Monday, July 28, 2014

I'm baaaaaaaaaack

Well, I've made it through my "90 day probation period" at my new job, so I guess I can officially blog about being back to work.

This year has come full circle for me.  Four days before my 30th birthday, I left my career in the TV news business, thinking I would never return.  Forty-seven days before my 31st birthday, I am back.  This past year has been a whirlwind.  I learned a lot about myself.  The things I thought I wanted in life, ended up different than I had envisioned and the things I had run away from were exactly what I needed. 

Clarification:  This blog is not a comparison between a working mother and a stay at home mom.  This is how it felt (for me) to leave the one thing in my life I had built completely on my own, my career.

Last summer I felt liberated.  I walked away from a job I felt stuck in.  I felt the company I was working for saw no future in me.  I had been working every single weekend for over two years.  I had missed out on life with family and friends, for a job that only saw me as a number...a number they were constantly trying to reduce.  Leaving WBRE wasn't a hard decision.  I was ready for more time with my family and more time for myself. I had sacrificed so much for my career, and Mike's new job offered me the chance to break free.  So I did.

The first few months were great!  I was enjoying all my time with the boys.  I was attending events I was never able to go to.  I was seeing my friends and family on a regular basis.  I had so much free time on my hands I didn't know what to do with myself.  The boys and I were doing everything I thought I wanted to do.  I felt like a housewife on Bravo (minus the millions of dollars) meeting up with my friends and having lunch dates and play dates and shopping trips.  I had time to go to the gym and I started to cook.  Gosh, I even started this blog!  Like I said, the first few months were great...then it slowly got harder and harder.

Staying home with my boys all day was exhausting.  I would rarely get out of my sweatpants.  Many days, I wouldn't even leave the house!  Getting twins ready and out the door some days was more work than it was worth.  I felt like all I did all day was yell.  I lost my cool way too often.  I missed having adult conversations.  On top of that, Mike was traveling a lot so I was home alone almost every week night.  I couldn't wait for nap time each day...and then I would countdown until bedtime at 7:30pm.  I no longer looked forward to Fridays, because everyday of the week was the same.  I feel absolutely horrible to even say/write this in black and white, but sometimes I dreaded my days with the boys.  I remember telling Mike I felt like I no longer had a purpose.  I felt terribly guilty for even saying those words, but I couldn't help it.  On top of that, I missed writing.  I missed going into work everyday.  I missed being on TV.  I missed dressing up.  I missed putting on makeup.  Sure, I'll admit it, I missed the "glamour".  I missed working hard towards something all day and having the chance to put it on display.  I missed the praise.  I missed helping people.  I missed pulling up on a scene, adrenaline pumping, and figuring out what was going on.  I missed being recognized.  I missed Shannon Murphy.

But not only did I miss all those things, my attitude was changing.  I started resenting Mike.  He would come home and tell me about a new project he was assigned or a "pat on the back" from his boss, and I was jealous.  I no longer got that anymore.  A mom rarely receives a "pat on the back" or a "promotion".  For seven years, I had put all my effort into becoming a reporter.  It's who I was.  They say a job doesn't define you, but in a lot of ways it does.  I would talk to Mike all the time about my feeling of loss.  I think he was about to lose his mind because I changed mine everyday.  He has a lot more patience than I ever will, because the conversation would always end with, "Shannon whatever you want to do, I'll support you."  I know if it was up to him, he would have chosen for me to stay home, but I think he also knew who he married.  I am forever grateful for a husband who allows his wife's career to dictate so much in life.  There are plenty of guys who would never stand for that.

My daily struggle was, as much as I missed Shannon Murphy, I still wanted to have my Cunningham life.  I wanted to have weekends off.  I wanted to tuck my boys into bed each night.  I wanted to be there in the morning to pick them up and kiss their chubby cheeks.  But I also wanted to feel whole again.  I kept thinking to myself, "Good Luck.  You'll never find a job that gives you the best of both worlds."  That's why, in my mind, I had written off the thought of getting back in the biz.  Not because I wanted to, but because I felt I had to.

But now,  I can say I am one of the few lucky ones.

Back in April, I got an offer to work for a company I had already worked for in the Poconos, but this time it was in my hometown of Lancaster.  It's a small cable station...with huge benefits.  I was hired at the News Director (I STILL can't believe it) and I also anchor our 5:30pm show.  I work...wait for it...9:30am-6pm Monday-Friday.  If you know anything about the news business you know this is few and far between.  I have every weekend off.  I have every holiday off.  I get to wake up and spend a few hours with my boys in the morning.  I get to pick them up from school everyday, feed them dinner, give them a bath and put them to bed.  I look forward to every minute I have with them.  The time I spend with them now, I'm not yelling.  We are laughing, snuggling, tickling running and usually rolling on the floor or jumping on the bed.  Yes, there are still hard times and plenty of battles, but I don't see them anymore.  Instead, I feel like a happy, crazy, mommy whose boys actually WANT to be with her.  There is no better feeling then two little boys running your way with open arms yelling "mama!" when you walk into their classroom.  They love school.  They've made friends.  Every morning I ask them if they want to go to school, they yell "Yes!" and run to the door.  I used to feel hurt that they didn't want to stay with me, yet didn't I feel the exact same way?  They are making art projects, playing with sand and Play-Doh and learning to share.  They also love their teachers...and a little girl named Emma.  They are happy.  The one and only wish of a mother.

All signs point to the boys being happy and now that I am back to work, so am I!  I'm learning everyday.  I've never been  a manger before and its not easy.  I'm being challenged.  I'm contributing financially to my family, which has always been very important to me.  I don't feel guilty anymore when I do a little (let's be honest, a lot) of shopping.  I'm helping young reporters learn the ropes and I'm making big decisions about the newscast.  I'm writing.  I'm making changes to a show and everyday watching it get better.  I have adult conversations and joke around with my co-workers. I get giddy again for my Friday, which is actually Friday!  I feel important again.  Are there bad days?  Well I can't say I've had a "bad" day yet (just give it time...I'm still on my TV high) but I know there will be days I will question my decision and that's when I will sit down and re-read this blog.

Being a mother is the most important job in the world, but everyone needs a balance.  My mom told me the money she made from working when I was little was just enough to cover my daycare expenses, but the freedom to work and have her career was priceless.  At 61, my mom still works part time.  She's been a nurse for 40 years.  I guess I'm my Mother's daughter.

P.S.  I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaacccccckkkkkk!!!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

40 days and 40 nights....

(without facebook)

This year for lent, Mike and I decided to choose each others sacrifices.  In previous years, we had given up things that didn't really affect our lives - which obviously defeats the purpose.  (for example, while I was pregnant I said I was giving up girl, right?)  I decided Mike needed to give up coffee.  He drinks waaaayyyy too much of it.  It started out as a cup a day a few years ago and quickly grew to 5-6 cups.  No one needs 5-6 cups of anything in a day other than water.  On top of that, I despise coffee.  40 days and 40 nights of a coffee-breath free husband sounds good to me.  Mike decided I needed to give up Facebook.  Thankfully he didn't say social media.  I was still able to use Instagram and Twitter, but being home with my boys most days, Facebook was a huge outlet for me.  Mike, on the other hand, felt that I spent way too much time on my phone, and way too much time worrying about other peoples lives.  Turns out, he was right.

I've been on Facebook since the day Millersville University was granted access back in  2006 (my 10 year timeline #Facebookis10 reminded me of that).  Back then it was just for college kids.  We wrote the most random things on our friends walls and poked people ALL the time!  We didn't really write status updates, that's what instant messenger was for.  From what I remember, you couldn't post pictures, there was no "like" button and the web address was   It was a great way for me to stay in touch with all my friends who were in college at other schools.  Mike never joined Facebook.  He thought it was stupid.  If you've never had it, you'll never get it, period.

Over the years Facebook drastically changed.  That's exactly what Mark Zuckerberg wanted.  But Facebook is actually bigger than your profile online.  It changed the world and the way we think.  After backing away for over a month it became clear to me, Facebook created a "selfie" world.  Just read down your newsfeed and really think about what people are writing.  Most of the time, your "friends" are posting things about themselves, anxiously waiting to see how many "likes" they can get.  And yes, I am guilty of this.

On top of seeking attention, I think Facebook has made us an even more (if that was possible) judgmental society.  We all see pictures, or posts that we disagree with and it angers us.  It becomes a topic of conversation - about what was seen or said on Facebook.  For example, the other weekend my girlfriends and I were all together to celebrate a 30th birthday.  The topic of conversation quickly went to Facebook.  A girl we went to high school with was posting pictures of herself breastfeeding her baby.  You could totally see her entire boob in several pics.  Now, I am ALL for breastfeeding, in fact, I pumped for my twin boys for an entire year, but WHY anyone would feel the need to post that for all to see is totally beyond me.  But when I look back at the conversation, WHY were were wasting so much time talking about it?

Because Facebook is dominating our lives.

The hardest part about my sacrifice was the actual act of deactivating my account.  The finality of it.  I knew I would be back, but I knew I was going to be out of the loop with so many things for over a month.  The first few days, I can't tell you how many times I, unconsciously, grabbed my phone only to realize there was no Facebook.  I started turning to twitter, linkedin and instagram.  What was I going to do without people "liking" my pictures?  How will I get by without showing my boys off to the world and getting reassurance that they are indeed the cutest kids in the world?  No one will know all the amazing things I do with my friends!  How will I handle not knowing who got engaged, divorced, had a baby, announced a pregnancy, got a new job, posted something so absurd, that I will talk about it for hours with my friends!!!

That's when it hit me. What is WRONG with me!?  It's not Facebook.  It's ME.

Once I realized that, I felt liberated!  It felt good that no one knew what was going on with my life.  My REAL friends will tell me the highlights of their life and I will share mine with them.  I don't need to read it on social media.  I was slowly (very starting to pull away from the attention seeking, "look at me!" trait that goes hand-in-hand with Facebook.  I started brainstorming all the things written on Facebook that annoy the crap out of me - and when I think back, I was actually DOING some of them!!!  AHHHHHH!!!!

The one thing that *almost EVERYONE is guilty of, is writing posts to show off  how great your life  is.  "Look at me!"  "Look at my fabulous job and all the cool things I get to do!"  "Look at all the vacations I've gone on!"  "Look at me in a bathing suit!"  "Look at my kids!"  "Look at my new designer purse!"  "Look at the flowers my husband got me!" "Look at how much weight I've lost!" and the list goes on and on and on and on and on.  The thing is, we ALL know, nobody's life is perfect.  I remember reading this one Someecard (one thing I do actually miss about Facebook) that said "I hope one day your life is as fabulous as it looks on Facebook."  And it's so true.  Sadly, it never will be.

Others turn to Facebook when tragedy strikes.  "Please pray for my family."  "Please pray for my dog."  "My cousin is in the hospital and needs prayers."  I have seen never ending lists of reasons to pray for SO many people.  But when you break it down, its just another way to get attention, receiving pity from others.  Half the time, I don't understand why people are putting such personal experiences out into the world.  What ever happened to having private conversations with your own God?  I think people are spending more time asking for prayers, then getting down on their knees and doing it themselves.

My LEAST favorite?  Politics.  UGH!  I absolutely HATE when people get into politics on Facebook.  Hey guess what?  You're not going to change my mind and I'm not going to change yours.  DROP IT.  But so many people feel the need to battle it out in ALL CAPS to prove a point, but all you proved to me is, you're an idiot.

Seriously, how many selfies do you need to post?  We get it, you think you look hot with your head at an angle and your lips looking more like a duck than a kissy face.  TRUST ME, one selfie a week is one selfie too many.

Gosh do I hate when people write status' like "I have the best friends in the world!" or "My husband is amazing."  Hey guess what?  We ALL think we have the "best" friends in the world, that's WHY they're our friends.  And I sure hope you think your husband is great.  Why else would you decide to spend the rest of your life with him?

As we got closer to Easter, several people asked how it was going without Facebook.  Was I going to come back?  Although I would like to say I'm going to give it up for good, I know I won't.  With all the annoying things about it, there are also some great things that I miss.  I get to keep in touch with my friends and family on a daily basis.  I get to see pictures of their families, and watch their kids grow up.  I get to celebrate with others as they announce some of the biggest moments in their lives like engagements and  pregnancies.  I get to read a lot of really inspiring stories and blogs that I most likely would have never seen and some cool news stories that go viral. I get to see a lot of funny things too - like those Someecards:)  I get some good advice on things like parenting, new music to download, new stores to shop at - and also support from other mommies with twins.  But most importantly for me, it has created a timeline of my life.  A never ending, always updated diary.  I can scroll all the way back to those good old college days when Mike and I started dating, or look at pictures from the day he proposed, our fairy tale wedding, or our first house.  I can read about how I felt the day I started my first reporting job in Texas, the day my boys were born and how quickly they have grown to be little men.

That is the good in Facebook and this Lenten season has reminded me to focus on that...

...and start blocking a lot of people from my wall;)

Monday, March 3, 2014

the 717 through my eyes.

I was home for a few days last week, to visit my parents with the boys, and it got me thinking about Lancaster.  My hometown has topped many lists of "best small cities" and I'm never surprised about all the wonderful things visitors or bloggers say about it.  I will probably never live in Lancaster again, and that's totally fine with me, but it will always be home.  It's familiar.  It's where I grew up.  Gosh, I even went to college 15 minutes away.  There were days I thought I would NEVER leave (and so did my parents!)  And there were other times I couldn't get out soon enough.  Now, I feel like I don't visit enough.  

This time around was a little different for me.  I started to make a list of things in my head, around me, that meant "home".  Some may be relate-able to you, while others are just personal to me, but I figured I would write them down...hoping wherever my 717 friends are, you too, might feel a piece of home...

1.  The first thing I ALWAYS notice first, as I drive into Lancaster, is the smell.  I'm sure you all know where I'm going with this.  No matter if it's the dead of summer or winter, even with a foot of snow on the ground, I swear you can still smell the manure.  When you grow up there, you expect it.  You don't even notice it half the time...that's not the case for me anymore!

2.  While I'm on smells, two more stick out (in a good way).  Kellogg's in Landisville and Y&S Candy.  One of my dads patients works there, and I always hope they have a fresh bag of licorice in the pantry when I come home.

3. 96.9 FM 97  Always have listened to it and always will.  Enough said.

4.  Park City.  It wouldn't be home without a trip to the mall!  Wow, has that place changed!  Its SO much nicer these day and has so many new stores.  Unfortunately for me, I don't know my way around like I used to.  Express will ALWAYS be down the Bon-Ton wing and I'm still surprised to see the white tiled floors. Remember that dark, ugly brown floor?!

5.  Turkey Hill.  Sorry Wawa, Turkey Hill ice tea and ice-cream can't be if we're talking hoagies, that's a different story.

6.  WGAL.  It wouldn't be right if I didn't check in on Kim Lemon.

7.  Carlos and Charlies (sometimes replaced with El Serrano).  Some things on this list are more personal to MY visits home and this may be one.  C&C became a staple for wing night while at Millersville.  Now its a staple to get us all together, kid free for drinks.  

8.  If its not drinks at C&C, its drinks at the Stavig's, home #2 in Lancaster.  We sit at the island, in the kitchen of Julie's parents house and drink Chardonnay (or shots of Wild Turkey...Christmas Eve 2010).  We could do it for hours.  We could probably do it all night, which is usually why we are running late for a night out in the big, crazy city of Lancaster (yes, that was sarcastic.)

9.  Brickyard, Marion Court, I really need to visit these places?  I can expect to run into at least 10 people from my graduating class (and by that I mean high school AND college), an ex boyfriend (or 2), and a ton of people I REALLY don't want to talk to.  (Probably why we sit at the island and drink before we even consider going out)  Yet we always have a lot of fun and have A LOT of stories the next morning!

10.  Val's House.  The token "meet up place"  I'm there for play-dates with the kids, hangouts with the girls and pig roasts with all of Hempfield High School.

11.  Manhattan Bagel...errr Grand Central Station?  It was my first job when I turned 16 and who doesn't love a good bagel...unfortunately now I have to pay for them.

12.  Oyster Point Family Health Center.  My dad helped build one of the most successful family practice offices in Lancaster.  I use to get annoyed when all the guys I went to school with reminded me that my dad had given them their physical.  I would always say, "Don't worry, he wasn't impressed;)"  Now, I drive by it and only feel a sense of pride in my dad's accomplishments.

13.  Diners.  Whether its the Apple Tree, Lyndon Diner, Salunga Family Restaurant (no, sorry out-of-towners, us natives do not frequent Shady Maple Smorgasbord) for some reason, the diners in Lancaster are better than anywhere else and my parents are regulars.

14.  The Amish.  Most people only think of the Amish when they think of Lancaster.  Honestly, on a normal trip home I don't really see them...unless of course I head into Lancaster Central Market....

15.  Lancaster Central Market.  It's the country's oldest farmers market and if I'm not mistaking it was recently ranked as one of the best farmers markets in the world.  I don't get there as much as I should, but if I do, two things happen, I see the Amish and I eat a whoopie pie.

16.  Hot Z Pizza.  I don't even want to think about how many times I ate their cheese fries.  Funny thing is, the food isn't as good as I remember.

17.  Hempfield High School.  It's impossible to drive down Kauffman Road and miss this monstrosity. I recently went there to run around the track.  Talk about memories.

18.  Beau's Dream Dog Park.  This is a new one but a "must add" to the list.  I mean come on, one of my best friends literally 'dreamt' up the idea.

19.  The Parent's Hot Tub.  When I was younger, my friends and I would all pile in when it was snowing and take turns running around the house, jumping in and out of the hot tub.  Now all I want to do is drink a glass of wine, under the stars and relax.  Life has certainly changed.

20.  Spinach Dip.  My mom gets this amazing spinach dip at Costco.  I eat it every single time I'm home.

21.  The Barnstormers.  I haven't been to a game in years.  I believe I was in college when the ballpark opened.  I definitely want to take my boys there when they get a little older.

22.  My Bedroom.  My mom hasn't touched it since I left.  I recently cleaned a lot of junk out for her.  I found all my prom dresses, cheerleading gear, gymnastics leotards, track awards...and the list goes on.  Talk about a walk down memory lane.  I love that every time I am home, it feels like I never left. 

23.  Millersville University.  I love that Mike and I can walk around our college campus when we visit my parents.  Burrows Hall will always hold a special place in my heart...the place I met my husband.

24.  Prestige Gymnastics.  I spent 7 years there.  I am amazed at how good the girls are now and they seem younger and younger everytime...or maybe it's just that I'm older.  I NEED to go back and visit.  The boys would love it.  I'm assuming the dog food plant is still next door!?

25.  Centerville Road.  It's the main artery I travel to pretty much get to any of the places listed above.  I still can't get over how much Lancaster has grown.  The traffic on Centerville Road is enough proof for me.

As I look over my list, it's impossible to forget the wonderful childhood I had in Lancaster.  It also makes me wonder what memories I am making for my boys.  They will most likely grow up in Delaware County, the same place as my husband.  Will Sciarrino's Pizza remind them of home?  Will they go to Barnaby's when they turn 21?  Will they refer to home as Delco?  Will they despise the traffic on West Chester Pike and Township Line Road as much as I do, or will it just be second nature?  Will they look forward to Eagles Games at the Linc with their dad, and laugh at him when "da Bears" lose?  I hope I am building these feelings of "home" for my kids, because as much as "Lancaster" did for me, it was my parents that did a pretty kick-ass job.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Toddler's are Tough and I have Two.

As babies, my boys were perfect little angels.  Other than when they were hungry, they rarely cried.  They started sleeping through the night at 3 months and I could pretty much take them anywhere at anytime and they would just hangout in their car seats,  content as could be.  I would pride myself on making raising twins look easy.  Well guess what?  That game is over.  The days of lunch dates with my duo are few and far between.  Those quiet, happy babies have disappeared.  The ease of sitting the boys in one place is a distant memory.  The stress is at an all time high.  I commend myself on a daily basis for not completely losing my mind at any given moment.  We have entered the toddler stage and to say it's tough is an understatement.

I was talking (complaining/venting/whatever you want to call it) to one of my close girlfriends about how I am mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted and she asked why I haven't written about it.  My response, "I'm too tired."  But then I realized writing is the cheapest form of therapy and there has to be other moms who can relate, right?

So for those of you who ask or wonder what I go through on a daily basis...well here is a small sample.

On any given day my alarm goes off around 7am and by alarm, I mean two crying toddlers.  I wake up to crying, I eat to crying, I drive to crying, I talk on the phone to crying.  I play with them, they cry.  I feed them, they cry.  I read to them, they cry.  I get them dressed, they cry.  I change their diaper, they cry.  I put on cartoons, they cry.  I lay them down for a nap, they cry.  I think you might be getting the picture, and then, just when you think you might have it, they cry.  The crying never ends.  If its not one, its two.  It's almost like I don't even hear it anymore, except for when I do hear it and then I just want to cry.

If the crying wasn't emotionally draining enough, then comes the changing.  It doesn't matter if we are talking about diapers or clothing.  Two words come to mind: Kicking and Screaming.  Not from me, although sometimes I feel like I should be the one doing it, but for some reason Case and Colt despise being changed.  As one of my friends put it, it becomes a game of mortal combat.  It takes every ounce of energy I have to hold them down.  When I do that, sometimes I get pinched, bitten, slapped, ya know the normal things you do to your mom who is trying to take care of you.  And when there is a poopy diaper to change...well I'm sure you get the picture.  My mom tells me the boys lay perfectly still for her.  Thanks mom, that makes me feel so much better.  And just when your done the first boy, you get to do it all over again.

I was looking forward to the toddler stage to finally be able to feed my boys regular food!  No more pureeing fruits and veggies.  They have teeth (that's another story) and can finally eat PB&J and grilled cheese.  So, you make up a tasty lunch, plop them in their booster seats and what do they do? Throw the food on the floor, every LAST piece of it.  You know they are hungry, but instead of eating, they chuck it all over the kitchen and cry.  Why are they crying?  Because they are hungry!  I think to myself, as I scrap the peanut butter off the floor and wipe the macaroni and cheese off the wall,  a simple, "no thank you mom" would have been nice!  As I toss out lunch #1 that's when I realize I am literally throwing away money.  My boys have wasted so much food, I swear I could feed an army.

Now back to the teething.  Oh the joy of cutting teeth!  I hear some moms say that they didn't even know their babies were teething and it didn't bother them at all, well I call your bluff.  My boys drool non-stop, suffer from diarrhea which leads to horrible diaper rash, they have runny noses (who knew that was related to teething!?), fevers, trouble sleeping... the list goes on.  As a parent you feel so helpless.  Other then pain relievers there really isn't much you can do.  And as soon as one baby is getting over it, brace yourself for round two!  Aren't twins so much fun!?

In my house, another source of stress is nap time.  My boys are awesome nighttime sleepers (thank you Lord) but naps are nonexistent.  If I get 45 minutes in an entire day I am lucky and I swear those minutes fly by.  The problem is really for me, not the boys.  I don't get enough time to take a breathe and relax, or should I say "re-cooperate" from the morning and the boys are back up and running rampant.

If you've seen any of my facebook pictures lately, you see the Shenanigans these little monkeys pull-off.  They are climbing chairs, standing on tables, scaling bathtubs, racing up the stairs, sitting on shelves, chasing the dogs, emptying cabinets, sitting in cabinets, slamming cabinets, drooling on furniture, throwing cups, bowls, you need more examples?  Ok...pulling at electrical sockets, chewing on dog toys, some how they even manage to back talk me, yet they don't even talk at all!!  They test every limit and steal every single bit of patience I have.


Then they blow me a kiss, give me a hug, smile with those chubby cheeks, say "Mama", play peek-a-boo, reach for me to pick them up, climb on my lap, giggle, snuggle, learn something new, play with the dog, say "Dada" every time my phone rings, splash in the tub, run around naked, pose for  pictures, dance like crazy men, climb on the table, scale the bathtub, race up the stairs, chew on the dog toy, cry out for you see my point?  Some of the most frustrating things are also some of my favorite memories (or pictures).  Those small precious moments are what gets me through each and every day and make it all worthwhile.  As my mom always says, "This too shall pass." and "Tomorrow is another day."

But I don't want it to pass too quickly!  Isn't life funny like that!?

Monday, September 30, 2013

Finding My Peace in the Present

Answering the Never Ending Question of What's Next?

It seems like no matter what phase you are in in life, people are ALWAYS asking what is next.  When will you get engaged?  When will you get married, have a baby, have another baby...and so on and so forth.  And yes, I am guilty of this.  My friends and I are always trying to plan out our lives. But I guess now that my boys are close to hitting the year and a half mark, everyone always wants to know, Are you ready for another?  

Well you asked.  Here is the long answer:  (scroll down for a shortened version)

Mike and I know that we both want at least one more child but right now I am trying to enjoy life with my boys.  I still have a hard time believing our family doubled in one day.  Every day, I am still adjusting to motherhood and trying to find a balance (maybe I will be doing that for the rest of my life?)  And I still remember that pregnancy like it was yesterday.  I will openly admit I am dreading being pregnant again.

A lot of woman say they love being pregnant and that they felt so "in tune" with their body (whatever that means?!).  I am one of those women who will say how it truly is, or was for me, carrying two babies for 35 weeks and 5 days.

Mike and I only tried for about 3 months before we found out we were expecting.  We were very lucky.  I will never forget the date, Sunday October 2nd I took the pregnancy test that clearly read "PREGNANT".  I scheduled an appointment with my OBGYN.  They also confirmed the news.  
Two weeks later, we went in for our first internal ultrasound.  Since we found out we were only 6 weeks along (pregnancy tests come back positive earlier with twins) everything was VERY small and we couldn't hear the heartbeat yet.  About halfway through the procedure, the technician had a big smile on her face and you obviously know why.  She told us that she saw a second yolk sac.  I learned a yolk sac is the very first thing you see when a baby starts to form.  She explained in layman’s terms, we were pregnant with twins!  Identical twins to be exact!  Wow, what a lot to take in!  Twins don't run in either of our families, so the idea of multiples hadn't even crossed our mind!  They wanted to schedule an ultrasound for the following week so we could hear the heartbeats and confirm that there was indeed 2 healthy babies inside.  

As soon as we left the office, I called my mom and just started bawling.  This was too much.  For someone who plans literally everything in life, this was one surprise I never saw coming.  Mike on the other hand was so excited, easy to say when you’re not the one pregnant!

One week later we went back for our 2nd ultrasound.  Mike couldn't make this one, he had to work (the only appointment he missed all 9 months) and we thought the initial shock was over. As soon as she started the ultrasound our two babies popped up on the screen.  It was amazing to see how much they had changed in just one week.  I was now able to hear both heartbeats, strong and steady.  What a relief!  But as the technician was looking, a worried look came over her face and a doctor was immediately brought in.  The doctor explained that my babies did not have a membrane.  The rest of what she said to me was a blur.  Here I was alone, in a room with a doctor I didn’t know, without my husband, learning there was something wrong with my pregnancy.  She told me my identical twins were in the same sac, sharing a placenta, but they didn’t see a membrane.  The membrane acts as a wall and keeps the babies’ umbilical cords from getting twisted, tangled and knotted together.  Pressure on one cord and not the other can cause one baby to grow while another baby could slowly die.  Or worst case scenario pressure on both cords means they both don't make it.  It's called Monoamniotic twins.  The doctor at Pocono Medical Center told me this was an extremely high risk pregnancy and that the babies, at best only had a 50% chance of survival.  I was sent to a specialist down in Allentown.  

I think I cried myself to sleep for 2 straight weeks.  The excitement and overwhelming joy of twins was immeasurable but the complications were stealing my excitement.  I remember Mike saying to me, "It would be devastating if we lost this pregnancy.  What are the chances of us having identical twins again?"   Although I know he didn't mean to, it put a lot of pressure on me to make it through the pregnancy but I also knew that was out of my control.  We kept these "complications" to ourselves and only shared with immediate family and friends.  We didn't even share are pregnancy with many people at this point.  Here I was, trying to go to work everyday and act like nothing was wrong.

I had my first appointment at my maternal fetal doctor.  We had a 40 minute ultrasound that day.  The doctor searched and searched for a membrane, and low and behold, he found it!  It was probably the best news I heard.  He told me it was an extremely thin membrane but it was there and that's all I needed to hear.  I wanted to be at peace with my pregnancy, but that misdiagnoses really put a sour taste in my mouth.  I don’t think I ever truly got over it.

Then came the sickness.  I was sick as a dog from about 9-17 weeks.  I can’t tell you how many days I couldn’t even get out of bed or how many sick days I blew through at work.  Thankfully my boss was awesome about my pregnancy (shout out to Jeremy Settle) and I kept him in the loop with everything.  I will never forget the day I was anchoring my morning show, and during the weather segment I had to run to the bathroom to throw up.  It was awful.  And it wasn't just "morning sickness" it was ALL THE TIME sickness.

Just as I was starting to feel better, I got PUPPS.  Gosh, did that suck.  PUPPS is a pregnancy rash.  It's basically itchy red bumps all over your belly and back.  Doctors don’t like to give you medicine, due to the pregnancy, so guess what?  You just get to deal with it.  The only positive; they say when you have PUPPS once, it doesn't come back.  There's my silver lining.

As my pregnancy progressed, I was constantly at the doctor. In a good month, I would have at least one appointment a week, between the specialists and my OBGYN.  I had a total of 27 ultrasounds.  Many moms would think, "Oh, I would love to get to see my baby that many times."  But each time I walked into that office, I had a pit in my stomach.  I just wanted to know that there were two beating hearts inside.  Mike and I learned quickly what to look for.  We would hold hands until we both saw and heard two hearts pumping, then we could relax.  Unfortunately, going through that many ultrasounds, it’s no longer "fun".  You’re having that many for a reason.

As the babies started to grow, our doctor noticed Baby A (Case) was not growing as quickly as Baby B.  They started talking to us about twin-to-twin transfusion (words you never want to hear when carrying identical twins.)  This is when one baby is getting a better blood supply than another.  The mortality rate is high.  All I could think was here we go again.  We started going every week for ultrasounds.  They didn't want Colt to ever be 15% bigger than Case and we flirted with that line several times.  

At 28 weeks I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes (keeps getting better, huh?)  They put me on a diet, the LAST thing you want to do when you’re pregnant.  I had to prick my finger 4 times a day, and send my levels to the doctor once a week.  It definitely opened my eyes to what people who suffer from diabetes go through on a daily basis.  Thankfully, mine was controlled by my diet.  I never had to go on insulin or medication.

At 32 weeks, I started my non-stress tests.  Two times a week, I had to go to the hospital and get hooked up to a machine to measure the babies’ heartbeats, to make sure they were beating in the right rhythms.  At this point I was going to the hospital twice a week, my specialist once a week and my OBGYN once a week.  FOUR visits in one week.  They noticed I was having contractions.  I was no longer allowed to work and was put on medication to slow them down.  I was home for five weeks before I had my babies (which I know, is nothing compared to a lot of women).  I was bored.  I was huge.  I was so ridiculously uncomfortable.  I gained 50 pounds.  Mike would literally laugh every time I stepped on the scale at the doctors.  I, on the other hand, wondered how I was ever going to lose all this weight.  I was getting up to pee every single hour.  I was exhausted and all I thought about everyday was when was I going to FINALLY meet my boys?

The doctor scheduled my C-section for May 25th, exactly 37 weeks.  But in the last week, my specialist did not like what he saw with Case.  He was too small.  They bumped it up 2 days, and I had my boys on May 23rd, 2012.  As every mother says, they were perfect.  God blessed us.  After all that drama, they didn’t have to spend any time in the NICU.  Case was 5lbs. 5 oz. and Colt was 5lbs 15 oz.  We had two minor, minor issues.  Colt had low blood sugar (due to my diabetes) and Case had to spend some time under the lights because his body temperature was a little off, but that was it!  It felt like such a miracle after the whirlwind I had been through over the past 8 1/2 months.  

Fast forward to today and the miracle continues.  To this day, Case is still a little smaller than Colt.  My mom calls him her peanut.

This blog may sound, to some, like me just complaining.  Maybe I am.  I may offend some people for writing this.  Believe me, I know how lucky I am.  There are a lot of women who would give anything to experience all this or have gone through worse pregnancies that didn't have the happy ending mine did. I know I have two healthy babies, but that doesn't take away how I feel.  It was amazing feeling my babies move and kick inside my belly. This experience really makes you understand the miracle of life, but those 9 months are still VERY fresh in my mind.  The stretch marks on my belly remind me every day.  

When you ask me, “When are you and Mike going to have another baby?” this entire timeline runs through my mind.  We want more than two children and I can't imagine not experiencing ALL the stages again.  Plus, we make pretty awesome children, I wouldn't want to deprive the world of more Cunningham's!  I know, this pregnancy was unique but the uncertainty of what will happen the second time around is terrifying to me.  I can’t tell you how many times I asked my doctor, "What are the chances I will have twins again?"  He assured me the odds are no higher.  1 in about 300 births are identical twins.  But the only thing I hear is, "So, you’re saying there's a chance.”

To shorten my answer, yes we would like more children someday.  Eventually.  

Key word: Eventually.

Right now, I am working to find my peace in the present.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Less is More

Simple Is Beautiful

A few weeks ago, I had a very intriguing conversation with my brother.  He had been posting things online about the minimalist lifestyle, and I wanted to know more.  He sent me a few blogs to read and I became immersed in them.  I'm going to start off by saying, no I am not trying to become one of those people that has 2 pairs of pants and lives in a camper.  But I am trying to simplify my life and enjoy what IS important.

"Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are.  When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you."  -Lao Tzu

I think it all started when we moved back in June.  Packing your entire life into boxes makes you realize how much you have and how much you never use.  It was stressful.  I had anxiety looking at my life pile up in cardboard, wondering why I had half of this crap! Some of the boxes I literally hadn't touched in years!  Why was I holding onto it?  It wasn't bringing me happiness or good health in fact it was quite the opposite.  It was time to let go.

"Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."  William Morris

A few months passed and we were finally settled into our home.  I now had the time to finally begin my detox.  My brother told me the hardest part would be the start and he was right.  Where to begin?  I have a 1500 square foot home, packed with stuff and thats not including the basement.  I decided my closet would be the easiest place for me (weird as it is, I like weeding through my clothing so that felt like the natural place to start).  I took each piece and really questioned how often I wore it.  I had jeans I hadn't worn since college.  My dreams of being a size 2 again are just that, dreams.  WHY was I keeping them?  

"We go on multiplying our conveniences only to multiply our cares.  We increase our possessions only to the enlargement of our anxieties."  -Anna Brackett

As I made my way through my dresser and then through each closet (Yes, I have clothing in 3 closets in my house, that in and of itself is pathetic) I started to feel better.  I filled an entire garbage bag with clothing and shoes.  I posted some of my more expensive items on PoshMark (an online consignment shop) and have already made a few sales!  Although it was nice turning my "trash" into treasure, it was more than that.  I was letting go.  I was starting to "escape the excess".  The idea behind Minimalism is that when you strip away the nonessentials in life, you are able to better focus on the essentials and believe me, that's not my jeans, shoes or handbags!

"If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich."  -Lao Tzu

But that wasn't enough.  Friday night I found out there was a community garage sale at my in-laws and I didn't want to miss this opportunity.  I was on a roll.  I frantically (as Mike would say) rummaged through box after box in our basement and came up with a pile of everything from silverware and candles to picture frames, martini glasses and video games (half of which I forgot I even had) that hadn't seen the light of day in years.  I sold off what I could, profiting $78!  (not bad for a last minute sale)  Then we packed up everything that didn't find a new home and dropped it off at the Goodwill.    My brother told me, "There is something to be said for giving things away."  I am now officially one truckload closer to freedom.

"When there is no desire, all things are at peace."  -Lao Tzu

I know this is only the beginning for me, and I have a LONG way to go but already I feel the power I  have over my material things.  Now let's be serious.  I'm not trying to act like I'm never going to go shopping again or buy stuff for my family, that would just be silly.  But isn't changing your mindset the entire battle?  I have already stopped myself several times lately and asked, "Do I really need this?"  "Why do I want this?"  "Will it only make me happy for a few minutes?"  This new way of thinking has made me reevaluate need vs want and truly opened my eyes for the good.

"You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need."  -Vernon Howard

My husband keeps questioning my reasoning for all this.  He thinks I have a motive and to a point he may be right.  Should I save up my earnings from all my sales and finally buy myself the Louis Vuitton I've been waiting for?  (I'm already at $300...1/3 of the way there)  But isn't that exactly the point I am trying to make?  Instead of concentrating on what I can add to my life, I'm trying to concentrate on the progress I have made and the things I have that bring me pure joy.

"Simplicity is the ultimate form of Sophistication"

To end my blog, I want to write a list of things I do have that don't cost a dime.  They are MY essentials.  Things I am blessed to have and couldn't live without...

  1. My husband.  (Yes, for all you questioning my order, he IS my number 1.  Without him, I have nothing.)
  2. Case & Colt (in no particular order;)
  3. The rest of our family.
  4. Friends.
  5. Health.
  6. Career.
  7. The ability to exercise.
  8. Fresh Air.
  9. Happiness.
  10. Love.
***Thanks to my big brother Brandon for always trying to help me be a better person.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

So What's in a Name, Anyway?

Wondering why I named my blog "Murphy's Law?  Here, this may explain it...

It may sound silly, but one of the the hardest things I've left behind as I say goodbye to the TV world, is my maiden name.  Most women (I think?)  look forward to the day they get married and take on their husbands name.  It's fun.  It's exciting.  It's something new!  I remember when I was younger, I would mess around signing my name with the last name of my current boyfriend at the time.  It all seemed so nonchalant back then, but taking on a new last name IS a big deal, at least to me.

On October 30th, 2010 I married Mike and legally changed my name to Cunningham .  Thankfully it's a good, solid last name.  It's easy to spell, easy to pronounce and I could finally get an Eagles Jersey that would never go out of style.(Thanks to my brother, I now sport Randall Cunningham's jersey every Sunday)  I was excited to become a Cunningham.  I'm lucky, Shannon Cunningham even sounds good!  But the idea of giving up my maiden name didn't hit me until recently, because for the first 2 1/2 years of our marriage, I didn't have to.

I think at first, Mike was a little disappointed when I told him I was going to keep my name Shannon Murphy for work.  I was already somewhat established in my career when I got married, so I didn't want to confuse viewers by changing my name (at least that was my excuse).  It was also a way I could stay incognito out in public.  He, as always, was super understanding although I don't believe it was the outcome he would have chosen.

So there I was, essentially living two lives.  At work, I was Shannon Murphy.  I had my "Shannon Murphy" fan page on facebook and my "Murphys Law" twitter account.  I was to a lot of people, still Shannon Murphy and I took pride in that.   I remember after I had the boys, a viewer wrote me a really sweet email which read, "Congratulations on the birth of Case and Colt Murphy!"  I didn't have the will to correct him, OR the heart to tell my husband!

Then at home, I was Shannon Cunningham.  Wife to Mike and Mother of Case and Colt.  Two roles that Shannon Murphy could never top.

But now, I have no more excuses to live two lives. I don't have viewers who recognize me or my name anymore.  There is technically no more reasons to keep Murphy (except for this blog!).  Everything in my life is now streamlined from work to home, which on a positive note, is less confusing!  I am Shannon Taylor Cunningham.  Although I KNOW there is so much to be proud of in Cunningham, I still feel like I lost a little piece of myself.  You all know, it's not about the name.  It's about what you make of your name.

Although I've been a Cunningham legally for almost three years, it feels like I'm starting over.  I'm in a new town, in a new job and in a new role with a "new last name".   But isn't that also half the fun?  It means, a new exciting journey lies ahead.  It's all what Shannon Cunningham makes of it!