Friday, January 23, 2015

Turns Out, Muscle Relaxers Are Kind of Awesome.

theBalm Cosmetics are on Hautelook today! Use my referral link to sign up and get some goodies!

I had a long day at work today doing financial things. Many times I wished I was back on the deck at Bass Lake. How gorgeous was the view?

As soon as I got home I started working on our personal finances which is always fun. Do money stuff all day and then come home and do money stuff all night! Woo. I've finally assumed all responsibility of our financial future and I had a lot to sort through to get us on track. Gotta cut some things out and build our savings back up after the hit it took paying for part of my schooling.

I'm still trying to figure out the best system for us. It's challenging because Bryan has a very irregular income, being a musician and all. It's hard to figure out what kind of 'flow' will work for us. I received my new Plum Paper planner but it doesn't start until March. I filled out a few things that I didn't wan't to forget. For instance, we just paid our Amazon Prime renewal, so I made sure to note that in January of 2016. We also paid our registration in November so I jotted that down as well.

I don't really have the brain power to full on blog. I took a muscle relaxer. Have I mentioned I jacked up my shoulder? I can't remember. Anyways, I jacked up my shoulder. I don't know how I did it but the muscle is totally messed up. It hurts to rotate my head. However, it hurts a lot less today. I only took three doses of three Advil and not four Advil every four hours. Progress. The muscle relaxer helps me sleep. Before I was prescribed it, I was so tense because I was scared to hurt that I would wake up stiff and sore. It was horrible. But the muscle relaxers have done wonders for my rest and I'm asking myself why I haven't tried them earlier. Maybe because I didn't need them. But still.

I haven't even touched editing videos (I have so many just waiting there) and I hope to get that accomplished this weekend. In all honesty, things have been so crazy I haven't even unpacked my TWO suitcases. One I took to Sacramento and one we took to the mountains. It's super fun in the morning to need something and realize I have to dig in one of two suitcases.

But tomorrow is Friday and who cares. I'll save it for the weekend, along with all the other things on my to-do list. Looks like a fun, relaxing weekend is on the horizon! Haha.

Hope you guys have had a great week!


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I'm back!

I went to our mid-year meeting for school last week and then spent the first half of this week at the Pines Resort at Bass Lake! I'll have a post about that on Friday (or Monday, honestly) but I just wanted to drop in and say hello.

It was nice to take a few days off and while I planned on working on editing some videos over my short vacation, it was just that - SHORT! The last thing I wanted to do was stare at a computer screen when I had beautiful mountains, tall trees and an almost water-less lake to look at. It was also amazing spending four consecutive days with my baby. Let's be real for a second though, I had NO IDEA editing was so time consuming. I have a new respect for all of the YouTubers out there. Jeesh! My procrastination comes in out in full force when I know I have editing to do. Hopefully tonight I'll suck it up and get to it!

The time off was wonderful but now I have to face the daily grind. I'm always a little resentful after vacation, when life goes back to normal. Adults do so many things. TOO many things.

I have a lot to catch up on and a lot to write about! Next week we will return to the normal schedule (Monday-Wednesday-Friday) but don't forget you can follow me on Twitter (which I need to be more active on, so tweet me! @meganlauriana) or on Instagram (@meganlauriana).

Instagram might be a little light over the next few days though... My camera is broken because a certain boy that inhabited my belly for seven-and-three-quarter months dumped makeup remover on my phone. Luckily the front camera and everything else still works. Hoping to get a replacement phone soon!

Hope you had an amazing MLK holiday!


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Giant Forest

On Sunday, I woke up to get ready for church and halfway through my beauty routine Bryan woke up and said we shouldn't go. We were all sick and we shouldn't pass it around. I told him that was probably the right call, but I would go crazy if I spent another day inside. Last week Bryan had 5 gigs, Tuesday-Saturday and I was either at work or at home all those days. On top of that: I was sick, I had some hard personal crap happen, I had that emotional post (and cryfest) and I was just DONE. 

When things get hairy I like to bolt. Loud music and the open road settles me. I know and accept that about myself and so does Bryan. We hopped in the car and went for a drive. We headed east on the 198 and stopped in Exeter for a quick lunch at the Wildflower Cafe. I've blogged about a trip to Downtown Exeter before. We were excited to finally check out the Wildflower Cafe which has the cutest little patio area! I asked the owner and she said I could take photos to share. 

Just so you know, we paid for our meals and she doesn't even know the name of my blog. Most of the pictures are from the front of the store and I vlogged the rest. I totally forgot to vlog/photograph the food, but they had lots of options and it was great! I hope to have the video up on Friday, but we'll see. I'm heading out of town tonight and I'm not sure I'll have time to put it together.

The counter displayed various awards, local publications and business cards. I love small town restaurants. You could just feel the love for their community!

We didn't get any desserts but I looked at them for a few minutes and counted calories in my head. It helps to keep me from pulling the trigger. I mentally consume them and then walk away. It's not as satisfying but also does not result in being a big tubba. Soo... I win in the end. Even if I lose too. 

The next photo is from our May 2014 trip to Exeter and the one below it is from this past weekend. Look how big Shepherd is now and the difference in Bryan's hair! Crazy how time flies. 

After lunch, we headed up to the mountains. My goal for the day was to breathe fresh, clean air. Our air quality has been horrible the past few days and being so sick, my sinuses needed a break. We paid the $20 entrance fee (!!!!) and went to Giant Forest, where the largest tree in the world resides. There is some technicality about it being the largest tree... If I remember correctly it's that there is no tree that has the same mass and height or something. It's a big tree and it's cool, so make sure to check it out if you are in the area!

Before I forget - the entrance fee is a 7-day pass and I don't think it includes camping. I don't know. But we had four people with us in the car and at 5 bucks a head, thats not too bad for entertainment/fresh air/change of scenery. Cheaper and better than a movie, you know? Anyways, Shepherd looked up at General Sherman (the tree) and said, Whoa! And then proceeded to play with dirty snow. It was around thirty-eight degrees and the ground was slushy. We got there around four and left about 4:45. I was worried about being that high up the mountain after dark with no chains, so our goal was to be as far down the mountain as possible by 5:15. 

We caught a lot of on video so stay tuned for that. Shepherd threw more than a few snowballs and loved stomping on them. Justus went up with us and we love having her crazy self around. The fresh air was amazing for my sick face and we all blew our noses a lot and took some nice deep breaths. It was a good day. We even caught a spectacular view on the way down the mountain. It looked like a painting. Bryan hopped out of the car to be included in the photo. Pretty gorgeous, huh? 

We are heading to Bass Lake next week and I can't wait. This excursion made me so excited. My mother-in-law and I plan on hiking a bit, which she'll run circles around me as I lag painfully behind but hiking is my favorite "exercise" so I'm going to take advantage of it as much as possible while I'm there. 

I'm so thankful that we live so close to the mountains. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Thank you...

I appreciate all of you who read my blog, wrote me, emailed me and messaged me on Facebook.

I remind myself all the time, every birth is different. But the only birth I know is the one I had and when I am really honest,  I can't imagine that it'll be any different. Even if I could, I don't want to plan on not having pre-eclampsia or a cesarean again because I'd be crushed if it happened again.

I want to try to keep things as non-committal as possible because I figure I can just go with the flow. Hopefully that will keep my heart from being too attached to any one scenario. It's what I did last time which worked out when I was adamant that staples not be used on my body in any capacity during the surgery, but also worked against us because I didn't think to remind the doctors not to touch me roughly (and as I write that, I feel a surge of irritation because women shouldn't have to remind their doctors to be delicate in their private parts... but whatever.) and I didn't think to say anything after.

It's not easy to make the the choice to try for a second baby when your first experience was... varied, with a strong lean towards horrible. Then when I think of the depression I felt after, the failed breastfeeding and pumping for 10+ months, it seems unbearable.

I really don't want to experience it all over and I have no reason to believe that it will be any different. I feel that in order to be ready to expand our family, I have to acknowledge that the past may repeat itself and I have to choose to do it anyway. 

Getting it all off my chest and hearing that other women have had experiences similar to mine or have had even worse ones and still chose to try again was healing. I'm not alone in this. And while each of us had our own births with their own variables, we are all women and we all can understand the trials of another. This is why it is so essential that women share their stories. We need to talk, comfort and pray with each other. We need to fight for dignified births and it isn't just for ourselves, it is for the next generation of new mothers. If birth is like this now, what could it be in five, ten or fifteen years?

After I had Shepherd I stopped going to birthing websites. I stopped participating on forums and on social media platforms. There was just... so much pain there. And not just from myself, but from other women. I would get angry for them and then someone would comment and say something horrible to someone that had a bad experience and somehow blame them for it and I'd get ever more irate. It wasn't healthy. I had to walk away. Now that I have babies on the brain I'm wading back into the water and in my year-and-a-half absence, things haven't gotten better. It's discouraging.

However, I've changed my life since two years ago. I'm reading the Bible and establishing a relationship with Christ that I've never had before. In that alone, there is peace. I'm going to surrender that fear every moment that it bubbles up, because I have no use for it. It does nothing but hold me back.

I'm not ready to try for another child yet. I need more time. If it happens on it own, it happens. But it is time that I start researching my options and developing a plan for care that I feel comfortable with in the future.

Eating better and getting exercise will decrease my chances of having both pre-eclampsia and a c-section so I am going to focus on making some big changes in those areas. #forrealthistime and I'm also going to continue reducing all unnecessary stress in my life. All good things to do before introducing another human into our lives. :)

I am trying to balance my fears and my hope for my next birth and the pendulum swings from one extreme to the other. One moment I feel like I could do it no problem and the next I'm laying on the bed curled up like a cat because I can't bear the thought of doing it all over again. You'll never know how much the encouragement means to me. I'm giving you all a big internet hug from my couch. You're all amazing.



Friday, January 9, 2015

I Wake up Terrified.

I have a quiz due tomorrow and I need to be working on it. Oh well. I just read this article because it was posted on's Facebook page. I then posted this comment on the thread:

It's true. The article talks about a home birth that went devastatingly wrong. It was scary and traumatic. The same birth may or may not have happened in a hospital. I can't say. I don't know everything about birth just because I've had one kid. I'm not the end-all be-all of mothers. I barely consider myself a good one.

But I can say that I had a traumatic birth. I can say that it has stayed with me for almost two years. I can say that while Bryan and I have started talking about trying for another, I am terrified. I woke up in a cold sweat a few weeks ago and what was going through my mind was that I couldn't do it. Here are my options:

1. Do what I did last time. Hire a midwife to give me prenatal care. Hope she'll take me... Try for a home birth (and a smooth one at that!). Face the possibility of something going wrong.  If I were to have pre-eclampsia again, go straight to the hospital and deal with doctors I don't know.


2. Find an OB, be a high risk pregnancy, fight for my right to start laboring on my own. Face the possibility of being dropped as a client. Face the possibility of being pressured to schedule a c-section. Pray that I don't swell/don't have protein in my urine/go into labor on my own. Hope that I get a "good" nurse that is nice and lets me eat a little. Pray that the doctors I encounter won't forcefully shove their fingers in my vagina and painfully check me without caring about how it makes me feel when they do it. Fight for a surgery that doesn't end in staples (cause hell no.) Face the possibility of something going wrong.

The problem is all my options scare me.

And this is what makes me so pissed.

I shouldn't have to choose between one horrifying experience or another. It's like in politics when you pick a candidate you don't agree with at all but do because they are less crazy than the other.

Birthing is as natural to our bodies as breathing. Our bodies morph to what our babies need and more often that not, we legitimately don't have a reason to cut open our bodies and take them out. And it's not just the Doctors fault. A lot of doctors are sued or punished because they make the wrong call and it ends badly. Which is heartbreaking and infuriating. We are all only people, at the end of it all. We can only do so much. When someone loses their baby, sometimes it's the only thing that makes sense. Honestly, I can't imagine. I do know that many doctors just try to do what they believe in that moment is right. It's not an easy job. That is shitty for them as doctors.

But there are also many doctors out there want to be home by dinner or don't want you ruining their Disneyland plans. They have a life to live too so they push the surgery. That is shitty for their patients. Taking their own schedule out of it though, a cesarean is less work, less grief. When they do surgery they are in control of our birth. When we labor and we birth, our bodies are in control. There is some degree of the unknown to both, but for the most part, there is less guessing when it's a cesarean.

And that is shitty for us as patients.

Because our bodies are generally made to have baby after baby. Our bodies are not meant to have surgery after surgery. Our bodies don't recover the same way because our bodies our fighting something unnatural when healing from a cesarean. When we have a natural birth, our bodies are more likely to repair the damage as easily as a paper cut. I like to think of it like this: When you lose weight, slowly and methodically, you're body goes back to normal. It heals itself. Your skin tighten. Your muscles will become strong. Your bones will breathe a sigh of relief. When you lose weight by say, a gastric bypass, your body freaks the fudge out and you look like a zombie for like six months and you have the possibility of bursting your stomach open if you eat too much.

One way is better than the other. One way is less damaging. One way is safer. But sometimes, people do the other way because it is medically necessary. All too often, people do the other way because the results are much faster, even if the recovery is slower.

Recovering from the cesarean was not fun. My nerves were so shot in that area that I could barely stand for anyone to touch it - even me - until recently. Having gallons and gallons of stored up water pouring out of you and trying to get to the bathroom on time while in the hospital recovering was horrifying. Getting into bed was...awful. Going number 2 was EXCRUCIATING. The scar is lopsided and while it is fading, it is ugly. I look at it and hate what I went through. I hate that I didn't get the birth I hoped for. I hate that I remember the way the doctor touched me. I hate that my brain can recall the burning sensation from the Cervidil and how I was treated in the hospital.

When I let the strong, resilient Megan fall away the truth comes out. I don't think emotionally I can handle it... if I had to be touched like that again. If I had to be poked and prodded and left with a dirty feeling and bruised arms.

How will I be able to enjoy pregnancy when I know what could be waiting for me at the end? And what will that do for my stress levels?

One of the huge reasons why I had pre-eclampsia at all was because of the stress I was under that year. There was a lot going on. But pregnancy-wise, life was beautiful. Everything looked great. I was blissfully unaware of what lay ahead.

Now I know. Now I know what I could be up against. I'll be fretting and worrying the whole dang time if I'm going to start to swell. And if I do, sure it could be nothing. But I won't be so quick to dismiss it like I was last time. I figured, pregnant women swell. Duh.

Uhh. No.

I just know, I'll be stressing about trying not to stress. I'll try to keep myself calm but I'll be on the very edge. For a moment in December, I said we could start trying in February.

What the hell was I thinking?

February is just moments away and I can't be working full time and schooling and moming and wifing and having a dirty house and being so fat and trying to build a career and NOT STRESS OUT.

So I feel doomed before I even begin. And that's just labor. When I think about failing at breastfeeding again, pumping for another 10+ months, the struggle in bonding... I can barely breathe.

It breaks my heart. I feel my heart ripping because what is something so beautiful was so hard for me and has left me so broken in so many ways.

But then I see my boy.

He's pure joy. He's incredible. Would I wish him away to have a better labor? Not in a million years. I would endure the greatest suffering if it meant seeing him smile, or laugh, or cry, or yell BONK and then hit his head on purpose.

I would do anything for him.

And in a moment of righteous stubbornness I think, I would do anything for my next one too.

But that doesn't mean I should have to.

There are situations I faced in my pregnancy that I could not control.

There were situations in my labor that I could not control.

But the care I receive IS and SHOULD BE in my control.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

How to be Deliberate

I would just like to say that most of the time, in life, I have no idea what I'm doing. I look at other adults and I'll think, "Wow. When will I be a grown up?" I don't feel grown up ya'll. A mortgage and a child does not an adult make.

I looked up the word adult, as I am wont to do, and it says "a person who is fully grown and developed." I'll go on record here. I may be fully grown but I do not feel developed. I feel in progress. That's probably how we all feel but most adults don't cop to it. For some reason people think being an adult means you have it all figured out.

I don't have it figured out but I do have a vague idea of what I would like my future to look like. It is better to keep the vision of your future a little blurry because whatever you visualize, you need to be flexible. Have a few main points and leave the rest to the imagination. Just my advice, take it or leave it. In my few years on earth I have found that people fall really hard when they get to a point in their life where they should have what they envisioned and don't.

I recognized what I wanted in 2014 and I sought after it. This year, I need to be Deliberate in the choices I make to get where I need to be. 

I've never done that before. My plan has always been to just live day-to-day and wherever I end up, be happy about it. I'm not knocking that method because it works. And I don't want to be overly thoughtful where every single situation has to be some long drawn out thing. I can't do that either. I want to deliberate in my day-to-day activities so that I end up somewhere close to my goals.

I've narrowed down a few ways to be Deliberate in 2015. I plan to use what works and adjust if something doesn't. These are just some things I'm going to try.

Plan the Week:
It all starts here for me. Planning your week is like setting mini-goals and crossing them off one by one. It encourages communication and gives you something to expect. I need that so badly in this season of my life.

Bryan and I already have a few processes to help guide our weeks, but they aren't used to their full capacity. We both use our Google calendars and have widgets on our home screens. We check it often before making plans to see if anything is scheduled. We're not as detailed as we should be on it. It's mainly used for school, gigs, etc. I'm much better at recording things and I'll block off nights when we need to do something specific.

We also have a planner that I bought from Plum Paper Designs and reviewed here. (Note: That review is one of my most popular posts of all time!) It may seem redundant, but I write all events in that planner and make sure that the online calendar and the written one match. The physical planner shows the flow of our family including events, income, outgo, plans big purchases, tracks meals, household chores, special dates, etc. The planner is an accurate representation of the flow of our family. I actually just ordered my second one and I can't wait for it's arrival. I changed a few things that I think will be huge in my quest to be Deliberate.

My goal is to sit down with Bryan on a weekly basis and go over the upcoming week. As of now, I tend to do it myself and not at all on a regular basis. This is crucial to having purposeful days. Who is going to be doing what, when are they going to do it and how much is it going to cost, if anything? It'll help Bryan and I be on the same page.

Manage the Finances:
I don't have much to say here because we haven't developed a system that works yet. The best I can offer is to ask the important people in your life how they manage their finances. Ask them what weaknesses they've experienced and armed with that information, build your own plan. You might be best suited to an Excel Spreadsheet where I may be more of a Binder kind of gal.

We've tried things in the past that just haven't stuck. This year, I decided to add in the monthly bill tracker to our planner. I've realized that instead of creating a bunch of new processes, I need to consolidate processes into the ones I'm already using.

Because we now have two independent businesses, we need to plan for big purchases and build them into the monthly budget. This includes Christmas, car registrations, music equipment, etc. Bryan and I tend to look at our finances day-by-day and we need to incorporate looking at the big picture.

Identify Needs:
In the beginning months of this year, I want to identify and define our "normal" as much as possible.

- What nights should we cook?
- What nights need to be leftover nights?
- Does that mean we should double certain nights recipes?
- What night are we usually home so we can talk finances?
- How long has it been since our last date night?
- What nights can I going to the gym?
- What nights do I need to do homework?
- When does Bryan need to practice with the band?
- When will I write?

We have never looked at our life like that. We just wake up, do our thing, get home and we're like, yeah. We are home tonight. Let's cook. Or Bryan's gone.. I think I'll blog. Everything is in wherever it can go. You never know what to expect. Food goes bad because we don't plan to cook it. Money is wasted when we don't communicate. Friendships suffer when you don't see each other for weeks on end.

When you have a baseline of what to expect it's much easier if you veer off course because you know what to come back to.

Cultivate Relationships:
I have a bad habit of withdrawing when life gets busy. I haven't seen Colleen in forever. I hadn't seen my mom in forever before Christmas. Being deliberate with my time will account of the people that I love and relationships I want to invest in. I want to be a source of encouragement and stability. I don't want to just tell my loved ones I love them. I want to show them.

Have Grace:
Life is fluid and changes in an instant. I don't want to be rigid. It's counter-intuitive. I just want to have a plan, while knowing that plans change. I want to have grace for myself and for others.

As I've wrapped my mind about being deliberate in 2015, I've realized that there are many ways to skin a cat. The most important thing in my mind is to be thoughtful in what I am doing, how I am spending my time and where I am headed. Instead of treading water this year I want to swim.

Monday, January 5, 2015

ETC Vlog: New Year Party!

We did it! We successfully vlogged our New Years Eve celebration! My plan for 2015 is to incorporate more video onto the blog - not just for the blog itself, but for my own memories. It is a huge step for us.

My writing is always honest and mostly, extremely candid. I can write while experiencing a multitude of emotions and while you may feel it in the words I use, you can't see it. It is extremely personal to put emotion, to put a body that you aren't happy with or proud of, or a dirty house on video for all to see. I can't help but feel exposed.

But, this is our life. This body is my body and my house is my house. I'm walking it, living it and just as I want to write about it, I want to capture it. This is Shepherd's childhood and while we snap photos on our phones all the time, I rarely capture video. My new goal for 2015 is to capture more real life on video - and to share it on my blog.

I hope that you enjoy it. This is new, but I'm hoping you will trust me and know that I wouldn't make such a decision lightly. I'm going to be as real and as vulnerable on camera as I am in my writing.

But hopefully I don't ugly cry.


So, without further ado - this is how we rang in the new year!