“Why do you feel like you need to prove something?” Judd asked me while I sobbed on the other end of the phone.

Just a few days earlier, I packed up my crew and headed west without him. I bit off more than I could chew. I’m admitting that now.

Sara and her crew came to stay for a couple of days last week. After a few overnights, we caravanned across mountain passes, over rivers, and on a ferry boat for a mini vacation, sans Judd. I started to wimp out when we hit Wenatchee. The thought of solo parenting (managing A’s diabetes, nursing a newborn, and corralling a 2 year old) coupled with traveling across the state had me panicking. In a way, I suppose I’m a bit of a masochist. I know it’s going to be painful; that I’ll be sleep deprived and depleted. Yet I jump in somewhat naïvely, hoping for a different outcome. Masochist or optimist? You tell me.

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We broke up the trip by overnighting at Sara’s in law’s in Cle Elum. All three kids ended up in bed with me: one with a juice box at his lips most of the night, another at my breast for four hours straight, and another thrashing and kicking most of the night. The next morning, I was in full fight or flight mode. My brain told me to flee back home– where routine and familiarity would’ve saved my mental health before it was too late. Unfortunately, that heart of mine won and I was fighting to continue the mini vacation I had romanticized in my mind. The kids needed to experience new scenery and I needed to catch up with my sweet friend that I hadn’t seen since last summer. I needed to show myself (?) that I was capable to doing this alone– that I didn’t need Judd.

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Our happy-go-lucky baby boy was far from happy-go-lucky in the car. In fact, he screamed the second I buckled him in and started the car. Just when you think a baby might tire of exasperating his lungs for an hour straight, he wails some more– you know, because crying is exhausting. And when you’re exhausted, you cry. And repeat. Poor little Otto baby…

Between Cle Elum and Anacortes, we stopped four times. Blood sugar checks, comfort nursing, and roadside potty breaks.  As we pulled up to the ferry line, I whipped open my bra and jumped to the backseat to save Otto and his little lungs. As he nursed, I  listened to my kids’ naptime breath hum rhythmically throughout the car. The rush to “get there” was gone and I slowly drew in breaths of salty air. I kept replaying the question my concerned husband asked me earlier: What do you have to prove?

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“You in ferry line?” My phone buzzed.

I scanned the lines of cars until a pair of familiar blue boots and slinky curls caught my eye. Sara led the kids to the beach while I hug-attacked that sweet friend that I hadn’t seen since last summer.

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Orcas was what I remembered it to be: a quiet little island with climbing hills, rocky beaches, and sweet little lambs grazing in every pasture you passed. A memory that proved to hold true to its idyllic nature. I was also able to finally meet friends from all over the country; ladies that I’ve formed friendships with via instagram and blogging.

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Despite the dreamy landscape and awesome company, I felt an ache to cut the vacation short and head home. Judd met me in Seattle and helped with the rest of the journey home. Let me tell you, when we pulled up to our little home– when I opened our creaky old door and saw chickens scratching in the yard– I felt like exclaiming Sanctuary! Instead, I opened a bottle of wine and retreated to the tub.

Here’s what I’ve learned: it’s not wrong to need Judd. It is, however, wrong to feel like I need to prove myself to the world. The same nagging feeling to prove myself had me hiking through Glacier National Park with a 5 week old baby. Look at me! I’m still the same Maggie! I’m clinging desperately to spontaneity and adventure– afraid that if I let go and accept a little routine, I will lose myself completely in motherhood. Since having a third baby and Angus’s diagnosis, that feeling of loss is almost suffocating.

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Sometimes, the best of me comes out with a little help from my husband. Other times, I can wing it and be the best me on my own. Neither is wrong. Three children, 4 years old and under, is hard. Diabetes is hard. Motherhood is hard. I’m feeling the need to scale back in a big way. These ridiculous and somewhat unobtainable standards that I set for myself are setting me up for failure. I cannot be the best mom, expose my children to travel and adventure, raise livestock and grow our food, successfully manage my child’s autoimmune disease, and continue nurturing my passion for writing. I cannot do it all.

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This spring, along with seasonal purging, I’m making an effort to reprioritize; to let certain things pull more weight than others. After all, I have nothing to prove. I owe that to my family.

 

 

Oh, sweet Otto baby. Here we are. 2 months of life.

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Your left ear is the perfect crescent. It requires constant smooching. You see, I remember that same left ear in one of your ultrasounds. It erupted from the side of your head with much personality. It was the first feature that made you real to me; a feature that made you Otto and not just some baby on glossy medical paper.

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The universe attempted to throw some obstacles our way this past month. Your PKU test came back positive, sending me to that place of obsessive Googling and borderline hysteria. Later, it was brought to my attention that your head leaned to the left more than it should. Wry neck, they call it. I sat with you in bed one night, studying that doughy ear, when I caught your eye and you exploded into a smile– cocking that little head to your left.

No, you don’t have wry neck. You have charm. That little turn-of-the-head is one more feature that makes you Otto.

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And the universe was quick to retract any form of diagnosis. The second PKU screening came back negative. Take that, crappy hand of cards! Mama’s working on a full house.

Nursing is a breeze. We’ve got it down, you and me. Every 2-3 hours during the day, and once during the night. Unless of course the older kids hit the witching hour with a vengeance– you and I sneak away to “nurse.” You know, because you were fussy, not because there were new episodes of Orange is the New Black that I hadn’t seen.

Your dad and I are pretty convinced that I gave birth to Buddy the Elf. Smiling’s your favorite. If you develop a love of maple syrup in the coming years, we’re sending your north.

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Weight: 10 lbs 14 oz (25th percentile)

Length: 23 inches (50th percentile)

You are movin’ and a groovin’– in a sedentary sort of way. Kicking wildly, flailing your limbs, and cooing at me constantly. Oh, the coos! I’ve always been a little disturbed by ginger males, but you’ve done something to me, Red.

As these weeks pass, you are losing that newbornness and really starting to transition into babyhood. As with all of your future milestones, it’s a very bittersweet thing for mama. It’s so fun to watch you grow, but nostalgia creeps into my heart and I’m left feeling weepy knowing that you’re my last– that you’re my baby.

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Just go ahead and plan on living with me forever.

Mama

 

 

 

 

 

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I walk for pricked fingers and bruised tummies. For never getting to eat, drink, play, or sleep without precise planning and conscious monitoring. I walk for a little boy, whose heart has been broken and battered since diagnosis. I walk for innocence lost. For bravery among the smallest souls. I walk for a cure.

Will you walk with us?

Nordstrom’s Beat the Bridge to Beat Diabetes

Sunday, May 18th | Husky Stadium | Seattle, WA

Click HERE to join team “Blood Sugar Bromance” or donate

 

I’m starting to venture into great wide open these days– better known as flying solo with three in a public setting. This Spring teaser really has me chomping at the bit to get outside and pink up my cheeks. The kids are over indoor escapades, and I don’t blame them. Blanket forts are so last season.

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Judd is starting to work weekends. I’m conflicted with this man’s work ethic. He works long, hard hours to ensure we are taken care of and that I am able to stay home with the kids– but we miss him. Thursday rolls around and the kids are sick of me and I’m at the end of my rope. Knowing that we don’t get the two-day recharge that most families get is hard. Just before I start whining to him about how hard it is to be alone with three kids all.damn.day, I swallow back those feelings and let him know how much I appreciate him. Saying that out loud is important.

This time is so temporary; so fleeting. Although it can feel overwhelming and exhausting, I’m trying to remind myself that in a few years they will all be in school and I’ll be missing these precious days of infancy and toddlerhood.

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Grace has a way of showing up and saving me from myself. Last week, our fridge was empty and I had kids melting into puddles over the idea of another PB & J. With a few deep breaths and a smudge of red lipstick, I loaded all three into the car and drove 40 minutes into town to grocery shop.

Problems presented themselves. Like, where do you put the groceries?

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I played a mad game of Tetris with children and canned goods in the shopping cart. Angus looked funny, so I tested him and sure enough, Shorty was low! Otto was ready to eat and Isla pulled yet another chunk of her hair out due to obsessive hair twirling. I pushed the cart over to the Home section of Fred Meyer, sat on the display couches, and nursed Otto while shoving candy down the kids’ throats– part bribery; part hypoglycemia. A sweet lady passed us, smiled when she saw my crew, and I instinctively shot her the I’m doing the best I can look.

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When we were leaving– while I was threatening the kids with horrible scenarios of running off in the parking lot, and attempting to steer our cart with one hand– that sweet lady caught up with us at our car.

“I know this is stressful, but my son is dying of cancer right now and I’d give anything to have these moments back. Cherish the chaos.”

One good long hug and a sweet smile of reassurance, and she– let’s call her Grace– was driving away in her car.

Our 40 minute drive home turned into an hour because of a fussy baby and potty breaks in sage brush. As that swell of discouragement started to rise, I resisted and instead repeated those Graceful words.

Cherish the chaos.

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We’ve been swept out to a sea of benevolence these past few weeks.

After Buzzfeed published the article about the bond between Henry and Angus, we received so much love and encouragement from the kindest of people. Henry’s mom, Sara, and I have received email after email from other parents, grandparents, aunties, and adults living with T1D. We continue to feel a strong pull to pay it forward, in regards to advocacy, and strengthen the sense of community we’ve been graced with since diagnosis. In a strange way, each email I received about a diagnosis story, struggles with this disease, or gratitude for calling attention to it, in some sense softened the blow of December 11th– because connecting with people on the deepest of levels helps to make sense of such unfairness.

Type 1 is incredibly isolating, so it’s essential to find community within this disease. It’s important for Angus to be around other kids that know what he’s going through. It’s important that Angus can recognize that he is not alone.

Great Wolf Lodge contacted us about sponsoring the boys meet-up with an all-expense paid stay at their resort. We absolutely accepted their offer. Sara and I had been building up “the big surprise” for a few weeks by sending videos back and forth between our families. The excitement was building– not just for this awesome trip, but for the friendship we knew we’d be leaving with after. Sara and I joked about how it felt like we’d been online dating each other for the past three months.

The kids were exploding with excitement by the time we pulled into the resort. We checked in and raced up the stairs to meet our friends. The second that door opened, that family and all of their love poured out of it. And at no time during the entire 3 days was there an awkward moment. We hugged hard, grabbed each other’s kids, and continued the rest of our stay as thick as thieves.

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Here’s the thing: It’s hard to connect with families that don’t have a child with Type 1. There are so many questions and misinterpretations of the disease that I often feel like a broken record. I’m repeating statistics and offering up textbook explanations as if I memorize WebMD pages for fun. This was different. They get it. They know. We were both pulling Laffy Taffy out of our ears to treat lows after the waterslides. We were both calculating carbs and insulin doses before plates hit the table. We both know what real sleep deprivation feels like. We both understand the complexity of being proud and heartbroken simultaneously.

A huge thank you to Great Wolf Lodge for fostering this relationship. You’ve connected two families irrevocably.  You’ve normalized this disease by one small gesture. We are grateful.

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Also, a HUGE thank you to the wickedly talented Sara Jensen Design for the hard work put into the redesign of The Rural Roost. For the first time, I feel like this blog aesthetically matches its content. So excited for this revamp!

And before I forget… Thank you for participating in the Sasquatch Books giveaway! The winner is: Ryan Wood!

“What a cute looking book!  One of the books I remember from my childhood is Love You Forever and of course, it is a part of my daughter’s library … although reading it brings streaming tears, choked up voice and a little girl who looks up at me in wonder about why I’m crying while reading, but then she recites the verse and my heart explodes … every darn time!!”

Please email me your mailing address so Sasquatch can get Alaska’s Sleeping Beauty sent your way!