are numerous other tours that go out that way.

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Five Thangs Friday #8

Woah, woah, woah – this means I’ve been doing Five Thangs Friday for 2 months! Talk about muddahfracking consistency! Spring break is two weeks away, and I am searching for all the joyous things to get me through this wait! Here are the joyous things from this week, you beautiful people!

#1. Grapefruit

The simplest things in life are the best, and grapefruit is one of them. One night this week, my husband prepared one for me and absolutely changed my life by sprinkling some sea salt on it. I’m not sure if I should be proud or ashamed about how that was a highlight of my week. There is nothing as satisfying as a nice juicy grapefruit. (I clearly need some hobbies)

#2. Paleo Granola (ON SALE)

I blogged about this in a previous Five Thangs Friday, but LEMME TELL YOU… now its on sale! I strolled on over to Aldi during my lunch break this week and found these gems were now only $2. You know I bought every last box!

#3. A Good Cup of Joe

My husband surprised me this week with this coffee maker, and I had my first cup this morning. Safe to say, it was one of the tastiest cups I’ve had in a long time. Maybe it was the placebo effect, but I swear I could taste more flavors in the coffee this morning!

#4. This Salad

This was to die for. Not to mention, it was the first time I got to eat outside this spring. If you’re in Chicago – definitely check out Antique Taco! (Apologies for the awkward lit sticker – I pulled this from my Insta)

#5. Compliments (finally something not food related)

We are at that point in the school year where the kids are absolute jerks to one another, so we spent some time working on compliments. My favorite was the kid who told me that I look like a sunset. I’ll take it!

So clearly, this week was fueled by food. I’m not mad about it! The weather is finally getting nice out in Chicago and my mood is going up with it! This weekend will be filled with quality time with some of my favorite humans and I am jazzed!

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Five Thangs Friday #5

I. Am. Exhausted. Mentally. Physically. ALL OF IT! Work this week has been rough, but ya’ll, we made it! It is Friyay! So here’s my five favorites from this week!

#1. Meal prep!

Since we moved, I haven’t prepped my meals for the week which has led me to eating whatever leftovers I could find and some snacks for lunch. This past weekend, I finally prepped my meals and they were bomb diggity ya’ll! I had a based of sprouted ancient grains with some kale dressed in a tahini zucchini dressing! On top was some slow cooked pineapple chicken and roasted baby peppers. My tummy was so happy this week, and my mornings were less frantic! 10 out of 10, will prep again!

#2. Our new reading area

I’ve always liked the look of the Ikea Poang chair, but we didn’t have the space for it at our old place. In our new place, there’s a small room attached to the master bedroom that was screaming reading nook. So we made one! As you can see, we have his and hers bookshelves, as well as his and hers Poang chairs! (Side note: I attempted to help with the assembly of these chairs but I was extremely unsuccessful)

#3. Snail mail from sissy

I have a younger sister named Sandra who has a learning disability. We talk on the phone daily and I try to see her as often as possible, but when we can’t she’ll write me a letter! This is a letter I got from her this past week and it absolutely made my day. Apparently, we will be going into business together!

#4. Hands on math

This is a picture from my classroom today where a student was learning to add by himself. Moments like these melt my heart. I absolutely adore when a student is invested in their learning and trying their hardest. This kiddo here was able to complete his first independent addition problem today! Props to him ya’ll!

#5. Summer jobs!


Last but not least, I got my job offer for the summer in this week! I am excited to say that I will be working at Teach for America as a resource specialist this summer!

That’s all I have for you folks! This weekend is a busy one, with real estate training all day Saturday. I am hoping to get my booty in the gym Sunday, and do some epic meal planning and prepping! Hope you all have a grand ole weekend!

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Texas Highlights Pt. 2: San Antonio

After a few days in Houston, getting our Beyonce on (obviously), we drove on to San Antonio. San Antonio is best known for the Alamo, which we are all supposed to remember, apparently. Shortly after booking this trip, we realized that we could not remember the Alamo because we had no clue what it was. Was it a mystical shoe? A dinosaur skeleton? Maybe the spot for the best BBQ ever? WE HAD NO IDEA, but we were going to find out.

First things first: we stayed at the cutest AirBnB ever. A couple had purchased an old farm and renovated it into several apartments. It was the most detail oriented place we’ve stayed. Below are my grainy iPhone photos proof of adorable details.

OKAY NOW ON TO THE HIGHLIGHTS!

San Antonio Stop #1: The Alamo (duh)

First thing we did when we got to San Antonio was visit the Alamo. I was not very impressed. The history was cool and all, but it was crowded and just not that awe-inspiring. For some reason, I had thought that visiting the Alamo might be a pivotal part of our Texas trip. It wasn’t. It was interesting to hear about the history of Texas and how it came to be though, so I’m glad we went. (SIDE NOTE: Six Flags, the amusement park chain, was founded in Texas. One of the six flags that they are named after happens to be the confederate flag)

We came, we saw, we remembered the Alamo

San Antonio Stop #2: San Jose Missions

After we remembered the Alamo, we went on to the San Jose Missions. The missions were founded in 1720 and were refurbished in the 1930s as a Works Progress Administration project. It became a World Heritage Site with UNESCO in 2015. I have a thing for UNESCO sites, and try to visit one on each trip. Unfortunately, there are few sites in the United States so I was pumped that there was one in San Antonio.

When we got there, we tried to enter from one side and the woman working the gift shop said that it was closed due to the government shutdown. Bummer. We decided to walk the perimeter, and found an entrance that was being actively used. Maybe she was wrong? Who knows? Anyway, we made it inside and it immediately reminded me of walled off cities we had visited in Germany. We walked through and were impressed by the structures, only to realize that there was a good chance that very little of the original mission was remaining. We spent about an hour walking around the grounds. The church was beautiful, at least from the outside, and it was clear that that was the center of the community that had existed there.

San Antonio Stop #3: In n Out

If the third most notable stop was In n Out, clearly, we were running out of things to do in San Antonio. When we started looking into San Antonio, this was high on my priority list. As a kid, we went to California often and In n Out was always a highlight. I don’t think it’s really that marvelous, but you always want what you can’t have, and Chicagoans don’t have In n Out. My husband was not impressed but I was nostalgic A.F.

I call this piece Portrait of Protein Style Double Doubles

Overall, we weren’t very impressed with San Antonio. It was cool to see historical sites, but that seemed to be most of what the city had to offer. They also appeared to have an immense amount of Ripley museums, if that’s what you’re into. However, we don’t regret visiting. Every experience is an experience that adds to our understanding of the world, and that is how we view our travels. We learned about the Alamo, we ate some lettuce and beef and saw another UNESCO site. No ragrets.