Darkness is my Closest Friend (Psalm 88) Part 2

If you’re just tuning in, read Part 1 first. Otherwise, you’ll be confused.

So, picking up where I left off.

April 24, 2012. Tuesday.

…After sobbing for awhile all over Ivor’s dark gray t-shirt, I went over to the couch and stayed there for several hours. I ignored phone calls. Not sure if I responded to texts. I assume Ivor made me eat more at some point. I emailed my boss to let her know what happened and that I wouldn’t be coming into the office that afternoon but that I still planned to come in the next day. Until the next day arrived. And then the next. Each day I got up when my alarm went off, got in the shower to get ready and then realized I just wasn’t ready yet. I ended up taking the rest of the week off.

Back up quickly to the day after Tuesday. Ivor, against my will, arranged for visitors to come.  Even though I objected, it was exactly what I needed. And God sent the perfect couple from our church to minister to us at that time. They didn’t come over with Bible verses to throw at us to make us feel better (not that there isn’t a place for Scripture in the midst of suffering, there absolutely is, I just wasn’t ready for it at that point). They came over, sat with us in our grief and said “this sucks. I’m so sorry.” They had been through similar situations which they shared with us. They prayed for us. And watched the Muppets on YouTube with us (a momentary, welcome distraction).

A few days later, I went back to the doctor to have my blood drawn again (to check hCG levels, like I mentioned in Part 1).  The numbers confirmed the miscarriage, which was what we were expecting. I wasn’t holding on to any false hope at that point. I had been paying close attention to my cycle when I got pregnant so I knew exactly how far along I was, there wasn’t any chance that it was just too early to see/hear anything.

I was then given 3 options. The first was to wait it out and let my body “get rid of” the remains of pregnancy on its own. Warning: potential TMI ahead….this process involves a lot of heavy bleeding accompanied by painful cramping. And I would have no idea when that would occur. The second option was to take some sort of pill to initiate that process (which eliminates the horrible waiting part of the process). The third option was to have a minor procedure called a D&C. I opted for the third as the first two just didn’t sound like something I would handle very well. And I was told my body would recover faster from a D&C, so I could try to get pregnant again sooner. That gave me hope.

So I had the procedure the following Monday (April 30th). I was on pain meds but I still remember how it felt. Now that I can actually compare, it felt very much like early contractions. The whole thing was over in about 10 mins. My doctor did one final ultrasound to make sure she got everything out. She told us to wait 1 cycle before trying again, then sent us on our way. I remember feeling pretty good emotionally when we got home (but I knew that was a result of whatever they had me on, I can’t even remember what it was…but it wouldn’t last).

I wish I could say “the hard part was over”. But living in the aftermath of pregnancy loss, and re-entering the world again comes with some challenges. And a roller coaster of emotions.

To be continued….again….

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Darkness is my Closest Friend (Psalm 88) Part 1

We interrupt the usual light-hearted posting on this blog for a more serious message. Why? Because life can be hard and I don’t want to always write about fluffy stuff. That would be a misrepresentation of my life. There is a great temptation to put up a “front” online. Only posting about the awesome vacations we go on, the milestones our kids reach, the new jobs we’ve acquired, the fantastic meal we just cooked, etc. “The highlight reel” as I’ve heard it called. Well, in between all those fun things is some pretty rough stuff. Quite frankly, I’m annoyed with how we’ve been conditioned to keep it to ourselves act like we have it all together. In my experience, that’s a pretty unhealthy way to deal with pain and suffering. I’m not saying you should  post online everything you’re going through if you’re not comfortable with that. It doesn’t have to be a big public announcement. But share it with someone, a few close friends/family members, and especially, God. And share honestly.

This post about miscarriage inspired me take a moment to address this topic in particular.

Miscarriage. I’ve had one.

To date, it’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever gone through. On April 24, 2012 I should’ve been hearing my baby’s heartbeat for the first time. Instead, I heard nothing but silence. Saw nothing but a black hole on the ultrasound screen. Something went wrong in the very early stages of development and our first pregnancy ended at 6 weeks. 10-20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage and I’m now part of that statistic.

Before going home, my doctor ordered blood work to check hCG levels (I had to go back a few days later to check again to compare the numbers…to confirm the miscarriage). As I sat in the waiting room with Ivor, I responded to the “so, how did it go???” texts. There was a baby crying behind me and an adorable toddler sitting in front of me, looking concerned as he saw me desperately trying to hold myself together and not lose it. My number was called and in I went to have blood drawn. Normally, I pass out when a needle gets poked into my vein. But my mind was elsewhere so I manage to remain upright.

We left the office, grabbed food at the Taco Bell drive-through. Went home. I went to the bathroom. And when I walked out of the bathroom, Ivor was standing there waiting. It had been almost 2 hours and I no longer had the strength to hold myself together.  I fell into his arms and the floodgates opened.

To be continued….

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screenshot of my calendar, April 2012

 

Milestone Reached: Solid Food!

This past Sunday we officially started Gwen on solids, 2 weeks shy of 6-months. Part of me wishes I could’ve “stuck it out” just 2 more weeks to reach exactly 6 months. After all, EVERYTHING I’ve read about breastfeeding recommends exclusive breastfeeding until baby is at least 6 months, for several reasons. You can read about it on kellymom.com if you’re interested. But, I had to go with my mommy instinct on this one. Gwen had been super fussy and cranky while breastfeeding lately. The only time she wasn’t fussy while nursing was her very first feeding of the day (when my boobs are the most full and she’s the most hungry. Well, I assume she’ s pretty hungry after not eating for several hours overnight). I was starting to get paranoid that maybe my supply was low and she wasn’t getting enough milk, resulting in frustration/fuss. I don’t know if that was actually the case or not. The fussiness could be a result of teething or other unknown issues. But on top of that, she had also been showing “the signs” of being ready for solids. Especially the sudden interest in whatever mommy is eating. She stares with curiosity and longing. If whatever I’m eating is within her reach, she will reach for it (she’ll reach for just about everything that’s in her reach these days). So I emailed her pediatrician, explained how she had been acting and asked if it was okay to start her on cereal…and we got the “ok”.

Oh, and I also realize that there’s a risk of actually decreasing my milk supply by introducing solids now..so my goal is to approach solids as a complement to breastfeeding, not a replacement. I’ll only give Gwen cereal after nursing her. So she can have as little or as much as she wants, depending on her appetite. And since many of the baby-food recipes I’ll be making suggest adding breast milk for consistency, I’ll continue to pump, which will hopefully keep my supply up. I’m still planning to breastfeeding for another 6 months, until she’s a year old .We’ll see how it goes!

So, how did it go you ask? I’ll let this face give you the answer:

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She loved it so much! She quickly tried to grab the spoon and feed herself, and gave this big smile after every bite 🙂

I made brown rice cereal (homemade) using a recipe from this book. Since the recipe makes 8 servings, we stored the rest in these storage cubes.   We grinded the rice in our regular blender and it worked great (it needs to be super fine, like powder). Our big food processor didn’t really work…neither did our hand immersion blender (but it’s really old…). So, the blender it is!

We’re going to stick with the cereals for the next week or so (oatmeal and barley are next on our list to try). Then we’ll start introducing new fruits and veggies.

I can’t wait to see how she likes everything!

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Who is this child?

When Gwen hit the 5-month mark she kind of turned into Miss Crankypants. We’ve had quite a few rough days and lately…rough nights. I know several moms who are  still up during the night with their 5 month-old (and older…) and it’s perfectly normal, but Gwen had been sleeping through night for about 2 months straight until now (I’m talking 6pm to 6am). And even when she woke up in the morning I would just hear her squealing and playing….now she wakes up either fussing or screaming…. so you can imagine my despair. As I lay down in bed at night, expecting a good solid 7 hours of sleep…only to wake up an hour later to try to calm a very unhappy little baby. And then again a few hours later…and then 10 mins later….and then 5 mins later….

The reason?

Teething? Gas? Hungry? Rolling over onto her stomach and not being able to roll back? Any combination of the four? Who knows?! I try everything.

I’m reminded of the “women” meme I saw awhile ago:

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Sigh.

Don’t get me wrong. She’s not Miss Crankypants ALL the time. Just way more than ever before.

On the positive side, it’s caused me to talk to God a lot more lately and be more dependent on Him to get me through each day.

I’m not sure how anyone who has kids could possibly say “well, God knew I could handle this…or he wouldn’t have given me kids”. Hogwash. I am not SuperMom…I just have a SuperGod. That’s the only possible explanation for keeping my daughter alive, well-fed and clothed for 5 months…dishes done (most of the time), laundry done, food in our bellies, etc. Without God, I’d still be upstairs in Gwen’s room, curled up on the floor in the fetal position while she screams in her crib. That may have happened once….cause quite frankly I was just too tired to keep walking back and forth from our bedroom to hers every 10 mins. So I just laid on her floor. Yep.

With all the rough moments though, there are some pretty awesome ones too. She’s getting smarter and bigger and discovering new things and it’s pretty awesome to watch.

Stay tuned for “Gwen starts solid foods” very soon 🙂

 

Don’t Hold Her Back

She needs to be free.

“Baby wearing” is a great concept. If the baby likes to be worn. I see all these pictures of moms “wearing” their babies and the babies look so happy and content, peacefully sleeping, etc. Not my baby. Sure, she loves to be held close to mommy or daddy. But put fabric around her and she freaks out. I’ve tried both the Moby Wrap and the Ergobaby Carrier. I love them both. Well, the Moby was not so much fun this summer. All that fabric made me too hot and sweaty. But the Ergo is super comfy and easy to use (now that I’ve got the straps properly adjusted).

I tried the Ergo again the other day in Ikea. She was actually OK for about 2 mins. She seemed happy. She looked around and up at me, smiled. But then she realized what was going on and how she was being held. Not by mommy’s arms.

She kicked, punched and threw her whole body back desperately trying to free herself from the carrier. She let all of Ikea know that mommy and daddy were trying to torture her with this straight-jacket-like contraption.

Sigh.

The problem may be that I don’t use it enough. Or that she’s still a little small and feels consumed by the fabric (for the record, her head/face is not covered, she can breathe just fine…lest you think I’m suffocating my child. She does weigh enough to be in the Ergo…I follow instructions. Why am I defending myself?)

Anyway. I’m hoping it gets better as she gets bigger and more used to it.

I will not give up on it though. I refuse to always rely on the stroller that’s half the size of our Prius. #whatwasithinking

Has anyone else had baby-wearing issues? Babies who hated it at first but then grew to love it?

Or has your experience always looked like this?

(photo from Earthy Bliss)

(photo from Earthy Bliss)

 

 

5 Month Update

Little miss Gwen is 5 months old now, or almost. It always confuses me how they determine when she turns another month old. Is it on the 23rd of each month, because she was born on the 23rd? Or is it every 4 weeks despite what day it is? Her 1-month check up was 4 weeks after she was born (which was before the 23rd). And her 2 month appt. was another 4 weeks after that (also not the 23rd). But now it has changed to the 23rd of every month, in which case she doesn’t turn 5 months until Friday. It seems I’m the only one perplexed by this. Also when do you stop saying “she’s X months old?” and just start saying the year? I hear moms say things like “My daughter is 42 months old”. Really? You’re going to make me do math in my head? There needs to be a cutoff. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit….but it’s a pet peeve of mine.

End rant.

Here are some new things about our almost-maybe already-5-month-old:

*She is so close to rolling over on her own. She’ll get to the point where the front of her shoulder is touching the floor and then she decides “nah…I’ll just stay on my back and keep rolling from side to side.”

*She has attempted to crawl. She’s at the point now where she can definitely move herself around one way or another while on her belly. She gets from one side of her playmat to the other, turns around, etc. but just by scooting and wiggling. It’s adorable to watch her try her hardest to get moving, but she gets frustrated after awhile, understandably.

*She loves holding her hands together like she’s praying.

*She’s falling more in love with daddy. When she sees him for the first time in the morning, or when he gets home from work she gives him the biggest smile and grabs his face with both her hands. Omg. I  teared up just  typing that sentence. It melts my heart. She also follows him with her eyes whenever he leaves the room or just walks away from her lol. She is truly becoming daddy’s little girl. And I’m okay with it.

*She loves to jump and slam her hands down on things while yelling (in her jumper/activity thing). At first I thought she was mad, but now I think that’s just how she plays. Again with the fierceness.

*Along those same lines, when she does get mad….she gets MAD. It makes me think there’s something seriously wrong or that she’s in pain or something. Until she’s immediately pacified by her new favorite pacifier.  Then suddenly all is well with the world. Fortunately, once she does calm down, I can usually take the pacifier away and she’s cool with it.

*I’ve recently noticed that she sleeps in the same position almost every night. With both hands up and bent in behind her head.

That’s all I can think of for now. I can’t believe she’ll be 6 months old soon and starting solids. While it’ll be a lot of fun making food for her and watching her try new things, I have a feeling I’m going to be a little sad at first that I won’t be her exclusive source of food anymore. OR I might really welcome the break. However, I do plan to continue until she’s a year old, unless for some reason she self-weans earlier. But more on that later.

Happy 5 months Gwendolyn Jane 🙂

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The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

The other day was August 2nd. Four years ago on August 2nd, 2009 I met the man I now call my husband. When people ask us “how did you meet?”. Our standard answer is “at church”. Well…I thought I’d be more specific and reminisce about how it all went down. For funsies.

August 2nd, 2009. Fellowship Bible Church, Philadelphia, PA.

FBC is a fairly small church. Small enough to notice when there’s a new person at least. So it didn’t take me long to notice him. He was sitting across the aisle and up a few rows with another girl and a guy I didn’t recognize. I later found out it was his ex-girlfriend and cousin (they were actually ex’s at the time but still friends…I’m not a homewrecker, lest you all jump to conclusions).

He wore a pink button down shirt.

“Hmm…he’s cute”, I thought to myself. When you’re a single girl in her twenties  and a new guy shows up at church…you notice….and wonder about the possibilities (if you deny this you’re a dirty liar).

After the music portion of the service was over we had a standard greeting time (where you say hi to the people sitting around you). It was then that I noticed the new guy looking over at me and sort of mouthing something that I couldn’t quite make out.

Weird…do I know him or something?”

I also saw him glancing over at Pastor Mike. And Pastor Mike glancing at him…and then at me. Then Pastor Mike sort of motioned to the two of us to talk to each other.

“What the….I am so confused”

Before I got a chance to figure out what the heck was going on, greeting time ended and it was time for the sermon. If you asked me what the sermon was about that day, I’m afraid I have no idea. I spent the entire time wracking my brain trying to figure what just happened. “Did I meet him before and just completely forgot?” “Did someone tell me that a new guy was coming today and that I was supposed to talk to him?” 

Finally after the service was over we got things straightened out and were officially introduced by Dave Trumbore (good friend, mentor and leader of the Bible study I was attending at the time). Turns out…this new guy’s name was Ivor. “I’m Ivor”. That’s what he was mouthing to me earlier. He was church hunting in Philly for awhile and found FBC online and had been emailing back and forth with the pastoral staff, trying to get plugged into a church community and a bible study. I was part of a young adults/young professionals bible study and that week we happened to be having a BBQ at my house. So they had told Ivor, “hey, this bible study is having a BBQ at Krystal’s house and it would be awesome if you went to that…so at church on Sunday you can talk to her and she’ll give you directions, her phone number, etc.”. Except they all thought I was in the loop and part of this email thread. I was not. Hence, my confusion.

The BBQ took place 2 days later and sure enough, Ivor showed up in his silver Dodge pickup. This was really the first opportunity we had to chat and get to know each other a little better. Being the host, of course, I didn’t want to be rude and ignore all the other guests so I had to make sure I made my rounds and didn’t focus on the new (single!) guy. The only other detail I remember about that night was a funny (foreshadowing) moment when Ivor was chatting out on the deck with Annette (Dave’s wife). I believe they were talking about the house in Philly that he bought and was completely renovating by himself. A big, 2,000 square foot, 3 bedroom house in the city…as a bachelor. Annette joked, “maybe if you build it, she will come!” (referring to his future wife). And right at that moment (literally as those words were coming out of her mouth), I walked out onto the deck to join their conversation. Awkward.

🙂

Not long after that night, there was this “game night” that I invited him to. This “game night” was specifically created so that I might invite him and get to know him even more. Sneaky? Sure. Becky Hagerty is an enabler and encouraged it. So let’s blame/give credit to her 🙂

We ended that night talking for at least an hour out in the parking lot, sharing our past heartbreaks, our future goals, values, etc., both clearly excited and interested in pursuing the possibility of maybe potentially dating each other. We took it slow and waited about….oh, 2 weeks? Then went on our first date. Five months later he proposed. Six months later we were married….by the man who was signaling to us that we should talk to each other less than a year earlier. It was like Pastor Mike was saying to us “Hey you two, meet your future spouse, you’ll be married in this very room next year”. A prophet, that Pastor Mike 🙂

So that’s the beginning of our story. Hope you enjoyed. Here’s a picture of those 2 crazy kids on a mini-golf date just a few weeks after that initial meeting (our first picture together):

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And another picture from a Rascal Flatts/Darius Rucker concert not long after that date:

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Aaaaand one more that I’ve posted before, but it’s a favorite:

canyonhike

 

Quinoa & Beet Salad

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Quinoa and Beet Salad (with Kale, Heirloom Tomatoes and Feta)

We literally just ate this for dinner. I took a picture and said “I must share this goodness with the world”. So, here I am. Sharing with the world.

People, if you haven’t been introduced yet to Quinoa…introduce yourself. It’s seriously good stuff. I took the liberty of doing a quick Google search for you. Read this if you don’t believe me.

Now that I’ve convinced you to try Quinoa, here’s one way (of many) to try it.

First rule of Quinoa, RINSE IT FIRST!! In a fine mesh strainer run cold water over it and use your hands to give it a good rub, for about 2 mins. If you don’t do this, it will taste soapy and bitter. Nobody wants that.

Then, drizzle a little bit of olive oil in the pot you’re cooking with (over medium heat), then “toast” the quinoa (1 cup) for about a minute until the water evaporates. Then add 2 cups of water. Bring to a rolling boil. Lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and keep it covered for another 5-10 mins, or until you’re ready to serve.

So next you’ll add the goods. Wash and chop some Kale. Peel and chop a Beet. Chop a nice heirloom tomato up (we picked ours straight from our garden. Heck yes.). Pour some olive oil in a pan and sauté the beets until they’re tender (stick a fork in it and you’ll know if it’s done), remove from the pan and set aside. Add a bit more olive oil to the same pan and sauté the Kale. Oh, you’ll want to season with salt and pepper (both the beets and the kale).

Now you’re almost done! Throw everything (including the tomatoes you already chopped) in a big bowl and give it a good mix. Serve in pretty bowl, crumble some feta on top, devour.

And you’ve just made yourself a delicious and INSANELY good for you meal. Yes, a meal. This doesn’t have to be a side dish. Quinoa is a complete protein (and basically a multi-vitamin). Plus with the beets and kale….are you kidding me?

EAT THIS.

 

4 Month Update

Little miss Gwen is 4 months old now! Before I go into “what’s new”, I’d just like to rant about doctor’s appointments and percentiles. It’s another way to make mommys worry even more than they already do (and compare their baby to other babies). Ugh. Gwen is still long and lean (25 inches long, 12 lbs. 7.8oz). 73rd percentile for length, but 16th percentile for weight. And her little head is in the 7th percentile!!! Her doctor isn’t concerned since she’s meeting all the developmental milestones for 4-months old and she still has soft spots on her head so her skull hasn’t prematurely fused together or anything, but of course I can’t help but Google these things. And most of what I find say not to freak out, as long as she is progressively growing along “the curve”, meeting the milestones, etc. then she’s most likely fine.

But then of course I discover this:

Microcephaly is a neurological condition that occurs because a child’s developing brain doesn’t grow properly. This causes the disease’s most obvious physical symptom: a head size that is much smaller than normal. Because the brain does not grow at a normal pace, the skull doesn’t, either. Many (but not all) children with microcephaly also experience cognitive delays and neurological problems as a result.”

…..

Thanks, Google. (I know, I know…..”STOP GOOGLING”)

I did the same thing when I was pregnant and Gwen started hiccuping a lot. The majority of what I found said it was normal and a good sign. But then there was this ONE sentence I found that said something like this: “It’s most likely completely normal and harmless….OR it could be that your baby isn’t getting enough air due to cord compression”. Fantastic.

Moral of the story: I should block Google on my computer. Is that even possible?

So…moving on. Here’s what’s new with our little Gwen:

*Interacting more with objects and people. She stares, smiles, laughs, screams, squeals, and “talks” to us and her toys

*Discovering more with her hands. My favorite is when she reaches up to touch my face (and daddy’s). It’s the sweetest thing EVER. My least favorite is when I’m changing her diaper and she gets curious about what’s down there….

*Holding her head up on her own. She is a bobble head no more!

*Getting better with tummy time. She kind of hated it up until recently, but I’ve discovered that the key is to distract her with happiness (cue super high pitched mommy voice, big smile and fun toys to shake in front of her face).

*Getting more mobile. She hasn’t rolled over yet (though I’ve found her a few times just chilling on her side). The girl moves constantly in her crib. Her head ends up where her feet were when I put her down.

*Loves doing “sit-ups” and “stand-ups”. We lay her down on our lap, hold her hands and gently pull up to sitting and then standing position. She smiles with delight at being “SOOOO BIG” 🙂 She’s got strong little legs and usually starts the standing thing on her own. Crazy!!

*Still sucking on her fingers. Constantly. No teeth yet though.

*Sits in the Bumbo seat and her stationary entertainer/jumper thing (which she’s obsessed with- so much to look at and touch she doesn’t know where to start lol).

*Very alert and aware of her surroundings. She’s knows when she’s not at home and in a new place. And she usually hates it. Like yesterday at her doctor’s appointment. She was calm until we got in the exam room. She look around for a bit, saw the nurse….then screamed at the top of her lungs. “Wait a minute…I remember this place….I DON’T LIKE IT! That’s the mean lady who pokes me with needles!!”. She didn’t stop screaming until we left.

*Starting to get a TAD more consistent with naps during the day (just in the last week). I can usually count on one morning nap and one afternoon nap. The length of those naps, however, are definitely not consistent (could be 30 mins, could be 2 hours).

That’s all for now. I feel better now that I just reminded myself of all the things she’s accomplishing, even with her 7th percentile head 🙂

4monthgwen

Boob Juicing, 17 Weeks In!

For those of you just tuning in, I wrote a post about the very beginning of my experience with breastfeeding (“boob juicing”) awhile back. You can read it here!

Now we’re 17 weeks in and still going strong. When I wrote that post 12 weeks ago, I was still experiencing some soreness but I am happy to report that we are over that hump (pun intended). I haven’t had any more issues, except for the one boob being slightly bigger than the other. I probably should’ve NIPped that problem in the bud early cause I just can’t seem to fix it now. . .

Ok, I’ll stop with the bad boob puns. For now.

So one change since the last post is that I went back to work part-time for the summer, working mostly from home but going into the office once a week while Ivor stays home with Gwen. So to make sure Ivor has enough milk to give her while I’m away, I have to pump throughout the week (once a day is enough). I hate pumping. I do it because I have to but it is not an enjoyable experience. The act of actually nursing your baby is such a beautiful, natural thing. Pumping just makes you feel like a cow.

Pumping also means bottle preparing/cleaning/etc. which is kind of annoying. But you gotta do what you gotta do (I just hate doing dishes. My least favorite household chore). I tip my hat to you moms who work full-time and  pump the majority of the time. It’s definitely worth it though to make sure your baby gets the good stuff.

My plan is still to breastfeed exclusively until she’s 6 months old, but I’m going to chat with her pediatrician on Monday at her 4-month check up to see if maybe she should start cereal any earlier. I’m certainly in no rush, but I am excited about making baby food for her and seeing her try things for the first time. There will be lots of photos of videos to share I’m sure. I can’t remember if I ever shared the babyfood making book I have, but if not- here it is. So far I think it’s pretty awesome. Obviously we haven’t tried any of the recipes yet, so I can’t comment on that. But all the other information in the book is wonderful. More on that in the next few months…

That’s all for now. For those of you in the early, painful stage of breastfeeding (or pregnant and hoping to breastfeed)- be encouraged!! It’s normal to get off to a rough start, but it DOES get better. Hang in there, don’t give up. As I mentioned in the first post 12 weeks ago, support and knowledge were key for me. Read as much as you can about breastfeeding in advance (kellymom.com is wonderful) and find people who will encourage you not to give up.

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