Category Archives: Family

Parenting Resolutions Worth Keeping

As we all begin our New Years Resolutions I PrOmIsE you WilL NoT find me walking around with a shiny new gym membership. Ooooooooh no!!! You all know I couldn’t even follow through with The Lazy Girls Workout!  Looking back on that post, maybe I was pushing myself with saying I was going to start out aiming to workout 3 to 4 times a week.  If I had started with 1 to 2 and gradually added on maybe I would have stuck with it!  Anyway…I’ll worry about toning in the spring and stick with these ReAlisTiC ReSoLuTiOnS that will benefit my entire family!

resolution

I found this while looking for cute winter crafts on Pinterest and realized these are all things that I need to do not only for my family, but for MySeLf!  I spend way too much time trying to get everything done and need to focus more on the important things in life.  They may seem simple, but they so often get overlooked and could be the difference in making your child’s day go from OK to OuTanDiNg!

Happy New Year!

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Filed under At Home, Family, Getting Real, Good Life, Life, RANDO•RAMA, Relationships, SelfImprovement, Uncategorized, You

Infertility During the Holidays

These days our house is filled with toys, laughter, and absolute chaos as we prepare for Christmas.  I’m running out of places to hide presents and our elf on the shelf, tripping over Abby’s little people reindeer thanks to her insisting that they “take off” in the middle of the living room, and loving the million different ways my kids pronounce Feliz Navidad (Denise Nady Na is my favorite) each time they hear the song on the radio!  However, a few days ago as I was hanging ornaments on our Christmas tree I was reminded of a Christmas not so long ago when I was longing to be a mother and that dream seemed beyond my reach.

ornament

Growing up I was a goal setter.  I knew right away that I wanted to be a teacher.  Not just a teacher, but a first grade teacher.  With hard work and a little luck I was hired for my first job the June before I graduated college to teach first grade the following year.  My next goal was to be a mom.  My husband Rob and I had been married for a little over 2 years and figured it was a good time to start trying to start a family.  When month after month turned into over a year and  the little white stick was still showing not a sign of pink I knew something was wrong.  We tried using ovulation predictors and monitors on our own and nothing seemed to help.

Testing came back labeling us as “unexplained infertility”  and 3 intrauterine inseminations (IUI) later I was still not pregnant.  By now I couldn’t hide the fact that we were doing infertility treatments to try to have a baby.  I wear my emotions on my sleeve and it was clear that we were having a problem.  I was also being so closely monitored for egg production that I had to miss school a lot for the insemination schedule that I was on.  Now that I look back, I am thankful for all of the support that I received from everyone who knew what Rob and I were going through.  I saved every card, St. Gerard medal, and well wish that was given to us during our journey and would often joke that I felt like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life from the end scene when he is on the bridge and everyone is praying for him…except everyone was saying…Dear God please give Robyn and Rob a baby!  I had a co-worker who told me over and over that the baby that was meant for me wasn’t ready yet.  I knew she was trying to be helpful, but when you want nothing more than to be a mother RiGhT NoW you don’t want to hear anything like that!  In hindsight…she was right.

After the 3 failed IUI’s we decided to go straight to in vitro fertilization (IVF).  This just had to work.  How could it not?  They take healthy eggs and healthy sperm, put them together, implant them into the perfect location in your uterus and all they have to do is implant.  We did the injections, the 6:00 am blood-work and uterus scans every morning, egg retrieval, and then the big day…the embryo transfer.  I can’t even begin to tell you how exciting it is to lay on the table with a photograph of the embryos that the doctor is transferring in hopes that one will implant.  In the days that followed my transfer I carried around that photograph like I had just been to Portrait Innovations with a newborn!  After the transfer comes the wait.  For a week we waiting hoping those little embryos had nuzzled in to stay, but we were saddened when my blood-work came back to show that I wasn’t pregnant.

Moving on we had to wait one cycle before we could begin another round of IVF.  By this time I felt like a professional at the infertility group.  I sat in the same chair each morning for my monitoring, had become friends with all of the nurses, and knew which parking spots were the best to get out of the hospital lot the fastest to get me to work on time.  My doctor changed my medications a little to get more eggs to fertilize this time and I had 26 eggs retrieved and 13 that went on to fertilize and become embryos.  Getting the call that I had produced 13 healthy embryos had us on cloud 9…we were sure this round would get us the baby we so longed for.   The next morning by a horrible twist of fate, we received a phone call from my Dr. notifying me that due to a “Catastrophic error on the part of the lab” all of my embryos had been lost because there was something wrong with the gel that holds the embryos.  There are honestly no words to describe the pain we felt that day.  Even today when I think of 13 potential lives lost it kills me.  We didn’t even know what to do with the news, we just knew that we wanted a baby and we needed them to get one.

We went ahead with a 3rd round of IVF and by now we were going on 2 and a half years of infertility.  I was emotionally drained and depressed.  I went for my egg retrieval and transfer and I honestly didn’t have much hope this time.  I had been through so much heartbreak that the naivety of the “This is definitely going to work” was LoNg GoNe.  I went for my blood-work the morning of my pregnancy test, but I was already spotting so I figured that it hadn’t worked.  I went back home after my blood-work and put my pajamas back on and laid in bed waiting for the phone call from my nurse.  Rob and I answered the phone together and were shocked to hear, “Robyn, you’re pregnant!”  We both cried along with our nurse who had been through all 3 cycles with us.  My pregnancy wasn’t easy but I delivered a healthy baby boy and finally understood what my friend meant… All of those missed opportunities to conceive didn’t happen because Nicholas was the baby that was MeAnT FoR Me!  If I had gotten pregnant any of those other times I would have had a baby that I would have loved, but I wouldn’t have Nicholas, and knowing that makes all the years, all the heartbreak, and all the lessons learned worth it.  Nicholas is 5 years old now and I still call him my little miracle.  When I meet couples going through infertility I try to remind them of this and to NeVeR GiVe Up HoPe.

Untitled-3

Our Miracle

Finally A Mommy!

Finally A Mommy

Those of you who follow Suede Sofa know that besides Nicholas I have a daughter named Abby who is two years younger.  As shocked as I was the day I found out I was pregnant with Nicholas, multiply that by 100 the day I figured out that by some either miracle or complete fluke we conceived Abby on our own!

My family ~ 2012

My family ~ 2012

If you or someone you know is struggling to conceive this Christmas season please share my story with them.  I know how hard it is to put on a brave face when you want nothing more than to be a part of what it seems like everyone else around you has.  Remember the words of my friend…Maybe the baby that is meant for you just isn’t ready yet!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year…

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Filed under Family, Friends, Getting Real, Holiday, I AM..., Life, Marriage, RANDO•RAMA, Relationships, Stories

Snowflakes for the Newtown, CT Students Return to School ~ How You Can Help!

Everyone has been deeply affected by the tragedy that took place a week ago in Newtown, CT.  All of us at Suede Sofa were teachers prior to turning in our plan books for diapers and mommy blogging.  I was a 1st grade teacher, Lara was a music teacher, and Robynn was a science teacher and school counselor.  Now being stay-at-home moms we felt compelled to do something for the children of Newtown, CT who attended Sandy Hook Elementary School the day of that senseless act that stole the lives of 20 children whose ages are similar to that of our own.

snow

The following letter explains a simple snowflake project that you can do with your children or grandchildren to send to the Newtown PTA to help decorate the new school that the children will be going to after the Christmas break.  Although my children are too young to understand what took place, I was happy to make a special snowflake with each of them to send off in hopes of putting a smile on the face of another child.

snowflake~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Day 3 – Advent Calendar

Advent Day #3 – Make a list of love and appreciation.  Sit down as a family tonight and spend some time talking about what you love and appreciate about every person.

{You may choose to simplify the process big-time and do something as easy as  pick one person a day from now ’til Christmas and pray for them.  It doesn’t need to be time-consuming, stressful, or cost you anything.  Do what works for you and enjoy the season with the ones you love!!}

Alternative Activity:  Tell someone who you don’t tell regularly, “I love you.”

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Jersey Strong and Thankful

There is nothing that could have prepared any of us for the DeVaStATiOn that resulted from Hurricane Sandy blowing through the Jersey Shore.  My children are the 4th generation of family spending summers on Chadwick Beach so seeing homes that have been in the backdrop of photographs with my grandparents  tossed on their sides and nearly unrecognizable was heartbreaking.  Those of you who follow our blog know how much the beach means to my family.  From my seaglass collection to finding special shells with my children to make wreaths or to just paint for fun, Chadwick Beach has been our own little paradise right here in our own backyard.  Chadwick Beach is on a barrier island that rests between the Atlantic Ocean and the bay.  During the storm the water from the bay and the ocean met causing extensive flooding.  Our family home was filled with a foot and a half of water in the first floor, but thankfully it is still standing.  Others were not so lucky. Neighborhoods of houses were completely washed away into the Atlantic Ocean.  Another beach suffered a tremendous loss when gas lines exploded and blocks of houses burned to the ground.

Abby on our beach path Summer 2012

Back home we lost power from the storm for six days and lived on a generator that we used conservatively because of a major gas shortage in the state of New Jersey.  My brother-in-law waited on a line for four hours in the middle of the night to fill up his car and some gas cans to keep his own generator running.  It was a very scary week for all of us and at the same time we were trying to find out any information we could about the shore house.  Thankfully my parents had full power fifteen minutes away and we were able to drive over there during the day to watch the news, stay warm, and let the kids play in some normalcy.

My second summer at Chadwick Beach ~ Summer 1978

Now that the power has been restored, the gas lines are back to normal, and we look forward to rebuilding our Jersey Shore back to its original beauty I am trying not to focus on what was lost.  The hurricane may have washed away many of the buildings and landmarks that were symbols of our shore, but nothing can take away our MeMoRiEs.  Let’s be thankful for what we have, and not ever for a second take anything for granted, it might not be there tomorrow.

This picture shows the two houses that line the beach path that Abby was on in the above photo.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving  celebrating

all that you have to be ThAnKfUl for!

My little loves

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Just Do It – Say “I’m Sorry”

As humans none of us are perfect and we all make mistakes.  Sometimes on accident, sometimes on purpose.  And occasionally sometimes those mistakes call for an apology.  Whether or not we give one is completely another story.

Knowing I need to say “I’m sorry.” to someone gives that sinking feeling in my stomach because a true apology requires complete humility.  It requires that I put aside any justification on my part, any of those pathetic, “I’m sorry if I offended you.” pseudo apologies and just say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong.”  But when I finally do, I feel like I’m walking on air.  I guess that is because a clear conscience is as the MasterCard commercial says, “Priceless.”

Do you need to make a sincere apology?  What are you waiting for?  Free yourself from the pain of a guilty conscience and just do it – say “I’m sorry.”

:) Robynn

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Wait It Out

I don’t know about you, but when I get upset I want to get it off my chest as soon as I can.  Let me tell ya, there are diSadvAntaGes to that.  I have found that if I speak my mind as the disagreement arises, I usually regret what was said.

The other day I was aggravated.  A first, I let my mind spiral out of control on all the things that bothered me about the situation.  Instead of verbalizing them as they came to mind, like I normally do, I took time to think long and hard about what I was going to say before pleading my case.  By thinking things through I was able to sift out unnecessary comments that would have been said only due to anger.  This was HuGe because back in the day it would have caused our arguments to fester twice as long!  By taking the time to fully evaluate the real reason I was upset, I had already calmed down which naturally heLpeD me discuss the situation in a more reasonable manner.

It is easy to want quick results and responses in all that we do.  The longer I live, the more I see the benefits in not getting in a HURRY.  As painful as it was to keep my mouth shut until I calmed down to carefully choose my words, it allowed me to resolve a problem with a person that wasn’t hurtful to them and regretful to me.

Taking the time to be more selective in what comes out of your mouth.  If your thoughts are going a hundred miles an hour, that is not the time to be verbalizing them.  Believe me; I know it is dreadful to wait.  Your mind is good at convincing you that those racing thoughts ARE truly how you feel.  Don’t be fooled.  Past arguments are evidence that your mind keeps tricking you, so do everyone a favor and wait this one out.

~Lara

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