Daddy’s Home!

This blog is about sailing and living aboard, but it is also about military life too, and how sometimes, it can all be really, REALLY hard.

Conor deployed a week after our baby was born. He’s back now, and was only gone a month, but it was still a rather sudden and unexpected departure. The possibility of the training exercise had been tossed around since September, and had been definitively called off around Thanksgiving. We had both breathed a huge sigh of relief, until halfway through December when all of the sudden it was back on. It threw us for a loop and added so much stress on top of, you know, having a baby. I am so thankful he was there for the birth, as I know many other spouses are not so lucky, but it was SO hard to see him go and say goodbye to our little one.

This was the reason I had rotating help with my parents, who both flew across the country to be with me for two weeks. My sister also came out for a long weekend. Boat life added another layer of complication to the situation, but at least I had babysitters! At three weeks post-partum, I did a pumpout and dragged the cart down the docks, through the snow, and up the parking lot hill. Our water tanks had to be filled, and because of the freezing weather, hoses had to be connected from the dockhouse and run all the way back to our slip. This was all doable with an extra set of hands to watch the baby while I did it all, and set us up for the next two weeks while baby and I were mostly on our own.

All told, Baby and I were alone for ten days total while Conor was gone. I learned to never leave the boat for just one thing. If I was going through the effort of loading baby up in the stroller or wrapping her in the babywear wrap, I needed to get stuff done. I’m sure I made quite a sight stomping around the marina, baby strapped to my chest, bag of laundry in one hand, and leash in the other. Or pushing the stroller, all of our PO box mail shoved into the diaper bag, dragging a dock cart full of groceries behind me.

Respect to all military moms, and moms in general. You work hard and get sh*t done, all while being the adult in charge of keeping one of Earth’s newest members alive. I am proud to join your ranks.

Conor’s homecoming was one of the sweetest moments I’d ever witnessed. We are very happy to have him back. We survived January!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

dads home

V-berth for Baby

Though our nursery might not be Pinterest-worthy, I thought you all might like to take a peek at what we have planned for when Baby gets here! Because our space is so limited, our rules for baby gear were that it had to be compact, fold-able, dual-use, or travel-friendly. After a LOT of research, I was able to find the perfect stuff to fit our lifestyle (we hope, I’ll update once Baby gets here). I put brand names in the post so people can find these items if they are interested, but please know that I have no affiliation with any of these companies.

Here it is! So glamorous, right? Let’s start with the basics: the mattress. Any boater will tell you how difficult and frustrating it is to get sheets for a v-berth mattress. Nothing ever fits quite right, and forget about a mattress cover. Luckily, we have an amazing friend at our marina who runs a canvas shop who offered to take on the impossible task of custom bedding as our baby gift. We have an insert that completes the triangle, but we needed the bedding to have a special fit when it is removed in order to have easy access to the drawers underneath (read: lots of velcro). It won’t be used as a bed again for quite some time, but I’m happy that the mattress will be protected from poop/spit up in the coming months.

vberthfull

Turning around from here, to port is the in-room sink (handy for diaper changes) and starboard is the closet. I’ve used a shoe hanger over the back of the door for quick-access items (socks, hats, pacifiers, swaddle blankets).

Inside the closet are diaper supplies, clothes, and pump supplies:

closet

And we can’t forget about the books! The other side of the v-berth wall shelves will be for toys when Baby is old enough.

books

Now for our gear, starting with the stroller. We chose the Mountain Buggy Nano travel system, which is pretty much the lightest travel system on the market. The stroller is 13 lbs and can be folded up to fit in airplane overhead bins. The car seat is only 8 lbs and can accommodate a child up to 44 lbs.

carseat

Baby will sleep in our bedroom for the foreseeable future, and will be in the Summer Infant SwaddleMe bassinet right by our bed. This bassinet can also fold up flat for easy storage/travel. This is the setup:

bassinet

Once Baby is ready to transition to a crib, she will be in the Lotus travel crib by Guava Family. The crib is very easy to pop open, and stores super easily. It will be strapped down/secured onto one side of the v-berth mattress (how we accomplish this is TBD at the moment). This is it all folded up:

crib

For bath time, we have the Luxx baby folding bathtub which hangs in a small locker inside our shower.

For diapering, we have the Bumbo changing pad, which is easy to wipe down, portable, and heavy enough to stay put. I am already totally in love with our diaper backpack, which is by Bag Nation and has SO many pockets. It is currently our hospital “go bag”, which is why it looks so stuffed.

I can’t WAIT to use our high chair. It is a Phil&Teds lobster high chair that folds up so tiny when not in use. We also have a completely collapsible baby bottle drying rack that will come in handy.

bottlerack

Last but not least, have you ever seen a cuter life jacket?? If you’re looking for a life jacket for your little one, there are very few on the market that are certifiably safe for infants. This one is a Stohlquist Infant PFD for babies 8-30lbs.

lifevest

That’s all of the major stuff we’ve planned for. If anyone else has suggestions for baby gear in a tiny space, please share! Hopefully this was a fun insight into how we plan on making boat and baby work. Now we wait…

Love,

Taylor and Conor

4, 3, 2, 1.

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. This is a difficult post for me to write, but I strive to always be transparent and honest on this blog about the ups and downs of our lives. We recently announced that we have a new crew member on the way. I have been asked a couple times over the last few months if we knew I was pregnant when we bought the boat, and what on earth we are planning to do with a newborn aboard.

Yes, we knew I was pregnant when we bought the boat. If you want the brutal truth, this is my 4th pregnancy, after 3 losses, 2 years of trying, and 1 round of fertility medication. It has been a long, hard road with no guarantees. Against all odds, the boat and the baby dream came together at the same time, and we are thrilled about it.

My first pregnancy was ectopic. For any woman, the chances of an ectopic pregnancy (outside the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube) are around 1/100—it is very rare but always life-threatening. Conor had just deployed two weeks earlier, so when I experienced stabbing pains in my right side, I drove myself to the ER in the middle of the night and found out the bad news. It was traumatic, to say the least.

After Conor came back from deployment, we were ecstatic to find out that we were expecting again. The immediate concern was the chance of another ectopic, because once you’ve had one, your chances are 1/6 for subsequent pregnancies. Early scans showed that the little bub was in the right place, so we announced to friends and family in person while we were back in Washington over the summer. After all, what were the chances that we would have two losses in a row? We traveled back to California, and I went in for another ultrasound at 9 weeks, only to see that the pregnancy stopped progressing. Conor was in the field for an exercise, and rushed home to be with me.

I was diagnosed with a missed miscarriage, meaning that my body hadn’t recognized that the pregnancy was no longer viable and was continuing to behave as though I was still pregnant, morning sickness and all. I had to be medically induced. Not so fun fact: missed miscarriages account for only 1% of pregnancies. We had rolled the dice, and lost again.

To say I was bitter and angry at this point would be an understatement. Conor and I were both young and healthy, with zero risk factors. I only got more discouraged as the months dragged on and I couldn’t get pregnant again. My due dates passed, and I found myself thinking of alternate timelines. “Oh, I would have a one-year-old right now. Oh, I should be six months pregnant by now.” Instead, we were back to square one. Behind square one, even, because now the naive excitement of pregnancy had been replaced with bad memories and disillusionment, a track record of failure. I envied and marveled anyone who had pregnancies with no losses. It seemed impossible to me.

Eight months later, I finally got a faint positive test, which was quickly followed by another miscarriage at 5 weeks. I told my doctor I had pretty much given up by this point. We were also about to leave California. She suggested a round of Clomid as a last-ditch effort. “It won’t necessarily help, but it won’t hurt anything, either.”

I guess the 4th pregnancy was the charm. Conor and I feel beyond lucky to be at this point.

I hope my story helps anyone else going through the unique pain that is pregnancy loss. It can feel so isolating, especially because it is still so taboo to discuss in society. Women feel like they have to be so hush-hush and secretive about it, and wait until they are past the first trimester to announce to people because “What if something happens?” Well shit, things do happen. And it sucks to try to handle it on your own so as to spare other people’s feelings on the matter. I want to let other women know that they are not alone. For friends and family who support these women in your life, here are some tips to follow (and what not to say) if someone you know experienced a loss or is struggling with infertility:

1) “At least you can get pregnant.” Oh, goodie! And I can also have multiple miscarriages in a row! Definitely a win for me.

2) “It will happen when you stop trying.” Ah, yes. The truly scientific explanation, backed up by empirical data. So helpful.

3) “It just wasn’t meant to be/ God’s will, etc.” Why would you assume anything about my religion and what I believe in? Stop trying to make yourself feel better by saying a general platitude.

4) “You still have time to try again.” Well, I wanted that baby. And now that baby is gone. Any subsequent pregnancies are not a replacement for the ones that I’ve lost. They were all unique.

5) “Maybe if you wouldn’t have done ____, everything would have worked out.” Don’t you dare blame the mother. She’s also probably already obsessed about this herself a million times.

Here’s what you can do:

Say that you’re sorry for their loss. Listen to them if they want to talk about it. If they named their little passenger, refer to the baby by name. Bring meals, chocolate, distractions, whatever, don’t just tell them, “I’m here for you.” Show them. I had friends drop off care packages, check in with me months after my losses to see how I was coping, weren’t afraid to bring it up in conversation, and sent cards for what would have been my due dates. Don’t shy away from it. The mothers haven’t forgotten.

quote

There is an event tonight (October 15th) to acknowledge pregnancy and infant loss. Everyone lights a candle at 7pm and keeps it burning for an hour, creating a wave of light all around the world through the all the timezones. We’ll light ours on the boat.

Love,

Taylor and Conor