I added commentary in parentheses. Because he just so often needs an interpreter.
Compare last year’s HERE.
Do you like how I blogged every day in November and then haven’t since? I love that about me.
My big goal was to at least blog before January was over. Winning!
My inability to blog mostly stems from having a new born. And no sleep. But beyond that I think I’ve just had so many thoughts tossing around my head that I can’t pin them all down into a post. There have been a few things over the last couple of months that I think are really going to shape my outlook on life for 2014, for good or bad. I think I’ll just try to sum those up here.
1. My sister is getting a divorce. It is a good thing, in the long run. And overdue thing—I have been hoping for it for years now. But it is hard and heartbreaking for both her and her daughters (understatement, because words do not do it justice). And their broken hearts are felt by all the rest of the family. I’ve no desire to co-opt my sister’s pain, or to make her story all about me. I just know that she is just a part of my life and heart that this disruption in her life (although one that I totally welcome) is one that has colored the way I see the world every day. In 2014 I pledge to be grateful for the good relationships in my life, and to dispense with the bad. I will also try to hate my soon to be ex-brother-in-law a little less by the end of the year. *Try* I make no promises, as he is possibly the most despicable human being to walk the earth.
2. In December, one of my cousins committed suicide. I am *still* processing this. My heart stops when Candy Crush tells me I should send her a free life because she hasn’t played in awhile. I find myself going to her Facebook page every couple of days. To see if there is anything new? To go through all of her pictures for the 116th time? I don’t know. I just know that I used to interact with her daily on Facebook, and now there is a void. And browsing through the things she posted there keeps me feeling connected. She is a beautiful, smart, kind, colorful, talented, and loving woman. That someone I love so much felt so hopeless is not something I will ever shake off. This Thanksgiving we discussed getting together. She couldn’t come to my house because of her husband’s work schedule, and I said no to going to her house because we were planning on running a 5K on Thanksgiving morning. Stupid 5K. I will regret that for the rest of my life. And not because I have some misguided notion that I could’ve made a difference or saved her or whatever. But just because it would have been time spent. It would have been more moments with her that I could savor and cherish in her absence. In 2014, I want to miss fewer of those moments with the people I love.
3. I have started taking Zoloft. And I love it. GOD BLESS ZOLOFT. I came to a point in my post-partum depression journey that really felt like losing the battle. All of the things I was doing to keep it at bay were helping, but I was still pretty pitiful. I had been putting off Zoloft because I’d read reports that it can affect breast milk supply – which is something I already struggle with. In the end, I decided it was more important to be a better mother to all three of my children than to provide more milk for one of them. And, as it turns out, the Zoloft DOES seem to have diminished my production of milk. Not a ton, but a noticeable amount. But I don’t regret it. I feel so much better. So much more functional. And so much more at peace with the ways that having a newborn limits my functionality. Thanks to Zoloft, my outlook for 2014 is quite positive. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how my children learn and grow this year. And since I spent most of 2013 in bed being sicker than I’ve been in all my life for months on end… I’ve no doubt 2014 will be an improvement. 2013 can suck it. (But thanks for the new baby.)
4. I started training for my first half marathon. I was just about to do this when I got pregnant with Thing 3. If all goes well, I’ll be running it in April, one year after I would have done it if there were no Thing 3. It will be all the sweeter for both the longing of it, and the fact that Thing 3’s squishy cheeks will be present. I’m excited to get back to myself in 2014.
I don’t really make resolutions, so none of this is about that (except in jest). I just want some positive things for me and mine this year, and am going to do my best to make it work. May you do the same for yours.
Day 30:So grateful that tomorrow is December, the month in which I will spend 2 weeks with my family.
Do these look like an ink blot test to you?
They are not. They are are congressional districts (hover over them to see where). They are gerrymandered districts, to be more precise. Gerrymandering is the practice of drawing district lines to include a certain demographic. This is done, by the party in control of the state, based on voting patterns. The idea is to create districts so that the votes will be easily predictable in elections. The goal is often to create a homogenous district. This can be either to gain a seat for the majority party in that district, or to suppress the vote of that district by compacting the minority votes into it. Boundaries are also sometimes drawn to split up the votes of a minority party. Both parties are guilty of drawing ridiculous boundaries in an effort to secure a congressional seat.
This is really nothing new. Americans having been doing it for nearly two centuries.
But, it has taken its toll. The practice has grown more intense over time, and the benefits of our two party system are getting lost. Long since, the best practice for a politician has been to play to the middle. Most Americans are moderate voters, and so elections were won by appealing to the middle ground between the parties, while offending the base of those parties (especially the affiliate party) as little as possible.
For many congressional seats across the nation, that is just not where and how the battle is waged anymore. Because gerrymandering has secured seats for the majority party—no matter who the politician is that is running for the seat—the real battle takes place in the primaries. If you already know that a district is going to vote Republican, then you’re not worried about the Democrat you’re up against in the final election. Before you get to that point, you’re worried about convincing your party base that you are more Republican than the other option in the primaries.
Congressional politicians have stopped playing to the middle, where most Americans are comfortable with them. (It is where we *need* them. The middle is where compromises happen. The middle is how government gets done. The middle is the whole point of a two party system.) Many of them have even stopped playing to their party bases. Who they are worried about are the voters that show up to vote in the primaries.
SPOLER ALERT: That is almost nobody. Such a small percentage of voters take that initiative, and often the ones that do hold the more extreme, party line views. And as members of Congress worry about reelection, as they are wont to do, that is the small group of people they are most worried about. (Well, they and the people who give them the most money…)
I’ve heard so many people wonder lately why Congress seems so dysfunctional… Why their Congress representative doesn’t seem to represent the interests of the state they are from… Why Congress in general doesn’t seem to have a clue what a majority of the American people want. Gerrymandering is the answer to all of those whys.
There is something we could all do about it, though. We could all become more politically active and show up to make decisions in early primaries and caucuses. If all the moderates opted to pitch in at that point, politicians would have to play to middle again.
Dare to dream.
Day 29: I am grateful that posts on my blog can be backdated, which I will do in the morning so it looks like today.
What? I totally posted this on the 29th. It was the day after Thanksgiving and I wanted to show you this:
He was not thankful that I set him down to take this picture.
Day 28: Today I have much to be grateful for.
This could be a very, very long list. I chose to limit it because ain’t nobody got time for that.
10 Things I am grateful for:
1. My God and my faith.
2. My principles and moral compass.
3. Compassion for myself and others.
4. Husband, to whom I could never express enough gratitude for being the man, husband, and father that he is.
5. My Things. For though they have made me a crazy person, they have taught me what love is.
6. My Parents, to whom I owe my understanding of numbers 1 through 3.
7. My Sister, who has been my life long best friend, closest confidant, biggest support, loudest cheerleader, and shoulder to cry on.
8. My Education, which has helped me to maintain my personhood and identity outside of motherhood.
9. Good Friends, in both real life and online. I have had the pleasure of getting to know some of *the* most incredible people, and they have shaped me.
10. Good Books, this is my greatest pleasure in leisure time.
Happy Thanksgiving, Friends!
Day 27: I am grateful for good customer service. It is just always awesome when people are kind.
This is long overdue. I’m gonna tell my whole hyperemesis (HG) story. All three pregnancies. You can find bits and pieces of it elsewhere on my blog, but I really want it to all be in one place. I often come across people who ask about it—especially when one of my friends gets pregnant and finds herself facing it—and I think it would be handy for me to put it all in one spot so that I can say, “Here. Read this.” While HG is the same in a lot of ways for the women who deal with it, there is much of it that ends up being very personal. So, keep in mind that this is *my* story and not necessarily a hallmark for HG. Also be warned I’m about to talk about vomiting a whole lot. It is kind of gross.
TL;DR: I had HG three times, it got worse each time, it sucked, it was depressing, it is the hardest thing I will ever have to do, and after Thing 3 was born I had a tubal ligation.
This is too long to edit. Imma fix the typos later, after everyone points them out to me.
I struggled with infertility for about three years before getting pregnant with Thing 1. While this is isn’t the conversation to go into detail about that trial, it does come to play here. Because I was *so* excited to be pregnant. I’d been dreaming for years about the glowing and the bumps and the internal nudges and the ultrasounds and the prenatal yoga… When I finally got pregnant (and didn’t miscarry) I was overjoyed. I was totally not prepared mentally to deal with being miserable while pregnant. I felt cheated. I didn’t really get to relish it; I couldn’t wait for it to be over.
That first pregnancy actually started off well enough. I had some nausea, but generally felt well enough in throughout the afternoon and evening to eat a full diet. I even gained some weight in the first month. It was around 10 weeks that things got bad. Really bad. We went deep sea fishing with some friends and I got sea sick. SO sea sick. And when we got off the boat… I didn’t stop being sea sick. I remember eating dinner later that day… trying to eat dinner… and thinking I just needed a nap and this sea sickness would wear off. It was around 3 or 4 days later that I realized that was happening. I was vomiting. A lot. My weight was dropping, I couldn’t drink water, and the Oh! the smells. My olfactory senses went nuts.
I was seeing a midwife at a birthing center and I called to tell her I thought something was wrong. I was just so sick. She was, quite frankly, pretty dismissive. Women get sick in pregnancy, she said. It is a sign of a healthy pregnancy, she said. But I DID NOT feel healthy. This went on for about a month. At office visits and through phone calls I tried to explain to her that something was abnormal, but to no avail. I actually started to think that maybe I was just being a wimp. I knew my mom had been super sick for her first pregnancy, so maybe this was just a thing. Throughout that month I kept working and trying to go about my daily life, but it was becoming increasingly difficult in the small office I worked in to hide the fact that I was going to the bathroom every 15 minutes to puke. It was miserable.
And people kept giving me advice. Crackers, ginger, teas, vitamin B, seabands… None of these things worked. Much of them made me feel worse.
Finally, one night at about 14 weeks had a discovery. I’d been up most of the night dry heaving, puking bile, and then at around 2am, blood. That was the last straw for me. I thought, “I’m not just being a sissy. This is NOT normal.” So, I got on the interwebs and started consulting Dr. Google. I even remember the words I searched for: “excessive vomiting in pregnancy”. The first it was www.helpher.org. That is the moment I first learned the term hyperemesis gravidarum. I read through the list of symptoms and realized I had a real “thing”. It is actually a relief to know you have a “thing,” ya know?
I called my midwife in the morning and told her about the vomiting of blood. I was persistent this time, armed with the knowledge I’d found on the internet the night before. She prescribed Phenergan suppositories. Husband went straight to the pharmacy to get them and I “took” one right away. I slept for three hours and woke up sick. It made me drowsy, but otherwise had no effect. That evening, because I hadn’t been able to keep in water down in nearly 24 hours, Husband took me to the E.R. Here I was able to talk to the OB on call about hyperemesis. They pumped full of fluids and gave me Zofran and sent me home. Blessed Zofran!! This drug worked for me so much better than the Phenergan. Within a few days I really started to feel more normal. I dealt with nausea on and off for the rest of my pregnancy, but I was able to eat normally and gain weight (as long as I avoided tomato products. For some reason Thing 1 wanted nothing to do with tomato products while in utero.) The day after the E.R. visit I called the midwife and told her about how much better Zofran was making me feel. She agreed to keep renewing that prescription for me. However, it was not long after that when we discovered I also get gestational diabetes. Since it is Florida law that midwives can’t oversee high risk pregnancies, and I now had two high risk conditions, I transferred to an OB who was familiar with high risk cases. After being with her for a couple of weeks, I realized I should have done that as soon as I found out about HG. My midwife clearly hadn’t had the knowledge she needed to really care for me, and I got much, much better care with the OB. (I’m not anti-midwife. They are just not always appropriate in every case.)
All in all, this was the easiest of my pregnancies. The third trimester was kind of awesome, and I even got to do some of that prenatal yoga I had been so looking forward to. I took Zofran (along with Unisom and B6 at the advice of the OB – that also really helped) until the day that Thing 1 was born. The sickness went away within hours of his birth, and the euphoria of seeing his face and holding him took over. (Until the PPD set in, but that is a whole other thing.)
Fast forward to about a year later when Thing 1 is growing from baby to little boy, and Husband and I were talking about having another child. Knowing now that what my mom had experienced was HG in her first pregnancy, and that she was fine for the rest of them, made me hopeful that I would have a more normal pregnancy this time around.
I didn’t. It was worse.
We were pleasantly surprised that I got pregnant more quickly this time. It only took a few months (I think because I’d discovered the source of my infertility and addressed it). I started to get sick around 6 weeks this time. As soon as I could get in to see the doctor I got a prescription for Zofran. However, I had different insurance this time around, and it wouldn’t cover the Zofran. Correction, it would only cover so much of it. I was allowed something like 11 pills a month. Since I needed to take 4 a day, it wasn’t very helpful. We tried some other medications that the insurance would cover: Reglan, Phenergan, and Compazine. The Reglan actually did make me feel better, but came with some nasty anxiety inducing side effects that, believe it or not, were WORSE than the nausea. I could not keep taking that.
It was miserable. Knowing that there was a drug out there that would help me to feel better, but not having access to it, was absolute torture. I wasn’t eating anything but rice. I couldn’t drink water at all. I sipped soda water, but after awhile even that made me feel gross. I think I was just tired of throwing it up. Carbonation is not alluring on the second pass. I would go days at a time without drinking anything. I was going into the E.R two or three times a week to get fluids. They knew me. It was a thing. My OB went to bat for me at the insurance company, pointing out to the rep she spoke with that they were paying for several ER trips a week, and perhaps it would just be cheaper for them to give me the Zofran.
It was about 4 months into the pregnancy that I made the most awesome discovery. Zofran, which is an incredibly expensive drug even in its generic form, was significantly cheaper at Costco than at other pharmacies. Significantly. It was cheap enough that we could fit it into our budget, and I started taking it again. Things were much better for the rest of the 2nd trimester and then into the 3rd. Not normal. I still felt crappy, and was so tired all the time… but I was able to generally eat and and drink and keep myself out of the ER. I relapsed in the 3rd trimester, and lost the weight I managed to gain in the 2nd trimester, but it was still nothing as bad as the first trimester wherein I’d lost something like 11% of my body weight. I stayed medicated until Thing 2 was born, and as before was better within hours from delivery.
I think the 2nd pregnancy was a bit more depressing than the first, because the sickness stayed around for a longer duration. My days were filled with just trying to not be sick long enough to take care of Thing 1. I kept him feed, clean, and occupied by moving as little as possible. This meant we spent much of our days cuddled on the couch reading, coloring, or watching TV. I felt sad for him, because a 1 year old should have more of a life, but there was little else I could do. I reached out for help from people at church, but got nothing more than a perfunctory monthly visit where in I was asked how I was doing, and was ignored when the answer was anything but “fine”. Husband was a super star through out all of my pregnancies, but he was also writing a dissertation and finishing his PhD. It was a rough time for me.
When it was over, I decided I wouldn’t have any more children. Since it seemed hyperemesis would visit me each time, I opted for being satisfied with the two beautiful boys I had.
We were going with natural family planning. I’ve yet to met a birth control method that didn’t totally mess me up. Migraines, mood swings, weight fluctuation, blah, blah, blah… I wasn’t terribly concerned about not using birth control though, because I’d had such trouble getting pregnant in the past. But, lo and behold…
I didn’t even get the opportunity to hope my third pregnancy would be different. I realized I was pregnant because I was sick. It hit early (before I even missed a period) and it hit hard. Things were worse this time by a long shot. The OBs in my area have this crazy standard of not seeing patients before 12 weeks, and I was pretty desperate at about 6 weeks. I took a trip to the ER, which is such a pain because the closest one with OBs on staff is an hour away. But, I was able to talk that doctor into giving me enough Zofran to make it to my first appointment… which I actually got around 9 weeks because I called and begged a nurse who put me on the schedule.
Things were still pretty bad this time around. The Zofran didn’t work as well as it had in the past (although I’d certainly be much worse without it) and I tried a whole other litany of things to keep myself stable. At one point I was taking four different meds. It worked enough. I was able to eat and drink… as long as I stayed in bed. When I would get up and move around and try to do real life things I would lose the ability to keep food and drink down. So, I can sum up this last experience with pregnancy as 9 months of laying in bed trying not to feel sick but feeling sick anyway. I played on Facebook a lot.
There is just not any good way to describe what it is like. I don’t know if I can do it any sort of justice. It is depressing. Being that sick for that long is… depressing. It is an understatement, but it is all that I’ve got. My stints with hyperemesis has given me an appreciate for people who deal with chronic illness that will never go away. Because I always knew that eventually mine would.
Because I wanted a sure way to not face that again, I opted for a tubal ligation after this last pregnancy. In the end, I’m glad it happened because I am so in love with Thing 3. But, I’m not doing it again. The thing that really gets me about the decision, though, is that hyperemesis made it. I’m not sure how many kids I would have decided to have on my own. Probably just the three because I’m not sure I can handle any more. I seriously lack the patience for it But, in the end I made that decision because gestating really sucks for me.
So, that’s it. If you read the whole thing, bless your heart.