Every Moment

I stand above this little girl, so peaceful and innocent, with skin that glows in a way that says nothing’s ever touched it. I watch her breathe in and out, hear the noises she makes in her sleep, and I think of a time when she was nothing but a dream. She was never supposed to exist, at least not without lots of medication, months of tracking schedules, years and years of waiting. Yet here she is, in the flesh, so full of love and happiness. She’s my little miracle, life’s greatest gift.

I’ll never forget the day that little plus sign turned blue, the disbelief in my veins, the look of shock on my face. I’ll never forget the first time I heard her heart beat, fast like a hummingbird, strong like a hoofbeat. I’ll never forget the night I first felt her kick, so subtle I almost missed it, but so monumental. I was so in tune with every little change. I embraced every moment, loved every single day. Even now, as I watch her dream in her sleep, I still miss when we were one, her growing in my belly.

But not a thing in this world, matches the love and peace I feel, when I watch my baby sleep like the world is standing still. I catalogue every second, snapshots in my head. I’ll memorize every moment, from her birth until my death. I don’t want to forget a thing, any step on this journey. Because the best thing I’ve been, is this little girl’s mommy.

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

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Ask Me Anything Monday

This is a little fun exercise I used to do last year that fell into obscurity between working and being pregnant. Soooo, I’m giving it a shot again. If you’re interested, ask away 🙂 

Submit any questions, queries, or random wonderings you may have! 🙂 As always, it can be a personal question about me or my life or it can be completely random. And I promise to answer it as completely and honestly as I can! There are no rules or limitations. Let’s go! 
Much love,

Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Being A Mom…

The love of my life, my reason for living, my motivation to be more, be better, be everything… weighs just over 9 pounds and has existed for all of 6 weeks. 

I get the greatest peace from watching her sleep and I use the edges of my fingers to wipe the milk off her cheek. And there has never been happiness like this before. 

She is everything I have ever wanted…and so much more. And I never knew what love was until I met her. I remember imagining it, fantasizing about it, thinking I could understand it. And now? Now I understand that I could’ve never been more wrong before. I could never have dreamt this. Imagination, in all its freedom, isn’t capable of wrapping it’s fingertips around even the essence of how much a mother loves her child. There isn’t a mind in the world that can conjure the way it feels to look in eyes you made for the very first time. There is no poem or song or perfect set of words that could even come close to describing the way it hurts to love someone so fucking much. Nothing could describe the way that one moment changes your entire life. It’s just not really real until they cry. But once you’ve labored and pushed and gutted your insides all to make this little person “really” be alive and they cry the first time? Everything is different. The bottom has just dropped out and everything you once knew is now different. Your beliefs and what matters to you changes. You see everything from this whole new perspective that you never knew existed. The world is full of dangers and all the sudden you sense it…

I could never know that love could be so big and whole and all encompassing that it’s almost suffocating… but in the most incredible way. I never knew love could be so utterly, completely, and wholeheartedly terrifying. The moment I first laid eyes on her I felt more love and sheer terror in the same instant than I ever have in my life. And I wasn’t afraid of breaking her. 9 1/2 months of her kicking inside me taught me just how strong she is. No, I wasn’t afraid of dropping her. I wasn’t afraid of being alone with her (much). I wasn’t afraid of all the things people talk about. I was and am afraid of all the things parents WON’T talk about. All the things that suddenly become too terrifying to say out loud. 

I am terrified of never being enough. Of never being able to give her the whole world I know she deserves. I am terrified of everything the world may someday do to her. Of the things she’ll have to endure. Of the pain she’ll have to feel. Of the feelings that will get hurt and the cries I won’t be able to console. I am terrified of SIDS and rapists and kidnappers and bad drivers and the blanket getting too high on her face and that funny gasp she makes when she’s asleep. I am so utterly afraid of losing her that the thought literally makes me sick to my stomach and not just because of what I would lose; but because of this incredible little person that the world would lose. I don’t think I could survive it; because this love I have for her is so enormous that if I don’t have someone to give it to, I’m pretty sure I would cease to exist. 

I am also afraid of her pain. Because it cuts so deep it feels like it’s gutting me. When she was a week old she had an allergic reaction to her diapers. This reaction left her with two chemical burns on her cute little butt cheeks. And she screamed. And screamed. And screamed some more. And I felt like I was being gutted. Like I had failed as a parent. Like if I was good enough I could make it all go away and the fact that I couldn’t made me insane. Powerlessness has never felt so real. Or hurt so much. All I could do was buy nine kinds of butt paste, use washcloths instead of baby wipes, give her baths and turn my heat up so she could lie naked and air out. I did everything right and logically I knew that. But being a parent taught me that even when I do everything right, I will still always want to give her more. I wanted to snap my fingers and make it go away. I wanted to find the magic butt paste that would heal it in a day. But it took two weeks. And in those two weeks I did everything. I consoled her, cried with her, gave her to her dad so I could take a breather, bounced her, rocked her, and ran home to my mom. Because Gigi is magic and could make the crying stop. Being a parent taught me that my child being in pain hurts me far worse than any pain I’ve endured myself. 

Being a parent taught me that it will never be about me again. And it shouldn’t be. Every choice I make, action I take, and decision I weigh is now premised by “How will this effect her?” I drive slower, eat better, am much calmer, and I’m constantly trying to be the best version of me I can be. And every single day I fall short of what I think she deserves. But I know being good enough for her means questioning whether or not I’m good enough for her and that my very fear of never being enough is exactly what makes me enough. Because I will always work harder for her. I will always push further. I will always do everything I can to be the woman that she can look up to the way I look up to my mom.  

Being a mom taught me that I can love someone with every ounce and inch of my existence and that loving like that feels like the greatest blessing I’ve ever been given. Being a mom made me more forgiving of other moms because now I know just how hard it is and I also know that I probably still don’t have any idea of how hard it can get. Being a mom taught me that I know nothing; but also, that my intuition can tell me anything. I know which cry means hungry and which one means bored. I know when she’s in pain and when she just needs to be swaddled. I know when I’m just too exhausted and stressed out and she can sense it in me and it’s time to go to Gigi and get some help. I know that something as simple as “having a gassy baby” can mean non stop crying for hours of the day that could drive any parent crazy. I know that giving a bath to a 7, 8, 9 pound baby can be terrifying… and slippery.

But above all else, I know that no other little face in the world can make me melt the way hers does. I know that I will never be this tied to another human being in so many ways ever again. I know that I need to cherish everyday, even the bad ones, because they will all fly by far too quickly. Being a mom has taught me that I could never have known just how blessed I would feel when given the incredible gift of molding and loving another human being. There just aren’t enough words… We don’t have the right words to even come close to expressing this. But hey, I tried…

by Ashley King 

© All Rights Reserved 2017

8 Months Pregnant & Crazy Busy!

It has been way too long since I’ve written on here so I figured I would at least attempt to get something written down! First of all, thank you to all the readers who are still checking out my older posts and showing them love! I appreciate you! 🙂

Ahhh life, it’s been insane lately! I’m currently 34 weeks and 5 days pregnant and I’m loving every second of it! Truly. I know that makes some pregnant women hate me but I can’t help it (nor would I want to). There’s nothing in this world like feeling my healthy, amazing daughter kick around and do somersaults in the very core of my being. She means the entire world to me and I don’t doubt that I would do absolutely anything for her. Due to my jacked up ovaries I get ultrasounds every 4 weeks (another thing mommies to be hate me for) and I love getting to see her beautiful little face and hear her strong heartbeat so often. I think I would go crazy if I didn’t get to. She always clocks in in the 140 range as far as beats per minute and she’s been steadily gaining weight the entire time. At our last U/S they said she weighed 4 pounds 13 ounces! I’m carrying that around; not to mention the puppies a little further up north! She’s such an active baby and I can’t express how supremely grateful I am for that. I struggled with crippling fear that something would go wrong in the beginning of my pregnancy. That subsided somewhat once I started being able to feel her move but really, I was still nervous until I hit the point where she was considered viable even outside of the womb. That helped a lot. The chances of anything going wrong are much slimmer now. But the birth? That’s where the fear lives now. However, I find myself feeling strangely calm about giving birth despite the many things that “could” go wrong. Granted that may very quickly disappear once the time comes haha. But so far I find myself feeling as if everything will be okay, and I have faith in my ability to bring my daughter safely into this world. I’m much more afraid of the hospital making a mistake or something happening to me than I am of anything happening to her. I just have this calming feeling that she will make it onto this plane of existence healthy and whole, without any hitches.

bebe-2
The Single Greatest Love I’ve Ever Felt…

 

She is the light of my life. I questioned whether or not I would be able to have kids for many years due to my screwy ovaries but I don’t think anything in this world could’ve stopped her from being conceived. I believe with every inch of my being that she was truly meant to be here and it is my job to make sure she is healthy, loved, and cared for. It is my job to raise her into someone who will make this world better, not worse. It’s my job to give her a safe place to exist, to grow and develop, to learn and evolve. It is my greatest blessing to be the person who is to give her unconditional love and acceptance. It is my responsibility to provide her with an environment where honesty is acceptable, where her spirit can be exactly who it is and who it’s meant to be. And I have never felt more honored, or humbled, by anything else in my entire life. I believe that in some ways, people are who they are; but we’d be crazy to think that nature doesn’t play a significant role in the whole “nature vs. nurture” argument. Parents play an enormous role in what their children grow up to value, to appreciate, to believe in. Some of these things are left up to chance; but a portion of them are definitely instilled by the things and values that they’re raised around. My mommy raised me to value honesty above almost anything else. She also instilled in my siblings and I the importance of looking out for the little guy. To never be a bully, to defend the underdog. To be kind and strong. To stand up for ourselves without putting others down. To defend family; and that family does not always mean blood relation. She taught us many things and the older I get, the more I realize how much of who I am today I owe to her. I can only hope to have that same positive impact on my own child. God knows I’ve been shown a lot of what to do and what not to do.

The closer I get to these kicks and jabs and tumbles becoming a breathing, screaming, eating little person the more I can’t wait to meet her; and the more I know I’m going to miss being so close to her. Every night when I go to bed, I lie on my left side, place a pillow between my knees, wrap my right arm around my belly and tuck my right hand under the left side of my stomach. As I settle in, she does the same; slowly moving her body until her back is lying against the side of my stomach that’s touching the bed. She uses the side of my stomach as a hammock and kicks her little legs around until she gets in a comfortable position. Then she just relaxes, into the side of my stomach and the crook of the bed, her little hands and feet stretching out occasionally until she falls asleep. When I wake up in the morning I either roll onto my back or sit up and I feel her start to stir as she wakes up with me. Then she shimmies her way back to the middle of my stomach and does a bunch of twists and turns until she’s found her new comfortable position. As I wake up more, she wakes up more. Once I eat, she’s up and bouncing around, giving me many kicks and jabs to get to feel and smile at. I love this. I love it more than I’ve ever loved anything in the world.

bebe-1
Bebe girl using the left side of my stomach as hammock 🙂

My mom says she hasn’t seen anyone love being pregnant so much since my grandmother, and I feel honored to have that in common with her. My grandmother was one of the most incredible women I’ve ever met. She was endlessly loving and accepting and she had this way about her that put everyone around her at ease.  I remember the first time I met her (she was my foster grandmother mind you), I walked into her house and she greeted my mom and I at the door. She looked me up and down for a moment, gave me the warmest smile and a hug, and said “So you’re my new grand daughter? Are you hungry?” And then she fed me. We spent the afternoon talking about things I’d never discussed with adults before; like why Italian sculptures of men always have such tiny penises (they kept the rooms cold so no one would pop a boner) and what kinds of stupid and embarrassing things my new foster brother and sister had done in the past. Then as I was about to leave, my new grandmother stuck out her chest and said “Guess which one’s fake! Go ahead you can touch them!” See, I had just learned that afternoon that this incredibly warm woman had stage 4 breast cancer and had been fighting it for many years. She had gotten a single mastectomy at that point and was given a bra with one fake boob in it to hide the lack of breast tissue from her surgery. And she wanted to know if I could tell which boob was fake. So I grabbed a 60 something year old woman’s breasts. And the real kicker? I guessed the wrong one. I will never forget that woman for the rest of my life. Even in her last few years of life she never stopped smiling, she never withheld her love, she always hid her pain. Even when the neuropathy in her hands was so bad that soft fabric felt like razorblades, she still refused to let anyone else fold her towels. She was a powerhouse of a woman and she was just so fucking good. Everything about her was so good. If I can end up being half as strong, half as loving, half as incredible as her and my mother then my daughter will be just fine and will always know just how much she is loved. This is the legacy I want to carry on. Strong, loving women who take no shit from anyone and who defend their families. I am honored to be a part of this family and I am excited to bring my daughter into it. I can’t wait to see what kind of person she becomes with the many incredible influences that are going to be in her life. And I’m proud to say that today, I am one of those good influences. I have survived and overcome so much and I’ve done so without becoming a broken person. I can be a little rough around the edges and I’m definitely somewhat damaged but I am strong and loyal and compassionate. I am a survivor and a mother by nature and I will bend the earth over backwards and break it for this little girl. That is the least of what she deserves and the smallest bit of what I want to give her.

 

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016

Gratitude for My Bebe Girl

My little girl continues to grow every day 😍. We had a tiny scare recently when the last ultrasound said that she was 12 days too small and that the blood pressure in the umbilical cord was too high and could be stopping her from getting enough nutrients and oxygen. As it turns out though, they messed up my due date. So now Bebe V is due 1/18/17 instead of 1/7; which is fine by me because I’m still loving being pregnant. She was so active today and it was amazing. Granted she’s a very active Bebe as is, but I swear today she was making up for sleeping most of yesterday. It felt like someone was drumming their fingers all down the inside of my belly at one point.

I quite literally “lol’ed” because it tickled. I love it. I love this. I am so incredibly blessed and I refuse to lose sight of that. I feel like it is far too easy to get something you never thought you’d have and then take it for granted because you finally have it. Right now it’s easy for that not to happen because she amazes me everyday and this is all still so new and fun and beautiful. But I am determined to remain just as grateful even when it’s been 5 days since I’ve slept 3 hours in a row and she just threw up down my shirt…

I vividly remember being in the midst of thinking I couldn’t have children and seeing moms who were completely oblivious to how great of a gift they’d been given. I hated it. I hated that people who never wanted children (some even after they had them) seemed to get pregnant the easiest. I hated that they favored their phones and whatever man was in their life over their child. And I’m not a nazi people; we all need a break to just hang out and Facebook sometimes. But that is not the kind of people I’m talking about here. I watched one woman literally throw her child 5-6 feet away from her onto a couch because the little girl wanted a hug after the mom had been gone at work (and the boyfriend’s) for the last 15 hours and it annoyed her that her child wanted love. Because God forbid your flesh and blood miss you right?
I swore to myself that if I ever got the chance, I would embrace every moment, the marvelous and the maddening. And so far I have. Obviously I’m very early on in this journey through parenthood and I’m sure my sanity, my will, my everything will be tested within an inch of it’s life; but I won’t allow that to turn my child into my enemy or something that I take for granted. That sentence doesn’t even make sense to me honestly. I’ve seen people who act like that, but I just don’t get it. Being a parent is the highest honor and greatest responsibility that life has to offer. So why do so many lose sight of that? Or maybe they just never saw it that way to begin with….
But as I lie here in my safe, comfortable home and giggle as the life inside me makes my belly morph into insane shapes and practically vibrate from her furious kicking, I can’t help but feel like the luckiest woman alive. This child is a gift and a miracle. And I adore her more than anything or anyone in this world…

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2016

Afternoon Kicks 

Feeling this life that’s cradled inside me, is the closest to heaven that I’ll ever be. Her squirms and her punches, she kicks and she lunges. I never could’ve imagined being this lucky. This life inside me is nothing short of a blessing. 

I never thought I would get to have kids and then she surprised me, so unexpected. Now I’ve been blessed to feel her movements, and nothing so little has ever felt so big. It’s truly mind blowing that this is my kid. 

I wait for it each day, for her to wake up, and with each little kick, I fall more in love. She’s literally a part of me and part of me can’t grasp that, cause years ago I truly believed, that I would never really have this. 

I remember being bitter, jealous of other moms. It always seemed they took for granted, this gift I prayed to love. But the timing wasn’t right, I took a “not yet” as a “no”, and now my heart bleeds for those who will never get to know. I remember that pain all too well; and on some nights, it creeps in still. It tells me I’ll lose her, that she isn’t mine to keep, so I hold my belly and pray to God, to keep her healthy. However, part of me honestly believes, that this gift wouldn’t be given, to then be retrieved. So I talk to her and sing to her and revel in her kicks, praying every single day, that she survives until she lives. 

I love you Bebe. 

by Ashley Hebner 

© All Rights Reserved 2016

The Pregnant Woman’s Burden

Men and women experience pregnancy completely differently. This may seem like an obvious statement but ask any woman who has ever tried to explain “being tired” whilst pregnant to their partner and you’ll see what I mean… They don’t get it. I’m not sure they can get it. To them “tired” means a bad nights sleep; to the mama it means a profound form of exhaustion that’s equivalent to the 59th gate of hell. When they hear “hungry” they think of the hunger that comes with skipping lunch; meanwhile their wife just went from completely content to “need a 5 course meal or I will die” in 6.4 seconds. When they hear “I’m afraid something will go wrong” they think, “Everything is fine” and say as much. But I don’t think a person who has never carried a child could understand the fear, the obsession, the outright terror, and the painstaking attention spent on every minute bodily change that a pregnant woman goes through. What I’m about to write is just MY experience. But I know many women who’ve thought and felt the same as me. Maybe not all, but for those of you that can relate, you’ll get it. I need to write this here, because if I don’t put it somewhere, I may not make it to tomorrow without losing my mind.

I’ve wanted children for as long as I can remember. When I was 11 years old I told my mom that I was “put here to be a mom”. You can’t imagine the devastation I felt when at 17 I was told that I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), the leading cause of infertility in America. I spent the next 7-8 years getting a period every 9-18 months. I cringed when other women acted as if the absence of a period was a luxury to be had. My ex and I spent 2 years trying to conceive with no luck. I started to resent my body, hate it in fact. I wanted to will it to work. I wanted to curse it for failing to do “what all women should be able to do”. I felt like a failure; as a partner, as a woman, as a human being. I felt it to the core of my being with absolutely no compassion for myself. I openly admitted that if I was ever told I could not conceive that I would eat a bullet, because that would be a lesser pain than living in that reality. I also felt like a selfish bitch for being so disheartened when other women had spent their entire lives trying to get pregnant, had been told they were sterile, or had lost multiple babies. I knew if I ever did become pregnant that I would be at a much higher risk of miscarriage because of the PCOS and I knew I would obsess about it neurotically. I envied women who had kids without trying, I resented women who took their children for granted, and I wouldn’t walk anywhere near the baby section of any store for five fucking years. I cried, I prayed, I cursed the Gods. I thought it was impossible, tried to tell myself I could adopt, tried to make it something I could live with. All of this by 24 fucking years old. God forbid I had cut myself a break, right?

Then something crazy happened. My cycle went back to normal. I know that’s a lot of information, but this post isn’t for the faint of heart. For 10 months it was completely normal and the hope that I could be a mother someday, the same hope that had refused to die but instead remained hidden in the very bottom corner of my heart, started to blossom again. Every month I was the slightest bit late became a game of “You’re pregnant”, “No I’m not” between my partner and I. I just wasn’t willing to believe it was possible; at least not out loud. If it happened that was fine, a miracle really; but getting my hopes up all to have them dashed on the rocks of a negative pregnancy test? That was a pain I was unwilling to walk face first into. So I just assumed that month would come whenever it felt like, and it did. Then May 17th of 2016 happened. I was late and had all the usual symptoms of Aunt Flo being on her way; meaning my boobs hurt, I was bloated, I was eating way more, and was moody. My love was convinced I was pregnant, but he always was. Then all of the sudden my friends were too. Eventually I started to wonder myself. One day I noticed my ankles were swollen, on top of the rest of my symptoms, and I chose to buy the tests. Spending that money was immediately followed by constantly refusing to take them because “I didn’t have to pee” or “It wasn’t first thing in the morning”. Needless to say, my partner cracked and begged me to take one and said he would buy more if it was negative and my period still didn’t come. So I do the usual routine of peeing on the stick, saw that it said it had a “negative” symbol, and set it on the toilet bowl behind me. I got myself situated and turned around to grab it so I could show him and it wasn’t fucking negative anymore!

I always thought I would cry, or maybe scream, or possibly just pass out where I stood. I did none of the above. I just stared at it, squinting at the little plus sign like it would disappear if I blinked. And my jaw dropped. I walked into the living room with my hand over my mouth. My love is a decent sized man, more bulk muscle than lean. I have never seen a big man jump up and run over to me as fast as he did. The light in his eyes when he saw my face and said “WELL?!?!” was a sight I’ll never forget. I showed him the test, he smiled this enormous smile, and proceeded to just hold me for a few minutes. The first thing I remember saying was “Is that thing real?! That says pregnant!” And that’s how it started. 1,047 words later and I am finally at what I really want to write about. Are you one of those people who ignores a post that says it will take more than 4-5 minutes to read? Because I am some days. So if you’ve made it this far, I want to thank you. Thank you for reading this. You’ll be one of the few to know what it’s really like to be pregnant, in my head. This is my life today…

Being pregnant is feeling like I can’t do one more thing in the day, like I will absolutely crumble if I have to go on… this generally occurs around 11am. That’s slowly getting better but I seriously doubt I will ever go back to “normal” again. Being pregnant is despising the fact that I work at an onsite office with only 1 porta potty, that I share with 10 other men, when I have to pee 15 times a day. I drive to Wawa Monday through Wednesday. Being pregnant is being gut level terrified that something will go wrong. It’s being worried that I don’t eat enough dark green vegetables, that I ate too much cheesecake last month, or don’t consume enough protein. I’ve never obsessed about every single thing I put in my mouth so much. “Is shellfish okay? Can I survive without caffeine? Is two cups of coffee too much? Will it really hurt if I eat Ramen just this once because I’m too tired to function?” This is my life now. If I forget my prenantals for two days in a row (which has happened all of once) then I feel like I’ve irreparably damaged my baby. I have found myself absolutely hysterical while driving down the road, in the middle of my workday, because I am so afraid that when I go to this doctor’s appointment tomorrow this baby won’t have a heartbeat. I cycle between having faith and believing everything is okay, and being convinced that something is wrong. I then have to talk myself out of believing that because I’m worried that the stress of believing that will hurt the baby. I’m a fucking lunatic. I am terrified of losing this child. It is my greatest fear every single day.

I have these nightmarish daydreams of waking up covered in blood because I’ve lost my baby. Every single time I pee I check it for that same blood and then think about what a mess I would be if I was a woman who spotted throughout my pregnancy. I fall asleep every night praying to every God there is and to every dead relative I have to keep this baby safe. I lie there and try to will the Gods to make this baby move. I swear I felt “him” at 13 weeks; which is possible, but also unlikely. I wish I could just feel that again though. It gave me peace. My friend Lauren says I’ll feel better once I can feel him move but I’m afraid I’ll never make it there. I’m 16 weeks and 7 days pregnant. Women without PCOS are at a 15-25% risk of miscarriage; with PCOS, it’s closer to 45-50%. At 17 weeks, without PCOS, a woman is at a 3% risk of miscarriage. Since I have Type 2 PCOS, meaning no insulin resistance and no obesity, I shouldn’t have quite as high of a risk of miscarriage as some women, especially since I’ve gotten past the first trimester. But you know what? My mind doesn’t give a single flying fuck. I am still plagued with this gut wrenching, hysteria inducing, uncontrollable fear that the world’s greatest gift to be given will be taken from me. I pray to reach the day where my baby is in my arms, where he is “real” and tangible, where these fears transform into a world of other fears about actually raising and protecting him. I constantly struggle with feeling like this pregnancy “isn’t real yet”, despite my ever growing belly and boobs. I’ve only had one ultrasound and that was 8 weeks ago to confirm the pregnancy. Now I have another appointment tomorrow. I have been counting down the days for the last month, becoming more insane by the day. I want nothing more than to hear his heartbeat, to see him move, to know he is real; to hear and see that he IS there and he’s alive. I want that more than I have ever wanted anything.

But I’m not there yet. I’m here, typing to you in an attempt to not lose my fucking mind in the next 16 hours and 21 minutes until I am at the hospital, ready to be called in to find out the fate of this baby that I’ve done everything I could to protect. I am a breathing ball of fear and nerves and palpable insanity. I am a mother, for today at least…

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016