Goodbye, Dream Home.

After Prudence died, my husband and I started planning a future together that prioritized what really mattered to us. We no longer wanted all the stress and responsibilities of owning and operating businesses in our small town. We didn’t want our lives to continue the way we had been going so far – my husband killing himself working nonstop, running from one business to the next, and me at home struggling with my step-daughter, being a first time mom to our little man, and now add grieving Prudence on top of all of that stress. It just wasn’t working for any of us.

Thankfully, we were on the same page, and our new dreams for our future together started making sense. I poured over podcasts about living simply, minimalism, becoming debt free, and gentle parenting. No matter what choices we made that got us here, I knew that we could find a way to a new life we could enjoy together, as long as we were willing to work together and say good riddance to everything bringing us down.

So, we dove in. We started talking about what would get rid of the most debt (and stress) the fastest, and there was one obvious choice – sell our home. It was a beautiful house with lots of baggage for me. My dad had lived there at one point, and I had moved in with him temporarily in one of my in-between college transfers. I had lots of memories there, and that house has always held a soft spot for me. It had been apartments for decades, but was renovated into a family home since I had lived there. After a tour many years ago, I declared that if I ever moved back to my hometown, I was going to own that house. So when my husband and I agreed to look at bigger houses together, we quite frankly forced that purchase. We put ourselves way out of our comfort zone and did whatever it took to buy that house. The entire three years we lived there were full of so much stress and uncertainty with the crazy-high mortgage payment and ridiculous utilities – not to mention maintenance costs on a turn of the century Victorian “mansion”.

I dove even further into minimizing, this time with a future of putting our house on the market in mind as I went room to room. Would I need this gigantic antique sideboard in a smaller home? Nope. What about three pianos? Obviously not necessary (spoiler alert, it wasn’t necessary in a large home either). I went through our entire home and put things in bins that I knew I wanted to keep, but didn’t need at the moment, took dozens of loads to a donation center, and sold, gave away, or pitched the rest. My husband turned his focus to working on our old farmhouse so we could move back there, and also to doing repairs and prep work on our house we were going to be putting up for sale.

We were on a mission, and we were going all-in together to recreate our life into something we both wanted: less stress, less responsibility, less debt, and more quality time together. Goodbye, dream home. We have new and better dreams now.

From Someone Who’s Been There

The next several months were full of doctor’s appointments and not much else for me. I enjoyed the fact that I could be home with Jude and go through my emotions alone. I did go to San Diego to visit a friend, and it ended up being a huge blessing that we scheduled it when we did, because it was right before Covid hit hard in the US and right before the March shutdown. We took pics of my baby bump at the beach, and that was the first time I posted and shared that I wasn’t going to hide this pregnancy on social media. At first, the main reason I stayed in was that I didn’t want people to approach me about my growing baby bump. I didn’t want people who didn’t know about Prudence’s diagnosis to congratulate me or ask questions about the pregnancy, and I didn’t want people who knew what was going on to approach me and have to answer them in public when I was just trying to get groceries or pick up mail, or whatever. But after lots of thoughts and prayers about it, I decided to be open and share my experiences. So I created a Caring Bridge website that I used to update a select group of our friends and family on doctor’s appointments, how I was feeling, and ultimately Prudence’s birth and then shortly thereafter, her death. I’m not going to copy and paste everything I shared on that website here, but if you would like to read it or share with someone you think it might help, please comment below, and I’ll send you the link and grant you access to Prudence’s private page.

If you or someone you know is going through a similar situation, here a few things I would recommend that helped me.

  • If you know someone who is experiencing a pregnancy or infant loss, ask them how you can support them. Please don’t be afraid to talk to them about their baby. Chances are they will be relieved you opened the door to discussion of their precious one. Here’s what I shared on Caring Bridge about this just couple of weeks before Prudence was born.

Right now I’m reading about the stages of grief… of course it’s different for everyone, but I noticed a common theme that I wanted to share with you all. I know you’re here because you care, and you want to do what you can to help us get through this. So here’s the deal. We want to talk about Prudence. We want to share her with you. Regardless of how long we have her, she’s our child, and we want to celebrate her life and the miracle that she is! So please don’t be afraid to ask about her, even after she is born and passes. Of course I have absolutely no idea what frame of mind I will be in at that time. Right now it still seems impossible that I am going to have to face her death so soon after her birth. No matter how many books I read or prayers I send up, I don’t think I will ever be prepared for that. But either way, I don’t want to be the mom I read about today who went to coffee with a friend shortly after losing her baby, and wasn’t even asked about her! She said it was like her friends wanted to pretend it didn’t happen so she didn’t have to be sad. But it IS sad, and it will continue to be sad, and we can’t pretend it isn’t happening, nor do we want to pretend that we didn’t go through it. All this to say, we love our dear Prudence, and we want to celebrate her, and will do so for as long as we can. So please don’t be afraid to congratulate us on her birth, or to ask about her once she’s gone. She’s our little girl and always will be, and we will continue to love her and want to share her.

  • Only share if/when you want to. This is your journey, and you don’t need to accommodate or please anyone else right now. Do what’s best for YOU. Period.
  • Get the book, A Gift of Time: Continuing Your Pregnancy When Your Baby’s Life Is Expected to Be Brief by Amy Kuebelbeck and Deborah L. Davis. It’s not easy to read, but it is a big help to hear from others who have gone through this (and survived it).
  • Talk to someone. Whether it be your pastor, a genetic counselor, a palliative care nurse, a therapist, or any combination of the above. Get help. You will need it. I used all of these resources regularly, and I honestly think that’s why I am healed enough to be writing this today.
  • Don’t make big life-altering decisions right now, *but* don’t be afraid to consider how precious life is, and take the time to examine yours. This experience is one I wouldn’t wish upon anyone, but I learned and grew, and made some huge shifts in my life that are proving to be exactly what I needed all along. No one knows how short life is more than someone in your shoes. Don’t waste that lesson.
  • Make time for yourself to heal and grieve. If you have already been through this and didn’t have the support you needed, GET IT NOW! It is never too late to seek counselling or other types of grief support. My heart goes out to all of you who have reached out to me and shared that you wish you had shared your story at the time and been able to heal and grieve the way I am. To you lovely, amazing mothers, it’s not too late. You deserve to mourn and grieve and be comforted, no matter how long ago you lost your baby. Please get the support you need. Reach out to me anytime if you want to talk. My door is always open for you. ❤️

Finding out about Prudence

This post took me longer to write than usual. I thought a lot about how I wanted to tell Prudence’s story, I reread things I posted when it was happening, and I just couldn’t get myself to sit down and write a new post about it. This is probably partly because we’re nearing her birthday, so emotions are all over the place. I have decided not to put any pressure on myself to write in a certain way, or to post on a particular day, but rather to write as it feels good to write and share my story. If it fuels my soul, I’ll continue, but if it doesn’t, I won’t. (What a concept, right?) When I first started researching how to start a blog and a social media presence on FB and IG for one, I took note of all the rules. “Post consistently” was the common thread. I suppose if you’re trying to grow your business online, that is an important factor. But I’ve decided to instead focus on what is best for me and my heart in this process, and I’ll admit that it might end up looking fairly random. But I hope if reading my story inspires or encourages you in anyway, that the shift in schedule won’t deter you. At this point, I do plan to finish telling the full story of Prudence and how she completely changed the course of our lives before I end this series. And then I have some fun things in the works that I can’t wait to share with you. Without further ado… here’s when we found out we were pregnant with Prudence.


We found out we were pregnant (with no medical intervention this time) the day of our son’s One Year photo shoot. It was also the week we lost my grandma. We waited until we got through the funeral and everything, and then decided to announce our good news, hoping to bring a little joy back into our family by sharing early. We told the rest of our family on Thanksgiving, dressing our son in a onesie that said he was being promoted to big brother. To say we were excited was an understatement. And then, we found out something might be wrong.

We had gone in for a regular appointment, and they saw something in an ultrasound that made the nurse tear up and hug me, and the midwife refer me to a specialist at a larger facility. This did not look good. Three blood tests and lots of tears and fears later, we found out that we were having a little girl with Trisomy 13. Though some miracle children make it to adolescence with this genetic disorder, most don’t make it to 2, and many don’t survive birth. The doctors told me that most would terminate the pregnancy, and that would be the lowest risk option for me, so that is what they recommended. But I knew, without needing even a moment for consideration, that we were going to do everything in our power to give our little girl a chance. So I immediately said no, glanced at my husband who nodded in agreement, and asked to please support me in my decision. And they did. So we continued on with regular doctor’s appointments, had frequent talks with a genetic counselor, met with a palliative care specialist who specifically supports families likely to experience pregnancy or infant loss, and I did my best to stay positive and healthy.

We met with our pastor and his wife to plan the funeral – yes, we planned it while I was still pregnant. It was suggested in one of the resources I was given for people in our position to have some plans in place and make the tough decisions ahead of time. I also wanted to ask some questions about Heaven, because although I was attending church regularly (for the first time in my adult life), I still didn’t know if I actually believed. I doubted everything, but went through the motions, because I had finally found a pastor and church I liked. But at this point I realized, if I don’t believe in God, and if Heaven doesn’t exist, then where is my baby going when she dies? I told my pastor this fear, and that I would do whatever it takes to get to Heaven and see my baby again. He surprised me by telling me that I couldn’t become a Christian for someone else (even my own child), and I took all of this in, but still wasn’t entirely sure how to shift my beliefs in the way I needed to. I didn’t come to this realization until much later (but I did get there and will likely share that moment at some point).

I wasn’t entirely sure of anything at this point, other than the fact that this little baby was changing my life forever. I no longer cared about all the things that used to matter to me so much. I quite literally didn’t have the energy to worry about the small stuff anymore. I didn’t want to be around anyone other than my people (a very small circle of close friends and family), which was quite easy to accomplish because all of this was happening at the height of Covid. Since I couldn’t really go anywhere, and didn’t want to see anyone anyway, I started in on something I could do. I dove in and started decluttering my entire home (all 6000+ sq feet of it) like my life depended on it. And in some ways, I think it did. Simplifying my home was something I could do to keep me busy that would have a positive impact on my family. Even if everything else was out of my control, this was something I could do and see the benefits of almost immediately as I progressed through each drawer, closet, room… I figured if we did get our miracle and got to bring our baby home, our house would be much less cluttered with more space for our two young children, and if we lost her, our space would be a more peaceful place to rest and recover and mourn our loss. Decluttering, praying, and keeping to myself seemed to work to give me a small sense of comfort, so I did those things fervently and continued to hope for the best.

Gazelle Intense

My first year of being a mama was enlightening. I felt like I finally had a purpose and something worthwhile to put my energy into. I also had a little adventure buddy that was so fun to spend time with! I spent most of my time alone with my little man, going on walks, long drives, checking out local places like orchards, farms, and parks, and of course walking around Target. At this point, I had finally made some good like-minded friends in the area, so I had a playdate and time with other mamas usually at least once a week. My husband was juggling a gazillion things, so I did my best to stay busy and keep the little guy happy and healthy each day.

Another big focus for me at this time was getting rid of everything that didn’t help me to be a better mom, wife, and friend. I replaced bars with parks and coffee shops. Swapped lazy hungover Sunday mornings with church. I let go of people, places, and things that weren’t positive for me, and started working on letting go of perfectionism (that’s so tough and still something I’m working on!). I stopped listening to and watching things that made me anxious or depressed, and traded them with podcasts and blogs about minimalism, simple living, conscious parenting, debt-free living, etc. I became more and more convinced of the benefits of these things, and immediately started implementing what I was learning at home and in my life in general.

I sat my husband down and shared The Minimalists documentary with him, which by the way is a great place to start if you’re new to these concepts. We had been living the opposite of all of these things, filling our schedules to the max, spending money on buying things we didn’t need to fill a home that was much larger than necessary, and frankly far too expensive. My husband juggled multiple companies, dozens of employees, several rental units, and still did his best to be present for our teenager and our new baby. It was NUTS! I was filling my days with everything that was lighting me up, and he never had time to stop and breathe in between obligations, let alone make time for good quality friendships or take time for himself to fish or (fill in the blank with whatever it is he would have fun doing). He’s spent decades working this hard, I’m not even sure he knew what to do with his time other than work.

Fortunately, something clicked for us, and we got on the same page. We started selling off things we didn’t actually need: vehicles, boats, farm equipment, restaurant supplies… I even sold my little car that I loved, my VW Beetle Convertible. It was our only vehicle that we still made payments on, and it was getting a bit difficult to squeeze everyone in it at this point anyway, so it was the one to go. We shared a family vehicle, and (gasp), it was fine! We really dove in and as Dave Ramsey says, we were gazelle-intense, doing everything we could to minimize spending and maximize resources to reduce debt and liabilities. I got really into decluttering our things, taking dozens of boxes and bags out of our home most weeks, and then I’d get re-inspired and go through the same areas again! We were in this mode leading up to our little guy’s first birthday. And then, on the day of his one year photo shoot, we found out that we were going to have another baby!

Setting Boundaries

This post is part of a series I started a couple of months ago that talks about my struggles with unhealthy relationships, weight loss, starting over, marriage, step-parenting, infertility, pregnancy loss, unhealthy coping mechanisms, balancing work and home life, and more. I am sharing my story now in hopes that I will find some healing in the process, but I mostly want to help encourage someone else by sharing the real life tough stuff that a lot of people are afraid to talk about. I mentioned this previously, but if you’re new here, please know that my life is full of amazing goodness, too, even in the eye of the storm in these struggles, but for the purpose of this writing, I’m mostly focusing on the hard times… but keep reading! I am getting excited to share how I’ve learned to cope, what has given me balance, and some pretty great stuff that’s come out of the darkness. If you want to start from the beginning, check out Back to the Real Me.


The next several months shifted to prepare for the arrival of our healthy baby boy! We had been getting settled into our new home, and now we had a specific timeline for when things needed to be done and organized. I began sorting, rearranging, selling, donating, and buying things in preparation for this new chapter of our lives (hello, nesting!). My entire focus shifted to how to be the best, most present and focused mom, and how to have the most peaceful and loving home possible for my family. Has anyone ever achieved this with a teenage girl in their home? I’m mostly kidding, but wow was that a challenge! Needless to say, my struggles as a step-mom continued, and I might even argue that they intensified with the focus now shifting to a new arrival in our family. Luckily we now lived in a big enough house that we could keep to ourselves as needed, which honestly was the main thing that gave me an ounce of peace in our home during that time. I did my best to ignore all the drama, and tried to just keep myself focused on positive, stress-free things, and remained excited about my pregnancy and getting ready for our new big adventure!

One of my biggest struggles was finding a balance with my shop at this point. I had originally planned to bring the baby to work with me, envisioning this glorious, kid-friendly space that I could continue to run, while financially helping our family and pursuing my passions. But reality was hitting hard and fast that this business was not only not helping us financially, but it was beginning to put a stress on us. It was time to stop pouring our money into it, hoping to see a different outcome. I’ll never forget the day I decided I wasn’t going to be working there myself anymore. My main employee called in, and non of my fill-in options could cover, so I went in with my newborn baby. My mom had to come with me to help, because I had a doctor’s appointment that morning that I couldn’t cancel last minute. She didn’t know how to run the register, but without any other options, I left her and the baby there anyway. “Luckily” not even one customer had come in, so it didn’t matter that she couldn’t ring them up. I cried in frustration that entire morning. It had all been nothing but a waste of time and energy, so I put a sign on the door and closed for the rest of the day. I knew then that if I couldn’t afford to pay someone to run the shop for me completely, that it was time to say enough is enough and cut my losses.

So, I gave it one last effort. I put all of our products for sale on a new website, ran insane sales, started a delivery service, and gave my employee the opportunity to see if this was going to work without me. But it just didn’t work. We were paying all of the bills with money from our other business, not even making enough sales to pay one person to work there (and at one point I had 6 employees!). So, I clearanced everything out, basically gave away all of my inventory, and walked away. At least I tried, right? I was sincerely trying to add value to our little town by opening up a unique, fun, and helpful space to shop for eclectic gifts and organic foods, where you could also play music, hang out and read, listen to a record, do yoga, create, learn, and be inspired. I created the type of space that I so desired and missed from my past lives in bigger cities. But ultimately, I had hit my wall. I hadn’t just run out of money to keep throwing at it, I was also completely out of energy to give. I was no longer passionate or lit up about it at all, and I had gotten really burnt out with all the failed attempts at trying to refresh and revive the store. But once I made the decision to close and gave the bad news to my employee, I felt relief and peace for the first time in a very long while.

Finally I could just put my focus and energy into my family, which now included a beautiful, healthy baby boy, a teenage step-daughter, a husband who worked at even more businesses than he did when this story all started, a bratty and jealous maltipoo, and four indoor orange cats. My life was still a complete circus, but this is when I started setting boundaries, making positive changes, and figuring out what was most important to me. Oh, and if it isn’t glaringly obvious, I had completely stopped drinking and smoking and doing all of the unhealthy stuff I was doing before getting pregnant, instead finding contentment with yoga, playing and listening to music, spending time with my new mama friends, reading, binge watching Netflix, decluttering, organizing, and surrounding myself with positive people, including my new church family. These habits became my norm, and while I reintroduced the occasional microbrew or glass of dry red, my main focus was on being healthy and present for my new baby. Letting go of hard alcohol (for the most part – I’ll have a very rare margarita here and there) was a huge eye-opener for me, probably the best change I made and more impactful than I would have cared to admit at the time. When you’re pregnant and can’t drink to hide your pain, you have to find new ways to deal. My baby boy changed my life forever the moment I knew he existed, causing me to want to be the best version of myself I could be, so that I could be the best mom possible to this little miracle man.

Never Giving Up

So here I am, a year and a half into my marriage, struggling with just about every aspect of my life, and now I’m grieving the loss of my pregnancy, worried that I might never have the chance to have a baby. We moved into a new home at this time, too, that was crazy expensive and equally awesome. It was my dream home. We stopped at nothing to get it (though it added tons of financial stress to our family), because we planned to fill that ginormous home (I call it my castle) with many children! I was never going to give up on this dream: the big, beautiful home or the big family.

We decided after that horrific experience with that hospital, that we would find a different doctor to help us. We went to one that was recommended, only to leave there in tears from her judgment on my weight and my vegan lifestyle. We quickly realized that she was not a good fit and kept searching.

We picked a hospital that was even further away, but after the first few minutes of our first appointment, we knew we were in the right place. They suggested that we try the IUI route – for those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s like artificial insemination- no needles or Petri dishes at this point. They told us they would try this four times, and if that didn’t work, it wasn’t going to, so we would have to go the IVF route next (enter needles and Petri dishes). I can’t remember the exact percentage they gave us for positive results from the IUI, but it wasn’t great. Maybe 18% or so? We had no known health issues, so there wasn’t a medical reason for infertility, which put us in the “unknown” category, reducing the chances of it working.

We went for our first treatment in January 2018. I’ll never forget that month, because an old friend of mine passed away suddenly during our “two week wait”. For those of you fortunate enough not to know what the two week wait is, it’s the two weeks after you ovulate before your period is projected to start. So when you’re trying to conceive, it’s two weeks full of hopeful anticipation that your period doesn’t come. You’re not supposed to drink during this time, rather you’re to act as if you’re already pregnant immediately after the IUI. I fully intended to follow those guidelines, not wanting to ruin any chances for this to work, but I ended up drinking White Russians, my friend’s drink, at a gathering honoring her. I remember feeling so guilty about that, but it turns out that procedure hadn’t worked anyway, and I wasn’t pregnant.

The next month for an early Valentine’s Day celebration, my husband and I decided to get away together, so we went on a short road trip and stayed at a cabin on a wine trail. We had a blast together. I think we both needed that teenage-free, work-free, stress-free time together to just let loose and enjoy ourselves. It was magical. We laughed so hard we cried on that trip. And then I got the smiley face while there. The smiley face is the indicator on a ovulation test that you’re ovulating soon, which means that you have to quite literally rush to the fertility clinic to have your procedure.

So, we skipped home and drove straight there, got our second IUI, and then another two week wait. But this time, it worked! I took several pregnancy tests this time, just to be sure it wasn’t a faulty test and that I wouldn’t be questioned again for any reason. I was so excited, but I was cautious. I checked constantly for signs that something was wrong. I was terrified of losing this pregnancy, too. And I did everything right. I got a good midwife, did prenatal classes, took hyno-birthing classes, did prenatal yoga, read tons of articles and books. I ate right, quit vaping, quit drinking, minimized caffeine, went for walks, rested… I was going to do everything in my power to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. And it worked. My life has never been the same since. I was meant to be a mama, and I have always known it.


This is a continuation of my story, which starts with me leaving my life in San Diego and going home to Rural USA to start completely over in my 30s. (Start here if you want the whole story). I am writing this story in a memoir fashion, and sharing in small segments (usually once a week). I talk about unhealthy relationships, my struggles with defaulting to unhealthy coping mechanisms, marriage, becoming a step-mom, struggling with infertility, pregnancy loss, financial stress, job stress, and more. I hope that by sharing my stories of struggle with these things, that some of the lessons I have learned might offer you comfort if you’re dealing with similar things. I also wanted to note that my life is certainly not full of doom and gloom, and there are loads of fun and good things I could share, as well, even amidst these struggles. I’m simply sharing the hard stuff with this series to be transparent, to find healing for myself by finally talking about this time of my life, and hopefully this will inspire and help change at least one person’s life for the better.

Peace, love, rock and roll,

Ginger

Starting a Family

This is a continuation of my story, which starts with me leaving my life in San Diego and going home to Rural USA to start completely over in my 30s. (Start here if you want the whole story). I am writing this story in a memoir fashion, and sharing in small segments (usually once a week). I talk about unhealthy relationships, my struggles with defaulting to unhealthy coping mechanisms, marriage, becoming a step-mom, struggling with infertility, pregnancy loss, financial stress, job stress, and more. I hope that by sharing my stories of struggle with these things, that some of the lessons I have learned might offer you comfort if you’re dealing with similar things. I also wanted to note that my life is certainly not full of doom and gloom, and there are loads of fun and good things I could share, as well, even amidst these struggles. I’m simply sharing the hard stuff with this series to be transparent, to find healing for myself by finally talking about this time of my life, and hopefully this will inspire and help change at least one person’s life for the better.

Peace, love, and rock and roll,

Ginger


My husband and I had decided to start a family shortly after we got married, because we were both closer to 40 than 30, and didn’t want to wait too long and miss out on the opportunity to have kids together. I think we just assumed it would just happen. Both of us were relatively healthy, so we didn’t think anything of it. But after several months of trying with no success, we realized that the clock was ticking, and it might be time to seek some medical advice.

Let’s rewind and set the mood for this point in the story. I was extremely frustrated with the dynamic in my home, unable to get control over the drama that was constant, stressed and uncertain about running my small business (I might share more about this journey later, but for now the details aren’t relevant), and now I had become significantly depressed about not being able to get pregnant. I was also struggling with making like-minded friends, finding things to do in our small town, and I pretty much felt like I was stuck in a gerbil wheel, just going through the motions and trying not to completely lose my $%^*.

So naturally I stopped, evaluated, and changed my course, right? NOPE! I trudged forward full-speed ahead and went right back to my old habits. When it got too overwhelming, I drank. So of course this helped, and everything started turning around for me, right? Hindsight really is 20/20, isn’t it? NOPE! I started feeling super sluggish and not myself, so hoping I was pregnant, I went to the doctor to find out that I had mono. So I basically laid in bed for a few months, feeling even more depressed, wallowing in my misery.

My rocker look – I was actually in a 80s rock band at the time all this was happening, too.

I eventually got over mono, but everything else kind of stayed the same until that fall when… I finally got a positive pregnancy test! My husband and I were so excited, and everyone we cared about already knew how much we wanted a baby, so we told everyone right away. We bought onesies and toys, started planning for our new life with a baby, the whole deal. And then just a week later, we miscarried. The devastation we both felt in that ER room was something I would never wish upon anyone. And to make matters worse, the nurse treated me like a moron, acting as if I had gone to the ER for starting my period. Apparently their pregnancy test showed him that I had never been pregnant. I explained that I had gotten a positive on a digital test just a week prior, to which he replied that it must have been a false positive. A false positive is extremely rare, there’s less than 1% chance of this happening with a digital test. What’s more likely is that we had a chemical pregnancy, which is basically a very early loss, and that my HCG levels had reduced enough at that point to not show a pregnancy. I honestly don’t really care what it was. To us, it was our first pregnancy loss. I won’t ever know for sure, because that nurse didn’t bother to call the doctor for me, offered me a pad, and left the room. So I got up, walked out of the ER without being released or signing any papers, and went out for drinks. Logical response, right?

My “smile, someone’s watching” face taken around the time all this was happening.
Drink in hand, of course.

Full Speed Ahead on the Hot Mess Express

This is a continuation of my story, which starts with me leaving my life in San Diego and going home to Rural USA to start completely over in my 30s. (Start here if you want the whole story). I am writing this story in a memoir fashion, and sharing in small segments (usually once a week). I talk about unhealthy relationships, my struggles with defaulting to unhealthy coping mechanisms, marriage, becoming a step-mom, struggling with infertility, pregnancy loss, financial stress, job stress, and more. I hope that by sharing my stories of struggle with these things, that some of the lessons I have learned might offer you comfort if you’re dealing with similar things. I also wanted to note that my life is certainly not full of doom and gloom, and there are loads of fun and good things I could share, as well, even amidst these struggles. I’m simply sharing the hard stuff with this series to be transparent, to find healing for myself by finally talking about this time of my life, and hopefully this will inspire and help change at least one person’s life for the better.

Peace, love, and rock and roll,

Ginger


So now that we’ve established that real relationships, even the best ones, aren’t *all* sunshine and unicorns *all* the time, let’s talk real life struggles for a bit. Almost immediately after we got back from our honeymoon, the week before school started, we unexpectedly got my husband’s daughter full-time. I won’t go into all of the story here, or share too many of the details, but let me paint the picture a bit and I’ll let you decide how that went for me.

I had dated this man for a year, been engaged for 3.5 months, and then married for 3 months at this point. Until then, we had his daughter for visits every other weekend, and we always tried to make those visits fun. Now suddenly, we didn’t have to deal with the struggles related to shared custody, but we found out pretty quickly that this was not going to be an easy adjustment for anyone. I won’t speak for anyone else, but here’s my story. I went from girlfriend to fiancé to wife to main parental figure to a 13 year old girl in what felt like a split second.

At this point, my husband worked non-stop at the office, sometimes locally, and sometimes at his office an hour away, on our “funny farm”, fixing rental units… the todo lists for this man were never-ending. He barely slept. So here’s me, never having even really been around kids before for any length of time, trying to get a stubborn teenager to clean her room, do her homework, and be helpful around the house – none of which came especially easy to her. Being the eager step-mom and always striving to do things perfectly, I immediately created chore charts, color-coded them, and plastered them on the fridge, along with a daily and weekly schedule, and then tried to establish disciplinary consequences around the completion (or lack thereof) of these assigned tasks. Desperate for help around the house and with the kid, I even assigned my husband chores. You can imagine how peaceful, loving, and gentle our house was during this time. HA!

Obviously I didn’t have enough on my plate, so I decided to open up a new business that fall, too. So now I run a completely chaotic household *and* a brand new retail store – neither of which I was prepared for in the slightest bit, or had any experience with prior to diving into these roles. Anybody ever worked retail before? I won’t get into detail about my shop quite yet, but I will say this… Running a retail store makes you really appreciate a certain kind of person, and it makes you really *not* appreciate another kind of person.

So let’s recap. I’m a newly-wed, a brand-new full-time mom to a teenage girl, a clueless business owner, and wife to a lovely man who basically runs a circus on the daily. I was full speed ahead on the Hot Mess Express.

My Hallmark Story

This story picks up from where I left off in my last post. If you want to start from the beginning, check out Back to the Real Me.


Our love story was just like a Hallmark movie. Girl returns home to rural USA after ending a bad relationship in the big city… almost immediately meets a nice guy in an old pickup truck wearing old work jeans, flannel shirts, and cowboy boots… oh and he even had baby goats in his kitchen. They hang out innocently while he helps her look for a house to renovate, and he ends up making her fall in love with him. They have a blast becoming best friends, going on romantic dates, and end up starting a life together in his old farmhouse, negating the need for her to buy her own.

That’s where the Hallmark movies end, right? But that’s not reality. The love stories don’t end when people get together. That’s just the beginning!

The first year was full of all the expected gushy love stuff you see in movies. Wine tasting, funny awkward family gatherings, farm visits, visits to the small town bars, dinner dates… and then after dating for a year, we got engaged with a surprise proposal with the help of his daughter on her 13th birthday at a Blue Man Group show.

We decided we had waited long enough to find our soulmates, so we planned a small country wedding for four months later. We had a few stressful moments, as is expected when planning and hosting a wedding yourself in such a short time-frame. But all ends well with a beautiful, outdoor, hippie wedding by the pond at my mom’s house, followed by a reception at the local venue. Then we went on an epic adventure for our honeymoon, starting with a cross-country road trip, going on a beautiful Caribbean cruise, and ending with an adventurous return road trip. And finally, we lived happily ever after in our perfect home with our perfect future planned out, and the rest is history!

Ha! I love Hallmark movies just as much as the next girl, ok, probably more. But here’s the part that makes real life real. The story doesn’t end with the newlyweds running off on their honeymoon. If we are lucky, our love story never ends, right? The secret is to enjoy the entire journey of our lives, not just the made-for-movies love stories, and not hold our breaths through life while looking and waiting for our “happy ever after”. My goal is to relax, and enjoy the ride.

I Went to the Bar… A Lot.

This story picks up from where I left off in my last post. If you want to start from the beginning, check out Back to the Real Me.


When I came back from San Diego, I don’t know what I expected, but I was not prepared for what I got. I was 33 years old, living with my mother in the middle of cornfields, with nothing to do but promote my online network marketing business that I no longer loved (and was no longer thriving).

So, I did what everyone in my situation would do. I went to the only place I knew that I could find people to hang out with – the local bar. Even in my little country town, there were plenty of those to choose from. It didn’t matter what time of day it was, if I got bored at my mom’s or just needed to get out and do something, that something ended up being me finding a barstool. This happened earlier and earlier in the day. Usually leading me to a bar I could eat lunch at. Then I’d hang out with my new “friends” all day (usually just the bartenders, the people paid to listen to me) until I started noticing people coming in for dinner. I’d usually be drunk by then, so sometimes I’d just go ahead and order dinner and keep going until they kicked me out or someone offered a couch for me to sleep on for a while.

This wouldn’t be quite as bad if it happened once or twice, but this had become my regular routine. I began to realize that I was totally alone in a crowd of people. I was sad, angry, confused, and drunk. It wasn’t a good combination. After a solid month or so of this I decided that I needed to find something else to do with my days. So I started applying for jobs. I applied to four and was offered all four of them. I decided to take two part time jobs, one in an office and one as a consultant. I mean, why not work two jobs? I had nothing going on except for morning workouts with my mom and all the older ladies at the Y. And of course bellying up to the bar, which I could do easily after work.

So that’s what I did. I worked out, worked, and drank. A lot. After a while I decided I needed to meet new people, so I did what anyone would in my situation… I signed up for a dating app. That couldn’t possibly be disastrous in these conditions, could it? Thankfully I went on a few uneventful dates and nothing crazy came of it.

I started hanging out with the guys at my new job, telling them all about my dates over long lunches. Then I realized I was lunching and talking with the same guy pretty regularly (ok, most days), and that I was no longer interested in going out with random people. The next thing I know, I’m Facebook-officially in a relationship, and the rest is history! Ok, there’s quite a bit more to the story. I’ll share more of my adventures with my new mystery man next time. ❤️