Life After College

I‘m not sure what possessed me to go to college for criminal justice.  In 2004 I’m sure it seemed like a great idea, but after being in the “field” as a paralegal, I realized I hated everything about it.  I remember, and I will never live this down, the day Rob told me that I should switch my major to teaching because “you’re so great with kids and I see you doing that more than criminal justice”.  My response: “I already have one semester of CRJ so what’s the point”.

Well, the point would be that I spent over $30,000 in student loans to find out that I hate what I went to school for, only to return to school 2 years later to get my teaching certificate.  There was nothing wrong with going back to school Fall Semester of 2010, except that I was getting married in less than two months from the date of my first class, I was still working at the law firm full time, and I was exhausted! That December I got into an accident going to class because I was so exhausted that I fell asleep at the wheel, hit a parked car and flipped my car onto its roof.  Thankfully I walked away with a scratch on my chest from the seat belt but I’m still paying for that accident.  The following spring semester I found out we were pregnant, but we miscarried.  What was I thinking?  I’m a full time student, a full time employee, a full time newlywed … I was driving myself insane and I had no idea at the time.  We got pregnant the following Fall semester and I realized that I would be pregnant during the “professional semester” portion of the program where I spent 7 weeks on campus from 9 – 4 taking four 2 hour classes back to back (to back to back).  The classes were intense and took no prisoners!  I remember staying later on campus to finish work because I knew once I was home, the couch would be calling my name.  At the point I started the professional semester, I was 18 weeks pregnant and finally over the morning sickness.  After the 7 weeks of classes, we had 7 weeks of being in the classroom.  This was basically a preview of student teaching.  We had 7 weeks to teach our designated classes, perform our core assignments to be handed into the teachers, and we were observed by our professor.  To say I was exhausted is putting it mildly.  I remember my feet being so swollen that they would have indentations.  No elevation or water intake made it better and I wanted to die every time I sat down.  We finished classes May 7 and I gave birth May 16.  As I explained in my previous post, I was induced because of high blood pressure and I’m sure the stress of school and being on my feet so long had much to do with that.  I was put on bed rest at the end of April but I had to finish my teaching so I struggled through that and finished, thank goodness.

Student teaching was another nightmare.  The stars all aligned when I had Robbie during my summer break from school.  I had already quit the law firm to focus on teaching and in anticipation for student teaching.  I couldn’t really work at the law firm during student teaching since you’re in the classroom just like a regular teacher.  I had from May 16 to August 29th to be at home with my baby, a normal maternity leave until it was time for it to end …

I‘ll never forget having to drop off my baby at his grandmother’s house for the first time.  My little peanut wasn’t going to be cared for by me.  I wanted to die.  I would have rather quit school then and just kept being a stay at home mom.  I cried the entire way to Allentown (45 minutes) and barely had tears left!  I couldn’t contain myself.  What if he cried for milk and they didn’t know?  What if he wanted to be cradled a certain way, the way I knew he wanted to be held?  Would he be okay sleeping in a pack and play when all his naps were in his crib or in his mommy’s arms?  I wanted to die.  It was like someone had ripped out my entire heart and placed me in hell.

So, in the weeks to come I realized I was wrong and my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, was right.  I should have done teaching from the beginning.  This wouldn’t have happened.  I might have already had a job and I would have had the summer off with my baby and known that the next summer would be here before we knew it and I would be home with him again.  Instead, I finished my teaching certification, struggled to pass the final Praxis exam, and now I’m working at another law firm in Stroudsburg, making less than what I made at my old law firm and not making nearly as much as I would be making if I had already been a teacher.  Isn’t that a kick in the balls?  Would I change the path I took, yes!  But the outcome is much sweeter.  I appreciate my schooling more and I did better than I would have done if I was a 20 year old.  I focused more and I knew that I had to pass in order to be good at what I wanted to do.  I also have much more respect for the job and it isn’t just a paycheck.

I can’t wait to be a teacher.  I know it will happen sooner rather than later, but while I pound the pavement, I appreciate having something to fall back on and knowing that I will not go without a job because I have a few tricks up my sleeve, and a few certifications/diplomas also.

A New Mommy’s Experience

When people say you have to cherish what you have because it will change next week clearly was talking about life after children.  I can’t imagine not having Robbie in my life and I can’t imagine not being able to enjoy this life with him if things hadn’t turned out the way they did.  I always told Rob that I wanted to wait until I was done with my teaching certificate schooling before we started trying for a baby.  I can’t remember when it was that we decided to “try” but when we got pregnant in March of 2011 and then had a miscarriage shortly thereafter, we both realized how badly we wanted to have a baby and we didn’t want to wait to have one.  I thought about waiting and seeing the miscarriage as a sign that we should wait, but I also thought of the possibility of not being able to get pregnant and that there was something wrong with me that would prevent me from having a baby naturally.  It’s funny to think of it but having read about the struggles that Giuliana Rancic (I know- my celebrity addiction), I couldn’t imagine waiting any longer and finding out that there was something physically wrong that wouldn’t allow me to get pregnant.  I couldn’t live with myself if I waited longer to find out something like that. 

 

Needless to say, we tried for 7 months.  We went to NY for our first wedding anniversary to visit the Museum of Natural History.  I should’ve known something was wrong when we paid for the IMAX movie of “Tornado Alley” and I slept through the entire thing!  Then we had to wait for Joe to get out of work (since he worked a few blocks away from where we were and we offered to drive him home so he didn’t have to take the train) and I fell asleep in the car for the hour we waited.  Then when we got to Joe’s house, I fell asleep on his couch.  Rob even mentioned to me that I was “really tired”.  The next day I went to the doctors because I needed antibiotics for a UTI infection.  The doctor asked me if there was a chance of me being pregnant and I said “I don’t think so” and I should’ve asked him to check!  Four days later I had an inkling and took a home pregnancy test.  I took the test, showered and went into the bedroom to get dressed.  When I went to do my hair, I remembered I had taken the test and checked. Pregnant.  That small little word showed up, and for the minute I took to realize what just happened, I didn’t smile or get excited.  I was so petrified of what we had experienced beforehand that I didn’t allow myself to be excited.  I went into the room where Rob was sleeping and I shook him and said, “I’m pregnant”.  I always wanted to tell him that way.  The first time I got pregnant was special, but I wanted to have a moment where only I knew what was happening and then see his reaction.  He was surprised, probably because he was sleeping and he hates to be woken up!  We decided not to tell anyone because we wanted to make sure that things were okay before we included anyone in the mix.  Of course, we told our family that night.  Melissa and I were doing Zumba together and before I canceled on her, I called my doctor to see if I could go since it’s not a strenuous workout.  He advised me not to workout for the next 12 weeks until we were “out of the woods” since he knew about the miscarriage.  I text her and said I had to tell her something but I wanted to call her.  Then we told our family over the phone since we weren’t going to make a special trip, again, to tell them the news.  The next day we went out with Eric and we told him.  He’d known about the miscarriage so we knew he’d be excited to find out.  We drove to where Jeanie was working.  I asked for a “sprite” but I told her “don’t put alcohol in it”.  It took her a moment to realize why I was asking for a drink with no alcohol in it! J

 

We kept it quiet from others until we were further along because we didn’t want to include too many people and then have to experience a miscarriage again.  It was hard to tell people what we were going through when I didn’t want to relive it again.  The experience in itself was tumultuous and heartbreaking.  I remember just wanted to close the door, keep the sun out and just be alone.  Rob was such a supportive husband during that time.  I don’t remember much about the days after the miscarriage but I remember coming home and crying myself to sleep.  The next morning I sat on the couch and just cried.  Rob never once let me see him cry and he just kept his arms around me for as long as I’d let him.  In retrospect, I should have been more supportive of him and his feelings but I was so wrapped up in my own sorrow that I didn’t think about how he was feeling until I was well enough to compose myself.  I didn’t want him to blame me, but I blamed myself so I assumed he did too.  You marry a person and expect a family.  I was so afraid I couldn’t give that to him and that he’d think he married the wrong person.  I’m glad that we got to share in the happy experience of bringing a child into the world. 

 

I’ve spoken to a few people who have gotten pregnant after having a miscarriage and I truly feel no one will understand what it is like to have a miscarriage unless you experience it yourself.  The inner turmoil you feel is unrelated to anything you’ve felt before.  I’m glad that the small group of woman that share in this experience have come together to help each other get through it. 

 

Being pregnant again probably wasn’t the same as a normal pregnancy.  I feared a lot about bleeding.  It wasn’t until I could hear the baby’s heartbeat on the fetal monitor at our doctor’s appointments where I felt I had some kind of control over the situation.  Since our doctor knew we had a miscarriage, he scheduled me to have blood drawn to make sure my hormones were at a safe level to have an ultrasound.  We had our first ultrasound on Rob’s birthday, and that was special for him to experience on that day.  It was confirmed that the little peanut we saw on the monitor- the same peanut that was making me throw up every bit of food or liquid I had, was developing normally.  The morning/noon/night sickness was terrible!  I couldn’t even take a sip of water without feeling like it was going to come back up.  Thank goodness I worked at an office where the bathroom was readily available.  I ran up those stairs more times than I could imagine just to realize that I wasn’t actually going to throw anything up but the feeling of nausea was just going to linger all day long.  I remember telling Rob how horrible it was but nothing that we tried help.  I tried an herbal syrup remedy that made me throw up even more.  I bought sea bands to put around my wrist which evidently help with sea sickness but did nothing for me.  I put crackers next to my bed in order to eat them before I got out of bed, only to find out it made the process more intense.  In thinking about it I don’t know if I could do it again!  I felt the baby kick at 16-18 weeks.  I can’t remember how far along I was but I remember it was a Sunday and we were at home watching TV.  I was getting anxious about feeling him move so Rob and I searched on how to make him move.  We tried the flashlight where you shine the light and move it around slowly near your lower belly to stimulate the baby to move away from the shining light.  That worked once I was further along but what really helped was putting music on my belly.  I put headphones on my phone and turned on classical music.  I reclined on the recliner and after a few minutes, I felt the little flutters of him moving around.  I wonder if that’s why he loves music now so much.  I played music for him all throughout my pregnancy and now he loves to jam out with mommy in the car J  We invited our mothers to share in the moment of when we found out whether it was a boy or girl.  Before the technicial asked us if we wanted to find out, I saw his little “pishie” on the screen and knew it was a boy!  We decided on the name in that moment.  Rob wouldn’t let me change his mind about naming him Robert, although I found tooth and nail over the name.  As a little girl, you don’t grow up thinking “I’m going to name my child this”.  You just assume it’s a name you chose like you would if you had a girl.  The tradition of having a junior is fading and I didn’t want to fall into that trap.  Besides, I already had one Robert in the house!  Rob said I could chose the middle name.  At first I wanted to keep a tradition of picking a “J” name but after each suggestion was turned down by Rob (Jeter as a strong contender but it truly was a long shot with the Mets fanatic that Rob is).  I chose “Nicholas” because it’s both my dad and my brother’s name.  If he was going to share in names with Rob, I wanted him to have a piece of my family also.  Robert Nicholas.  Now this little person had a gender and a name.  Life got real after that!  Before this, it was just a baby in my belly but after we found out the gender and its name, it made the experience so much better.  I know people have a debate about finding out the sex of the baby beforehand and how it “ruins the surprise”, but whether it was at 5 months or 9, we were equally surprised and shocked.  I couldn’t imagine not knowing the gender and then finding out in the midst of all the pain and fogginess you’re in during delivery. 

 

After we found out the sex, the months flew by! I felt like it was within two weeks that we went from knowing the sex of the baby to having a baby shower.  Thankfully I quit my job at the law firm in January (the same month I found out the sex) to go to school full time.  Kutztown University has what’s called a “professional semester” experience wherein you spend 7 weeks in the classroom from 9-4 taking 4 courses in a 2 hour block.  Afterwards, you spend the remainder of the semester (about 7 weeks) in a classroom doing your core assignments for each of the courses you took in the initial 7 weeks of the program.  You were in the classroom as if you were a teacher.  I was in a kindergarten classroom which was really nice because I love working with the younger kids.  When I started my professional semester, I wasn’t showing but by the time I went into the classroom, I was already 2 months away from delivery.  I felt weird going into the classroom as a student because I was much older than the other girls.  This was my second go around in college at age 25!  The girls I was in the program with were amazing.  I should have taken more advantage of them getting me food and stuff J They would make sure I was drinking water, and we would walk together to get lunch.  They would offer to go for me but I figured the walk was good for me.  In the classroom, my cooperating teacher was so accommodating of my situation.  She let me sit down as much as I needed and told the kids not to touch my belly or run around me because I could trip over them and hurt the baby.  The kids were super sweet and asked the cutest (and sometimes hard-to-answer) questions.  One student asked me how I got the baby in there and where he would come out.  I told him he needed to ask his Mommy about that. 

 

During my final two weeks of professional semester, I was put on bed rest because my blood pressure elevated.  It was being controlled with medicine since I had high blood pressure prior to getting pregnant but somehow it was increasing every time I went in for a checkup.  I didn’t go to school as much and only went to finish my core assignments so that they could get submitted to Kutztown.  The week after I was supposed to finish the professional semester experience, I was having a baby!  Rob and I went in for our routine non-stress test which was ordered the week I was put on bed rest.  All they did was put me on a fetal monitor for 20 minutes and then that Friday they did an ultrasound to check the fluid around the baby.  We went in on Tuesday, May 15th for our checkup.  When you’re pregnant, you have to pee in a cup every time you go to the doctors which is annoying because when you’re pregnant, you pee all the time so if you don’t plan on holding it in until you go to the doctor, you’re screwed!  I peed in the cup and they test for protein in your urine which is a sign that you may be developing preeclampsia.  In this particular doctor’s appointment, the protein in my urine was dangerously high and the doctor sent me to Lehigh Valley Hospital’s Labor and Delivery unit.  This was my third time going for the same reason.  In my other two trips, they monitored me for an hour and realized that while I was laying down my blood pressure was stabilized.  Duh- that’s why I was on bed rest for 3 weeks!  So Rob and I didn’t think anything of it and went to the hospital.  We had planned on going to see the “Hunger Games” movie that afternoon since it was his day off from work and being in a movie theater was relaxing (right?).  We wanted to go to the 4 o’clock showing since my appointment was at 2.  Having to go to the hospital (and thinking it would be the same outcome as before and they’d discharge me and send me home), we looked up times and decided to go to the 7pm showing.  When we got to the hospital, my blood pressure was outrageously high.  When you have high blood pressure, you feel normal- that’s why people refer to it as the silent killer.  I had no idea what was going on inside my body and I felt fine.  My doctor (who had been the doctor on call the previous times I had gone to the hospital to get evaluated) asked me, “are you ready to have a baby today?”  The blood pressure cuffs that were on me at the moment was taking my blood pressure right when he asked and the reading it got surprised my doctor so much that he looked scared- 160/110.  He said to me “oh wow you need to relax, that reading was not safe!” and Rob said “you just asked her if she was ready for a baby”.  So there we were, a month early and not even a toothbrush in hand!  Thankfully we got a lot of help from family and friends to relieve Rob so he could pack a bag and get prepared, but as I’m sure everyone knows, you can never pack enough or too much.  He forgot my shampoo/conditioner, brush, makeup, undies.  I was a mess and he was too. 

 

The contractions weren’t as bad as I expected.  I was able to tolerate them for about 6 hours before they had to give me medication (NOT the epidural- that came the next morning and I didn’t even ask for it).  I threw up, I fell asleep – it was a shit show in that room!  After 26 hours of labor, the doctor said I wasn’t progressing and she advised me to get a cesarean.  I was hysterical.  The only thing I wanted to do was to call Nicole and ask her for help.  She had a C-section before and we’d become so close throughout each other’s pregnancy that I knew she’d be able to give me the right advice.  I don’t know if she knows how much it meant to me that she was there, even just if it was a phone call, to calm me down!  The best thing she said could’ve done was just answer the phone and be there for me. 

 

Having a C-section is terrifying!  They suited Rob up in scrubs (which he still has somewhere in his closet) and they wheel me in first without him.  It took what seemed like forever for them to get me numb and prepped.  I guess I have a high tolerance for anesthesia because on two separate occasions they asked me if I could feel them running a toothpick across my belly and I could.  He looked shocked and I started to get nervous!  He said “if this last dose doesn’t work, we’ll have to do your epidural again”.  When he asked again, I lied and said I couldn’t feel anything when I really could.  In retrospect, that could’ve ended very badly!  Thankfully, Rob was finally allowed in and all I wanted to do was close my eyes and go to sleep.  It must have been the adrenaline.  They say they numbed me but I felt every time they pulled or tugged!  I remember almost screaming because it hurt so badly when they were trying to get him out.  Evidently he was stuck in my pelvic bone which is why they said wouldn’t have come out naturally. 

 

The moment we heard his first cry, Rob and I looked at each other and started crying.  It was overwhelming.  No one prepares you for that moment!  I couldn’t imagine a more perfect scenario for that.  We are truly blessed! J