The girls started school today. Harlan isn in fourth and Avery started first. Har has been counting down until the new year since the last day of school last year. I honestly don’t know how I got so lucky to have two kids that really love school. They love to learn about new things, they love being able to visit with friends, and they find comfort in the teachers that show love to them every single day.

Both girls woke up at the crack of dawn this morning for the new year. MacKay, who usually leaves for the train to work very early, stayed a bit later than usual to see everyone before they were off to school. Today will probably be the earliest we were dressed, fed, and ready to go for school than we will all year long. We were even the first in the drop off line at school. That’s what I call a good start to the school year.

One of our traditions for the new year is to go shopping for a new outfit on the first day of school. We always take the traditional first and last day of school photo and they love to have their brand new outfit to show off in the first day of school photo. I’m really excited to partner with Lands’ End again because their clothes are perfect for the start of the school year. Their dresses for the girls are comfortable and durable (so they can stand up to the wear and tear of the playground).

I picked the girls up this afternoon with two very big smiles on their faces. They had the best day and both told me they couldn’t wait to go to school tomorrow.

While two of the three are ready to go, Macks is still home with me for a bit. He has an exciting year as he’s starting a new preschool this year. This was a huge decision for us, but we felt it was best for him and for our family to finish out his preschool years at another school in town. He’s super excited to meet new friends and start a new school, but he’s got another week with me before he’s in the classroom. That didn’t stop him from getting in on the photo action this morning. He’s super ready for fall and has been wearing this Lands’ End Sherpa Vest since the day it arrived on our doorstep. We have a tree in the front yard that’s started to have leaves fall and I happen to hatch the moment the wind started to blow and they started to fall down. The look on Macks’ face was pure joy. I was really happy to capture it. It’s the little things.

I always take advantage of the time I have when I am only with one child. We went out to breakfast this morning and even went for ice cream after lunch. It’s so refreshing when you can really sit and spend time with just one of them. I know how grateful I am of the special time tougher and I know they are too.

I love that this time of year, while not officially the new year, lets you feel as you get a fresh start on so many things in life. Here’s to a great school year for both kids and us parents!

 

Harlan’s Dress | Harlan’s Backpack | Harlan and Avery’s Shoes |  Avery’s Dress | Macks’ Vest | Macks’ Shirt | Macks’ Pants | Macks’ Shoes

Over the years when I’ve had people ask  me for my best parenting advice, I’ve always said, “trust your gut.” It’s what has guided me through these nine years of parenting and ultimately what’s helped me most when it comes to confidence in how I parent. While I’ve done a great job at trusting it when it comes to my kids, I could take my own advice when it comes to myself.

A little over five weeks ago, I’d started to have some slight cramping on my right side. It wasn’t something that was incredible painful, but more like a dull ache. I put it aside as more of ovary cramping that was completely normal and didn’t think much of it. Over the next few weeks the pain would get worse at some points and then would subside. One morning while we were on vacation in Hilton Head, the pain got so bad I thought I was having appendix issues. But once again, I took some medicine and waited for it to subside. It eventually did.

I’d had my yearly appointment with my OB about a week after returning from Hilton Head. I still visit the doctor that delivered Avery and Macks, so it’s quite a trek to get into the city (with all three kids,) but I trust her completely and a once a year visit is not only manageable, but a good excuse to spend a day in the city. While at the appointment, I told her about the cramping I’ve had on the right side for the past month (I’d had a little bit of spotting too). She didn’t seem incredibly concerned, but asked that we performed a pregnancy test to rule that out and find the root of the problem. I took the test, the nurse came back in and told me it was negative and I went on my way.

As I was walking with the kids to grab a bite to eat, I saw my phone ring. It was my doctor’s office. My first reaction was that one of the kids forgot something and we’d have to turn around to grab it.

“Hi Lauren, this is the doctor’s office. I wanted you to know your pregnancy test came back positive. We didn’t see anything show up at first, but as I was about to throw it away, I noticed a line. Can you please come back and speak with the doctor?”

I tried to contain myself. We’re not trying to have another baby and I honestly thought we were finished with that part of our lives. So many thoughts were running through my head. I called my sister and MacKay in a slight panic (yet trying to remain calm in front of the kids). They both assured me everything would be okay.

I headed back to the doctor’s office and looked at her in disbelief as I walked into the door.

“We’ll have to take some blood work to get more answers, but my guess is you’re either at the very early stages of pregnancy or the very late stages of a miscarriage.”

Miscarriage? I thought to myself. I was still trying to grasp the thought of being pregnant again, but miscarriage never popped in my mind.

We ran the blood work and the doctor promised me she’d call me that afternoon when the results came back. As cliché as this sounds, that afternoon was one of the longest of my life. I did everything I possibly could to keep my mind distracted and busy.

That evening, right before putting the kids to bed I received a call from my doctor. My numbers indicated that I was going through a miscarriage. She wanted to see me back in a few days to test my blood again, but that I should begin to feel the symptoms of a miscarriage.

The next day was somewhat of a blur. So many mixed emotions ran through my head. Unfortunately, I’ve been in this position before. But this one didn’t feel like the last one.  I waited and waited for those symptoms to arrive and yet they never did.

On Wednesday, I went back to the doctor for more blood work. My doctor wasn’t there, but the nurse who took my blood said they’d get the results back the following morning. Two hours later my doctor called. “Your numbers aren’t going down. We need to get you to an ultrasound right away. Right now all of the signs point to an ectopic pregnancy.” She went over a plan for me to go for an ultrasound and then we’d weigh our options.

The first thing the next morning, I went for an ultrasound only to confirm what I already knew. On my right side in my fallopian tube was the fertilized egg along with a giant cyst (two and a half times the size of my ovary) sitting on my right ovary. I proceeded to the doctor’s office in tears. Again, my emotions have been all over the place. And to be honest, I don’t know what I was feeling, but it wall came to a head as I entered that exam room.

“There are a couple things we can do,” she proceeded. “But Lauren, I want you to know how serious this is. If we don’t take care of this right away, you could die.”

We went over my options and both decided that the Methotrexate shot (which stops the growth of cells) would help with both the ectopic pregnancy and the cyst. She gave me the shot, gave me a prescription to get my blood taken for a few times this week and next, and that was it.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to the side effects of the shot. Again, I thought I’d cramp and bleed, much like my other miscarriage, but that hasn’t happened. I’ve had a little bit of cramping, but nothing overwhelming. The two side effects that are most prevalent are the nausea and exhaustion (both of which are from the medicine.) I went to get my blood drawn yesterday and am still waiting on the results. I go again to test it tomorrow. Depending on my levels, we will see if another shot is needed.

I told MacKay a few nights ago that I should have listened to my gut and saw a doctor sooner. I knew something wasn’t right on my right side, but I kept giving myself excuses. I thank God that I went to my doctor’s office last Monday. Because honestly, I’d probably have never gone and just continued to ignore the issue as I’d done before. I thank God I was already planning on being in the city last week (I had to watch my nephew) because I visited my doctor every single day and it made the commute so much more manageable. I also thank my family and close friends who have constantly texted, prayed, and listened when I needed an ear.

Yesterday was the first day I was able to work out again. (I’d taken the week off per doctor’s orders.) Yesterday was the first day that I’ve started to feel normal again. Yesterday was the first time I’ve told myself I need to make me a priority. I mean a real priority, not anything half-assed. I deserve it.

 

I wanted to share this story with you not only because writing about it is therapeutic for me, but because I know there are and will be others in my shoes. I wrote about my miscarriage seven years ago and I still have people who have found the post and reach out with questions or in need of support. This is a loss that I shouldn’t feel ashamed about or to blame, no one going through this should. I tell myself it’s okay to feel the emotions I’m feeling and I’ll let myself continue to feel them. If you’re going through this, please don’t keep it to yourself. Reach out to friends and family who can help comfort you. This is never a time where someone should be dealing with it alone. 

A couple of days ago Harlan asked me what month it was (she has no concept of what day or month it is during the summer, which I love) and I told her August. As soon as the word left my mouth, she started jumping up and down “Yay, that means school starts soon!” It feels like she’s been counting down the day until school started since the last day of school. To say she loves school is an understatement.  She’s head over heels for school and gives it her all every single day.

Honestly, all three of the kids love school (maybe not to the extent that Harlan does, but close) so when it comes time to for shopping back-to-school, they cannot wait to stock up. A tradition that we’ve had every year before school starts is to sit down at my computer and get them new backpacks. I remember doing it as a kid with my mom and how excited I got for school to start so I could show off my new backpack. The tradition continues with these three and they are thrilled about it every year.

As they get older, their personalities have definitely started to show in what they pick out. This year, when picking out their backpacks from Lands’ End, it really shoed who they are. I was really excited when Lands’ End approached me about their Back-to-School campaign. We’ve worked with them several times and I am always impressed with the quality of their items (the kids have worn their Lands’ End bathing suits several times on our Hilton Head beach trip and they’ve help up. And we have several large canvas totes that are a must-have for road trips and beach trips.) While I knew their backpacks were going to be durable, what I was most excited about was to show the kids just how much they can personalize their backpacks to really make them their own.

Harlan, a girl of many emotions, chose the fun face backpack and lunchbox. Lands’ End lets you personalize both backpacks and lunchboxes with endless possibilities. Harlan was able to choose from several fonts and colors, whether or not she wanted her name or initials, and then she got to choose from several designs to really make her backpack and lunchbox stand out.

Avery, my free-spirit and the girl that loves love, chose the ClassMate Small Backpack in Galaxy print. Hers is not only complete with her initials, but a peace symbol on both her backpack and lunchbox. As we were going through all of the designs she could choose from, even going through the unicorn, the flower, and even a pink cupcake, Avery insisted on the peace sign. I asked her if she even knew what it mean and she said “it means peace, mom.” She is the peace maker of the family and this couldn’t be more perfect for her.

Macks, my guy that loves sports and anything that roars choose the simpler backpack with a soccer ball design along with his dinosaur lunchbox.

Since we’re still on vacation and haven’t quite had a chance to fill these up yet, the kids have already asked to go to the store to fill it up with school supplies. When I tell you they are excited to go back to school, they really cannot wait.

To celebrate their excitement and the back-to-school season, Lands’ End is hosting “Backpack Day” on August 7, 2018 – providing extraordinary offers, advice and the chance to win $100 Lands’ End gift cards.

Want to know how you can get the most out of Lands’ End Backpack Day? Check out all that it has to offer below:

  • 50 Percent Off – Lands’ End is announcing an EXTRAORDINARY offer in honor of Backpack Day, August 7, 2018.  All backpacks (and coordinating lunch boxes) will be 50 percent off with free shipping. Use promo code: BACKPACK and pin: 2018 to receive this amazing offer.
  • #BackpackDay Twitter Event – August 7, 2018 (6 pm – 8 pm EST) – Lands’ End is also hosting a two-hour #BackpackDay Twitter Event, complete with advice from Lands’ End as well as chances to win $100 gift cards and backpacks. Follow the hashtag and @LandsEndPR and @LandsEnd
  • Online Tips – Visit landsend.com/backtoschool to discover the best in backpacks, with shopping tools and categories to find the perfect fitting packs.   
  • Pick A Pack – There’s truly a backpack for everyone in the family. Lands’ End offers an assortment of packs to pick from this season including: ClassMate®, TechPack, StudyHaul and Packable Cinch Sack collections. 
  • Backpack Personality – Personalizing a backpack is a popular trend. Between icons, initials and monograms, Lands’ End has hundreds of options for kids to create a personalized pack. From emojis based on the popular smartphone characters to glow-in-the-dark options with a dinosaur skeleton, crossbones and star, kids can add personality to backpacks for only $6 for an initial, name or icon.

Harlan’s Outfit: Dress | Shoes

Avery’s Outfit: Dress | Leggings

Macks’ Outfit: Shirt | Jeans | Shoes