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Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Pregnant

I have had a total of three pregnancies- my first ended at 28 weeks with a partial abruption and severe pre-eclampisa. She was only 1lb 11.5ozs and 13 inches long and spent a total of 8 1/2 months in NICU. She’s now a small but healthy 7 year old. My second was relatively uncomplicated but we lost her. She was born at 36 weeks due to me going into a painless labor and I wasn’t allowed by the doctors to go into labor. She died of a condition called Anencephaly (absence of the skull) and lived for 3 hours after birth.

My third was totally complication free and she was born at 37 weeks (once again, due to the complications of my oldest) and was 7lbs11ozs and 21 inches long- they told us she would have been a 9-10lb baby if she was born term.

I had each baby at 23, 25 and 27 years, I’m 30 now so I have spent almost my full adult life being called “mommy.”

I read all the books, blogs and joined all the support forums I could find. What to Expect was my bible through my first pregnancy and through her early years but nothing could prepare me for the almost 9 months of hell I was in for after having my baby.

When I was 22 and newly married, I found out I was pregnant. I was young, naive and even though I knew it was a huge sacrifice, I had a glorified image of pregnancy and motherhood. I knew it wouldn’t be a walk in the park and that I wouldn’t have near the freedom I had before but I still imagined taking the baby to baby and me classes, taking her out in cute little outfits with friends (since most of mine, at that time were also pregnant or new mommies) and late night cuddles. I thought of play dates and hanging out with friends would simply end up taking place at kid friendly places instead of bars. I had no idea what the dark side of pregnancy involved. I had heard of conditions like Pre-Eclampsia but the thought never crossed my mind that it could happen to me.

I decided to sit down and ask myself what 30 year old me wished 23, 25 and even 27 year old me knew. I was able to come up with a quick list of six major things I wish people had told me

  1. Take folic acid- lots of it. I didn’t realize how important it really was. I did make sure my pre-natals had it, but that was it. After dealing with Pre-E and losing another baby to Anencephaly, I joined a support group for people who lost babies to the disorder and that was when I read about folic acid and how vital it is to healthy pregnancies. I also learned about the MTHFR and after asking for a simple blood test, I found out I had a more severe form of the lesser mutation- which means my body only processes about 7% of the folic acid I eat.
  2. Swelling all over to the point where you do not look human IS NOT NORMAL. Don’t call Labor and delivery, go in to the ER to get checked- especially if swelling in the hands and face comes with headache and lightheaded or any other sign of high blood pressure. Pre-Eclampsia is serious, but can be managed if it’s caught early on.
  3. Lay off the baby books- especially if you have a preemie- seriously, cut it out. If your baby doesn’t develop by the books (either advanced or behind) they will stress you out more than help- it’s nice to know what “normal” development is, but if you start playing comparisons, it will make you lose your mind.
  4. Go ahead and complain about the morning sickness, crampy feelings, bloated feeling, headaches, mood swings, exhaustion and everything else- being pregnant sucks and it’s ok to not enjoy the symptoms- it’s the end result we all want.
  5. Do not freak out after being given the epidural. It doesn’t make all feeling go away- just the pain. With my first c section, they had to put me under as soon as she was out. I thought it was about to wear off in the middle of the c section. I always assumed that I would be totally numb and that I wouldn’t even feel the surgeon pull the baby out. My second two c sections went smoother because I knew what to expect.
  6. Enjoy the last little bit of freedom- the sleepless nights do not last long (be a few months, they WILL sleep through the night) but that small window of time in between feels like an eternity- and there will be times you will wake up freaked out in the middle of the night because your baby sighed and you thought they were choking- that is normal.

I wish I could go back in time, knowing what I know now, and possibly fix some of the things I feel I did wrong. Since I can’t change the past, I do try to share these tips when the topics come up. I’ll push the subject of folic acid or full body swelling when I’m talking to a friend who’s newly pregnant or trying to conceive. I have many other lessons I have learned in my 7 years of being mommy, but these stick out the most as the pieces of advice I wish I had listened to most.

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EDS, post 30 can your body bounce back?

I know your metabolism takes a slight hit at 30, larger hit at 35 and every 5 years or so keeps shrinking. I’m still heavier than I was pre-kids and reality is hitting me. I knew I no longer had my pre-baby body, but will I be able to go back?

I accepted the fact that pregnancy made my hips more of a problem area than they already were. I only wore a larger size (11-13 in high school) for that reason, but had an hourglass figure. When I dropped to a 14, I tried on some 17s and couldn’t get them past my hips. That was when I read that juniors and adult sizes are made different (1,3,5, etc are juniors. 2,4,6, etc are adult). Juniors are made narrow in the hips where adult jeans are made wider in the hips.

I do know that with Ehlers Danlos, collagen is affected and where it makes your skin stretchy, it seems it may be harder to just bounce back. My scars fade but they still look strange when they heal. I don’t know much else about EDS but I do have an appointment, not only with a genetic specialist, but a specialist who lives with EDS herself. But that’s in a little bit. Right now, I’ve been researching trying to find foods that can help, workouts good enough to help lose weight and tone up but also safe for Osteo and loose joints and anything else that could help me with shrinking back down.

In the past 2 years, I’m down from 220 to about 170. I’m down from a size 20 to a size 14-16. I still have 40lbs left and hoping to get down to a 6ish or 8, maybe and I have 5 years in my mind to do it. If I can get down to my goal, fix what I need to fix diet wise and perfect my ingredient reading I should be able to maintain despite my Hashimotos. I’m seeing that even thyroid isn’t as much of an excuse as people use it. I dropped 20lbs in 4 months on a good dose of thyroid medication and cutting 1 ingredient out. I’m almost 1 month back to the normal (gluten free) lifestyle and finally feeling back to how I was feeling. I just had my thyroid levels tested again and they were perfect.

Right now, I’m trying to buy less processed foods. I have quit drinking Mello Yello (but I did switch to Diet coke for the time being), I’m eating 1 grain meal a day (if that) and the rest are cooked or salad. I do need to cut condiments and I still am drinking my Starbucks double shots (1 a day), I also started to notice my sugar drops when I eat potatoes so I’m switching to sweet potatoes.

The problem is when you have multiple diagnosis’s with several recomendations for diets. Where I have obvious issues with gluten, gluten free is needed (unless I want to spend all day cramping and in the bathroom), I had the diabetic low glycemic diet recommended to me for the reactive hypoglycemia. Cutting everything that was recommended to me feels restrictive. It also makes my OCD mind feel like I’ll be depriving myself and feels like it’s a black/white situation instead of- eat this way and you’ll feel great, eat that way and feel like crap.

I’m working on disassociating food with pleasure or anything related to emotions and trying to associate it with fueling my body and nothing more. Mindfulness helps that. Taking time to savor what I eat and pay attention to it is what I’m working on. Salad tastes great, so does fruit. Sugar and snacks that are heavily processed taste like chemicals but are an addiction- I’ve read all about sugar addiction and cold turkey is the way to go with kicking it. I’ve been thinking about trying a 1 month sugar free diet to try to break it. Just not sure if I have the will power currently. I will start it at the beginning of a month this year, though. Just have to build up and do further research into it to go in armed instead of half assing it.

In my picture, I was 18. I was constantly working out but didn’t know half of what I know now. I was also healthy.

I wasn’t skinny, but I was a good 30lbs smaller than I am now.

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Our cat has been through a lot in her short 3 years.

Her birthday is next month so we celebrate her birthday with mine. She’ll be 3 years old.

We adopted her at 6 months, she had been through 3 fosters and we were her 4th family. She is a sweet, loving and playful cat but has a painful autoimmune disorder called “feline oral stomatitis.” It’s where her gums swell up and can be caused by stress (like when we moved and she could see and smell new stray cats). We keep her inside 100% of the time.

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It all started when she turned a year old. She stopped eating so we took her to the vet. The vet checked her out and told us she had a condition called Stomatitis. They said she would need steroid injections. At that time, I was working and my husband had just lost his job. We switched her from dry food to wet and she continued eating wet food. Then we switched her to pate food then eventually to baby food meat. After she quit eating the meat, we were despatately looking for options. Since she had been through so many homes we didn’t want to give her up for what we knew would be a temporary situation. Someone told us about the Care credit card so I applied and was approved. The day I was approved, we were able to get her in and got her her first injection. It took effect after just a day and within 2 days we had her eating dry food again. A little over a month later, she quit eating so we took her again. There was one time we went five months without an injection but the minute we first heard her hiss at her food, we would be on the phone setting up a visit with the vet, unfortunately most of the times the injections wore off, it would be on the weekend (typically right after the vet closed on Friday) so we woyld have to go until Monday or Tuesday for the injections. We were able to get the injections monthly for close to two years, but eventually she started going less and less time between injections until they said we needed to have her teeth removed.  Last Summer, we didn’t have the money up front to have the surgery we needed and couldn’t find any charities that would help, so we went to a local financial institution and took out a small loan to pay for the surgery. She had the surgery last July and since then, we have had to take her back one time where they gave her a pain killer and injection just for precaution but overall, she is like a kitten again. They were able to keep her front teeth both on top and bottom but the rest were removed.

After the surgery, they told us that not only did she have stomatitis, she also had severe peridontal disease and TMJ and that cats who are prone to Peridontal disease tend to start around 1 year (which she did). Her quality of life is back up to high and she acts more like a kitten than she did when we first adopted her (not to mention how big she is)

We still don’t give her dry food- her diet is 100% wet food and her food budget is almost as much as our family of four per week but it is 100% worth it to see her play and eat like a healthy kitten.

 

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What is Stomatitis?

Stomatitis is a very painful (people think Autoimmune) disorder where the gums swell up over the teeth. It is said to be an attack on the teeth and the only way to rid a cat of the painful chronic condition is to remove all the teeth. If they leave teeth, or even bone, the condition can come back. Treatment tends to be antibiotics, steroids to reduce the inflammation and pain killers.

“What are signs or symptoms of stomatitis in cats?

Feline stomatitis is a common, painful and life threatening problem in many cats.  It occurs in cats of all breeds and of all ages.  Some breeds such as Himalayans, Persians, and Somalis more commonly develop stomatitis although we also see this condition in many domesticated short and long haired cats as well as in the oriental breeds.

Cats having stomatitis often have bad breath (halitosis).  They also have red and inflammed gums (gingiva).  In time the inflammation spreads from areas adjacent to teeth to areas more distant (back of the throat  or the oropharynx).  In some areas, the gums (gingiva) enlarge and block off areas of the oropharynx.  Eating and  swallowing become difficult and painful for many of these cats.

Many cats with stomatitis also have tooth resorption.  The inflammed gingiva may appear to be growing into a tooth or the tooth may appear to have a hole.  These are painful teeth.” (as per http://www.mypetsdentist.com/feline-stomatitis.pml)

The easiest way for me to type the symptoms, was to copy/paste from one of the many sources I went to to read about the condition when she was first diagnosed. There are tons of websites about Feline Stomatitis.

(http://www.vetstreet.com/care/feline-stomatitis
http://www.vetdentistry.com/feline.html

What is Feline Stomatitis in Cats?

http://www.vet.cornell.edu/FHC/health_information/Gingivostomatitis.cfm)

Those are just a few sites that have information on the condition, a quick search will show many others if you know your cat has stomatitis or suspect them of having it. It is one of the most painful chronic conditions a cat can have and treatment is needed no matter the cost. With the right treatment, they will have a great quality of life but don’t forget, cats don’t show pain as easily as humans do so your cat could be in pain without showing.

 

 

 

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Christmas shopping for 2

We recently finished our Christmas shopping for 2 kids.

We shopped for 2 girls- age 2 and 6. It is bittersweet. On the one hand, Christmas is a magical time- the kids love seeing the lights, decorations and love the cookies and gifts but it’s really hard knowing you should be shopping for a 2, 4 and 6 year old instead of just the 2 and 6.

I look at the toys and wonder what miss Cassie would have wanted, what she would have been into and what she would have had as her security toy. Would she be a huge doll fan? Would she have wanted to play with Barbies or cars? Would she have been interested in sports? Art? Music? All of the above?

What would her personality have been? Would she have been more laid back like the 6 year old or more hyper like the 2 year old?

Where I work in retail, I meet people with kids my kids’ ages all the time. I’m normally fine, but I met a woman with 2 daughters- 4 and 2 and nearly lost it. I went into work a few days ago crying- had been all afternoon that day and finally calmed myself down enough to do my job.

It hurts, it really reminds you what you’re missing out on. The two living kids we have wear us out but we know we would have been able to handle having 2, 4 and 6. Even if we never rested, we know we’d be doing it.

It’s getting easier to handle these holidays and all that without her but milestones still hit me hard. She would have started school this year (preschool) so we would have had 2 out of 3 in school.

One thing i hate hearing is people using loss as an excuse for people acting like assholes during this season. If someone is an ass during the Christmas season, the only excuse is that they’re assholes the rest of the year as well. Losing someone (grandparent, parent, child- it doesn’t matter) is not an excuse to treat people like crap. The holiday season is stressful for most people- being nice, sweet, charitable and kind is the best way to act during this season (and year round). I’ll never understand why people make excuses for bad behavior but then again, it’s not in my nature. I tried to ship something out for my Etsy and the post office worker was an asshole to me. Instead of causing a scene or acting out, I finished paying and just turned around and walked out. It’s likely going to be my absolute last time using that post office, but it’s not my first bad experience with him and there are literally 4 other post offices to choose from in close vicinity.

I think we’re finally done with our shopping. This weekend, we need to go over everything and make sure we have all bases covered. That’s what I like about working in retail, easy shopping all the way up to the day.

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Random thoughts

It’s been cold for the past week. Along with the cold, my arthritis has flared. I normally ignore the flare ups and go on with my life but my spine was inflamed and I pulled a muscle. Today is in the 50s-60s and it’s my first day back down to a pain level of about 4.

The only thing I changed was going from gluten free to a normal diet. My doctor told me to ignore the celiac panel they ran about 5 months ago when I first got ready to go gluten free because that test could have been wrong and to go back on the gf diet. I’m debating going back now vs waiting until after Christmas. I know eating a normal diet with wheat (the reason I went gf- it’s much easier to find specific gf foods than wheat free) is hurting (literally- bad cramping and other digestive issues) but Christmas cookies and all that.. Not sure why it’s an issue now when back in June when my daughter’s gastro specialist first recommended to me to try it for myself and all the way up to this month, it was easy to follow. I’ve only been studying it for 4 years and almost have shopping mastered. Dairy is easier to stay away from, for me. I don’t like milk, some yogurt and cheese is ok in small amounts and I’m not huge on ice cream.

I do know my IBS is almost fully gone (99%) when I cut both out fully. My doctor told me since gluten is the main trigger, it sounds like I’m gluten intolerant and not IBS. Only thing is stress and lack of sleep are also triggers and with a toddler and a child in school, you tend to end up lacking in sleep a lot.