Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Falling in Love with a Stranger

Weeks before Jack was born, maybe even months before, I very clearly remember saying to Stacey, "Does it blow your mind that we are going to meet someone that nobody has ever met before?"

His response was (no offense) so typically male, "Yeah".

It overwhelmed me to think that we'd be the first to lay eyes on a BRAND NEW human being - it still blows my mind! I mean... come on! That's wicked cool! It was, in reality, so much better than I ever dreamed. It wasn't as if Jack came into the world and everything was A-OK, hunky-dorey, no-big-deal. Everything was INCREDIBLE.

I anticipated Jack being immediately placed on my chest after coming out. Unfortunately, his heartrate had dramatically dropped in the birthing canal, so he needed a little warming up, so to speak. I immediately, without even thinking, shrieked with worry - "WHY ISN'T HE CRYING? WHAT IS WRONG?"

And then he was in my arms, pink and making plenty of noise! If my memory serves me right, I introduced myself, cordially, to the only stranger I've ever loved. I smoothed his cheeks and kissed his head, and I told him I loved him right then and there. If you've ever seen me fall in love, you already know it takes a while for a gal like me. Not the case with Jack Harper Rachdorf. The love I have for this amazing boy existed from the moment the little stick turned pink. Jack's Daddy is the love of my life, and Jack is the meaning of life - geez, does it get any better?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jack's Law

The First Law of Thermodynamics says that energy - under normal conditions - cannot be created or destroyed, simply transformed from one type of energy to another.

My 5-week old son, SeÑor Fussy Pants, has thus created a blackhole. His father and I live in this blackhole. Like all others of its kind, our blackhole defies all of Nature’s laws, especially those which state energy cannot be destroyed. ‘Destroyed’ would be putting it mildly. Jack has annihilated it completely, yet we crave to be awake with him constantly. It is a magnificently energy-deprived condition of bliss, laughter, coffee (ohh, the coffee), and poopy diapers.

The first night home, I didn’t think I would make it. Literally, I thought I would either die of exhaustion (if that’s possible), or end up judging myself as a bad mother for sleeping through the baby’s awake time. Stacey and I camped out in the living room – which also doubles as a nursery – and combated the thought of drifting off all night. Everything we did only seemed to make Jack more pissed off – nurse him, burp him, soothe him, BEG him to sleep just a wee bit. He and I ended up snuggling on the recliner until the sun rose. It didn’t seem this way at the time, but looking back – it was perfect.
I used to be addicted to sleep. Now, I am addicted to Jack. I wake ten times a night to stare at him sleeping peacefully in his bassinet. Even during Stacey's 4 am shift, when I have the option to stay in bed snoozing the night away, I get up and offer to warm Jack's bottle. It's especially irritating to Stacey when all I do is peep over his shoulder as he changes the baby's diaper.
I can't help it - from the first moment, I couldn't help it. I love him like I've never loved anything. Even if he destroys all the energy in my world, he created this love - and THAT... I just couldn't live without.

Oh, the Horror!

Parenthood is not for intensely vain people. My husband-to-be falls nicely into this category; he’s also incredibly good looking, and conveniently enough, doesn’t have to work hard to remain that way. NOT REALLY THE CASE FOR MOMMY. Ya know that “one teeny stretch mark” I mentioned around 30 weeks? It procreated. Morphed itself across my lower tummy into what can only be described as an act of God. Good Lord, what have I done to deserve these?! I swear, after I turned 23, I became a decent human being, and everything before that was just youthful indiscretion! Please, please take my purple stretchies back to where ever the Hell they came from! I’ll be good!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Life As We Know It

My beautiful baby boy, Jack Harper Rachdorf, is quietly cooing in his sleep. I am enjoying a rare private moment next to him, rocking back and forth in our baby glider, listening to the near-silence in our tiny apartment. Jack occasionally sighs, breaths deep, and if I was watching him right now, I know his eyes would flutter in dreamland. I keep the lights low, the volume down, and the dogs happily calm with biscuits. I take advantage of these moments because, now, I am a mother.

After several days of not-so-silently begging my OB-GYN to "induce me already", he agreed I was a prime candidate for elective induction on the morning of September 24th, 2010. I wake up early - way too early - and wait intently by the phone. I am to call the maternity unit at Littleton Regional Hospital around 5:30 am to see if they have a bed for me - for us! - and when they say they do, Stacey and I are giddy and dancing and altogether elated that today is the day! TODAY IS THE DAY! After months - nearly a year - of waiting and watching Kangaroo grow and stretch and play on the inside, we are going to meet our son or daughter TODAY.

I will happily leave out all the details of the day and evening - suffice to say, it was painful in a way that only other mothers can understand... and I only understand after experiencing it. It's mind-blowing pain, but as my friend Lindsay puts it, "your body understands it". You know this pain, however intense it gets, is not going to kill you. In fact, it is empowering. And after 12 hours and what my fiance refers to as "the hour of darkness", surrounded by friends and family, I was somehow able to see past the pain and bring this bright little boy into the world. It's a boy, and what a boy! 10 pounds, 1.8 ounces of chubby bunny baby boy. Mommy & Daddy are over the moon.

And then we are alone with him, and without a single thought or question, we are parents. We bathe him, change him, feed him, coddle him with enormous, infinite, unending love. We are parents... finally, finally, finally - he is here.

Jack is starting to stir.

He is his father, and - from what I'm told - very much like his father's father, also named Stacey. He has big hands, a button nose, and red hair. He prefers to be naked, albeit his closet is full of designer duds. He hates being put into his car seat, but will almost always fall fast asleep before we are out of the driveway. When he nurses, he makes hilarious snorting noises... very similar to Daddy's midnight snores. He has my color in skin and eyes, perhaps someday he will have my freckles. He is 20 days old and his umbilical nugget refuses to fall off. He cuddles like nobody I've ever known - really digs into you before settling comfortably. He has given us everything; a love without words or conditions.

I hope I can share this blog with him someday - to somehow explain how much he was loved even before he was really here. And now that he is here, how enriched and truly blessed we are to have him. Welcome to the world, my little Kangaroo.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Have I Ever Done ANYTHING For 32 Weeks?

Pregnancy isn’t just turning me into a mother and Stacey into a father – I believe it’s turning us into the adults we always feared we’d be. Only, as I sit here listening to him and Josie (Labrador Retriever) snore along with the Red Sox commentary, I have to say – we’re embracing it.

When this whole thing began, it would have been a lie to represent ourselves as grown-ups. Sure, we paid our bills and taxes and put our time in at our respectively exhaustive jobs, but we did it without real purpose. Actually, let me rephrase – we had purposes, only they were called Veuve Cliquot & Hudson Jeans & Alta ski trips for Daddy. Now our sole purpose is Kangaroo. We eat, drink, think, sleep, live for ‘Roo – right down to the nickel, literally. Before we were prego, Stacey and I were saving for a Mac desktop & a house on the cheap (maybe an icy diamond, too) – currently, those items are on the back burner so we can afford a nice maternity leave for Mama (so excited).

We never used to account for the time we spent outside of work. If he got home at 2 pm and I didn’t get home until 2 am, those hours were thought to be well spent… well deserved. I am sure, in the distant future, history will repeat itself, but for now, we are both typically in bed together by 9. It’s like we’re a normal couple – like our (gasp) parents! More time has been spent in the garden this summer than at a restaurant or bar or BBQ; or we hang out with family members we never used to seem to make the time for. It’s wonderful.

Generally speaking, many of life’s challenges fell by the wayside pre-Kangaroo. We were about as carefree as our personality types allowed. Money tight? Let’s spend the night in Boston at a Sox game. Exhausted after work? Let’s stay out until 1 am with friends at Rosa’s. Feeling sick? Don’t you dare take your vitamins, just wait until it gets bad enough to go to your doctor. Our priorities, while not entirely detrimental, were certainly not straight, and now….well, now they just are.

I am on my third bottle of big mama prenatal vitamins, as well as my third bottle of Black Thorn Body Oil (I still got one teeny stretch mark), and sure enough – my doctor was right – I don’t depend on Tylenol so much anymore, as I am growing accustom to my back pain. Stacey and I love staying home, saving money, and embracing our general health & well being. We realize how important these changes have become, with Kangaroo only 8 weeks away.

Pregnancy has certainly been a challenge for both Stacey and I - a beautiful experience nonetheless, but a challenge. We have accomplished 32 weeks of growth not just together, but as a threesome, and one thing is for sure: we are grown ups now.

Difficulty Increases Desire

At 30 weeks prego, I am carrying a kangaroo about the size of a small elephant. It’s fantastic! I love feeling this little one move around all day, I can’t describe the feeling of watching a little foot or hand glide across the inside of my shiny, round tummy. We are having so much fun together, getting to know the ins and outs of mommy-and-baby life. I think Kangaroo will have her Daddy’s tree trunk legs and strength at soccer, as her kicks are sometimes inflammatory. I’ll be sitting here, minding my own business, and POW! – it takes my breath away. Co-workers have witnessed the mortal combat as we set tables for dinner service, on one occasion, I hollered “HEY IN THERE!” - much to everyone’s humor.

And it is funny. It’s giggle-worthy 90% of the time, without a doubt.

Of course, there have been moments of sheer terror, utter sadness, and physical agony. Like last night.

After a long night of bartending – a task I attempt only one night a week these days – I made my way into bed with a large bowl of freezer burned ice cream. I hoped the soft, cold dish would wear away the headache and ease my over-tempered body into the submission of sleep I’d been longing for throughout the night. Instead, as I set the empty bowl on my nightstand, I felt a sudden but definite urgency that sent me hurrying toward the bathroom – pretty much the only room in the house that provides any veil of privacy.

I cried like a baby. I sat on the toilet and cried like a kid who lost her best bud. I still can’t say exactly what came over me, only relate my reaction to the back & belly pain, the constant muscle achiness in my legs, and overwhelming sense of anxiety over the still 2 and a half months I have to wait to meet my baby.

Returning to the bedroom, I realize how loud I must have been, “What’s wrong, baby?” Stacey’s voice has a sincerity to it that makes me understand what a lucky woman I am.

I said this next line out of sheer self-pity, “I don’t want to be pregnant anymore.”


It’s much more difficult than I ever imagined. Through all these joyous moments that turn you into a parent, you struggle, and for me, I sometimes do it in vain. I am ashamed sometimes of how badly I want it to be over – to adopt all subsequent babies – but I am honest with myself and understand that this has been a hard, long pregnancy.

For all the kangaroo-mommys out there who have done this twice (three, four, or more times), I tip my glass of bubbly grape juice to you. In a hundred years, I could never have imagined the challenge that lay before as my little pink pregnancy test turn to a plus sign. Or the happiness.

I am tempted to call my Mom right now – she gives the best advice – but as a mother-to-be, I can almost hear her words… “Jackie, I am so sorry you are going through this. Every woman does. You are a strong woman! You will be fine. And at the end of all of this, you will forget the hard part and eventually want to do it all over again.”
I am delighted to say I believe my own words in this case, but September 18th can’t come soon enough!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


We are nearing our 28th week of togetherness, Kangaroo and I. As I type this line, I am almost certain a knee or an elbow or some other boney structure is gracefully grazing the inside of my belly, a sensation I can't help but smile at. This time in my life has become so important - so incredibly altering - every single moment is relished...

This includes the incessant back pain I suffer from, the absolute constant jetstream of gas oozing out of my body, and the oh-so-welcomed soft spots of fat appearing all over my body. I love it... everything about this pregnancy has opened me up to a new era of happiness in my life. The love I have developed for Kangaroo over the last few months catches me off guard, as if I should have known all along I would feel this way, but could never have predicted such a swelling of the heart and soul. I am going to be a mother. Amazing.

If my friends and family thought I was a little spacey before this, they should judge me now - I could sit and daydream for hours about my baby. What will she look like? What will her cry sound like? Her laugh? Will she have her Mama's freckles and her Daddy's nose? I hope so. I imagine us cuddling together, always together, and perhaps fervishly strugging through those first challenging weeks as a unit, us two (three if you count Daddy!). I think about it so often, I have even wondered aloud whether her #2 will smell as horrible as my nephew's #2 (I hope not).

Every morning brings an excitement I can not explain, a need for her arrival, and I always think to myself, "Has any mother-to-be ever felt this way - as strongly as I do?" And, of course, they have, but when your own heart beats under your chest with such adament longing, it is difficult to imagine that every mother in the world has felt this exact way. Is there anything more powerful?

On to the next three months! Here's to way too many cookies, pizzas, back massages, baby books, & doctor's visits - here's to us, always together. Kangaroo, Mommy can't wait to meet you!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bam! Here I am.

Oh my gosh, I'm pregnant.

As in, I am almost TWENTY THREE weeks pregnant. There's no hiding the obvious - my belly is round and firm, I'm getting my glow on, and my breasts are ginormous (by my standards)! My beloved and I recently dropped close to $600 on maternity wear, a prospect I swore I'd advoid at all costs, and as I type, FedEx is unloading our beautiful sleigh crib into our tiny apartment. Other physical give aways include my inability to hold in gas of any kind, subconscious rubbing of the abdomen, and literally toting my Snoogle Maternity Pillow with me everywhere I go.

As excited as all of this makes me, there is a simple, intimate, beautiful sign of pregnancy that up until last night, only I knew of - the quiet pitter patters of my lovely little one's shoves and twists. For a long while, I worried I would never feel the movement inside, but over weeks 16, 17, 18 I grew to interpret some of my incessant gas as the presence of Kangaroo. At our 20 week ultrasound, I cried and gasped at the amount of physical activity going on inside - I could see her little fingers wiggle, her body spin, and mouth open and close - but I couldn't yet feel the detail of her moves.

'Roo likes to move at night, after I've settled for the day, off my feet and on my Snoogle. Stacey lovingly rubs BlackThorn body oil all over my tummy, waiting waiting waiting for the slightest "Hi Dad!" kick. On two occassions, I've woken him from a dead sleep, positive he would be able to feel the bubbles going on in my belly - he couldn't, and for future reference, doesn't like being woken up at 2 am.

We were both on the brink of lights-out last night, when BAM! Hi-Ya! Kung Fu Girl/Boy showed us her stuff. I quietly thanked God just then, as I glanced down and saw not only Stacey's huge, proud grin, but also his hand upon my belly.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Professional Prego Stands Her Ground

Typically, I only sit down to write an entry when something or someone applicable crosses my mind. I try to keep my blogs upbeat and meaningful, and always on task to the mindset of pregnancy. Today, I sit here thinking – what has been going on with Jackie and Kangaroo lately? It dawns on me that we have been undergoing a lot of change and growth together, and as of late, we have unfortunately been under quite a lot of stress. I hate to be a whiner, I want this pregnancy to be blissful and without complication, but I also want it to be honest. Honestly, this body and mind and soul has been tested these last few weeks, and only with the help and guidance of loved ones and my beautiful heirloom tomato have I come out with the strong willed attitude I’ve always strived for. Here is the story of Jackie and Kangaroo’s first big road block:

I am the manager of a fine dining restaurant in the white mountains of New Hampshire – a position I take pride in because of the amount of work it took me to achieve. Among other responsibilities, I help to orchestrate the flow and direction of lunch and dinner service five nights a week as well as designing an exclusive wine list that requires constant maintenance and change. First and foremost, I am a bartender who provides a high quality of food and drink service backed by a wonderful staff and the best food this area has to offer. I brag about my job, I love this restaurant, and would never do anything to discredit it.

That being said, there has been and will always be a level of stress associated for anyone in this position. I bring it home with me almost everyday, wondering if my inventory will be sufficient, or if my service was what it consistently should be. I regard my stress level as healthy, a sign of respect to the people I serve as well as the establishment that I strive to make the best in any way I can.

There is a widely known level of respect in restaurant work that is represented almost exactly by the numbers 1 and 5 – as in, 15%. If you dine out relatively often, you should definitely be familiar with the amount of work that goes into waiting on you – and most people do. As a matter of fact, I am so rarely disappointed with a tip, the conversation some servers are forced to have with themselves (“what did I do to deserve this?”) hasn’t crossed my mind in a very long time. It is, however, impossible to disregard this self-chat when helping to serve friends, colleagues, or anyone you otherwise have a distinct and definable relationship with. In my case, adding insult to injury, I was pregnant and dealing with 7%. Embarrassing, shameful, what did I do to deserve this?

The unspoken rule to this business is don’t say anything. Don’t stand up for yourself or question the inadequacy of the gratuity, just move on – take the good with the bad.

Kangaroo had a better idea, and I’m so glad she did.

I am a professional, growing another person inside my body, waiting on people for a livelihood – please don’t suggest that I simply ignore what could possibly be an error in counting (or alcohol-induced judgment) and just move on. This isn’t just my life anymore, Mama has to bring home the bread for what is soon to be two mouths.

American girls tend to be mislead from childhood – that if you work hard at something, it will always pay off in the long run. Don’t get me wrong, my job has paid off for me financially, I do very well. I wish I could say the same for the amount of respect and support I receive for performing well so consistently. I was suspended, without pay, for a week, for confronting my 7% slap-in-the-face.

Someone with thick skin, someone like me, would normally take this standing up – but it’s not just me anymore. The Roo-hormones got the best of me – the absolute best of me – and I spent days in a dark place, up against a road block I never anticipated. Even the jubilation of Mama Lisa in town couldn’t entirely tear my mind away from my professional catastrophe. There was no amount of meditation or mantra that could bring my spirits up, and for the first time in my life, the words “I think I am depressed or something,” left my lips. What a weak feeling to admit – like staring at a brick wall you know you have to conquer, but nobody left you the rope to climb over it with.

Then, late one night, after Stacey was snoring next to me, I was left to my own devices, and the barricade crumbled to the ground….


He groggily answered, “Wh-wh-whaaaaat?”

“I just felt our baby move.”

And a simple smile crept over our faces, and a lot of things seemed O.K. again. The baby inside me now moves and grooves to her own beat – much like her Mommy and Daddy – almost every hour of everyday, and nothing in my life has ever made me so unbelievably joyful.

Why in the world would I ever allow a harem of mean-spirited and disrespectful women have any impact on the happiness of my pregnancy? Seems silly now, looking back, but it is just how seriously I take my employment. I love meeting new people, and giving great service to my regulars – I really do! I need to put my hormones aside and remind myself that the world is full of good people, and I’m one of them. Good people have to put up with not-so-good people everyday, and as long as God is watching over us, Kangaroo and I will be just fine.

Nudge, nudge, wiggle, wiggle, nudge, poke – I think she agrees.

**Servers and Bartenders are faced with the same financial trials and tribulations as any other career-oriented person on the planet. Keeping in mind that most servers are paid between three to four dollars an hour, and bartenders typically get a dollar or two more: If you receive good service, it is considered courteous to leave 15% of the price of your tab. When you are garnered with exceptional service, 20% or higher is standard. Simply expecting quality service without the anticipation of leaving an adequate tip should be considered theft of services, or at the very least, bad manners.**

Friday, April 9, 2010

Shut Your Mouth When You're Talking to Me

A Brief List of Comments to Avoid with Pregos

1 – Are you having twins?

2 – Looks like you’re having twins!

3 – I can’t believe you’ve already outgrown your clothes.

4 – You really might be having a girl, my friend who had a girl gained weight all over, too.

5 – You are bigger than you should be at this point (especially bad when spoken by a medical professional who is nor your doctor, or an OB-GYN)

6 – Maybe you are having a boy and a girl.

7 – Don’t drink coffee! You’re hurting your child! (After explaining I allow myself several small cups a week)

8 – You will be overdue, admitted with Pitocin, and receive a C-section. (I am not kidding, a total creeper sat at my bar and told me this after I revealed my strong desire to have a 100% natural home birth)

9 – You will always retain some of this weight.

10 – You haven’t gained all that weight in your ass yet…. You will!

An Even Briefer List of Comments Encouraged with Pregos

1 – You are glowing.

2 – You are beautiful.

3 – You are all belly!

4 – Don’t worry, women were designed to give birth, you will do great.

5 – You and Stacey will be the best parents!

Kangaroo? Are You There?

I am nearing my 18th week of pregnancy! I am nice and round, gaining more energy (and weight) everyday, and steadily adding to my nesting pile of baby goods. All in all, I fit perfectly into almost every pregnancy symptom there is. I eat a lot, I sleep a lot, I cry a lot, and I worry – A LOT.

This morning, I convinced myself that a coffee cramp was my baby dancing around in my belly. I literally bounced around for another 10 minutes trying to recreate the feeling because I am abnormally anxious about feeling my little one move. Anywhere from 16-20 weeks, a woman will begin to feel her bell pepper wiggle and jiggle – apparently, I will be waiting a few more weeks for this sensation. The stir is supposedly so mild sometimes, it is often mistaken for gas or completely written off and not noticed. However, I have been paying very close attention. I am waiting, not so patiently at this point, for ‘Roo to show Mama some love.

The first few weeks of my pregnancy were so worrisome, so heartbreaking, I don’t think I will relax until he is here. With every prenatal visit, my heart enlarges, but conversely races right along with the baby’s pace – now an even 150 beats per minute. Everyday that passes, I see myself and Stacey turning more and more into the parents we are destined to become just 4 and ½ short months from now. We are scared – not of our ability to parent, but of everything else. Why don’t I feel him yet? Is he growing at the right pace? Am I growing at the right pace? Don’t holler at the dogs, the baby will hear you!

It’s the natural stuff, I presume. You’re supposed to worry for your children, their health, their future. At my first prenatal visit, Doctor Jessica put a tiny machine on my belly, and within 2 seconds, swish-swish-swish, Hi Kangaroo, Mommy hears you! This last time, I cried for a solid minute of sheer terror before she located my bundle with the same instrument. It’s these times that remind me that I am really going to be a mother. I am so concerned with the health and wellbeing of this child, words or songs or blogs could never describe it. I’m going to be a mommy, I’m going to be a mommy, I’m going…..oh! Another coffee cramp?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Stacey Hacks Jackie's Blog! Part One: Are you Excited?

99.9% Of all people have asked me the same question about having a baby..."are you excited?" The minus .01% is my Mom who said, "0hhhhhhh Stacey that is wonderful!" I have been asked over a hundred times now and my answer is always the same, but my tones are different with the people who ask me.

Some ladies have asked me, like at the bank, they ask me just so I can say yes and then they can share me their stories of the first time they were expecting a child. My experience in the last few months is that these are long stories, really long stories. Others ask and then look me into the eyes to see if i mean what i am about to say, to see if i am REALLY excited. These I like the most because I can whip out my sarcasm...
"so are you excited?" they ask.

I respond, "nahhhhh, I have many children all over the world!"

Our friends have all asked me the question and the truth comes out. My words are void but it is my smile where they find the answer. The truth is I am overjoyed, ecstatic, nervous yet confident, and most completely in love with Jackie.

My Love, you had this one coming. I am touched by your constant thoughtfulness. That is the only reason I hacked your blog.

Love your Man Meat,
(by that I mean real tough man meat)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Settling For Butterflies

There’s this somewhat cheesy quote from my old favorite show that I’ve always loved:

Some people are settling down.
Some people are just settling…
And some people refuse to settle for anything less than butterflies.

Everyone settles at some point. I’ve settled for countless bad hairstyles, several infested apartments, and a couple of not-so-nice guys. One day I woke up, called a new stylist, wrote the big first-last-security check, and cried my eyes out at the end of yet another failed relationship. And I thank God everyday that I chose this path, the one less traveled, the one I was always supposed to be on, the one that led me to The One.

Our memories differ a bit on where and when, but meeting Stacey Harper Rachdorf is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I’ll leave out the gory details my Dad doesn’t want to read about, but I will say one time – he is so hot! I pray our child gets his looks!

He walked into my bar in the summer of 2007, and caught my eye for several gawking moments. How could such a good looking local have escaped my man meat radar for so long? He ordered a couple drinks – Stoli Blueberry, soda water, pineapple juice - chatted briefly, and left. A few days later, Jack on the rocks, chat, goodbye. My coworker and I dubbed him “Eye Candy” with lack of an actual name.

Later that month, after a morning of mimosas at Bailiwicks, my girlfriend Emma and I showed up at the bar I worked at to collect our tips from the previous night. Eye Candy was having lunch, and my mimosa-induced confidence approached him with smile, “Hey, do you want to go to a party?”

“Yeah!” Like, no hesitation. Gave me butterflies like I can’t describe to this day.

“By the way, what’s your name?”




A few friends gathered around a pool – lounge, drink, swim, repeat. I squeezed my chubby bunny butt into a cute bikini and prayed Stacey wouldn’t judge. We BBQ’d all day, and after just the right amount of cocktails, I happily accepted Stacey’s request for a one-on-one dip later into the evening. We both agree – electricity and water can be a good thing.

We drove down the coast together just a few weeks later – my 22 year old mind convinced that Florida was the place for me – and even though our new friendship had me feeling a comfort I hadn’t felt in a very long time, there was a constant stream of butterflies in my tummy, an excitement I won’t ever forget or debase. We talked about everything, even the boring stuff had me catching my breath, and the fluttering in my stomach turned into something more important than a crush.

Needless to say, Florida didn’t work out. I came home, tail between legs, but not empty handed. Stacey had come to visit me several times during my 8-week stint in the Southeast, and lucky for me, he held my hand during another drive along the coast in late October. Despite everything else going on in my life at that time, I felt like I’d done something very right to win this man’s interest.

Eventually, after two years of the single life, I opened my eyes and my heart to the man of my life.

We’ve kept each other on our toes, for sure. Regardless - three years, an apartment, a puppy, some big ups-and-downs, lots of laughter, love, support, and a bun in my oven later, Stacey still gives me butterflies. If he pops into the restaurant I work at unexpectedly, my stomach flips. His smile, his laugh, his massages! – he knows how to make me tick, yet he can’t help the way he makes me feel.

As mushy as this all sounds, it gets better: Our doctor tells us that in a few short weeks, our little Kangaroo will be giving me butterflies – the swish-swish-swish of her little limbs will be felt in my lower abdomen. When I think of our baby – part me, part him – fluttering around in my belly, it all makes perfect sense. It’s no surprise the first belly-tug I will feel will remind me of Stacey – he has given me butterflies since the day we met, and that’s not soon to change. It’s the couple we are, the parents we will become – in love, best friends, and ready to conquer the next beautiful challenge.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Rock & a Soft, Plush, Pillowtop Place

Here’s something you don’t read about so often: gross neglect of family and friends during pregnancy.

Now, I’m not tooting a horn of any kind here, but I’d like to preface this entry by stating that I am a decent friend. I won’t call it what its not – for instance, I’m mediocre, at best, with keeping in touch. I sometimes forget to send Thank You cards, Christmas cards, Birthday cards, but usually I remember within 7-10 business days. I’m a master of answering text messages/facebook messages that both come directly to my phone, voicemails are somewhat of a different story.

HOWEVER, I, as a pregnant woman, SUCK at any and all regards of communication with ANYONE. (Small interjection – a few of my closest friends jumped ship [hopefully temporarily] and moved to the West Coast, and yes, I could be calling you back right now, but its 6 am your time.) I received 4 – count ‘em, 4! – belly belts from my Mom on Monday, have I called her yet to thank her? Did I call Hilary on her birthday? The answer to these questions is no, certainly not. Instead, I slept. Blissfully and without guilt, I slept and slept and ohhhhhhh I slept. It didn’t matter which hopelessly mundane show was on the History Channel, I let the monotone narrator lull me in and out of sleep for close to two months. Straight.

I’ve turned into a cruddy friend as of late, and I’m wicked, wicked sorry.

It’s not just loved ones I’ve lost touch with. You should see me. I blow dried my hair for the first time in weeks just yesterday – plastered some make-up to my cheeks, and felt like a girl, finally, after nearly 60 days had passed. I beg my boyfriend to remind me I am pretty 40-50 times a day, mostly because I don’t believe it anymore. It’s hard to convince yourself you might be even remotely attractive when the length of your leg hair is catching up to that of your Labrador Retriever’s. For almost 2 months, I’ve slept, and that’s it.

Pathetic sympathies aside, this is a feeble attempt at explaining my somewhat odd disappearance from society in general. I’ve all but vanished from my own home - Thank God for caring, understanding boyfriends or the dishes would never get done, my laundry would be hard as a rock lying in the hamper, and my dogs wickedly undernourished. I keep asking the universe, “When will I feel like myself again?”

I haven’t heard an answer yet, but my bed is calling my name.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Extra Chamber

I grew an extra chamber in my heart this past Monday. It’s the one Moms have to have to comfortably accommodate the amount of love you possess for your offspring.

Back at Littleton Regional Hospital at 8:30 am – and, I don’t care who you are, if you’re pregnant in your first trimester, this is impossibly early – and I am already welling up at the registration desk. I am terrified. I am slightly non-responsive to Stacey’s inquiries and remarks, as I am on planet What If. What if, what if, what if there’s nothing there again? I can’t handle more bad news.

We took the early appointment to avoid waiting, our doc’s recommendation as apparently the later it gets in the day, the more backed up this specific area of the hospital gets. Wouldn’t you know it, the place was already packed. Not even a seat available in the waiting room. Not good zsa zsa if you asked me!

We let the receptionist know we are there, and proceed to a homemade kiosk detailing the horrors of heart disease in women these days. Whoever made it dressed it up with red construction paper and online print-outs, it was actually pretty in an alarming way. Distracting to say the least – downer zsa zsa.

I am pacing now, within 3 minutes of signing in, and my patience has only so much oomph this morning.


Hey, that’s me! I’m here! I’m ready! That was fast – great zsa zsa!

We got the same guy we did the first time – John. John has seven lovely kids and he is a total peach. He doesn’t remember us, but says he’s been looking over our previous empty ultrasound. That’s all we get – no comment otherwise. Sometimes just hearing “It will be OK this time” could momentarily calm my out of control nerves. I’ve come to learn that medical professionals make no promises, false or otherwise, they simply rely on advanced scientific equipment to answer their questions.

So, never mind my belly is sticking out-to-there and my hormones are literally shooting out my ears, there are no reassuring words for me until he performs the ultrasound.

Gooey blue stuff on my tummy, Stacey’s hand in mine, tears of sheer terror oozing out my eyes, fingers crossed:

“Thump, thump-thump, thump, thump-thump, thump, thump” – I guessed the machine was picking up on my heart beat in overdrive and the sound ricocheted off the walls and into our ears.

Still nothing. 30 seconds go by before John speaks up:

“Oh, by the way, that’s not your heartbeat.”

O, Happy Day! He turns the volume up and we all quietly dance to the world’s most magical music. 179 beats/minute of what can only be described as God’s miracle. I am bawling, losing it completely at the relief of life inside my round belly. Thank you, God, thank you, thank you, thank you!

I could have listened all day, but John still had to find Kangaroo in there somewhere. She is still very small, only about the size of a kumquat and barely over an inch long. She weighs a fraction of an ounce, so why am I so plump? He glides the device back and forth, up and down, and locates the yolk sac. This! He says, This, if we see nothing else, is the sign of a growing pregnancy. Phhhhheeeeewww. Good, yolk sac, good.

“So I have some sad news,” John says in such a relaxed and impartial way that my heart hardly had time to sink. “The writer of ‘My Sharona’ died today.” Oh, John. If you only knew how close I am to completely annihilating your existence right now. Thank you for that tid bit, now find my baby.

And then there she was. Head, body, arm and leg buds, and a sweet little halo. Stacey and I, almost at the same time, deeply sighed and laughed. “Hi, buddy”.

This moment changes you. You make room for a deeper kind of love, and because of it, you resonate on a different level. From where I’m sitting, you don’t ever go back to who you were, and you don’t want to. You begin your transformation into a parent. You grow your extra chamber.

Kangaroo, Mommy is waiting. I love you.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chubby Bunny

At this risk of sounding cliché and somewhat whiny:

Morning Sickness is not applicable for morning time WHATSOEVER. The current time is 11:05 PM, and as I listen to both my boyfriend and pup snore loudly next to me, I feel like barfing. Forgive my choice of words – it is wildly appropriate, however, to emphasize this feeling for what it is – gross!

It might just be considered Sac religious to barf up the coveted Rosa Flamingo’s pizza/wings. Pizza Gods, I am sorry. I have done so twice, all that’s left is a dark empty pit inside and a beautiful raspberry-sized embryo named Kangaroo.

It’s somewhat difficult to imagine that a human is developing inside what was already a fairly round belly. My jeans are definitely tighter, even though I’ve reduced my caloric intake by approximately 25,000 a day (reason: vomit), but… well… where’s this big belly? No matter how teeny-tiny ‘Roo is, shouldn’t there be some evidentally-pregnant change? I just feel flabby and fat. Stacey says I am more beautiful than ever. He is a very, very wise man.

But seriously, when was the last time a regular drinker/bad eater completely changed her ways – ie: NO booze, healthier diet, extra exercise – and GAINED weight? Oh, right, when she gets pregnant. Very exciting, I must admit, to see Mother Nature hard at work. She clearly never spent $180 on Seven For All Mankind Denim (which, tragically, tore from butt to waist the other day).

Friends keep telling me to stop complaining. Let me clarify one time – I’m not complaining, I’m in a minor state of shock. And why can’t I be a little timid on the prospect of, in the words of my good friend Shauni, inevitably growing to “the size of a house”? Women are almost instinctively hyper-sensitive about their weight, is that impulse supposed to shut down for 10 months? I’d argue that now more than ever, I am very aware of the changes in my body – the muffin top, for instance, has become a substantial fixture in my day-to-day.

Here’s hoping that Stacey and the pups put on some sympathy weight to balance out the family.

In all seriousness, I am thrilled for the extra weight, the daily nausea, and splitting of the jeans. I really am. I feel like the world’s luckiest girl, and how could I not? An amazing partner in my life, a baby in my belly, two of the greatest canines on the planet, AND we’re going to look at a house today – THIS IS MY LIFE. Forty extra pounds…. Bring it on.

Think I’ll go eat.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mothers Be Good to Your Daughters

With the stork on his way, I have naturally turned to the one person who guided me through childhood – Mama Lisa.

For those of you who know my Mom, this whole goo-goo-ga-ga, mushy, heartfelt story I am about to tell may come as a bit of a surprise. Don’t be mistaken, every word I speak (write) is 100% true. If you’re unfortunate enough to have never met my Mom, it’s pretty simple: she’s tough as nails. A true, dedicated, super-intelligent business woman who is constantly elevated in the ranks of her very successful career. Some might even say she was born to dominate her field, having overcome hardships I can only imagine, and inevitably accomplishing everything she set out to – all the while, raising three radically different and challenging kiddos (Joseph Riley, Chelsea Marie, and Myself).

That would make anyone a little hard, a little over it, maybe even a little ready to move on from the world of babies.

Enter Brennen Shea Nagle, now 1 year old, and quite possibly the cutest and largest baby in this history of mankind. My brother’s son was born December 26th, 2008, consequently making Mama Lisa do a double-take on the idea of becoming “Grammy”. Needless to say, I was surprised and ecstatic over her reaction to our fabulous news.

She was at work:



“Mom, I have some news. Some really exciting news.”


“Stacey and I are going to have a baby!”

Voice already cracking, “Oh my Gosh! Really?” I could hear her smile, her sincerity, and I started to cry a little, too. This conversation isn’t something they teach you at UVM or St. Johnsbury Academy, or anywhere else in life, really. It’s not even an event that crosses your mind until you’re actually experiencing it, and it… is... Wonderful.

Mom blessed our little one the moment she knew, she prayed for us during our first big scare, and she continues to guide me through my pregnancy with a swollen heart and truly gracious understanding. She’ll respond to my incessant texts any time of day:

“Did you have really bad morning sickness?”

“Did you have stretch marks? They’re genetic!”

“What do you think of genetic screening?”

“Epidural? No epidural?” (NO EPIDURAL! THREE KIDS!)

“I wish you were here with me.”

And she will be. April 14th, once again sharing herself with my beautiful little blueberry, as Mom arrives on her own birthday. I told her I should be pretty chunky by that time – she calls it “cute”.

She really is a softy.

Monday, January 25, 2010

'Roo Ups and Downs

My doctor told me from the very beginning that pregnancy can be a rollercoaster of emotions. I was not prepared in the slightest for what would happen in the coming week.

The day after confirming the presence of our little one, Stacey and I were elated to see what was going on inside. We had our first ultrasound at Littleton Regional Hospital at 11 o'clock in the morning. "Arrive with a VERY full bladder," the instructions said. So I did. Lying down on the gurney, we could barely contain our excitement, attempting to take a photograph, which the kind man performing the sonogram informed us was against the rules. Oops.

After an unsuccessful try at an exterior sonogram, the technician decided we might see something more by performing an internal version of the same procedure. Big smiles, lots of heart tugs, laughter, giggles, and then....nothing. There was nothing on the screen, not even what the technician referred to as a gestational sac (the very beginning signs of a healthy pregnancy). He assured us it could simply be too early to see anything. "You are young and obviously healthy, you have nothing to worry about".

We left the appointment still filled with extreme giddiness and loads of hope.

Fast forward almost two days later. I was meeting with a wine representative at work (no, I didn't taste), along with my boss and friend, Stacey Northrop, and nearing the end of the meeting when my phone rang. "I have to take this, I think its my doctor calling to schedule our next appointment..."

I walked away from the two and took the call. "Jackie, this is Jessica. We've reviewed the results of your ultrasound, and the pregnancy is not viable. You will likely miscarry in the coming weeks". Just like that. No 'I'm sorry', or 'I regret to inform you...'.....NOTHING. I gathered since the conversation that she gives this information out regularly.

My knees literally gave out from underneath me, thankfully greeted by the front of a chair to fall down on. I don't remember exactly what was said after the fact, but I recall hearing I needed to have blood drawn immediately, it could be ectopic, blighted, etc, etc. I hung the phone up and lost complete control over my mind, body, tear ducts.

My poor co-workers. They thought I had lost my mind. I sent an email after the fact to the nice man who was talking to us about new wines. He seemed to understand. I began grieving without even thinking, without a single moment gone by. I was devastated and stayed that way for 3 days. I remained in bed, depressed over the baby I had only known was mine for less than a week. At one point, I lay down in the shower, desperate and exhausted, and plead with God to give my child another chance. Please, please, please, please, please, please…

Stacey was wonderful. He rubbed my back and wiped my tears, not knowing what I was feeling, just understanding and listening the way he always does. I knew he would be an amazing father someday.

I returned to work, noting the slow yet obvious depletion in my checking account, with a heavy heart and somewhat resentful disposition. Every step I took, I forced back tears and kept a smile on my face. I dreaded the inevitable "Congratulations" from people who had yet to hear the bad news. The clock ticked, ticked, ticked by slowly, and at around 7 o'clock, I began to wonder if this was such a good idea. Moments later, the phone rang, and I overheard my boss' husband, "Of course, of course, she's right here actually".

"Jackie, this is Jessica". Oh, Lord, please not this again. Why would she be calling me at 7 o'clock on a Saturday night? This is going to be bad.

"Jackie, we made a mistake. Your hormones are through the roof. You are definitely carrying a viable, healthy pregnancy".

No sweeter words were ever uttered! I stood and wept in the middle of the dining room, taking time to absorb the information and, for the moment, keep it my little secret inside. That lasted all of three minutes, but what a feeling!

The previous three days almost wiped from my consciousness, I laughed and cried my way through the rest of the shift. I managed to call Stacey, my Mom, Dad, and best friend while in the weeds, that was the type of adrenaline I was dealing with. Of the 25 years of memories in my bank, this night topped the list. It’s funny and devastating what the human soul can put itself through when it grieves, but when it comes out the other side unscathed and optimistic, it needs only the next day to carry on.

Back to reading 'What to Expect', following (she's the size of an orange seed this week!), picking out names, extreme gasiness, nausea, vomiting, getting fat, and all the other amazing and rewarding feelings that we come to expect.... when we're expecting.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day One

A day we will never forget! Up until today, I figured the holiday stress had caused me to skip another period. With fear in hand, I peed in the little plastic cup at the doctor's office, only a part of me hoping the result would be the one it has always been: Not Pregnant.

We are so thrilled to be embarking on this adventure together! Counting our blessings and praying for a healthy & happy pregnancy!

PS, we both think it's a girl!