about the pregnancy and enjoyed our Christmas morning with happy, little Lark.
After the holiday, my mom decided to stay. My stepdad had actually been staying
up here a bit prior to that as he found a part-time job in preparation for them
moving up as well. My mom had stayed back in the apartment because they still
had the lease and things were sort of up in the air.
few days a week, which she had said she was more than happy to do when she
moved here and expressed to me what a joy it was to be able to spend time with
her. She was actually sad on days I sent Lark to daycare, which was simply to
give my mom a break and also to keep Lark social with other kids.
was delighted, because I needed the help with Lark due to her health and my
being pregnant. It was so nice to be able to leave Lark in my mom’s care and
not worry. My parents had their dog and cat with us as well , but their dog was
sick and had multiple tumors in his body. He was getting frail and the tumors started
to rupture. It was a sad time, especially since Lark had loved him so much. It
came to a point where my parents had to decide to put him down and they didn’t
have the money, I offered them what I could, because I was always willing to
help, even providing them with gas money for my stepdad to get to work and
grocery money when they needed it. I was so grateful for their help that it
didn’t phase me to lend a helping hand. They wouldn’t take much monetary help with the
vet expenses, but I did my best to be there for them in the last moments with
their dog, who was eventually put down.
because we had to give notice at our rental. And James had entered into a court
disagreement with his ex-wife who was trying to keep us from moving, even
though the court had originally dismissed it. But being that she has joint
custody, she could fight it. And fight it she did. It was especially
frustrating because she doesn’t live in the state of Michigan, and hasn’t for
the last 6 years. Our move would not affect her parenting time as she lived so
far away anyway, but she felt that Brennan needed to stay in Saginaw, even
suggesting he stay there alone and live with her in-laws, whom he barely knew.
The case drug on and on…waiting for judges decisions, leaving a family torn
apart, because at that point, James was ready to just move. We were stressed
and the distance didn’t help. Every weekend when we said goodbye, I’d slip into
a depression until the next weekend when I’d see him again. Lark and I needed
each other more than ever, and I don’t think she’ll ever understand just how
much I needed HER at that point.
agreements tied up in court with legal bills mounting by the day. Discussions
about Brennan with his ex-wife became heated, threats were being given out, and
the fight grew uglier by the day. I was struggling here, still staying in his
mom’s house with my parents there as well, but Lark was okay and that was all
that mattered to me. It was difficult at times living under the same roof as my
parents again, because we had differing opinions, mostly regarding Lark, and we
were cooped up, prisoners of winter and were spending every minute together.
But I was thankful they were there because I couldn’t have done it without
them. I was paying for groceries and gas for 3 adults and a baby because they
were struggling financially and I never blinked an eye or complained about it,
because we’re family and we were all in this mess together.
mother, adding to the legal debt and began a long and challenging road with the
state of Michigan to get her approved for benefits due to her now incurable
health conditions that had caused permanent damage. She was finally placed in a
nursing home, more than an hour from here and James spent half of his weekends
with us and half traveling back and forth to see his mom. Nursing home care is
expensive and we weren’t happy with the place she was in. Luckily, we had a
connection to one close by that was much nicer and more accommodating and we
were miraculously able to get her in there, where she remains, indefinitely, at
just 62 years of age. Most of the time not remembering why she’s there or what
has happened, and feeling angry about it. The worst times are when James has to
remind her that her husband has passed, which has happened more times than we’d
I. I was feeling pushed aside at times with my own child and she wasn’t shy
about expressing her own parenting preferences when it came to my child. She
was trying to help, but it was making things worse. Being under the same roof
was bringing us down and I felt like I wasn’t in control of my own child. One
night, during dinner, she told me they were getting out of their apartment
lease because they couldn’t handle it financially. My initial reaction was
panic. We were in the middle of a custody battle we needed to win to keep our
family together and she was creating a scenario for James and Brennan to be
homeless. They were already sleeping in an empty apartment on mattresses on the
floor and we couldn’t have this happen. I pleaded for her to just keep the
apartment until the court decision was made. What she took from that
conversation was that James and I were selfish, expecting her to pay his way in
life, when what I really was saying was to keep the apartment and we’d figure
out a way as we didn’t have much money at that moment either but we’d find a
way to pay the rent and keep it going. She spent about 20-30 minutes in an
angry tirade with me about how awful James was and how selfish we were, even
though they had no expenses with me here. She even went so far as to throw
watching Lark in my face and how she does it for free, even though she wanted
to do it, and proceeded to tell me how unfair I was being to my unborn child by
being stressed out and she did all of this while I sat on the floor in my daughter’s
room, in silent tears while my daughter clung to me, wondering what was
happening. James and I offered to pay rent that month and figure out the other
expenses. I offered to pay the utilities and she told me I shouldn’t be bailing
him out like that. My own husband, who she felt wasn’t my responsibility, but
anyone who’s been in a fair and honest marriage, a partnership, would agree
that it was ABSOLUTELY my responsibility to help my husband and stepson. She
couldn’t understand that.
they first moved up, they were staying in a guest room upstairs and Lark was
with me in the master bedroom and it was fine. But then one day she had Lark’s
things moved to the guest room and they moved their belongings to the basement,
willingly, because she felt it was unfair for Lark to not have a room. I told
it was unnecessary and this was a temporary situation for everyone. But they
that point. And with James’ mom’s unknown health status, the house was in limbo
because she owns it, but we frequently discussed having carpet put in and
getting the bathroom finished, we just didn’t have the means to do so. My mom
disagreed. She felt we needed to use James’ mom’s money to finish it, which
couldn’t happen and her entire estate was hanging in the balance due to her
health and legal proceedings regarding her care. But they chose to stay down
there and I assumed all was fine.
watch Lark during the day. They became reclusive, rejecting invites places and
thus forcing me to stop inviting them places because tensions were high. They
wouldn’t speak to James or Brennan at all and we never saw them. One night,
while James was away, Lark had fallen off of the bed and busted her lip. The
incident scared the crap out of me, as well as Lark and I sat holding her
crying body whispering in her ear, comforting her and trying to get a glimpse
of the blood streaming down her chin. In walked my mom to ask what was going on
and I explained it to her. She then took Lark from my arms and again lectured
me about being too stressed out and unable to care for my own child. She never
seemed to understand that while yes, I was stressed, but my mothering
capabilities were never in question. I sat there in tears and eventually became
extremely emotionally upset over Lark and my mom’s invasion of my parenting. I
sobbed, just wanting my baby back and her to leave the room. But instead I told
her to leave, with Lark and told her to just put her to bed because Lark was
now calm and it’s never my intention to upset my child.
to my mom for getting emotional, even though I felt my thoughts were 100% valid
and expecting her to accept my apology because it wasn’t worth fighting over.
What I got instead was yet another lecture about how selfish I was and how
unfair I was being to my children. That day changed everything.
living arrangements were horrid and that they were living in a dark basement
with no heat and no food. She was reaching out for people to feel bad for her,
while I sat upstairs alone with her grandchild wondering what exactly I did to
make my own parents hate me so much, without my husband, with a very fragile
daughter and a pregnancy I was doing my best to keep healthy. It was on
facebook that I found out she was planning to move out of Michigan and hated it
here. She couldn’t even tell me personally, one day sitting in the dining room
showing my stepdad house to buy elsewhere, right in front of my face.
desperation I had my husband reach out to his aunt to start watching Lark
because I did not feel comfortable any longer having her in my mom’s care. It
was like a dagger straight to my heart and still is. I don’t want my child
living without her grandparents, but I had no choice.
full-time and loved having her. My mom continued to taint our relationship with
her internet accusations and I kept my mouth entirely shut, because it wasn’t
worth the fight. I had a job to do and that was nurture my family, who was
still struggling daily. I ended up staying my in-laws again for a few days
because things were far too tense to keep Lark in that environment. I had to go
over one night to get my belongings and James’ dad came with me because I knew
it would become a fight, and that it did. I’ve never stood up to my mom before,
and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I won’t rehash the things
that were said, it’s painful enough even telling the story.
were leaving as soon as they could. I’d noticed in the weeks leading up to it
that things began disappearing around the house. Their things. Packed up and
gone. I called James immediately and informed to him that they needed to leave
the apartment. It was a mad dash getting what was left of our stuff packed up
and ready, while I begged a friend to take them in because they were now
basically homeless. James threw a ton away in the dumpster, I’m not even sure
what, nor do I care. And in the process, he lost his wedding ring, which
devastated both of us. We also had to leave Brennan’s bed mattress behind,
because they had nowhere to put it. My parents dumped it in the trash after the
occupying the apartment, saying sorry again, for all that had happened but
stating I didn’t know where to go from there. And then they were gone. I went
home the next day, assuming they’d left and I was correct. No trace of them
anywhere, except for the Christmas card with our wedding photos and the
Christmas presents I gave them crumpled in a pile on the floor in the basement.
I don’t even know where that stuff is now, because I couldn’t bear to touch it
and didn’t set foot in the basement for months. I still get a shock through the
heart when I go down there, and probably always will. I’ve been betrayed. I
know my mom feels the same about me and I fear there’s no fixing things at this
point. I’ve never shared any of this until now and just let her have her story
and tell it however she needed, but it’s time for my version and it’s time I
day, because James’ aunt had called and said Lark had a fever and wasn’t
feeling well. So I picked her up before heading home and she was a mess. We got
home and after my emotional moment of seeing my mementos crumpled on a floor,
Lark needed a diaper change. She had explosive diarrhea. It’s like life was
mocking me with a literal sh*t storm to mimic the sh*t storm happening in our
lives. I sat there, covered in poop that had pooled onto the carpet as well,
and cried, and held my baby as tight as I could.
days with her. She was miserable and I was trying to hold it together. We
played and read books and colored. Watched tons of Mickey Mouse and the spent
the lonely nights curled up together in my room because I couldn’t handle
was denied. I won’t get into the specifics because I’m not about to blast
people on the internet, but it was unfounded and James had no other choice but
to appeal the decision, which was going to take even more time. And they were
in desperate need of a more permanent place to stay, since it looked like they
weren’t moving anywhere soon. We reached out to an acquaintance who we barely
knew. And they were just the angels we needed because they opened their home
and hearts to James and Brennan in our most desperate hour. This act of
kindness is something I’ll never forget.
that he was healthy. Something I was beyond thankful for! I was scared of
raising a man and not excited about having to learn to love sports, but we were
grateful and happy his life was on track.
best we could to stay afloat. Lark had two more bouts of stomach flu. If you’re
counting, that’s three times in a short span of time. Six weeks, to be exact.
One time scaring James and I because she was an absolute ragdoll and had puke
for nearly 8 hours straight, having asthma issues throughout. She also had
multiple outbreaks of hives and several instances where she needed help with
breathing from her nebulizer. I was missing work left and right and feeling
awful for my baby girl.
and mother. I was basically a single mother, putting my all into Lark, despite
my OB’s orders to take it easy because my body was having Braxton Hicks
contractions constantly too early. But I was all she had and I couldn’t give
anymore, and he spent certain days up here with us, and certain days in Saginaw
with Brennan and he began looking for work up here while he watched Lark during
the day. Which I think he needed, because he’d missed her so badly. I went
through various states of emotion, mostly angry with how things turned out. We
both had lost our mothers in some sense, a judge and an ex-wife were deciding
our family’s fate, and all we were hoping for was a new life in our dream
was a new realm for him, career-wise, but he open to change and starting fresh.
Brennan was technically still in Saginaw living with our friends because the
legal battle just kept dragging…they finally decided Brennan could move at the
end of the school year and we were angry, but at finally at peace.
the city I work in to have dinner on a Thursday. All that day I felt ill,
nauseous, headache…I thought I had caught something. We saw my coworker and
chatted as we walked down the street because there was a block party that
night. We sat down in my favorite restaurant and I was ready to pig out! But
the nausea hit me hard again and I could barely eat. I just wanted to go home.
I ended up sleeping on the couch that night for awhile, which is nothing new,
and eventually went to bed but couldn’t stay asleep. The Braxton Hicks were
hurting and I had awful back pain. I went back out to the couch to watch some
tv until I could sleep. I was having tons of contractions, eventually realizing
that these were labor pains and I was scared. I was barely 28 weeks and again
faced with the fear of losing my baby.
immediately, which meant missing MORE work and I’d already done enough of that
and thankfully not been fired yet. They confirmed that I was, in fact,
experiencing pre-term labor and was dilated to 2cm. I was wheeled to labor and
delivery immediately and hooked up to IV’s and given steroid injections to help
the baby’s longs in preparation for a baby being born. After some hours, my
contractions had slowed. They suggested I stay overnight, but I just wanted to
go home, with my family.
weeks and put on a schedule of 2 hours up, 2 hours laying down. It was
terrible. Lark continued to go to James’ aunt’s house for a bit and thankfully,
I was able to work from home. It was easier to have Lark away during the day
while James worked because I physically couldn’t care for her. It was a cut in
salary because I was only allowed so many work hours in a day, but we needed
the money. I couldn’t get disability because I hadn’t been at my job long
enough to qualify, so again we marched on, doing the best we could.
swollen eye, which has happened many times before, but this time lingered on. I
could tell it was a food reaction, but we couldn’t and never did find out the
culprit. I gave her Benadryl for the allergies, and also just in general
because she was suffering from yet another cold. A few hours later, she needed
a breathing treatment, which I mostly assumed was from the cold. Until she
vomited somewhere around 2am, then again a bit later, and I guessed we were
dealing with stomach flu again.She stayed home with me the next day, which was interesting.
I wasn’t allowed to lift or carry and we laid around a lot. She continued to
have trouble breathing and her treatments weren’t getting us by. She also
continued to vomit and I was worried all day and knew things weren’t right. The
pediatrician agreed to see her that afternoon and against doctor’s orders, I
loaded her up into the car and off we went.
the look of panic on the doctor’s face when they checked Lark’s oxygen levels.
We were immediately sent to emergency where Lark was hooked up to machines to
be monitored as well as getting x-rays, which confirmed that she had developed
pneumonia, likely caused by aspiration of vomit into her lungs. We were
admitted to the hospital and stayed for 3 days. I was there alone with her for
a bit, which was challenging due to my own medical state, but we powered
through. Burying ourselves with toys in the bed and watching the same Mickey
Mouse episodes over and over again. We weren’t able to go home until her vitals
had stabilized and her asthma was under control. Learning later that the
vomiting and breathing issues were likely caused by anaphylactic shock due to
the reaction she had the afternoon when she came home swollen. We learned that
day that allergic reactions have a secondary phase that can happen hours
afterwards. Combined with her cold virus, which exacerbates asthma, we had a
recipe for disaster.
steroids, where we decided to have Lark stay home with me indefinitely to avoid
getting sick. It was a challenge. A pregnant mom, on bed rest with a toddler
and working from home. I don’t even know how I did it, but I did, for 8 long
weeks. And each week felt like an eternity, but a triumph as I felt empowered
every time I hit a new week and didn’t have a baby! We transitioned Lark to a
toddler bed in an effort to make it easier on me by not having to lift her into
a crib, although by this point, she was so used to sleeping with me that we
ended up with her in our room every night (still do).
won’t elaborate in depth, because if you really want to know, you can see every
day of my bed rest in our vlogs because I did one, daily, every day I was home
on on bed rest.
and I was hopeful that I’d get to have a VBAC, but my c-section was scheduled
anyway, as a precaution, which she moved up anyway because we knew I couldn’t
make it. I had to see the doctor weekly and receive pelvic exams weekly. I’ve
had enough of those in my life at this point! And somehow, Arlo kept holding
on. His nickname of little strongman has so much meaning considering the
journey we’d been on.
long, because he goes to his mom’s for the summer. But things finally felt like
they were going to be okay. Until we got the notice that his mom was once again
going to court and this time to fight for full custody. It was a huge blow to
our lives and we’d been through so much and didn’t know how much more we could
going into labor multiple times, but each time was false. I felt discouraged
and knew I wasn’t having this baby naturally.
I felt sad and disappointed.
absolutely terrified. My OB is one of the best women I’ve ever known. I got
very attached to her, I think because she was my only source of companionship
outside my husband. My only friend and my link to the outside world after days
of being stuck inside. I was relieved when I saw her face that morning and as
they administered my anesthesia, she held my hand tightly. She didn’t have to,
but she did, and I’ll never forget that. I cried as I sat there. Not really
because of pain, but because everything had lead to this. It was like a
release. I think I let go of a lot on that operating table and I think I
realized we were all going to be ok. I was ready to have my baby and move on
from the mess we were in. We needed a happy moment, a miracle, and then Arlo
was born. I won’t go into too much detail about that here, because I wrote his
birth story awhile ago and you can read it here. But he was just the miracle we
needed. Bliss and joy and happiness, all wrapped up in his tiny, 7 pound body,
topped with little, black curls on his head.
a good reason! I’m forever indebted to all of the nurse we encountered who I
truly believe are angels in disguise and we were delighted to know that Arlo
was healthy and we were both out of harm’s way! (see all of my pregnancy vlogs on our youtube channel here)
since James was only allowed one week off. After that first week I was on my
own with an angry newborn (read why here) and a toddler, while nursing a major
incision at the core of my body. But again, we marched on!
had to testify in court in the battle for custody of his son. And we won.
Things were finally going our way and we could all be together again once
Brennan was home from the summer (he’s here and in school now since September
and doing awesome, by the way!)
and I went back to work earlier than I would have liked because we couldn’t
afford it and the stack of medical bills just kept growing. Again placing Lark
in a new daycare with new worries and placing my trust in people who have no
idea about how sensitive she is to things.
medical attention and I was out of work, again, which resulted in work
consequences I’m not about to discuss, because it’s work and I’d like to keep
my job as they’ve been very patient and kind to me, but we just couldn’t seem
to catch a break! And She was back on steroids again!
her home as her assets remain somewhat frozen until the day she passes, which
we hope isn’t soon, obviously. James is permanently her legal guardian and
visits her as often as possible. It’s hard to take the babies as illness and
such is a worry for Lark and for the elderly. It’s emotional too because she
often doesn’t remember names and is often emotionally unstable due to not
understanding her situation.
hospitalized again last week for the same issues and back on oral steroids,
which is dangerous seeing as how she was just on them weeks earlier. She’s
seeing a new allergist and may be seeing some pulmonary specialists on Grand
Rapids soon since we can’t seem to keep things under control.
little dude! He’s in that fun stage where he’s laughing and cooing and figuring
out the world. He’s the perfect addition to our family and he’s our little miracle
and beam of light in the dark tunnel we were navigating for so long.
again, we celebrated our one year wedding anniversary, I still have no
contact with my parents, but I did regain contact with my brother, who I
previously lost touch with due to his own issues with our mother, and I’m
thankful to have him in my life again. Our legal battles are finally over,
though the continued tension remains, likely until Brennan is 18, and our
medical debt continues to grow at an alarming rate. I still have my job,
something I thought wouldn’t happen given our circumstances over the last year,
but I’m thankful for such understanding people.
healthy, Brennan is thriving in a new school, we have a roof over our heads,
even though the reasons we have it are reasons no one should have to endure,
we’re mostly broke, but we have each other and we never gave up.
write this story. A chapter in our lives I’m confident in ending.
old self. I thank all who have stuck by us and continue to root for us.
Things can only get better, or so I keep telling myself.
And to my family…