Day 18 | Eat a Treat from My Childhood


The Adventure

Enjoy a Snow White Ice Cream float before eating dinner, because motherhood totally blurs your sense of routine and need for proper nutrition.

The Contender

a Disney lover who will find any reason to channel “the Magical mouse” into her home in wisconsin.

The Experience

Did you know an ice cream float is called a “spider” in australia and New Zealand?
How horrifying.

When I was in first grade, i vividly remember reading a poem about a Purple Cow and then being delighted with a treat of vanilla ice cream and grape soda.

It was life-changing.

Since that day, having a Purple Cow is an annual treat for me, but to find grape soda in a grocery store is no easy task - though, I guess I didn’t consider just going to a gas station. Drat.

In my 33 years, I have learned to swap out the purple potion for other soda flavors: classic Root Beer, orange soda, and, when I want a Butterbeer-Vibe I got for Cream Soda.

Today, though, I learned about an ice cream float too perfect not to recreate: a Snow White.
This concoction is a combination of vanilla ice cream and Sprite which, as luck would have it, became a third trimester craving for me when Dagny was still contently hiccuping in my belly.

It was only 45-degrees again today because winter has decided to overstay it’s welcome.
And anyone who tells me that that’s too cold to eat ice cream is the kind of emotional vampire I don’t need in my life.

Here’s the truth about eating ice cream whenever you want:

  • It’s refreshing - Even at 4:30pm  and it is 45-degrees, grey, and windy AF outside, I had managed to muster the desire to ruin my appetite for dinner by eating a mason jar full of suger.

  • It comes in many forms - Cone, cup, shake, float, or, my favorite, Mickey Mouse shaped sandwich. The options are endless and when I was a freshman in college, I challenged that theory 9and my waist line) at our late-night ice cream bar.

  • It makes every situation better - I have only managed to get an average of four hours of sleep each night for the last three weeks and you know the funny thing about averages? Sometimes (rarely) I am getting more than four hours of sleep, but sometimes (often) I am getting less.

  • There is a flavor for everyone - I am that annoying person at an ice cream shop that wants to try multiple flavors at a time. I am also that annoying person who accidentally bought vanilla frozen yogurt instead of true fatty ice cream - I’m sure someone likes it, but not me.

  • It has calcium in it - And as a nursing mother I’m supposed to increase my intake of calcium.

The rest of the day was spent happily being held hostage by a 4-1/2 pound baby in my overstuffed arm chair watching Project Runway and trying to stay awake until Dagny’s 10:00pm feeding.

Fingers crossed my Summery treat brings about Summery weather soon! 


Day 17 | Order Carry Out

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The Adventure

Celebrate surviving the first week of parenthood at home with Pesto Tomato Pizza from Angelo’s Family Pizzeria.  

The Contender

A girl who is so tired she couldn’t put a meal together if you put peanut butter, jelly, and bread right in front of her. (Obviously she would just eat peanut butter straight out of the jar). 

The Experience

Dagny had tummy aches last night that resulted in me staying up with her from 3:00-5:00am on our couch downstairs while watching The Real Housewives of New York City and being given the stink eye by Dizzy who was annoyed that we disturbed her slumber.

Luckily, it was also an outrageously rainy day so I was able to eliminate most of my to do list (because I’m trying to balance Rookie-Momming and normal household chores like a total moron) and spend the afternoon napping.

The rain also eliminated any of the remaining snow we had in our yard, so that was also a pretty great bonus.

For dinner we decided it was time to treat ourselves to a night of not having to think and opted for ordering pizza from Angelo’s Family Pizzeria.

pizza has been my best friend since I was a child and rejoiced over pizza day in the elementary school cafeteria (no matter how sick it made me feel later).
Our friendship only grew as I grew older and the afternoons when Bagel Bites were my pre-ballet class snack became a welcomed tradition.
Don’t even get me started on the late nights in college when Ian’s Pizza became the replacement for dorm pizza (or Juston Stix - you hear my fellow Badgers?!) once my friends and I moved into our first apartment.

Angelo and Janet Volpe opened up Angelo’s in 1968. Over the past 50 years of serving the Wausau community, the family-operated business has become a local favorite - often taking the crown for one of the best pizza shops in all of Wisconsin.

I ordered a small Pesto Tomato pizza on thin crust for myself which I promptly ate at the kitchen counter rather than from a plate and spilled all over my white sweatshirt like a real adult human.
For dessert we ordered their Apple Pie Pizza which was amazing for a chilly rainy evening.  

I got in many Dagny snuggles for the remainder of the night and realized she sounds like a baby mandrake when she’s fussing.
we watched the Bucks win the second game of their play-off series (also known as the second basketball game I have watched all year … I am such a fair weather fan).
I also proceeded to leak clear through my shirt like a real classy broad because I waited too long to pump.  

It may not be a revolutionary adventure - we didn’t jump out of a plane today or anything.

I actually feel kind of lazy to call “eat a pizza” my “adventure” for the day.
the truth is that it wasn’t a $1.00 Jacks pizza that we have an abundance of in the freezer.
We’ve also lived in Wausau for almost two years and haven’t eaten at Angelo’s yet while we have managed to find ourselves at McDonalds a time or two (dozen).

For those reasons, I would call this break in our routine a success, even if it may have been the least healthy way to get my 500 extra calories for breastfeeding in for the day. 


Day 16 | Photograph a Sleeping Baby


The Adventure

Snap some pictures to remind myself at 3:00am that this baby does actually sleep.

The Contender

A two-week-old Mom who has, thankfully, become accustomed to waking up six times night due to pregnancy bladder, so this whole newborn thing isn’t a real shock to my system yet.

The Experience

The first rule of sleep-deprivation? Don’t talk about sleep deprivation.

Everyone knows when you have a baby you lose sleep and, boy, do people like to remind Rookie Parents about that fact.

Parenting advice should really be on the same list as politics and religion when it comes to appropriate dinner conversation (or anytime conversation).

I get it and believe it or not, I did know that Dagny would not sleep through the night. Thank you for reminding me, though.

Telling me to “get used to it” when I would mention being tired during my pregnancy or sarcastically saying “welcome to parenthood” when I comment on wanting to take a nap now that Dagny is born doesn’t make me feel better informed about my parenting skills, it just makes you look like kind of an a**hole.

But maybe that’s the sleep-deprivation talking though.

IN reality, when people asked if I was ready to have a baby, I wanted to tell them that I sometimes have to dig through the trash to re-read the instructions on how to make mac n’ cheese. I think most people thought I was crazy for not taking a labor + delivery class (not that it would have helped in my situation anyway) and that I was so cavalier about (not) reading all of the baby books before Dagny arrived. But I always knew I would be able to figure it out day-by-day with her and that over-worrying about everything ahead of time would not serve any of us well.

What I’ve learned in Dagny’s first two weeks is that having a newborn divides your time something like this:

  • 25% feeding her

  • 25% changing diapers

  • 50% watching her sleep and counting down the until until she’ll either need to eat or poop again

  • 80% being so low on sleep that the basic math required to convert to military so you can properly mark your breastmilk bags becomes challenging

While coffee and baby Cokes have been my best friends, a good sense of humor over the whole thing has been a good antidote as well.
because if I don’t laugh, it is very likely that I might cry.

But here we are.

Dagny is a newborn baby who sleeps a lot during the day and, it seems, doesn’t enjoy sleeping at night.

The truth is that she is sleeping for three-hour stretches at night on most nights, which, I’m told is pretty good for a two-week-old.

I have only slightly started to dread the time of day when the sun sets and most days I really feel like I am still functioning at at least 80% of my usual capacity. That being said, I couldn’t string two thoughts together last night in a conversation with my husband; it was so bad I mentally asked myself “How many drinks did I have tonight?”, the answer was none.

Really the truth is that only Dizzy is getting a full night’s sleep in this household right now.

I’m sure the sleep-deprivation will catch up with me sooner or later and I’ll suddenly morph into a gremlin who has to hide in her basement lair and pretend she’s not home when the UPS man delivers our umpteenth package of the week, but for now I’m surviving! Even if I did wake up this morning to find my pajama pants were backwards the entire night.


Day 15 | Follow My Cravings

The Adventure

Pop a bottle of champagne that I was gifted at Dagny’s final baby shower because my friends know me well.

The Contender

A girl who believes there is always a good reason to drink champagne.

The Experience

I am one of the rare people who prefers a cheap dry champagne over just about anything else.
When we found out I was pregnant, though, that was the first thing to go. In fact, I dropped my sparkling friend like a hot potato when I even thought I might be pregnant.

At one of Dagny’s baby showers I was asked what my post-Delivery treat was going to be.
Having never heard about this tradition, I needed some clarification: what she meant was “what food was I going to look forward to eating once I was no longer Baby on Board?”
Her answer: whiskey.
My answer: champagne.

It was an easy decision, really. Being a pescatarian, I didn’t look forward to my first deli sandwich from Jimmy Johns or any of the other meat products that are off-limits during pregnancy.

I have never been a big drinker and for most of my pregnancy I did not miss drinking alcohol, but I did miss champagne.
There’s magic in those bubbles.
everyone close to me knows my affinity for this sparkling deliciousness. We didn’t register for wedding presents, but I did receive 3 different sets of fancy crystal champagne glasses - which I will use on any random day of the week even if that means I have to hand wash them and be paranoid that my dogs will knock it off the coffee table and shatter it on our hard wood floors. 

I am a true believer that champagne is not just for special occasions (though what better occasion than a baby to celebrate with a glass).
In fact, there are enough “special occasions” every day of the week to justify popping bottles on the regular. 

I get it. We live in a world where we like to save things for the perfect moment (and I am the Queen of doing that in many aspects of my life).
We like to keep special things special and if we drank champagne like a “Housewife of Wherever” drinks Rose then it would be less special, right?


Listen, as someone who has purchased more bottles of Andre than she’d like to admit (please, don’t roll your eyes at me, buying Andre is not that heinous) and can confidently open bottles of champagne on a party bus without fail, I can tell you that champagne still remains the most special drink in the world to me. And shouldn’t we really be spending every day of our lives celebrating all of these special things that we love rather than saving them for approximately six occasions in our lifetime? 

I’m certainly not advocating to drink an entire bottle every day or to even drink a single glass a day (or at all if champagne isn’t your thing).
But if you want a glass of champagne (or root beer or regular beer or Shirley Temple or Arnold Palmer) Or if you want to wear that dress in your closet that has been hanging with the sales tags still clipped on, then go do it.

The point is to quit saving things for another day and celebrate what makes today so great.

It is vital to celebrate the simple pleasures in life and all of the things you DID accomplish that day.
These are the things that keep us going in between all of the big events, vacations, holidays, and celebrations in our lives. 

Because i had a c-section, alcohol was not in the cards until I was off of my pain medication.
I also knew that I wanted to get a better handle on Dagny’s schedule before trying to sneak in a glass of champs.
And truthfully, I had really enjoyed the detox from having casual drinks and knew I didn’t want to succumb to the “wine Mom” society once I was able to indulge again.
I, not only, wanted to be conscientious of what I was putting into my body (ignore the entire box of Girl Scout Cookies I ate this week), but I also wanted to be conscientious of the message I was sending to Dagny as she grew older.

That all being said, after almost a week at home and at least a dozen emotional breakdowns, I knew it was time to just take a minute, breath, enjoy a glass of bubbly, and celebrate all of the amazing things that had happened.  

Plus after waking up in a pool of sweat every morning (thank you hormones), forgetting to brush my teeth before going to my doctor’s appointment (gross sweater teeth), and wearing giant granny underwear for the last two weeks (labor + delivery glamour), your girl needed something to make her feel a little fancy.  


Day 13 | Meditate


The Adventure

Quiet my ever-busy, ever To Do list-making, ever-worrying mind for 45-minutes of meditation at Croi Croga Studio.

The Contender

A girl who, despite having blonde hair, an unbridled excitement over the arrival of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, an obsession with yoga pants (especially lately), and a phone filled with dog pictures, I apparently missed the #Basic download on the ability to be “mindful”.

The Experience

Having a baby is hard y’all and I have had my fair share of emotional breakdowns since arriving home a few days ago. The sleep-deprivation has finally settled in, my worry about my fur babies adjusting to our real baby is constantly on my mind, and I am already freaking myself out over the day when my husband has to go back to work and I have to take care of it all.

It was absolutely time for some self-care and since I can’t work out for six weeks and because we got a classic Wisconsin April blizzard and I can’t walk the dogs outside, it was time to get my meditation on.

For my meditation experience, I went to my local yoga studio Croi Croga. The room was filled with the scent of some kind of citrus fruit and salt lamps lit up each corner. Seated in a circle and encouraged to find the most comfortable position you could using blankets, chairs, and bolsters, the 45-minute class was filled with about 25-30 minutes of a meditation led by our instructor. Each week’s meditation takes a different path as the instructor discovers new methods and descriptions for the class to focus on.

Here are the things that go through my mind during meditation:

  • I wish I had brought a bobby pin for my bangs. They look annoying … even though I have my eyes closed and everyone else in this room has their eyes closed, they’re still annoying me.

  • Can anyone else hear my stomach growling?

  • I should have gone to the bathroom before we started.

  • How quietly can I change positions so no one will notice I’m moving?

  • Oh yea, I forgot to focus on my breathing again. Ok, let’s start over.

  • How do I KNOW that everyone’s eyes are closed? Maybe I’ll take a quick peak to make sure.

  • Seven minutes?! It’s only been seven minutes?!

After the meditation, our instructor invited all of us to talk about our experience. This was the part of the class I found to enjoy the most, because, truth be told, I am not the best meditator in the world, so it’s interesting to tease apart my thoughts after our eyes are open and the session is over. Reflecting on the thoughts and feelings that kept cropping up in my mind, I was able to find a theme to where the track in my brain was leading and work through the process of rerouting it where necessary.

Finding some way to meditate is really that good for you.
You don’t have to sit in a circle in a room full of people you don’t know.
You don’t have to say “Om” at the end or clang on a meditation bowl.
You don’t actually have to know jack-anything about mindfulness.

But because you might truly know nothing about meditation, here’s a little knowledge for you.

Meditation is not about cultivating the art of “thinking about nothing”. It’s actually quite the opposite.
Meditation practices are all about noticing your thoughts as they enter your mind, acknowledging them, and then sending them on their way.
Don’t react.
Don’t respond.
Don’t judge yourself.
Don’t let the wildfire get set off in your mind.

Rather than thinking about nothing, meditation is about training your brain to get out of auto-pilot and get into the moment.
Notice what is actually going on around you - not the things that could happen, have happened in the past, or are being filtered by your perception of the reality around you.
Smell the smells, see the sights, hear the sounds.
Pull yourself out of the habit of letting life pass you by while you’re busy in the expansive universe that is Your Mind.


Your brain IS capable of changing and growing throughout your lifetime based on how you treat it:

  • Mindfulness can actually change the amount of grey matter in the brain (the brain cells that connect to one another). It’s like muscle gain in the brain (how was that not a School House Rock song?)

  • The practice of meditation has been linked to positive changes in the hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for memories and spatial awareness).

  • Mindfulness has also been linked to brain cell growth in your pre-frontal cortex (the decision-making and judgment center of your brain). No more hemming and hawing over which kind of pasta you should order at Noodles and Company.

  • While most other areas of the brain grow through the practice of meditation, your amygdala could actually shrink. That’s a good thing though! The amygdala is responsible for the fight-or-flight response in your brain, which is super helpful if you are being chased by a tiger, but not super helpful most of the rest of the time. Spend less time freaking the f*** out over whether or not you left your curling iron on and the auto shut-off will fail and set your house on fire and more time enjoying whatever it is you curled your hair for in the first place.

Throughout the rest of the day, the realizations that flooded into my mind during the meditation class continued to swirl around in my mind.

  • It helped me not totally lose my cool when the guy who used the bathroom before me at the yoga studio not only left the toilet seat up, but DIDN’T FLUSH!

  • I realized how much clearer, tangible, and necessary my goals are to my life.

  • I didn’t blow a cork when I basically massacred my whole wheat waffles trying to spread rock hard margarine on them.

  • I was able to consciously not care what other people would think when I had to go to the grocery store wearing capris yoga pants and snow boots and looked like a damn fool.

  • I was able to mindfully choose an apple over a glazed donut when I was at said grocery store and my breastfeeding hunger reared it’s ugly head.

  • I was able to patiently handle my tornado dog, Dizzy, when she decided to incessantly bark at the television because she was hungry and her food bowl was not in the right spot.

  • I was able to compassionately handle my trusted 13-year-old boy, Maxie, when he felt it necessary to receive a handwritten invitation to come downstairs and join us for family movie night.

  • I was able to not judge myself for taking a nap with a box of Girl Scout Cookies in my bed.

  • I was able to not have a complete emotional Mommy-breakdown when my laptop’s browser automatically popped up the link to Dagny’s NicView camera and I realized just how far we’ve come in a week.

  • I was able to navigate through the feelings of overwhelming excitement and sheer terror when I realized I Am a parent!!

Have you tried any kind of meditation before? What was your experience?


Day 11 | Sign the Puppies Up for Classes


The Adventure

Help my puppies adjust to their newborn baby sister and spend one-on-one time with each of them by signing them up for dog training classes.

The Contender

An animal-lover-from-birth, turned zoology major, turned doggie daycare worker, turned certified dog trainer, turned pit bull owner, turned Director of Operations of an animal shelter who has changed career paths since moving back to Wisconsin (can we say “5678”), but greatly misses being in the thick of animal welfare issues.

The Experience

I was recently asked why I own pit bulls - this was asked immediately after this particular person had learned that we have to keep our two bullies completely separated at all times due to Dizzy’s increased dog aggression as she got older.
Talk about feeling totally judged.

But it’s not the first time I’ve been asked that question, I’m sure it won’t be my last, and my answer is always the same.

I have worked full-time with animals since I was twenty-years-old: when the complex relationship we can have with animals became clear in my mind thanks to the great wide world of college education. On my first day working at a doggie daycare, I was told to watch out for a senior pit bull dog who found residence on our “small dog” floor. I was warned that he was weary of strangers and that I should just let him approach me. I followed direction and within minutes of walking around the floor, I found his shoving his way in between my legs demanding my attention. That moment has vividly stuck with me since that day and, I believe, it was a sign from the universe that I could be a person to help fight for a cause that was in desperate need of advocates.

As I continued in my career, it became obvious that pit bull dogs were the most wildly misunderstood, the most frequently and severely neglected, the most overpopulated due to irresponsible backyard breeding, and the most discarded breed of dog. Yet, despite all of those things, they were also the most resilient, earnest, loyal, and eager-to-please dogs I came into contact with.

My heart broke for them. So, a few years later, when it came time for me to adopt my first dog, it came as no surprise from my colleagues that Maxie would bear a striking resemblance to that very “weary” pit bull who inspired me to stand up for a cause.

Maxie was four-years-old when I adopted him and nothing like I had planned on actually bringing into my home. He was fearful of the world around him: he hated most men, was scared of children, hated all dogs with pointed ears (excluding his dear friend, Gus), became nervous of new holiday decorations, balloons, or furniture rearrangements, and very quickly expressed to me that he would not be the bomb-proof pit bull ambassador I was hoping I adopted.


I couldn’t bring him to work with me - he couldn’t play with the other dogs at daycare and would just incessantly bark in the office (a trait that I have never been able to break in the nine years that he’s called me his.
I had to be his personal body guard any time we left the house.
I lost my patience with his barking more times that I am willing to admit.

But what became very quickly apparent was that Maxie was my heart dog.

Where he came with excessive baggage from the four mystery years prior to our meeting, he came with even more endearing and amazing qualities that have.

As a young and new dog trainer who thought she knew everything, he was exceptionally patient and loyal as we navigated our way through how to communicate with other another. He waited years for me to finally give up all of the expectations I had had for him and just accept him, and his boundaries, for who he was.
He is the fastest and most eager learner I have witnessed, constantly looking to do what you are looking for, learning every parlor trick in the book, and being oh-so-close to doing his “Chewbacca Yawns” on cue.
When I lived alone, he was my courageous companion (even when I knew he was shaking in his boots) to make sure his Mom felt safe and secure.
He has amazing intuition and, even though he feared most men who entered his life, he unwaveringly accepted my Dad, my Step-Dad, and my boyfriend who is now my husband and Maxie’s best friend in the entire world.
He hates having his picture taken but will sit for minutes at a time while I try to get just the right shot of his perfectly imperfect face.
The first day I met him, he wildly did zoomies around my apartment before landing on the couch right next to me - forever claiming that spot as his own.
His greatest joys in his youth were to play fetch for hours at a time and to chase a melon-sized plastic ball around the play yard before all of the other daycare dogs arrived for the morning.
In his senior years, he still gets a tickle from carrying a tennis ball around with him - you’ll break his heart if you throw it - and I am certain if that plastic ball reappeared, he would burst out of his skin.
While he couldn’t play with 95% of the dogs who came to daycare, he always made odd friends, including all of his Pittie ladies and his main squeeze, Camer.
As he got older, I trusted him more and trusted my abilities to advocate for him more. He began to go more places and I will also think fondly of our Mommy-Maxie trip to go hiking in the Snowy Mountains and visit “Dad” for the weekend in Saratoga, Wyoming.
At 13-years-old, he can now run off-leash on our property and live his best, most peaceful life.

He has been a medical anomaly, questioned most of the people who have come into his life, still annoys me with his barking, and is a bed hog, but, long ago, I came to terms with the boundaries I would need to place around that gentle spirit and decided he would probably be the most difficult dog I had ever owned.

Boy was I wrong.

Four years later, enter a ten-week-old, ten-pound Dizzy who screamed and panicked her way through her very first puppy playgroup at the facility where I worked. Her foster mom and I quickly agreed she needed to come to daycare as often as possible in order to become social with other dogs and, slowly but surely, she would overcome her fear and even make some really good friends - particularly with anything that never grew past seven-inches tall or anything that was comprised of some kind of Doodle properties.

Dizzy soon found her way into our hearts and our home. She and Maxie were thick as thieves. She became more confident. She shared her love and excitement about the world with any man, woman, and child she came into contact with. I could take her everywhere - something I had never experienced with Max. She, I thought, would be the ambassador I had been hoping for. But then adolescence hit and her ability to ignore the dogs that she didn’t like became more and more impossible. I pulled her out of daycare and she was left to just play with her remaining good friends.

Shortly after that, though, we moved to Wyoming for my husband’s residency program and her only remaining friend was an aging Maxie.
I felt less confident bringing her places, even though she loved the people, because I could never trust other dog owners.
Her life of going to work with me every day transformed into being a “normal” dog sleeping on my bed from 9-5 as I took on the role of being the Director of Operations of an animal shelter.

And then she tore both of her ACL’s. Financial constraints, personal life-changing challenges, and limited confidence in the veterinary care available in our area, we elected to treat her conservatively with braces, rest, pain management, and physical therapy: a decision I would later regret.

About a year after tearing her ACL’s, Dizzy began showing aggression to her former BFF and cuddle partner, Maxie. Each of the four times she bit him, we would make behavior modification and management changes, I would call my old dog training friends to rebuild my confidence, and we would stick to a new routine. We would try to isolate what would have triggered her and try to minimize her stress - especially when we made the move back to Wisconsin three years later. We were able to go almost one year without any incidents and, actually, with some pretty amazing progress and play sessions. But when she had two incidents within a week, we knew that we were not making the right choices.

Our home had become more stressful than any of the four of us could bear (though the dogs were always much better about hiding it than we were).
We knew that we had to make a decision: Dizzy either had to go or we had to commit to keeping them separated for their rest of their lives.

Having worked in the thick of the animal welfare community, I knew the reality and the unfairness of surrendering her to a shelter. Even if I believed there was a slim chance she would make it out alive, I knew that, if we couldn’t keep Dizzy safe, no one could. Euthanasia was another fleeting option, but, although, each time I would think about the times I had to jump on top of her and pry her mouth off of Maxie I would become equally furious and heart-broken, I also knew I could never live with myself if we had made the decision to put her to sleep and I will forever be grateful to my husband for making it clear that he was not even 1% on board with that option. There was too much good inside of that psychotic little spirit.


So we were left with one final option - keeping the dogs completely separated at all times.

Having just moved to our new home on 32-acres, we knew that we had the space to provide them each with a life of stimulation and fulfillment.
Because I was working from home during the day, I knew that each of the dogs would have more attention and activity than they had had when I was working sixty hours per week.
And now being in a different position, I knew it was necessary to give Dizzy the absolute best chance of success and finally reduce her pain by getting her knees under the knife with bilateral TPLO surgery - what I truly believed to be the root cause of her sudden aggression towards her former best friend.

It seemed that all of the pieces would align and that this plan could actually work out as long as I could work my way through my pride and admit that, despite all of my efforts, I would not have the pit bull ambassadors that I had been hoping for when I adopted Maxie and Dizzy. As a dog trainer, I believed I had failed them. As a responsible pet owner, I believed I had been living a lie. I would, forever, have to defend my problem fur-children when others asked about them and would have to tolerate all of the times people insinuated that “I was asking for this” when I adopted two pit bulls.

Now, one year since the day we separated them and from the day she returned home from her surgery, I am able to tell you how I really feel about our decision: it was the best thing we ever did.

Neither dog has ever been happier.
Neither is missing out on any piece of their life (though Dizzy would tell you differently when we have to put her in her kennel for break time).
Neither is forced to stressfully determine the best way to live in a household where they feel uncomfortable.

What we see in our dogs is that they are both eager to spend their time with us and are appreciative of their separate space.
What we see in ourselves is that we spend more time doing the things that each dog, individually, loves to do. We celebrate who they are. We spend more time enriching their lives.

Being a responsible pet owner is not about providing them with food, water, and a warm place to live. Having an ambassador dog is not about taking training classes, bringing them to the dog park, paying for them to attend daycare while you work, or being able to sit at an outdoor restaurant with them. Being a good dog trainer is not about having perfectly behaved, well-balanced dogs. Instead, what makes you all of those things is learning who your dog is as an individual, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and building a life for them where they can feel empowered, successful, confident, and calm.

I, now, can’t imagine my life without Dizzy in it and am so glad that my husband so adamantly advocated that we could do this and that our new reality with the two dogs didn’t mean that we had bad dogs or that we had not done everything we could to make them both successful.

Where I have struggled with both dogs’ idiosyncrasies, I have been able to let go of all of the things that I thought she “should” be and have just let her be.
I accept their quirks, because it’s really ok that Dizzy does not like to be bothered while she is sleeping and that I have to get a treat in order to motivate her to get moving at ten o’clock in the morning or that Maxie has to hang out by himself in the bedroom when we have company over.
I work with them to establish predictable boundaries because even though Dizzy has mastered the Resting Grinch Face and Maxie sometimes lets his emotions get the best of him, they both truly does love to be praised for doing something right.
I advocate for them when people question why we would keep Dizzy when we are planning on having children because they have never seen the total puddle she turns into when someone under three-feet tall is near and when visitors roll their eyes at Maxie who is barking from his sleeping quarters upstairs.

Both rugrats are far from the "perfect pittie advocates" I had planned on when I adopted them. They have tested me and made me lose my patience (and temper) more times than I am willing to admit. They are constantly in competition to see who will cost more in vet bills and on claiming the title of "the most difficult dog I've owned". But both, especially in the last year, have accomplished many other things: they have taught me to be more patient and understanding, to not get frustrated when the first (or second or third) plan gets thrown out the window, to respect that what is easy for some is not easy for all, and, their forte, to love each moment fully.

While I can't be sure whether she "knows" I am pregnant, I have to say she has been surprisingly snuggly and watchful of me over the last several weeks. We have always had a classic "Mother-Daughter" relationship - I was always the last option for playtime or snuggles, but always the first one to know when she needed something - so her attitude towards me has been noticeably different. Be it that she "knows" or that, after five-years of cohabitating, we've finally hit our stride and know how to best communicate with one another.

They represent a continuation of the reason why I fell in love with animal behavior and the human-animal relationship when I was a sophomore in college. They are a continuation of the reason why I believe pet-ownership is a bigger commitment than so many people realize - it's not always easy, it's not always convenient, it's not always cheap.

But it's the commitment that I made to them and one that I am happy to keep on making.

Day 10 | Start Tracking Miles Toward the Run the Year 2019 Challenge


The Adventure

Commit to training to have the endurance to run 48.6 miles in four days through Walt Disney World before I hit the big 4-0.

The Contender

I grew up dancing ballet, so running on a treadmill will never be as much fun as dancing Waltz of the Flowers. It just won’t.
On most days, I eat like a truck driver and would much rather eat a bowl of strawberry ice cream than a Larabar.
I hate that my Apple Watch will judge me when I haven’t exercised to its satisfaction by 10:00am and that it continues to lower my Move Goal every week.
I am namas’cray about hot yoga, but haven’t been able to go since becoming pregnant.
If there is chocolate in the house, I will eat it.  
The same thing goes for any ingredients that will create nachos.  
I can very much relate to Crab and Goyle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: I would absolutely eat a cupcake floating in the air without even thinking twice about how shady that actually is.

When it is more than 70-degrees outside, I am a drippy sweater.
When it is less than 30-degrees, I am perpetually in a Joey “Could-I-Be-Wearing-Anymore-Clothes?!” situation.
When there is any wind over 7-miles-per-hour, I feel like Kristoff trying to find Princess Anna on the frozen fjord.
When it’s raining, my dogs think they will melt like the Wicked Witch of the West (which is actually debatable if you’ve met Dizzy)
So, there are really very few opportunities that I find it pleasant to get active outside: my dogs know my serious skill at finding reasons why we shouldn’t go for walks.

The Experience

In my first post, I shared my experience of running the Disney Princess Half Marathon almost exactly one year ago.
The 13.1 miles through the Walt Disney World property changed my life, but not nearly as much as going through the miscarriage of our first pregnancy just weeks later.

In the post, I shared how running a half marathon turned out to be a very similar experience to going through the grief of losing a pregnancy. Both are very lonely experiences: just you and the journey ahead of you, just you and your emotional and physical breakdowns. No matter the support you have from the outside you, as the runner and as the mother, have to push yourself to keep moving forward. No one can understand the exact mental and physical rollercoaster you are going through, even if they have been through it themselves.

As we are finally back home safely with our girl, after nine weeks of double doctors appointments, working full-time, worrying full-time, and then ending it with a week of being in the hospital, I realized I am currently on mental half marathon.

Don’t get me wrong, I am surrounded by the best and most supportive husband, family, friends, coworkers, and medical professionals.
But something has to be said for the fact that no one could go to my doctors appointments for me when I just want to relax at home or go do anything else.
No one could take the worry off of my shoulders trying to remember the last time I felt Lil’ D moving around or whether I’ve eaten recently.
No one could take my shrinking bladder or my growing stomach for twelve hours so that I can get a full-night’s sleep in any other position other than my left side - or take on my role of pumping so that alarms weren’t waking me up every three hours.
No one could help me process the avalanche of emotion I was feeling once Dagny was born, safely in the world, but apart from me.

But when it really comes down to it, I wouldn’t trade all of the worry and stress and emotional breakdowns for anything in the world. My pregnancy is a time only she and I can share - a secret bond that only we will experience. Together. Mother and daughter. Our experience in the hospital was the most difficult, but also the most incredible experience of my life.

I know the mental rollercoaster I will be on now that Dagny is here will be a wild ride.
Self-care is something I am an outrageous supporter of and I know that, while it isn’t advised for me to do anything high impact for the time being, I need to keep my blood moving every day in order to not completely lose my mind with worry or completely Marie Kondo my house in an attempt to have control over something.

In a time when I think it will be even harder to make a commitment to taking care of myself (hello, new motherhood), I need something to have to “check-in to” every day of the week.

Enter Run the Year 2019 (which, if we’re having “real talk” - which I assumed we’re doing since I wrote my breast-pumping post - I technically started this adventure a few weeks ago when this picture was taken —> )

Founders, Olympian Adam Goucher and Psychology Educator Tim Catalano (who’s Aunt I know!), began Run the Edge with a bestselling book appropriately named Running the Edge which shares personal stories, realistic running advice, and motivation to push your own limits. Pretty soon, the dynamic duo found themselves traveling the country to speak to audiences about the powerful evolution that can occur through making a commitment to yourself and getting active. Three years later, Adam and Tim began creating fitness challenges to create communities of fitness fiends who could support one another as they each made their own individual transformation and Run the Year was born.

The Run the Year 2019 challenge is as simple (and not) as it sounds: commit to moving 2019 miles in 2019 by foot. No matter if you are walking, running, or doing some combination of both, everyone who is committed to the challenge can decide for themselves which miles they want to track.

For me, I’m tracking all of my walking steps made each day. once I’m cleared, I’ll pick back up on my activity level.
Every day counts.
Every mile counts.
Every step counts.


Day 8 | Drink Water


The Adventure

Celebrating finally being a Mom by using my BumpLife water bottle from Bump Box

The Contender

An excessive water-drinker who is excited to have her pre-pregnancy bladder back.

The Experience

This morning, we got the second best set of news we could have asked for: Dagny would be released from the NICU and we would be allowed to spend the night with her in the hospital in a special suite for NICU graduates. We have our Super Nurse of the day, JOdy, to thank for really advocating for Dagny’s release.

The NICU calls this process “rooming in” and allowed my husband and I to spend the day and night with Dagny, unmonitored, unwired, and unsupervised (for the most part) to make sure she still maintained her temperature for the day and that we felt comfortable with the care that she needed (meaning, feeding her and changing her).

After feeding Dagny her second breakfast (#HobbitStatus), my husband and I ran back over to the ROnald McDonald House to pack up our things and clean up our room. We thanked the staff there for providing such an amazing service, bought a newborn onesie and a coffee mug (I was shocked my husband let me … he mocks my coffee mug collection all the time), and then jumped in the car.

We went to The Kitchen Table for our last lunch out without a tiny little peanut strapped to us. It was an adorable local restaurant that served breakfast and lunch. Everyone who walked into the restaurant was greeted warmly, mostly by name, and I was reminded of why I love small towns.

By the time we got back to the hospital, it was time for Dagny to eat again (third breakfast? First lunch?), so we got her fed and changed before rolling her out of the glass sliding door of the NICU and down the hall of the Labor + Delivery floor to our suite for the evening.

You guessed it, I cried again.

The rest of the evening was spent eating, snuggling, napping, learning how to give Dagny a bath (cuteness alert!), and watching Sasquatch documentaries on our hospital television. The room had a queen sized bed (hallelujah after a week of laying in a hospital bed and then a twin bed), two gloriously comfortable rocking chairs, a full bathroom, microwave, and fridge. It was like staying in a hotel!

things were finally feeling normal again. We were one final step away from taking Dagny home.

Let’s bring it back to the adventure for today, though.

When i found out I was pregnant back in August, I decided I wanted to treat myself to a monthly bump box subscription

With Bump Box, you can order a single box or sign up for a 6, 9, or 12-month subscription. i went with the 6-month subscription. Each box is filled with 5-8 healthy, full-sized products tailored to your due date along with gift cards for various baby and pregnancy-related products.

90% of the products I received I absolutely loved. The ones that I decided to place in my “give to a pregnant friend” box were items I had already purchased for myself or things I just knew I wouldn’t use (pregnany scrapbook, ponytail holders, belly butter).

Many of the items were pampering related, which I super love because I tend to not splurge on items like this. some of my favorite items were the face creams and cleansers, the samples of healthy sweet treats and lactation cookies (I mean, YUM), the eye masks, a hair towel, and, of course, this water bottle. the best part is that, if you fall in love with a certain product, you can head to Bump Boxes site and purchase that single item or a single box related to a specific trimester.

I would definitely recommend getting a bump box subscription if you are pregnant - gift it to a friend when they find out they are pregnant. Started by parent team, Leland and Christine, they are expanding their brand to now include Bitsy Boxes: boxes that are filled with healthy and safe products tailored towards the growth of your little one from newborn to three years of age, so the fun can continue!

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Day 7 | Go Out for Ice Cream


The Adventure

Celebrate Dagny graduating from the Isolette and passing her Car Seat Challenge by going out to get ice cream at Hub City Ice Cream Company.

The Contender

A Wisconsinite who will eat an ice cream cone outside in 45-degree drizzly weather because she’s been inside of a hospital for six days.

The Experience

We walked over to the NICU from Ronald McDonald House-Marshfield early in the morning so that we could catch rounds with Dagny’s doctor. It was at this set of rounds (and to Dagny’s rockstar nurse of the day, Heather) that we made some major steps forward to breaking our girl out of the NICU: she would be taken out of the Isolette and placed into a regular crib and she would be put to the test in her Car Seat Challenge. Because Dagny had been acing all of her tests for the last nine weeks she was still in utero, I had no doubt she would crush these tests today. 

And I was right

By the time we made it back to her bedside after eating breakfast in the hospital cafeteria, her Isolette had been wheeled away, a crib in it’s place, and we found Dagny 60-minutes into her Car Seat Challenge: she needed to be able to safely sit in her car seat for 90-minutes and meet the car seat’s minimum weight of four-pounds.

30-minutes later, she checked her Car Seat Challenge off of her to do list.

We spent much of the rest of the day at her bedside, helping with feedings every three hours and then reading (hubby), writing (me), meeting with nurse Anna about nursing Dagny (me again), and staring at her in her crib (both of us).

We, independently, went out to dinner with our families so that one of us was always there to feed Dagny and by about 6:30pm we decided it was time for the both of us to take a break and find something in Marshfield to do. Since we had both already eaten, and it was a Sunday in a small town, I figured our options were limited, but I decided that I wanted ice cream and would go to any fast food restaurant to get some if I had to. Going out for ice cream always brings a feeling of nostalgia for carefree childhood living and, after spending several days in the NICU, I needed a feeling of relief and normalcy.

I was shocked to find that Marshfield’s Hub City Ice Cream Company was open!

We drove the few miles down the main street of Marshfield, commenting on how cute the small town’s “downtown” area was and found hub City, across the street from Dairy Queen, Wildwood Park, and Hefko Pool, with a full parking lot.

HUb City Ice Cream opened in 2013 to serve Wisconsin’s own Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream to Marshfield’s residents (and the many visitors the hospital brings into town). Owners, Sandy and David Freeman, have lived in Marshfield for over 30-years.

They had an abundance of traditional and unique flavors: I chose lemon poppyseed, which was heavenly. Hub City has both indoor and outdoor seating. As we drove up, the twinkle lights on the outdoor patio caught my eye. After ordering our treats, we decided we were going to soak up some fresh air and sit outside even though it was 45-degrees and drizzling.

we’re tough Wisconsinites after all.

For the last several days, I felt guilty anytime I was away from Dagny’s side, but I had to be honest with myself in saying that It felt nice to take a minute for ourselves again. The last ten weeks have been a rollercoaster of emotion and while we had been able to continue on with our daily lives and routines, for the most part, the fact that she had safely arrived on Earth and was getting closer to being able to come home with us felt like we were finally on the home stretch.

We just needed to make it a couple more days.

So, Thank you to the Hub City Ice Cream staff, who, unknowingly made these newborn parents feel less like hospital zombies and more like regular people again.

We finally realized that in order to best take care of Dagny, we needed to take care of ourselves too.


Day 6 | Take a Walk (Our Stay at the Ronald McDonald House)


The Adventure

Spend the night at the Ronald McDonald House - Marshfield while our girl spends the night in the NICU across the street.

The Contender

A highly emotional Mama who burst into tears even at the thought of driving back to our home an hour away and leaving Dagny in Marshfield.

The Experience

Today is the day I got discharged from the hospital and as much as we were hoping Dagny would be released on the same day, the neonatalogist gave us a few items of criteria she needed to pass in order to leave:

  1. She had to get back to four-pounds

  2. She had to maintain her temperature outside of the isolette for 48-hours

  3. She had to pass her Car Seat Challenge (be able to safely sit in her car seat for 90-minutes)

Although we had already had a strong suspicion Dagny’s stay in the hospital would be longer than mine, we had had our fingers (and toes!) crossed the whole time that we would be wrong.

Dr. Blake, the neonatalogist rounding today said that Dagny was doing great and gave us hope that she would be released on tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

The first day of Dagny’s life, the hospital staff let us know there was a ROnald McDonald House across the street from the hospital and helped us to get the paperwork started in order to stay there if we needed to. As eager as my husband and I were to get back to our home, it was an hour from the hospital and I couldn’t stomach the idea of being that far apart from our girl.

We called and spoke to Ginger on the morning I would be discharged and made sure we had everything arranged to check-in later in the day. Right around 3:00pm we walked through the hallways I had walked through just a few days before, bags in tow, baby in my belly, and totally scared about what was about to happen. As we walked out of the hospital, I became flooded with emotion about even leaving the same building as our daughter.

For the first time in days I felt like I could breath - at least a little. I was quickly realizing that the separation between us and the hospital was going to be a very healthy thing. I had known all along that walking to the NICU after every pumping session (even the overnight ones) wasn’t healthy, but I couldn’t help myself. Now I would forced to take care of myself a little bit.

Even though we were probably closer to Dagny’s bedside from the Ronald McDonald House than we were from my hospital room, I felt like I was abandoning her.

We drove across the street and met with ginger who, very clearly, is in this job to advocate for Ronald Mcdonald’s House’s mission to provide a warm setting for families with children in the hospital to rest, prepare home-cooked meals, and connect with other families who are experiencing similar situations.

As we walked through the historic home, I felt like I didn’t belong there. I hardly knew anything about the Ronald McDonald House Charities, yet here I was staying in one of their homes. Each of the rooms was clean and cozy, the kitchen was stocked with food donated by local restaurants and families, the bedroom we stayed in was quiet and had the most comfortable beds.

As we got settled in, the reality of our situation also settled in. I was, once again, in tears. For the first time in days I felt like I could breath - at least a little. I was quickly realizing that the separation between us and the hospital was going to be a very healthy thing. I had known all along that walking to the NICU after every pumping session (even the overnight ones) wasn’t healthy, but I couldn’t help myself. Now I would forced to take care of myself a little bit. And I cannot begin to tell you how glorious it was to have a proper cup of coffee in the mornings and how wonderful it felt to get some fresh air on each of our walks across the street.

The Ronald McDonald House Charities is a global network of chapters in 64 countries that provide a place to stay for families with hospitalized children at little to no cost. The 368 houses provide over 7,200 bedrooms to families around the world each night which amounts to an estimated value of $700 million in saved hotel costs. 

The Ronald McDonald House’s mission (which was exuded so clearly by all of the staff members we had the pleasure of speaking with at the Marshfield chapter) is that nothing else should matter when a family is focused on the health of their child. Families shouldn’t be burdened with finding an affordable place to stay, figuring out where they are going to get their next meal, or having to make the difficult decision to travel back home and leave their child in the hospital. 

RMHC believes that families are stronger when they are together. By staying at a Ronald McDonald House, parents are able to stay more connected with their child’s medical team and be by their child’s bedside instead of driving to and from their home (sometimes hours away), grocery shopping, cleaning, or cooking meals. 

The first Ronald McDonald House opened in Philadelphia in 1974 and the entire McDonald’s system has helped to support the cause ever since. McDonald’s support extends beyond monetary contributions and also includes volunteers and marketing promotions. (Yes, the fridge was stocked with some of McDonald’s most popular items). Those little Ronald McDonald House boxes you see at the drive-thru window have helped to raise $300 million for the non-profit organization alone. 

So the next time you are going through the Drive-Thru at Mickey D’s please consider donating to this wonderful organization. If you happen to live near one, consider donating a meal to the house to help the families taking care of their hospitalized children to take care of themselves.


Day 5 | Have a Snuggle Party (Celebrating my 33rd Birthday in the Hospital)


The Adventure

Celebrate my 33rd birthday with my newborn daughter at the hospital.

The Contender

A girl who has set the intention to celebrate each of her 30’s birthdays in a special way.

The Experience

I woke up at 4:30 this morning, thirty minutes before my alarm was set to go off for my 317th pumping session since becoming a mom.  I figured it was close enough to my alarm to just stay up and get a head start on my daily NICU Mom-ing schedule.

I gathered my pumping gear from my hospital side table, elevated my bed up to the most seated position I could (because my ab muscles are on hiatus post-surgical), and opened up my NicView camera to check on my girl: she wasn’t due for another feeding until 5:00am, so I thought I would catch her snoozing.

It turns out she woke up early too because when I logged into her account all I saw was the “A nurse is caring for your child” prompt. I was tickled.

When I was pregnant with Dagny, she turned me into an early bird. For most of my second and third trimester I would naturally wake up at 4:30am wide awake and ready to start the day. Once Dagny was big enough to feel puttering around, I would be awoken by her kicks, rolls, and hiccups around the same time every morning. My heart burst to realize that she and I, now separate bodies and separate rooms, still held this early morning tradition. 

Knowing Dagny would be snoozing for a little while after she was fed, I decided to take a shower and get freshened up for the day. About an hour later, I walked over to the NICU for some early morning snuggles with my girl. 

I had learned that these sunrise hours were the quietest in the NICU and I had begun to cherish them as time I could with Dagny. For those few moments, it was just she and I once again, I didn’t have to share her with anyone, and we could tell our secrets to one another (though, for now, it’s just me doing the talking).

I rocked in a chair and snuggled my sweet girl while she continued sleeping the morning away.

I took is everything there was about her this morning: her tiny three-pound-fifteen-ounce body, her button nose, her pouchy lips, her long fingers on her tiny hands that she always snuck out of her swaddle blanket. 

About 30-minutes later, my husband walked in and wished me a happy birthday. We were all here as a family for the first time in my 33rd year.  

After feeding Dagny her next meal, my husband and I decided it was time for us to eat as well. We ordered breakfast, ate, pumped (me not him), and then went back to the NICU for Dagny’s next meal and some skin-to-skin time. #NICUlife

As we started getting Dagny’s diaper changed and ready to eat, I spotted a card on the counter that said “Happy Birthday Mommy”. Cue the immediate tears. The incredible NICU nurses had turned around the second we left the NICU earlier that morning and helped Dagny to make me the best birthday card I’ve ever received. Seriously, I cannot begin to tell you how much we loved the nursing staff we were blessed with. 

The rest of the day was spent doing more of the same. Eat (Dagny), Sleep (definitely Dagny), Pump (me), Not Sleep (definitely me).  

My heart burst to realize that she and I, now separate bodies and separate rooms, still held this early morning tradition. 

In the evening, my husband’s family came to the hospital with cakes for both Dagny and I, balloons, snacks, and presents. I cried three more times. 

I may have spent my last four birthdays doing incredible things - Disneyland, surprise Minnie Mouse cupcakes and an evening out with my husband in Wyoming, front row at Carrie Underwood and Estes Park , and New York City - but this birthday, sleep-deprivation, post-surgical check-ins, and hospital food by far beats them all


Day 4 | Meet with a Lactation Consultant


The Adventure

Learn the love-hate relationship with using a breast pump and the totally normal frustration of wondering whether I’ll ever express more than three drops of colostrum.

The Contender

A competitive, over-achieving girl who has completely dropped her modesty over the course of three days in order to do whatever I can to meet my daughter’s eating needs.

The Experience

Well, as a Rookie Mom blogger, you had to know this post was coming. please just skip this one and stay tuned for tomorrow’s post if you don’t want to hear about it.

I never intended on writing about my experience with breastfeeding because I feel like that’s TMI.
When I put “meet with a lactation consultant” on my “Fourth Trimester” adventure list, I sort of always though, “I’ll swap that one out for something else” or that I wouldn’t get into the major details behind my experience, but because this was such an emotionally-charged experience for me, I feel compelled to tell my story so that other women will know all of their feelings are totally normal.

Not Being able to nurse Dagny was my biggest worry about her arrival after my fear of having a C-section - check both of those off my list.
I've had many friends who haven’t been able to nurse their children and I always believed, if that happened to me, I would feel like I was missing out on a crucial experience with my daughter.

By Day three of her life, though, I realized a completely new fear that I hadn’t even considered: What if I couldn’t even provide her with enough food when I was pumping?

If you’ve never breastfed before, you might think that this trait would come completely naturally: as my husband reminded me, it’s what makes us mammals after all.
Baby is hungry.
Stick her to your chest.
Baby gets what she needs.

It’s not that easy and it’s even harder if you have a NICU baby who needs to pack on the ounces as soon as possible.

Because Dagny was born at such a low weight, her medical team wanted her drinking from a bottle so they could measure how much she drank and so she didn’t expend any unnecessary energy on a tap that wouldn’t provide her with much.

While I totally understood and agreed with their plan, Talk about making a new Mom feel like the one job only she can do is not important.

Here are the three stages of pumping that I experienced and that I believe most Rookie Moms experience:

Because Dagny was born at such a low weight, her medical team wanted her drinking from a bottle so they could measure how much she drank and so she didn’t expend any unnecessary energy on a tap that wouldn’t provide her with much. While I totally understood and agreed with their plan, Talk about making a new Mom feel like the one job only she can do is not important.
  1. The Excited “I just became a Mom!” stage- In this stage I felt completely high on baby love and overwhelmed that this chapter of my life had finally arrived. I officially was one of those Moms with 75 pictures of their new baby on their phone and who couldn’t have a conversation that didn’t revolve around the baby.
    This phase lasted for Day 1 and Day 2 of Dagny’s life and Nurse Elizabeth was my lactation consultant through these initial days.
    During this phase, I became a pro at putting my pump together and would diligently pump every three hours on the nose, for the full fifteen minutes.
    For me, this phase also coincided with the colostrum phase and I found myself thrilled that I could produce a total seven drops of milk in my fifteen-minute pump and amazed at my body’s ability to start feeding my baby.
    During this phase, Nurse Elizabeth also helped me with Dagny’s first nursing session. I’m gonna say it now, my kid is an Over-Achiever and an A+ latcher, proving to me that, once my supply came in, I wouldn’t have anything to worry about. 

  2. The Frustrated “I resent Q-Tips” Stage - In this stage I felt totaL, sob-inducing frustration and failure because I was still only producing enough milk to be soaked up on Q-tips and swabbed on the inside of Dagny’s mouth. On this day, my husband woke up to me, attached to my milk machine, bawling uncontrollably on my hospital bed. It was also on this day that I walked over to the NICU to drop off my “supply” and immediately started crying when dagny’s night nurse, Wanda, greeted me at her crib.
    This phase, the shortest of the three, lasted for the better part of Day 3 of Dagny’s life. I didn’t have a lactation consultant come to me during this time, but I can tell you, if I had, it would have been a full on therapy session.
    During this phase, I became a pro at getting every last drop of milk soaked up on one or two q-tips and with every pumping session I became more resentful of my results and would dread the next session before the current one was even done.
    Sometimes I would catch a break and gather enough transitional milk with a pump that I could use sterile water and a syringe to suck up my product. During those sessions I was extraordinarily careful in transferring my supply to syringes because I knew I would definitely cry over spilled milk.
    During this phase, I was too scared to try nursing Dagny because i knew she needed to get as many calories in as she could without too many calories going out. I felt my ability to feed my own daughter slipping through my fingers and the guilt of not being there for every feeding session of donor milk became all-consuming.

  3. The Leaking “I need to go pump” stage - In this stage, I felt like a super hero because I graduated Q-tips to syringes to bottles within about a twelve hour period. I felt like a ladyboss and my husband and I were checking with each pump to see if I hit a new Personal record.
    This phase followed up about twelve hours after phase 2 and just. Doesn’t. Quit. During this phase I had Nurse Anna as a lactation consultant and she is a Fairy Godmother of encouragement and “real talk”. She cheered right along with us when I would bring in bottles with 10, 20, and 30 mL of milk followed quickly by my 60, 70, and 90 mL filled bottles.
    During this phase, I became a pro at mastering the cheapest trick to get to pump hands-free: cut slits in an old sports bra and voila! You can pump and eat an Impossible Burger and write blog posts all at the same time.

    This was also the phase where any modesty I had remaining went completely out the window. Talking about pumping and actively opening up the Mommy Dairy in front of pretty much anyone who didn’t feel weird about it. And if they did feel weird about it, I saw it more as a “Them” problem instead of a “Me” problem. As David Allen said “My opinion is that anyone who gets offended by breastfeeding is staring too hard”. I decided these people (or any other future people) could get off of their judgy wudgy horses about what I was or wasn’t doing and mind their own.
    I did have serious consideration to go vegan during the beginning of this phase - suddenly feeling a strong connection to dairy cows who only have to do this twice a day while I’m doing it 8-12 times.
    I had officially “Let down” during this phase and I couldn’t have been more thrilled at my ability to catch up to, keep pace with, and then surpass my daughter’s feeding demands. Waking up with sudden rock hard boulder boobs after a lifetime of being an A-cup was a seriously fascinating occurrence. And the leaking. Oh, the leaking. Bra pads became a new wardrobe staple and, when I leaked through my entire supply and waited for my doting mother to wash them and bring them back to the hospital, I stuffed cloth diapers in my bra.

    Nurse Anna helped me with multiple nursing sessions to make sure Dagny and I were working well as a team. Nurse Anna agreed that she’s a champion latcher and told me to start nursing her twice a day before giving her a bottle: advocating that I was now at the point where she would not be wasting any calories in trying.

If I could give advice to any new moms out there, it would be to be patient during this process. It will happen, but it will take a rollercoaster of emotions and a healthy amount of patience to get there: both of which are hard to tolerate when you are sleep-deprived and in a hospital (or home with your newborn).

I read a million books, blog posts, and pamphlets that explained this process. I knew it would take three or four days for my supply to come in, but all of that went out the window when I was in the thick of it and felt like I wasn’t living up to my end of the bargain that Dagny and I made.

In a matter of twelve hours I went from feeling like a complete failure to feeling like a total baller; so remind yourselves, when you feel like giving up, that you are so close to the finish line.

And if it doesn’t happen that way for you, you are still a rockstar mom. Please talk with your doctor, lactation specialist, and support system if you are feeling any feelings on the matter. No two bodies are the same, no two mothers are the same. It doesn’t make you any less of a mother if you cannot breastfeed or are choosing not to. You have to do what is best for you, your body, your mind, and your baby.

Moms, what other tips do you have for Rookie Moms who are going through this experience?


Day 2 | Announce the Arrival of Dagny


The Adventure

Welcome to the world our little peanut and the love of my life - Dagny.

The Contender

First-time Mama and worrier extraordinaire who really, really was praying she wouldn’t need a c-section.

The Experience

Dagny Elisabeth made her grand entrance into the world at 9:27 am via C-section, weighing in at four-pounds-one-ounce, measuring 17-3/4 inches long.

Here’s how everything went down from start to finish.

Nine Weeks Ago

At 28-weeks pregnant, we discovered that Dagny was measuring only in the 4th-percentile and my previously super chill pregnancy suddenly became a high-risk pregnancy filled with twice-weekly doctors appointments, constant monitoriing of her movements, and a speed round of “get everything ready for the baby arrives because we have no idea when she will be dropping in our laps”.

Our new high-risk obstetrician told us that Dagny was considering an IUGR baby (intra-uterine growth restriction) and that if, at any point, she started to show signs of stress they would bring me in to have her delivered. Because of that, we would keep our fingers crossed at every appointment for the next nine weeks that she remained active, would show signs of her practice breathing, would have a strong heartrate, and I would continue to be able to supply her with a sufficient blood flow and nutrients.

Thankfully, every week Dagny proved she may be tiny, but was mighty. She rocked every test she went up against and both of our doctors became more confident that she was just a little baby and less worried that something else may have been going on.

we reached March and celebrated my husband’s birthday by not having a baby.
We reached her 32-week mark and celebrated that, developmentally, she had hit a lot of milestones.
we reached her 34-week mark and celebrated that I wouldn’t have to get any additional steroid shots.
We celebrated the fact that we were continuing to march towards our goal of reaching of reaching 37-weeks pregnant and began talking with our doctors about where would deliver and what our plan would be.

As we moved through each week, our doctors became less concerned that she would need to spend any time in the NICU, but, ultimately, the hospital where our routine OB resided didn’t have a NICU, Marshfield did - that became the deciding factor for our choice to deliver at Marshfield Hospital.

Just in case she needed it, we wanted the extra safety nets.

Last Week

during my final week of pregnancy, my hubby and i drove down to Marshfield Hospital to meet with our high-risk OB for a few final times, to put Lil’ d through her final set of tests, to meet the OB who would be in charge of her induction, and to tour the Labor + delivery floor (which didn’t happen because we also learned i had tested positive for Influenza A).

We got our final plans in check:

  • We would arrive to the hospital on monday night to kickstart the process with Cytotec because my body was 100% not ready to have a baby

  • Oma and Opa would arrive in town that night to take care of our fur babies

  • We would plan on having a baby come hell or high water some time during the week

  • Bags were packed, final pictures were hung, and the house was cleaned in preparation for the arrival of the newest Flanders

Her Birthday


It’s 4:45 am, do you know where your kids are?

Well, if you’re my mom, then your kid is strapped to a hospital bed with baby monitors and IV fluids of pitocin running through her veins.

And if you’re my kid, then you’re still in utero, but about to enter this brave new world and your mom’s mind is still blown by the fact that you exist at all.

After an eventful dose of Cytotec to kick off my induction, our OB for the evening decided they would switch me to Pitocin so they could better monitor how the baby was handling the dosing. She and I were both much more sensitive to the Cytotec than was anticipated and had a fun few hours of cramping and stressing out over trying to catch her heart rate on the monitors while she was practicing her somersaults of discomfort.

Pretty quickly after the pitocin was on board, my body went from having preteen-level-period-like cramping to full boar contractions lasting 45-seconds long, spaced every two minutes apart, and leaving me writhing in pain.

Around 7:00 am, our nurses started popping in a bit more frequently because with each contraction I was having, Dagny’s heart rate was dropping just to a point where they were getting uncomfortable. They dialed back the Pitocin levels and started talking with the OB’s who were available.

At 7:30 am, They let me know that my delivering OB, Dr. Sampson, would be in at 8:15 am and would talk about our next plan of action. It was right around this time that I decided I wanted IV pain meds on board and was convinced I must be progressing enough to get this nugget out.

By 7:45 am, My water broke and I was begging my husband to tell the nurses I needed something to combat the pain - I had known all along I wasn’t going to go into this trying to be a hero. Mama wanted pain medication and mama wanted them now. Even with the dialed back pitocin, though, Dagny’s heart rate was still slowing with each contraction and I knew by the look on my doctor-husband’s face that he was concerned too.

Dr. Sampson arrived at 8:15 on the nose and let me know she was concerned enough about how dagny was tolerating the induction and, because she was so small, she didn’t want to mess around: we were going to C-section and immediately I was in tears … out of fear, pain, and overwhelming emotion that I would be meeting my daughter in the matter of about an hour. She talked me through the entire process with complete sincerity and kindness, knowing, based on my tears and full body shivers, that I was beyond petrified. She would encourage me through every contraction, telling me “You’ve got this!” as she carefully watched the baby’s monitor and kept one hand on my shoulder. I love it when people tell me “You got this” when I very obviously feel like I do not.

The Surgery

At 9:00 am, nurses, labs, and my anesthesiologist came in to get the ball rolling.

I was shaking, out of complete nerves and pain as they rolled me into the OR. Although they had cut my Pitocin almost an hour ago, I was still having gnarly contractions and Lil’ D was about as unhappy about it as I was. I remember Dr. Sampson watching me as I rolled through and she was scrubbing in and saying, “Oh! She’s still having contractions?!” in the most pitying tone I’ve ever heard (apparently that was a little surprising since they had cut my Pitocin almost an hour agO).

All of the doctors and nurses were beyond amazing about helping me through the pain since hubby couldn’t come along with me quite yet. I was particularly reassured by the anesthesiologist who didn’t leave my side the entire time, explaining what was going to happen and giving me multiple countdown updates to Dagny’s arrival once surgery got started. Hearing him tell me, “Your daughter will be here in five minutes” and then “She’ll be here in 90-seconds” were two of the most surreal moments of life: something I had been waiting over a year to be able to experience was within arm’s reach.

I had been the most nervous about the spinal tap and the pain associated with the surgery, but everyone moves through the motions of providing a successful surgery with such confidence and ease that it calmed my nerves as well. Not to mention the fact that I was, simply, in so much pain from the contractions that I just wanted it all to be over.

The Arrival

We arrived in the OR around 9:15 am and Dagny arrived at 9:27 am. While they did delayed cord clamping, they dropped the blue drape so that a clear plastic drape was the only thing separating us.

Before seeing her, I heard my husband shout that she “was here” and asking if I could hear her crying, then I felt her warm little wiggling body laid down on my chest and the nurses held her in place until they cut her cord. I erupted into tears.

Kristin, The nurse who had been with me from the start of the morning, started unhooking my hospital gown and the moment Dagny was ready to be moved around the curtain to me, Nurse Kristin brought her to me for our first skin-t0-skin contact.

It’s true what they say - the moment your baby appears for the first time it makes all of the pain and worry worth it. Did I still remember the pain of contractions? Yes. But the love I felt for her was instant and the worry that we had shared over the last eight weeks washed away.

She was here.
she was safe.
She was ready to begin her life.

I felt the little feet that had been kicking me in the ribs over the last several weeks.
I felt the little tummy that caused her morning hiccups.
I felt her little head that had been laying on my bladder since she was twenty-weeks-old.
I felt the hair that they had spotted on her ultrasounds weeks ago.

And the first time I looked at her and she looked back at me? That was simply the best moment of my life.

After a few moments, they whisked her away to get weighed. The NICU doctors and nurses had been given a heads up that she was an IUGR baby and that I was high-risk, meaning there was some potential she would need to go into the NICU. they were on stand-by to give her a good assessment right away.

Everyone had been commenting on how much of a peanut she was, so I knew there was no chance she had tricked the growth scans and had actually popped out as an eight-pound baby.

At her last growth scan, she had measured to be around four-pounds-twelve-ounces, when she hopped off the scale, though, it was determined that she was only four-pounds-one-ounce. My husband came back to me after talking with the NICU staff and let me know that they were going to take her into the NICU to start doing some tests: she was smaller than they anticipated so they wanted to make sure there weren’t any other health concerns we needed to worry about.

Maybe it was the adrenaline from the morning, maybe it was a Mother’s intuition, maybe it was pure ignorance, but I wasn’t very worried that something else was wrong with her.

She had landed on the ground safely and I trusted that she would be just fine.

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And the first time I looked at her and she looked back at me?
That was simply the best moment of my life.

The Recovery

Having absolutely no feeling in your lower half is totally strange.
Being completely helpless and unable to do most basic human functions is even stranger.

The spinal tap lasted a bit longer on me than the nurses were expecting. i had to wait a few extra hours before feeling finally came back and I was able to wiggle my toes.

Almost immediately, Nurse Kristin brought me a breast pump to get started on telling my body it was time to take of this baby. because I had been induced a few weeks early and because the baby was taken via C-section, NUrse Kristin warned me that it might take a little extra time to get anything “flowing”, but to stick with pumping every three hours like clockwork. She hung out with me to make sure I felt comfortable with everything and we watched the Price is Right together.

During that time, Nurse Kristin had me waiting in my Labor + Delivery room at the side of my mom and mother-in-law who had already been on their way to the hospital before I’d gone into surgery and were, thankfully, already in the waiting room by the time I was finally finishing up. Because Dagny had been taken to the NICU, I told my husband to go tend to her while the MOm’s and nurses tended to me.

By the time I was finished, my husband came back in the room to let me know that Dagny had been a little bit cold, so they were putting her into an Isolette in order to better be able to control her temperature. Her blood sugar levels had also been low, so they were going to have to monitor that with heel pokes every few hours until it stabilized itself. She, otherwise, looked good and they weren’t going to do any other tests with her at this point and would just start monitoring her behavior. The Neonatologist suspected it was possible that my dating was off as Dagny, to her, was looking more like a 34-week-old baby, not a 37-week-old. I’m still not convinced that was a possibility beause we had so many first trimester ultrasounds and Dr. Sampson and Dr. Ames (our high-risk doctor) weren’t super convinced of that possibility either.

After a couple of hours in the Labor + Delivery room, Nurse Kristin let me know they would be moving me to the Postpartum room where I would be spending the next four nights recovering, but first we would stop at the NICU so that i could see Dagny. Because I still didn’t have enough feeling in my legs to safely ride in a wheelchair, they had to wheel me into the NICu in my hospital bed. Talk about a grand entrance.

As we went through the glass double doors, I anxiously looked around, not wanting to miss the exact instant when I would spot my daughter. Wrapped up in a grey blanket and Winter hat, I immediately started crying when i spotted her and Nurse Hannah placed her in my arms. When I had held her in the Operating room, I had been so overwhelmed with emotion that I hadn’t been able to really stop and look at her. and based on how she reacted when she saw me, I think she felt the same way.

In every ultrasound picture we had of her, her little hands had always been pressed up to her face. i had always been curious if she would act the same way when she was out in the world and I learned quickly that she would. Nurse Hannah told me all of the encouraging news about our little peanut and handed me a bottle of donor breastmilk for her to drink. She guzzled down the 15 mL she was provided, keeping her eyes on me the entire time, and, subsequently meltied my heart into a massive puddle on the floor.

After about fifteen minutes, Nurse Kristin wheeled me back to my Postpartum Room so Christian and I could catch some sleep during the NICU’s Lullabytime and so we could meet our new nurse, Sue. At this point, I could start moving my legs around a little bit, but still didn’t have the full feeling back in them. We pulled Dagny up on our NicView screen (an online baby-cam that they have on her throughout her entire stay in the NICU so that we can watch her from our room) and promptly took a cat nap.

By the time I woke up about an hour later to pump, I was able to bend my knees, rotate my legs from my hips, and wiggle my toes; the tingling had disappeared from my legs and they were no longer heavy on the bed. My husband went back over to the NICU to spend some time with our daughter and Nurse Sue came back in and asked if I thought I was ready to try standing up and getting into a wheelchair so that I could go visit Dagny whenever I wanted.

we were off to the races.


I’ll spare everyone the rest of the details about recovery, but, should you ever find yourself getting a C-Section here are a few tips:

  • It’s not going to be as bad as everyone tells you it is. Truly. I was terrified ahead of time because I’ve heard awful stories from people about their experience (and because I’m a weinie with anything medical), but the whole process was way less scary than I thought. For the medical team, this is a routine surgery so they all moved about confidently and helped calm me down.

  • The spinal tap is a bizarre feeling, but you truly do not feel any pain once it kicks in and it kicks in fast. It hardly takes any time at all to get placed and didn’t hurt in the slightest. Really, it was a breeze. If you are having contractions ahead of going in c-section (especially pitocin-induced ones), trust me, you will be ready for the spinal tap no matter how nervous you are about it beforehand. You will still feel touch and pressure during the surgery which takes a bit of getting used to, but just breathe through it and trust that you are in very good hands. Remember, you’re about to meet your kid!

  • look to your support people (be it a nurse, one of the doctors, or your actual support person) to tell you how things are going. For me, it was incredibly helpful that my anesthesiologist was giving me updates about my daughter: telling me “your daughter will be here in about two minutes” and “thirty seconds” and “she’s here! She’s beautiful! Do you hear her crying?” helped me to focus on what we were all there for and not start freaking myself out over the surgery part of things. Nurse Kristin and Nurse Sue, along with Doctor Sampson, were all “we’ve got you girl” through the entire morning. And my doctor husband was keeping an eye on both of us to make sure both of his girls were being treated with the best of care.

  • be honest about your level of pain and your pain goals. The whole “rate your pain from 1-10” thing has never made any sense to me. I don’t know what a “Level 10” pain feels like (well, maybe after today I have a better idea) or what a “Level 1” pain feels like, so I asked my nurses how they would describe it so that I knew we were all speaking the same language. Be realistic about where you want to be; you won’t have zero pain either during labor or post-operatively, but you can certainly be comfortable enough to walk around, hold your baby, and go to the bathroom. Don’t be shy about taking medicine as recommended by your nurses and doctors throughout the entire process: they are not going to recommend anything that will be harmful to you or your baby. You just had a baby and major abdominal surgery. enjoy these first few days together, Don’t be miserable, take the meds.

  • Being able to go to the bathroom again will be the greatest gift of your life. That being said, learn from my mistake: leave your foley catheter in for the recommended 24-hours. I was feeling so great about twelve hours after my surgery (thank you spinal tap still swirling around) that my nurse let me take my catheter out early and, let me tell you … having to pee, but not physically being able to is the most distressing feeling ever … and it means you’ll have to be “straight-cathed” in order to relieve your bladder. Trust me, pregnancy and motherhood becomes a shameless enough experience as it is, you don’t need to add the adventure of laying on your bed in modified frog-pose while your body is forced to pee in a pan. Talk about over-exposure. And poor Nurse Taylore.

  • Ask for an ice pack. I didn’t do this until when nurse Cailee recommended it to me when I told her I wanted to start weaning off of the heavier pain meds as soon as possible. It really does help while you are sitting in bed. You can even tuck it underneath your binder to still give you comfort as you are walking around.

  • Buy high-rise underwear. While you are in the hospital they will give you the softest mesh underwear and you will be good as gold, but once you are out of the hospital you will not want to go back to your normal bikini cut pairs, trust me. One day of having to fold my underwear down to the point where it wasn’t even worth having them at all and I immediately found myself in the undergarments section of Target buying Hanes seamless High-rise underwear. You might feel like a grandma wearing them, but it sure beats being more uncomfortable than you need to be.

More tomorrow!

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Day 1 | Patiently Wait (Our Induction Story)


The Adventure

Enjoy our final day being a family of two and (try to) patiently wait for 5:30pm when we head to the hospital to start our induction process.

The Contender

Likely the least patient person you have ever met.

The Experience

5:37 am

Today started like any other.
I woke up to my 5:00am alarm (because I am an insane person).
I made a cup of coffee using the tea kettle/french press method I have grown to really love and appreciate.
I annoyed Dizzy by turning lights on in the living room where she had been sleeping all night.
I put my pants on one leg at a time (albeit, i did put them on backwards initially … and they were jeans … i put jeans on backwards … let that sink in).

unlike every other morning, though, this morning will be the last that I spend in my home without a newborn baby taking up residence.

that’s right friends. today is the day we go in for our induction to get Lil’ D safely landed on the ground.

Today is a day we have been wishing for since finding out, nine weeks ago, that she was measuring in the 4th-percentile: launching us into a series of high-risk pregnancy appointments, weekly non-stress tests and biophysical profiles, and being grateful, each week, that she had made it one week closer to her due date.

Our little iugr-baby has plugged along and continued to get A+ marks on all of her tests. She squeaked into the 5th percentile at her last growth scan and has made both of our doctors (and us!) breath a sigh of relief that she has reached the point where she, likely, won’t have to spend any time in the nicu.

even with all of those positive reviews, though, our doctors do not want me to go past 38-weeks pregnant for the safety of baby girl, which means we are heading into the hospital today - at 37-weeks - to get this little show on the road.

For the most part, it all seems entirely surreal.
This will be my last morning waking up at home without her sleeping next me.
the last morning I’m the first one to know she’s awake because she’s kicking me in the ribs or has her early-morning hiccups.
The last morning we are just a family of four (because the dogs totally count).

Today started just any other perfectly normal, regular, good ole’ fashioned day - like many hundreds of others before it.

I’ll allow myself to believe that while I still can (read: before the anxiety sets in).


9:18 am

sixteen deer enjoyed the chilly Spring early hours in our front yard this morning. We’ve been seeing this little herd roaming around our property over the last week or so, but we haven’t had the chance to watch so many of them so close to the house before.

It’s on mornings like this that I am so beyond grateful for our home and the beauty we get to experience all around us. I know it will be magical to be able to share this with Baby Girl.

Now that I’m not the only person awake in my house (and in my phone), waves of “holy S***!” rush over me intermittently.
These waves will soon be replaced with contractions (fingers crossed), but for now I’m just trying to take peaceful moments like the one presented to us this morning as signs that everything will be Ok.

for a brief moment, it was snowing outside. I believe good things always happen when it snows. I know most midwesterners won’t be in the same camp after the Winter we’ve experienced over the course of the last eight weeks, but I’m perfectly alright with not joining the “fun” of complaining about Winter … when I live in Wisconsin. Not to mention the fact that the amount of snow falling wouldn’t even fill the tiniest of snow globes.

If the deer aren’t complaining about the Winter we’ve had, I don’t think we have any room to either.

There are many moments in life when you feel like you are “entering a new chapter”, but this is truly one of those moments.

I have absolutely no idea what to expect from my life once the next ten hours have lapsed.

Because in ten hours, I’ll be in the Labor + delivery department, strapped to machines, getting induced and waiting for our girl to arrive safely in the outside world.

I have no clue how my world will change in a matter of hours.
that is an equally un-nerving and totally exciting feeling to experience.

For now, I’m going to take a morning nap, marathon watch Season 1 of vanderpump rules, and pretend like I have everything under control.



2:22 pm

Well my Vanderpump Rules Marathon is over and now Tardy for the Party is on and I just can’t with that show (yes, I do realize the audacity of the bar I have for judging reality television).

All of the laundry is folded and put away.
The dishwasher is empty.
I’ve anxiously eaten all of the fruit snacks in my house.
And I still have 3 hours to wait until we leave for the hospital. Good thing both pups are always willing to go for walks to keep my mind busy.

5:32 pm

We’re scheduled for our induction at 6:30, but were instructed to call an hour ahead of time to make sure they aren’t too busy to get us in.

Guess who called and found out they’re too busy right now? This girl. We were asked to call back in another hour to see if they have worked their way through these admissions and can still have us come in.

The waiting continues ... Have I mentioned I’m not a very patient person?

6:32 pm

The call has been made and we got the all-clear to make our way to the hospital.
Immediately upon hanging up, I felt like I was going to burst into tears and throw up all at the same time.
Luckily only the former happened.

The magnitude of how drastically different life will be in just a few hours became monumental.
The next time I would be in my house, I would have a daughter.
The next time I would see my dogs, I would have a daughter.
The next time I would drive down our street, I would have a daughter.
The next time I see a cow, I would have a daughter.
The next time I see the Roehl Fieldhouse about 0.5 miles from the hospital, I would have a daughter.

Everyone tells me I have no idea what will hit me when she is born and how I’ll suddenly wonder how I’ve lived my whole life without her.

For now, I’m just totally freaking out a little and stress-eating a bag of pretzels on the way to the hospital.

I have no clue how my world will change in a matter of hours.
That is an equally un-nerving and totally exciting feeling to experience.

8:02 pm

We made it to the hospital and down to the Birth Center without anymore hysteria.
All of the nurses seem really nice and got me situated in an exam room while I wait for my room to finish being cleaned.

Room 2 is where all of the action will be happening..


“Get some rest tonight.” They said.
“The first few doses of Cytotec will be uneventful.” They said.

They were wrong.

Shortly after I took my first dose to get labor going the cramps began and Lil’ D got a little excited causing a series of three nurses to run in, readjust the monitors, and tell me I’m to stay laying on my right side because the baby didn’t like it when I laid on my back or my left.

She’s calling the shots now.

Let the games begin.
Are you ready for it?

Taylor Swift might be, but I am not so sure I am.

Welcome to My Project


The Girl

My name is Dani and I am a 32-year-old wife and mother of two ridiculous pit bulls, and an April baby-to-be.
I live on a farm-ette in rural Wisconsin and have absolutely no idea how to take care of all of it.
I am a dance teacher who will always leap in public places, squeal at Nutcracker music, and value being a good role model over everything else.
I have worked for 11 years in the animal behavior and welfare industry and will unwaveringly advocate for animals and the people who dedicate their lives to being their voice.
I will always notify you when there are rainbows or cows in sight.
I believe good things happen when it snows.
I could eat nachos seven days a week for the rest of my life.
I am a professional bargain shopper.
I am an early bird.
If I am not between a 3 and a 7 on the emotional scale, I'm crying.
I will celebrate all of the Holidays, even the littlest, silliest ones.
I am 100% an Aries - independent, impatient (working on it), headstrong (working on it).
My greatest pet peeves are people who make noise in the movie theater, dried up Sharpies, group texts, and people who don't put their shopping carts away.
I believe there is always a good reason to drink cheap champagne.
I become a vicious monster if I haven't eaten in more than three hours.
I, like many women, have gone through the devastation of a miscarriage, but I choose to become strengthened by the experience and grateful for the universe’s plan.
I am learning how to cook but have an irrational fear of setting my house on fire.
I am namas'cray about hot yoga.
I lived in Wyoming for three years and it will always hold a big piece of my heart.
Seasons of Love will forever be my favorite song of all time.
Leslie Knope, Taylor Swift, and Princess Anna are my soul sisters.
If I were a breakfast pastry I would be a toasted butter croissant.
I will light Christmas candles and leave at least one string of twinkle lights up year-round.
I am an awkward conversationalist and DREAD having small talk.
My favorite places are Walt Disney World, New York City, and Yellowstone National Park.
I have a strong aversion about my hands and feet unexpectedly touching slimy stuff and will not swim in open water.
My favorite color is yellow.
If I were a dog, I would be a Jack Russell Terrier.
I believe impossible things are possible, that life is beautiful even when it is hard, and that the universe works in mysterious ways when we are on our true path. 

I believe we live in a wonderful world full of beauty, wonder, charm, love, and laughter and there is no end to the adventures we can have if only we have the courage, curiosity, and presence to seek them.
But I have a lot of life-long limiting habits that have kept me from experiencing them.
I live for schedules, plans, and a color-coordinated closet.
I am perfectly content staying within my comfort zone and using any excuse possible to not say what I want to say, not do what I want to do, and not be what I want to be if there is even the slightest amount of fear present.
I will avoid anything challenging even if I know it would be good for me.
I am totally okay blending in, going with the flow, and not creating any waves.
I am programmed to automatically say “No” when an opportunity presents itself.


The Inspiration

In February of 2018, I completed the Disney Princess Half Marathon, seven weeks pregnant, totally unprepared, and it completely changed my life.

As I ran across the finish line, I broke into tears realizing I had completed something I had fully convinced myself would never happen.
It was a moment when I realized I was much stronger, braver, and resilient than I allowed myself to believe.
It was a moment when I realized I was capable of accomplishing much more than what I tell myself to strive for.
It was a moment when I realized life is only limited by the beliefs and restrictions we create for ourselves.

On the way home from Florida, as I tried hard not to wince every time I had to move my legs, I started brainstorming ways I could keep this feeling alive: the feeling of accomplishing anything I set my mind, the feeling of wanting to live a bright and bold adventurous life.

I decided, on that Delta Airlines flight, I would set the goal to be more adventurous every day while on my training journey to being able to run the RunDisney Dopey Challenge: 48.6 miles in a series of four races through Walt Disney World over four days.

It was the perfect plan to continue on this race-running high and the best way I could think of to be the best role model for my soon-to-arrive baby.
I was energized, excited, and eager to get started with my little peanut in tow.

Two weeks after I crossed the finish line at Epcot, I was completely crushed when we found out the strong likelihood that I had lost our first pregnancy.

A pregnancy we had found out about just over one month ago, that had completely changed our world, and that had slipped through our fingers like sand. The idea of names and nurseries, hedgehog-patterned swaddle blankets and giant Pooh Bears had to be set aside for another patient day of peeing on a stick.

In our first ultrasound, fours days after the race, the what-was-to-be-baby measured ten days behind where we anticipated. I, naive and hopeful, thought nothing of it.
It was early, everything looked healthy, and the doctor wasn't worried; he scheduled us for an ultrasound one week later, where we were excited to see a tiny little peanut appear.

The second ultrasound, more thorough than the first, showed our not-likely-to-be-baby had not yet made its debut.
In fact, nothing had changed at all. It wasn't boding well. I hoped our doctor would reassure us that everything was still alright even though every fiber in my being was telling me it wasn't. He couldn't.

He recommended one last ultrasound one week later to give we're-just-hoping-to-be-fashionably-late-baby a chance to materialize.
Many tears, many bars of chocolate, and many wishes that I could drink a glass (or six) of champagne later, I became prepared for the news that 99.9% of me believed to be the truth already: I was no longer pregnant. Yet, I was not NOT pregnant because my body was still holding onto something that stopped growing nearly four weeks ago.

I had a D+C procedure, less than four hours after that final ultrasound, the one that finally confirmed what we had been expecting: I was having a miscarriage.

It was like waking up from one of those immensely vivid pregnancy dreams that used to horrify me in college - the ones that feel palpably real, but were just my brain's way of processing the fact that I was bloated from too much cheese bread.

I had woken up (from anesthesia), no longer pregnant, shoved to go right back to the "normal" life I had been leading for the last 32-years.

Was I OK?

Most of the time I was - shockingly so at times. I probably didn’t handle it in the way people think I should have - I had plenty of people who didn’t see my meltdowns in the shower or on the way home from my first Hot Yoga class post-D+C tell me, “You know it’s ok to not be ok” or make a concerned face when I would joke about being able to drink champagne again - but in my grown up years I have grown quite accustomed to doing things my way.

Through the process, I would return to my key beliefs that "everything happens for a reason" and "the universe works in mysterious, magical, and intentional ways".

When the (many) Facebook pregnancy announcements would pop up on my News Feed, I would mentally go through all of the incredible and amazing things to be grateful for in my life and understand is a normal occurrence for 25% of pregnancies in their first trimester.

I was placed at the beginning of a new path: one I wasn't intending.

I decided, on that Delta Airlines flight, I would set the goal to be more adventurous every day while on my training journey to being able to run the RunDisney Dopey Challenge: 48.6 miles in a series of four races through Walt Disney World over four days.


The Project

through the ups and downs, here I am almost an entire year from crossing the finish line of my first half marathon and my first pregnancy with a burning desire to turn those experiences into something even more life-changing.

These life experiences also taught me how much stronger we are than we give ourselves credit for: taking a chance and pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones (and past all of the self-limiting thoughts we tell ourselves) brings us to a place where we can learn how capable we are and the amazing things that can happen on the other side of fear.

I am happy to be able to share I am now standing with a 37-week-old pregnancy of a healthy Baby Girl and with two major life experiences under my belt that have taught me how quickly fleeting moments can go by: these tiny moments can turn into days, and months, and years and suddenly we are left wishing we had stayed a little more present, been a little more grateful, and taken a few more chances.

Running a half marathon is a very lonely experience.
It's just you and the road. You, alone, have to push yourself to keep moving forward.
No one can understand the exact mental and physical rollercoaster you are going through, even if they have been through it themselves.
Going through a miscarriage feels pretty much the exact same way … except that no one talks about it.

But through both experiences you learn similar things.
You learn how much stronger you can be in the face of adversity.
You learn how many people are rooting you on.
You learn how to be patient and trust that, eventually, the end will present itself.
You learn that you just have to tell yourself “You CAN do this” one more time than you say “You can’t”.
You learn how glorious the celebration at the finish line can be.

That is the true inspiration and my goal to live healthy, live foolish, and live outside of my comfort zone - an idea that crossed my mind as I crossed the finish lane in the parking lot of Epcot, but seems even more important now.

Powered by an excess of decaf coffee and La Croix, a daily chocolate habit, two rambunctious dogs, a stack of personal development books, an unwaveringly supportive family, and a love of all things Disney, I invite you to follow along in my self-doubt and sore-muscle filled journey to seek daily motherhood, Midwestern-living, and “finding my muchness” adventures while on my way to going from couch to Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge.