July 4th in our new home

It’s been officially a week yesterday that we all moved aboard our floating home.

We’ve learned a lot in a week. That’s a post for another time, though.

Just like any marina on July 4th- this one has been packed with some of the friendliest people around. We’ve made lots of friends. But the two most important are the ones that have been coaching us on the live aboard life with kids. They have two girls (4 almost 5 and 2.5).

They have been soooo helpful. From helping us dock our boat for the first time when we moved her to making dinner for us or having a drink with us our first night aboard. They are great with our kids and we are sooooo thankful they are around.

On July 4th they invited us on their boat for fireworks (we are not familiar enough with the area to go out in our boat at night, not to mention how crowded it would be!). And fun was had by all:

Our babies (pup included) are adjusting beautifully to life on the water.

Now it’s time to sail our house around!

Update: we did take our boat out on Saturday… again, will post about that later.

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Moving- we arrived!

So moving with kids presents a whole different realm of stress. But priority number ONE is to make sure the kids are settled and okay.

Tucker has known for a long time that we were moving and we did a decent job (if I do say so myself) of making sure he understood what it means to live on a boat. I believe what really sold the idea to him is that he gets his own room (forget adventure and sailing and being on the water…).

Sage, on the other hand, is only two so I’m not quite sure how she feels or what exactly she understands about the situation. BUT she was thrilled to get to spend the night in her big girl bed in her own room! She’s been in her crib until she broke free yesterday (she did great BTW).

Both kids got to pick what toys they want to bring and helped me line them up at the house: (in case you’re wondering, NO this will not all fit. At least I’m pretty sure it won’t! We will see)

Then, the morning we left, I had them pick which lovies they want to bring and they lined them up nicely:

Then, we loaded it all into the car (along with all the rest of our junk that will NOT all fit) and hit the road:

When we arrived, kids went to the pool with Jesse and I unloaded their clothes, toiletries, and lovies so we could complete a successful first night on the boat. Here are their rooms:

After their bedtime, some friends joined us for champagne and decompression time:

I didn’t take pictures of the friends but I swear they are here. I just didn’t want to be all, “hi, I just met you in person for the first time and I’d like to put you in my blog, is that okay?”

Anyway- success (for now)…

Moving… in stages.

We got rid of damn near ALL our worldly possessions two years ago…

BUT WE STILL HAVE TOO MUCH SHIT!

Our “strategy” for moving now is: get it there and then decide what fits and what is a necessity. Donate, sell, trash what’s left.

Jesse leaves tomorrow since the boat must be moved into new slip by July 1st. He’s taking a load with him of kitchen/bathroom stuffs. He’s also taking his clothes and shoes.

Saturday I will bring the babies, Ellie (our blue heeler), and myself along with all our clothes and what toys will fit (stroller, bike, in addition to room toys).

I am STRESSED. SO UBER STRESSED. (Side note- I have successfully UNDONE all the relaxing that was had on our week long sailing trip in the BVI’s that we JUST returned from.)

Moving sucks. Moving onto very few livable square feet is… it’s a whole new level of suck. Arguably one of Dante’s levels of hell.

Me currently

Getting Rid of Stuff

So we are venturing into the world of Tiny Living except ours is the water edition.

I haven’t figured exact square footage of our living space; it’s different than a tiny house because the entire cockpit of the boat in addition to the deck all count as living space.

Whatever the case, we have been living in a 2,400 square foot house on an acre of land… it’s going to be an adjustment!

Steps we’ve taken to prepare:

  • 3 years ago in Aug. we moved to TX leaving everything we owned except the baby furniture (dresser, crib, toy shelf) and our clothes. We packed up our dishes, stereo stuff, TV, and lawn equipment and brought those items with us to store down here but left everything else “stuff wise” in OK. Living without the stuff by necessity certainly helped put things into perspective. We couldn’t bring the stuff with us when we had less than three days to make the move. This step was the hardest initially. I missed having my stuff- my bed, my couch, my favorite snuggle spot, etc.
  • A year later, we went back to OK to sell the house. We knew we were never going back there and we had the time to dedicate to sprucing up the house and staging it to help it sell faster. Once pictures were taken and the contract was in place we sold everything we owned. Beds, couches, shelves, books, extraneous kitchen things, E V E R Y T H I N G. It was probably this moment, now two years ago, that Jesse and I decided there was no turning back. I know it was the decision to get rid of it all that made our families nervous. I think they started to realize that we were not just making this up- we were actually taking necessary steps.
  • Now we are in the process of editing the stuff we decided to keep three years ago when we first moved. The stuff that is hardest for me, strangely, is my wardrobe. I work with high school kids! I can’t wear the same 5 outfits everyday and I need to look somewhat professional! Plus it’s a new job; I don’t want to look like a slob! I feel silly stressing so much about my clothes, but it is my biggest concern at this point. I went through and honestly looked at the stuff in my closet. Some of the things I was hanging on to are memories… I don’t wear that shirt, but the kids who made it for me, I don’t want to forget. Or, ALL the maternity clothes… I remember wearing them while growing my littles and getting rid of the clothes feels like I’m getting rid of the memories. But it’s time to go, time to make room for new memories that hopefully won’t be connected to “things” but instead feelings.

When chatting with people now, I can see it on their face- the idea of it makes them nervous or they think we are crazy. I get it. We ARE breaking the norm and we ARE stirring things up. But we feel good about it and it can always been undone.

At any point we can sell the boat, buy a house, fill it with stuff, and move back on land. My desperate hope is that we won’t do that for quite some time. BUT- we know that option is there.

Here are some things that I read/watched over the years to help prepare for getting rid of the “stuff”:

There are a ton of shows about tiny living… watch them.

There are a ton of books about getting rid of stuff… read them.

By and large- once you get past the shock- it feels so damn good! I feel light and free and… good. Just good.

What Do You Do With An Idea?

My last post was obviously a change of pace considering most of my writing over the last year had been surrogacy related.  That chapter of my life has closed and we are literally moving on.  Luckily my page is all about my random musings not just babies and surrogacy, so I’ll just keep on keeping on.  I do realize that my measly following might dwindle and I will take no offence.  I really write more for me; if it helps someone else in the process, awesome.

So, this family of four will be moving in July onto a 50 ft. sailboat.  I swear I will be posting more about that process and what steps we started taking LONG ago as well as the more immediate steps we have been through, but for now I feel like I need to explain a little more background.

This weekend, I went to a family gathering and word spread that Jesse and I were moving.  People asked obvious questions: “Where to?” or “Have you found a house?” or “Did  you get a new job?” etc.  I ended up explaining over, and over, and OVER again… and was often met with looks of shock.  Which I totally get.  We are choosing to live life differently and it freaks people out.  Over the course of the evening, I had learned to start the “house” conversation with the caveat, “I am NOT crazy…”

After answering basic questions (which I will eventually address in another post) and explaining a broad outline of short term and longer term plans, people generally expressed, “Good for you guys, that’s amazing.”  Or “Wow, what an adventure!”

Now, this was family, so I am fully aware that their response was more loving and accepting (at least to my face) than some random person I might meet.  But even so, I know that many people were thinking and some even asked, “Where did this come from?  It seems so… out of nowhere.”  And I had to assure them that it did NOT, in fact, come out of nowhere but had been a strategic plan that Jesse and I have been fine tuning since our relationship started.

But Jesse and I also very much protected our ideas and our dreams from people.  We were afraid that sharing it with people too early might break us down.  We were already aware of our own fear of change and doing something different, having other people add on to that fear or give us even more reason to doubt was NOT something we were willing to take a chance on.  So we kept it to ourselves and nurtured it and discussed it between the two of us.  We fed it a healthy dose of research and books and blogs of other people that have started this adventure before us.  We watched (still watch) youtube channels of people that are currently living the life we dream to live.

When we felt sure and started to see how close we were we shared it with people we knew would be supportive-  my sister and her husband, for example.  And, just like a good big sister, she asked questions, and seemed genuinely excited for us.  From there, we talked to our parents.  Generally they were more scared and that was VERY frustrating (but also something for another post).  It was good to walk them through their fears and the accompanying questions- through that process we cemented our passion for this next life chapter.

And only now, when we are doing it, are we sharing it with the world.

On my last day of school, I was given a book.  IT WAS THE PERFECT BOOK and I cried ugly tears reading it.

It’s called What Do You Do with and Idea? and it perfectly explains how Jesse and I have felt about our next steps and how we acted at first and how we feel now.  I am going to illegally post the very crappy pictures I took because I need you to buy this book and read it for yourself and read it to your kids over and over and over.  I think it is a life lesson for ALL people and a terrific reminder.

Originally published: 2013
Author: Kobi Yamada
Illustrator: Mae Besom

Let’s go WAY back…

Year: 2012

Location: New York, NY

Season: Late Spring

School was out for summer (I teach, remember).  A friend had offered us his place in the city for free for a long weekend.  Flights were cheap. We had only been dating for 6 months (though we were already living together because we “just knew”) and thought it would be a great, romantic, cheap, getaway.  COUNT US IN.

We had both been to the city before.  Jesse had been a few times in his adult life and already knew of some cool spots to re-visit.  I, however, had only been once when I was 12ish.  My dad worked for an airline and thought it would be cool to take us to the top of the Statue of Liberty (back when you could climb the cramped circle staircase right into the crown and peer out over the city).  So we got up early one morning, boarded a plane, landed in NY, headed to the statue, then got straight back on the plane to fly home.  We literally were gone 24 hours… so I really knew nothing about the city (except what I learned watching Sex and the City).

We landed with our carry-ons and hopped straight onto the subway.  We ate lunch, we day drank, we saw the sights, we went to less known locations, we explored some book stores, we walked by the pier… and that’s when we decided to take an evening sail to watch the sunset, drink, and see the Statue again.  Man I miss the spontaneity of our pre-kid life… memories….  anyway, I digress. 

It’s was this moment that forever altered the course of my life, though, at the time, I never would have known- it was just a cool thing to do.

We loved the sail.  It was spring so still pretty chilly, especially on the water after the sunset.  So in prep, I bought a cute wrap/scarf thing from a street vendor to wear to keep me warm (I still wear that damn thing).

I can’t be certain this was THE BOAT (hell, it’s been 6 years!) but it gives you an idea.  It was massive and beautiful and we drank and talked and Jesse explained all the boat stuff.  Again, we had only been dating a few months and I knew he loved to sail but I didn’t know AT ALL how much he knew!  I was blown away (pun not intended, but it works)!

After we returned to the dock and as the crowds were departing, Jesse asked if he could use the “head” (I later realized it was boat speak for “bathroom”). So we got to go down below.  I had thought the upper deck and cockpit of the boat was beautiful, but I was NOT prepared for the exquisite woodwork that was below.  This boat was massive and could easily sleep a crew of 10 if not more (again, I am certain I am not recalling it all perfectly- how was I to know then what I know now).  He showed me around a little and told me what was what without being too nosy and then we headed above to go get dinner.

While I may not recall exactly which boat, and I may not recall exactly what else happened that night, I will NEVER forget the conversation we had as we walked down the dock hand in hand:

Jesse: You know, people live on those things.  Just like their house.

Me: That makes sense, I mean, it’s huge.

Jesse:  They raise their kids on those boats and sail around the world visiting new places and seeing new things.

Me: Really?  I mean, I’m a teacher, I could home school our kids while we explore the world.

Jesse: *stops moving and stares at me*

Me: I’m serious.  I love the idea.  How do we make that happen?

******

Again, I can’t be certain exactly what happened after all that, but I believe we spent the rest of the evening chatting about boats, kids, our futures, and how we could possibly make it all happen.

*******

Fast Forward 6 years, 2 kids, and two moves later… and it’s happening.  NOW. That moment 6 years ago changed our course so significantly that now that it’s here, this moment we’ve literally talked about daily since then, I can barely even process it all.  I’m so utterly excited but also scared fucking senseless!  But, as my dear friend and biggest cheerleader, Jen, has helped me see:

I will share more details soon, but I had to tell the back story first.

Just… adrift.

So, um… it’s been exactly 3 months since I last posted.

I didn’t know what to write about.

I was and still am pretty lost.

In January, 7 weeks following the D&C, my HCG had finally stopped registering on my home pregnancy tests. I was dumped by my Intended Parents (ZERO hard feelings, I would have done the same if my clinic had advised me to do so). I received absolutely NO contact from the surrogacy agency; no “how are you? email, no “we are so sorry”, not a word.  In February, we finally got a letter in the mail from the attorney that was the official release from legal contract.

I remember thinking a couple weeks after the procedure that I was supposed to have a check in with a psychologist throughout the process; that this was something the agency required as part of the process… I NEVER heard from her (though I also didn’t reach out or ask to talk to her).  But, I was chatting with a friend/co-worker (who is so beautifully pregnant with twins on her surrogacy journey) about this the other day and I wonder if I would have benefited from talking to her.

I mean, I am okay.  But there is not one single day that I don’t think about the IP’s (who we haven’t talked to since early January) or the baby that died.  There is not one single day that I don’t feel a terrible emptiness.  It isn’t crippling and it no longer brings tears but it does still ache.  A fierce, painful, daily ache and emptiness that I worry will never fade.

I am pretty good about not letting my mind get the better of me, but sometimes, in the still and quiet of the very early morning, I fall into the trap that is my mind and feel the pangs of failure.  I feel the sadness.  I feel so much regret… not that I tried, but that I failed.  I absolutely hate how cocky I was; I’m so terribly embarrassed.  I didn’t think I was cocky at the time but I did not personally know a thing about pregnancy loss. I just assumed that my body would do what it’s always done and I’d give these parents a baby.  Instead, I failed.

I don’t know.  I am not sure that talking to someone would make all that go away.  I think it is one of the things I just have to ride out.  I just have to process through it and, while I am not a professional, I think I’m doing it in a healthy way… I guess.

Another struggle with this process is that I was just dropped… like a bad habit (though maybe that isn’t fair either?).  By the IP’s, by the CA Clinic, by the agency.  I have spent the last year in almost daily contact with some of these people planning and prepping only to have it all halt so terribly fast.  I think its this abrupt stop of communication that feeds that negative mentality.  “These people didn’t care about me, I was just a tool to them” and I feel used and dirty.

Though what is anyone supposed to say in this situation?  And really, what is anyone going to say that hasn’t already been said- none of it stopped the hurt and emptiness I feel anyway.  Again, I think I just have to get through it.

So, as the saying goes: “When you’re going through hell… keep going!”

__________

I feel it’s important to note that my day to day is not entirely consumed with this negativity.  It IS knocking around in my brain constantly, but only those dearest to me would ever note the lingering sadness.  Most people, taking a cursory glance, would believe I was recovering nicely or perhaps even completely recovered… and… maybe… I am. 

HCG- 6 weeks post D&C

This post contains crazy TMI female cycle info. Feel free to skip. I only provide it because my google searches were fruitless and annoying!

A couple of reminders and info in case this is the first thing you’re reading: We were 11 weeks pregnant in our surrogate journey (I was the gestational carrier) when the baby’s heart stopped and we all decided to do a D&C.

Here are my dates on the decline of HCG (again, without betas, I am guessing here based on tracking on pee sticks).

Dec. 5 2017 Dr. declared miscarriage.  We were probably just at the peak/height of HCG.

Dec. 7 2017 D&C

Dec. 8-19 NO bleeding. Not even a spot after the procedure.

Dec. 19-22 spotting (brown discharge like the end of a period)

Dec. 23 “I think I’m dying” blood clots then nada (bleeding stops). Earlier in the day I peed on a test and it was faint but very much still there.

Dec. 26- I would swear a trillion times over that I ovulated from my left ovary?!! But who knows. Pee stick 3 days before was blazing positive still (though not as strong as the control line) which means HCG was probably in the 100 mil range. Give or take. Sources are NOT reliable on whether or not it’s possible to ovulate when HCG is still in your system. So who actually knows?!?

Jan. 4th- HCG still registering on pregnancy test. But ever so very faint. I am 4 weeks exactly from the D&C.

Jan. 5th- I start my period. If I DID ovulate when I thought I did, that would mean my Luteal phase was only 10 days. 🤔 no worries. I’m definitely not trying to be pregnant.

Jan. 5-12th- heavier period than normal and much longer than normal. The last few days were more than spotting but very brown.

Tonight- 2 days shy of 6 weeks post D&C and my pee stick looks like this:

To the untrained eye- this would look negative. But zoom in on that sucker a little and you can see the faintest little hint of a line. So- I would bet, if I were a gambling woman, on two things:

  1. My HCG is probably in the teens right now.
  2. Next week, on Thursday, if I were to get a beta drawn, I bet it would be under 5 (which means NOT pregnant) OR, since I won’t get a beta, my pee test will be 100% not registering. 🤞🏻🤞🏻

So- there all that is.

Patience has never been my strong suit. Perhaps that’s the lesson here- I’m being tested by the universe right now and until I can just “let go” I’m going to keep getting really shitty and tough situations thrown at me?

I get it.

I give! I give!