Soon after the arrival of our newest addition Halloween was upon us! I wasn’t sure how my toddler was going to take to a costume, but I thought we could try it. We went into a Halloween store which had far too many goblins and mummies jumping out of boxes for our tastes… so we quickly decided against that plan. Their costumes were also supremely overpriced.
Luckily, Katie went through her mom’s closet and found an old hand sewn cape and hat from Grammy. It was going to be a cold October night, so the exterior cape worked beautifully! Drew was a dragon.
During the week we went down to the waterfront shopping area for more festivities. Drew got a piece of candy from each store and we all tried to stay warm. The kids costumes were hilarious! It was fun to see everyone dressed up and pregaming for Halloween!
We also tried to get into the festive spirit by carving Costco pumpkins! Paul carved the tiniest witch, and then went all out and carved a Mickey pumpkin for Drewman. It was pretty impressive! Lovis carved a Minion pumpkin! We had lots of compliments from the trick or treaters about our, and I quote, “mad pumpkin carving skillz”.
The night of Halloween I stayed in with the baby and handed out candy while Drew, Katie, Paul, Lovis and Dale (of course) went out on the town. I handed out the previously sorted candy (we saved all the Twix and Snickers) to the neighborhood kids and encouraged them to take handfuls of Milky Ways and Three Musketeers!
It was a nice evening, followed by dinner to warm up and thaw our bones! I love these nights and simple memories. They are the best!
Everything about this pregnancy was quiet and calm. I wasn’t sick in the early portion, and loved the honeymoon second trimester. The third trimester was also amazing. Everyone kept telling me how big I was getting, but I felt strangely comfortable. Fortunately I had a similar experience with my first. I felt amazing, and I was able to get around really well. I apparently tend to grow “basketballs” since I’m short with next to nothing in torso length – the baby continues to push forward and out!
We patiently waited for this little man to arrive, so we kept things pretty quiet, and shared the exciting news with only close friends and family – before it became quite obvious that I was “with child”. We were able to find out the gender on Drew’s birthday – which was very exciting! Taylor was our honest broker and found the gender results of my tests and ordered the cake – he stayed surprisingly neutral until the cake was cut! After finding out we had another boy on the way, I took a deep breath knowing we had everything ready for a boy and all the hand me down clothes one could need! I also know how to change a boy’s diaper like its my job – I can easily dodge any urine they try to spray me with! We were so excited for another little man – this makes six straight boys in a row starting with Paul, his three younger brothers, Drew and now our newest little guy!
The pregnancy continued to be uneventful, and once my insurance changed I was able to return to the doctors who delivered Drew. I walked into their office as a whopping 34 weeks pregnant to say hello and ask them to deliver me – hah! Luckily they smiled and agreed. They also noticed that I was measuring further along than my dates – which essentially means your dates are wrong (which I knew they weren’t) or I was going to have big baby. They sent us for an ultrasound to measure this big boy at 36 weeks. The ultrasound tech was measuring and everything was appearing to be “out of range”. Finally, she asked us if we were ready for the estimate: 9lbs 10oz at only 36 weeks. Yikes, our jaws dropped and I couldn’t believe I had to let this baby grow for another month!! How big was he going to be?!?
I first called my doctors who said we could potentially discuss an elective C-section, and then immediately starting pouring through the literature on large for gestational age babies, risk factors, and management of delivery. Ultimately, I talked with my doctors and we agreed that I could at least try to have this baby naturally, but I would need to get an epidural in the event they needed to do something to facilitate delivery. With a 10lb baby on the way, I decided I wasn’t going to fight the planned epidural. I had the natural birth I wanted with Drew, and I was okay with that!
We were going to be induced at 39 weeks – over the weekend so Paul could be there, which meant we weren’t going to have my doctors. My doc says I owe him a baby, haha! The induction started at 1AM on Sunday morning. I wasn’t able to sleep on Saturday night because they were going to call anywhere between 9PM – Midnight. Well at 11:50PM, we got the call and headed to the hospital. I wanted this one to go as quickly as Drew, so I walked the halls of the hospital on telemetry, sat on the birth ball and did anything I could to get the baby into the best position to have a successful delivery. In the end, it didn’t matter, I was tired and everything stalled. I got an epidural, they broke my water, and we waited a bit to restart the induction in the late afternoon. Things started heating up on the intensity level – I was pleased to have a bit of pain control. Baby finally decided to make an appearance and I was doing everything I could to “not push” while my team assembled fresh off of safety rounds! Minutes later, Matthew Jack was born at 12:13AM on Monday morning. Matthew was named after his Papa (Jack) and his Great Grandpa Marsh, and after his cousin Matt! He was only 9lbs 9oz, and 21.5 inches long. >97% on all measurements – that’s my big boy!
We were transitioned to the postpartum floor at 3AM, and the Grandparents visited early the next morning! I was running on literally zero sleep since Friday night and it was now Monday. I sent Paul home to get sleep since he had to work a 24 hour shift on Tuesday. I spent the second night in the hospital alone with Matt. We went home Tuesday afternoon on a total of 4 hours of sleep for me.
It’s such a blessing to be a family of four. We waited patiently for this day. I am so happy to be sleep deprived if it means I am snuggling with my newborn boy. Such a beautiful gift and a miracle for our family.
I cannot believe that today marks six years of missing Joel. Each year this time comes and the joyful preparation for the holidays takes on a new somber and sobering mood. Today has been particularly heavy as Joel would be an uncle X2, to a beautiful, big boy. While I know their Uncle Buck truly knows his nephews and their souls better than me – I’m still yearning for that picture of a causal Uncle Joel, in a hoodie and jeans (over pajama flannel pants), with his nephews on his lap smiling at my camera. It may be bit selfish, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting it. These are the moments when I can’t help but break, oh so slightly. I wouldn’t mind sharing just one more moment, and one more memory.
At the same time, there is so much to celebrate. We had so many wonderful years as a family – 25 years with Joel packed with adventure and pulling off the impossible. We traveled around the United States in the motorhome with our parents and grandparents throughout middle and high school, and became best friends and allies through college – even though our schools were 7 hours apart. At his young age, Joel bought land and built a cabin – that his friends and family so graciously helped finish. He snowmobiled, hunted, traveled, built, worked, played, loved his friends and family dearly, and had so much fun.
Most importantly today we celebrate how Joel connected us with so many wonderful and loving friends – who have become an extension of our family. You know who you are, and today we feel especially close to you. We have also been remarkably blessed to meet our family friends in Missouri. We continue to cherish the time we spend with his buddies from high school and college. His crew continues to grow their families and change jobs or homes, while staying the same great people we know and love.
Our lives have changed too. Over the last six years I’ve married an amazing man, and we’ve welcomed two beautiful boys. We’ve moved homes, and my parents became grandparents! Together we’ve loved, cried and struggled, but most importantly we’ve laughed – a lot. I’ve continued my education and tried to sneak in as much life and adventure as possible. Joel has taught me that there’s no better place than the current moment, and there’s no reason not to fully enjoy the life we are given.
So tonight I will put my worries aside, and I will have a KBC Widow Maker, a favorite Michigan Tech beverage. I will squeeze my boys tightly, and kiss my family goodnight. Make today count.
Welp, summer was over – it was back to MS3! I had time for one four week clinical rotation until it was going to be too risky to be on rotations while pregnant. I decided to keep it close to home and start with OB/Gyn. I started out on the labor and delivery suite. It was entertaining to run into rooms and each patient would say something like… “whoa! when are you due!?”
I was definitely the “pregnant medical student”, which was fun and I seemed to be memorable to most. I was also entering into a new class of MS3 students and was able to meet a few of my new colleagues.
It was definitely hard to transition back into clinical care. All of the acronyms were new again and learning how to learn new diagnoses and terms specific to the field of OB/Gyn was difficult. Thank goodness I had the slightest introduction to the field by having a baby already… I remember specifically when the instructors would show us diagrams of the cervix at full dilation, or discuss pregnancy related complications – they would glance my way, haha, and I would reassure them that I wasn’t scared, haha – it was my second, and they would breath a sigh of relief.
The rotation was fast paced. Especially for someone who had never used the computer systems. The last time I logged into the inpatient record was 4 years ago! I was a bit slow navigating the electronic medical records, but slowly found where to location information quickly. In the evenings I had lecture that resulted in getting home after my little guy finished dinner. I would hop on the bus and head home to greet the family, and bury my head in a book after bedtime and look up the next day’s patients. It was a whirlwind.
I finished the rotation with a week and a half of surgical service. I was on Gyn Onc and the hours were pretty intense. I would arrive at the hospital a little before 5AM to pre round on my patients. Luckily I convinced Paul to drop me off at the hospital each morning. He got out of bed early to take me. On the outpatient clinic rotations I didn’t have to be at the hospital until 8AM, so I would study in a coffee shop until clinic opened. Mornings are much more efficient and fresh for me. Studying in the morning before the world wakes up also allowed me to have the evenings with my little man during his last few weeks as an only child!
While the week day hours were crazy, we did set aside some time for family fun. We went to the zoo on the weekend and let our little man check out his favorite animals: the elephants and giraffes! The monkeys also put on a show and were howling like crazy. One Sundy morning we also made Uncle Tuffy buttermilk pancakes – I made them into Mickey shapes, which was a family favorite!
I am glad to be on the other side of my first rotation. The first rotation back seems to be the most difficult, as its such an adjustment from the research world. I also made it through without having my baby in the OR’s while on Gyn Onc! Thank goodness for compression socks!
Now it was time to snuggle in and enjoy the last few weeks as a family of three before baby #2 arrived, and I was back at the hospital as a patient!