Fox and Broom

A mom's adventures in keeping healthy, keeping her sanity, and making stuff.

Archive for the category “Parenting”

Changes

It has been a really long time since my last update. My world has been full of lots of changes since my October posting. Some good, some not so good, some heartbreaking.

I started a new treatment called Xeloda in October (or maybe September). This has been one of my favorite treatments so far. I feel so much more normal than I have in the two and half years since I started treatments. It does have a side effect called Hand Foot Syndrome. It dries out the skin on the hands and feet and can cause cracking and sore appendages. I had to have my dose lowered due to having trouble walking. My feet had developed very dark markings. I had thought they were bruises because they were aching so badly. The pain only last three days, but the marks remained. I found out later that the darkening is a common thing among people using Xeloda. I saw it was mostly hands and fingers, but feet are in there also.

One of the funny side effects of Xeloda is that it promotes hair growth. My hair is definitely not long, by any means, but it has been growing much quicker than it ever has in the past. It seems to be a little thicker. I thought that was in my head, but my stylist agreed with me when I had her shape my hair a little. I had a natural fauxhawk going on for me that I didn’t much mind, but my the hair in the back was starting to look more like a mullet. Sorry to the mullet-lovers, but the look doesn’t suit me. My hair has gotten longish enough that it now lays down a bit better. I kinda miss my hawk. I got a few compliments on it from random strangers.

No matter how much I like Xeloda, nothing lasts forever. Especially with my treatments. I will be moving on to a new treatment by the end of this month. My scans have been showing as stable, even showing a bit of regression on my bone scan, but my CA 27.29 (cancer antigen marker) has been moving slowly higher. It is still much, much, much lower than it was at this time last year, but it is starting to concern my oncologist. Sometimes, there is action going on in the marrow of the bones that the scans can not see.

Another big change was moving. We sold our house and purchased a much larger house with my in-laws. Much larger. It is twice the size of my old house. I know it seems weird to move in with the parents, but it is a mutually beneficial move. They are not getting younger and my disease will never go away. In this way, we can take care of each other. Our new house has three levels. Three of my boys live on the top level, the grandparents are on the main level, and Gabriel, Max, the dogs, and I live in the basement. It’s a really nice basement. We have access to the backyard and a very lovely patio. Our area is closed off from the main level, allowing a bit of privacy. Nothing is totally private with four kids. I have my own laundry room and a coffee/tea table. The new schools are very nice. I kept Eldest at his old school as it is his last year there before high school.

Some of the changes have been sad. Last summer, I found out that my personal trainer had passed away. Mike was one of those people who makes your life brighter. I hired him because he had just finished treatment for leukemia and I had just gotten over most of the sickness from my pregnancy and birth of Max. I figured he would understand getting over an illness. Mike helped me find my strength and empowerment again. Even after my training sessions were done, we kept in contact and would visit at the gym. He was one of the first people I talked to when I got my diagnosis. I went through the dark time and when I was able to move again, I went back to the gym to get my legs and arms working better. He would take me aside and pray with me. I also did the same for him, but I didn’t tell him that. Last year, he had started to look sick. He didn’t talk to me about it, but I saw it. The last time we chatted was when I ran into him at the Cancer Center after my final round of radiation on my right eye orbital. I found out he passed away about a week later. Fuck cancer.

One of my best friends lost her mother to brain cancer. She was diagnosed last summer and passed in January. It was so aggressive and fast. It honestly scared me at how quickly it took her. Fuck cancer.

On March 5, I found out that Bekah passed. She was the person I had termed (in my head) as The Other MBCer in town. She was too young. She was kind and motivated. She was inspiring. Fuck cancer into infinity. Her husband wants to set up an MBC Foundation in her name for local people and eventually have it reach people across the state. Her GoFundMe is still collecting if you want to help with her funeral costs and to help him attain the funds for the Foundation.

On a more positive note, I have a lot of adventures planned for the rest of this year. Gabriel and I will be going to Greece in less than a week. We had a little bit leftover from our house sale and threw a mental dart at a world map.

Two weeks after we get back, I will be taking Sam to Orlando to experience Disney World and Universal Studios. I have been saving up for this trip for two years. As of right now, he has no idea we are leaving. He only knows that he has an “appointment” during Spring Break. He asked if he was going to have to have shots or a blood draw. I said yes to both because I am an evil mother.

My sister, Danielle, will be coming to visit me in May. I am super excited about that. I am trying to plan a trip to her area this summer.

We also have camping and family outings in the works.

Before I end this blog, I had an unbelievable change happen in January. Sam’s whole exome genome testing was finally approved by my insurance company. I have been fighting for this test for about four years. I understand that the insurance company is reluctant to approve this type of testing due to the lowish findings rate (30 – 40%), but I am at the end of my options. Our next step would be a muscle biopsy, which is twice as expensive and way more invasive. For those not in the know, Sam was born with a congenital muscular disease. For Sam, it means that he gets tired more quickly and isn’t as strong as his peers. For us, it is constantly worrying about his weight, his social interactions, working on his gross motor skills. He is currently in physical therapy and is testing out as around a 5 to 6 year old in physical skills (he is 8 right now). I am hoping for a diagnosis that can let us know if there is anything more we can do to help boost him up. His DNA was already on file and he did not have to add anything more to it. Gabriel and I flew to Seattle to put our DNA into the batch. Whole exome means that the parents are involved and it will look into our separate genetic lines for answers. Please cross your fingers for us that this will lead to something. We will get answers in three to four months.

One final thing. Of all the things I have learned this year, the hardest and the best thing is to not put off your dreams. Some dreams are expensive, but dammit save your pennies for it. Some dreams need a little extra time. Make time. Don’t put off what makes you happy.

And again, fuck cancer.

Oh Hai

It has been forever since I have written a blog. Well, almost a year. Which is pretty much forever in internet time.

With my last post, I had started the Couch 2 5K program again. Which, to be honest, I did not keep up with very well. I do my best at the gym if I go in the morning. I also like to take it easy in the morning with a cuppa and some Daily Show from the night before. Sooo. Yeah.

Anyway, on to May. My husband and I found out we were expecting our next baby the day before Mother’s Day. We made the decision to keep it quiet due to the miscarriage from the year before. It was really pretty traumatic for me to have to tell everyone about that. I know that for some people, it is a healing thing to be able to share experiences like that. Not so for me. In fact, it took me nearly a full year to even be able to mention the loss.

We told our close family when we were about 8 weeks along and we made it public at about 12 weeks after my first midwife appointment. I am now 31 weeks along. This new baby is due in January. And has caused me issues every. single. step. of the way. I am not sure if it is because I am considered an older mom. Or it might be because this is baby #4. Or it might just be because every pregnancy is different.

Just after we found out we were expecting, I had to set up a doctor appointment to figure out what was going on with an extreme headache. It was so bizarre. I started to call it a head pain because it was not a typical headache for me. The focal point would move around my head and radiate out. I called my general practitioner when the pain moved toward the front of my head and made eating difficult. As I was pregnant, there was not a lot he could do for me. He was concerned enough that he contacted the women’s clinic to see if it was safe enough for me to go in for an MRI. Doing my bit of research, I used my mom to contact an OB from the Mayo Clinic to be sure an MRI would be ok. I went through with it. And I now have proof that my brain is normal.

Along with the head pains, I got to work through some food aversions. My morning sickness was more acute than it usually is, but since I had so many food aversions, my trips to the toilet resulted mostly in dry heaves. I survived mostly on salad and protein shakes. I couldn’t even look at eggs, pizza, cheese, milk, tomatoes, and the list goes on. All sorts of smells would send me running to the bathroom. I lost somewhere around 11 pounds. At 31 weeks, I am still dealing with some of these aversions. Sometimes I can eat scrambled eggs, sometimes I can’t.

Once the morning sickness started to fade, I guess my body decided I needed some other inconvenience. So, my relaxin hormone production went into overdrive. It took me awhile to figure this out. I had a cold at the end of August, early September (back to school crud, yay!). That incident led to me actually sneezing so hard that I popped a rib out-of-place. It was so painful that I went into the ER. I honestly had no idea what was going on. I just knew that I suddenly couldn’t breathe and was in huge amounts of pain. That was a particularly pricey visit just to have someone tell me that my rib was knocked out and the pain was from muscle spasms. I got it under control with heat, ice, and a chiropractor.

The first rib incident was actually a clue for me about the relaxin. My rib has now popped out 3 times and my hips are trying to disconnect from my leg bones. If you are not totally sure about what relaxin does, it pretty much matches its name. It relaxes the ligaments connecting the bones to allow movement for childbirth. Why my body is prepping so early, I have no idea. It has made it very uncomfortable to walk and I am on a lifting restriction. Sitting, standing, and laying down are all also very uncomfortable.

The good news for this pregnancy is that Baby is doing incredibly well. We found out at my 20 week ultrasound that Baby is a boy, so this will be boy #4 in our family. He will have no lack of clothes. Though they may be a bit worn. He is super active and is constantly pushing out on my belly.

Other good news is that I do NOT have gestational diabetes. Not that it matters since chocolate and some other sweets give me massive heartburn. I joke that this baby is forcing me to eat healthy. Well, I mostly joke. I would kill for a doughnut. This whole eating healthier has been beneficial seeing as how I am not up for pretty much any exercise. I have not gained back much of the weight I lost during my morning sickness. Baby is still growing very well, so he is definitely getting the nutrients he needs. If I did not have the constant pain, I would actually feel really good. I’ve even been enjoying the onset of the Braxton Hicks contractions. Well, except for the one that hit me when I was grocery shopping. Whew. That was came out of nowhere and left a lingering pain. My body is prepping to bring this guy earthside. After all the issues I have had, I am really looking forward to meeting this new person.

Frustration

It’s been a long, long time since I last posted about my middle son, my Little Owl. He was delayed in his gross motor skills probably from birth, but it was not noticeable until he was 4 months old. He is now 4 years old. And he is still slightly delayed. And we still do not know why.

We just made a trip to a neurologist in Seattle. Who pretty much told us that, yes, there is something going on with Little Owl, and no, we still do not know why. Which is all stuff I already knew. We just spent $100+ (with help from the in-laws) on a trip to hear stuff we already knew. It is really becoming ridiculous. The docs in Seattle want to see us every 3 to 6 months only to tell us the same goddamn stuff every time. Just call me on the phone and bill my insurance for your time. Save me the gas, food, and lodging.

The neurologist IS ordering a slew of new tests. Which I am hoping our new insurance will cover. They have already denied the genetic test ordered by Little Owl’s biochemical geneticist. I’m not sure they are going to approve an MRI and a spinal tap.

Now, I see the improvements Owl has made. I just want to make sure he keeps improving. We do not necessarily need a diagnosis, but it would be handy to know what we are dealing with. Is it something that we are already treating correctly with the vitamins we are using? Is it something that could be helped with other medications? Are the vitamins actually doing anything? Could a change in diet help? These are questions we can’t answer because we have no clue what we are dealing with. It could be Congenital Myasthenia Syndrome. It could be a slight variation on Mitochondrial Disease. It could be a number of things.

Don’t get me wrong. My Little Owl is wonderfully perfect in his own way. His hypotonia will be with him for the rest of his life. I just want him to be able to understand it and be able to live alongside it. When his weakness hits, it hits hard. There have been times when he will lay down in the middle of a grocery store simply because he is so exhausted. He will literally play until he drops. I do not know of any other four-year-old who will ask for permission to take a nap (“Mommy, I am so tired. Can I please go lay down?”). And yes, I see you. You, right there. I have seen the judging looks you give to my child when he lays down in the store. When he wobbles his way up the stairs to go down the slide he loves to play on. I have learned a lot in living with Owl. I have learned not to judge too harshly or too quickly. We are getting better at living life in the moment, because the next moment may simply be exhaustion.

Oh Sammi

Me: “Sammi, we are going to have a new baby. How do you feel about being a big brother again?”

Sammi: “No. No. We don’t need another baby. We need a puppy.”

Long Overdue Update

It’s been a while since I posted anything. My goal was to post at least one thing per week. Life has other plans.

Anyway, I had been dealing with sickness in the house. Some sort of tummy bug has been bugging my boys. Nothing serious, just some potty issues. I have been feeling nauseous, myself, and just put it down to a mutant strain of whatever the boys were dealing with. . . Not quite the case:

Looks like I am going to be even busier than usual. And dealing with constant nausea to top it off. I am also aware this is really really early to announce something like this, but my husband was having trouble keeping it to himself. So, after sending this video out to all the relatives, I gave him permission to flap his jaw to his heart’s content.

 

Update: I have deleted the video. I was very proud of it, but I needed to take it down for personal reasons.

Baby J’s First Plane Ride

So, I am at the airport, waiting for our flight. With my smallest guy. My two older ones are staying with my in-laws while we are gone. For which I am indescribably thankful. If any of you have had the pleasure of traveling with children… you will understand.

My husband and I don’t take a lot of vacations. So, when his work decided to send him to Boston for training, we jumped at the chance for a fun trip together. We were not able to afford tickets for the whole family, so were super pleased that the grandparents agreed to take the older guys. Baby J is still breastfeeding and he is a free flyer.

Now, just because a kid flies for free does not mean easy travel. So, this will be an experiment of sorts. It will be Baby J’s first really big trip. He could be an easy traveler, like big brother Sammi. Or he could be a screamer, like big brother Sol.

Things that leave my mouth because of my children.

Every parent should keep a log of these things. Seriously. That way you can look back on them when you are having a rough day and giggle at them. I may create a page just to link to these posts so I can find them easily again.

Just from the past two days:

“Sammi, the baby is not a pony. Get off of him.”

“Sammi, quit squishing the baby’s head with your head.”

Sammi loves to play with his baby brother…

Needing a good kick.

I have been unhealthy. Very unhealthy, lately. I am working on fixing this. I am pretty sure that what I have been doing is stress eating. I can’t seem to get enough carbs/sugars. The problem with this is that sugars are addicting and can lead to an eating pattern like the one I currently find myself in. So, I need to break the cycle. I need to find healthier snacks that will help take the edge off of the sugar cravings.

I also need to get on a more regular exercise schedule. I have been running a couple times per week, but I need to get better with it. I am going to register to run the Bloomsday Race in May. I only have little more than 3 months to be able to run a 12k. I can currently run 2 miles with little problem. I’m slow, but I can do it. In the past I have done 3 miles. too was going to sign up for the Gold’s Gym 12 Week Challenge again, but we are trying hard to be frugal. It is only $25 for members, but that is $25 I can put towards our dinners. I already feel like I am spending too much with having a gym membership. Which is why I do try to use it.

So, I have come up with a tentative plan:

  • Blog at least once per week. If I have to talk to people about what I have been doing, I usually make better decisions.
  • Really get on track with C25K. I figure once I get my stamina up for a 5K, working towards a 12K will be the next step.
  • Keep to my workout schedule. I make a new one each month when the new schedule comes out and tweak it with how life changes that schedule.
  • Make a weekly menu. In case it might not be apparent, I tend to be a list-oriented person. I like the challenge of trying to complete what I have set up. With a menu, I will make and eat what I have written down. Therefore, if I have a healthy menu, I will then eat healthier.

So, I have my plan. I tried to keep it simple and not too daunting. Later, I will post my exercising schedule. Gold’s has a ton of new classes coming out this weekend, so I am waiting for an updated class list. Then I will post it on here. That way I will be held accountable to keep up with it for the 5 readers I have 😉

On a parenting note: Sam did GREAT today in the kid care area at our local grocery store (ALL grocery stores should offer this – the kids are happy and the parents are not ripping out their hair by the time they are done shopping. This is a big deal because any other time I have tried to leave him with other people, he screams the whole time I am not there. So, this is a welcome breakthrough. I am thinking of testing it out at our gym tomorrow. *crossing fingers* All I plan on doing for exercise tomorrow is running.

Well, that is it for now. I feel better now that I have this actually written down.

That Crazy Girl Did What?!?! Without Drugs??!!!

I had a totally natural, stressless home birth. No drugs. Only my warm pool of water. I did it! Of course, I only did what females have been doing since mammals started having live births. Still, I am pretty proud of myself. I look at my beautiful new boy and think, “I did that. In MY home.”

The labor went pretty quickly. I started having light contractions on Nov 8 at about 4:30 am. I waited for an hour before calling my midwife, just to make sure they weren’t going away. She showed up around 7ish. I transitioned from light to hard at around 9:30 am. That would be when I went from being able to kind of talk to having to absolutely toning out everything. That was when I decided to get into the birthing tub. That warm water was an immediate relief. I felt so much more comfortable. I went into hard labor shortly after 11 am and baby J was born at 11:11 am IN MY HOME. Gotta admit – just as he started to crown, I started to have doubts that I could do this. Heh. A little late for those. I was so shocked to suddenly see a baby in the tub with me. I scooped him up myself. He did have the cord around his neck, but the midwife very quickly took care of that and he was fine. He started nursing like a pro before the placenta made an appearance.

I also had a wonderful support group on hand:

  • My husband. I can’t say enough about him. He was awesome. He also hurt the next day from being in an awkward position in order to let me hug him while I was in the tub heh.
  • C~ acted as a doula for me. She reminded me to breathe and to make lower sounds. The lower the moan, the easier it was to get through the contraction – on a more spiritual level, it helps to open up the chakras and get the energy flowing. I suppose it was less of a moan and more of an “Om” chant.
  • D~ took my birth pictures. She took over 400 pictures. It was awesome. I really owe her more than I could ever give to her for doing that for me.
  • My midwife and her assistant. They were both awesome.
  • Both of my mothers-in-law. I love them so much.

I do wish my mommy could have been there with me. It’s hard when she is 3000 miles away. This is another reason I was glad for the pictures. I get to share the birth with her through them.

I am also excited about sharing the pictures with my dad and stepmother. I know they wanted to be here and will not get to see J until April.

J is now 1 month old and growing like a weed. He is already so strong and so very alert. My milk came in about 2 days after he was born. This was really great. It had been a struggle with my previous two. There was lots of pumping and I had to supplement as they both lost too much weight. I have not looked at studies, but I suspect my previous issues with breastfeeding had to do with being induced. I now have so much milk coming in that I pump every once in a while just to have some extra on hand so I can go out for a few hours. We have experimented with a bottle to make sure he was ok with that. He is. If food comes out when he sucks on it, he seems fine with it. Greedy little leech.

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The birthing tub.

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Working through a lighter contraction.

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Contractions are getting harder.

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The hard labor begins.

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Freshly made baby!

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Baby J.

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Getting ready to be weighed.

I have not abandoned you!

I have been busy. Also, I have not been able to get on my regular computer very much at all. If any of you have ever tried to type a full post on an iPod or iPhone, then you may forgive me for not giving more updates. I have been stewing in a few ideas these past few months. I like my idea of posting about healthy, cheap meals and that idea + my pregnancy have led to posting about healthy, cheap, diabetic-friendly meals. I have not been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, yet, but it is on my mind. I will be tested for it at my next prenatal visit. *crossed fingers* I have tried to be healthier for this pregnancy, but I am also aware of the stats. Once you have already had gestational diabetes, you are more likely to be diagnosed with it in your next pregnancies. So, I have been munching on protein-rich foods and have tried to curb those dumb cravings for chocolate… Not too successfully. And dammit, sometimes you just need a candy bar.

This pregnancy has been very uncomplicated and is going smoothly, so far. No bleeding, no cramps, no scares. The ultrasound pics showed us a very healthy baby and proved my due date to still be around Nov 10th, 11th, 12th area. I have been doing mostly good with keeping up with exercising. Until 2 weeks ago, I had been able to make regular trips to the gym for swimming, and I have kept up with walking and hiking. I had to stop running about a month ago. My lungs couldn’t keep up with me, even on easy jogs. I will just keep up with my walking and restart the C25K program after baby is born.

Now for a bit of controversy. I am planning to home birth this baby. Before I start getting nasty comments, I have done the hospital birthing with my 2 older boys. I grew weary of the rushing to get that baby out with the last one. They were not overall terrible experiences, I just started to put a little more thought into how I wanted my birth experience to be. I also discovered I do not feel comfortable in a hospital setting for more than a day. I had thought I wouldn’t mind it too much as I practically grew up in a hospital (mom was a nurse), but I just want to get home as soon as that baby gets out of me.

So, after thinking through these thoughts, I started to do some research on home births. Home births are, for the most part, extraordinarily safe. Midwives, at least the ones in my area, will NOT consider working with mothers who have high-risk pregnancies, most will not work with twins, and most will not work with mothers who are having very large babies. These are cases where a doctor’s care is needed and quite possibly a hospital setting. Midwives are not against hospitals and doctors, hospitals and doctors just have their place. So, I now have a wonderful mid-wife who is also a naturopathic doctor. As a doctor, she is also able to bill my insurance, which is one less thing for me to worry about. She has set my husband mostly at ease with the idea of a home birth. We do live only about 10-15 minutes from our hospital and she is prepared in case of any emergency that may require us to rush there. A WA state midwife also has a pretty extensive list of what to bring to a birth:

I have also heard the “what if the cord is wrapped around the neck?” question. Yes, it happens. No, it is actually not always an emergency. An experienced midwife will quickly and efficiently take care of that.

“What about the pain?” Well, pain is a part of it. Even with a hospital birth, there will be pain. Get over it, accept it. There are ways to ease it without the use of an epidural (I still feel pain in the area my last epidural went in, btw): warm baths, back rubs, using a yoga/pilates ball, meditation, and in one of my favorite birth stories, singing. I am actually looking forward to experiencing the pain. I was induced with both of my previous births and the pain from the pitocin was pretty unbearable. I had experienced natural contractions with my 2nd kiddo, until the docs wanted it to go faster. The natural contractions were uncomfortable, but not even in the same class as the forced contractions. It was this second birth that really made me look at what I  wanted. If I had been more educated and maybe even a little more willful, I think I would have told the docs to wait. Baby was getting ready on his terms, there really was NO need to rush it. However, I was tired of being pregnant and I was excited by the idea of finally meeting this new one face-to-face. I just need to exercise patience.

Hmm. This blog post has taken me 3 days to write. Mostly because I can not type when Sammi is awake. He is such a button-pushing monkey. He is no longer allowed in the office heh. I had a lot more to write about, but those things will have to be put into a blog of their own.

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