Being a mom · Inspiration · kidney transplant · Life Changes · Medullary Cystic Kidney Disease · Words to live by

Thirty-Three Sounds Good To Me!

Last Friday was my birthday. Yes, it’s taken me 7 days to write this post. don’t blog-shame me. Maybe if I could get my brain and my body to get on the same page I’d be able to sit down and get something accomplished in an efficient way… but so far that hasn’t been a perk of my new kidney. lame.

Last year, thirty-two felt an awful lot like thirty-one. No big.

This year, thirty-three feels completely different. Only 365 days have passed, but it feels more like 365 years have passed. and I’m on a new planet. and in a new body. with a new identity. and all because of a new kidney.

Since my kidney transplant a little over four months ago, I’ve experienced so much change. Emotional change, mental change, spiritual change, and of course, physical change. All that is to be expected, of course, but you can’t ever truly prepare yourself for something like that.

A common misconception about organ transplants (a misconception even I’d subconsciously subscribed to) is that once a person has receive the transplant, things will return to ‘normal’ and they’ll be ‘cured’. Unfortunately, transplantation isn’t a cure for kidney disease; it’s only one of the treatment methods. The alternative is dialysis. I’ve discovered it’s like trading one set of issues for another. And I’m slowly wading through these new ‘issues’ {you can read more about them here}. They’re all generally minor things (hair loss, mood swings, insomnia, hand tremors, weight gain,  skin issues, etc.). Totally manageable and itty-bitty in the grand scheme of things.

One of hardest for me to deal with? The face rounding caused by the Prednisone. Some people refer to this as ‘moon face’ {because your face gets as round as the moon. no joke}.  I knew going in to this process that that would be something I’d struggle with. Let’s call it what it is: straight up vanity.  Rounder isn’t any less beautiful. I know this and I preach this {even though my body shape is more of the twig variety}. I know round is beautiful because I’ve often been jealous of other women who have curves. But I’ve been struggling horribly with this. It’s mostly that my face isn’t my face anymore. When I look in the mirror, I don’t see me. And that is WEIRD! What if my husband doesn’t like this face? He married a slightly different one. So far though, his only comment has been “you look healthy”. meh, I’ll take it.

I hadn’t realized I was subconsciously letting my struggle with my ’round face’ show outwardly until my five year old Charlie and I were taking silly selfies on Snapchat {like you do}. She made an offhand comment that she liked it better “when I smile with my teeth”. She went right back to doing her bunny ear pose, but that comment stuck with me for days! I hadn’t even realized I’d changed the way I smile over the past few months, simply because my face was rounder and I felt self conscious about it. The reality is everything is different and most of this new Ashley is here to stay, so I need to hop on board and ‘make it work’! {insert Tim Gunn voiceover from Project Runway.  You can tack on a ‘frankly I’m concerned’ just for fun…}


Regardless of my inner strife, my birthday came just like it does every year. I’ve never been big on celebrating birthdays. I’m content to just let them pass; which I guess isn’t the norm because every time I responded truthfully when asked what I was doing for my birthday {which was nothing} people were shocked. Chris was determined to make me celebrate at least a little, though, so we did it my way:

The morning of my birthday I met a friend for coffee, then we popped in to Target to ‘just get diapers for Will’.  Of course I came out with all kinds of things but… happy birthday to me!


Then Will and I ventured out to the DMV to renew my license. I could have done it online, but I was desperate for a new photo! Last time I took a license photo the ‘no smiling rule’ was in effect here in VA and, you guys, I HAVE to smile in photos. If I don’t smile I look like a Disney movie villain. It ain’t natural. Will spent a lot of time crawling around on the floor, dragging his monkey behind him, and pointing to anything interesting he saw. like beards. dogs. women with beards and dogs. and I allowed it. honestly, the fact that he’s mostly non-verbal is a blessing in those situations. I’d just pretend he was pointing at something else and distract him with a cookie.


For dinner we went to Rita’s. It was a total parenting win and we had no regrets.


Then later that evening I was able to meet up with other foster and adoptive mamas to laugh and cry and eat yummy food. It’s a beautiful thing when women support women, mamas support mamas, and we can surround one another with a tribe to call on and fall on when in need. When that happens, mom’s win… but more importantly, families and children win, because they reap the benefits of having strong, healthy foster mamas in their corner.


The next morning, we had breakfast with my family. Then on Sunday, Chris took me out for lunch {I pretty much just ate chips and guac}. Totally my kind of birthday weekend.

I’ve been so spoiled lately and have so much to be thankful for. I’m working on embracing thirty-three and the new Ashley; one who smiles with her teeth more often.


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2 thoughts on “Thirty-Three Sounds Good To Me!

  1. I love you! Happy birthday! For what it’s worth, you still look like Ashley to me. I can’t see any face rounding in your pictures. I love that last family photo in this post. xoxoxo


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