feelings, healing, labor and delivery, multiples, pregnancy, sharing, triplets

Start At The Beginning

I’ve spent a good amount of time putting my thoughts into words and updating our CaringBridge website. I want to separate that source as a place to prioritize Ryan’s health updates. This though, is my place. My place to share my own thoughts and feelings in a real, raw and therapeutic way. I don’t owe anyone anything, but what I’ve found is that sharing on Instagram and here has connected me with so many people who I wouldn’t have otherwise met. Additionally, I’ve experienced things recently that have the potential to make me feel very alone. Thankfully I feel extremely supported but, if my sharing can help even one person feel less alone, then I feel like I’ve added value to the universe and that brings me joy. 

But where the hell am I supposed to start? I have SO much to say. I wrote last about my first trimester. It was a time where I wasn’t very thrilled about being pregnant. The boys were wreaking havoc on my body. I was tired and couldn’t eat anything. I was also grateful for the greatest gift of all, three babies. Who would have thought I would be here now, in my third trimester, with no babies inside of me. Instead, two babies dead and one baby living off machines, spending days in the NICU, uncertain about everything.

Honestly speaking, I would love to go back to the part of the story where I was pregnant and more than anything in the whole world, I’d like to re-write my reality. It would be a reality where Chase and Ben were still alive. I miss them so badly. I think what I need to do for myself is go back to the part of the story where my water broke and things took a turn to scary-town. I need to process it all through words and put it ‘on paper’ to help myself move forward. I don’t know if that changes the tone or the theme of this blog, even just temporarily, but I don’t really care. This is real life and until recently, I never imagined what this could feel like. My naivety had the best of me, through pregnancy and even through being admitted to the hospital. While I hope to every higher power that you’re never in this position, I need to explain how it became my truth. 

My water broke at 23 weeks 4 days. It was about 1 am and I woke up thinking I had peed myself. I shimmied to the bathroom and about half way there, the fluid dribbled down my legs. At that point I knew I wasn’t peeing. I tried to stay calm. I sat on the toilet, actually peed and thought – I’ll clean myself up and then get back to sleep. Except I tucked myself back into bed and fluid kept coming. I knew something wasn’t right. I had never experienced a broken water, but in my heart, I knew I needed to get to a doctor. What I knew about waters breaking lead me to believe I was going to be giving birth within an hour. I was immediately terrified.

Off we went to Lawrence & Memorial. I knew we would eventually deliver at Yale New Haven but at this point, as scared as I was, I knew it was FAR too early for these babies to come. I guess my optimism was suggesting I go get checked out more locally and then go home until it was time for the big show. I thought maybe bed rest was in the cards. Boy, I was wrong. At L&M, they admitted me. The on-call doctor came in and told me that I wouldn’t be going home until the boys arrived. As if I wasn’t already terrified. I had no hospital bag. (As if that was even remotely important at that moment? I’ll get to that later.) The next move was to transfer me to Yale in New Haven so that I could be with the appropriate medical group.

At this point, the doctor assured me that some women experience PPROM (preterm, premature rupture of membrane) and go on to keep their babies in utero for weeks. I regained some hope. I had finally reached a point in my pregnancy where we’d had enough normal scans, I’d felt pretty confident in our potential longevity. I had been saying that our next milestone was viability at 24 weeks. Looking back, I knew it would be an important milestone, but for the wrong reasons. 

Upon arrival at Yale, many medical professionals came to meet us. One of those people, we now refer to affectionately as ‘Uncle Zain’. Like Dan, with a Z, he told us at our first meeting. The intent of said meeting was to have a “hard conversation.” Zain came to talk to us about the reality and potential risks in our situation. At 23 weeks, 4 days, there are certain statistics we needed to be made aware of. Our babies had roughly a 30% chance of survival at that gestation. It would improve as time went on, but Zain wanted to talk about what our wishes might be in the event they were born and couldn’t survive outside of my body. Did we have the conversation? Of course. Was it hard? Most definitely. Did I feel like I was aware of the possibilities? Sure. But I was also so sure my babies would stay inside of me for at least another two weeks. I never imagined what would come. I kept willing the universe to give me more time with them.

I started to make myself comfortable in the hospital. Care baskets came from loved ones and I asked the kids in our families to make some artwork for décor. The nurses and doctors encouraged it. I wasn’t dilated and my non-stress tests were all unremarkable. I felt slightly concerned that Baby A, now Ryan, had a little less fluid than the other babies, but overall, I felt good. I was eating, sleeping, resting. Honestly, I kind of felt like it was the pre-baby arrival rest I had been craving. 

Monitoring took place around every 4 hours. I stayed calm with the results of each session that was unremarkable.

I had spent the first night at Yale alone, knowing Tom was exhausted and wanting him to have his strength for all the responsibility that would inevitably fall on him with me hospitalized. Thankfully, my separation anxiety is strong and I asked him to come back and stay with me for the second night. At about 1 am on October 6th, I woke up out of a dead sleep with cramps. I went to the bathroom and returned to bed to try and sleep more. That wasn’t happening, so I buzzed my nurse and let her know I was having a hard time. She called for the doctor to come and they checked my cervix. I was still not dilated. This gave me some mental relief, but my discomfort was progressing. In the meantime, the effort was made to hook us back up to the monitors to check on the babies. Unfortunately, my nurse struggled to get all three babies on the monitor. I was frustrated and growing impatient as my cramping became more intense. 

Faking a smile under my mask for this picture. Monitoring 3 babies was not a fun task.

Inevitably, the doctor returned and an ultrasound machine was used to locate and check on the babies. About 40 minutes after my previous cervical exam, the doctors checked again to find that I was 5 centimeters dilated. I’ll never ever forget the fear that struck my body when she looked at me and said that it was time to go to the operating room. I looked to Tom and I sobbed. I cried out that it wasn’t time yet. Then, as if there was a slap across my face, I stopped. I quieted myself and I listened. I focused on what was happening around me and most importantly, staying calm for myself and for my babies. I knew I had to be brave. They rolled me out of my room, and into the next chapter of my life.

My first room after I was rolled out. Looks like a tornado touched down and this was just the beginning of the wreckage.

multiples, pregnancy, sharing, triplets, Uncategorized

The First Trimester

I’ve been waiting impatiently for this milestone for about 8 weeks. Today I can finally say I’m through the first trimester of our pregnancy. I’m really happy to say it, but saying it doesn’t really change much. I went from feeling consistently like a 2/10 to maybe a 5/10 on my best days (there aren’t many).

The first trimester has been really rough for me. It’s arguably one of the most physically demanding phases I have experienced in my life. I feel my belly stretching and I toss and turn at night wondering if I’ll ever be comfortable again. (I know it’s only going to get worse) I’ve wondered frequently through these past weeks; would this have been easier if it was just one baby? The fact is, I’ll never know and I’m pretty happy about that. I really always thought pregnancy would be this profoundly amazing experience. While I am in a continual state of awe at what my body is capable of, I now see much more of the reality of it all.

Trying to get pregnant through IVF was no walk in the park. Most times I complained about what my body was going through, I tried to counteract the negativity and remind myself that it would all be worth it. And it was. The same mentality rings true for pregnancy. When things get really hard, I’m working double time to remind myself that there are three bodies inside of mine, growing big and strong and it won’t be long before I get to hug and kiss them. It’s not easy, but it will be worth it too. Feeling like a fraction of myself for an extended period of time has induced a sort of sense of sadness. I know that I have one very important job right now and I am taking it very seriously. It’s just discouraging to feel like the bare minimum is the best I’ve got right now.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my desire for the ‘next thing’. When Tom and I were dating, I wanted to get married. When we got engaged, I wanted to start planning a family. When we bought a house, I wanted it renovated. When we were starting to try for a baby, I wanted our next baby. I realized I was stuck on looking into the future and I was missing the present. When we got pregnant and found out we were getting ‘three for the price of one’ I finally slowed down. Afterall, that’s some big news to wrap your head around. I don’t really have much brain capacity for any other trains of thought at the moment. I will forever be thankful to these babies for helping me break this cycle. Even in the state of suck, I remember that this is what I need to embrace right now. I’ve been focusing predominately on the remainder of this pregnancy, concentrating on how we can best prepare for the arrival of the trips (we’ll never be truly ready for this adventure but to make sure we have the time and attention to devote to their needs upon arrival) and what I can do to ensure their continued health and growth. This means a lot of things, including protecting my mental health and not biting off more than I can chew.

I like to remind myself (and others who are quick to jump to the silver lining) that it’s perfectly normal to have a hard pregnancy and still love your babies unconditionally. It’s valid that pregnancy is hard AND rewarding. It’s possible to be absolutely overjoyed and absolutely miserable simultaneously. If you’re hearing complaints from me, know that just underneath them is so much love and gratitude I could burst. There hasn’t been a day that’s passed in this pregnancy where I haven’t had a complaint. I’m not going to apologize for that because there’s also not been a day where I am not SHOOK in the best way, that I get to be their mom. I’ve been hungry, even starving, with no appetite. I’ve had headaches that feel worse after Tylenol. I’ve slept like a rock and woken up exhausted. I’ve gagged and heaved every single time I brush my teeth, often defeating the purpose of brushing. The new normal for me is that nothing is normal.

The first trimester has been a doozy. I’m happy to report that right around 13.5 weeks (so just a few days ago), my appetite partially returned. Any meal that I eat to completion is an actual celebration. I’ve spoken to some other triplet moms who’ve given me peace of mind that there will come a time in the second trimester where I will have some energy back and I will feel more like myself. I look forward to hopefully reporting back in a few months on these improvements.

This is just a wild experience. There’s no other way for me to describe it. It’s overwhelmingly beautiful and horrifying. I laugh until I cry and I cry until I laugh. Tom is, as per usual, my saving grace. One day around the 10-week mark, I had him speeding to the emergency room. When he got off the exit, I flung open the door and yacked everywhere. I went from sweating, crying and yelling at him to laughing my ass off because he was scraping puke out of the car door and I wanted him to take me to the damn ER for nausea. It was absurd and hilarious. I’m doing my best to find the humor in it all.

In the last year, I’ve really embraced the “it’s okay to be both” mentality. I would highly encourage everyone to think about this and how it applies to their life. It’s been an amazing coping mechanism for me in showing myself gentleness and grace. Lord knows I’ve needed it through the beginning of this pregnancy. In short, becoming pregnant with triplets and getting through this first trimester has really driven home that mentality for me. I am endlessly thankful and overjoyed that these babies are mine. I am also constantly praying for the moment they stop wreaking havoc on my body (fully aware that might be never).

As always, thank you for being along for the adventure with me! xo

feelings, multiples, parenting, pregnancy, sharing, triplets

“There’s three babies.”

Two. Pink. Lines. Tears, joy and a smile that’ll make your face hurt. Hugs, more tears and excitement that you could only feel in this very specific experience. It was a full year of wondering when it would happen and then…

There’s three babies.

THREE BABIES. I swear I said only those two words for the hour that followed the news. But before I take you there, I’ll back track just a little bit. 

On May 11th, 2021, we had our second IVF transfer. The doctor gently placed two frozen embryos on the lining of my uterus. I’m not a hugely religious person, more spiritual if I had to label it. Doesn’t matter. I prayed. I prayed as the embryos were placed with a few tears in my eyes. I quietly begged whatever power that might be to please help give us a baby. You see, our intention with a dual embryo transfer was just to have one healthy baby. After our first round of IVF was unsuccessful, we came up with this plan in conversation with our doctor. We agreed that because we didn’t genetically test our embryos, it would be good to increase our chances of success with the trial of the dual transfer. Truthfully it was a no-brainer. When the doctor said we could end up with multiples, I just thought, “ending up with twins is not a deal breaker” and Tom agreed. I don’t think either of us imagined the news that would follow. 

On the afternoon of May 14th, the first response pregnancy test in my bathroom drawer was burning a figurative hole. I had tested early before, never this early though. I knew it was too early and told myself I wouldn’t be discouraged if it came back negative. Tom wasn’t home and I knew his feelings might be hurt if I found out any news without him so before I spilled urine on the stick, I taped off the results window. I peed when I had to and let the stick sit. Thankfully he was home about 15 minutes later and we looked together. We both saw the very faintest line and in that moment, the thought crossed my mind that it was two babies. To be honest, I thought it was twins from that very moment, almost without question. Of course I questioned it with Tom and the one girlfriend I told. I asked daily (maybe hourly), “Do you think its two?” They did. I did. It was definitely two. Tom and I watched the pink line get darker and confirmed with a blood test that we were in fact expecting. My first two blood levels seemed slightly high, but it was the third blood results that drove home the idea of twins for me. My HcG came back upward of 40k. Keep in mind though, Dr. Google says very firmly that HcG blood levels are not a good indication of multiples. Be as that may, there were no doubts in my mind. Even the nurse on my voicemail said “makes me think there might be two in there.”

On June 9th, we went to our first ultrasound. 6 weeks and 4 days pregnant. I felt so nervous. I think I would have felt that way regardless of the circumstance. I knew I would be perfectly happy if it was just one baby. I was so thankful to be pregnant. I didn’t want to be greedy, but my gut told me “TWINS” and I had it in my head and heart. I had already imagined our life with two little ones. The picture looked so pretty. We went in, I took a deep breath and held Tom’s hand. We saw one baby, then two babies. It felt like I exhaled from holding my breath. I dazed off. The screen was at an unfavorable angle for me to really see what was going on. I felt so relieved that our two little embabies stuck. Then I remember coming to (so to speak). The nurse looked at me and said “Are you following what’s happening?”

I looked up at her with a big smile and said “We’re having twins!” and she corrected me. “There’s three babies.”

THREE? My eyes filled up all over again. I was trembling. I was shocked and scared. No, terrified. I felt so many emotions, none stronger than the next. I looked at Tom and I asked him if he was okay with all of this.

He barely looked away from the screen and replied “of course.” He squeezed my hand and smiled. It was that moment precisely that I felt at peace and excited. My imagination corrected all of those images of us with two babies to us with three babies and everything still looked great. VERY different, but beautiful. We finally finished the scan and we took our little pictures and went on our merry way. We had the nurse make us a print zoomed in on one baby to show our family and cover up our very big secret for the next couple weeks. On the car ride home, we could not stop smiling and laughing. We immediately found humor in the fact that we’d be a minivan family, despite me swearing I would never drive one. 

I like to say that I manifested having a plan for pregnancy and parenting, and the universe is having a good laugh at that whole plan. (In case you didn’t guess, there is no longer a plan – unless you count survival as a plan) I don’t know what the duration of this pregnancy or beyond it will look like, but I think this is my chance to give up a certain level of control and let our lives unfold. Having triplets is going to be exciting, overwhelming and unique. I look forward to the adventure and the challenges it’ll bring. I hope to meet the triumphs and failures with humor and grace. At the end of it all, I find immense comfort in the ideology that we would not have been given these circumstances if we couldn’t handle them. We will keep pushing forward and take it all as it comes. Our hearts are so full.

As always, thank you for being along for the ride with us! xo


2020 Reflections

Like most of the global population, I am elated to bring this year to a close. While elated, I am also confused. What the hell just happened? Is it really over now? How did a nine-month period of time make me feel like I have whiplash? Is my neck actually physically injured? Was that my first experience with slow torture? Will there be any lasting side effects? Can I get a refund?! Most significantly, have I taken enough time to recognize the good stuff?

2020 will go down in my own personal history book as one of the worst years. There is no getting around it. This year was chock-full of loss. I lost a life experience that I dreamed about my entire cognitive existence. I lost friendships. I lost a cousin who brought so much joy to my life, I’m certain I’ll never be the same without him. I lost a pregnancy that I had been willing to fruition for 7 months. And to round it all out, I was terrified that I was going to lose my beloved grandmother to a stroke. I am pleased to report that was not the case.

Is it possible though that this was also one of the best years? This is where confusion sets in. I spent so much of my time this year complaining, worrying and in a state of perpetual angst (for good reason, and I don’t take it back). But is that how I want to remember this year? As we close the door on this dumpster fire, I realize the answer is no. There are two truths here. One being that I simply do not want to remember this year at all, and the other being that if I have to (which I’m fairly certain I do) remember this year, I want it to be for the joy and the growth and the beauty that came from the wreckage.

One of my many goals for 2021 is letting go of the past. Not entirely, but in a way that serves me to be better in the future. As I move into a new calendar, I think it’s important to try and take the lessons of this year of discomfort with me. I no longer need to carry the burdens of 2020 and while I expect that they won’t soon be forgotten, they can certainly be left behind.

*I’ll be spending part of my NYE writing out my goals, intention and vision for 2021 as well as using magazine clippings of key words to essentially give myself a visual manifestation of what I’m looking forward to.*

Reflection on this year has actually been one of the best things for me. I started writing this and it quickly turned from a list of everything that went wrong, to a list of all that I gained. When I was wading through the muck of 2020 life, it was challenging to see beyond what was right in front of me. I had a white-knuckle grip on the “press forward at all costs” mentality. Some might call it survival mode. It was about the only thing keeping my head above ‘muck’ level. 

Often while pressing forward, what was right in front of me was another challenge piled on top of exhaustion, sorrow and gloom. I hadn’t really given myself a moment to look back on all my beautiful accomplishments. Quite frankly, I maintain the mentality that if you found even one single way to thrive this year, you f*cking CRUSHED IT. Below is a list (for myself/hopeful inspiration for you see your own victories) of some of the badass things myself (and Tom) accomplished this year. 

In 2020, I/We:

  • Married a one-of-a-kind man, who has shown me what unconditional love REALLY means. We started our chapter as husband and wife despite our big party being “COVID Cancelled.” Additionally, I have grown from where I was when our wedding was cancelled, to a place where I can accept that what happened was our ‘meant-to-be’ and if things had been different, maybe we wouldn’t realize how wildly capable we are as a team.
  • Learned about myself. (This could be a whole different blog) I have actually never felt more in tune with or proud of who I am as a person and while I know I have a long way to go, I feel confident in the woman I am. I know that I possess the emotional capacity to sit with my feelings, to work with and through them, and to ultimately act in a way that is kindest to myself first. (And when I am kind to myself, I can be kind to others) I have gained the strength to not let my joy and decisions be dictated by the opinions of my friends and family, or anyone else. My heart leads the way in my life and I am SO darn delighted by that.
  • Stayed committed to therapy, which is something I don’t always do when life gets especially hard. It would have been easy to quit when we became a telehealth society. I am thankful to myself for not getting going when the going got tough. 
  • Am actively surviving the loss of a pregnancy, as I mentioned above. As a couple, we are pushing forward, hand in hand, with a fertility specialist to become parents. We are persevering with determination and I feel confident that 2021 will be the year we get our rainbow baby. In this process and through all the other struggles endured, we are becoming an even stronger couple. 
  • Bought a friggen house!!! We snagged a fixer-upper in a prime neighborhood, in the town I always wanted to raise our family in and we are slowly, actively building our forever HOME. I’ve learned more about the value of being patient and letting things happen in due time as well as my own physical and emotional limitations with biting off too much to chew.
  • Brought Roo home. We rescued a beautiful puppy who has brought light to a very dark year, and I’ve been so lucky to be able to love her. I’ve been graced with the privilege of watching Tom be her doggy Dad, which is just a small insight into how wonderful of a father he will be in the future. In just a few short weeks that Roo has been with us, it has been magical to watch her learn even the smallest tricks and hilarious to watch her concurrently stir up all kinds of puppy mischief. 
*But has there ever been anything cuter than this angel pup??*

So, while the above is not all-inclusive like the resort I wish I could be at, it is a step in the right direction and that’s what I believe the new year to be as well. I hope that when we wake up on 01.01.2021, we can let out a big sigh of relief and even though we all know that changing the numbers on the calendar doesn’t change the state of the scary world we live in, maybe you can feel some more optimism on a personal level than you had previously. I know that’s what I’m aiming for. If all else fails, this year has taught me that it doesn’t hurt to keep my expectations high and strive for better. I know I can do that.

As always, you’re in my heart. Happy New Year, my friends!

feelings, sharing

12.04.20 – I had a miscarriage.

Six days ago, I peed on a First Response pregnancy test. My period was 5 days late. When I was 3 days late, I knew something was up. At that point, I tested with a Clear Blue Digital. Negative. I had tested again and again in the next 48 hours with those little Easy @ Home strip tests. They were all negative. I thought I must be skipping a period because of how busy my mind and body were with moving into our new home. I came out of a state of sedentary and my body was physically working hard to de-popcorn our family room ceiling. It had to be a missed period. Or was I…? Could I be? I couldn’t… Or could I? 

Six days ago, I got a positive pregnancy test. Then another one. And then for the next six days, more and more and more. But six days ago, with my positive test, I also started spotting. I sent a message to my doctor in the patient portal, despite my weariness, proclaiming “I’m Pregnant!” I came to find out that was a true statement. 

Hindsight is 20:20. I can see clearly looking back that there was no way I should have gotten my hopes so far up in the first place. The spotting should have been the brick to keep me on planet earth and off could nine. We had been trying for around 8 months and I just couldn’t help myself. I thought of all the reasons why it made sense. I let my husband tell me it was real and tried to trust his ‘good feeling’. My heart was telling me I was pregnant even though my head knew I should breathe and pause.

“Of course, I am pregnant,” I thought. “I must be. We just closed on our forever home. We are really, truly ready now. My cousin just passed away and my spirituality tells me that this is a sign from him that he is with me. He wants me to have this new life.” 

It all clicked. Despite the spotting, it took so very little to convince myself. “Of course, I’m pregnant now. It happened when I least expected it. Like everyone said. When I dropped the ball on trying. This was meant to be.” 

Every morning, I took a test. Every morning, there was two lines, giving me hope and keeping me held on to the pregnancy. I knew on that last test that the line was fading and I lost the pregnancy. I didn’t want to, but I had to trust my instincts.

If I backtrack just a little in this story, this was also the cycle right after my husband and I had testing done to determine our preliminary fertility prognosis. I had been getting itchy about not conceiving and my gut told me there must be a reason why. Results came back that my beloved has lower sperm counts than desired for baby-making. When we got that information, we proactively set up an appointment with the UCONN Center for Advanced Reproductive Services. Once that appointment was established, we simply went about our business the way we had in months passed. I felt a lot less pressure knowing that help was on the way.

I didn’t think there was a chance that this could happen on our own. I thought with low sperm count on the table, we could ‘baby-dance’ until the cows came home, but we would not be making a baby without science on our side.

Then six days ago, those two little lines appeared on a stick and then a “Yes +” on a digital version. My whole life changed in that exact moment. It’s something I could have never understood without it happening to me. I yearned for that moment for so long that I didn’t even think about what I might feel when it happened. It was magic. I fell in love with what I learned was the size of a poppy seed and didn’t even have a heartbeat yet. 

Tom and I looked at each other, then the two positive tests, then at each other again and we cried. We did it! We were victorious against the low sperm counts and we beat the odds to create a miracle. 

Looking back on that moment, it’s one I will never forget. Unfortunately, the magic of it will be forever tainted with this morning’s phone call from the doctor’s office. My eyes filled with tears and my heart full of break as I was informed that my second panel of blood work had lower levels of HCG than my first. I lost our baby. I had a miscarriage. I don’t know when and I’m not sure how. I will probably never have anything better than hypothetical answers for those inquiries. 

I have so much on my mind right now. It’s just after 3pm. I got the call this morning. I am unsure about so many things. I can’t even really put the feelings into descriptors. My eyes hurt and my body aches. When will we be able to try again? I want to know, what’s the bottom line? When will we have what will now be our rainbow baby? 

The thoughts are racing but the one thing that’s not taunting me is that I did something to cause this. I know this is not my fault and there is absolutely nothing I could have done to prevent our little poppy seed from leaving us. I think that in this exact moment, that’s what is most important. That, and knowing that we will be parents. It’s not our turn right now. I am thankful I didn’t cancel our consult with The Center and I look forward to sharing how this sad story will eventually turn happy. I know it will.

I am not burdened with negative thoughts about myself, and for that I am thankful. I can feel how easy it would be to fall down that rabbit hole. It’s tempting. If I was going through what I am now, even a couple years ago, I have no doubt I would be processing it differently. In this moment, I am grateful for all the women out there who have shared their stories, their journeys and their truths about trying to make a baby. It is because of those stories that bravely and honestly depict the real experience of miscarriage that I am not sitting here feeling like there must be something wrong with me. 

The whole thing happened in the blink of an eye. Miscarriage has happened all around me to couples I know and love dearly. I am not the first or the last woman who will go through this. Today, I will choose to accept what I can’t change. I can’t change that I am no longer pregnant and I also can’t change that it makes me overbearingly sad. What I can do is write about it and share my story from a place of bravery as a form of therapy for me, and maybe to help you. 

If you’re waiting for your turn to become a Mama, if you’ve struggled with infertility, if my experience stirs up any type of feelings for you, I see you. I love you. My heart is with your heart. Thank you for reading this and being with me. 

empathy, feelings, mental health

It Could Be Worse

I’ve read a lot of blogging tips that advise a writer to begin with the end in mind. Spoiler alert: I am sick and f*cking tired of the way society has made it okay for people to respond to others woes with an “it could be worse” attitude. It is hurtful.

I would LIKE to think that someone could read that and do the rest of the thought work in their own head, but if that was the case, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post. Listen, we have all done this at least once in our life. This does not make us bad. This gives us opportunity for improvement. If you’re confused about what this is, it’s invalidating someone’s feelings by placing a negative connotation on the way that they feel or the emotion they are working through.

Each and every single human experience, every last stinkin’ one is experienced differently. There are no two people who are the same. So why is it that when I stub my toe, and I say “ouch!!”, some people are so inclined to say “I stubbed my toe once, and it hurt worse than that” or “You should be glad you only stubbed your toe because one time, I sprained my ankle!” or “You think stubbing your toe was bad? Just wait until tomorrow, the bruise will be worse.”

I know what you’re thinking. No person has ever said that. 

But stop and think for a second. They have! 

…just not regarding stubbing your toe. 

I want to write about this from the place of how it affects me. This is after all, my blog. But while I share my own person anecdotes, I really encourage you to think about how this has potentially applied to you. It is highly likely that you have been on both the giving and receiving end of this behavior. And just to note, that’s 100% okay. Not because I said so, but because none of us are perfect – that’s science. I am here to learn and grow with you. That is why I created this space and that’s why I’m dumping this opinion of mine on you. If you disagree and you just think I’m a giant pansy, so be it. I digress. 

As you may or may not know, my husband and I are trying to make a baby. It’s no secret in my life. Some people choose to be private about baby making and I really respect that because if I was trying to stay quiet about it, I would be suffering in silence. YES. I said suffering because that is what MY EXPERIENCE IS every month that I do not make a baby. How long we have been trying is not a variable here because we’re not talking statistics, we’re talking feelings. I wanted kids 5 years ago. I am very thankful I did not HAVE kids 5 years ago. I am now 31, married and more than ready to grow this family that I am so so thankful for.

Notice my dual mention of gratitude in the end of that paragraph. It was intentional and it’s because I know there is someone out there who is going to read a blog post about a woman who is pissed about not being able to conceive after 5 months and think “that ungrateful x-y-z”. THIS IS MY POINT. 

I am not here to say that anyone is bad. I am honestly not even here to say anyone is wrong. All I am here to say is that this variety of response to my feelings HURTS me. This is not directed at any one person, but instead to each person who reads this and can relate. 

I am so curious about why we do this to one another. Where did the compassion and empathy go? When did it become wrong to feel sorry for someone outside of a tragedy? Also, who gets to decide what is a tragedy? I am perplexed. 

I am not writing this blog post with answers, but instead to perhaps plant a seed. I want to see who is out there that hears what I’m saying and thinks, “Shit, I’ve done it. Let me try to do better next time.” Or maybe someone will read this and think, “That seems to happen to me too sometimes and it really does make me feel bad. Now I can identify that and hopefully block some of the pain because I’M NOT THE PROBLEM.”

And what a solid realization. I have been working through this in talk therapy for a while now. When our wedding was cancelled, do you know how many people responded to that situation in a way that made me feel invalidated? Honestly, majority rules. I am aware that there are people who get married only to get divorced and sure they had a big party, but they had a shit marriage and I am the freakin’ luckiest woman on the planet to have a partner who is more than textbook perfect. I am and have been for a long time, in a state of acceptance that no matter what happens to me, there will ALWAYS be someone who is suffering more. I do not need a reminder to be grateful for what I do have when I am processing through sadness, loss or any other emotion – big or small. And neither do you. Instead what I think we might need, is empathy or sympathy. It is not wrong to feel bad or sorry for someone. That can be a stand alone action. 

Maybe you lost a parent. Maybe your dog is sick and has a good shot at life after a major surgery. Maybe you have been trying to get pregnant for 2 years and you have no answers as to why it’s not happening. Maybe you went for a walk and twisted your ankle, but you have an event coming up that you really wanted to wear heels to and now you can’t. Maybe you stubbed your f*cking toe. Whatever it is that happened or is happening to you, you deserve to FREELY feel whatever feelings you have about whatever is happening. Without looming judgement and inevitable invalidation.

There is a bit of a side bar here and it needs to be reiterated. None of us are bad for having responded to someone else’s feelings in this manner. I think that in itself is why it’s so hard to accept that it’s really uncool to do this to someone. Because you said whatever you said, highly likely, with good intentions. And GUESS WHAT? The person you responded to this way, probably knows to the core of their soul that you didn’t mean any harm. BUT that does not make it less harmful. 

If we continue to invalidate each other this way, it will become a whole other scary ‘new normal’. Speaking of ‘new normal’, how about that pandemic? In case you didn’t know, we are ALL having struggles right now. Parents trying to work full time and navigate a hybrid in-school/homeschool structure. Individuals with loved ones who are high risk, that they haven’t been able to see. Couples who planned their dream wedding and pushing their date for the 3rd time. None of those problems are bigger or worse than the other. 

Are some things trivial? Yes. I am one of the most emotional individuals that I know. Sometimes the wind blows the wrong way, and I cry. Do I think that’s as big of a problem? I don’t. But when it comes to the stuff that you might see as trivial, try empathy. Because if you take the time to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, you will likely feel different than your impulses direct you. 

If you can’t understand why someone is so upset over something ‘so small’, be the ears that their feelings can fall on safely. Or, walk away without passing judgement. It’s very much okay to say, “I can’t imagine what your struggle feels like, I wish I could help.” And then go away. Make room for someone who can be empathetic and supportive. We could all use a little grace right now. I encourage and really urge you to try to do away with whatever your “it could be worse” attitude looks like. 


My Top 5 Quarantine Buys

I’ve collected a list of my quarantine buys that have stood the test of time. This is a list of things that I love, that came to me while I was bored in the house and in the house bored, BUYING EVERYTHING I COULD. Side note – am I the only one who started spending like I could afford it in quarantine? This list could be longer. I’ve bought some other stuff I love, but this is the best of the best, for the best of the best – YOU, girlfriend!!!

  1. Laneige Lip Treatment

I *might* have put this one first because it’s my all-time favorite beauty purchase ever. (I know, bold statement) – Before I bought this product, I was the quintessential chapsticker. More specifically, I sort of panicked if I didn’t have a stick of Burt’s Bees within arm’s reach. Those days are gone thanks to this purchase. Coming in at right around $20 (depending on the retailer and sales), this stuff is gooey gold. It comes with a swanky little doo-dad applicator which has a smooth silicon tip. It makes putting this magical moisture on feel 10 times more boujee. I put it on every night religiously and I wake up with hydrated lips. Fun fact about me: I’m a nervous picker and one of the top victims of that picking has always been my lips, so if you’re like me… (or just have a different nervous tick and like hydrated lippies) you may want to pick up a tub of Laneige. I’ve been using it for about 3 months and I’m not even half way through the container yet so a little goes a long way!

*The aforementioned, “doo-dad”… #boujee*

2. American Eagle Tee

*Photo snipped from American Eagle Website*

You. Guys. THIS SHIRT! I swear, if I could live in one top for the rest of my life, it would be this one. That’s why I have progressively bought it in every color possible. (jk, but seriously) I have honestly bought it at prices anywhere between 13 and 20 dollars, depending on what sale is running and inventory in my size. (Anyone else shop at AE and feel like they have very low stock on things?) Anyways, it’s long enough for leggings, but not too long to tuck, if you’re into that. It definitely styles slightly baggy so if you don’t want any extra fabric, I would size down. I prefer the baggier fit, so I went with a large, which is true to size for me. The moment I took this shirt out of the plastic shipping bag, I knew it was love at first touch. There’s really no way to describe wearing it other than being draped in a cool soft sheet. It’s like being in a pajama shirt, except it looks cuter. This top is my go-to with biker shorts. Actually, these shirts on rotation with biker shorts has been my quarantine uniform. 

*A photo from over the summer of me in quarantine uniform, the first color I ordered of this shirt. I now own FOUR of them. As I mentioned above, popularly styled with biker shorts*

3. Tarte Maneater Mascara

*Snipped from the Tarte webpage*

I’ve used a lot of mascaras in my life. I’ve always compared the way I care for my lashes to the way Marsha Brady took care of her hair, gently brushing it 100 strokes every day. I do that with my lashes post mascara with my baby comb. In all honesty, this tool (although not a quarantine purchase) is one of the best things I’ve found, as it helps separate and lengthen lashes using any mascara. The reason I love Maneater by Tarte so much is that it is not clumpy and it has long wear. On nights I have mistakenly slept in it, I do not wake up with it all over my face. I usually find applicators that aren’t made with real bristles tend to clump my lashes together, which is how I started using the baby comb, but the short prongs (is that the right word?) on the Maneater brush separate my lashes beautifully. It’s also great to take the extra work out of things with the tiny comb after. Something to note is that I pair Maneater with the Loreal Voluminous Primer. I find that to be a game changer. These 3 items in combination have been my lash JAM. 

*My Dynamic Duo*

4. Cinema Secrets Makeup Brush Cleanser

*Photo from Sephora Website*

This was 100% an influenced/boredom purchase. I saw someone cleaning their brushes on Insta stories one day and the results they were getting were quite literally, unbelievable. So whenever it was that Sephora has some kind of sale, I pulled the trigger and got a small bottle of this MAGIC POTION. I thought for sure going into this that I would see an improvement on my brushes, but what I got was other-worldly. (See photos below) My bronzer brush went from brown back to WHITE. That just… doesn’t happen. Then I kept cleaning and sure enough, the sorcery continued. This is another product I like for the reason that a little goes a long way. If you’re cleaning bigger brushes, you may need more than the instructions indicate, but the result is worth it. The best part? You can resume use of your brushes almost immediately. With soap and water, you would have to wait overnight for everything to dry; not with Cinema Secrets. I would absolutely recommend this brush cleaner especially if you use more pricey brushes. I only have a few ‘investment brushes’ which are the ones I spent more than $3 on and I’m glad I now have this solution to take better care of them. But, if you’re buying cheaper brush sets and just replacing them every 7 or 10 years (like me), this could be a way to get a 20 year life out of your brushes!

*Brushes that were brown, turned out LIKE NEW!*

 5. Revlon Blow Dry Brush

*Photo from Target Website*

By now I feel like the hype has reached FAR AND WIDE about this puppy. If you’ve tried it and you like it, you know why it made this list. If you tried it and you hated it, odds are it’s just not going to be a homerun for your hair type. What I will say is that I originally bought the Bed Head version of the blow dry brush. The first time I used it went well, and so did the second, but after that, I found the bristles were all out of whack and I was simply unimpressed with the quality. So I returned it and traded for the Revlon which was about $15-ish more. Worth it! I haven’t touched my regular blow dryer since I brought home the Revlon and my round brush is inching closer and closer to the trash bin. My arms still get tired when I use the Revlon and I work in a more particular way with sectioning my hair to optimize straightness. (I personally think smaller sections on low is the best strategy) That being said, if I wasn’t focused on getting the straightest possible blowout, I think my blow dry time would definitely be cut down overall. Like I said, if it’s not for you, you’ll know. But for this head of hair, I am one happy customer. 


♪ Just a day, just an Ortolani day ♪

(think: a parody of the Vanessa Carlton song, ‘Ordinary Day’)

THIS Ortolani day has been a dream of mine for the last couple of years. I’ll admit, when I decided to start a blog, the decision was heavily influenced. The idea for this blog was plagued with misguided intentions. Point blank: I saw beautiful women with beautiful homes, children, and clothes flooding my Instagram feed as full time bloggers and influencers and I could not stop thinking, “If I could just be a blogger or influencer, I will be happy just like them.” 

What I didn’t realize then, and I know now, thanks to a couple really A+ women on Instagram (specifically Nina (@balkanina) and Brittany (@bosstofe)) is that EVERYONE on Instagram is an influencer. What we choose to share with others invokes a feeling in the viewer, even if it’s just for a millisecond. It goes far beyond social media presence, and into the realm of real life intentions. 

My mindset was that fixing my own unhappiness was a one stop shop. Be a blogger, be happy, the end. ‘They’ say hindsight is 20/20. I am simply grateful I let my own concept for a blog marinate, because over time, I came to find that yes – I can be a blogger but I don’t have to have “all the things” to do it. An important distinction is that I still WANT “all the things” (for goodness sake, I’m only human), I just know now that I don’t NEED them to chase this dream. I have intention, the real life kind.

I made so many excuses not to start this blog. Here are some: 

‘Nobody cares about me, I have brown couches. That’s not chic.’ 

‘I’m not in an interesting enough season of life, who cares about a girl struggling with mental health? Aren’t we all?’ 

‘If I don’t have cute designer clothes or baller outfit building skills or all the money to spend on new makeup and outfits, what good is my content to anyone?’

‘People are going to make fun of me for thinking that I have something of value to share with the world.’

News flash! *I’m the only one who has hindered me from seeing this through.* And I’m finally here to say, it’s my life and I’m driving. If nobody wants to read my blog, I’ll make my husband. If just one person gains something from my blog posts, that is good enough for me. And yes, that one person could in fact be JUST me.

This is a space for me to share my life with you. We’ll dive into all kinds of topics ranging from what it’s like to be a COVID bride, starting a family, my favorite affordable clothing brands, to beauty and self care products I’m loving. I hope for this space to become a community. People who want to engage with one another, and open up dialogues about “all the things”.

My relationship with insta-bloggers and influencers has been an interesting evolution. These women are crushing it, and it’s because they followed their dreams. Through hard work, smart marketing, and I’m sure a ton of other efforts, some of them make full-time salaries. HATS OFF to those women for hustling. I no longer want to follow THEIR dreams, it’s time for me to follow my own and I’m so glad you’re here for it. 

So welcome!! Welcome to my newest adventure. I have so much to say, and I can’t wait to share it with you. This is a creative outlet I have been longing for and I hope it serves you in the process. I hope you’ll find my content to be refreshing, relatable, honest and enjoyable.  

Thank you for being here with me as I embark on this truly exciting journey. I cannot wait to see what the future holds with each ‘Ortolani Day’.  

xo, Taylor


I’m A COVID Bride…

Fair warning: this is a long post. They will not all be this way. I promise. I have been working to put this behind me for what feels like an eternity, yet it’s only been a couple months. I think that says a lot about how deeply this experience affected me. I can say with conviction that I will never ‘get over’ this. It has been an excruciatingly painful experience that leaves me feeling very empowered and confident in myself, my character and my marriage. Being a COVID bride made me a walking contradiction who spews from my mouth about how grateful and blessed I am for my marriage and concurrently from my heart how the world is cruel and life is hard. I think the COVID pandemic would have changed my empathetic soul forever, regardless… but that fate was sealed when my wedding got pulled into the equation.

I share. That’s what I do. Selfishly, I want to put my story into words, as a symbolic release. My hope is that anyone else going through wedding planning/cancelling/rescheduling in this pandemic period may find camaraderie in the truth that months later, I have not rebounded and I am not fine. Spoiler alert: It’s okay to not be okay. And yes, I have deemed myself entitled to encourage that thought for you. 

The COVID-19 Global Pandemic caused our wedding, scheduled for April 10th, 2020, to be cancelled. Not postponed or rescheduled – cancelled. Every time I say those words, I follow them with “but my marriage still happened.” It is so difficult to address the topic without falling down a rabbit hole of negativity. It is irrefutably something you could never understand unless it happened to you directly. Even when it happens to you, it’s different than the way it’s happening to the next person or couple.

Someday, I’ll share the (hindsight) hilarious timeline of how we got engaged, I had back surgery, we decided to get married in 5 months, and how it was all actual insanity. For the purpose of this story, I want to stick to the feelings. 

Leading up to getting engaged, people thought I was being pushy and impatient. Those people were right. I am PRESENTLY pushy and impatient. I pose the question with 20/20 hindsight, why do we allow guilt to be laid on us like weighted blankets for admitting we know what we want or that we accept who we are, ‘flaws’ included? Have you ever heard the expression, ‘the squeaky wheel gets the grease’? I bring life to that squeaky wheel. That’s who I am. I knew I wanted to marry Tom seventy-two hours into knowing him. We talked about forever on our first date, the same night we told each other “I love you”. I would have been untrue to myself to stay quiet about my longing to be married to him.

By the time the proposal came, I was emotionally flat out from anticipation, so I’ll let you use your imagination about the nitty-gritty of how the wedding planning process went. I’ll just say it was a rollercoaster, as I imagine it is for most brides. 

Fast forward. Everything was in place. Only minor details were left to be ironed out. On March 13th, we got in the car to travel to Tom’s home town for my bridal shower my now mother in-law threw for me. It was that same day that the POTUS declared a State of National Emergency. So, that was the beginning of a quick end. By the time the weekend was through, we knew we had no other option than to call the wedding off. I began unraveling.

Without any real discussion, we knew postponing was not an option and that come hell or high water, we were going to be pronounced man and wife on the day that we intended. State restrictions and moral compass prevailed over our desire to have our close family present for a small ceremony so we ended up live streaming our union on Facebook for everyone’s safety.

Just us, the judge and our photographer were physically present for the most epic thing I’ve ever done. A local country club was kind enough to open up their closed down banquet hall for us to use so we weren’t standing out in the cold. The day was… nothing I ever expected it would be in the best way possible. The moment we said I do was one of the happiest I’ve ever had, even though all the moments around it, the back of my head was thinking, “this wasn’t supposed to be it.” I laughed until I cried, and then cried until I laughed all damn day. 

It cannot go unmentioned that the kindness, love and support showed to us throughout the whole cancellation and inevitably having our ceremony was outstanding. I’ll never forget the way so many people we love showed up for us. We got married, I have my husband, and life goes on. 

Except life hasn’t exactly gone on for me. I’m not the same person anymore. Before our wedding was cancelled, I was already losing my mind. Anxiety and depression had consumed me. Therapy took the edge off. I felt lonely, misunderstood and stressed for both wedding and non-wedding related reasons. I reached the peak of self-pity, while also taking the role of my own abuser. Then the wedding was cancelled and my mind was lost. Gone. POOF. I held it together as best I could for the sake of the world around me, but even my best was piss poor. That happens.

Emotions happen. Some days the flood gates open. I don’t try and hold back tears anymore. It always feels like a cleanse to let it happen.

Then I didn’t want that mind back, because the bottom was dark, but so was the place before the bottom. So, I stayed in the feeling of abyss. A depressed newlywed. A sad honeymooner. I was in mourning because something figuratively died. The thing that died was not just the dream or idea I had all my life about my wedding day, it was the wedding day I actually worked to plan and that trickled through so many different shapes and phases to inevitably be the life I thought I wanted to live. It all died with the cancellation of my wedding. I am now a revised me, still in work. What I want out of my life is different. It’s really difficult to even put this concept into coherent words because it is all still ‘in work’.

I didn’t want this to turn into a complete sob story, and I wish I had a quick and quirky punchline to end the story. When I originally wrote this post, I had the “but it all worked out” ending in place. I read it and reread it and it felt so fake. The concept of this blog was built on real raw honest ideas and creating a space for myself and others to be accepted ‘as-is’.

That’s where the cool part starts. I realize I don’t need to be a phony. I don’t need a happy ending to every story. What I need is to live my life and feel it and be present and immersed in it, even when it sucks. And when it sucks, to let it suck for a hot second or a couple months. 

I’m turning a corner to a place where the story is simply beginning again. I am taking the revised me, and my husband and I are starting our life together as Mr. and Mrs. He is there for me in an unwavering way. I will always have him. He will always have me. Our marriage happened. Our wedding didn’t. We celebrate constantly. I mourn regularly. 

I’m an outward mourner. I cry, sob, talk to my therapist, talk to Tom, cry more. Tom mourns privately, and also doesn’t harp on sadness. His uplifting spirit captivated me the night we met and that hasn’t changed. He has created a space in his world for me to be as I am; any day, any time, any way. He is beautiful and I am so glad he is my person.

My takeaway from this entire situation, outside of a forever partner, is different from what others are experiencing. I have a deep appreciation for how it’s different for everyone. My heart hurts for the couples going through anything resembling an interruption of how they want to declare their love. My heart soars for the couples out there making the absolute best out of their situation.

This is a new version of me. My insides feel different. All my life I have been the same, yet different. Changing and always staying the same. Unsure and confused by anything uncalculated and the emotion that lack of planning evokes. I think for the first time in my life, I am realizing that change is beautiful. Growth feels exceptional. Living and learning hurts sometimes, but it has to happen. Greif has to happen. Feeling sad has to happen. I have to feel the feelings to be able to eventually move on. Why rush the feelings? 

If you’re a COVID bride, or just a bride, or a groom, or a partner entering a marriage or a sacred union… if you’re human (and reading this, I would assume you are), I urge you to feel. Feel it all, wholly. Lift the blanket that may have been laid upon you to hide your emotions. Do not sugar coat things for the sake of not looking like a complainer to others. The people who love you will hear your complaints and tell you they are sorry for your hurt feelings, even if they weren’t to blame. You do not have to be afraid to take up space just because it doesn’t consist of sunshine and rainbows.  

I am grateful for my husband, our bond, our marriage and our love. I am overjoyed to be the wife of a great man. Our wedding was cancelled and I broke into a bajillion pieces and now I am putting them back together differently than they were before. Mosaics are often beautiful. Life can be like a mosaic. A bajillion broken pieces put together to be a beautiful work of art. Our wedding was cancelled, our marriage was not and it mostly fucking sucked. Onward and upward my friends! 

In solidarity,