11 months ago
Q&A: How I’m Doing, Margot’s Diagnosis, and Life with Two
It’s been a few months since my last Q&A, so today I’m going to answer all your questions about life with two girls during a pandemic, how I’m doing since Margot’s diagnosis, and I’ll share a few links to some commonly asked about items, too. There were a lot of requests for my newborn essentials and Margot’s favorite toys at age 2, but I’m working on blog posts that I’ll share soon. I’ve also been asked how we found out she had Leukemia, so I’ll share the short version in this post. I regularly talk about things “after Margot’s diagnosis” because everything changed so much. Just know that’s not me trying to reference it as much as possible. Linking products at the bottom of my post, and just a reminder that most of what you see in my home can be found in my shop.
How are you doing/holding up? Are you getting support from anyone other than your husband?
This was by far the most asked question, and is one I get almost daily. I know I said that hearing “how are you” is triggering, but there’s such a difference between “how are you?” in a casual conversation and someone messaging because they really want to know how I’m doing. It feels so sincere and genuine, so thank you to everyone who asked.
On any given day, I am anxious, completely broken, happy, and grateful. It’s all so up and down. I never know when it’s really going to hit me, but I can’t be anything other than happy when she’s laughing and playing. My anxiety over all the firsts (chemo, surgery, port access etc) was consuming, but she always did better than expected and we got through it. We are really struggling with food and weight (she’s not eating much) so that stresses me out, too, and chemo makes it so much harder. Yesterday, I held Margot as she fell asleep and couldn’t hold back the tears once she was peacefully sleeping in my arms. I cried because of how much I love her and because my heart feels broken. The greatest joy, the most love, and the most pain I’ve ever felt all at once. It’s a lot. More than anyone is strong enough for, but I don’t have a choice, and I’d do it all again a million times over for either of my girls. I’d give literally anything – my health, my home, and every last dollar to make this go away.
I did start talking to my therapist right before Margot’s diagnosis. We were in touch when we were in the hospital and never knew how Margot was going to be feeling, so scheduling calls with her was impossible. She was so flexible and we made it work a few times, but it was so hard. Naps are now very inconsistent and it’s just the two of us with the girls. Once we get on more of a schedule I’ll figure something out. I am so lucky to have great friends, but when you’re going through something like this, most people don’t know what to say. It’s so hard. One of my best friends is going through her own journey with cancer. She’s one of the kindest and most loving people I know. Not sure I could get through this without her.
What does your work from home schedule look like these days?
We had the most wonderful nanny who we still talk to and have a great relationship with, but she stopped coming when the stay at home order went into place. At that point, both Conor and I were working from home and never really had it completely figured out, but made it work. We’d alternate working and watching Margot, and there was way too much TV time but we got by. When Margot was diagnosed, we both took time off work. I am on maternity leave through the end of September but the harder part of Margot’s treatment will start right when maternity leave ends and lasts for about two months, so I’m planning on taking the rest of the year off to get Margot through treatment. Once she is in maintenance, I will go back to work from home. I’m going to help shoot a few campaigns but can’t be at the computer all day when things are hard. We also cannot safely have a nanny with COVID and will not have anyone in our home until our girls are not at risk. We’ll figure it out when the time comes.
What are some small joys you’ve had during this very difficult season?
Having these days with my two girls. The first time Margot said “I love you, Mommy” and “I want to snuggle you to ever” (to ever = forever). Any time she smiles, laughs, or plays. After watching her lay in a hospital bed unwilling to walk for weeks, nothing brings me more joy than watching her dance and sing. Meeting our Kate. Those sweet newborn snuggles and first smiles. Conor being able to be there for the delivery and seeing him hold her for the first time.
We have also planned some distance visits with friends, and those have been life-giving. It’s so strange not getting to hug anyone, but spending time with friends outside while we can (inside visits are not happening for us until COVID is over) is everything right now.
How do you keep in touch with friends these days?
Since Margot’s diagnosis, there’s been a huge shift in how I communicate with friends since I sort of hate the phone now. It drains me and feels like time away from my girls. I was always someone who prefers a call over texting, but there are friends I haven’t spoken to since we were first in the hospital with Margot. They know I love them and we text from time to time, but that I just can’t do the phone, and I am lucky that they understand.
Small talk isn’t a thing for me right now and I want to write more about this, but I just can’t be a good friend right now. It’s something I feel awful about, but it’s my reality and everyone seems to understand. I do really enjoy seeing people on our patio (from a distance, of course). It helps to have those real, face-to-face connections.
How has the pandemic affected being an influencer?
My blog is very much part-time, but I actually had some big campaigns lined up before Margot got sick. I pulled out of both to fully focus on Margot and took time away from my blog the last 2.5 months, so it hasn’t really changed anything for me. The Everygirl and The Everymom are doing so well, and I am beyond grateful for our amazing team.
Do you see yourself moving any time soon?
We plan on staying in this house for another three (or so) years and will either stay where we are or go back downtown. We will ideally move around the time Margot starts kindergarten.
How is it going back to no sleep?
It hasn’t been that bad, but in my defense, I spent two weeks in the hospital with a toddler on steroids who was up for hours each night, so things are actually better now than they were before. I’m tired, but that’s mostly because we go to bed far too late (after Kate’s last feeding between 10PM-12AM) and wake up at 7AM. Kate is up once or twice to feed in between those hours, but she goes right down after.
How are you managing life with two? You make it look easy.
I am managing. It is not easy, and I am sorry if I’ve made it seem that way because I’d never want another mom to feel that I have a better handle on two than she does. There are crazy moments, the laundry is never ending, and I don’t really ever have a moment to myself, but, nothing matters more than these two girls. I’m writing this at 8PM and haven’t showered today.
How is the transition from 1 to 2 kids?
This feels like a question that I can’t give a fair answer to because transitioning from one to two kids doesn’t feel that difficult given what we’ve gone through the last few months. That’s not to minimize what a big change it is. It’s just that my perspective has changed a lot. I can say that the adjustment from zero to one was a lot harder than one to two. When Margot was a newborn, it felt like this huge change stopping my life and slowing down at home. We’ve been isolated since early March, so I’m used to not going anywhere or doing anything, and I’m honestly so grateful that Margot is doing well and that we’re not in the hospital. It isn’t “easy” and it’s definitely nonstop, but it’s also so sweet enjoying those newborn days again and a lot less scary since you’ve done it before.
How can I support my friend who just had a baby?
Just show up however you can. Right now, that probably looks like distance visits outside and calls/texts/FaceTime. Things look quite different now with this pandemic, but any sort of connection that you can offer a new mom is huge. You can ask if you can bring food or just drop something off, but I always appreciate having someone to visit with (outside, from a distance).
Were there signs Margot was sick or was it something picked up from an exam?
Here’s the short version. Margot had a rash, small sore, and a very high fever but none of the other “typical” signs doctors look for. We went to the pediatrician the day we saw the sore and up until diagnosis a month later, saw our pediatrician four times, spoke to her on the phone a few times, had one telemedicine appointment with our dermatologist, and another with the head of dermatology at Lurie Children’s Hospital. That might sound like a lot but the sore kept getting worse and she eventually had a 105.9 fever that landed us in the ER, and we left with zero answers. Our pediatrician recommended that we have labs done and called with the results, telling us to go to the hospital. She was diagnosed that evening.
How is breastfeeding going? I’m dreading it.
If you’re dreading it, ask yourself why you’re doing it. This time is hard enough, and doing something that makes you miserable is not worth it. Your baby will be fine either way. The beginning was awful and I was ready to call it almost immediately but felt a push (not from anyone, just internally) to keep going. I had to pump to help build supply since Kate was the sleepiest baby, so I was using the Spectra (cordless) but couldn’t do anything while pumping. The parts stick out so far and the base is huge. I felt so isolated, especially from Margot, which did not work for me.
When I got the Elvie, continuing to pump became 1000x easier. I’ve been able to pump so easily, so much that doing it 8 times a day doesn’t feel like too much. I pumped in the car the other day and can be hands free and pump both sides while doing things around the house, or can pump one side at a time while holding either of the girls. It’s amazing. The Elvie might be partially covered by your health insurance, so be sure to look into that.
Any tips for excursions with newborns?
If you’re going to go on a long walk and then talk to friends outside their house for an hour, bring the essentials. Fortunately, they had a spare diaper for Margot and Kate was asleep the whole time, but my advice is to be prepared and bring diapers. If you’re using bottles for formula or breast milk, I can’t recommend this enough.
Is Margot potty training?
No. We were about to start but this is just not the time with all she’s going through. She’ll let us know when she’s ready, but I probably won’t revisit until treatment is over and we’re in maintenance early 2021.
Is Margot’s nursery tour up yet?
No. It was scheduled to go up right after we were in the hospital and the timing didn’t feel right. It will be live on The Everymom next week!
How is Kate doing without the SNOO?
She’s been a good sleeper! I’ve debated using it since I think we’ll get longer stretches during this stage, but really want her to be able to sleep on her own without any gadgets. I’ll report back.
Has your family been doing any travel? Any plans for road trips or flying in the future?
No. Even if Margot wasn’t going through treatment, there’s no way I’d get on a plane until this pandemic was over. I might get some sh*t for this but I think it’s really irresponsible, careless, and selfish to travel if it’s not urgent. I also don’t see the point or appeal of dining at a restaurant, so there’s that. Staying isolated is something we’re doing to protect everyone, especially those who are higher risk. I would be isolated no matter what, but being the mom of an immunocompromised child makes seeing how careless people can be even more frustrating.
People seem to not realize that everyone’s at risk. Missing out on a vacation during a global pandemic is something we should all be able to do. If you can safely drive and isolate that seems ok, but our family needs to be near the hospital, so we’re staying put (no big trips) for another two years at a minimum. A very small price to pay to make sure my daughter has her doctors nearby if needed.
Do you recommend your dining chairs?
I do! They’re really comfortable. Not the most ideal for kids given that a booster seat can’t be added, but Margot has been good about sitting on them, and spot treating isn’t difficult.
How easy was it to convert the VISTA to a double stroller? Is adding the Nuna car seat difficult?
Very easy. I use the bassinet on the bottom and seat on top (for Margot) but also have the rumble seat for the bottom. The clips are easy to install and the Nuna base that attaches to the stroller pops on quickly and easily. We’re loving it. I’ll share all the gear I’m using in another post, but I switched our car seat for one that’s fire retardant free, and went with the Nuna Pipa LX. You can’t install it in the car without a base and it is not approved for airplane travel, but we’re not going anywhere and it weighs 5.7 lbs! I love it.
Where’d you get that?