Monday, December 30, 2019

A Baby Story

A little over a week ago I turned 39. If you had asked me 20 years ago if I thought I'd be pregnant with my first baby at this age, I would never have believed it. But, as I've learned through many experiences, events in life unfold exactly as they should, in their own time, despite what we may otherwise wish would happen.

I have always wanted to be a mother and although I tried my best to be patient in realizing this dream, truth be told, there were many times when I wondered if this would ever happen for me. I've been single most of my life and as each birthday came and went (particularly into my thirties), I was becoming fearful of my ever ticking 'biological clock'. About three years ago I went so far as to consult with my doctor about options for having a baby on my own and started doing lots of reading and research on single motherhood. While this route wasn't my first choice, I wasn't willing to give up on my dream simply because I hadn't yet found the right guy. After all my research, I had a choice to make: move forward with having a baby on my own or wait a while longer and see what else my dating life had in store for me, all while my fertile window was closing (damn you biology!!!). I decided to wait...six months later I met the man who would become my husband.

pregnancy baby story
I've already started shopping for Baby R., including a thrift store cable knit sweater

After Farmer Man and I married this past summer we decided that because of my 'advanced maternal age' (which is apparently the nicer term for a 'geriatric pregnancy'), we would start trying for a baby right away. I fully expected it would take months of trying because of my age and because of so many stories I've heard of people struggling to conceive, particularly as they get older. I did lots of research on conception, bought ovulation test strips, and used cycle tracking apps all in the hopes of increasing our chances.

About a month after we started accurately tracking ovulation, I decided to take a pregnancy test 'just for fun'. I say this because even though we were actively trying for a baby, I really, truly did not think it would happen so quickly so I was expecting a negative result. Well, again, events in life unfold in their own time and I found out that day that I WAS PREGNANT!! I called Farmer Man and told him there was a very faint line on the pregnancy test and that I would take another just to be sure. We were both excited but also hesitant to believe that it was really true. I also initially felt really freaked out at the thought of this little thing growing in my body! It's such a weird experience and I really didn't know what to expect or how to react.

Could not believe my eyes when I saw the very faint lines

I wasn't really sure what to do at that point but I quickly found out that there's really not much you can do except wait and hope for the best. Miscarriage rates are higher for older women as are rates of abnormal chromosomal issues so although we were really happy and excited, this excitement was tempered knowing that really anything could happen. As the weeks progressed, I was feeling pretty good overall, with very mild symptoms. Then at around 7 weeks, I started to have spotting (light bleeding) along with cramping and low back pain and was fearful that I was losing the baby. Our first prenatal appointment wasn't scheduled for another 2 weeks so we had no way of knowing if everything was developing normally. Luckily, I was able to get an appointment with another doctor a week later and cried as we heard the little heartbeat during the ultrasound. Baby R. was measuring right on schedule and they couldn't find any reason for the spotting- all was well.

Per my doctor's recommendation, we did opt to do a couple genetic tests at 10 weeks and subsequently, the sex of the baby was also determined. I did not want to find out the sex until the baby was born as it just wasn't something that was important to me and I prefer more gender neutral clothes, toys, and decor. I also thought it would be such a fun surprise on 'birth day'.  Farmer Man made several passionate speeches as to why he felt it was important to find out the sex and because it seemed very important to him, I had the doctor write it down on a card at my 13 week checkup. We now know the sex of Baby R. but are going to keep that between us and our close friends and family. We have settled on a name as well, but we are keeping that a secret until birth day!


Based on what I've read and heard about pregnancy symptoms, I feel very lucky to have had a pretty easy time of things overall so far (other than the scary bleeding incident). I had some mild nausea during the first trimester, usually setting in around dinner time and remedied with crackers and apple slices and not lasting more than a few weeks. My only cravings so far have been apples, orange juice, and BLT sandwiches. Farmer Man has been very helpful and thoughtful, always offering to run up to the store or rub my back if need be!

Crafty Teacher Lady Pregnancy

I'm now 16 weeks along and there has not been one day that's gone by that I haven't felt SO GRATEFUL for this opportunity. Because I've waited so long to become a mother and because I have witnessed grief in the hearts of some of my very best and dearest loved ones who've struggled with infertility and miscarriage, it is impossible for me to take this opportunity for granted. I've cried many tears of grief for the hurt of those who long to be parents but have not yet been given the opportunity- it weighs heavy on my heart.  I honestly don't know why I've been given this opportunity and I don't know how this story will/could end, but I feel so incredibly thankful and grateful!


Sunday, September 22, 2019

A Love Story Part 5: Our Wedding

We've now arrived at the last of my 'love story' posts, OUR WEDDING! 
Before I share the details, you can watch our wedding video HERE!




We started our wedding plans a month and a half before we were actually engaged. To many people, this may seem very untraditional, but we decided to make our own rules and do what was best for us! We knew we wanted to get married within the year and if we were to marry in Maine (which was really important to me), it just seemed logical to do it before I moved to Virginia. Neither of us envisioned a huge wedding on which we would spend a lot of money and with our short timeline that didn't seem to make sense logistically. We liked the intimacy of an elopement but also liked the idea of having some close friends and family with us to celebrate after, so we ending up doing a hybrid of both!

I had searched 'city hall elopement' in Google and ended up coming across some absolutely beautiful photos of weddings at Portland City Hall (the building is quite stunning inside and out). Portland is were I was born and I thought it would be fitting to marry here before I moved away to Virginia...a nice 'farewell to Maine' if you will. We decided we would get married just the two of us and then have a small group of family and friends meet us for dinner afterward. The perfect blend of intimacy and celebration.

But as is the case with all 'perfect' plans, there's usually something that goes awry and our wedding was no exception. A few months before our wedding day I called the city clerk to make sure they would be open the day after July 4th to which she assured me they would be. Then, four days BEFORE our wedding day, I got a notice that said the city manager had just decided to close on July 5th so we wouldn't be able to get married there after all. You can imagine my panic after receiving this news since our wedding was at the end of the week! Fortunately, after my mom contacted the city manager directly, he kindly offered to personally open up City Hall to us on our wedding day, which meant we ended up having the whole building to ourselves- a truly private ceremony!

We stayed at The Regency Hotel in Portland's Old Port section, which is centrally located between Portland City Hall and the ferry to Great Diamond Island. We checked in on July 4th and spent that evening with Farmer Man's parents and close friends who were able to make it up from Virginia for the wedding festivities. Lobster rolls and fireworks were on the agenda!

The next morning, our wedding day, we ordered breakfast and then I sent Farmer Man to a hang out with his buddies while I got ready. I hid in the bathroom while he popped back in to our room to put on his suit before heading outside to wait for me. We did a 'first look' in front of the hotel then walked together to city hall to say our vows.




Maine Elopement






City Hall Elopement Dress

After our exchanging our vows, we walked through the streets of the Portland Old Port down to the waterfront where our immediate family and some close friends were waiting. We all took a scenic ferry cruise of Casco Bay to Great Diamond Island where we had a lovely, intimate dinner in an old brick barn on the island. The space was gorgeous enough that I didn't really need to do much decorating, which was great. I did, however, make our 'just married' sign out of a thrift store frame, sewed some simple table runners, and purchased the white lanterns for the floral centerpieces from IKEA, which all went well with our coastal setting. The Maine coast is absolutely breathtaking, particularly in the summer, and we are so happy to have had this special island outing. 















Other Details
After watching lots of YouTube tutorials, I decided to do my own hair and makeup. I'm very particular and decided to trust myself (and practice SEVERAL times before the big day). A couple of my friends came to the hotel and helped me get ready, which was really helpful.

I found my dress for $120 from Lauren Bridal. The website doesn't have very good reviews and I didn't know if it would actually fit or be good quality but the price was great so I decided to take a chance and order the dress. It ended up fitting really well and was exactly what I imagined for a city hall elopement!

My shoes are Badgely Mischka via Amazon and are the prettiest shoes I've ever worn! They were also the most uncomfortable shoes I've ever worn but the look was totally worth the pain! At $123, they were the priciest part of my outfit but I have no regrets- so beautiful!

I was on the fence about wearing a veil with a short dress but ended up ordering a simple $25 style from Etsy. Luckily, one of the friends helping me get ready on the wedding day was really persistent in convincing me to wear it. It ended up completing my look perfectly and made the photos and videos that much more beautiful! My entire wedding day look cost less than $300, perfect for a budget-friendly, low key wedding.

Farmer Man wore a suit coat & pants from H&M, paired with a shirt, shoes, and a belt that he already owned. I purchased his tie from Amazon, which completed his look for under $120. He could pretty much wear anything and look handsome!







Wedding Venders/Sources
Floral Arrangements: CM Skerritt Designs
Photography: Molly & Victoria Co.
Videographer: Miles Drouin
Marriage Venue: Portland City Hall, Portland, Maine
Officiant: Janice Gardner of Hitch Maine
Reception Dinner: The Art Gallery at Diamond's Edge Restaurant, Great Diamond Island
Ferry: Casco Bay Lines
Wedding Whoopie Pies: The European Bakery (owned by one of my former teaching colleagues)
Invitations & Place Cards: Minted 

Following our wedding, we had a more casual "I Do BBQ" in both Maine and Virginia so we could invite and celebrate with a larger group of extended family and friends, both of which were really fun and relatively stress-free! Our wedding day was everything we hoped it would be, the intimacy of both our ceremony and dinner was very special and being able to celebrate with more family and friends after the fact only added to our happy memories.

Some have wondered if people were upset or offended because we got married without anyone at the ceremony and had a very limited guest list for the dinner reception. To that I would answer that the couple getting married should do what feels right to them and those who love them will understand and respect their choices, whatever they may be! Thank you for for reading our love story!



Friday, September 6, 2019

A Love Story Part 4: An Engagement

After I spent the summer in Virginia, Farmer Man and I knew we wanted to continue to be together and that I would eventually move to be with him. I was starting a new school year so we would have to go back to long-distance dating for 10 months before I could make the move. With such a big step, naturally we also talked about our shared desire to get engaged/married within the next year to solidify that we were fully committed to being together.

Fall and winter came and went and before we knew it spring was here. At the beginning of March, Farmer Man and I were talking about the move and making future plans and the topic of marriage came up once again. I knew I wanted to get married in Maine (and Farmer Man was open to that) and we knew that we wanted to get married sometime within the year. We weren't even engaged yet but somehow the wedding plans were already being made! We ended up picking the venue and subsequently the date of our wedding a month and a half BEFORE we were actually engaged!

During April vacation I went to Virginia to spend the week with Farmer Man. Since we had already made the wedding plans, a proposal was just a matter of time! I was really hoping this would be the week he would propose but really had no idea where or how he would do it. At the start of our week together we drove down to Charleston, SC to visit some friends and I thought maybe it would happen there since there are so many beautiful and romantic spots. On the other hand, I really couldn't picture him proposing in front of other people and thought maybe he wanted to do it somewhere closer to home in a place that was special to us.


Toward the end of the week, we were back in Virginia and the proposal hadn't happened yet. I was beginning to wonder if he was going to do it at all! On the day before I was going to head back to Maine, he said a couple of his friends wanted to meet us for dinner that night at one of our favorite restaurants in one of my favorite little nearby towns. As we were getting ready for dinner that night, he said his friends cancelled and it would be just the two of us going to dinner. We parked and were walking down the street toward the restaurant and I commented that it was a bit chilly so he ran back to the car saying he would look for a jacket (little did I know but he was actually taking the ring out of his glove box)!!

We had a lovely dinner together and as we were walking back toward the car he stopped me on the street corner in front of a bed and breakfast, pulled me close, kissed me and told me he loved me. Then, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! I jokingly said 'OK, how bout July 5th?' since that was the date we had already picked for the wedding. He put the ring on my finger and told me he knew how much I loved that little town and now we would have to come back each year and stay in the bed and breakfast to remember the night we got engaged! It was sweet, thoughtful, romantic, private, and understated- just very 'Farmer Man'!


The proposal was on the street corner just behind me in Smithfield, Virginia

The ring design is something we both love- a very simple and classic style. What makes it special and unique, however, is that the center diamond belonged to Farmer Man's grandmother! It would serve as my 'something old' on our wedding day.




Before I left to go back to Maine, we took a few engagement photos on the farm so we could finally make our happy news known to the world! Our wedding was only 2.5 months away so as soon as I was back in Maine, the planning was in full swing (along with getting my house ready to sell and preparing to leave my teaching career of 15 years)! Needless to say, it was the most hectic few months I've ever experienced!

Here's the next part of the story:
A Love Story Part 5: The Wedding

Other Parts of This Series
A Love Story Part 1: The Single Life
A Love Story Part 2: Unexpected Double Date
A Love Story Part 3: Long Distance Relationship


Thursday, August 22, 2019

A Love Story Part 3: Long Distance Relationship

After our awesome first/second dates in Maine, Farmer Man went back home to Virginia. I cried when he left because there's was so much uncertainty about what would happen at that point and I knew he was someone special. He called me on his drive back home and we chatted for a while but still, what was next for us?

I asked him if I could come visit him as I'd always wanted to visit Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg, both 'bucket list' places for this social studies teacher! He told me he'd love for me to visit and so I planned a trip to see him at the end of March (which was about six weeks away...an agonizing wait)!

In the meantime, we chatted on the phone every couple of days, sent funny texts, which often referenced our common love of The Office, and got to know each other more with each conversation. We discussed early on what each other's goals were in terms of a relationship because neither of us were interested in wasting the other person's time. I was very clear that I wanted marriage and kids and told him it was OK if those weren't things he was ready for, he just needed to be upfront with me.  I'm 5.5 years older than him and was definitely in a place where I was looking to settled down with 'my person'. He said he was open to both and I said that if things ever worked out between us, I'd be open to moving since he was working on turning his family's land into a farm & campground and I could theoretically teach anywhere (more on that decision in another post).

The end of March arrived and I went to visit Farmer Man for the first time. We were both a bit nervous because we had only spent 1.25 days together and hadn't seen each other in about 6 weeks. But, we had a great time together and made plans to see each other again the following month. At that point, I'm not sure either of us knew what was going to happen between us since dating long distance is complicated, we just knew that we liked being together and spending time together so we continued to make plans to see one another over the next several months.

              Our first photo together, on a ship at Jamestown during my first visit to see Farmer Man

                                                       Long weekend in Rhode Island

By the beginning of June, we decided that I'd spend my summer vacation in Virginia so we could spend more than just a long weekend together once a month. It would be our 'make it or break it' trial period to see what the future would bring for us. At the end of the summer, we would either decide to end things or we would decide we were in it for the long haul, having to endure long distance for a whole school year as neither of us were ready for me to move that first summer but I couldn't up and move in the middle of a school year so if we stayed together, we would have to wait until the next summer for me to move.

 With Baby Daisy on the farm last summer

Camping with my Farmer Man

The summer months went by quickly and by the end of August, we were both 'all in' and knew we wanted to be together. I went back to Maine to start my 15th year teaching and Farmer Man stayed in Virginia. It was really tough to go back to long distance dating after spending every day together for two months. We talked on the phone every day but some days/weeks were really tough to be apart. Our communication styles are very different, which made staying connected pretty difficult at times. We've been asked what the 'secret' is to making it through a long distance relationship and both of us agree there really isn't one- it pretty much sucks and the only way through is a common commitment to the end goal- which is the day that you will actually be together without any distance between you.

 Suffolk, Virginia Peanut Festival

 With my very handsome wedding date 
(I officiated the wedding of my very good friends)

 Our first Thanksgiving together at my home in Maine

The only photo we got of our first Christmas, waiting for our flight from Maine to Virginia in the Portland Jetport

Celebrated our anniversary in February and went back to the restaurant where it all started!

For the next 10 months, we saw each other about every 4 weeks, give or take, me going to Virginia or him coming up to Maine, spending holidays together with our families, spending time with each others friends. We knew for sure that I would move at the end of the school year and we knew that we wanted to be engaged before that happened...turns out, not only would we be engaged but we would be MARRIED before I moved that summer!

Up Next...

Read PART 1 HERE & PART 2 HERE