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

Nearly four years ago we made a weekend summer getaway to the small town of Kennebunkport, Maine. Growing up in the South, MacKay and I had never had the chance to make it up to that part of the country and we were very excited to explore. As soon as we crossed the bridge and saw the shops, people strolling, and the gorgeous architecture, we knew this was a place we would quickly fall in love with. And we did. We’ve been going back every summer since.

While Maine is known for their lobster (and I’ll get into some of our favorite places to get some) there is also so many great things to do and explore while visiting Kennebunkport. Check out  some of our favorite places and things to do in Kennebunkport.

 

Where to Eat:

We’ve always taken the kids with us to Kennebunkport, so all of these restaurants are kid-friendly. We’ve yet to take a date night, sans kids, but it’s on our list to do next time we go!

The Clam Shack

One of the most popular spots in Kennebunkport, The Clam Shack has been featured in many national publications for having the best lobster roll. A super casual spot that has you order at the window and either enjoy your meal to-go or outside on the picnic tables, The Clam Shack has all of the fried seafood you could ever want and yes, their famous lobster roll (served cold, which is how they do it in Maine). For those that don’t love seafood, they have hamburgers, grilled cheese, and hot dogs. You can even step inside their seafood market and order a whole lobster (you get to pick how big) and they will take it fresh from what they caught that day and steam it for you. You can’t get much fresher than that! During peak eating hours, be prepared for a line (although it does move rather quickly).

Mabel’s Lobster Claw

One of my favorite restaurants in town, this quaint restaurant that’s just a mile from downtown Dock Square is a must-visit. Only open during season, Mabel’s has indoor and outdoor seating. It’s a small restaurant, so I definitely recommend reservations for dinner or arriving early. While we waited for our meal, we snacked on their delicious blueberry bread and corn muffins (which you can also purchase to take home). Their kids menu has the traditional kids favorites, while the adult menu is filled with all of your seafood favorites (they get their lobsters from the pier across the street). I’d definitely recommend to start out with the Stuffed Mushroom Caps, and always go for the special (I had the lobster risotto last time we were there and it was incredible.) If you’re looking for the traditional steamed lobster, they have that too. Our kids love lobster, so we’ll order it lazy style (all of the meat taken out) and let them share. If you leave room for dessert, you can step outside to their ice cream bar, where you can cool down with a tasty treat. If you’re in a hurry, the walk-up bar also let’s you order take-out with a limited menu. With the delicious food and the family-friendly feel, this is a restaurant you don’t want to miss.

Alisson’s

A popular restaurant located in the middle of Dock Square, Alisson’s is a casual spot that has all of your American favorites, and of course, plenty of lobster. With it being in the middle of town, Alisson’s is quite popular. It doesn’t accept reservations, so be prepared to wait if you stop by during the prime lunch and dinner hours. On our last trip, we went between lunch and dinner and were promptly brought to a table upstairs. A few trips prior, we went for dinner and waited for an hour. Thankfully they text you when your table is ready, so you can walk around Dock Square while you wait for the table. I typically always get some sort of lobster for every meal while we’re in Kennebunkport (because it’s just that good) and I’ve only ever gotten an entire lobster while visiting Alisson’s. MacKay has had their lobster rolls and lobster mac and cheese, both of which were fantastic. The kids menu is pretty traditional, but they do offer a small lobster roll, which is great for kids, like mine, who love to indulge in lobster. They’ve got a pretty extensive beer menu and some great cocktails for those who like to enjoy a great drink with their meal.

Federal Jack’s Brewpub

A place with a great view of the Kennebunkport River, Federal Jack’s has traditional pub food, with a Maine flair. If you’re a beer drinker, this place is home to Shipyard Brewing Company and has many of their handcrafted beers (their menu even tells you what kind of beer will pair best with your meal). This place is super kid-friendly and has a huge kids menu that will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. We always start out with their fried pickles (a southern favorite of mine) before moving onto the lobster. On our last trip, the weather was quite chilly, so I had their lobster bisque and it was probably the best I’ve ever had. It was creamy and had big chunks of fresh lobster. They have several styles of lobster rolls (including my favorite, warm lobster on a toasted roll). There’s plenty of non-seafood options for you to choose from.

Sweet Treats

The Candyman

This place is the kids’ favorite, and it’s one of the first places they ask to visit as soon as we cross the bridge into town. It’s filled with all of the candy you can imagine, and their homemade fudge (which I highly recommend).

Right across from The Candyman is one of my favorite spots to take photos. It’s a perfect backdrop for a great family pic. We make sure to stop by every year to take photos. You can never take too many photos in front of this wall. As demonstrated below.

Okay, now back to our favorite sweet spots.

H.B. Provisions

So technically this place is a general store and has just about anything you could ever want. It’s great place to grab a cup of coffee in the morning or a sandwich for lunch. But I love stopping in for their Whoopie Pies. It’s the best thing ever and I always make sure to stock up before I go home (I’ll keep some in our freezer for those days I’m desperate for one). If you’re in Maine, you need to try a Whoopie Pie.

Where to Stay: 

We’ve only stayed in two hotels during our time in Kennebunkport. Both are great and very family-friendly.

Lodge on the Cove

If I could stay here every time we visit Kennebunkport, I’d be very happy. It’s small, incredible family friendly and has everything you could possibly need during your stay. You can see a previous visit here. It’s a modern, refurbished motor lodge, that has guest rooms the kids like to call “cabins.” There are only 30 guest rooms, so it’s quite an intimate lodging choice. The kids love to sit out on the front porch in the mornings and before going to bed. We love all of the amenities at the Lodge. There’s campfires with s’mores at night, bicycles for everyone to use, a pool, a game room, a poolside bar with plenty of food and sweet treats for all. We love the Lodge on the Cove because of the friendly staff and the size and accommodations of the hotel. It’s always on the top of our list to stay when we visit.

The Nonantum

This is a resort with one of the most picturesque views. It sits right on the water and is a great place to sit and watch the boats come in and out. A bigger resort, with many more rooms, the Nonantum has many wonderful amenities for your stay. A full breakfast is included in your stay and it’s great to get up in the morning and walk downstairs to eggs, pancakes, and fresh pastries. The kids love swimming at the pool and the pool bar offers great drinks and food while you’re there. Their kids program is absolutely incredible and there is so much to do during your stay. Our kids enjoyed watching a movie with popcorn outside and then making s’mores by the campfire. You can also book lobster tours and sail boat excursions that leave right behind the hotel. We took full advantage of the complimentary hotel transportation into Dock Square. It made getting in and out of town very easy. There is a gift shop on site that the kids love to look through each time we visit and a bar that is open late for those nights you want to get a babysitter and relax.

 

What to Do: 

There is so much to explore while visiting Kennebunkport, you’ll never hear the words “I’m bored” during your stay.

Dock Square

This is the hub of the town. It’s where most of the shopping is located and some restaurants. You’ll want to spend a day here going through all of the shops. There are plenty of tourist shops that you can grab your favorite Kennebunkport souvenirs. We love Daytrip Jr. for all of your baby and kids needs. They have the best curated gifts and clothes for little ones. Saxony Imports is another great place to pick up your favorite Kennebunkport gear. We got all the kids sweatshirts here.

Walkers Point

One of the main reasons many people know Kennebunkport is because it’s also the summer home of the 41st President, George H.W. Bush. Walker’s Point, The Bush Compound, is great to see both from the road (there’s a great scenic spot to stop and see on Ocean Ave.) and from the ocean. We got a great view of the compound when we did our lobster tour.

Lobster Tour

This was something that was so educational and fun for the entire family. We got to see how many lobsterman catch their lobsters and got to go out and see the traps and the lobsters inside the traps. If you’re looking to get out on the water while you’re visiting, I definitely recommend trying a lobster tour. There are many companies that offer it in town (just do a quick google search and you’ll find one).

 

Mother’s Beach

While the water is quite chilly in Maine, but don’t let that deter you from a visit to the beach. Mother’s Beach is very kid friendly and has a playground, which is always a plus on our list. You will need a beach pass to visit, but many hotels will have a trolley that will transport you to and from. If you’re renting a home, many homeowners have a beach pass for you to use during your stay.

First Families Museum

We’re a family full of history buffs and the First Families Museum is great for both kids and adults. Get a look into the First Families of Kennebunkport as well as the First Family, the Bushes. We made a visit shortly after Mrs. Bush passed away and the museum had an exhibit dedicated to her, which was quite lovely. It was a great tribute to her life. Kids are free and the tour (which leaves on the hour) is $10 per person.

 

If you’re headed to Kennebunkport this summer, I hope you try these places out. If you’ve found another spot you love, feel free to let me know! I love trying new places.