All Consuming


Well, I’ve hit 34 weeks! It’s an amazing milestone considering where we have come from.  When I look back on the last 34 weeks I am astonished at just how blessed I am.  This miracle baby that was naturally conceived (something that does not come easy for my body) and has held on strong ever since.  This body of mine that really fights against pregnancy has held on as well.

Nothing short of a miracle.

Now, after hitting 34 weeks and having the danger of bringing a tiny baby into the world pass I am definitely getting impatient to meet this little one.  My body is again in pain most of the time.  My preterm symptoms are out of control which makes me miserable most of the time.  The changing of the weather is making me antsy to get outside.  The ever growing state of my body is getting uncomfortable.  Sleep has disappeared from my life.  My toddler needs more time outside, more interaction with little ones but I fear leaving the house too often with him in case something happens and I need to get to the hospital fast so he’s often stuck indoors.

So as grateful as I am, I am also ready to hold this little one in my arms.

I expected this pregnancy to be more difficult than my last but honestly I didn’t expect it to be so consuming.  I knew I would likely have a few more appointments but the amount I have had with several different specialties has been crazy.  I thought it would be harder on my body but I didn’t expect my body to be in such pain from 8 weeks on.  I thought I would have an early delivery but I didn’t think I would have so many scares so early on and not to mention hospitalizations.  I knew I’d have to be done work earlier than before but I never expected to be on modified rest for more than 10 weeks.

Usually it’s the first pregnancy that consumes your mind and life, getting ready for your first little one tends to have that effect.  I’ve heard second pregnancies aren’t so consuming because you are running after a toddler and busy already being a mom rather than dreaming about it.  For me the opposite has been true.  This pregnancy has been completely all consuming, it has taken over every aspect of my life.  It’s been what I talk about, what people want to talk about and what I think about the majority of the day.  I analyze every pain and how I’m feeling several times a day and wonder if I need to be checked or not.  I’ve had more doctors examine me than I’d like to admit.

I’m just over it.

I’m ready to start the challenge of mothering two.   I’m ready to have my body back, to start the very long process of healing it.  I’m ready to meet this miracle baby of mine.

Here’s hoping it happens soon! If it doesn’t, 4 weeks is sure to fly by :).

At Home on Modified Rest

Well, I’ve been home since Monday and today’s only Friday.  Not even a full week at home and the learning curve to this new temporary life is steep.  I was sent home on “moderately reduced activity” which is a drastic difference to how I was living before being hospitalized, but still has enough freedom that I’m not just laying down all day long.  The guidelines are: resting 3x3hrs/day, 10 minutes or less of walking, less than 20 minutes on feet at one time, light house duties (nothing that involves any type of strain so no lifting laundry or vacuuming etc), limited stair climbing, no looking after toddlers.

Here’s the thing though, although I try my best to follow these guidelines sometimes I find myself wandering the house just “tidying” up and before I know it 45 minutes have passed.  Then I pay for it the rest of the day, I get crampy and start contracting and generally feel terrible.  Even leaving the house is a feat.  On Wednesday I had to drop off some papers for my short term disability, then we went to the library to return some books and let Ezekiel play, then we picked up some groceries (I order online and they shop, bag and deliver to my car while I sit in the car).  Total time on my feet was less than 15 minutes, and total time out of the house was about 1.5hrs and by the time I got home I felt terrible.  It’s discouraging that I no longer am just doing things to be cautious, I’m actually on these restrictions because without them I’d have a micro-premie in the NICU for months.  Earlier in my pregnancy I went off 12 hr shifts and night shifts extremely early (relative to the “norm” on the unit) because it was hard on my body and I was being cautious.  I then went on modified duties and sat at a desk (less than two weeks before being hospitalized), again because I was being cautious but now it’s just plain necessary to be resting for almost the entire day.  A hard pill to swallow.   I think it’s taken this long for me to figure it out.  Of course I knew it but I just had to “get it,” you know?  It’s amazing that 12 days ago I was living normally, cleaning my house, cooking, doing laundry and grocery shopping all in the same day and today I literally can’t do any of those things for more than a few minutes and I’m out for the day.

I’m doing my best to stay out of the hospital, and I’ll have to become more rigid with my time on my feet.  Maybe I’ll have to set a timer every time I get up to do something.  I’m trying to keep myself busy with projects that can be done while sitting.  I’ll write a post about that later on.  Honestly though the days seem to fly, when Ezekiel’s awake it’s all about him.  We read, build with blocks, play music and he dances, we do puzzles, colour and then it’s nap time.  I can’t imagine doing this without my mom here though, she’s doing all the cooking, cleaning, lifting, laundering and anything that’s just too much for me.  Some people don’t have that luxury and it would be a thousand times harder than it is for me.  So I’m trying to stay positive and count my blessings.  It’s really not all that bad, I get an extra 3 months (fingers crossed) at home with my little guy before we have a new addition and his world is turned upside down.  I’m doing my best to make the most of it because I won’t get these days back.

I’ll take all the suggestions for things to do while resting! Also all the prayers that I get to rest for 3 more months!

Letting go…

I am now 23 weeks pregnant and some things have changed for the better.  All of my physical ailments are still present and mostly worse – so no good change there.  I was reflecting this morning how much this pregnancy has humbled me.  My fantasy for my second pregnancy before becoming pregnant was that I would be a beacon of health, that I would be in tip top shape and sail through a second pregnancy.  However, this pregnancy has been the exact opposite.  I went into it still not healthy from my months of health issues that were happening this past year (that are still not figured out).  My first trimester consisted of constant nausea and exhaustion resulting in me sleeping the majority of my free time away.  My joint pain started extremely early at 8 weeks and has only progressed and worsened, resulting in me being unable to do much in terms of physical activity.  Simple tasks like laundry, house cleaning, grocery shopping or errand running bring on types of pain I didn’t know existed.

So, this pregnancy is not what I had imagined, yet it is teaching me and pulling me in ways that I really needed.  I am learning that despite what I think I am not an island to my own.  I cannot possibly do everything by myself, I truly need a village.  I have had to ask for help and accept my limitations so much and so early on.  I have to rely on my husband to do things like take out the garbage and carry the laundry up and down the stairs.  He’s had to make and clean up meals far more than he’s used to.  I have had to ask for help from all of my physicians – suggestions on how to just live with a little bit of quality of life (and they have been excellent).  I have had to sit down with my manager numerous times and ask for modifications in my work – schedule and duties and she has done it willingly and with so much grace and understanding.  I have had to lean on God like I haven’t had to in so long (this is really good for me).  When someone is over and they ask if they can help I am eager to pass off tasks instead of decline and do it myself.  I have had to settle for “good enough” instead of “perfect” when it comes to my house cleanliness.

So no, this pregnancy is so very far from what I desired and dreamt about but it is absolutely everything I need in my life right now.  It’s so easy for me to get wrapped up in accomplishing everything alone, I’m an independent person through and through.  This year has been a full year of struggling with my health and it’s taken this pregnancy for me to let go of the guilt and disappointment of it all.  Of my health plummeting and with it my weight increasing and activity decreasing, of not being able to accomplish everything I want to each day because of pain and exhaustion, of struggling financially because I can’t work over full time like I did in 2015.  I’m letting it all go and embracing the community of people that surrounds me that desires to help me.

We all need a community to lean on and I’m so very thankful for mine.

20 weeks!


In some ways I can’t believe it has been 20 weeks, and in other ways I can’t believe it’s only been 20 weeks! If this last week is any indication it seems the last 18 weeks are not going to be a downward journey but rather I will continue to travel uphill with a new struggle each day/week.  Again in a lot of ways I’m completely 100% ok with this, and I really hope that I do get to travel 18 more weeks with this little babe in my belly.  Every day is worth it totally and completely.  In other ways I just wish some circumstances were easier for me to travel in.

The last two weeks have me facing the very real reality that I will not be able to work to 36 weeks again like I did when I was pregnant with Ezekiel.  At 20 weeks pregnant I’m finding it hard to get through small day to day tasks let alone getting through a work day (even an 8 hr work day).  I’ve been having abdominal pains that no one can figure out, and on top of that if I’m up and moving too much I feel the heaviness in my uterus and the irritability that causes it.  These things scare me to some degree considering my labor with Ezekiel was termed a “silent labor” and the only reason I was at the hospital was because I thought I was being extra cautious.  I constantly wonder what next time will bring – will it be obvious or will it happen without my knowledge again? What will the signs be? How cautious do I really have to be?

My physicians are not worried about premature labor at this point, and I am partially relieved about that and partially not relieved considering they weren’t concerned about premature labor last time either and I ended up having an intubated late term premie in the NICU.  They are encouraging me to work less and even stop working, and I started this pregnancy knowing that I was going to push back on that quite a bit.  However, I am now humbly realizing that I am the expert on my body and my body is sending me very clear signals that it’s almost time to stop.  The pain in my joints is increasing with each day, the pain in my lower abdomen as well as right side gets worse with increased activity and now my chronic back pain that was well controlled is again out of control.

Here’s the dilemma – money.

I hate that.  I hate that money has enough control to make this decision one of the most difficult.  I’ve been praying for wisdom in each decision and I’m struggling with this one.  I’ve secured some finances so that if I have to stop working suddenly we can still make ends meet – but that just puts me in more debt, something I was really hoping to have whittled down by the time this little one came.

Yet money is just money.  If I get back to a Kingdom mindset (again, trying really hard with this one), then I know that the money that passes through my hands is not mine but graciously given to me by God.  So if it’s not mine to start with and if He’s provided me with everything I need to this point it stands to reason that this small portion of my life will also be taken care of.  In the grand scheme of things this is just a small part of life, and we will get through it and it will all be ok in the end regardless of what that looks like.

I wish that made the decision easier…..

Taking Back Control

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I’ve been thinking a lot today about living with a chronic illness and/or chronic pain.  I bet there’s thousands upon thousands of blog posts on this subject but I process best through writing and so I will add my few words to the millions already written.  Grab a coffee with me and keep reading if you’re interested :).

Why this post today?  Well I guess it’s because the last couple days I’ve been struggling more with my energy and so I’ve been wondering why.  I’ve gone through the mental list of possible reasons and in the end I think it’s just what comes with the territory of chronic illness – and you know, that’s OK.  I’ve come to the conclusion that there will always be ups and downs but I really think living well through all of it requires consistency, persistence, and a whole lot of grace.

I’m not quiet about my medical conditions/history, in fact I’m probably annoyingly verbal about it.  Yet if you were to meet me and spend a week with me and if I were not to verbalize anything you would never know that I have any sort of condition (granted you could probably pick up on the twisted back if you were really paying attention).  In fact I would have never ever given myself a label of “chronic” anything up until a couple years ago.  I suppose I never labelled anything until I was trying to conceive and was advised to stop taking my NSAID’s to boost my chances.  In that moment I began to understand that I did in fact suffer from chronic pain and had done so for so many years that I can’t remember a time without pain.  Despite the chronic aspect of my pain I continued to live well and it really didn’t impact much of anything in my life.

Fast forward to the last 7 months.

I was just coming out of my full time working momma fog and began to realize that I had been feeling significantly unwell.  I’ve already wrote about my health struggles but it’s only recently that I have accepted that this too could very well be a chronic thing.  The thing is, it’s only the last 4-6 weeks that I’ve began feeling well again despite my health issues.  I feel as though I’m finally rising above the fog and now that every serious scenario has been ruled out I can finally begin to gain control again.  See, in the midst of all of this I had allowed myself to spiral downwards in a number of ways.  I felt out of control of my health as a whole and because of that I began to feel out of control of other areas of my life – spiritually, mentally, and financially.  I am so thankful for amazing physicians who allowed me to find solutions – even if they are just helping symptoms at this point – so that I could be lifted out of the dizzy fog and back onto solid ground.

A couple weeks ago I made the conscious decision that I was now going to gain back some control.  Obviously I know I’m never fully in control but there are always steps we can take to live well and live responsibly in a way that benefits our own lives and therefore the lives around us.  The hard part is realizing that it is our responsibility to live well, and living well always takes a certain amount of effort and consistency.  I know from past experience that it is very possible to live well despite chronic illness and pain and I am determined to get back to that point.  Here’s what I’m doing to get to that point:

Physical

  • Daily walking – this means getting up as early as 0445 in the morning and walking for a minimum of 30 minutes as well as getting out for walks during the day.  There’s not a lot I can do safely in terms of exercise but walking is easy, cheap and safe.
  • 3x/week body weight exercise – a lot of the time this is a very short amount of time and crammed into the daily routines of life.  It looks like dance parties with my son incorporating squats, planks, push-ups etc, or cooking supper while doing squats, or planking during Ezekiel’s bath time.
  • Eating fresh and eating green – having the garden has helped a lot with this part and I’m not being strict yet because I know it will be a natural evolution of life but I am trying to be far more conscious of what goes into my mouth.

Mental

  • Podcasts – I’ve been listening to a lot of health and wellness podcasts that have greatly enhanced my mental health.  I love learning but rarely have time to do new learning so this is something that’s easy to do while walking and driving.
  • Sleep – I’ve been getting to bed at a consistent time and waking at a consistent time.
  • Walking and exercise also contributes to mental wellness.

Spiritual

  • Meditation – I’ve committed to a daily meditation using an app.  I don’t outline a specific amount of time or what I want to accomplish – all of that will come with practice.

Financially

  • Keep the credit cards at home – I’ve taken them out of my wallet and put them away in a drawer.  I don’t do much online shopping so that’s not even a temptation for me but I consistently have been using my credit cards when I run out of cash and then paying them off with my pay cheques instead of just keeping myself accountable to the budget.  I’m determined to be credit card debt free in the next few months so that I can focus on paying student loans/debts.  The easiest way to get rid of the temptation is to remove it all together.
  • Strict grocery budget – I spend a ridiculous amount of money on food.  So I’ve instituted a strict grocery budget and I’m following it by using a calculator in the grocery store which helps me to say “no” to those extra items that I don’t really need but think I want.  When I go to the farmers market I take only the amount of cash left over from the grocery store and leave my wallet in the car so I’m not tempted to by anything extra.
  • Drink drip coffee – this is huge for me guys.  This was the hardest one to come to terms with.  If I have some extra money in the budget I’ll buy my special coffee but otherwise I’ll drink the drip coffee that my husband drinks.

There are sacrifices that need to be made but I know that these small sacrifices now will reap amazing rewards when it comes to living well and especially living well with chronic illnesses and pain.  Each part of our lives are intertwined and when one part is suffering the other parts are sure to follow which is why I’m addressing each area of my life in order to gain back wellness.

The end goal is to be in optimal health before getting pregnant with our next child and I’m determined to reach that goal.

 

Garden Update June 26

I’ve been waiting all day to be able to post this.  I literally had these photos done by 730 this morning and here it is 1030 at night when I should be sleeping.  It’s been a good day but a day that has been full of family and friends being together and the in between has been time to sit and just be.  So I may pay for this in the morning but I really wanted to get this update up.

The garden is thriving and I couldn’t be happier.  We are now enjoying garden goodies daily.  One of my regrets is not planting more lettuce earlier on but I will be planting more this week.

Let’s start in the big garden, the tomatoes are doing lovely.  I must admit though, they are now getting to the point of growing like crazy and I’m a little overwhelmed with the upkeep.  I thought I’d be able to do weekly up keeping but I’m finding it now has to be done every few days.  I can’t complain though, they have some beautiful looking tomatoes on them!

 

I have thinned everything out to the best of my ability and now it’s just weeding and harvesting to do.  One variety of carrot did really well, the other is pretty sparse.  The seeds were a few years old so that’s likely why.  My terrible planting is really evident by how much (or little) space is between things.  I’ll be pulling all the radishes this week.  We aren’t huge radish eaters so I didn’t plant a lot but what I did plant has done really well.  I’m actually really impressed because I’ve tried to grow them several times with no luck.  The three varieties of lettuce I tried growing did absolutely nothing – there is some romaine growing though.  In the place of the radishes and where the lettuce didn’t grow I’ll be planting a mixed variety of lettuce which I have been growing in a container and we really like.  I’m not sure how the beets are doing, but judging by their tops I think they are ok.  The spinach and kale are doing really great, I did a big harvest today which is almost gone already, we are eating greens like crazy lately.

Now the smaller garden:

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The butternut squash plants are struggling, I’m not sure if I let them grow too long in small pots before planting them.  I’m going to pick up a plant tonic to try out and see if that makes them happier.

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The spaghetti squash, zucchini’s, and cucumbers are doing well though:

The pumpkin seeds I thought were duds finally sprouted.  I doubt anything will produce from them but I’m willing to wait and see.

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The flowers are doing well other than the Violas which I’m pretty sure never germinated, there are some plants growing there that I’m almost positive are just weeds but I can’t pull them just in case!

The greenhouse gardens are doing well.  Everything is coming up, some more slowly than others but I have high hopes.  I ended up deadheading the snapdragons after this photo.

The greenhouse plants seem to be doing well – the peppers especially.  The tomatoes I’m not sure about, one of them seems to just be shooting high with very little branches.  I’m interested to see if it produces much.  I’m really excited about the amount of blooms starting on the habanero’s and there’s a few peppers growing already.

The deck tomatoes are doing so much better than I expected and our container strawberries started to really produce!

Now it’s way past my bedtime and 5am is going to come quickly! I have some posts brewing in the back of my mind so I hope to get some time to jot those down.  For now I’ll just say see you next week! If you have a garden blog please share it with me, I’m obsessed with browsing gardens 🙂

Ciao friends!

Loving Myself

  
Almost two years ago I had reached the lowest weight of my adult (and I think adolescent life) and I felt great! Fast forward through returning to work, several stressful situations, poor tracking of food and supreme lack of activity and now my most current health issues and I am 20 lbs heavier and not feeling great at all.

It’s not all about the weight, although I’d like to lose at least 10-15lbs of what I’ve gained, it’s more about how I feel BECAUSE of the weight.  It’s thoughts that go through my head, the discouragement I feel because I feel like I’ve failed myself.  Today I spent a full day on myself, learning to love myself the way I am, learning to be comfortable in my own skin despite what the scale says.

The thing is, is that I’ve gained the weight and punished myself by not allowing myself to buy clothes that I feel comfortable in.  The clothes I wear are wearable but definitely not comfortable and I kept promising myself that once I lost some weight then I’d be able to buy a few more items of clothing.  It’s been several months with no budging on the scale (I haven’t been trying at all), and although I do intend to change that in the next few months I am done punishing myself.  This morning I spent the entire morning just browsing the mall, trying on clothes and being so intentional with what I purchased.  Only a few items and only things that I was absolutely comfortable wearing.  I was so exhausted by the end of it but I came home excited about those items and ready to take on the next few months of intentional eating and activity.

After I returned home I decided that instead of driving to pick up Ezekiel from the Dayhome that I would walk the 2.7 km to get him.  It was so nice to just walk alone, contemplating life and enjoying the gorgeous weather.  We walked slowly back home stopping at the store and stopping to let him explore the flowers, trees, ants and anything else he was curious about.  I’m sore all over and I’m more tired than I’ve been in a while but I’m satisfied knowing that today I’ve taken one step closer to loving myself as I am.

Two summers ago I got in the habit of a daily walk or two usually at least 4-5 km in length and that’s really all I did for activity but that’s all it took to make me feel well.  I intend to get back to that place, of course daily walks on a 12hr work day aren’t going to be possible but the days in between will be full of walks and taking time out of the day for activity instead of worrying about the house and the laundry.