Why we said goodbye to full-time RV Living
Happy New Year!
Wow, it’s been so long since I’ve written a post that it feels as though I’ve been on sabbatical. Life has continued behind the scenes, though you wouldn’t know it from my lack of social media postings and quiet escape from the digital world. Funny how that works these days, eh?
I have to admit it’s been nice to take a break (which was waaaaay longer than anticipated) to reflect, enjoy the holidays, and rediscover why I started blogging in the first place.
Eric and I recently made a big change and said goodbye to full-time RV living after 4 years on the road. We’ve since taken the RV out for fun, and plan to continue enjoying our tiny home on wheels throughout 2021, just not on the daily.
This post is long and deeply personal, but I felt the need to write it for those who have followed along our journey, and are curious about what’s been going on behind the scenes, or why we made the change.
2020 was a year like no other, as I’m sure you can relate. It was filled with some amazing moments, along with devastating ones.
Here’s a quick rundown of how 2020 looked for us, including why we said goodbye to full-time RV living.
Why we moved out of our RV
In January, we drove the RV down to Florida, with plans to stay through March and visit family, warm beaches, and Disney World.
Unfortunately, right before Covid hit, I was hit pretty hard with some health issues that brought my New Year’s efforts, book writing, and momentum to a halt.
In February, my CRPS and Autoimmune flareups had come back with a vengeance and forced me on a journey to discover new ways to heal myself. Thankfully, by mid-March, I was doing better and shared what I had learned about leaky-gut, and the connection I believe it has with auto-immune disease.
While we enjoyed a beach trip with some family before I got sick and the Covid lockdown took place, additional beach trips and Disney World would have to wait.
The original plan was to head out to Western North Carolina and spend several months there (possibly the rest of the year), traveling to different mountain towns in an attempt to finally find a home base.
However, with the lockdown in place, many RV parks were closed or had limited availability. We struggled to find anywhere to stay for a couple of weeks at a time, let alone a month or seasonal stay.
This was when thousands of RVers were facing major challenges booking a campground or RV park, where they also felt safe despite the pandemic.
Eric and I felt incredibly grateful to have our RV on private property in sunny Florida but decided to develop a new plan. Maybe we could start a side business renovating RVs?
We’ve talked about renovating RVs to sell ever since we started our own RV reno back in 2015, but the timing never felt right, and I wasn’t ready to commit. Now seemed like an opportunity to get the wheels in motion.
We considered buying land we could eventually build on, and in the meantime, use to renovate 5th wheels to sell. However, after browsing land listings for about a month, we realized the timing might not be right with so much uncertainty. Not to mention we had no idea where we even wanted to buy land.
That’s when we decided to head back to Wisconsin, where we could stay on Eric’s family’s farm. Not only could we make some headway with Grandpa’s Good Earth (our family-owned business), but we would have the space to renovate an RV.
Though we didn’t leave Florida until the end of May, we were excited about our new adventure.
We decided to dedicate June to Grandpa’s Good Earth projects and start looking for an RV in July. It was nice to be parked in such a serene setting, and McNally was excited to be back on the farm with the freedom to roam.
Could I be Pregnant??
By the end of June, I started feeling unwell, and Eric and I thought we might be pregnant. We weren’t trying at the time because I was focused on making myself healthy, with plans to try in the near future.
Turns out I wasn’t pregnant, but the time we spent waiting to find out made us realize we didn’t want to wait any longer and that we wanted to start a family ASAP! It was exciting, despite the craziness going on in the world, but I wasn’t going to let fear get in our way. Besides, we had no idea how long it would take.
To our amazement, we got pregnant in July!
Of course, this threw our plans off once again. The first couple of weeks I felt amazing, but it didn’t take long for morning sickness to take over. Nausea and fatigue were so bad that most of my days were spent going from the bed to the sofa. We had planned to get an RV to renovate during this time, but we decided to hold off since I was so sick. Eric was super busy with GGE and it being harvest season, so we were happy to be in Wisconsin regardless. It is where we were meant to be at the time.
We told our parents the exciting news right away, and Eric’s extended family found out pretty quickly (as what seems to happen in a small town, haha). While we originally planned to tell them around 12 weeks, we figured at least this way we had their support, which we would need even more should something happen.
Overall, I felt great about the pregnancy and was trying to stay calm and healthy by meditating, taking daily walks on the farm, and eating nourishing food, which was challenging since I now had a strong aversion to veggies.. not easy for a vegan.
Anxiety crept up a couple of times, but I was able to keep it at bay and was honestly surprised at how calm and at ease I felt. Even so, I immediately knew I wanted to be closer to Atlanta so we could be near my mom and sister. With the pandemic going on and loneliness creeping in, it would be good to have some of my family nearby.
So we decided to stay in Wisconsin for my first prenatal visit and then head to either NC or North Georgia, where we would be a short drive from my mom or sister. I started looking at properties to rent or RV parks to stay, but rentals were lacking, and RV parks still didn’t have much availability.
My mom invited us to move in with her since she lives alone and had space. We would have to put the RV in storage but would have some privacy since the guest bedroom and office we would occupy are located on the opposite end of the house.
This wasn’t what I had imagined for us, especially now that we were pregnant. I thought we would be cozy in the mountains, either in our RV or our own home. Thankfully, the words I chose to focus on in 2020 (mainly Wabi-sabi) allowed me to forget what “should be” happening, and not rush into a decision or buy/rent a property because it seemed like the thing society expected. If I had done that back in 2015, we never would have bought the RV, which is the best decision we could have made at the time. I needed to trust my gut and do what felt right.
I needed stability and moving in with her felt right, and I believed it would be good for all of us. The mountains would be just a couple of hours away, and it sure would be nice to have another human to interact with daily. Besides, I love my mom – she’s awesome!
Our First Prenatal Appointment
My first prenatal appointment was scheduled with a midwife in August when I would be just past 8 weeks. We couldn’t wait!
In the meantime, I tried to be productive, but honestly not much got done. I kept trying to work on my book, but the fatigue and brain fog were so bad I was happy just to get out of bed. Of course, Eric was super supportive during this time and helped whenever he could.
I remember thinking how grateful I was not to have to show up for work and wondering how the hell anyone could when they felt like this?!!?! I would have been fired for sure. I definitely have even more respect for pregnant mamas, especially those with kiddos to take care of while pregnant!
During our drive to the appointment, Eric and I couldn’t contain our excitement to hear our baby’s heartbeat! I was happy they allowed one support person in the room so he could be with me. (Because of Covid, many hospitals were not allowing anyone to come into the room with you).
Nausea had become increasingly worse the days leading up to the appointment, so I thought that must be a good sign. Anytime anxiety or worry crept up, I’d take a deep breath and let it go.
Unfortunately, it was during that first ultrasound that we discovered we had experienced a missed miscarriage, also known as a silent miscarriage, meaning the baby had passed away but my body hadn’t realized it yet.
“I’m so sorry,” the ultrasound technician told us, “there’s no heartbeat.”
Based on the measurement, they said the heart had likely stopped beating just two days earlier, at 8 weeks. The ultrasound technician was compassionate and even brought in the midwife and did a second ultrasound, while Eric and I held our breath praying there had been some glitch, and our baby was okay. But there was no flicker of life on the large screen in front of us.
We lost the baby, and there was nothing we could do.
I couldn’t stop crying as the midwife tried to explain I didn’t do anything wrong and that this happens more than people realize. Still, I sat there trying to figure out what I did to create this or pinpoint anything I could have done differently to prevent it. She assured me there wasn’t.
My heart was broken.
Worse yet, they explained to me that because my body hadn’t yet recognized the miscarriage, I had 3 options. I could wait a couple of weeks (no more than 4) to see if my body miscarried naturally, which may or may not happen and could be painful. I could take some pills to push the miscarriage along, which they didn’t recommend. Or I could have minor surgery known as Dilation and Curettage (D&C). They also informed me that with the first two options, the surgery may still be necessary.
I was a hot mess of tears and wasn’t ready to make a decision. All of the suggestions they mentioned scared me, and this still didn’t seem real. Thankfully, the midwife told me I had time to think it over and even led us out a back way so we wouldn’t have to face all the expecting moms in the waiting room.
While this experience felt unbearable, their compassion helped immensely.
I don’t remember much from the drive home, but I do remember sobbing and feeling the desire to flee, to take the RV and drive far, far away.
As challenging as that day was, Eric and I accepted it pretty quickly, though we both felt numb for a few days. We believe our baby will come when the timing is right and that there is a plan greater than we can see, not that it made it any easier. We spent the remainder of that day and the next couple of weeks flushing out all the emotions of grief and guilt and pain. We wanted to feel it all and honor the baby we lost. We told ourselves that at least we knew we could get pregnant.
We told our parents that day, and Eric made calls to the rest of his family over the next few days. I felt lost and embarrassed, and as much as I wanted to pull up the RV jacks and escape out West, I knew that wasn’t the answer. Besides, we still had hopes of being pregnant soon, and with everything that had happened, I needed my family more than ever.
There had been a blue heron outside the door of the hospital when we walked in for our appointment, and when we got home, a flock of birds flew back and forth above my head for a few minutes. It was so odd that I took a photo (while hoping not to get pooped on). When I looked at the photo the next day I got teary-eyed. Eric walked into the room and came over to comfort me but I assured him the tears were not of sadness. I believe those birds were a symbol of sorts, and it brought me some much needed peace.
I took a week to research the different options while waiting to see if it would happen naturally. The more I read, the more nervous I became. And it didn’t help that I had no idea if or when it would happen. It was challenging to fully let go mentally when my body was still holding on. Not to mention, I still felt pregnant, and my symptoms had only gotten worse. It felt like a cruel joke.
The doctor informed me the symptoms would dissipate much quicker with the surgery, so I called back the following Monday and made an appointment to have the D&C later that week. I was scared, but I was confident it was the best decision for us to move forward.
The surgery went well, all things considered. Eric sat next to me the entire time and was my rock.
Mentally, I felt optimistic and ready to move forward, but physically I was a mess. In most cases, many women feel better within a week of the surgery, but the month of September was more painful than the month before. Yeah, September sucked hard. Not to mention my pregnancy symptoms didn’t go away overnight. That lasted weeks longer than I had anticipated and my body is just now beginning to feel “normal”.
The physical pain made it challenging for me to move forward. I was struggling. There were days when I felt like a complete failure for losing our baby. And on top of that, I felt like a failure professionally. I had failed as a wife, as a mother, as a creative, and as a human contributing to society. At least, that’s how I felt. A bit dramatic, I know.
I hadn’t been keeping up with our website, our emails, family, friends, or fellow RVers. I wanted to throw myself into my work but didn’t have the energy or motivation. I tried to sit down and work on my book, but my brain felt so foggy. The timing didn’t feel right, and when I tried to write, it felt forced.
It felt as though everyone’s lives were moving forward, and mine was in reverse. Social media didn’t help so I kept a distance.
While these feelings were fleeing, and most days I could let go of the shame and guilt I felt, there was no denying they existed, even if I hid them from those I was closest to. I realized I had fallen into some sort of depression and it took a couple weeks before I could watch a diaper commercial or see a pregnant woman on TV without holding my breath or holding back tears.
Back when I was pregnant, I couldn’t wait to shout it from the rooftops. Now I was in a strange place where I didn’t want to tell anyone what just happened, yet I felt compelled to share our story to help others going through something similar. After all, it was those who opened up to us with their own unfortunate stories of loss that helped us not feel alone. But I didn’t have the energy or the words. I was still walking through it.
Someday I may share a video with more details, but it feels good to have said it here. Healing even. Like it’s what I needed to move forward with future posts.
The Mountains are Calling
At the beginning of October, we left Wisconsin and spent 2 weeks in Western North Carolina to catch the fall foliage changing colors. We ended up buying a new Thousand Trails pass because it was one of two places we could get 2 solid weeks in. Plus, we figured we could use it in 2021. (We purchased a pass a couple of years ago when we were visiting the PNW and felt it was worth it.)
The fall colors had only just begun to change, but the mountains left us feeling re-inspired and rejuvenated. It was exactly what we needed.
We had spent most of the year in Florida and Wisconsin, but this short time in the mountains reminded me why we started RVing in the first place and how I long to live amongst them someday.
Optimism and Moving Forward
We made it to Georgia a couple of months ago and I’m so grateful to call this place home, even if temporarily. For the first time in 4 years, I don’t feel as though I would rather be in the RV.
Even so, I still felt in limbo that first month. Somewhat lost. I know we are not what we do, but without our RV it was as though I lost a part of myself. Not to mention I had planned to be in this house with a pregnant belly, something that hadn’t bothered me until I was triggered watching the first episode of this season’s This is Us. I needed to take some time to find myself again, and that which inspires me.
Over time, we’ve adjusted to this new normal and are so happy with the decision we made to stay here, even if it is temporary.
Our pets seem happier too. Not that they didn’t seem happy in the RV, but they seem less stressed. Our cat Kobe was diagnosed with Renal Kidney failure early in the year, so managing that has been difficult, especially on days when he would exorcist vomit all over the RV. While he still has his bad days, it somehow seems easier to manage in the house.
It’s also been amazing to have a garage to build furniture and play around with tools. That may have been what we missed most about RV life, haha.
Sure, I miss our tiny home on wheels (like A LOT), but it’s nice to be sleeping in a California King bed once again and have an office I don’t have to set up or break down. Eric doesn’t miss dumping the tanks, especially as the temperature continues to dip, and it’s amazing to have decent internet. (Though I’ll admit it took me a while to stop hitting an invisible foot pedal to flush the toilet.)
With that said, our time in the RV was worth every minute, and we have no regrets. RVing will always be a part of our lives in some way or another. We are even open to full-time RV life someday in the future. And I also encourage anyone considering this lifestyle to give it a chance! Though it may turn out to be more of an inner journey, than an outer one.
Since settling in, we’ve already taken our RV on a couple of short trips, and I’m enjoying a new perspective on RV life. We have many more RV trips planned for 2021, especially in the NC mountains. If all goes to plan, we’ll buy a home or find land to build on later this year.
And despite not being full-time RVers, we still plan to share RV related content and inspiration. I’m done making promises I can’t keep, but I hope to finally self-publish my book later this year. I’ve allowed myself to take a massive break from it since I haven’t been in the right mindset, but I can feel it calling my name. I like to believe it will come out exactly when it’s meant to.
I originally started this website as a creative outlet. I wanted a place to share my creations, inspiration, and tips on creating an environment you thrive in, whether that’s through design or lifestyle changes. That is still my main objective.
Eric has creative endeavors he plans to explore this year, which I’m also excited about, including finishing up a novel and starting his own website.
We’re not pregnant (yet) but remain optimistic and look forward to the next chapter ahead of us. In the meantime, we’re taking time to work on that which brings joy and balance into our lives. I’ve recently taken up QiGong, which has helped me mentally, physically, and spiritually.
As we all know, a lot can change in a year, but we remain adaptable. Life has taken us on a lot of unexpected journeys, and we’re always open to them.
So, to sum it up, 2020 was a year we’ll never forget. Nor do we want to. While we lost our baby, Eric and I realized more than ever how much we want to start a family. Despite being the worst year for my health, I was forced to take action into my own hands and become my own health advocate. This even showed up last month when intense CRPS flareups led to 6 vials of bloodwork (ugh). The lessons I learned throughout the year have helped me heal much faster. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to sit here and type this today.
For many, 2020 may have been the worst year of their lives, and for others, it may have been the best or fall somewhere in the middle. Whether we wanted to or not, the struggles we went through in 2020 made us stronger. That’s not to discount any of your pain, as I know what we experienced this year was mostly good and didn’t come close to the suffering others experienced this past year. Still, I believe our struggles become our strengths.
Maybe it’s because I’m an enneagram 7, but I choose to see the silver lining.
I remain optimistic about what lies ahead and hope you do too. Feel free to comment with a silver lining you experienced in 2020, I would love to hear about it!
(Don’t forget to swing by next week for a new Design Vibes RV tour!)