Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

  • Pregnancy Survival Kit

    Date: 2015.01.21 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Me, Pregnancy, Style | Response: 5

    This is my third pregnancy, which means I may finally be starting to fall into that “experienced” category. This time with twins has been a little different though. 18 solid weeks of morning sickness made me think I’d never happily eat food again, but for once in my life I was encouraged to eat anything I thought I could keep down. After fighting NOT to gain too much weight with Norah, I’ve been amazed that everything I eat this time seems to go straight to the babies – though it also probably helps that, for the most part, I’ve been eating much healthier this time (please ignore that Ben & Jerry’s Greek frozen yogurt that stays in stock in my freezer).

    I’ve also been getting much bigger much, much faster this time around (duh).

    I’m going to say something that may make you want to punch me. I don’t show my pregnancies quickly and I don’t usually get very big. I’m tall and there is a lot of room for those babies to expand before they push outward. With Sarah I was extremely disappointed that I didn’t actually look pregnant until I was 8 months along. With Norah it happened much faster and I got much rounder, but I never got gigantic. Even with the twins, I was about 22 weeks before I had a bump that made people start to wonder. But then, for Christmas this year, I got a real, live, round baby bump – and I was really excited about it.

    But, as these things generally go, with two babies I’ve started expanding very quickly. It’s a good thing! After all it means they are both big and healthy and growing like they should. They are weighing in at nearly two pounds a piece now and tightly snuggled up together, lovingly kicking each other in the heads.

    What I didn’t realize was what this would mean for me. My skin started to hurt! I would get home in the evenings and alternate between wanting to scratch it off and wanting to put ice packs on it. My pelvis felt heavy and walking around for more than 15 minutes slowly started to become uncomfortable. Old scar tissue from past surgeries suddenly started to burn. My sciatic nerve started to rage, leg and foot cramps set in every night and, worst of all, being on my feet for more than 30 minutes started to mean dizziness and near black outs.  I had three close scrapes with nearly passing out after grocery trips followed by sessions of standing and cooking.

    I had some of those problems with my past pregnancies, but never until the third trimester. When I mentioned this to the high-risk doctor, he told me the combined weight of the twins was equivalent to a third trimester pregnancy of a single baby. So it made sense, but that didn’t make it any easier.

    So, what to do? Well, after talking to several friends and doing some research, I found some things that have helped me tremendously.

    1. My friend Kate makes and sells body butter locally. Coven is made from all natural products, including the all-important coconut oil. Plus, it smells like heaven. I started putting it on my belly every night after my shower, paying special attention to the spots where my skin really hurt. And wouldn’t you know it, within two days most of the stretching pain was gone. It also smells like blood oranges, one of my husband’s and my favorite scents. He loves it when I put it on and climb in bed. ($18 You can buy it locally in Shreveport at Agora Borealis, or it’s available by emailing Kate at zombeecandle@gmail.com)
    2. Leg and foot cramps have been especially rough this time. I hear they make oral medication to help with this, and in the past I’ve even gotten on oral magnesium supplements to help ease the pain. Recently though, my friend Cassie introduced me to magnesium spray that you apply to the cramping area and rub into your skin. My only complaint is that it stings a little when you first apply it, but when it gets into the muscle, all cramping stops. Say hello to a night of sleep uninterrupted by leg cramps (now if only something like that would work on my bladder…) (Dr. Barbara Hendel’s Magnesium Oil From the Ancient Zechstein Sea 8 fl oz $12.79 available at amazon.com).
    3. Support. Why am I always so stubborn about wearing this? They make what is essentially a bra for your belly and back and it relieves almost all of my pelvic and sciatic pain. I take it off to eat so I can expand comfortably, then put that sucker back on. It’s amazing. ($38.99 at motherhood.com)
    4. Shoes. I’ve taken to wearing what I affectionately dub as my “old lady shoes” almost every day. I have had these things forever and they have the most comfortable, thick soles on the planet. I have them in black so I can wear them to work and my pants mostly cover them up so they don’t stick out like sore thumbs. These combined with the belly support have made being on my feet with the kids constantly much better. (Saucony Originals  Jazz Sneaker $40 at amazon.com) I’ll take a pair in every color, please.

    Unfortunately there’s not a whole lot I can do for that lightheaded business except chug water and sit down every so often. I’m lucky I can mostly sit at work, but chasing two kids at home makes that whole sitting thing tough. My husband has been a great help, switching laundry loads out (after all, I’ve lost my ability to bend at the middle), cooking dinner, carrying kiddos and generally being a great reminder to sit down and rest already – after all, I don’t want to get landed on bed rest.

    We still have about 11 or so weeks to go (hopefully!) with lots more belly expansion on the way, but we can do it!

  • The Retreat

    Date: 2015.01.12 | Category: Family, Health, Holidays, Life, Love, Mark, Me, OMG YAY!, Travel | Response: 2

    My husband is notoriously difficult to shop for.  He likes tools… none of which I could even begin to pick out.

    Leading up to Christmas this year, we were beginning to prepare our three bedroom house for the addition of two more people. We have been cleaning out and purging what we can to make room. Everything has been attacked: from the girls’ rooms, to our closet, to our garage and office. We still have a way to go, but we are making room.

    So, for Christmas this year, I decided to do a little something different for Mark. I had read several blog posts and talked to a few people about the importance of setting aside time specifically for you and your spouse. It’s so incredibly hard to do with small children. Their needs always come first, and with both of us working full time, we feel like we should spend all of our free time with our children. And by the time bedtime rolls around, we are either both working some more, or retreating to our own selfish creature comforts.

    So, this year for Christmas, I decided to give Mark a retreat: a night away from everything dedicated to just the two of us. I made sure the girls would have a place to stay overnight with their Nana, then I booked a night at a Bed and Breakfast in Natchitoches. It was far enough out of town where we would be going away, but close enough that we could easily get back home if we needed to.

    I put a lot of research into where we would stay and eat during our short getaway, and even wrote and illustrated (with crayons!) a poem to give to him on Christmas Eve.

    This past Friday was the big day. After a week back of trying to get the girls back into their post-Christmas routine, we were ready. We counted down the days, then the hours.

    At go time, we drove down to Natchitoches to Queen Anne Bed and Breakfast.

    This place was AMAZING. It was an old house owned by a Civil War veteran. After being handed down to family members through the years, the couple who own it now bought it and completely renovated it. There are several gorgeous rooms to stay in, each with their own unique and beautiful features. I opted for the Garden Room with the giant bed and jacuzzi tub (of course). Because it was their off season, we were the only ones there, and we had the whole place to ourselves.

    After bringing our bag in, we headed out to dinner. I polled Facebook, and learned that one of the newer restaurants, Maglieaux’s on the Cane, was supposed to be delicious. Mark put all the planning in my hands, and we were both so pleased with our candlelit Louisiana seafood dinner. We had crawfish cornbread, Caesar salads, seafood stuffed mushrooms and chicken, and white chocolate bread pudding. Every single course was perfect. And, best of all, we got to sit and eat without having to feed anyone else or cut anyone’s food up. Win!

    Being the old homebodies that we are, we left dinner and went straight back to our room (after stopping by their kitchen for a couple of complimentary drinks). You know how most of the time staying in a bed besides your own isn’t all that great? Well this bed was lush. King-sized, pillow-topped, with tons of pillows. And that jacuzzi tub! I don’t think I would have gotten out of it ever if we didn’t have a check out time.

    I was so thrilled that I could stay up as late as I wanted with no repercussions… but fell asleep at 10:30 anyway, because that bed.

    We slept until 7:30 the next morning and got to wake up, lounge around and talk without anyone crawling in between us or digging their cold little toenails into our legs.

    Breakfast was served in the dining room at 8:30, and we wandered down to the kindest lady who was prepping a huge breakfast just for the two of us. The china was finely set, the coffee and juice were amazing, and oh. that. food.


    Raspberry croissant bread pudding for first course breakfast? Yes, please!

    The second course was Southwestern style and included eggs, grits, tomatoes and an English muffin. Later, when I asked Mark what his favorite part of the getaway was, he immediately and without hesitation said BREAKFAST.

    Following breakfast we checked out and strolled a little down by the Cane River and through downtown before heading back.

    That trip was more than I hoped it would be. We (mostly) put away technology, and just spent time completely relaxing and enjoying ourselves together as a married couple. We talked and laughed and sat in comfortable silence. We felt recharged and rested. It was good for our souls and our sanity.

    Immediately we started talking about when we could do it again. Who knows? Maybe we can divide up our four children for our anniversary and slip away in the fall. If not, I already know what I want Santa to put in my stocking next year – and next time it will be for two nights.

    If you live in the area, I can not recommend Queen Anne Bed and Breakfast enough. It’s extremely affordable and beautiful. The food is delicious and the hospitality exquisite. And even if you’re not in the area, I can’t recommend taking a retreat for you and your spouse enough. We love our children with all our hearts, but sometimes it is best to put one another first.

  • A Plague Upon Us

    Date: 2014.12.31 | Category: Family, Health, Holidays, Home, Life, Mark, Me, Sarah, School | Response: 1

    I get really excited about doing stuff with the kids during the holidays. This year was particularly overwhelming though, with work and events planned every weekend for nearly three months in a row. It made it hard to take time out and do things especially for and with them. So I was very excited that Sarah’s school was having a Christmas program, complete with required shepherd costume made by her aunt MC and months of song practice.

    As the anticipated week approached though, something started to go very wrong. It started with my brother-in-law, and then my sister, and then my nephew: the stomach bug was rearing its very ugly head. Still though, about three days had passed since we had been around them and I held out hope… until Wednesday when Mark went down hard. We confined him to the bedroom and stayed away. But by Thursday afternoon, I started to feel really bad.

    Thursday night was miserable. I didn’t think having the stomach bug could get worse, but I had never had it with two one pound babies inside my body, laying on my stomach and sucking up all calories and nutrition I managed to conserve. Needless to say, there was no way I could make it to the Christmas program Friday morning, despite my weak effort to get up and put my shoes on. I was heartbroken. I helped Sarah get into costume, and we both cried as daddy pulled out of the driveway to take her to school. Mark was still feeling bad, so he had to drop her off and come back home, too.

    Thanks to Team Grandma though, Sarah had a loyal fan base in attendance. Both of her grandmothers were there to witness her star performance as one of many tiny shepherds singing Christmas songs and acting out scenes from the songs.

    Right before the performance was due to start, I remembered that the Cathedral where the performance was to be held, had a webcam. Thank goodness it was up and going! We got to watch Sarah on the front row, performing her little heart out in her shepherd (or according to her, “Mary shepherd”) costume from the quarantined safety of our home office. It was amazing. I was so proud of her and she enthusiastically waved to her grandmothers when she walked past them.

    And perhaps, best of all, the school’s development director and I know each other very well, and she snapped some beautiful pictures of my girl’s performance.

    So while neither Mark, nor I could be there in person, the webcast, the pictures and the grandma fan club certainly went a long way towards making the day special.

    I’m glad she had a great Friday, because on Saturday evening she and Mimi both had their short, but fierce, turn with the stomach bug. Ah well, at least we got that nastiness out of the way in time for Christmas to still be healthy and special.

  • Life as a Parent

    Date: 2014.12.16 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Life, Mark, Me, Norah, Pregnancy, Sarah | Response: 1

    I’ve started to blog so many times over the past month, but then the chronic exhaustion sets in and I don’t think anyone wants to hear about the ridiculous morning sickness I went through or how tired I am all the time ( I don’t even want to think about it, after all). But, as one good friend told me over lunch today, blogging is one of the best ways to keep up with people. And she’s right! I miss writing and reading and sharing.

    I’ve always known that as a parent I’m constantly teetering on the edge of crazy, but sometimes I have to laugh at how much our kids have stomped their way so firmly into every aspect of our lives.

    Case in Point #1: Tonight was a particularly hard night. Both girls were exhausted. By 6:30 they had both dissolved into screaming baskets of tears and Mark and I kept giving each other those looks over their heads – you know the ones that say, “Oh my gosh I’m going INSANE GET ME OUT OF HERE.” We put them to bed at 7:15, then just looked at each other and shook our heads as the silence finally washed over us. And here I sit, not 10 minutes later pulling out prints of photos of them I’m giving as gifts and sharing them with Mark with a happy smile on my face. So yes, I may feel insane with their screams tonight, but I can still appreciate how adorable they can be less than 5 minutes after wanting to run out of the house screaming.

    Case in Point #2: My girls love Minnie Mouse and I  really wanted to get them Christmas Minnie’s for Christmas. Turns out that’s not something that’s easy to find. Disney likes to make things exclusive and even online I was having trouble finding what I wanted. A good friend and coworker was headed to Disney World, so I asked her to look for me. She found two of the most perfect Christmas Minnie’s, and when she handed them to me after she returned, I wanted to parade through the office and show everyone, even though I knew they would not get why I was so happy and excited. So I took them home and showed my husband who got nearly as happy about them as I was. That’s parenthood right there: a grown man getting excited about Christmas Minnie Mouse dolls.

    Case in Point #3: I don’t have much time off of work to spare these days with my numerous doctor appointments and my I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-going-to-do-about-time-off maternity leave coming up, but the few pitiful hours I’ve managed to scrape together have been happily traded in for field trips with Sarah. I’ve been with her to a farm out in the middle of nowhere to feed baby cows and goats and plant seeds and pick pumpkins. I’ve been to the local science center to watch an awful IMAX movie about Santa vs. the Snowman, and on Friday I will go to Sarah’s Christmas program where she will dress up as a shepherd (but we have to tell her she’s Mary, because otherwise she deems the costume unacceptable) and watch her sing her little heart out to “Away in a Manger” and I could not be more excited.

    I feel like little things like this come up all the time – these swings from absolute frustration to pure joy at the thought of our girls. These moments where we get so caught up thinking of their joy that it spreads infectiously into us.

    These twins are no exception to that. Morning sickness, exhaustion, impatience, fatigue: it all fades away (well mostly anyway) the moment I sit in front of the ultrasound screen and watch them shove each other around. Even now, exhausted at the end of the day, at the end of a long string of days, I’m smiling as I feel Baby A flutter in my ribs and Baby B shove on my bellybutton (though it helps that my husband just returned from a run to TCBY to help us eat away the stress of this evening).

    I am exhausted. I am worn out. And I may not always feel like sunshine, but man am I happy… especially when all the exhausted children happily and willingly go to bed early. :)

  • The Surprise: Part 2

    Date: 2014.11.03 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Pregnancy, Weirdness, Whoops | Response: 3

    I wrote this post about a week after we found out we were expecting twins. I know that this post may sound a little doom and gloom, but rest assured we are very happy and excited now… nearly two months after the fact. Still though, it never hurts to keep us in your prayers. Many of these worries still plague us!

    *****

    After we learned that we were unexpectedly expecting again, Mark and I settled into a state of disbelief and shock that manifested itself in a few different ways.

    I had to start acting pregnant again for one.  After previous progesterone problems with Sarah and Norah, I immediately had to have blood work done and schedule my first appointment. And then there was that whole not drinking wine thing and heating up my lunch meat again. The blood work came back and confirmed the pregnancy and things started getting real.

    Mark and I battled with worry. How would we provide for an additional child? We needed to get bunk beds for the big girls. Norah was only ELEVEN MONTHS OLD!  How was I going to tell work after not even a year back from maternity leave?

    All these questions continued to bounce around in our heads when we went in for our first OB visit. After filling out paperwork and saying hi to all my “old friends” at the office, we went in for our first ultrasound that would both confirm the pregnancy without any doubt and give us an idea of the baby’s due date.

    As we prepared for the ultrasound, I told the tech how I had always wanted three children, but we just weren’t prepared for it to happen so soon. She stared at the screen and said, “Well, what about four?”

    My heart dropped and I started to shake. Sure enough, up on the screen were two very distinct little babies, each in their own yolk sack with little heartbeats fluttering away.


    Our first ultrasound

    I cannot adequately explain the shock that went through my body. I yelled, “Holy shit!” very loudly and I think I scared the tech, though she laughed good-naturedly.  Mark sort of half laughed and we held hands and stared as she checked each baby and explained that they were fraternal twins (not identical), which is the very best situation for twins because they each have their own nutrition sources. There was a chance, of course, that one twin could dominate and we could lose one, but they both were the exact same size and both had good heart rates and looked very healthy.

    As we left the ultrasound room, we were the last people left in the waiting room. The ladies at the front desk were joking a little about “seeing us again so soon,” when I told them about the twins. The news drew a massive crowd of nurses and workers. “How old is your baby?” “How old is your oldest?” “Oh my gosh that’s going to be a lot of work.”  I continued to shake.

    We went to see our doctor from there.

    I love our OB. She delivered both my girls and has a very good sense of humor and is very direct about everything. She has been a great fit for us and knows us very well.

    She came in, turned the lights off and in a very calm voice said, “It’s going to be ok.”

    “You say that so calmly,” I said. “That’s because I don’t have to take them home,” she said and smiled.

    She then started explaining what we are looking at as far as the pregnancy goes. We would be getting an ultrasound every doctor’s visit and going to the doctor a lot more frequently. We would be seeing a high-risk pregnancy doctor. We went over past pregnancy history and she took a big sigh of relief.

    “I know you probably don’t want to hear this right now,” she said, “But you’re the perfect candidate for twins. You are tall, which will give them more room to grow and hopefully allow you to carry them longer. You’re young, you had two healthy pregnancies before and you have a stable family environment.” She was right, of course, but I just couldn’t process it all.

    We got home and told Mark’s mom who didn’t believe us until we handed over the ultrasound picture. She picked up congratulatory dinner for us. I could barely eat a bite, but Mark managed to eat like six pieces of chicken, all the sides and two biscuits. During dinner Norah started this fake choking thing she does to get attention. It completely freaked me out. Then she started laughing at me when I panicked and I broke into a horrific sob right there at the dinner table… and then ran to the bathroom and hurled.

    The number of emotions racing through me were unbelievable. I was terrified. How in the heck were we going to pay for childcare for FOUR children? Would we need to get a bigger house? We definitely needed two bigger cars… and then two of EVERYTHING – two carseats, two cribs, two highchairs and OH MY GOSH I would have FOUR children ages four and under.  I was a shaking, rattling mess. I called my family later that evening and they were amazing. They lifted my spirits and reminded me of the awesome support network I’m surrounded by in town. My mom and my youngest sister are both teachers and don’t work during the summer and they will be ready and willing to help.

    I’m not going to lie, it took me nearly a full week to be truly happy about the news. I found myself driving Sarah to school and simultaneously freaking out and then sobbing with joy.

    Here I was, the girl who was suppose to need help to conceive children, accidentally pregnant with twins while I had a 3-year-old and 11-month-old at home. It was insanity. It was a blessing.  It was a miracle.

    I can honestly say now that Mark and I are overjoyed. Yes, we are still worried about paying for four children and providing all that they need. Yes, I am worried about their health and welfare already. But, I truly believe that after all the trouble we had conceiving Norah, that the fact that we’re having twins is no fluke. Our babies may be a surprise, but they are a gift from God and we are ready, willing and excited to take up this gift and do our absolute best.

  • The Surprise: Part 1

    Date: 2014.10.31 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Pregnancy, Whoops | Response: 9

    I originally wrote this post a week after we found out we were expecting again in the first few days of September (before I knew the WHOLE story). I know I’ve been absent from blogging for a while, but sometimes when something like this is so life consuming and you’re not ready to share, it’s difficult to stare at that blank screen and write. So with this, get ready for my stream of ramblings to start up again!

    *****

    I need to write this down now, while the memory of that day still clings to me.

    But before I tell you about that day, let me tell you about the few days leading up to it. On Sunday I had been at my parents house hanging out with my family, celebrating my sister’s graduation with her Master’s degree and drinking a couple of glasses of wine. My heart started racing of its own accord, something not unfamiliar to me, but also something that hadn’t happened in a long time. I got it under control and chalked it up to the alcohol and sleep deprivation.

    Monday I went to my Piyo class, and during the sections of the class where we moved up and down, constantly changing elevation, my heart again started speeding out of control. I chalked it up to the elevation changes – even though I’ve been doing that class for a few months without any other problems before.

    Tuesday I went to lunch with my friend Angela, and we started talking about hormone changes, and I thought, “Oh that must be it, my cycle is about to start and that must be what’s causing these heart issues.”

    After lunch I checked my calendar to see when I was supposed to start and realized that I was very late – eight days late in fact. And then I remembered the last time my heart took off racing all the time: when I found out I was pregnant with Norah.

    I drove to the store and bought a two pack of pregnancy tests, but didn’t take them. Those things are kind of pricey and I didn’t want to waste one. I went home and put them in the cabinet and then settled down to a fun evening with my best friend who was in town for a few days. We drank wine, watched our girls play and had a great time. Shortly after she left that evening, Mark and I started arguing. Honestly I can’t even remember what it was about now, but that evening we had a long talk and he mentioned my short fuse and extreme impatience. I confessed to him then that I was worried because my cycle was late and my heart had been racing. He comforted me and reassured me that this wasn’t completely unusual and he was sure everything would be fine.

    Still though I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned and worried all night. Finally at 5:30 that morning, I decided I needed the reassurance of that little negative sign so I could get on with my day without fretting.

    I went to the bathroom, took the test and watched as the positive sign immediately showed up. I sat there in a state of shock muttering not a few profanities. Finally, 15 minutes later I pulled myself together and went back into the bedroom. I told Mark I needed to turn on the lamp and handed over the test. His immediate response was a disbelieving and reverent, “No way.” Then he immediately broke out into a huge grin. And me? Well I burst into tears and started sobbing.

    It’s hard to describe what I was feeling at that moment, but I’ll take a stab at it. For one, I was in complete and utter shock. I have always wanted three children, but I did not expect them to be quite so close together. Norah was only 11 months old and still nursing after all. We had so much trouble conceiving Norah, that I figured when we did get ready to try for a third, we would have to prepare ourselves for another year-long journey of months of hope and disappointment. I had even prayed about it and come to complete acceptance and happiness with having two children. In fact, part of me already felt like we were done. God had given us these two amazing little girls and we felt complete; we were happy. We had even started planning a big family trip for 2015.

    And then there was the overwhelming feeling of having three, THREE children ages four and under, with two very much still in diapers. How could we possibly manage it strategically, mentally and financially?

    And then there was a feeling of complete and overwhelming amazement and disbelief. I was told, after all, many years ago that conceiving children would be difficult and we would likely need assistance. And here we were, despite the fact that we were actively avoiding pregnancy, pregnant so quickly with a THIRD baby.

    Mark gazed up at me in that early morning hour as we sat alone in our bed, grinning at me and said, “It’s a miracle.” And truly, it is.

    I pulled myself together as best I could and, in a daze, took Sarah to school. I stayed for morning assembly where I learned that it was the feast day of Saint Monica, the mother of Saint Augustine. During morning prayer, all the children said a prayer for their mothers and all mothers. I felt my knees get a little wobbly. Following an inner call to go to Mass, I stayed for the school Mass that morning. The priest started by telling all the children who Saint Monica was and how she prayed desperately for her son and asked that the children pray for all mothers everywhere who are worried and in distress.

    If anyone was looking, I’m sure they were wondering why that crazy lady standing by herself had tears running down her cheeks for most of Mass. But I left there with a new perspective and a stronger feeling of joy. And though I’ve existed in a state of shock and disbelief for a week now and continue to worry about logistics and finances, I am so very thankful, so very blessed and so very happy.

    We will, I pray, welcome our third baby to this world in April of 2015. Here’s to the start of another great adventure.

  • The Patient Traveler

    Date: 2014.10.15 | Category: Family, Health, Life, Me, Sarah, Travel | Response: 3

    My kids surprise me all the time, and while many of those surprises aren’t always pleasant, from time to time one of them will truly amaze me with their behavior.

    Last Thursday Sarah and I began our journey to Pittsburgh, where we stayed with Cassie and her family for a long weekend. Prior to leaving, I was very nervous about how Sarah would do with the airport and the planes. She hates loud noises and I had visions of me frantically trying to calm her while she freaked out over loud plane engines and the thousands of travelers we would encounter along the way.

    When the day arrived, we got to the airport in time and prepared to board… but then we didn’t board. Our plane, it seemed, was having a mechanical issue. In my mind I immediately thought, “What kind of mechanical issue?! Is it safe to take my child on this plane?, etc.” After an hour wait, they boarded us… only to have us sit on the plane for 20 minutes, drink water, then get back off the plane.

    It turns out the mechanical issue was a broken light on the outside of the plane. A part, it turns out, they did not have at our local airport and they would have to wait on the next flight in from Atlanta to obtain. They started projecting new estimated leave times. Our 8am flight was then a 9:30 flight. Not a problem, I thought, I built in long layovers on purpose. That 9:30 time came and went and our flight slowly started pushing further and further back.  (The missing part wasn’t on the first flight – the part finally came in and we had to wait on mechanics – mechanics finally fixed it, but it wasn’t not up to the pilot’s standard – pilot had a two hour long phone conversation – mechanics came back out and finally fixed it for real).

    I was getting so frustrated, as were nearly all the adults on the scheduled flight.

    Sarah, however, was having a great time. She would run up to the window, shout, “Mama! Look at the airplane! Why isn’t it pink?!” and then happily return to me where she would look at a book / play with the iPad / color pictures. She made several friends out of the other passengers with her sweet smiles and silly dances. At one point she started coloring pictures and handing them out to fellow passengers. People were charmed and I was floored by her great behavior.

    Our flight delay ended up being around 6.5 hours total. As we were finally boarding the flight, I had about 10 people come up to me and tell me how impressed they were by how well behaved Sarah was, she even, one lady said, behaved better than her teenagers would have.

    The flight itself proved not to be troublesome either. As we took off, Sarah delightedly squealed, “We’re FLYING MAMA! We’re flying! We’re like Care Bears up in the clouds!” People looked and smiled. Delta can go ahead and send us a thank you package for providing one of the few reasons all the passengers didn’t mutiny.

    They re-booked our second flight out of Atlanta for 10pm at night (ha! Can you even imagine what sort of state the two of us would have been in by then?!) But we finally managed to find a Delta agent in Atlanta who actually knew what he was doing and booked us on a flight that left within the hour. Now, if you know the Atlanta airport, then you know that means we had to haul it to get to the right terminal in time. I ended up at one point hustling while wearing my 30lb backpack, carrying my 35lb child, while she was carrying her much smaller backpack. Workout complete!

    We made that flight, on which Sarah made another friend who let her play games on her iPad, and we finally made it to Pittsburgh around 7:30 that evening, a full five hours late. Sarah passed out on the drive to Cassie’s house, but she deserved a rest after that crazy day.

    The travel home was also insane, but not nearly as bad. Terrible storms in the south caused our plane to have to take a different path, adding about 35 minutes onto our flight time. During the flight, Sarah and I had to take a bathroom break (side note: do you know how hard it is to squeeze into an airplane bathroom with another person?! That’s no joke). A lady came out of the bathroom while we waited and Sarah ran up to her and gave her a huge hug like they had been best friends forever. The lady was delighted. She was flying first class and saved her cookies to give to Sarah later.

    When we finally made it home, Sarah had a meltdown just as her daddy arrived at the airport, but she was such a trooper that we just stuck her in the car, let her have at it, then took her to Wendy’s for chicken nuggets. After all, I still think she handled the traveling better than me!

  • Toughing it Out

    Date: 2014.09.05 | Category: Family, Health, Life, Me, OMG YAY! | Response: 0

    My extreme lack of blogging lately is due entirely to the fact that 1) I’ve been consumed with our new family transforming routine and 2) The kids and I have been facing a few health issues that have been dragging me way down and causing me to limp along exhausted most days the past couple of weeks.

    But, despite all that, I want to do an update on my fitness. A few months ago, I decided it was time to really fight to get the last of my pregnancy weight off – something I didn’t have to do the first go round.

    I started attending 3-4 gym classes weekly and completely overhauled my diet. Gone are 85% of our processed foods. We are doing a lot of whole eating and the whole family is adjusting pretty well.

    Three months in, I’m seeing results. As of today, I am down 13 pounds, less than 5 pounds to go before I hit my pre-pregnancy weight. And even though the weight loss hasn’t been insanely quick, the most exciting part is the drastic changes my body is going through.

    I’m getting strong. I can tell when I lift my children easier and haul grocery store bags. I can tell when I pull myself up on to things, or most recently, do repeated side lunges while holding my baby to get her to calm down at the pediatrician’s office. I can tell when I go to my classes. I went from being unable to do a standard plank at all, to doing them and adding on other exercises while I hold them. And I can tell when I look at my shoulder muscles finally starting to take shape. And you know what? It feels amazing.

    I’ve dropped two inches in my waist and hips respectively.

    And perhaps in the most exciting moment for me so far, I discovered that my high cholesterol level I use to have to be medicated for has dropped down to a safe, normal, healthy level just through diet and exercise. It’s truly amazing what three months of living a healthy lifestyle have done for me.

    Lifestyle and routine changes are so tough, but it has been so rewarding.

  • Like a Moth to the Flame…

    Date: 2014.08.05 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Life, Me, Norah, Sarah, Whoops | Response: 2

    I’m not sure if my brain has happily blocked out Sarah’s days of learning to stand independently, or if poor Norah takes after her mother in the clumsiness department. In the past week, Norah has hit her mouth to the point of bleeding not once, not twice, but THREE times. And there was another run in that left her with a nasty scratch by her eye.

    The first incident happened when Norah was standing up, holding onto one of her toys. In a burst of excitement, Sarah flew past her and accidentally knocked her over. I didn’t see it unfold, but I did hear loud, terrible screams of pain. I scooped Norah up and couldn’t get her to settle down. It took me a minute to realize there was blood pouring out of her mouth and on to my shoulder. My insides locked up.

    Normally blood doesn’t bother me, but in that moment, knowing it was my baby’s blood, I silently started to panic. Every time I tried to look in her mouth to see what was going on, the blood gushed anew and she screamed in pain. Meanwhile poor Sarah was busily trying to get my attention saying, “I’m sorry Mama! It was an accident Mama!” while trying to hold back her own tears.

    I was an absolute mess. I just knew Norah needed stitches or had somehow knocked her teeth loose. I packed her up and prepared to go to pediatric quick care. When I arrived though, there was a note on the door saying the place was temporarily closed. Cursing, I put Norah back in the car and drove her to the next closest quick care. By then, the blood flow had slowed down and I was able to get a look into her mouth. There was blood pooling around her teeth and my mind raced to the worst possible scenarios. Finally I pulled it together and thought to call a family friend who is a dentist.

    Bless him, he took my panicked call with grace, despite the fact that he was waiting in line at the bank and really just wanted to get home. He assured me that just because there was a lot of blood, that didn’t mean her teeth were going to fall out. In fact, at 10 months old, tooth roots aren’t fully formed and have plenty of time to heal on their own.

    I calmed down and drove home. After two hours of bleeding, things seem to finally stop and she had no problem shoveling down food and sucking her thumb.

    I realized the next morning that the injury was actually in her gums and that little piece of skin between the lip and the gums. As long as I didn’t try to lift her lip, all was well. I calmed down.

    Not to be outdone though, two days later Norah pulled up on the fireplace, let go and fell, hitting her mouth in the same exact spot on the way down. You guessed it: lots more blood and screaming. Fortunately this time I kept calm and managed to get her under control pretty quickly.

    Surely she would learn some self-preservation, you say? But alas, like a moth to the flame, Norah continued to be drawn to the brick fireplace. Two days after the second incident, she managed to scramble over to the fireplace, stand and fall, this time busting her bottom lip open. Cue more blood and screaming.

    By this point I began to feel like a terrible parent. I immediately logged on to Amazon and ordered cushiony edge protectors. My baby proofing the second go round has obviously been a little too lax, or maybe my baby is just a little too clumsy.

    And then yesterday mom picked Norah up from school early. The whole time she was at mom’s, she was an angel. But as soon as I got there? Well that baby crawled at high speed to the fireplace and slammed the corner of her eye into the bricks.

    My poor baby looks like she’s got a budding career in boxing.

  • Finding My Strength Again

    Date: 2014.07.16 | Category: Health, Life, Me | Response: 19

    Let me tell you a personal story about failure and success.

    I should start from the beginning. With my second pregnancy I gained a lot of weight – more than I should have. Part of that was due to exercise limits from heart problems, but more of it was due to the fact that I was pregnant during Louisiana summer and I only wanted to lay on the couch in the air conditioning and not move.

    No big deal, I thought, I’ll lose it all when I breastfeed. Did I lose some of it? Yes. Did I lose all of it? A big fat NO. After I had Sarah, the weight came off with almost no effort. I nursed, I exercised some and it flew off. I was back in my pre-pregnancy clothes in 6 months.

    I sort of want to punch that version of myself in the face. Or, really, I just want to grab me from three years ago and say, “Do you KNOW how lucky you were?!” Because Baby #2? Yea, that’s not happening. I don’t know if it’s because this is a second baby, or I had a c-section this time, or a combination of the two, but this extra baby weight has been clinging to me with a death grip despite the fact that I’ve been nursing a baby for nearly 10 months.

    I’ll admit, at first I had zero motivation to try to get the weight off. Part of that was total lack of sleep, and the other half was me desperately clinging to the hope that the breastfeeding weight loss would kick in any day.

    When that didn’t happen after several months down the road, I decided I had to do something. My first attempt at “something,” was trying the Paleo diet where you essentially eat foods a cave person would. I know a lot of people who have had success with it and you get to eat as much of the designated foods as you want! I quickly discovered Paleo wasn’t for me. For one, it dried up my milk supply, and for another, I need some grains, dairy and wine in my diet to stay sane and I refuse to believe legumes are bad for you. Paleo and I were not a good fit.

    Exercise, I decided, was what I really needed. I started going back to my regular spin class… except that I quickly learned it’s super popular now and I’m never quick enough to get a bike reserved, so I slowly stopped doing that. Finally, I decided to try out my gym’s new studio location near my house. While it has some equipment, it’s mainly all group fitness classes, which is what I love. I took a class there and was hooked. I signed up.

    After that, I seriously went home and prayed for the strength to take care of my body and to get the weight off. Whatever it took, I wanted the fortitude to do it.

    And then, the stars started aligning. My sisters decided the three of us would support one another on a weight loss challenge. And because we have a tight budget and we were laying down some money for the gym, I felt obligated to go as much as possible. With my sisters’ encouragement I downloaded the MyNetDiary Pro app to track my calories and exercise (including ones burned through breastfeeding so I’d still be ok there).

    What started as an obligation to go to the gym (I promised myself at least two – three days a week), started becoming a strong desire to go to the gym. I quickly started going four days a week – five when my schedule allows it.  And because I hit the gym on my lunch breaks, I bring my lunch to work, thus allowing me to control my calorie intake and my eating out budget and prevent me from eating the whole Indian Restaurant buffet.

    Then my second cousin and fitness instructor, Libby of LibbFit, asked me about doing some graphic design and trading out her fitness expertise. You better believe I jumped on that.

    And just like that, I discovered that the scale was finally, FINALLY moving down again. Just this morning I saw the lowest number on the scale I’ve seen since giving birth.

    I finally understand (and remember) WHY people who are into fitness are always so happy and jazzed about it. It may suck while I’m doing it, but afterwards I feel amazing. In a month’s time I’ve dramatically increased my strength and helped ease a mean, nasty, fiery spot of post c-section nerve pain / scar tissue in my lower, right abdomen. My classes are varied, ranging from pilates and yoga to cardio and weights.

    Is it hard? Sometimes it’s so hard. But the reward has been amazing. I finally feel like my body is waking up and my mood has bloomed into something much happier and optimistic. I’m more patient with my children and kinder to myself. I even managed to say no to my favorite ice cream and amazing looking cake at work this morning. It’s exciting and it’s humbling.

    I still have a long way to go and weight to lose before I even hit my pre-pregnancy numbers. I often have to do modified moves at my Piyo and Body Attack classes, but I’m doing it. And really, that’s what matters.

    Here’s my picture for my Piyo Challenge group I took this morning. We had to take a whacky planking picture.

    P.S. Thanks to Cassie for encouraging me to write this post.

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