Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Michael's Birth Story

This pregnancy for me was the toughest one and the final one for me. I dealt with a few issues during the pregnancy including an irritable uterus and gestational diabetes. My previous two pregnancies I dealt with an irritable uterus which for myself lead to bed rest for each child because of preterm labor and early contractions. I expected that with this one but for some reason was heart broken when the contractions started and bed rest was prescribed at week 21. On top of being on bed rest, following a strict diet was the fun part of dealing with gestational diabetes...hear the sarcasm?

During all of these issues, my little guy was just as happy, healthy, and was active as he could be. I was so grateful for that piece of the pregnancy because I don't think I could have dealt with him having complications on top of my body completely rejecting the idea of being pregnant.

I had been on the 17P shot (read more about that in the irritable uterus blog above) until week 34 and was told by the doctor that if I went into labor at week 35, he would let me go into labor. Week 35 came and on day 4 I woke up with a headache and a back ache. I went downstairs to wash dishes and make breakfast for my family, and contractions kicked in around 10:30 AM. I went about my day as normal and it included going out to dinner with my in laws. By the end of dinner I was struggling to walk and talk through these contractions so my husband and I went to the ER. Contractions were definitely noted on the machines and a call was put into the on call doctor. He ordered a shot of terbutaline to stop the contractions and send me on my way home. The contractions did stop, which meant it was not true labor. I was frustrated because I was in so much pain from the contractions and was told by the doctor they would deliver at 35 weeks if I went into labor.

This is where things got confusing for me. In my previous pregnancies, I never dialated beyond a 2 despite 38 hours of induced labor after my water broke in my first pregnancy. I was known as having a "cervix of steel" by the doctors where contractions do not make changes to the cervix either because the baby is too big, the pelvis is too small, or for other reasons that I do not know. With my second pregnancy, I again contracted throughout the whole pregnancy, was put on terbutaline and at 37 weeks taken off of it. After my 37 week checkup, I ended up having my daughter 4 hours later because the contractions created a pattern and my doctor didn't want me to contract much because I had gotten pregnant with her 5 months after having my son. With her I dilated to a 1.

At week 37, three days with this pregnancy, the contractions started to intensify again and they were uncomfortable. These guys woke me up at 12:30 AM I labored all through the night. My blood sugar dropped and I couldn't sleep they were so painful. Because of what happened at week 35, I had a feeling my doctor wasn't going to deliver this time either; hence why I waited to go to the hospital. My husband took the kids to school, came home, and took me to the hospital. This time, they gave me the terbutaline and the contractions didn't stop, BUT they were not making any changes to the cervix. My doctor came in to the room to talk to me and said he wanted to wait as long as he could to deliver our little guy so his lungs could mature because of one of the side effects of having gestational diabetes is infants having under developed respiratory systems. I found out also that the hospital doesn't like to deliver until 38 or 39 weeks which was new to me...the hospitals are now incorporating rules for the doctors to follow. That to me is completely ridiculous and another story for a different day. I was beyond frustrated with the whole thing but didn't have a lot of fight in me so I told him that was fine but he was going to  have to make me comfortable. I couldn't sleep; so he gave me Ambien and I gladly took it at night because the contractions were that bad.

Each week, closer to the date we were scheduled for a c-section , the contractions intensified and I would have more of them but could never get a pattern on them. On the day of the scheduled c-section, May 11th, I woke up so very excited. Each hour was moving SOOOO slowly. One of the aggravating parts of this was not being able to eat eight hours prior to the c-section. My last meal was at 8 AM and it was a very substantial breakfast; three eggs, a bowl of oatmeal, a cup of veggies, a cup of berries, a cup of coffee and a glass of milk. It was aggravating because I knew as I got closer to the the surgery time I was going to get crabby because my blood sugar would get low. I was scheduled to check in at 1:30 PM at the hospital and about 12:00 pm I started getting irritated and disoriented so I called the doctor's office. They told me to go in as soon as possible so they could take care of the sugar issue.

My husband at the time got a request from a friend of ours to make a pit stop prior to going to the hospital but yeah, that wasn't happening. He had asked me prior to the blood sugar getting low if it was cool to make a stop and I was completely OK with it. Anyone who has dealt with diabetes knows, once a person gets disoriented and irritated, it's not good. So, he was dealing with making arrangements for this person to get what they needed on the phone, I was texting the person after he got off the phone so the man wasn't driving and texting and trying to notify everyone else important to us that we were headed to the hospital.

We go to the hospital, got checked in and oh yeah, I forgot to mention, the contractions had intensified again, to the point, that it was finally safe to say I was in labor. The nurse almost gave me meds to stop contractions, that's how frequently they were coming, every three minutes. Talk about perfect timing. I go through the rounds of blood work and wait for another hour before we go into the OR to have our little guy.  My husband and I were joking around, taking pictures of us in our funny looking hats and lovely hospital attire. I get into the OR and they routinely ask Jeff to hang out while they do the spinal tap. I couldn't wait for the spinal tap because it finally meant I didn't have to feel these horrible contractions anymore! The spinal tap goes in beautifully and I have a few issues that come up that need to be taken care of before my husband could come in. My husband comes in and we get started. The doctors are chatting away while they are doing what they need to do with me. I feel some tugging, some pulling, and finally that beautiful sound we had worked so hard for during the last nine months, a nice big healthy cry. As soon as I hear that cry, I start crying, Jeff tears up and he rushes away to help cut the cord and make sure our littlest man is ok. I'm yelling across the OR asking questions and having a conversation with my husband and the doctor's chatter I no longer hear. I had toned it out and could only hear my little guy's cry and my husband. My husband brings that little bundle of joy over and I get my first look; I've thought all babies were beautiful when I see them but this little man was absolutely gorgeous. We cuddled, talked, and kissed him as much as we could and then Jeff whisked him off into the nursery so he could be taken care of. Thankfully he was healthy with no issues. One  of the things I was concerned about being diabetic was his blood sugar levels and he was absolutely golden.

Surgery continued for me and I was so very anxious; time was moving so slowly. I was having my tubes tied and also had to spend some time in recovery before I could see my son. Thankfully, while in recovery, I had a nurse that ended up moving me prior till I was ready to be moved to a room. I couldn't move my legs yet but she didn't want me to spend three hours in recovery while the nurses did shift change. Normal recovery time is two hours. At an hour and a half I still could not lift my legs which is what needed to happen to move to a  normal room. When I get up to the room, I still have to wait the hour for shift change to see my little man because of the shift change in the nursery. I gave birth to him at 4:13 PM and didn't see him until 8 PM. That was a long time for me. I didn't rest much that night with all the guests, having to walk, go to the bath room and on top of it my little guy decided to feed every hour. He really wanted to get this feeding thing started. I was ok with it; I just kept up on the pain medication.

Prior to his birth, I wasn't really looking forward to breastfeeding. I had breastfed with my other two and had always wanted to "do the right thing" with my kids. This, being the third was a little different.  I had done the "mom" thing and had moved on to looking at my career and getting that on track so I was hoping to get back to what I considered normal, exercising, working, and getting back in the swing of things. Yeah, as soon as I held our little guy, some of those old feelings came back and knew I'd breastfeed him for as long as I could.

I left the hospital on Sunday, two days after birth because I wasn't getting much rest at the hospital. I wasn't feeling all that great. I had done all the necessary things to get discharged, walked a few laps around the hospital, I was getting up on my on and going to the rest room, gotten my staples removed from my incision and our little guy was doing fantastic. The only thing that remained was deciding what our little guy's middle name was going to be. We struggled so much with this. We both liked the two names we came up with and had a hard time deciding which middle name to use. I liked one more than the other but my husband loved them both. I left the decision up to him because I felt I had gotten my wish. I had always wanted a son named Michael and we were set on his first name being Michael. I put the pressure on my husband when I told him I was getting discharged that day and he had to make a decision. So, we chose both names.

Recovery at home has been slow. I expected to be back on my feet and doing normal activities around two weeks because that's what happened with the last two c-sections. This recovery has taken longer. I'm in week four and I'm still cramping, bleeding, have bouts of pain in my stomach to the point that I need to rest. I'll put myself at about 60% recovered. I've developed mastitis and a yeast infection in my breasts while breast feeding, both conditions painful and a nuisance to deal with. The mastitis is an infection of the breasts where clogged ducts become infected. The symptoms included flu like symptoms, fever, and your breasts are painful. They have lumps that feel like rocks and can be very sore and warm to the touch. I had it on both sides and was treated with antibiotics. I pumped and nursed like a mad woman to clear the ducts and after four days felt better. After that incident, I started experiencing burning within my breasts and a very painful let down. My nipples also itched, and felt like glass was sticking into them when my son latched on for feeding. We tried a few topical treatments and ultimately resorted to using Diflucan for treatment. This medication depleted my milk supply for a day so my son was attached to me every hour that day trying to feed. You'd think with all this, I'd give up the breastfeeding and my husband has even said "Babe, switch to formula." He didn't like I was having such a hard time with this and all these infections were delaying my recovery. I'm not ready to give up yet; I feel strongly about breastfeeding and am one of those that is determined to go through every single avenue before giving up SO, I'm still going strong with the breastfeeding.

Gone is the expectations I had of going back to my normal life and being able to work, exercise and do what I wanted to do in the time frame I want to get it done. That has been replaced with the acceptance that it's going to take time to heal, to get back to the swing of things and most of all enjoy our littlest man. He has been a complete joy to have in our family and we're all super excited to love him and watch him grow.

Michael Ryan Keith Longie 
Daddy and son 
Sissy and little Mike as she says
Our oldest son and our youngest son :)
Tired but very happy 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Living with Gestational Diabetes

This was my third pregnancy, my final pregnancy, and my toughest one. I expected the preterm labor issues of dealing with an irritable uterus. That entails dealing with minor and then major contractions, visits to the hospital, bed rest (almost impossible to do without a guilty conscious as a mother of two) and medication with wonderful side effects to ensure our little man made it to full term. That is nerve racking enough!

Around week 24, I went to the VA Medical Center here in Phoenix to attend a breast feeding class. Completing this class meant I left with a brand new breast pump and FOUR baskets full of items for our little guy, his big brother and sister, and for myself. The past couple of days leading to this class, I felt like something wasn't right. I was getting irritable, REALLY irritable for myself, I would shake and have this need to get food, mostly sweets to calm the shakes. After I ate something I'd get a headache and get so thirsty. I was meeting and surpassing my daily intake of water by the morning. Every couple of hours I'd go through this cycle and I kept telling my husband "Something is wrong with me. I don't know what it is but something is not right."

This same morning I had a doctor's appointment and I told the nurse what was going on but they chalked it up to be normal pregnancy symptoms. I told her several times, I'd never felt like this before. They checked my blood sugar, blood pressure and everything was normal. Mind you, I had just eaten prior to waling into that doctor's office because I was symptomatic. Anyways, so I'm in the breastfeeding class and I started feeling symptomatic again. I told the nurse that was in the class because I had a 2 year relationship with her. She knew me well and even stopped the class to ask how I was because she saw I wasn't quite right. I told her I didn't feel right and explained to her my symptoms. She took me back to a room and monitored my blood pressure. She took it laying down, and then sitting up. When I sat up, I passed out. When I came to, she gave me juice and crackers. Now prior to this, I had eaten breakfast and it was coming up on noon. I hadn't had anything to eat since. She let me be for a bout ten minutes and checked my blood sugar and it was in normal range. She couldn't find anything wrong with me. Because I was pregnant, passed out and was symptomatic, she sent me to the ER. I sat for four hours and while I was waiting my husband brought me dinner. They again couldn't find anything wrong with me.

After this incident at the hospital I started paying attention to my body and doing my own research because obviously the medical doctors weren't finding anything. I noticed that I didn't feel good if I waited too long to eat and if I ate like crap. My doctor did schedule a 3 hour glucose because I failed the one hour glucose test. It read 163. Normal readings range from 70-129.  It wasn't scheduled for another week, so during this time, I kept food on me all the time, ate well and noticed anything sweet and full of sugar made me feel awful. I went in for the three hour glucose test and that was a horrible experience.

This pregnancy was full of painful experiences and I truly feel like the lesson learned here was to gain even more patience and to learn to be cordial even through bouts of pain. These experiences definitely gave me plenty of times to practice this lesson. The three hour test basically was a very simple process. A patient shows up to the lab at a specific time, drinks a bottle of glucose, and each hour for three hours, gets blood drawn. The patient can not eat or drink eight hours prior to the test. By the time I got there, I was starving, so I was looking forward to the glucose drink. I was already a little symptomatic, so I downed it knowing full and well I was going to feel horrible. At about 45 minutes, the pounding headache kicked in, the confusion and the blurry vision. Two hours rolled by and I was still feeling symptomatic and tired. The third hour hit and I I started feeling ok. I failed the test miserably. The first hour my blood sugar levels were in the 200 range. The second hour was at 183 and the third hour was 162. Confirmed I had gestational diabetes.

So what is it? What does it mean? The American Diabetes Association describes gestational diabetes as being a condition where the mother's body is not able to make and use all the insulin she needs for pregnancy. Without the insulin, glucose can not leave the blood and be changed into energy, thus leaving glucose in the body creating high level blood sugar readings. It's believed that the placenta may to blame for gestational diabetes. Hormones from the placenta help the baby grow and develop but also the hormones block the mother's ability to allow insulin into her body.

Most women who develop gestational diabetes may be overweight, may have diabetes history in her family, may be part of a specific ethnic group, given birth to large babies previously, or have too much amniotic fluid. The only factor that fit me is the diabetes in my family. I have it on both sides with my father, most of his family and my mother's side. Her mother has it.

I was so symptomatic and so nervous about it that I went out and got my own blood sugar machine and started keeping track of my readings. Most people who are diabetic or deal with gestational diabetes have to follow a strict diet along with taking insulin or other medications that tell the pancreas to create insulin, like Glyburide.They also have to eat every few hours to sustain their blood sugar levels; hence why I was getting symptomatic at the VA hospital.  I figured out through controlling my diet before even going back to the doctor, anything processed, or that was a grain, like bread, cereals, pasta, regardless of whether it was whole grain or not, would increase my blood sugar levels. So what I did was put myself on a Paleo diet (all meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and healthy fats). When I went back to the doctor and told him what I was doing, he wasn't happy that I was depriving my little guy of breads and dairy so he prescribed Glyburide and because of the way the medication works, I took it once in the morning. It is a slow release medication and to be honest, I could have stayed off of it and followed the Paleo diet, I believe and been more healthy. I have my husband's taste buds during pregnancy and they did not fit the Paleo diet. I wanted everything that was bad for me, so I took the Glyburide and used it as my cructch to have the pasta and pizza sometimes. Even on the medication I still had to watch my diet. I switched to diet soda if I drank it, cut out pizza, pasta, anything with grains in it that wasn't whole grain. I mainly stuck to protein, non-starchy vegetables, light fruit options,  and no processed foods. It was very difficult to do and required a lot more work. The American diet is not built for diabetics at all.

Being diabetic, I had to go to the doctor twice a week to check on our little guy. We had to look at the placenta to ensure it was working the way that it should, check his size to ensure he wasn't getting too big and also make sure he was breathing the way he should. Going to the doctor twice a week I learned where and how big my placenta was, how to check for my little guy's breathing and noticed he was doing fantastic as far as size. All of this was because I was strict with my diet and my medication. I also didn't gain much weight because of the diet. I gained right at 20 lbs with this pregnancy which is something I didn't do with my first two. I was one that loved to eat while pregnant. Not this go round!

At week 35, I went into labor and I knew I went into labor because my blood sugar dropped and I could eat whatever I wanted without medication and without regulating my sugar. I didn't realize it until one morning after eating breakfast and taking my meds that my blood sugar dropped to 63. I was contracting quite a bit and the contractions had gotten more intense but I didn't really think about it because of the irritable uterus condition. Having an irritable uterus and a cervix of steel (as my doc says) I knew my contractions weren't making any progress.  With my first born son I labored after my water was broken for 38 hours with no epidural and dilated to a two. With my second I contracted all through my pregnancy and dilated to a 1. I went to the hospital because the contractions were so strong I was trembling, nauseous, and struggling to get through the pain. I got to the hospital and, like I thought, I was only dilated to a 1. The doctors gave me a shot of terbutaline and home I went. This time that shot stopped labor contractions...for four hours. It happened again at 37 weeks and 4 days. That time it slowed the contractions but didn't' stop. The doctor told me he wanted to keep my little guy in so that his lungs could develop as much as possible and I was going to have to deal with these contractions. THAT WAS PURE HELL but another story for another post.

This brings up the side effects of dealing with gestational diabetes and the side effects it can have on the baby. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to the baby's respiratory system not fully developing, a baby being large, a baby having diabetes at birth or having low blood sugar issues at birth, and other major complications.

At this point, my blood sugar levels were just the opposite; they spiked significantly. I had to increase my medication to taking it twice a day and had to be even stricter with my diet. I was OK with that because during this period I was MISERABLE. The contractions were SO difficult to deal with. As much as I wanted to, I could not get a pattern on them and knew in my heart I wasn't because of that damn cervix of steel. I ended up making it to my scheduled date of 39 weeks and had a healthy baby boy. He was 7 lbs 4 oz and did not have any blood sugar issues. I also do not have any blood sugar issues, thank goodness, and had a list of foods I wanted to eat. The first one was a coke...a real one and my best friend was such a sweet heart, she brought me Krispy Kreme donuts that I had been craving and a bag of Dove chocolate, my favorite.

It's amazing what our bodies go through during pregnancy and even more so, proof of what willpower we humans hold. I'd gladly go through the experience again, if it meant my little guy comes out as healthy as he did. I wouldn't change my experience for anything. I've gained knowledge of how diabetics live and the struggle they have on a daily basis to sustain. I've also been reminded of what willpower is and how important healthy food is for our bodies. Thankfully, I'm losing my husband's taste buds and starting to crave those fresh veggies again and hopefully can stifle off diabetes in the future.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dealing With An Irritable Uterus

Every woman has their blissful moments during pregnancy and those moments that are not so blissful. I know a few people who felt fantastic throughout all of their pregnancies and SO wish I was one of those....for the sake of myself, my husband, and my children, in utero and not.

I've been dealing with an irritable uterus since I started having children and I'm on number three...the last one. I also have other pregnancy issues, but will address each one in their own respective blogs. So what is it? What do women who have this condition go through and how do the doctors and the women themselves treat it? My first thought is to listen to your own body and do what you think is best. The doctors are there for guidance when you don't necessarily know something but just like you they're playing a guessing game because they don't live in your body.

Basically irritable uterus is defined as your uterus contracting in a disorganized fashion without making any changes to the cervix. Most times, the contractions are constant and consistent, happening every three to five minutes. Sometimes these contractions can be painful if you have been active for some extended amount of time. The key here is they do not make any changes to the cervix.

It can feel like a very strong tightening of the fist or sometimes it may just be in certain parts of your uterus and can be felt in the lower parts of your belly and not so strong. Even further, it may feel like a low level pain in your back. What I've noticed with the irritable uterus is that if I stay active, the contractions increase and become more uncomfortable.

Some of the things that cause the symptoms to increase are wearing tight pants, having a full bladder, being active (walking, standing, exercising, lifting), having an orgasm, dehydration, stress, and constipation.

So what to you do about these symptoms?

What's best for your baby and for you? Going through this three times with three different doctors, each doctor has their own modality of treating it. Again, remember to do what's best for you and listen to your body.

Some doctors prescribe bed rest for the pregnancy and medication to decrease the uterine irritability. There are several levels of bed rest. Strict bed rest is where a woman must stay in bed all day long and only get up to go to the bathroom, take a shower, make a sandwich and then get back in bed. Moderate bed rest is where a woman needs to lay in bed and rest for at least 4-6 hours out of the day. Pelvic rest is something else irritable uterus sufferers are often prescribed which is no sex and no masturbation to cause the contractions to start up.

The medication that is often prescribed nowadays is the17P shots , Nifedipine (Procardia) and Magnesium Sulfate. These medications are used to calm the uterus down so the woman is not so uncomfortable with the contractions.

So when do you go to the hospital? 

When your water breaks prior to 37 weeks.

If the contractions intensify or you can't get them to stop. Normally when they start up, doctors will advise you to lay down for two hours on your left side and drink some water (around 2 8 oz glasses). If they do not slow down or you are having more than 4-6 an hour, it's a good time to go to the hospital. Don't second guess this! Because of the irritability, it's quite common people with irritable uterus can go into preterm labor.

Actually, once women are taking off of all medication and bed rest at 37 weeks, they often have their babies within 24 hours of the going "cold turkey".

Here's my story surrounding it in hopes to alleviate some stress for women that experience this.

Pregnancy Number One

During my pregnancy with Zachery, I started contracting consistently at 5 months. No matter what I did, I could not get the contractions to stop and I was pretty uncomfortable. The doctor placed me on strict bed rest with no medication. I remember the contractions not being very uncomfortable at all unless I did something like clean the house (it was a three story house) or walk around for a 15 or 20 minutes. The bed rest was an issue for me. I was always an active person and spending four months in bed or on the couch was not ideal. I was the main bread winner of our family and had to quit my job. I remember cooking and cleaning anyway because to me at the time it was ridiculous that I was home all day with my husband out working and me sitting at home doing NOTHING. I didn't quite get the concept of what was really going on with my irritable uterus. I made it full term with Zachery, with no cervical changes throughout the pregnancy. My water broke with him at 4am on his due date and off we went. I still ended up having a c-section because I labored for 38 hours (without an epidural) an my cervix opened to a 2. The risk of infection was too high because of my water breaking and out Zachery came.

Pregnancy Number Two

Jessica came five months after having Zachery by accident (yeah, breast feeding is not a form of birth control). Jessica was an emotional baby in utero and my emotions played a lot on how my uterus reacted with this pregnancy. Stress is something that is extremely important to control during pregnancy with women who have an irritable uterus. It can put you into labor. I learned that quickly with Jessica. I again started contracting consistently at 5 months. My doctor did not put me on bed rest with her. She prescribed terbutaline (a medication I hope I never have to take again). It's like giving a woman a crazy pill, seriously. The side effects were irritability, shakiness, fast heart beat, and anxiety. The terbutaline did calm down the contractions quite a bit and there were only two trips to the hospital with preterm labor scares. Low and behold, my cervix stayed long and closed.  Because she came so soon after I had my first son, my body was not happy. I basically would rest quite a bit because I was so uncomfortable with the contractions. They felt harder and would come more often. I think it's because I had another baby so soon after the birth of my son.  Although the doctor didn't prescribe bed rest for me, I self imposed bed rest because it made me feel better. It was the only thing that helped with that pregnancy. Now mind you, I had a toddler running around that I had to take care of so I wasn't able to sit down when I wanted to but I would play a lot with Zach inside and taught him how to crawl up in the car on his own so I didn't lift him. With Jessica, I went in for my 37 week check up at 2:00 pm, my doctor checked my cervix, took me off of medication and told me she could come at any time. I ended up having Jessica four hours later at 6:23 pm. As soon as the medication stopped, my body went into labor. The medication had kept off the labor for a while and I seriously feel that without it, I would have had her early.

Pregnancy Number 3

I'm currently 31 weeks pregnant with my last son and have had a slew of problems with this pregnancy. Along with the irritable uterus, I've also had two preterm labor scares and was diagnosed with gestational diabetes around 24 weeks. Contractions with this pregnancy started at 5 months pregnant too but was accompanied with nausea, back pain,  lots of pelvic pressure, menstrual like cramping, and diarrhea. I feel like the reason being is because my son is breech, with his head facing inward. The contractions with this pregnancy are in the back, so it feels like back labor and unfortunately these are MUCH more painful than the normal uterine contractions. It feels like a rubber band tightening around your back, sometimes taking your breath away.

My doctor placed me on strict bed rest at 20 weeks and nifedipine twice a day. The nifedipine slowed the contractions down some but not much, even on bed rest, I was still contracting quite a bit. It was very irritating at first. If I got up, walked around, I would contract. If I had to go to the restroom, I would get extremely uncomfortable. I would get nauseous, contractions would start up and I would get menstrual like cramps on both sides of my abdomen.  Keeping my bladder empty was extremely important. Also, stress really affected my uterus during this pregnancy. I had a few stressful situations come up and one of them put me into preterm labor where the contractions started to change the cervix. The doctor was able to start the 17P shots with me at 22 weeks and instantly things started to calm down, calm down so much that at 29 weeks  the doctor took me off of bed rest and told me to take it easy. I still continued to take the nifedipine as needed. For me, it's important that I take it at least twice a day. It keeps things calm. There are days though that I take it up to four times a day.

I'm also not up and running around like a normal pregnant woman. It's literally a day by day thing. Last week was a very good week. I was able to get up, get out of the house, do some grocery shopping, see some family, and be social without any major discomfort. It took me three days to clean my house because I would do something for about an hour and then have to go rest for an hour. When contractions would start up, I'd go home and lay down for a few hours, with a few glasses of water and I was fine. I could get the contractions to slow down and even stop.

This week has been a very rough week. I've had two stressful situations come up this week and one of the side effects of the 17P shots along with this point in pregnancy is being emotional. Combine stress and those side effects and I was an emotional MESS. The contractions started up Tuesday and have continued through Thursday evening. I was able to calm myself down, however, my body was not calm. I've had to lay in bed for three days because the contractions are really uncomfortable. I noticed that as my son gets bigger, the contractions get more and more uncomfortable to deal with. These contractions honestly feel like labor pains but I treat them as normal contractions, per my doctor. Remember, each woman is different. Each pregnancy is different. For this pregnancy, normal contractions for me include very difficult contractions accompanied with nausea, diarrhea, and low back pain because of the way my baby is positioned and because it's my third pregnancy. My body is not happy.

I'm hoping to make it to week 37 with this baby boy and am doing the best I feel possible for my body. I listen to it. When I start contracting I sit or lay down until the contractions stop. I've also had to take some family members and friends out of my life for a minute because of the stress that comes with having a relationship with them because stress affects my body. Some view that as selfish, I view it as taking care of me and my son. Because this condition is coupled with the gestational diabetes, there is an even higher risk of delivering my son early, so I have to make sure and watch my diet and drink lots of water. Us with irritable uterus have a disadvantage because dehydration can start the contractions but so can a full bladder. So, remember to drink your water but know where the bathrooms are in the places you go. I've made other adjustments too because of this irritable uterus. When I go to the store, I ride around in one of those motorized scooters because the walking around starts contractions.

Bottom line, listen to your body. Rest when you need to and find happiness in the condition.

I hope this has given you some insight to the wonderful condition we share and one that my husband has coined as "angry beaver" syndrome. Please feel free to share your story and ask questions. Cheers!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Fantasy World

Ever have that place that you escape to, where reality is no where to be seen and you can live exactly the way that you choose? What does that look like for you?

I have a vivid imagination and am can easily be labeled too much of a dreamer. Sometimes it's an annoyance; it causes unhappiness with the "normal" societal life and the pursuance of things that require lots of money. If I can get the money thing figured out and couple it with moral responsibility I'd be set.

There are times that I float into the world of Downton Abbey...have you seen this show yet? This is a show that is set in the early 1900s and tells the stories of the lives of an aristocratic family and their servants during the King George V reign. To me it's riveting, thought provoking and an absolute escape for me.  I would love to live in the 1900s. I've always had such a fascination with the time period and how each class lived in these times. I collect things from the time period just to have those things surround me and remind me of my fantasies.

My favorite character is Lady Mary although I resemble the rebel that Lady Sybil is. I sometimes day dream about the struggles the characters go through and what I would do but also place myself in their shoes. What would it feel like to wear a corset, to be in the frame of Lady Mary, to don the lace, the pearls, and the hair that she dons along with floating through her life as her character does in the TV show.

That is the escape fantasy....the one that I wish was my reality is one that I pull things from and can be seen as very radical.

I don't see myself as married with children nor a typical career. I see myself traveling the world, kind of like what Elizabeth Gilbert did in Eat, Pray, Love. I'm not on a personal quest to find myself the way she did. I'm secure with who I am, my purpose of being here on Earth and feel what I need to do. I see myself in different parts of the world, just being present in the moment of what I am doing, where I am at and can't give any words to describe the actions I would be doing because I haven't gotten there yet. The pictures in my head show me crouching down to the children and mothers of different countries, loving, teaching, helping, crying, being with people. I have this overwhelming sense and need to reach out, to touch, to love, to help others.

I don't know why I don't see myself doing this in the United States. It may be because of my own biases against the society that the United States is; I'm not sure....I haven't pondered that thought yet.

People who believe in God often respond to a calling. They have a little voice that tells them what they should do and let that voice determine their path in life. I also have that calling, an urgency to do something beyond the choices I've made and the life that I have created thus far. It didn't start with me until my awakening last year and the urgency didn't come until a few months ago.  To me it's still a fantasy but not one that can not come true. This is something I need to do, so how do I incorporate my current life, my moral responsibilities into this world I see?

I'm thankful to have the man that was made for me by my side and to be very accepting and understanding of this concept. He didn't take lightly to the idea of not being married. I guess I should expound on that. I adore my husband and want him by my side to share my life with but I don't need him. I've always been a loner, a gypsy soul, one that does well without a partner. I didn't figure that out until I began to love myself that I realistically don't need the husband and the 2.5 kids that society teaches us to have. I don't want to burden my husband with my overwhelming need to do something that is considered radical and crazy. I see him sometimes confined also by moral responsibility that he has chosen, that WE have chosen together and wish him the same freedom I want because I see the HUMAN in him. He longs for freedom, he longs to be in a different place, doing a different thing that what he is doing but like me adores me and our children. We both struggle with how to incorporate our desires into the moral responsibility of raising children and caring for each other.

I feel like we are designed to love all types of people, male or female and the connections that happen between two people, despite the sex, are there. I feel that people use their moral compass to shut out others and the connections they feel for the sake of their marriage, the comfort of having that one person be there with them and to also be approved by others that believe the same thing. I think that concept goes against what we are designed to do or at least what I am designed to do.

I remember a time when I would get jealous of the women my husband would talk to or flirt with or even describe to others. Now, I shake my head at the idea of that jealousy. It was my own insecurities that brought on that jealousy because I felt I wasn't adequate enough or had that overwhelming fear of being alone. My husband has always been a support beam, always been a loving, caring soul with a hint of smart ass in there somewhere. I didn't give him the credit of being there through some of the times I've put him through with my own stupidity and until I saw him for who he is, not as a husband, a father, but as a person, I realized he has been the most loyal person to me that I've ever known.

As far as my children, what do I do, ditch them with dad while mom goes off on this journey? No. HELL NO! My moral responsibility to my children is what keeps me where I am at. I love being a mother and teaching my children about the world. If I had my way I would take them with me, let them experience the same thing I do, teach them through a homeschooling avenue, let them go to school in different countries, experience different cultures, and of course be there as their mother when the falls and the triumphs come along.

All of this would require a great deal of money to make it a reality, money I do not have. The support and the acceptance of society, my peers, my family and my friends is not something I need but for my husband and children's sake, it's important. If I didn't have the responsibility I have, I'd be gone in a heartbeat.

So what to do? Right now, I escape into my fantasy world because I can't really do anything about it. I do pull from the ideas of it and have some plans up my sleeves. The first logical step seems to share the idea...why? To share with others it's OK to have radical, wild dreams. It's also important to pull from those dreams and put a few of the ideas into your own reality. My first step into making this a reality was to change my profession....from IT guru to counselor, teacher, helper. The second take care of that money issue. That idea is one that I have to keep up my sleeve for a little while because I don't like to jump the gun and share my plans. I've learned that regardless of my plans, life has plans for me and I have to wait to see where life takes me.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My two Saras - Part II

Ever find that friend that you think about every day no matter where they are geographically or in their life? I have several of those and two of those girls happen to share the same name. I think about each of them every day for different reasons. If you haven't red Part I, you can find it here.

A Beautiful Sunflower

I had briefly met Sara a few times at different events of a mom's group that I was a part of before my life got hectic and crazy with work and school, but there was one particular day that I remember seeing her and thinking, "Man, I really want to hang out with her!" Whenever I get those nagging feelings like that, I normally listen to them and follow through with them because I view them as opportunities for lessons and boy was I in for a surprise.

We met at the park for our first meeting and just talked about whatever topics came up, letting our kids play in the sun. She struck me as absolutely know one of those girls that just glows when you see them. She is a mom of three girls, married to a guy she is completely committed to and loves to talk. She has a thirst for life that is contagious and a presence you constantly want to be around. She has so much to share with the world and I'm one of those that can sit and listen to her chatter all day long. She brings this comfort and glow to all conversations and when looking at her, like I said, she just oozes happiness. There are periods when she's not so happy but she looks at the positive in EVERY episode.

She's on her own journey of life dealing with what is thrown her way and she has had some curve balls She also has a gift of being a natural born teacher. This is where I benefited from her presence. After meeting Sara for the first time we ended up getting a few girls together on a regular basis, some that I so dearly miss right now and letting our kids play while we ate, drank, and talked about whatever came up. One of those mornings, I came having had just gotten in contact with my mom after not seeing her for 25 years, a story I still need to write. I came to the group with this pure and utter joy that I had never felt before and described the experience to my friends including this feeling of complete happiness and joy. When I shared what was going on with Sara, she started talking to me a little about what she had learned through her experience and questioning of life.

She told me something like this "That feeling that you feel, that utter joy and want to share it with everybody, that's LOVE, Amanda. And that type of LOVE is what God is." With my past experiences, I've had some trouble with God and religion and at this time was still in a searching stage as far as figuring out what God was to me. Everything for me in that moment, clicked. I walked away from that conversation completely a changed person. With my mom finding me, I felt complete. I knew where I had come from and that hole that made me feel so empty had been fulfilled. It wasn't my mom and the sense of "needing" a mother that fulfilled the hole , it was the feeling of what came with that experience. That feeling of love is something I had never felt before and through Sara and my own experiences, I learned how to give that love to myself. I now understood what people felt when they had their spiritual awakenings or had accepted God into their lives.

Over the course of several months, Sara and I would talk about what the definition of God meant to us, our purpose of life, the characteristics of humans and how to live in peace. She taught me so many lessons about life, how to embrace emotion and ride the wave of the emotion rather than resisting it was an important one. I wanted to be around her all the time. We would text or talk every single day each of us wondering how the other was doing, both of us learning from our conversations with each other.

Sara ended up having to leave Arizona to be in her own environment back in Massachusetts, where she feels at peace and I was very sad to see her go but so very happy for her because she was going to a place that had what she needed. The desert and the blandness of it was not for her. The forest, the green, the change of seasons, being in nature is her "home". I miss her dearly, our talks, the lessons, and OMG, her food. That girl can COOK! We still continue to share as much as we can with each other. Life has put us on pause as for as our relationship goes, but it's not scary and I know she is not one that I will ever lose in the paths of life.

How We Are All Connected

I know this because in her most important lesson of all she showed me. She taught me that we are all interconnected, through each other, through the earth, the animals and everything that exists. There's no need to make it to society's step ladder of celebrities to try and make a difference in the world; just being, existing, and living in a positive manner with the "love" that we hold is all that we need to do to make a change in the world.

After learning this lesson, I let go of my dreams of becoming famous and wanting to write that best selling novel or become the world renowned therapist. I also saw something that was happening that I wasn't even aware of until I the idea to write about my two Saras came in my head. While Sara ( the beautiful sunflower) was living her life and sharing her own experiences she made an impact on me and because of her lessons I changed my life and could not be more at peace. I shared these changes and these lessons with Sara (the queens of awkward situations) and I am watching her change her life through those lessons. The queen of awkward situations will share her experiences with another person and they will change their lives because of  it and THAT is how change happens.

It's almost like a little secret. When you learn what unconditional love is and can apply it to yourself and your life, you see life in a different light. You see people in a different light and can pin point others that have it. It's a gut feeling, an instinct. Not everyone wants to hear what you have to say about it. In the year that I've gained this knowledge I've only shared it with one other person besides the other Sara and I don't know if there will be another person. I just live the roller coaster of life, constantly learning, changing and sharing my own experiences in hopes that they will help others.

"Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people move our souls to dance. They awaken us to a new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom. Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. They stay in our lives for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same." -Flavia Weedn

This is my favorite picture of her. It's one that I took
in our neighborhood park one day where I thought
she looked absolutely beautiful. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My two Saras - Part I

Ever find that friend that you think about every day no matter where they are geographically or in their life? I have several of those and two of those girls happen to share the same name. I think about each of them every day for different reasons. One of them walked into my life unexpectedly, for a short amount of time and needed to leave for her own reasons and the other I sought out myself expecting just to have a few questions answered and landed with a friendship that is very precious to me despite it's odd circumstances. Here are their stories...

The Queens of Awkward Situations

One night my husband and I were walking along in Home Depot after we had been together for about two years and we hadn't had the talk about the exes in our lives yet. I don't remember why I decided to ask him in Home Depot of all places about his ex, he or I could have said something that reminded him of her and he decided to share the story with me. This happens quite a bit in our marriage, we're not shy about sharing stories with each other even if it regards our exes because we're secure with our relationship and understand that our exes helped to shape our lives. So, I'm doing the wife thing and asking him tons of questions about Sara. I even think I got upset at him for saying something about her that I thought was wrong. He did the typical guy thing and got irritated that I was playing the 20 question game with him and said "Why don't you send her an email or something if you want. She'll answer your questions." 

So I did. I sent her an email explaining to her who I was, gave her some background, and I think I asked her some questions about their relationship or about herself. The answers I was getting from Jeff just gave me this nagging feeling that her and I were a lot alike and I really wanted to know more. She of course was SHOCKED to hear from me, of all people, but was very candid with her response. We started out sharing our personal stories about our own lives and of course we talked about Jeff, how she saw him, how he behaved in their relationship, how he hurt her and loved her. Many people think, how can you absorb this and not feel jealousy or dislike for this person? I know there were times I did get jealous of their relationship pieces, however, they ended up being things that I needed to look at myself and address as insecurities. Luckily, we both came to realize that we are two girls who have had our own experience with the same guy and didn't let the jealousy get in the way of our own friendship. 

Over the years, we built our friendship through words..."novels" as we call them. We write 10 to 20 page novels to each other sharing our lives with each other, sharing our childhoods, our love lives, our marriages, our woman moments, and of course the light of our lives, our children. Each of us learning a lesson through our stories. Sara is definitely a lot better at getting back to me than I am and my goal is to make sure I get a novel to her every month but I hear the girl can type RIDICULOUSLY fast, and if she's pissed...LOL. For me, hearing Sara's stories were like looking into a mirror and hearing myself talk. I could relate to her and understood exactly how she felt about things and why she did things because, well, I'd do them the same way. Over the years, if I have an issue, she's one of the first people I think about when wanting to share my problems because we are so much a like and we have always been very frank and honest in our conversations. We've had to be to continue our friendship. If we had let our emotions get in the way of our friendship, I don't think it would have lasted.

We've had the chance to meet each other, twice now. Yes, Jeff was there and what's even funnier is that the love of her life ended up being a friend of Jeff's and also one of Jeff's mom's employees. The first meeting was  a lot awkward and the second meeting was not bad at all. Her and I were ok, but the guys had some issues they had to sort out. Of course it's awkward to see your ex after 10 years so there was that element and then the friend married to the friend thing that needed some priming but the boys worked through it and everything is golden at this point. She is scheduled to move out near our family in the next six months and I could not be more excited! EEEEK! We both have already told the boys that "YES! We will be hanging out...A LOT!" Hell, we do the same things...we both love to run, love to write, love to talk, love to dance, and love to just live life. The simple things to us are what it's all about with little curve balls here and there.

Our friendship is one that I cherish because it's real, it's honest, it's emotional, and by all means unique because of the circumstances. I think that people come in to our lives for certain reasons and the way Sara and I look at it, Jeff was the catalyst for the relationships her and I have gained. Through Jeff, she gained a wonderful husband and a great friend and I can definitely say that I gained the same things.

"What is a friend? A single soul in two bodies."  -Aristotle

Friday, January 6, 2012

What Blissful Pregnancy?

I commend all the mommies that have wonderful pregnancies and can do everything that they normally can do like work, exercise, have the house clean, and take care of the kids.

I am not one of those women. I'm one of those women that is not comfy with pregnancy and don't like it so much at all besides the eating part....the part where I can eat whatever I want to because "baby says so." Not much discipline there, oh well.

These are a list of things that will justify the crazy pregnancy bumper sticker that should go on my car...hell, maybe my forehead. Most of these things people don't see but ask my husband...he'll be glad to let you in on the "crazy".

1. I'm pretty damn dramatic when it comes to the uncomfortableness of being pregnant. I whine when I'm nauseous and try my damndest to make sure every sentence out of my mouth is not something like "OMG, my belly aches." or "What the hell, I've only been cleaning for an hour. Why do my feet hurt?" "Will someone carry me please? Do I really have to walk to the car?"

2. What is up with not seeing "your girl" after month four. That's so jacked up. The idea of grooming and being sexy in any manner is far near impossible. It's like a daily reminder that if you have sex you don't see "your girl" for five months. SERIOUSLY. Oh and there's the not seeing your feet thing. I think we're intended to literally roll at month need for feet. You can't wear shoes, especially in the heat. Mine grow and swell so flip flops are really the only option.

3.  HOROMONES, GOD, LEAVE ME ALONE! As a female with crazy genes already, I do not need my body mixing it's own hormone cocktail. It's dangerous, ridiculously dangerous. I can put money on the fact I will cry because I'm too tired in one minute, laugh manically at someone getting hurt in minute number two, and lash out at my cat because he touched me in minute three. What the hell is that??? I know if there are any other women feeling like I do I'm sure you hate it just as much. I double dog dare a man to call me crazy on a day like this. It's so irritating what the hormones turn you into when you're pregnant. My husband likes to mess with me and see how many emotions he can get out of me in five minutes. I just beat him across the head and call him an asshole when he does that. Oh, did I say that out loud. That's what happens in my head...well except the asshole part.

4. Exercise....BAHAHAHAHA! For me this is not an option during pregnancy. I get winded going up the steps. Apparently my future son is sucking up all of my energy and doing daily chores is a struggle. I don't know how some women do it. As much as I don't like it, I gain about 25 to 30 pounds and puff out like the Michelin man when I'm pregnant. Yep, that's me.  It's not cute at all.

5.  You want me to dress business casual while I'm making a child? That's got to be a man's rule or a woman who has such traditional image issues she probably wears her makeup to bed. You're lucky if you get me out of pjs and in the shower after month four. I don't even like to stand long enough to put makeup on and do my hair. How am I supposed to get the belly over the counter to make sure I don't draw my eye makeup like some catty looking hooker? Or if I sit down, you expect me to get back up? Getting up is a chore.

So there's some of the truth....I keep most of it bottled inside for my children's sake...yeah, my husband can see the monster that's there because he contributed to making the babies. Some of it leaks out every now and then and my sweet children just ask me if I'm ok and if it's Mikey that's hurting me or making me act crazy. Yes, they say act

Ok, off to attempt to clean the house in one day and then a concert tonight. I hope I can tolerate the loud music and I don't want to tell them to shut up because I'm irritable. I'm super excited so these hormones better lay low tonight.