My Story - Part 3 (2020)
I won’t go into too much detail about every little thing when I was admitted to the hospital (happy to do a separate post, but only if ya’ll want), but basically no doctor believed it was preeclampsia because it was so early. Well, they believed it was preeclampsia, but they thought something was going on my kidneys that was causing it. Turns out, it was the preeclampsia causing my kidneys to suck. At 22 weeks 5 days, we said goodbye to our sweet boy and AJ and I have never been the same.
We came home to a sterile house. Our friends were incredible. They took down our Christmas decorations and cleaned our house top to bottom and made us SO much food. People sent flowers and plants and gifts. We have never been so grateful. But our home was sterile and empty. And our nursery was filled with boxes for built in bookshelves and a car seat and gifts for our sweet boy. We couldn’t look in there. We were both a mess. I had 6 more weeks to get better physically before needing to head back to work and I was determined in those 6 weeks to find a higher purpose and be able to NOT go back to work.
Turns outs, grieving and healing physically takes a whole hell of a lot out of you. I didn’t have time to find my higher purpose at the time. Shit, I still don’t know if I have it figured out totally. But towards the end of my leave, I did start feeling better enough to start a blog. I started it once but I didn’t have enough answers about my health or my life to feel like I could keep moving forward. I knew I had a story to tell, but I couldn’t make sense of it. So finally, two years later, I’m trying again.
I went back to work on March 3rd 2020…a Monday. I walked into the office and the topic of conversation in the HR department was “we need to start thinking about how we’re going to handle this Covid thing if it gets serious.”
I was planning on having a conversation with my HR manager about being able to work from home a few days a week the week I went back to work, because I still wasn’t mentally in the game, and I was tired and still pretty sick. I had been far enough along in my pregnancy that I was experiencing a LOT of wonderful postpartum symptoms and it was pretty miserable. Plus, I was still on this whole “There’s got to be more for me out there” kick.
But, I only had to hold on for 2 weeks. March 15th 2020 was my last day in the office for what was supposed to be only 2 weeks. Then July of 2020, I was supposed to go back into the office, but only a few days a week…but that was fleeting and my company decided to keep our return to office date open ended. And after conversations with my boss, even when that return to office did happen, I was only going to go back to the office 1 day a week. It was finally time to settle in at home and really make home ours.
I loved being at home and being able to be outside in the warm weather. I took calls from the patio, I took walks at lunch and because I was home, I started doing a lot more cooking and getting comfortable in the kitchen. It was kind of forced at first because for all of March and April 2020, AJ and I ate absolutely no take out food. And then in May, we started ordering delivery or pick up and it wasn’t until the summer that we’d sit outside at a restaurant. So I spent a LOT of time at home….and needed hobbies besides working.
In June we bought a small raised garden bed that we put together and planted a few tomato plants and pepper plants. Really anything that was left at Home Depot because it was slightly late in the season. And I fell in love with the garden. I loved watching something grow. I loved watering the plants and seeing them flourish. I felt responsible for these plants. Responsible for their well being and responsible for them growing enough to help feed us. And I loved it. It was thrilling. I wanted more.
Ok so now I’m getting to the good stuff about how Zac Efron, a 20+ year friendship and a dietitian in Cleveland fit into the picture.
Summer of 2020 a documentary called Down to Earth came out on Netflix. Netflix REALLY capitalized on the pandemic in the best way with direct to Netflix shows. Tiger King, anyone? Yea, we watched that in about 3 days. Lol. But anyway, AJ and I watched Down to Earth in about 3 days too. The premise of it is Zac Efron traveled the world visiting different countries and experiencing their culture and how they are contributing to sustainability for the earth. Glacier hot springs in Iceland, water in France, and blue zones in Sardinia, Italy were some of the topics. I was intrigued by this concept of Blue Zones. I think maybe because the episode took place in Sardinia, which is near where my family is from. What is a blue zone you say? It’s 5 areas around the world (Sardinia, Loma Linda, California; Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya, Costa Rica; and Ikaria, Greece) where there are the most centurions (people over 100) per capita. And why these 5 places? Well, probably a lot of factors, but a massive one is their lifestyles. Limited screen time, low stress, fresh healthy homemade food, and friends and family…and in Sardinia, red wine. I was intrigued by this because well 1. Zac Efron. Duh and 2. I had really been watching my eating since leaving the hospital because of my blood pressure. I really wanted to come off my meds so I was trying to watch my sodium intake and cook more at home, but I still wasn’t super comfortable in the kitchen. But I was intrigued.
Life went on after the documentary was over and we decided it was a really brilliant idea to bring home Nora Jean at the end of July 2020 and she ruled my life for a few months. When I wasn’t working, I was taking care of her. And like the plants in the garden, it was so fulfilling to take care of her. I felt like I was nurturing her and raising her. We started taking her to an obedience class and I loved watching her be the best. It made me feel like a proud mommy.
The fall of 2020 did no favors for my health and eating. My dad was diagnosed with a bad aortic valve and an aortic aneurysm that would require surgery on December 31st 2020. 16 years to the day from when he had his stroke, 18 years to the day we had a celebration of life for my grandfather who died of congestive heart failure, but also 6 years to the day since I met AJ. Needless to say, heart disease is a thing in my family. So I was stressed and freaked out about my own heart health so I went to a cardiologist to check my ticker and turns out it’s all good. There was some concern that my dad’s issues are genetic, so my siblings and I all needed to get checked. But after his surgery we found out it wasn’t genetic so that was a weight lifted off our shoulders. But also, on top of that stress, every Wednesday when we took Nora to training, we got sushi or Taco Bell for dinner. It was NOT a good habit.
All the while I was still having follow ups with doctors. Maternal fetal medicine doctors, gynecologists, my nephrologist, the works. Not one of my doctors said I SHOULDN’T get pregnant again but they also never said I SHOULD either. We actually decided in December to do some genetic testing on my kidneys to determine whether or not it was a genetic issue that caused my preeclampsia and what that meant for future pregnancies. I mean shit, I had hit my out of pocket max that previous January, so why the hell not? Without insurance (that’s a topic for another day) that testing would have cost $6K so I figured, lets do it now!
I wouldn't get the results until February of 2021...