Opinion Time

This may seem shallow, but I just need an opinion. I haven’t dyed my hair in a few years. It started when I got pregnant. I know there are many options for hair dye that are safe for pregnancy, and I believe there are studies that show regular hair dye isn’t dangerous during pregnancy. I think it was just an excuse to truly grow out my hair and make it healthy again.

I the process of growing out my hair, I have started to get gray (actually white) hair. Not a lot, just strands throughout. Makes sense, my mom started to get gray hair in her early 30’s, and my dad had salt and pepper by his mid 30’s. Now people are not just noticing, but mentioning it. So I ask, should I dye my hair? I wouldn’t go crazy. I would stay the dark brown color.

To Retail Workers During the Holidays

Dear Retail Store Workers,

Before I get too much anger about this, this is not to condone the poor treatment of retail workers during the Holiday Season. I come to you with this letter as a mom and former retail store employee. I will start out with a small story. While at one of the Big Box Retailers, I ran into a mom with two children under the age of 2. The oldest walks and doesn’t enjoy being contained in a cart or stroller. This child likes to explore. Overall, this mom keeps a close eye on her children. Well, one day, she was shopping, turned her head for a moment, and when she turned back, her child was gone. Now, this child goes to the same places in this store, but alas, this child wasn’t at either place. So she asked the store employee for help. After some time, someone found her child. When she went up to get her little one, there were three employees and decided to lecture her about the importance of keeping a better eye on her child.

Now yes, as parents, we should always have eyes on our kids. Unfortunately there are times when you need to grab something really quick or check on another child for JUST a moment. In that small nanosecond that you turn your head, a child can run off. At amusement parks, malls, and big stores, there are people and policies in place to help reconnect lost children to their families. Currently, my daughter is 10 months old. She isn’t walking or running around yet, but I can tell as soon as she can, she’ll probably take off running.

As a parent of a future runner, I think the last thing a parent needs is a lecture. It happens! Not just to a toddler. I remember having to stop what I’m doing to look for a child ages 7-10. The holidays can often be stressful for everyone. You need to make sure you finish the task you’re assigned, and parents are braving taking their child to a store. There are never enough hours in a day to get things done. Often times it is cold and you just need to get out of the house.

Just like you all ask for kindness and compassion as you are working during the holiday season for working, remember to give kindness and compassion to the parents during these potentially scary times.


A Mom and Former Retail Employee

Mommy Monday Series: Holy Grail Items Pt 2

I believe I did a part 1 where I talked about newborn necessities. I’ll link it down below. My daughter is now about 10 months old, and I feel like I have discovered more items that are necessary for taking care of my daughter. I know these are different for every person, these are the things that work for me.

Aquaphor: Seriously, this item is the biggest necessity ever! Especially once my daughter started drooling or sweating, I put aquaphor on the mark, and it clears up in a day or two. I know there are many people who use this as diaper rash oinment, but I just think it’s a fantastic all-around ointment!

Mobile Coupons: I know this sounds crazy, but having access to a stores mobile coupons is a lifesaver! Two places I use quite regularly are Target Circle (used to be cartwheel) and Dollar General. They are both pretty straight forward and will help save money on some of the baby essentials. This will help save you from clipping a million coupons and potentially losing or forgetting coupons.

3. Oxi Clean or Clorox Color: So lets be honest here, baby poop stains are so hard to get out. Truly! I discovered if I soak a blow out onesie in water and clorox (the color safe kind), the stain comes out mostly or completely. I know many people are concerned about allergic reactions, I’d suggest checking in with your Pediatrician. My daughter has no reaction and she does have sensitive skin.

Swaddle Blankets: Honestly, I don’t use swaddles to swaddle my daughter. I use them to cover her when it’s cold, to cover up while nursing, and as a burp cloth or wipe.

Toys: I know none of us want the noisy light-up toys, but they are genius. Once they are old enough to entertain themselves, find some toys that will occupy them. My daughter likes this Fischer Price Phone and Beat Belle.

Snacks: As their appetite grows, having snacks will help occupy time between feedings. Of course talk to your doctor about what snacks are good. As my daughter was teething, she loved rice husks.

Teething Toys: Teething can happen at any time, so having a teether of some kinda will help immensely. I know it will be annoying to find one, but your child will show you which one they like and don’t like. The picture above can also be used for teething.

Knee High Socks: Anyone find it annoying when the itty bitty socks always falls off? One of my friends ordered knee high infant socks from Amazon, and gave me the link. You can just search it, but it is amazing how much of a difference these socks make. Plus they are SUPER cute. ResMed Universal Headgear SIZE LARGE https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06Y444Z9B?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share

Baby Carrier: Not the carseat/carrier combo, but something that allows you to wear your baby. Whether you like the wrap or the backpack style, having one as they get bigger will help your arms and back so much. Similar to a backpack, it will distribute the baby’s weight instead of centering it on your arms and shoulders.

Some kind of video-I know we don’t want the baby to watch TV all the time, but occasionally, you’ll need to do something, and toys are just not enough. I discovered Hey Bear on YouTube. My daughter seems to love the colors and the upbeat music. They also have ones that help them learn colors and words.

These are my HOLY GRAIL items. What are yours? I love to learn what other parents love.

**All picture taken from Google

Link to Newborn Necessities: https://mmarcus1228.wordpress.com/2019/04/15/newborn-necessities-and-regrets/

Opening Up More

Fairly recently, I’ve started opening up a bit more about my past. Although, it’s a fairly “recent” past, it’s still my past. I know almost everyone I know knows about what happened five years ago with my family and I’ve been completely open about losing my daughter, Hannah. Why have I started opening up? It’s simple. How can you make new friends without opening up?

Once you have a kid, people start asking more and more questions. I’ll often get “is this the first grandchild?” Most of the time, I’ll say yes. Why? It’s easier. But then they want to know if this is the first grandchild, and how both parents are enjoying it? Well, I get tongue tied. Uh uhuh. What do I say? How do I say it? Do I lie? How do I remember that lie? So many thoughts go through my head. If you say your family is no longer here, then they go onto more inquisitive questions. So, it’s just easier to be honest.

One thing, it does make people uncomfortable. I mean, how often do you hear the words “murdered”, “family”, and “jail” in one sentence. Usually you’ll see it on the news or in the newspaper. But when I do open up, I think people tend to see why it’s hard for me to just open up to people. Therefore, with people in my everyday life, I’ve decided to just be honest. How are you supposed to gain those close relationships if you don’t?

With all that said, here are some of the questions many people have about the crap I’ve gone through.

  1. How are you still you?- I guess that means an overall pleasant human being?? The answer is: No Clue. I really, truly don’t know. I will say, if it wasn’t for the support system in my life, I wouldn’t be standing here. I’ve said that SO MUCH! But it’s true. I literally had all of Lake County banding together to support me financially, set up hotel stays for my family at affordable costs, and just hugs when I needed to fall apart. I will say, if the same thing happened to Abigail that happened to Hannah, I probably would have quit my job, sold everything and just travelled America in my car. I’d check in so people know I exist, but that’s it.
  2. Why are you still here?- Yes, that is a question I’ve gotten many times. And to be honest, I don’t know. I was at work the night of Jun 8, 2014. We don’t know if I was called home to finish the job, or to find the horror. I don’t think either answer would make me feel better, so I never pressed harder.
  3. How did you move forward?-This is the off-shoot of the first questions. The honest answer is, you just do. With the murder five years ago, I did little things to feel like myself again. Put on makeup, go for walks, watch a movie. At some point, you just put two feet on the ground a move. With Hannah, similarly, I started to do things that made me feel human again. I cooked and baked. I did something I enjoyed. It was winter, so I was kinda stuck. But again, at some point you just put two feet on the ground and get up.

So yes, I will be pretty honest with those new friends I am making and those new relationships I am forming.

Survivor’s Guilt

Survivor’s Guilt. If I asked you to think of a definition, most people would say the “I should have been me” kind. I think that is the most common. I think a lot of people who we’re at the world trade center on 9/11 when they should have been feel that way. Similarly, those that fought in battle. Anything traumatizing. In my opinion, there are different kinds of survivor’s guilt. I personally can think of three more different ones.

I Should Have Done More

We all call this the “shoulda, coulda, woulda”. In the aftermath of some event, so many people think that SHOULD have done something. This can be seen when someone close kills themselves. They’ll say “I should have seen the signs” or “If they would have talked to me, I could have helped”. I can only speak from my personal experience, but I often think this when I think of Hannah. I assumed I had really bad gas. That is truly what I assumed. It didn’t feel like what I believed contractions were supposed to feel like. For the longest time, I kept saying I should have known, then I could have saved her, and she would be here. Then everyone tells me, “but Abigail…” One thing I try to tell myself, is I don’t know what would have happened. I’ll never know. But telling me about my daughter just adds another layer of guilt. So advice to those that have a friend who is experiencing this survivor’s guilt, listen and don’t say something to add more guilt. Don’t tell me that I wouldn’t have Abigail now. She’s the light of my life. But I love both of my daughters. Missing Hannah, saying those things, it doesn’t diminish the love I have for her sister.

It’s All On Me

Similarly, after a loved one dies unexpectedly, this feeling occurs. Again, from my personal experience, I feel SO MUCH anxiety because the memory of my mom and sister lies with me. First it started with the physical items. Since I was next of kin, I had to go through the house, I had to go to the bank, I had to talk to different companies. It was stressful. I also had to make the funeral arrangements, and decide on those matters. Hell, I also had to decide if the plea deal offered was good enough or go to trial. I mean, it was a lot. Then, after all of the physical was taken care of, I feel like keeping their memory was one me. Yes, we have extended family members and friends. But who else, but a daughter and sister who lived with them knows the nitty gritty. I also know that if I admit that my sister and I were at each other’s throats or that I had some resentment towards my parents, I’m a terrible person. Say the wrong thing, and people will attack you. It’s actually quite stressful. So then, people make you feel guilty because the deceased can’t defend themselves.

Moving Forward

The final survivor’s guilt is the fact that you are moving forward with your life. But you always have at least a toe in the past. Honestly, I have a family member make me feel this way quite often. I try to be nice and keep in contact with them, but this person just can’t talk to me. And then I feel guilty because I’ve moved forward with my life. I got married, got a new job, had a baby. There is someone who makes the grief like a competition. “I’m sadder than you”, “I can’t function, so I miss them more.” It isn’t a competition, nor should it be. I also shouldn’t feel guilty for moving forward, I know they’d want me to. But here I am, always feeling guilty.

I’m Terrible At This: But Here’s An Update

I’ve been awful about blogging. Honestly, I don’t have enough time. Plus, at the moment, we’re down to one laptop, and my husband uses it for work. So it’s been MONTHS since I’ve posted anything. Plus, my little one naps less and is active more. I try to spend as much time as I can with her. If blogging was my job, I would have to fire myself; haha! But here I am, with the time I have. I could use my phone or iPad, but it’s not easy typing on a screen. It’s also not as satisfying.

Well, the first update is, we moved. Not far. Probably about 5 minutes away from our old place. But it’s nice. Our daughter has her own room now. We live somewhere with SIDEWALKS. Seriously, when we buy a house, sidewalks in the neighborhood is a MUST. You don’t realize those things as find places to live. I mean, my first place with my husband, I didn’t think I needed to check the windows for screens. And when we realized there were no screens, the landlord wouldn’t pay to put them in because they showed the place without screens. But that’s how you learn.

Also, my daughter will be eight months old on Saturday. WHAT?!? When did that happen? How is January only 4 months away? I just had her! She has quite the little personality (and temper). Honestly, her temper is from not getting what she wants. So at least there’s a reason. But her eyebrows get so red when she’s mad, it’s hilarious. She has two teeth coming in, poor thing. And she is SO close to crawling. Again, HOW??? We’ve been giving her food. At the moment we’re doing mostly puree. We attempted baby led weaning, and she just didn’t take to it. We are slowly giving her our food. She loves food.

Throughout this parenthood process, my husband and I have learned a lot. First off, the Aldi brand diapers are not bad. They definitely don’t knock my socks off, but they work. We have already started clearance/garage sale shopping her clothes for 12months and up. Seriously, why spend THAT much on clothes? Save money on experiences. We actually went to Bears Training Camp with her this year and had a lot of fun. We hope to take her to the zoo soon. Not sure how she would like it, but I figure, there’s only way to find out. On the topic of clothes, I have also learned that oxyclean and clorox (the one for colors) is amazing. If you haven’t tried it, you should. Every time she has a blowout, I rinse then soak the outfit in warm water and those powders. Stain lifts right out and it doesn’t irritate my daughter’s skin.

I do have a few rants though. First off, why is it so difficult to find just baby pants? Mainly for girls. And I mean affordable and just the pants. The leggings are either super boring, or only 12 months and up! Walmart has some cute ones if they haven’t been cleared out. Carters has some too. But everyone goes to those stores. And who designed the pajamas that go over the head? Not the separates. Like the whole body PJ’s that you have to go over the head in order to put it on. I mean, the ones I have are SUPER cute, but I don’t gravitate towards them because they are so difficult to put on!

I’ll try to be better about blogging or coming up with ideas. I really liked the dress code one. I actually did my research on them too.

5 Years

Mom and Sam's resting place

June 8, 2019 marks 5 years. 5 years since I lost my mom and sister. 5 years since my family unit was taken away.

I could talk about their character, how much I miss them, and memories, but I have done that at least 3 times a year for the past 5 years. Of course they deserve to be remembered. Actually, they deserve to here, but at this point, I have nothing different or more I can share. This year some new thoughts have come to mind, one thing we have lost is the chance to make new memories.

I started thinking about that as I am creating memories with my new family. Maybe my daughter won’t remember that pretend sneezing sends her into a laughing frenzy, or the first trip she took to Minnesota, but I will remember that. And I plan to have more memories with my daughter. That’s something my mom and sister no longer get to do; make memories. The memories we have of them is all that we have. They weren’t there on my wedding day or when I was pregnant with my first, Hannah. They weren’t there when my daughter passed away or when my grandmother passed away a few months later. I didn’t get to tell them about my honeymoon to Italy or about Spring Training. My sister didn’t get to go across the stage and get her high school diploma or start/graduate college. My mom didn’t get to see the game when the White Sox retired Konerko’s number (that was HER guy after all).

Something else I’ve realized is the fact that I can’t remember their voices. I have some home videos, but if I play things in my head, it’s not the same. Every memory I have in my mind is silent or what I think their voices sound like. Or it is rooted in pictures and a few home movies. I know it’s cheesy, to say, but Denny Duquette (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) on Grey’s Anatomy said this quote, and it’s incredibly true, “Moments. That’s all you get with the people you love.” I never understood the meaning before I lost my mom and sister. I knew what it meant, but it’s so different living through it.

So at the end of this blog, I will just share a few pictures of my memories. And I ask you all to hold on to the memories you have with those you hold dear.

Honoring my mom at my wedding
Honoring my sister at my wedding
A portrait done by our church.
My mom and I in my grandmother's backyard
My mom helping out my sister's preschool for a day.
Us in our Korean Dresses at my cousin's wedding.
Sam and I at Niagra Falls

TV Births vs. Real Life Births

We’ve all see the births on television. The overly dramatized craziness that is associated with labor: the water breaks then the husband and/or friends and family race to the hospital to await the arrival of the new little one. In the more comedic interpretations, the fathers (or males) do something ridiculous. I think we can all agree, Labor and Delivery is nothing like that.

Screaming During Labor: Think about the scenes when the woman is pushing. She is screaming and swearing. Examples: Knocked Up; Katherine Heigel’s character is screaming and pushing, Glee; Quinn is screaming “I hate you” over and over to Puck. In reality, you have to hold your breath to push. Air takes up space, and you need to fill the extra space to help push the baby out. Maybe while contracting before pushing there’s screaming. I’ve been told by others that they screamed, but I didn’t. Nor did I hear anyone else doing any kind of screaming on my floor.

Oxygen Mask: Between pushing, I used an oxygen mask. I have never seen that with television/movie births. BOY, am I glad they had the mask for me. Pushing a baby out is HARD work, so you will get winded. The oxygen mask helps you get a little bit so you can take in that deep breath and push.

Water Breaking: Sometimes the water will break, sometimes it won’t. For me, the doctor had to break it. On TV they make it seem like this big dramatic thing.

Labor Can Last Days: So in almost ALL Hollywood interpretations, contractions start and you go to the hospital. There are three parts of delivery: Inactive Labor, Active Labor, and Pushing (delivering). I had a friend who was in inactive labor for two days before she was actually admitted into the hospital. I was contracting irregularly for 24 hours before going to the hospital (planned induction). I have a friend who believes she was in labor for 36 hours before they admitted her.

Baby Cries: The baby may not cry right away. I think it took about a minute before we heard our daughter cry. It probably wasn’t that long, but it felt like it took forever. TV makes it sound like the crying is instantaneous. But in reality, they have to get the gunk out of the baby’s mouth and nose.

After Delivery: Well, of course know you will probably be in the hospital for a few days. Personally, I was there 3 nights and 4 days because I had a c-section. Things they don’t show. The mesh panties, or as Ali Wong refers to it, “Asian Pear Underwear”. You’re sore as well. The after delivery is just overall, not fun.

Remember, this is just my experience with childbirth. Maybe you experienced some of the thing I didn’t. Tell me how childbirth was different for you or similar.

Traveling With An Infant

Now, I don’t pretend that I am some expert on travel or travelling with a little one. But, I just want to share my personal experience traveling with my 4 month old.

This past weekend, we went on a 6 hour road trip to Minnesota. It was super quick, but really nice to see family. A few of the family members I’ve never met. Here are my tips on how to get through the trip.

Pre-Trip: If you’re one of those last minute packers, having a little one makes that difficult. Break up the packing into chunks. Throughout the week, do laundry, pack, and make lists. It truly makes everything just a little easier.

Normally when it comes to packing, I try not to overpack. Maybe an extra outfit in case it rains, I get wet, have my period, etc. With my daughter, who tends to have blowouts or will just pee mid diaper change, I packed a few extra outfits. You just never know with little ones right? I didn’t pack TOO many extra diapers since I could go to Walgreens, Target, etc any time to pick up more.

On the Trip: Make a stop every couple of hours. Ours was a 6 hour trip and we had to stop every two to two and a half hours. One thing I forgot to do was keep some bottles in an easy to reach place. That’s the key, things you will most likely need, keep within reach. I would also put lotion and Aquaphor on your infant’s neck. My daughter had an awful rash from her neck rolls. That was another thing I forgot to do.

When you get to your location, try to keep some of your home routine. Infants are all about routines. Times may be off, but the actual act will be good to have. I put lotion on my daughter just before bedtime every night. So she knows that means bedtime.

Post-Trip: Be prepared, no matter what you do, your kid will be thrown off when you get home. We got home Sunday evening, and she was not herself Monday or Tuesday. Tuesday I could NOT get her down to sleep at night for the life of me. But my advice, keep with the routine. So far, my husband says our daughter is doing great today. Crossing my fingers tonight is better.

Mother’s Day: There’s the Joy and the Sorrow

Mother’s Day will forever be a bittersweet holiday for me. This year is the first one in four years that I will have a reason to celebrate.

Almost five years ago I lost my mother. The first mother’s day was rough for me, and that was something I completely expected. Though honestly, the second mother’s day after was harder. I think I expected the first one to be hard, so it didn’t feel as difficult as I expected. The second one stung for me. I was coming up on my wedding shower and wedding; that’s when it really hit that my mom was GONE.

Last year gave me a double whammy. In January, I lost my daughter. I’ve talked about why many times. May 16th was my due date. So I should’ve been close to having or already had my daughter. I won’t lie, that stung a lot. So having no daughter and no mom of my own, it really stung (I didn’t know I was expecting yet).

This year, I have a reason to celebrate. My beautiful rainbow is four months old, and growing everyday! I’m happy she’s here. She brings me more joy than I thought I could ever experience.

So this year I want to say Happy Mother’s Day to ALL Mother’s.

New moms, expecting moms, veteran moms, those who lost their little ones, and those lost their moms (and any other categories I may have forgotten)