My First Year as a Mom: a letter to Avery

Dear Avery, my little love,

I can’t believe it’s been a year already. Everyone says how quickly the first year flies by and, boy, are they right. And, Avery, I think we made it through with flying colors.

When you came into this world at 5:43 PM on Saturday, April 1st 2017, I was so excited to meet you. Nine months is a long time, so when I went in for my weekly OB appointment at 38 weeks on Friday morning, they told me that I had really high blood pressure and that it was time! Eeek! To be honest, I was terrified! I felt unprepared and was definitely not looking forward to the pain that labor and deliver brings, but I was finally going to meet you!

Meeting you for the first time was incredible. I loved you immediately. And the love was so much stronger than I ever expected it to be. Truthfully, I never thought I could love someone as much as I love your Dad, but the love I felt for you blew that out of the water. It was so intense at times, it felt like my heart was going to explode. It was the deepest, most powerful love I have ever felt, and it only gets stronger and stronger everyday.

But, I won’t lie. The first three months were so challenging at times. The days were long, exhausting, overwhelming, and sometimes I didn’t think I could make it another day. Thank goodness Nana was around (who loves to call you ‘Baby Duck-Duck’) and Dad was home for the summer to help us through those first few months. Even though neither of us knew what we were doing, we did the best we could and made it through those crazy first months in one piece. We even managed to go on a camping trip – even if it was just for one night! No, I don’t think that was the craziest thing we did during those first few month – we planted a travel bug in you early on and took you on your first airplane trip to Boston! Dad had some work to do and since I was still on maternity leave, I figure why not! You were so well-behaved on the plane – you didn’t make a peep! I hope you are always well-behaved on future airplane adventures!

Breastfeeding started out rocky, you were always hungry and I always felt like I wasn’t feeding you enough. Watching you while you breastfeed was beautiful, but the pain I felt afterwards was excruciating. There were times I would disrupt you’re feedings cause I was in so much pain and you’d cry cause you were still hungry and I would cringe when it came time for the next feed. Eventually we figure out a system that worked for the both of us which involve a lot of pumping and midnight nursing that I’m PROUD to say that you had mama’s milk for a WHOLE YEAR! Woohoo!

When you turned 6 months old, everything changed for the better. You were a little older and your Dad and I were a little wiser, so our days together started to become a wonderful adventure. You were baptized, you started sitting up all by yourself, you started to eat solids and loved it and you laughed a whole lot. (Oh, how I love your laugh. It is music to my ears.) Things started to get much easier and our family really started to get into a groove. The best part of all is that Grammy stayed with us to help care for you while I went back to work! I don’t know how we could have done it without the help of Grammy – she made our life so much more manageable! The bond you guys have is just the cutest thing – you both enjoy watching Wheel of Fortune together, the mini arguments you guys have over the missing remote control, how you always stay so still when it comes time for Grammy to cut your nails! Oh, and let’s not forget about you’re biggest adventure and that was taking you’re first international trip to London & Paris! Again, you were so well behaved on the plane and you enjoyed all the different types of baby foods you were eating!

At 10 months, I wanted to freeze time. What a fun age! Even though, I say this at every stage of your life now, 10 months was another turning point for me. We really started to see your personality develop. You were (and still are) Mr. Serious when you meet new people or experience new places, but as soon as you’re comfortable, you turn into your silly, smart, and inquisitive self. At 10 months, you were also crawling like a maniac, pulling yourself up on everything, and “talking” & “screaming” our ears off. (I think you’re a lot like me in this way since I get excited when I talk) What’s even more impressive is that you managed to master the ‘WALK’ at 11 months! You’re going to walk like a boss to your first birthday party this weekend! You’re growing up so fast, and it’s such an exciting time for all of us and a bit sad for me!

And just one more thing to tell you, even though it will probably sound a little cheesy: Sometimes when I’m rocking you or watching you sleep, I feel the urge to cry because you mean so much to me. You have brought so much happiness and love into our lives this past year, and there isn’t a single day that I haven’t appreciated how lucky we are to have you as our son.

Happy 1st birthday, Avery. You’re the love of my life, and I’m so proud to be your mom. Dad and I love you so much.

Love,
Mama

NATIONAL HAIRSTYLIST APPRECIATION DAY

I’m remembering summer of 2013 after my first surgery when they were unable to remove my tumor, I was scheduled to start having chemotherapy. I was terrified of course, but more so terrified of losing my hair. You’re probably thinking this should be the least of my worries (and it was), but it’s still a big part of who I am – it’s my comfort, my personality, my femininity, and especially a big boost in my self-esteem. It’s days like this I can’t help but acknowledge those who share in my love of hair!

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I just want to give a brief shout out to my hair colorist Tia from Canvas Studio in Renton. She does an amazing job with getting the color I want and she’s really easy to work with. Plus she loves to travel so it makes sitting on that chair much more comfortable when we get to share our travel stories!
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Check her out or follow her on IG for great color/cut ideas!

IT’S MY CANCERVERSARY and I’LL [CRY, LAUGH, CELEBRATE, FREAK OUT] IF I WANT TO…

We’re all blessed with milestones- occasions that come around each year that you either dread or celebrate, or perhaps both. The most common — birthdays — are universal and completely out of our control, but you never forget your birthday (even if everyone else does). Anniversaries, in the most common form, are the day you celebrate a partnership. Or perhaps you note each year the anniversary of someone’s passing. As we get older, these last type of anniversaries tend to accumulate.

When you are a cancer survivor, you have an additional date that is etched in your memory like your social security number. Your cancerversary. For many of us, we use the date we were diagnosed – but for others like myself, I like to use the date that I had my last(fingers cross) surgery…when the tumor was removed.

For me that date is August 4, and I’m now a 1-year cancer survivor.

For the last several weeks, I thought about my upcoming cancerversary with a combination of pride, dread, sadness, happiness, and relief. Sound schizophrenic? Welcome to life as a cancer survivor. I’m still ways away from the seemingly magical 5-year mark, where I get to let out a huge, audible sigh of relief and consider myself “out of the woods.” After all that 5-year mark is universally known as the “all clear” mark, and there’s no question that people equate it as close to a cure as you can get.

You’re probably wondering what does one do to celebrate a cancerversary? Go out to dinner? Pop open a bottle of Dom Perignon? Buy yourself something pretty?

For me….I threw a LUAU!!!
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I wanted to celebrate by being with friends and families, many of whom were there for me this past year and the previous year before. I still can’t thank everyone enough for being there for me and my family. I will be forever grateful.

In many ways I feel like I have lived a lifetime since July 2013 – when I first found out about my cancer. In that time I have gone through so much. This year has already started out better than the one before. And the next one will be even better. I look forward to many more cancerversaries and celebrations to come!

I wanted to end this post with a song that summed up what my life has been like. How I have been able to get through it all with my head up. With words I had to remind myself of every single day. When I didn’t feel like getting out of bed.

And I found it. Thank you, Rachel Plateen. I will always continue to FIGHT!

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Thank you guys for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers!

Special thanks to Chris for letting me turn your home into my Hawaiian oasis!! Joleen for my amazing flyer design! Tyler for the great beats! Jael for the delicious “F%$# CANCER” cake! Uncle Ranola for the well-built & fun tiki bar. Mel, Jaimz, Vi, Mich, Nancy, Gary, & Patti for helping with food & décor! Last but not least, thank you Ry for everything…for putting up with me!!!
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