Monthly Archives

June 2020

0 In motherhood and family

My rainbow pregnancy.

My rainbow pregnancy was hard. I did not know anything about a rainbow pregnancy and had no idea what that meant. Also, I had no idea what a rainbow baby was. That all changed when I got pregnant with Gavin. Then my rainbow pregnancy began and it was emotionally hard. Someone said to me “oh that is great, your having a rainbow baby.” I had to ask what that meant. I was so happy to learn the meaning of a rainbow baby, it gave me a sense of happiness after my loss. But my rainbow pregnancy was a whole different experience.

I guess I should explain for those who do not know what a rainbow baby and pregnancy is. Well, it is the pregnancy that follows after a miscarriage, still birth or loss of a baby. It is considered the rainbow after the storm and gives parents who were grieving the loss of a baby hope with a new baby. It does not mean it replaces that loss. Nothing replaces the loss of a child. What it does do is gives us hope!

For me though a rainbow baby pregnancy is hard. With my first baby I had never had a miscarriage. Everything went smoothly with the pregnancy and birth. I had no fears. No one tells you what comes with a rainbow baby pregnancy. I do not think this happens for everyone or maybe it does. But the pregnancy is hard.

My rainbow baby pregnancies since I had three of them we exceedingly difficult on my mental health. I was in fear the whole time. The pregnancy joy was many times overwhelmed by the fear from my miscarriage. Miscarriage’s caused me to not share that I was pregnant till the first trimester was over. Every baby scan I had I would fear they would find something. I would wait till the baby moved and feel relief. Unfortunately, the relief would soon be consumed with the next fear and then the next. It was such a struggle for me to not fear my baby’s safety till they were in my arms.

I am not sure this happens to everyone. But this is my story of the struggle I had connecting with my rainbow babies while pregnant. For me, I wished I had received therapy after my miscarriages. I loved those babies. When I get pregnant I see these little humans and all they can do in the world. I may not have held them, but I loved them so much it hurt. I wish doctors would follow up on the mental health of the parents after a loss, but many do not. At least for me they did not.

As I mentioned above I lost three babies. Each loss was followed by a rainbow baby. I am so blessed to have them. God gave me the best little babies ever. I wish I had asked for help to handle the stress of rainbow pregnancies so I could have enjoyed being pregnant. It makes me incredibly sad that I did not spend more time cherishing every moment of pregnancy. Instead I lived in fear. My fears where real and valid but I did not have to struggle alone.

By my third rainbow baby I was in a panic a lot of the time. It was not healthy for my self or the baby. There are moments now I see I should have advocated for myself to get some help. My blood pressure was high due to the fear every time I went into the office something would be wrong. On top of it I had an anterior placenta. So, finding the babies heartbeat was hard. It was just a lot of my mental health not being where it needed to be. But I really am glad I got through it and birthed these beautiful little ones.

What I learned from my rainbow baby pregnancies I hope can help another Mom who struggles. Maybe it will help a Dad too. It could allow a Dad to help if they see their babies Mother struggling.

  1. If you are struggling like I was ask your doctor for help.
  2. If your doctor is not listening to you, ask for a new one.
  3. Talk to other Moms like yourself. Find a supportive group.
  4. Try to find ways to relax.
  5. Talk to your partner or family to get more support
  6. Please know you are not alone (message me if you need to someone to talk too)
  7. Try Mantra’s like: My baby is healthy or we are okay.
  8. Take a deep breath if feeling scared or sad
  9. Essential Oils can help calm your mind
  10. Always ask for help if needed.

If I were to ever have another baby I would find a doctor who specialized in mental health. I would take care of myself and build a great support team. Also, it would be important for me to find a doctor that was with me through the whole thing verse a practice that can never schedule you with the same OBGYN. Maybe a midwife would be better as the care is more personal. But please know your not alone. Many women do not share how scary it is getting pregnant again after a loss. But you do not have to struggle alone.

1 In Sunday sweets

Chocolate lava cake

Sunday sweets week two!! Having 4 kids makes things difficult at times. But I am sticking to Sunday sweets, and as our new tradition we will do it. But at times with kids being kids some weeks the desserts will be simple. Also other times complex if the kids are more focused but we will all take part. Either way we will do it together. This week I got to pick. I was really excited. What did I choose? Chocolate lava cake made in a crock pot. I love making things in a crock pot. So chocolate lava cake in a crock pot was perfect. It is so easy. This is the first dessert I have every made in one. I was really hoping it would turn out good. (It did.)

 We also had a special guest to our Sunday sweets chocolate lave cake making event. My son’s girlfriend, Kiera. She will most likely join us in other dessert making adventures in the future. Furthermore, it is always a joy having her join our family. She also joins in and has a good time too. That means we had all seven of us joining in. Except the baby. If she tried to help it would have been a disaster. Maybe next time will let her help us out.

 This recipe does not require a lot of ingredients. It is easy to make and inexpensive. The ingredients needed are as follows:

Chocolate cake mix (any kind)

Eggs

Water

Vegetable oil

Chocolate pudding (the instant one, we used the whole box)

Chocolate chips

Pan spray

Optional: vanilla ice cream

 You need a crock pot to cook it in. I know this is pretty obvious but just saying it in case. It is pretty simple from this point. Just follow the instructions below and you will be good. I love simple. With a family of six simple is key to getting things done. To begin the kids mix the cake mix following the box directions. I sprayed the inside of the crock pot with pam spray. Next we poured the mix into the crock pot. The kids mixed the Jell-O in a separate bowl and poured it on top of the cake mix. After this, we all sprinkled chocolate chips on top. Set the crock pot on high for 2 hour or a bit more.

 Now we started a little late. So, it was not done until almost eight at night. But this Mama picked a good dessert to try. It was so good, and I would make it again. One thing was making sure you wait till the edges are spongy looking. We served it in bowls with vanilla bean ice cream. Everyone loved. The baby got to try some too. I mark this one a success.

 Also know if a dessert we choose does not work out we will let you know. We choose new desserts every week. Even though some may not turn out to our liking we will be honest. What is important is we are making memories. It is so important to create fun traditions for your family too. The kids will remember this and that makes me incredibly happy.

0 In Sunday sweets

Oreo brownies with chocolate chips

 The Shivicks are starting a new tradition. Every Sunday is now Sunday sweets day in our home. One kid will pick a dessert recipe we have not had yet, and we will make it. We are all excited about this. So, to start our tradition Gavin picked the first dessert. The dessert we will be making is Oreo Brownies with chocolate chips.

These Oreo brownies with chocolate chips are pretty simple to make. The kids got to help. We really did not need much to make them. Just a box of brownies. A bag of small morsels (chocolate chips). Then we of course need a small container of Oreo’s. You will also need the ingredients listed on your brownie box.

Everyone in the family helped except the baby. She tried but it would have been everywhere. The kids cracked the eggs. Then poured the water and oil. Then the two younger ones mixed it all with help of dad. I got to put chocolate chips in. I may have eaten some too.

After this my husband poured half the mix into and 8×8 pan. My teenager then came in to place the first few Oreo’s in before everyone else helped finish lining them up in the pan. To finish it off my husband then poured the remaining batter over all the cookies and put it into the oven for the amount specified on the brownie box.

Then our home filled with a smell of warming chocolate. About 20-30 min later depending on the directions and your oven you get this pretty picture. It looks good and smells amazing. It also did not last long enough for me to get a picture of it cut on a plate.

The entire family decided we can never eat regular brownies again after this. I hope you try them out. They are amazing!

0 In motherhood and family

Father’s Day in our home.

As in many families you go out and celebrate the dad and grandpa in your family. Father’s Day is a day full of love. If you do not live near them face time, calling or sending something special may be ways of celebrating. Dads are amazing. They teach and love their kids in a way no one else can. A dad can be blood related or not. It is what they do in our life’s that earn them the title dad.

 In the Shivicks home Father’s Day is a particularly important day. We celebrate the fathers who are here. If they are no longer alive we honor them. We sadly are missing one of the dad’s in our home. Have been for 11 years now. Just because he is not here does not mean we forget about him. We also have my husband and my stepdad in town. Then there is my father in Virginia as well as my husband’s father in Iowa. Not to long ago my husband and I both lost our grandfathers. Both were great men.

 So, what are we doing? This year it is pretty simple. With the virus going on there is not much you can do. My husband is pretty easy. We made some homemade gifts. He got one gift early. Then he wants Buffalo Wild Wings. That is his favorite place to eat. But we are picking the food up instead of eating there. My stepdad is also picking his food up so we can all meet together.

 We will all meet up at Matt’s headstone. If you have not read posts before on my blog my oldest son’s father has passed away. There at the grave site we are going to have a picnic. The best part is he is buried overlooking the ocean. It will not be too hot. It is so peaceful. This allows all fathers near us to be celebrated together in one place.

 At some point in the day I will call my dad. My husband will call his. All in all, it is a celebration of these important men. You do not always have to do something big. It truly is about spending time with them. Making them know how important they are to us all. Just spending time with one another.

 So, what do we get these dads of ours? Well that depends. Some know what they want. Maybe a tool set or a video game. I found a lot of homemade dad gifts that were easy. For Matthews dad we bring flowers. When he was younger he would make something for him. The first year he brought his dad Lego characters to leave him. There are so many things you can do.

What is most important especially in blended families? You need to make sure you show appreciation towards the father figures. There are not always the traditional dad’s in every family. There may be more then one dad or father figure in a home. It is important to let them know on this day and all days how much you appreciate them

To the families like ours where a father who has died. I am so sorry for your loss, but their memory lives on within you. Celebrate their life and know wherever they are now they love you. Find ways to celebrate them in your own way. Happy Father’s Day!!!

1 In motherhood and family

Losing your child’s father.

 Being a blended family is not the same for everyone. In fact, our blended family is a bit different. My oldest son lost his Dad. Losing his father makes life complex. Many blended families consist of 2 Dads and 2 Moms or combination of sorts. But for us we have a complicated factor of having the loss of a parent. Today is one of the hardest days of the year. Today marks 12 years since losing Matt Sr.

Matthew was not able to be there. His Dad was on a ship and he was flown to Phuket, Thailand. His family and I all flew to him as soon as we were told something was wrong. Matt had a brain aneurysm. He was never going to recover from it. He died in Thailand and was flown back to the United States shortly after. That was where Matthew got to see him again. Matthew was 4. His father was 25. Losing his father changed us all.

This situation is complicated. It was hard to explain to four-year-old Matthew what happened. It is was also hard to explain to the three younger children what is going on years later. My 6-year-old understands his older brothers Dad is no longer here. My 4-year-old is just catching on. She did not really understand until 2 weeks ago. Then there is the baby she has no idea. But I knew at some point I had to explain to my youngest children where Matthews Daddy was.

When I married my husband, I was noticeably clear how I wanted to handle the loss of Matt. He understood and agreed. I want the house to have Matt’s presence. I also want Matthew’s younger siblings to know who Matt is. We also spend time with Matt’s family, and they all know them. These things help my oldest son feel like his Dad matters. It makes him feel like his Dad is remembered.

Every year is different. Different emotions come up. This year is a bit harder for Matthew and I. When you 16 things are changing. A lot is going on in my oldest sons’ life. It is sad to know his father is not here for all those things. He is missing driving, graduating, first jobs and so much more.

So, what does a blended family do in this situation. Well we include everyone. We all go visit his grave site. They see Mom and brother talk to Matt. We share stories. We share the love of a Man no longer here but still so important. In every blended family there is a lot of making things work. Fitting puzzle pieces together that may not fit perfectly. You have to respect one another dead or alive.

 In our case if you came into our home there are pictures everywhere. Some new with all 6 of us. Then there are old ones of Matthew and his Dad. Also, ones of Matt and I. Matt’s flag is in a case with his picture as well. Then if you go into my oldest sons’ room there are items of his Dads that were passed down. We all know which ones those are, even the little kids do. We spend Christmas eve with Matt’s family as well as many other holidays. Just as Matthew and I did before Matt passed. Blended families are all different. They all make choices so that things work. By losing such a huge part of our life we make him a huge part in our home.

It may not happen at first but things mostly even themselves out. With all that said, June 16th, 2020 is 12 years since he passed. Matthew Hicks is in heaven now. We miss and love him. My entire family combines his name with my current husbands to make Shivicks. I try my best to keep his memory alive. I will never forget the last time I saw him or spoke to him. My son and I think of him every day. Please hug you husband, wife, and children a little tighter tonight. Life is a gift. Time is a gift and we should cherish every moment.

1 In motherhood and family

Miscarriage’s and rainbow babies

 People have asked me before, how many kids do you have. I always smile and say four. A lot goes through my mind when asked this. This question is not simple for me. I only have 4 kids standing with me, however, I have three babies in heaven. Such a simple question can be a huge trigger for many women.

 My first miscarriage was in 2013. It was horrible for me. We were excited to see the heartbeat. The doctor was so quite and finally said she cannot find anything. They looked again and found our small baby with no heartbeat. The doctor was cold and rude. Then she sent me to another room, where a nurse came in with a huge smile, so when is your due date. How could the doctor not have told her my baby was gone? It was heartbreaking and I blamed myself. The baby I lost would have been the first between my husband and I. We got pregnant again quickly. We were blessed with our son Gavin.

 With this miscarriage I found many of my friends had had one too but just did not talk about it. Why weren’t women talking about this? It is not our fault; we should not sit in silence. I felt better talking to other women. When you lose your baby, no matter how far along not only do you feel alone, there are so many other emotions.

 For me, this was not going to be my last miscarriage. After Gavin, in 2015, I got pregnant again and again there is my little baby with no heartbeat. How is this happening? Why are my babies not making it? We had to go to my husbands work function that evening and we faced the evening with a smile. Then we came home to take medicine to birth my baby. Well, I talked about my loss because I needed to. Luckily, just like before, I got pregnant again with Harper. I would not let myself get attached, I was anxiety ridden and worried the whole pregnancy. It really sucked that, for me, I could not fully enjoy the experience until I held her.

  After Harper we wanted one more. I was nervous to try but when we found I was pregnant I felt dread. When I told my husband I told him to not get excited there will not be a heartbeat and there was not. For some reason, my body loses a baby each time before a successful pregnancy. My doctors wouldn’t look deeper into the miscarriages till the third loss. Why do we have to lose three babies before we get help? Then God gave me my third rainbow baby Aria. The pregnancy was hard. I bought a Doppler to check for the heartbeat daily. I was again anxiety ridden and sad that I was scared of pregnancy. But on September 29th I was blessed to take home my beautiful girl.

 Now after three losses and three rainbow babies I reflect on what I went through. I wish I was not so hard on myself, that I would have talked about my loss more so I could have helped someone else. I’m very thankful for the women that shared their stories to me, so I didn’t feel so alone. I wonder if they were boys or girls, did the babies have their Daddies green eyes? One day I will meet them. I am grateful my rainbow babies. What I tell all other Moms out there with angel babies is this:

  1. You are not alone.
  2. You did nothing wrong.
  3. We are strong and amazing.
  4. Even though you lost your baby you still are a Mom.
  5. Take your time to grieve.
  6. Enjoy your pregnancy after loss.
  7. Ask for help if you are having a hard time.
  8. Tell your story when you are ready.
  9. You can choose to keep trying or stop, either way is OK.
  10. Love yourself. You have gone through a lot and you matter.

 To all the Moms out there with babies in heaven, I am so sorry for your loss. I hope, if you try again,j you get your rainbow baby. If you are unable to have one or more children I am sending love and prayers your way. Women are amazingly strong. The things we endure can be difficult. Love and prayers to all of you.

1 In motherhood and family

Being a Mom can be exhausting.

 It is hard being a Mom. It does not matter if you have one kid or four, some days are just exhausting. I am not sure why I am such a tired mom today. Being a Mom of 4 can be a lot sometimes. I always say as long as I get 4 uninterrupted hours of sleep I am good but not today. My husband came home, I was struggling to keep my eyes open, kids are screaming, and the baby is glued to my hip. My baby girl sleeps well, just not lately due to teething. She is having a hard time, my other babies did not even cry during teething. This alone can wear a Mama down but I also have three other kids.

 My exhaustion could also be a buildup of a lot going on in addition to the lack of sleep. I am like a lot of Moms. I have multiple kids, I have a list in my head that is growing by the minute, laundry is needing to be put up, I am a home school teacher now, not by choice, since March and I have anxiety. On top of all the normal things of my normal life as a Mom, there is a lot going on in our household from May till the end of June and emotions are high both happy and sad.

 Why are May and June so busy for our family? My Mom’s birthday and Mother’s Day are within the same week. Then comes Memorial Day. We are a Gold Star family so we lost a military loved one, he was the father of my oldest son. Then my daughter Harper’s and my son Gavin’s birthdays come, one on June 2nd and the other June 8th. The 8th is also my wedding anniversary, so we plan a date on a different day. Next, is us remembering the life of Matt as he died on June 16th. The final event is Father’s Day, which is complex for our blended family. We celebrate my husband, then we have to go to visit Matt where he is buried, and then we celebrate my Stepdad.

 All of these events, back to back, combined with the craziness of the world like Covid-19, the world navigating how to end racism and just being a Mom can all add up. Today I think I just need a vacation. Somewhere quiet and calming where I can binge watch Netflix shows and sleep 10 hours. But, as most Mom’s know this will have to wait especially because I breast feed and Aria will not take a bottle at all so we cant be apart long.

 So, what does a stay at home Mom, who breast feeds do to get a little energy back and not burn out? I am still trying to figure that out. I have four kids but I am still learning. Do not ever think that just because someone has a lot of kids they are experts at raising children or doing it right, there is no handbook. So far there are a few things I do to help relieve exhaustion and get back a little pep in my step.

  1. A Good cup of coffee or tea alone.
  2. A hot shower or bath. Lock the door and play music.
  3. Have someone take the kids to the park. Even for just 30 minutes to get a break.
  4. A walk. Just getting outside really can up your energy.
  5. Going to the car. Drive to another street, eat a favorite snack and just lean back, relax.

These ideas are all baby friendly. You can get away for a short time, the baby does not need to be fed 24 hours a day and it really can relieve the stress and exhaustion we experience. Just know if you are an exhausted Mom out there, you are an awesome parent and take care of yourself so you can be your best.

0 In motherhood and family

How we are handling Racism.

 I have struggled with the right words to write in regard to yet another senseless death of a black man. Mr. Floyd did not deserve what happened to him but neither did the many others who have lost their lives in the past for no other reason than being black. Mr. Floyd was murdered and now his family including his beautiful daughter who is only 6 is left broken and lost. From what I have heard he was an amazing father and I am so heartbroken for his little girl.

I was raised by my amazing Mom and now I am a mom, I am also white and I choose to raise my kids as I was raised. I was raised to love everyone and love their differences as each person offers so much to this world you have to appreciate them. I was taught to not hate, not judge people due to the color of their skin and treat people as equals. It is obvious that there are many people left in this world who were not taught this, and those people are treating black and brown people horribly and it must change now!

 I am from Santee, California where there is a misconception that racism is not found everywhere, that we are open, loving and remarkably diverse but we are not free from racism. In Santee with in about 2 weeks span we had a person go into a grocery store wearing a KKK hood and then at another grocery store there was a couple wearing a swastika on their masks. This to me is just insane, how can these people even think to go anywhere wearing anything like this? Now had my Mom or myself seen this we would have ripped that hood or mask of them because we do not stand for racism. But it is not just where you live, there are so many media outlets that it is easy for our kids to see or hear racist messages that we as parents do not believe.

 Sadly my 5-year-old saw a tik tok video on my phone where a person said black men are always trouble and the video was showing a black man being put into a cop car. Now I did not see the video at first, my son came to me and said why are all black men bad? At that moment everything stopped in my home as I demanded who told him that and he told me of the video. This is the moment as a Mom that can be turned into a lifelong lesson. I explained to my son the video was wrong, and that black men are not bad. That every person, no matter their color, are amazing humans and that we never should see someone’s skin and think they are bad people. I asked him does he have a black friend in school, and he said yea and I said well is he bad? No, he is really cool and nice. I explained that the color of your skin never makes you bad. I also told him if you ever see someone treating someone bad you stand up for them and do something. I have taught all my children to stand up for other people if something is being done wrong and to be nice to everyone. But I always thought what more could I do to teach my children?

 Well for my kids I did some research. I have always started teaching at a young age. Reading or watching shows with people of different backgrounds so they are used to not seeing all white people. As they get older if they point out skin color, I tell my children well isn’t their skin beautiful, so they see differences as good which they are. As they face difficult situations or misinformation, which our children will since there are so many things easily seen now with the tv, internet, ipads and cellphones, I am open and here. I also monitor what they watch to avoid them hearing the wrong message. Racism is something we openly talk about between ourselves and the kids. If they see protestors and ask what is going on I explain so that they know and understand what is happening. When they get older if they ask what they can do to help we can join the protests, we can sign the petitions, we find ways to help in the community and we can listen to the black and brown community so we hear what they are facing and tell us what they need. I know there is always so much more I can do but I need to learn more, and this is where I am starting.

 I then ask myself what can I do to help? It is a huge question and there are so many suggestions it gets overwhelming. But to simplify it as a white mother I need to listen to the black people, their stories, and their suggestions because they only know what it is like being black in America. I cannot even imagine what they go through, but I can listen to them because how can I ever expect to understand unless I take the time to listen. I can also learn and educate myself. Education is power and it is at my fingertips. There are so many resources to learn from and the more I learn the more I can help. The more I learn the more I can teach my children and the more I teach them the better this world will be. We all have a part to play to get rid of racism, to treat everyone equal and to grow as a society. We cannot do it alone and we need to join together, all races, all ages and then we can make changes. This will not be my last post on this because as I learn more I want to share more and hopefully it will reach others and make a difference.

  1. Talk about racism in your home. Openly and age appropriately.
  2. Educate yourself and your children. There are books for kids and many resources for parents.
  3. Listen to the black community. This will help to understand what is going on and how they feel.
  4. Ask questions. If you have questions about anything to do with racism create a dialog.
  5. Teach your children to love and appreciate people differences.

I just want to let everyone know you are loved, I am praying for our world and from our family we hear you, we are sorry, we stand with you and black lives matter.

Love, Jennifer Shivicks and Family.