I guess this is growing up…

Wanting what’s best for your child is a parenting no brainer. We all try our hardest to provide for them. To give them more than what we had, whether it be material things, experiences, safety…

Lately, I’ve been wondering what exactly is the best interest for our kids. As PJ gets closer to starting kindergarten, we find ourselves debating moving back to the States to give her (what we think) is a better education. But this move would bring on drastic changes.
For the most part, we love living in Uruguay. We live on a quiet farm. We get to spend more time with our kids as we’re both stay at home parents (thank you grandparents for giving us the opportunity!). Our kids only go to school four hours a day. We have access to incredible healthcare at little cost.
But then there’s the not-so-great parts. There’s little to do with kids. The cost of living is ridiculously high. Carlos and I haven’t been able to find jobs that provide upward mobility. The education system we can afford leaves something to be desired. Our kids go to school four hours a day. Crime rates are going up. Making friends is near impossible as we’ll always be seen as outsiders.
Part of me feels like we spent a huge chunk of our youth wasting away here as we have nothing to show for it on our resumes. But then I look at my daughters and realize that not only have I been able to experience their infancy, but I’ve been able to share every moment with their dad. I’m so appreciative of this time we’ve had together but it’s also time I start looking at the future.
Soon enough I’ll be 30 with no “real” work experience for the past six years. We have no retirement fund. We have no safety net. We have nothing to fall back on. We’ve built nothing of our own. I’ve been playing house for so long that the idea of real life adult-ing petrifies me.
Friends lovingly remind me that NO parent knows what they’re doing or can anticipate the unintended consequences of their decisions on their kids lives. We don’t know what our next step is. We’ve been talking out our options but nothing feels like the “right” decision.
I guess this is growing up…

2017.

Oh 2017, you were a rollercoaster of a year.

This was the year we welcomed Catalina to our family. This was the year that my sister and her boyfriend came to visit. This was the year PJ thrived in school and in her language skills. This was the year we started planting vegetables on the farm.This was the year I started working from home. This was the year my best friend and her fiancee came to visit. This was the year we traveled INSIDE of Uruguay.

This was the year my mom had a heart attack and a coronary artery bypass surgery. This was the year I almost lost my mind. This was the year I was reminded of how fragile life truly is.

This was the year I started falling in love with MYSELF. I fell in love with my body; with its movement and its ability to do more than just sit and lay. I got stronger. I got faster.

I’m thankful for my family and amazing support system; those that have proven distance means nothing.

2018 is going to be a big year for us. We’re going to be stateside for the month of October. Paloma will be starting school in March. Carlos has several art shows lined up in Uruguay. There are a few things going on waiting in the wings that I can’t wait to see how they pan out. DSC_0727

 

the winding road to postpartum depression

You never really pay attention to the signs, even when they’re staring you in the face. Carlos kept asking me what was wrong. I could feel my mom tiptoeing around me, always around the corner making sure I was never left alone with the girls for too long. My dad made sure to make himself scarce to avoid my wrath. And my poor baby girls got a shadow of my normal self.

Postpartum depression hit me hard. I didn’t notice it right after Catalina was born, it could be because my sister came from Holland and I was distracted, or maybe it was something that developed later on. All I know is that in the beginning of May I started secluding myself. I hid in the bedroom under the guise that I was breastfeeding the baby but really I just wanted to be alone. I couldn’t handle leaving the house unless it was absolutely necessary, and even then every outing was full of anxiety and self doubt.

I couldn’t bring myself to take a shower because the water on my skin felt like knives. I wanted to eat any and every thing I could get my hands on. No amount of sleep was enough and so I just wanted to be in bed all day hiding, trying to sleep while Catalina slept. I couldn’t be bothered to cook or clean, let alone keep up with my own personal hygiene.

I kept apologizing to Carlos. I kept telling him I would get better eventually. I kept telling him how much I loved him and our girls but I just wasn’t myself…and I didn’t know how to get back there. And my husband lovingly replied that there was no need to apologize and reminded me that adjusting to a new person in our family was going to take it’s time.

Finally, my mom sat me down and told me I needed help. Not just help around the house but professional medical help. I broke down crying because I knew it was true. I knew that this wasn’t going to go away on it’s own. A few days later I was seeing a psychiatrist who sat down with me and after listening to me cry, rant, and rave for what felt like forever prescribed me an SSRI and told me to come back to her in ten days.

Here I am, about six weeks later and I finally feel back to normal. Taking  a shower isn’t torture, I’m working out and eating right, and most importantly, I’m able to be present when interacting with my family. I feel free.

To all my fellow mothers out there, please do not be afraid to ask for help. Do not be ashamed or bound by the stigma society has placed on depression/mental health. Finding help makes you strong and honestly will give your children just another reason to look up to you.

motherhood: defeated.

Today, I feel defeated. Today, I hid in a bathroom and cried. Today, I gave up.

PJ had her monthly check-in with her psychiatrist. We turned in her teachers report to her. Although we didn’t read the report, we know what it said based on the meeting we had with her and school psychologist late last month.

PJ has an exceptionally short attention span. PJ does not sit still. PJ likes to scream. PJ does not answer to her name. PJ doesn’t get tired. PJ is overly affectionate. 

These things we know. These are things we’ve known her whole life. When we started trying to get help for her last year these things were still issues. These were issues we had with her at daycare. And we were working with a speech therapist at the time. But we haven’t seen her since December 2016.

We’ve been having trouble finding therapists who are willing to work with PJ because of the language barrier. Last year she barely said more than 10 words in Spanish, however since she started at her new school her Spanish has flourished. But we still want a therapist that UNDERSTANDS English in case they need it to reach her when she’s stubborn or hyper. (Not charging us USD$300.00 a month and asking us to pay their vacation days whether or not those are days they would normally see PJ would be great too).

After the psychiatrist read the report, she put it down and very frankly said, “Well, after reading this my professional opinion is you should medicate her. Start her off on a very small dose and see where we go from there. Have you thought about that?” And while my response may have taken .04 seconds to come out of my mouth, in my head a whole week passed. Yes, my husband and I had talked about what would we do should anyone suggest medicating her. We always said no but at that very moment PJ was throwing the mother of all tantrums because she wanted to play with some party favor lost at the bottom of the diaper bag, and I hesitated because in that moment I would’ve done ANYTHING to get her to calm down for thirty seconds.

“No, we don’t feel comfortable giving her medication. She’s only three.”

And her very short response was, “You’re here for a reason and this is my professional opinion. It’s up to you whether you take it or leave it.” At that point PJ was sprawled out on the floor kicking and screaming. I could feel my blood start to overheat and I wanted out of there as soon as possible.

While leaving the doctors office I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Are we really at that point? Is she really THAT hyper and uncontrollable? Am I really that weak that I thought, for a moment, that we definitely should medicate her? Could NOT giving her the medication hurt her? WHAT DO I DO?

I couldn’t help but look down at my tiny person and want to cry. I love her so much and want to make the best decision for her but don’t know where to begin. I plan on getting a second opinion soon. I reached out to the occupational therapist who evaluated her back in February to see if she could give me some direction in finding new therapists. I’m meeting with her pediatrician next week to see what she says as well.

We have another check up in six weeks to let her know what we’ve decided on…we’ll see what happens from here to then. I just hope I can make an educated decision for my daughter.

If any of you have had any experience in dealing with Risperidone please feel free to share it with me. 

#hotmessmom

Happy Mother’s Day!

This is the fourth year that I celebrate Mother’s Day as a mom and it brings a lot of emotions bubbling to the surface. Feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, awe, love, fear, and the inability to ignore my own mortality. In order to push the negatives back down to the deepest pits of my soul I decided to FINALLY buy something for myself, Bunmi Laditan’s latest book Confessions of a domestic failure. If you don’t follow her on Facebook, do yourself the favor and do it! She gives a hilariously honest view into motherhood that most women can relate to.

And while I haven’t read the book yet, I have been reading great reviews in the mommy community about it. Hot mess moms from all over the world have come together in solidarity to break unrealistic mommy goals created by Pinterest, YouTube, and social media by posting their own “mom confessions” to remind everyone that we’re all on the same sinking boat that is parenting.

Here it goes:

  1. I yell. A lot. With PJs ADHD/ASD I spend most of my day telling her to stop. Stop washing her hands and stuffing the drain with soap, stop pulling the dogs tail, stop playing with her poop, stop getting up from the table, stop waking up her sleeping sister, stop throwing things into the toilet, and by this point I’m sure you get the picture. I lose my cool and trust me, I hate myself for it.
  2. I pretend not to sweep well so my husband will do it instead. I don’t mind washing clothes, folding laundry, cleaning the bathroom/kitchen. I absolutely HATE to sweep and mop.
  3. I avoid dropping PJ off at school to avoid other parents. It’s exhausting hearing parents constantly pointing out that I talk to PJ in english or having the same conversation over again about how hyper she is. She’s an active kid. I get it. I live with her. I don’t need to be reminded of it while I’m making sure she isn’t running into traffic with her eyes closed.
  4. I don’t follow through with punishments. Taking away TV and outside time is a punishment for me as well. She’s three. She has a whole life of punishments ahead of her. So for now I threaten, she cries and a few hours later we pretend nothing ever happened for my sanity.
  5. I don’t bathe the girls daily. I hate bath time. I hate the water that inevitably gets all over the floor, the crying about the water being too hot even though it’s freezing, and the screams that come from having to get her dressed again. Baby wipes work wonders guys, just sayin’.
  6. I, not so secretly, hate moms of young kids who find time to take care of themselves. Seriously, how do you find time to shave? Or get your nails/eyebrows done? I can barely find time to sleep let alone worry about my physical appearance.
  7. I call my kids “little assholes” behind their backs. This one might be the one I’m most reluctant to share but I have to share it. I absolutely adore my kids but let’s be honest, when your kids throw their dinner on the floor in protest or refuse to sleep, you can’t help but think that they’re being little assholes. It’s just like when your husband comes home from a long day at work and says he needs his “me” time and you want to throw something at his stupid face and call him an asshole for not taking your needs into account.

There you have it. My kids are still young so I’m sure my confessions aren’t all that scandalous, but I’m sure as the years progress they’ll get to be more entertaining.

Wishing all of you momma’s out there a Happy Mother’s Day! Drink some wine and get an extra hour (or two) of sleep for me.

Welcome to your world, Catalina!

On February 4th, 2017 our newest addition to our family came into the world!

The past two months has been spent adjusting to life with a preschooler (WHAT?!) and a newborn but overall it’s been great. Paloma has taken so well to her “baby sissy” and has adjusted better than I thought she would.

We are so in love with our newest addition, it’s hard to remember what life was like without this bundle of joy in our life. How she came into our world, however uneventful, will be hard to forget.

After another very hot summer day I was in bed watching tv when I started getting uncomfortable contractions. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions since I was around 30 weeks pregnant so I didn’t think too much of it until I realized that after drinking water, putting my feet up, going to the bathroom, and lying down on my left side was doing nothing to alleviate them. I started timing them at around midnight, they were steadily coming every 7-10 minutes, nothing too concerning or worth going to the hospital for. I tried to sleep but every time I would get a contraction I would wake up. At around 6:30am they started coming in every five minutes. I started getting our bags ready and leaving things prepared for PJ and my parents in case we had to leave at a moments notice. I woke up Carlos at around 7:30am so he could go to the store and buy some food in case we would be gone for more than the normal two day hospital stay.

By the time he got back and PJs breakfast was made my contractions were coming every three minutes lasting about a minute each. Every contraction knocked the wind out of me and my knees would buckle beneath me. We packed the car and started on our hour long journey to the hospital. I would like to point out that I was anything but calm, cool, or collected. I was screaming and moaning in pain, banging on the ceiling and listening to PANIC! At the Disco’s new album Death of a Bachelor for some sort of comfort. How Carlos managed to get us there without crashing is beyond me.

Once I got to the hospital my contractions were so close together I couldn’t get out of the car so Carlos had to pull up to the ambulance bay and grab a nurse to assist me. They wheeled me up to L&D while Carlos parked the car. The emergency room OBGYN checked me and said I was barely a centimeter dilated. I thought it was impossible considering how close together my contractions were but wasn’t too surprised considering the same happened with PJ. As luck would have it my OBGYN was the doctor on call so he already knew we wanted to have a repeat c-section. He did make me wait about two painful hours before getting me into the operating room (rude) but everything went smoothly.

Catalina was born at 1:43pm, weighing in at 3.045kg and measured in at 18 inches. She was much smaller than any of the doctors thought she would be. Two days beforehand we had an ultrasound performed where the technician said she would come in close to 4kg.

My recovery has been great. I was feeling back to (almost) normal once they removed my stitches. Breastfeeding this time around has definitely been more successful and overall our transition to being parents to two beautiful girls has been much easier than I anticipated.

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For anyone looking for a newborn photographer in Montevideo I can highly recommend Charles Sarti Photography in Carrasco. Charles is HIGHLY professional and truly dedicated to his craft. 

 

PJs first trip to DisneyWorld!

One of the most amazing things we did in 2016 was take PJ to DisneyWorld for the first time! It was her third birthday gift from my parents and it was such a blessing to be able to take PJ to the happiest place on earth.

We decided the best time to go during our trip would be the week after Thanksgiving so we could enjoy the Christmas decorations since Carlos and I had never been during the holidays. I probably wouldn’t suggest going that Monday after Thanksgiving seeing as it was packed but our next two days weren’t so bad.

I was actually really disappointed at how PJ was when we first got through the gates. She was so unimpressed. She hated waiting in the long lines and hated getting in and out of the stroller. Most of the first day I legit thought my kid hated me. But after getting the autism diagnosis it makes sense, she was just on a sensory overload and didn’t know how to process everything.

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After PJs umpteenth tantrum, I remembered that Disney offers disability passes so that you don’t have to physically wait in line but come back later after the current wait time. This was seriously the BEST thing we could’ve done with PJ. Even though we spent much of the wait times walking her around in circles or browsing through the gift shops, PJ wasn’t confined to a slow moving line which limited her fussiness. My 28 week pregnant self also didn’t mind limiting the time on my feet either.

Once we managed to get our hands on that disability pass PJ truly enjoyed the rides. Her favorite being Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid. We rode that ride every day, two and three times because she was in awe every time. I knew my baby was a Little Mermaid fan but didn’t realize the extent of it until our time at Magic Kingdom.

PJ had already met a few of the characters but she would scream and run away in fear every time they tried to approach her (Seriously, sorry Mickey if I would’ve known I wouldn’t have made her come in…however it is kinda weird that you talk now). But I decided that I would try just ONE more character before forever swearing off making PJ meet them. When she walked into Ariel’s Grotto this kid lit up like a firework on the Fourth of July. Walked right up to her and hugged her and kept on saying “Wow…” and tried touching her hair and, awkward to say, clam shells. Ariel was a sport considering how touchy PJ was but it really made her whole experience.

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PJ hugging Ariel for the third time during her Meet and Greet.

The biggest disappointment was that Haunted Mansion was closed during our visit! PJ had just gone through a Halloween/ghost obsession and I knew she would absolutely love that ride but it was closed the three days of our visit.

I won’t bore you guys with a huge list of things to do and not to do considering there are hundreds of them all over the internet. However I will say for parents with kids with ASD: GET THE DISABILITY PASS. Even if you don’t end up using it because the lines are short or you’ve done well with FastPass+ it’ll be nice to have it handy. Also, get the MemoryMaker photo option. I know it’s pricey but we got some AWESOME shots of PJ and we were able to focus on being present in her experience rather than fidgeting with our camera. And it’s true what people say, the photographers take way more pictures with their cameras knowing that you’ve already paid for the service than when they use your camera.

*If you ever find yourself needing a place to stay in Orlando with your family, I HIGHLY recommend considering AirBnb with Barbara. For whatever reason I wasn’t able to leave her a review on AirBnb’s website but my goodness this was the best thing we could’ve ever decided to do. The place was huge and modern, we totally took advantage of the pool and onsite playground, and PJ loved taking a bath in the jacuzzi every night after our days at Disney. The hostess has put so much thought and effort into the property, honestly couldn’t ask for anything better. Assuming she’ll still be renting her property in a few years time, we will definitely be staying there again.

 

Our new adventure with Autism.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before but PJ has a speech delay. She’s always been hesitant to speak or communicate in ways other than grunting/screeching and pointing.

I started noticing the delay when she was about 18 months old and still hadn’t said,”Mama” on more than one occasion. Whenever I tried to share my concerns everyone brushed them off and said things like, “Kids develop at different speeds/So and so didn’t start talking until they were 5/You’re just being paranoid she’s fine.” But deep in the pit of my stomach I knew that things weren’t fine.

When PJ started school last year I always asked the teachers how she was doing and I was constantly being told that she didn’t really interact with the other kids or that she would immerse herself in her own activities and not participate. They thought she might have an ear problem so we started taking her to appointments. We had a few meetings with the school’s psychologist but she never suggested anything more than what we were already doing.

After months of appointments of hearing tests and figuring out that her hearing was in fact fine we were directed to see a pediatric neurologist. She prescribed an EEG which took us MONTHS to finally get because PJ kept getting sick whenever we had it scheduled–after 5 months we finally got it done and everything was normal. The neurologist also suggested we start seeing a speech therapist to see what we can do. And so, PJ started seeing a speech therapist twice a week for 50 minute sessions.

After only two months of therapy PJ was able to say more than one syllable words. She started asking us for things as opposed to grabbing us by the hand and taking us to whatever she wanted. She was able to put tiny phrases together like “Momma come!” or my favorite at the time “Shake, rattle, roll!”

Don’t get me wrong, PJ knew things. She knew her alphabet. She knew her numbers. She knew the difference between her vowels and her consonants. PJ knew her animals and what noises they made. Everyone, including the doctors and teachers, said PJ was brilliant and knew more than most two and a half year olds but she just didn’t know what to DO with that information.

When we took PJ to Miami, coincidentally right after she turned three, she had an intense mental growth spurt. She was able to answer “yes” or “no” to our questions and she was able to more or less communicate with her cousins. She would talk to us about things she saw or specifically ask us for things like “Mom, we go to cousin house?” I must’ve cried so much on our trip just seeing this new light in her eyes, the excitement of being able to communicate. But she still had her little quirks of isolating herself, not answering to her name whenever she was too immersed in something, or even organizing toys by size or color.

Fast forward to last week when we had a meeting with a new pediatric neurologist. This time we were (unknowingly) meeting with the head of the department at our hospital. She spent almost two hours with us interviewing us and observing PJ play in the corner of the office. For the first time someone asked us, “Have you ever thought that your daughter could be on the spectrum?” I wanted to break down crying because finally someone wasn’t ignoring it. I had spent months trying to get someone to acknowledge that it was a possibility but every therapist and doctor said we hadn’t crossed that bridge yet.

To sum up the meeting she recommended we start taking PJ to meet with an occupational therapist as well as her speech therapy. She was calm and patient, she explained that PJ obviously isn’t on the more extreme side of the spectrum (whatever that means) but that she just had things she needed help with. She assured us that PJ would lead a normal life; which kinda made me roll my eyes because obviously this isn’t a death sentence but I guess not every parent sees it that way.

However I will say that this couldn’t have come at a more stressful time. Trying to set up an appointment with a therapist in the middle of Uruguayan summer is next to impossible since everyone is on vacation. We still don’t know PJs school schedule for the upcoming year so we can’t really schedule a set therapy schedule until the end of February. And then of course we have the new baby coming. We’re going to do everything in our power to get PJ the help she needs but it’s not going to be, for lack of a better word, easy.

Right now I just ask for positive thoughts and prayers as we navigate through this new parenting journey. That God place us where he wants us, with therapists that will help her, with teachers that will be understanding, and as always continue to bless us with people that love and care for our family.

Why hello there…

I haven’t updated the blog in months. I wish I could give you some exciting excuse but honestly I just haven’t felt motivated to do so.

Since my last personal update so much has happened that there may or may not be some overlap:

Paloma started going to CAIF every day back in February. She loves going and has quickly become everyones favorite. While her teachers gave me complaints of the language barrier at first, they quickly fell in love with her and let us know she was everyones favorite! They did however share some concerns with her hearing and we are currently going through testing. Initial tests showed there was a bit of a deficit in the left ear but nothing will be definite until the end of the month. She also has an appointment to see a speech therapist at the end of June since she still hasn’t formed sentences at two and a half.

Carlos had an art show earlier this month that went really well. It was a group show with two of his Cuban friends. He had been really stressed for that show so I’m glad things turned out well. He’s currently working on pieces for two shows later this year. We’ll see how things go.

As for me…well…what can I say? After my initial neurologist check ups and starting on Pregablin things were good. For about three weeks I was symptom free but then my eye flutters came back and I started having searing pain in my left shoulder that reached and tingled my finger tips. My doctor didn’t like that so he sent me for another MS test that I don’t have an appointment until July.

Then there was the diabetes test I had that said I’m prediabetic and obviously need to lose weight in order to prevent it from becoming full blown diabetes. But the test also said that the reason I haven’t been able to lose weight and have a predisposition for being overweight is because of some numbers on the blood test. I started on Metformin and have actually lost weight since starting.

If you thought that was the end of my health problems then, yeah, clearly you don’t know me or my luck that well. I had an appointment with my nephrologist and they checked my kidney function. In regards to the blood check and urine output they said everything is all good. But the sonogram said that I’m starting to develop a fatty build up around my (only) kidney. And of course the solution to that problem? Lose weight.

So right now two out of three of my health problems can/should be resolved by losing weight. But it’s not really all that simple. This is more than just a calorie deficit. This is a battle of mind over matter. It’s easy when you write everything down and say, “Oh this doesn’t seem so bad. Sure, okay, I can limit what I shove in my mouth.” But then there comes that bad day or stressful afternoon of motherhood and all I want to do is stuff my face with homemade Twix I made for Carlos’ and my anniversary dinner (delicious by the way!).

I don’t really know what the point is of sharing all this but I just feel if putting it out into the universe will help me understand or strengthen me in overcoming this dark period then I have to. Every day is a struggle to make it through to bed time without breaking down completely. But that’s what adulthood is, isn’t it? All of us just faking it until we make it?

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What I wish I knew…

I always find that around this time of year my social media timelines are full of an array of engagement and pregnancy announcements.

As Christmas and New Years came and went I patiently waited for my Facebook friends to start boasting about their new life adventures and it made me start thinking about where I was when I got engaged/married/pregnant. What I wish I would’ve known before hand and what I wish people knew that isn’t shown in Instagram posts and vague Facebook statuses.

  • Marriage isn’t work. It’s a choice. If you go into your marriage thinking something along these lines, “Uhhhh…I don’t really want to do this. Not sure if I want to be here. Well, if it doesn’t work I can always quit later on.” Then you probably shouldn’t be getting married to that person. Your marriage is a choice, not a chore. You chose this person. You need to choose them more than just one day in your lifetime, but every day.
  • Marriage isn’t 50/50. It’s 100%. It’s easy to say marriage is 50/50. But it really isn’t. It wasn’t until I wasn’t able to give 100% of myself in my marriage that I realized that my husband gives me 100% of himself. Without complaint and without anger, but rather with total compassion and understanding does he pick up when I fall. And the days when he can’t give 100% of himself to our marriage, I pick up where he can’t. If each of you is only giving 50%, it will seem like work when you have to pick up for your partner. Or you’ll constantly be thinking, “Well, I wash dishes and pick up the dry cleaning. What do YOU do?” That’s not a healthy mindset for your marriage. And for the days when neither of you can give much to the stresses of daily life, say “Screw it!”, order takeout, and watch Netflix all night.
  • No one is obligated to love your kid except YOU. I’ve had trouble truly accepting this. I’ve had issues with my in-laws and how I don’t feel they treat my kid the same way they treat the other babies in the family her age. Sure, it could be because of the distance, but that doesn’t take away from how much it angers me  when I see that they regard her with apathy as opposed to the love and kindness she deserves. But it makes me all the more aware and grateful for my parents that think the sun shines out of my kids butt.
  • Stop comparing your partner to other people. Seriously. Don’t do it. Just because someone posts the amazing things they do/their spouse does all over social media doesn’t mean that they’re happy or that their husband is any better/worse than yours. Your husband may not buy you flowers or expensive jewelry, but does he help you wash dishes, do laundry, help with groceries and dinner? Yeah, I’d pick that over dead flowers any day. And even if he doesn’t, I’m sure that comparing him to others isn’t going to make YOU or your marriage any happier.

It’s not a long list but I know that these are things I wish I knew before I entered my marriage/parenthood.

Feel free to share any advice you may have for those about to get married or become parents!