Three Years of Marriage

April 15, 2020 – The Leather year. (Seriously, who comes up with these?)

We have been married three years. How has it possible? This year has definitely been the most monumental because we welcomed our beautiful daughter Amelia into the world! All the other events that took place in this year of marriage don’t even compare to the magic that is motherhood.

This year our anniversary fell right in the middle of Nueces County’s Stay at Home order during the COVID-19 pandemic. So we kept it simple and kept with our traditions. We watched our wedding video and toasted to a wonderful year and to all the adventures to come in year four of marriage.

This year’s traditional gift was leather and true to form Krystal and I gave each other the same gift from Etsy (duh!). Although the “traditional” gifts sometimes seem a little odd. I have to admit I really like doing it. First of all, it takes the guess work out of trying to find a romantic gift and really limits your options. It also provides an opportunity to give a gift you might never have thought of. We both got each other Apple Watch Bands with a message stamped on the inside. Although, it might seem basic every morning when I put on my watch I read, “I Love You Always – Krystal” and it warms my heart.

Next year is fruit and flowers…any suggestions? Ideas on how to get creative with it?

The 2020 Cenus and the “other” mother

After enough mail to kill 100 trees I finally logged in online to fill out my household’s 2020 Cenus just to stop what felt like being berated by mail.

I was impressed to see the options for “same-sex” married and unmarried couples. What I found really unsettling, however is when asked the question below, this selection was the “correct” response.

I sat on the page for several minutes struggling with this response. I am not Amelia’s biological mother even though I gave birth to her. She does not share my genetics. So the only other option would be “adopted.”

Why do I have to classify myself as biological or adopted?

After being offended and slightly hurt, I asked myself what I box I would have preferred to check on a form of this nature. I’m not sure, but I do know that She is my child. That is the only category.

So I’m curious, what do you think the boxes should be?

Book Review: “Here I Go Again”

So far I am sticking with my new years resolution of a (non-school related) book a month. This month the book club decided on the genre fiction. I’m always down for a good novel, however if I had not listened to this one on my drives to and from work I don’t know if I would have stuck with it.

The easiest way to describe this is Mean Girls with an odd twist of time travel. It was a cute book and definitely original in its plot. I feel like the some parts could have been less lengthy in order to make room for more plot line and story towards the end. As the book progressed I was a little annoyed with the constant internal monologue of the character just because it seemed repetitious and unnecessary.

All in all a cute book, not one that I’ll read again or would recommend unless your just desperate for something to pick up and read.

Book Review: “Of Mess & Moxie”

I have to admit when the book club choose this book I was not thrilled simply because of the religious background of the author. I was concerned about it being preachy and unrelatable to real life.

I was wrong.

Hatmaker speaks about true life and is extremely relatable as a mother, a woman, and as a creative individual. There are moments that are preachy and feel like she is on her soapbox, but those moments do not make up the majority of this book.

A phrase she uses often throughout the book (which I think would be a killer hashtag) is “Mama tried.” This really communicates the essence of this book. Hatmaker’s mission, I feel, is to not stress yourself out as a mother, a wife, etc. its ok to not always operate at 110% all of the time.

I was not sold on this book, I’ll admit, till Chapter 8. Although she is definitely on her soapbox throughout this chapter. She speaks the truth. In this chapter she stresses the importance of love in the religious spectrum.

“You can love someone with a different ideology, different religious conviction, different sexual identity, ideas, background, ethnicity, opinions, different anything. You can love someone society condemns. You can love someone the church condemns. You have no other responsibility than to represent Jesus well, which should leave that person feeling absurdly loved, welcomed, cherished. There is no other end game. You are not anyone’s savior; you are a sister. Love is a genuine solution (…) the solution to almost everything that is broken.”

Yaaaaassss. Girl.

She continues this soapbox in Chapter 12 and I am here for it. Can we make this a PSA?

Her book includes brief “how to” sections which, although humorous, I was not a fan after about the second one. They became predictable. However, there are some recipes that I’d be down to try. Specifically “Aunt Carol’s Crunchy Salad” on page 157 which includes ramen noodles and a vinaigrette that has brown sugar AND Tabasco. Intrigue.

Chapter 17: Bonus Mom really spoke to me. It reinforced the “It takes a village” mantra and encouraged women to depend on those women (some mothers, some not) to help raise our children into well-rounded individuals. Its definitely a chapter I want my closest girlfriends to read and I hope that we can become that tribe for each other and each other’s children.

All in all, it was a good read (or listen – Hatmaker read it on Audible). I don’t think it will be a staple in my library, but a good book to pass along in my Free Little Library and maybe the next reader will get more out of it than me.

  • My hope is to read one book a month and review it here. #newyearsresolutions

Adoption

Adoption Day

Many people assume that since same-sex marriage was legalized in 2015 that LGBT couples enjoy the same rights as any heterosexual couple might. However, this could not be more wrong. Take for example, the birth of a child. One would assume that the individuals listed on the birth certificate would be considered the child’s legal parents. This is not the case. Krystal and I are both listed as parents on Amelia’s birth certificate (the hospital tried to tell us no and wanted to put the donor as the “father” – do not piss off a woman who just gave birth to a baby is all I have to say).

We started the adoption process towards the end of my pregnancy and completed it at the beginning of September. This adoption has been in the works for at least 6 months. Some would ask if the IVF Agreement would be protect both Krystal and I’s parental rights? Unfortunately this agreement only protects the embryos and not any children that may result from the creation of those embryos. The documentation prior to beginning IVF classifies me as a surrogate and Krystal as a donor, making the ownership of the embryo rather muddy without the clarity the IVF Agreement provides. Some would assume that it would be me that would need to adopt the child since Amelia is biologically Krystal’s baby, however that is incorrect. In the state of Texas since I physically gave birth to Amelia I am her legal parent.

In all honesty, none of this is very clear from a legal standpoint. That is why our attorney recommended that we both adopt Amelia for the sake of clarity and we wholeheartedly agreed. This meant that we both had to complete all the paperwork that goes into an adoption. Thankfully it was two for the price of one. More than anything we want our daughter to be protected and for both of us to have rights as her legal parents and guardians, should something happen in the future. Below I have listed the steps we took in order to actually adopt Amelia, I’ve also included costs for those that are interested.

Steps to Adoption:

  1. Fill out an Employment Contact to hire the attorney and pay the retainer ($2,500)
  2. We each completed a “Declaration” which basically states we are who we say we are, we are of sound mind, and the child is not a property of the state.
  3. Our attorney filed a petition with the court and the court assigns an evaluator. Our firm uses a specific evaluator (social worker) located in San Antonio. So there was an added cost of mileage and travel time, but we were assured that she will recommend the adoption to the court/judge. (more on this later)
  4. Our social worker mailed us a packet with information we must complete before her visit… this was a lot of stuff! All I can say is make sure your bank does free notarizing! (see list below) totaling ~$100
  5. We completed the home visit and approved the home evaluation document. (~$1,0000)
  6. Our attorney filed the home evaluation with the court
  7. We scheduled our Court Date!
  8. Showed up to court and adopted our sweet Amelia
Home Visit with Social Worker

When we started this process the home study/visit was probably the most intimidating part. There was lots of preparation in terms of paper work, but our social worker was the kindest individual ever and made the questions more of a conversation than an interrogation. I will not lie there were A LOT of questions about every facet of your life you could imagine. Some we answered together, some were answered alone. All in all the visit took about 3.5 – 4 hours of pure question and answers. Krystal and I were hesitant to have the social worker from San Antonio drive in, but it was very much worth it in the end since there was no question if she was going to recommend us for the adoption.

Documents Required for Adoption:

  • Child Neglect/Abuse Central Registry Check
  • FBI Domestic Adoption Check ($25.00 each)
  • Criminal History Record/Fingerprinting ($30.00 each)
  • Our Birth Certificates
  • Our pay stubs
  • Proof of health coverage for Amelia
  • Our Marriage License
  • Clean bill of health for Amelia, myself and Krystal
  • 5 references from family or friends.
Judge Salinas with Amelia

Although this process seems excessive and at times it was frustrating as we ask ourselves, “why do we even have to do this?” The piece of mind was worth every penny we spent and it was an extremely pleasant experience. No one that we encountered was negative and everyone was willing to work with us. Even the judge was as informal as one can be in those settings and followed her one rule by holding Amelia the entire proceeding. This may not be the answer for every family, for us it was a way for us to feel safe and protected. So now when Amelia plays two truths and a lie, she can say she was adopted because technically it would be true!

For those that are interested the total cost of this adoption was around $3,500. For those interested in our attorney, please feel free to contact me. We were very pleased with their services and prompt replies to any and all questions and will do any legal work with them in the future.

Adoption

Amelia’s Birth Story

The last weeks of pregnancy feel like eternity. From the start I was convinced she was going to come early, well 37 weeks came and went. She was full term and making no leaps to introduce herself to the world. At 37 weeks I was measuring 2cm and by 38 had only gained 1 cm. Since both us and the doctor were worried about me delivering due to her size (at 36 weeks she was measuring over 7 pounds) we decided to schedule and induction for May 5th. The doctor said I wouldn’t make it till then, especially since she had stripped my membranes, but she had said that the previous week so I had little faith in her estimations.

I decided to go to work on Friday since sitting at home wasn’t going to make her come any faster. Once I got home I lounged on the couch with Krystal who prompted me to go lay in bed for a nap – I’m so thankful I did or I would’ve never looked at our couch the same. Around 5 pm I woke with the sudden urge to pee and stood up to my water breaking. I yelled for Krystal and for some reason she never comes fast enough when I really need her- by that I mean it took her 20 seconds instead of 5 second to get to the bedroom. The next 30 min were a buzz of us wondering if we go to the hospital calling family and notifying them it was “go time” and grabbing the hospital bags. Oddly enough my contractions didn’t start till we were en route to the hospital and boy did they start!

Once arriving at the ER we waited 20 or so minutes to be taken up to labor and delivery where we arrived right before shift change for the nurses. Although this seems like a bad thing we actually got extremely lucky because I would not have been able to handle the amount of struggle bus of the nurse going off shift. Our nurse that came on shift was the absolute sweetest and calmest person and not one bit frazzled. The intake paperwork and labs took a little time but thankfully they got me an epidural pretty quickly since I was already at 6cm. For most of the pregnancy this was my biggest fear about childbirth since I knew all along I wanted to be selective about other types of pain relievers but was absolutely going to get the epidural. It really wasn’t that bad and the anesthesiologist was great by talking me through each step before he did it. The worst part was “the cramp” but it quickly began taking away the pain of contractions. My legs weren’t completely numb and I did have some control over them but the nurse got me a peanut pillow to help move the baby down since walking around wasn’t really an option. I figured, just a small pillow or ball right? This “peanut pillow” is like a giant exercise ball in the shape of a peanut. It was massive but it seemed to do its job. The doctor wanted to give me some Pitocin to help speed up the contractions however we opted not to and let everything occur on it’s own speed.

At this point we had a waiting room full of people who would come in sporadically and brought Krystal some food-which she ate in the waiting room because I was restricted to ice chips. My biggest regret throughout laboring was that I had forgotten to take all my medicine that morning which included something for my acid reflux. It was torture, they tried to give me something but it only worked for a few minutes. I threw up about 6-7 times during labor several of which while I was pushing. Let me tell you after not having eaten since lunch it was not fun…

I started pushing around 11p.m. What they don’t tell you is you push for quiet sometime with just the nurse till the baby is down far enough AND THEN the doctor and everyone else come for the actual delivery. We had to have a few extra people in the delivery room because our little pooper had pooped in the womb (muchonum). Although this isn’t serious it can cause infection and get into the babies airway. This meant that she had to be suctioned and checked quickly after birth which delayed skin to skin for a few minutes. To avoid getting to much TMI, I’ll skip to the part where she was born at 1:08 a.m. However, I will say the nurse asked me if I wanted a mirror and I would highly recommend it to any expecting moms who are considering it, it was definitely the coolest thing to watch.

Because of the muchonium and because I had an extremely short umbilical cord we were not able to delay the cord cutting as much as we would like. Krystal did get to cut the cord (which squirted blood all over her – at least she had a little of the dirty work). And we also had to delay skin to skin. Once she was cleaned up a bit and checked out to ensure she was healthy I finally got to hold our beautiful little girl and it was priceless.

We were able to do a delayed bath till the following day so family came in around 3:00am to meet her after all the medical team had done their job and we had some time with her.

Although I was in labor for 8 hours it felt like time stood still and we were only there for a few hours. Krystal was my rock every time I would start to get scared or emotional she was right there to cheer me on, wipe my tears, and help me get just a little closer to meeting our Amelia. I could not have asked for a better support person (as the hospital would say), wife, or companion to hold my hand throughout the beautiful but hard time. Becoming a mother is no easy feat y’all but it is worth it!

Third Trimester

Week 28: This week we had a 3D Ultrasound and it was amazing. Although this is an elective ultrasound (meaning it is not covered by insurance), it was worth every penny. She was a little stubborn at first keeping her arm up by her face and her face buried in the placenta. After a little coaxing and jiggling we got some beautiful shots of our baby girl. I swear she has Krystal’s nose and lips and she is absolutely beautiful. We even got a little smile.

Week 29: This weekend we had a Baby Shower in Houston, hosted by Mama, Kait, and Katrina. It was wonderful to see friends and family we don’t get to see that often since moving and our baby girl got so many cute things. The shower itself was perfect filled with lots of fun games, Krystal is definitely going to have to work on her diapering skills. I kicked her ass at the diaper- blindfold race! It was also wonderful to have my Dad, Stepmom, brother, and aunt make the long trip to come and celebrate!

Week 30: This week we had a little scare on Thursday night. I had been experiencing lots of braxton hicks contractions and then discovered some spotting. The on-call nurse said to take some Tylenol and lay on my left side (blood flow is increased to your uterus on this side – one of the reasons why you can’t lay on your back later in your pregnancy). She said if I had four or more contractions in an hour to come in but thankfully I didn’t and my doctor’s nurse said to rest (Ha! does she know it’s one act season?) and it could be the cause of dehydration so drink lots of water. Hopefully, this is the end of the scare and we can enjoy our baby shower this weekend.

Week 31: We had our second baby shower in Corpus and boy was it packed!! We had over 80 people come to help us celebrate and spoil our little peanut. As you can tell we took diapering to a whole new level….

Week 33: The past few weeks have been filled with TFA State and One-Act District thru Bi-District. Unfortunately we did not advance, but thankfully it has given way to some much needed rest. I don’t think my feet could’ve taken much more of that.

Week 34: The nursery is done (you can see it here), car seat is installed, and hospital bag is packed. Now it is just a waiting game… I guess I should really finish my maternity lesson plans. I have also started using the Bloomlife contraction monitor that you rent for about $20 a week. It is a small device that connects to an app on your phone that monitors the duration and frequency of your contractions. (If you are pregnant and interested in this let me know and I can send you an e-mail for a free week!) It really has given me peace of mind and satisfied my curiosity.

Week 35: We have progressed to only wearing sandles (specifically birkenstocks). That is all.

Week 36: We took our maternity pictures today on the beach. The one morning in Corpus it’s actually chilly of course happened to be Sunday morning. Shout out to Chelsea Wilmont Photography for getting covered in sand and her shoes soaked trying to save my dress. The baby is measuring 7 pounds 14 ounces according to the ultrasound so we are little concerned about size if she keeps on cooking. Here are a few of our favorites!

Week 37: We have been going to the doctor once a week now and I am dilated to a 2. The doctor kept making comments that I might not make it to next weeks appointment (here’s hoping).

Week 38: this week I had progressed to a 3 and the doctor stretched my membranes. Again the doctor doesn’t think I’ll make it to the next appointment, but we scheduled an induction on Sunday in case she doesn’t come before then. I worked till Friday, but let’s be honest most of the time my feet were up in my classroom. All my students are hoping I go into labor in their class since I promised them all an A if I did, seems fair right?

Two Years, Forever to Go

Krystal and I celebrated our two year anniversary yesterday (April 15th). Although there were many big milestones none really compare to getting pregnant with our daughter. I even asked Krystal last night what her favorite part of year two was and she said, “pretty much anything to do with the baby.” I ditto that statement. Our milestones included downsizing and moving into our adorable flip house, retrieving, transferring, and getting pregnant on our first try using reciprocal IVF. We’ve had our struggles this year, but they pail in comparison to how incredibly privileged we are and continue to be.

With me being 9 months pregnant we kept it pretty low key but still managed to toast to year number three, eat some chocolate covered strawberries, and watch our wedding video. Surprisingly our gifts to each other were extremely similar and both kept with the cotton tradition. She gave me this Mommy & Me robe set to wear while we are in the hospital and I gave her a robe for skin-to-skin while we are in the hospital with this a custom tag I found on Etsy from ShannahJSmith. (I’ll wait to post pictures of my robe till our sweet peas arrival.)

Needless to say we are anxious for year three since we get to welcome our little one into the world.

The Nursery Reveal

Before the Gender Reveal there were so many ideas and Pinterest boards of what designs we were going to do for the nursery. Wouldn’t ya know we did NONE of that. We searched for days/weeks looking for the perfect bedding set with all the right colors, that wasn’t astronomically expensive and finally we settled on a floral design with hints of mint, coral, gold, and navy. Looking back we maybe should’ve put her in the bigger room, but it is ready and waiting for her arrival in 40 days or less.

Wall Color: Jocular Green from Sherwin Williams – All credit for painting goes to Krystal, her Dad, Geneva C.J. & Ally for painting while I was out of town at a conference.

Target:

Etsy:

  • Diaper Wall Storage (it’s actually kitchen storage) & Side Table from IKEA
  • Dresser & Glider from Rooms To Go
  • Crib – Bassett Baby from the Destin Nursery Collection (we actually bought our crib on Amazon and saved about $400.00)

Second Trimester

16 Weeks: Lets just say I am a new person, those magic pills the doctor gave me at our last ultrasound with the combination of being out of the first trimester has given me a new burst of energy and a new appetite. We went to see the doctor this Tuesday and got to hear the heartbeat on the fetal doppler. I’m telling you that sound never gets old. She also ran some blood test that has to be done between 16 & 18 weeks for spina bifida. I have gained 6 pounds, it’s amazing what happens when you aren’t puking up every bite. 

17 Weeks: We sent our blood test back to SneakPeek and Erika our designated “person to know” will receive an e-mail with the sex of the baby. The anticipation isn’t killing us at all…. forget it I don’t even want to talk about it. We also got our results back from the 16 week test, all within normal ranges, so that is very reassuring. 

18 Weeks: The blood sample has arrived at the lab and Erika will find out in the next day or so, keeping us in suspense till Saturday.

22 Weeks: We are officially having a little girl it has been verified by not only a blood test but also an anatomy ultrasound. We couldn’t be more thrilled. Check out this post to find out more about the big reveal. Our little peanut has started to move more and more each day which is such a amazing and weird feeling. Krystal has even gotten to feel her when she’s not being difficult.

24 Weeks: We took a road trip this weekend for the Annual Mystic Krewe of Apollo Ball in Baton Rouge. The ball was fabulous and really probably the best yet, however traveling while pregnant… not so much. Combine the constant need to pee with the back aches from sitting; I’m just glad it will be the last “long” one till our love bug arrives.

25 Weeks: I am exhausted! With tech week and grad school I can barely hold my eyes open. Thanks to all things good that I have been able to squeeze in a nap here and there this week or else I don’t know how I would’ve survived. Little Bug is moving more and more and I find myself trying to find a correlation between what I’m eating or drinking and her movements so I can make her move more. Krystal gets to feel her almost on a daily bases, but she tries to be stubborn when other family members want to feel her move. We had a check up this week and did the glucose test which we will get back next week. The liquid you have to drink really isn’t too bad it just tasted like really sweet cherry kool-aid.

26 Weeks: As my belly grows bending down to pick things up or squatting to work in the shop becomes a question of “Is it really worth it?” before making the move. My students have begun say, “Wow you couldn’t do it right so now you are making the pregnant lady get down on the floor and do it.” Blood tests results came back and all is healthy and good. I am low on iron so I will begin taking an iron supplement everyday.

27 Weeks: It is amazing what a little Iron can do for your energy! We went back to the doctor this week and will start going every other week till we hit 36 weeks. Everything is progressing beautifully and our sweet bug is healthy and happy (I’m assuming from all the kicks).

Although most of my reading time has been consumed with grad school homework, I have managed to get through the majority of these books and I highly recommend them. I’ve also really enjoyed listening to the Pregnancy Confidential Podcast – although they are great at using “partner” they do only speak as partner with male pronouns, but the information is great!