Saturday, September 27, 2014

Layoff: venturing into the unknown

You may or may not have been wondering why my posts have been sporadic and vague recently, but then again, they're usually sporadic anyway.

If you are my friend on Facebook, then you know that my husband was laid off a few weeks ago because of budget cuts out of his company's control. Stephan didn't feel comfortable with me sharing that until this last week, and I wanted to respect his wishes.

As far as layoffs go, it could be worse. It happened right after he got paid and we will be paid for this month, though if we don't have a job with benefits by October, we'll be without health insurance. Yeah, got to get on that, though I have no idea how we're going to pay for it. Health insurance: can't afford to not have it, can't afford to actually get it.

We've been doing well, all things considered. I just hate venturing into the unknown: will we have to move? What if he's out of work for several months? Do I need to start looking for a job myself?

It's questions like that that trigger my anxiety and make me question the utility of actually getting up in the morning. I still get up, if only to take care of my family.

We are trying to use our time and money wisely. Stephan and I have started exercising together in the mornings, which helps us keep stress at bay. He helps around the house and Kate loves having her daddy home during the day.

Stephan has been looking high and low for work, and thanks to some leads from friends, he has an interview lined up this week and a programming test for another company this week. He had a phone interview this last week as well. Other friends have asked for his resume to pass on to their bosses. Seriously, the kindness people have shown us has been humbling. Sometimes I feel like people don't really care, but it's times like these that I am reminded that people really do care for our welfare. So, thank you guys for helping me see the good :)

Other tender mercies during this hard time have included a relative sending us a check just because she thought we needed it; a friend paying me to watch her daughters so she could teach a class; friends offering to look over Stephan's resume; the fact we split Bountiful Baskets with another family so we can still have fruits and veggies for not too much money....I could go on.

I suppose it's also a good thing that I'm not pregnant right now--that would have added even more anxiety to the mix. I'm still dealing with progesterone issues...bah humbug.

It really does feel good to open up about this. If you are wanting to help us in some way, prayers and good employment thoughts are most welcome. Leads for software engineer positions will also be happily accepted :)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Menu Plan Monday: 9/15-9/21

I used to do this way back when and stopped doing it because of life. Now I want to start this again--partially as a way to post more often and so I can be accountable for cooking regularly. We're trying to make our dollars stretch out a little more, so my goal is to make breakfasts at least a few times a week so I'm not buying so much cereal.

So, here are the meals I'm planning for the week:

Monday

Breakfast: Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Shepherd's pie, rolls, and fruit

Tuesday:

Breakfast: French Toast
Lunch: leftovers/sandwiches
Dinner: Birthday pizza party

Wednesday:

Breakfast: muffins
Lunch: leftovers/sandwiches
Dinner: Chicken katsu, stir-fried vegetables, sliced nashi (or Asian Pears for the uninitiated)


Thursday:
Breakfast: Leftover muffins/baked oatmeal
Lunch: leftovers/sandwiches
Dinner: Alfredo


Friday:
Breakfast: breakfast burritos
Lunch: leftovers/sandwiches
Dinner: leftovers


Saturday:

Breakfast: cereal/breakfast leftovers
Lunch: leftovers/sandwiches
Dinner:Homemade pizza

Sunday:

Breakfast: cereal
Lunch: leftovers (possibly)
Dinner: with friends

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ups and downs

To be honest, I don't know exactly what to write.

This summer has been filled with many ups and downs

Ups:

Being interviewed by Good4Utah about ICP.
Hosting the ICP Awareness Day event and meeting other Itchy Moms
Family party in Logan
My grandfather's birthday
Going to Houston


Downs:

Ectopic pregnancy
Broken air conditioning
Stressful work projects
Friends moving
Getting sick

Oh, and a blessing that also brings some more stress: Stephan got called to be the ward clerk. For my non-Mormon readers, the ward clerk helps the bishopric (leadership of our congregation) keep track of records (financial and membership) and goes to meetings with them. He also has to wake up extra early on Sundays to attend meetings. 

I don't have much more to add. 


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Farewell Genie

Like countless others, I was genuinely sad to hear the news of Robin Williams death, and even sadder to learn that he took his own life. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, who are without a doubt devastated and wondering if they could have done anything to prevent it from happening.

Of course, since Robin Williams was a celebrity, the internet and blogosphere has exploded with stories of those who had the privilege of knowing him, those expressing condolences to his family, but also (thankfully a minority) criticism of the choice he made, even people who are saying that he must be in hell. Then there are the people who think that depression and other mental ailments are made up and make it sound like he simply called it quits, and of course the people who claim increased spirituality will cure depression. Basically, there's a lot of misinformation being perpetuated here.

To get this out of the way, I think suicide is a choice and a wrong choice at that. It should not be romanticized in the slightest. However, we should not condemn HIM for making the choice he did. We don't know what was going through his head when he decided that life was no longer worth living, but there is no doubt that he was very troubled and not in a rational state of mind.

If you're a regular reader, you already know that I am being treated for depression (among other things). I've been battling depression for more than half my life, but I only got a diagnosis seven years ago. While I have never attempted suicide, I have gone through some horribly dark depressive episodes, where I genuinely thought everyone would be better off without me. I felt like a burden because of my problems while I actually thought people wouldn't care if something bad happened to me. Mostly, I wanted to run away. I even told my sweet husband that he would be better off finding a wife who wasn't as emotionally screwed up as I was...and that made him cry.

Yes folks, my unmedicated self was messed up big time.

What kept me from doing it?

Stephan was a big factor--he has always been loving and patient, but he is also good at yanking me out of myself, even if I get mad. I've mentioned this before, but he has battled depression himself. In fact, he had to return from his mission early because of it. He hasn't needed medication since before he met me. Before I met him, I thought that I absolutely could not marry someone who struggled with depression. I'm grateful that whenever I'm going through a hard time, he can relate, and he doesn't judge me negatively. He still loves me through the hard times, and I'm pretty sure he's a saint for putting up with me!

Another factor was the suicide of a member of my extended family. It happened not long after I had come out of a particularly low point in my life. I was not close to this family member; we were related through marriage. It was a huge shock to the entire family, and absolutely devastating to those closest to him. I barely knew him, and yet I was affected. Then it dawned on me that if I died, it would devastate so many close to me. My husband, my family, my friends....the list goes on.

At that moment, I resolved that if I ever had those thoughts again, that I would seek help immediately.

And....it happened again....while I was pregnant. Yeah, what was supposed to be a happy time for me, was plagued with depression, anxiety, and guilt. Those thoughts of "escaping" came back, and Stephan pleaded with me to bring it up with my midwives....so I did. The midwife recommended antidepressants, and said that I would be doing it not just for myself but for my unborn baby. I accepted the medicine, for my daughter's sake. And I've never looked back. Of course, not everything is sunshine and rainbows. Besides, you have to have some rain to make a rainbow.

My Thoughts

If you are struggling with depression or any other mental illness, I want you to know that you are not alone. Please make an appointment with your doctor for a physical, so you can rule out physical causes (thyroid issues and hormone imbalances can cause symptoms of depression, for example).

If you are having thoughts of suicide, I beg you, please don't. Life is still worth living and there is still hope-I know you feel absolutely hopeless, but I reiterate, there is always hope. You might think that you will do everyone a service by taking your life, but you are not. More people will be hurt than you can possibly imagine. So please, if you are feeling suicidal, please get help in any way you can, by calling the suicide hotline, or something. Anything.

If you think that depression can be cured by simply praying it away, thinking positive, or just bucking up, you are very wrong. Depression is a legitimate illness, confirmed by multiple medical authorities. Just like you can't simply pray away asthma, cancer, and diabetes, you cannot pray away depression. I believe God can heal all ailments, but I believe that he inspired the evolution of modern health care as it is now.

Endnote: mental illness is no respecter of logic, fame, or fortune. If it can make someone as famous and beloved as Robin Williams succumb to suicidal thoughts, it can happen to anyone.

As for those who have condemned Robin Williams to hell, only God can decide that. Not anyone else. I believe in a just God, but I also believe in a merciful, loving God. He knows EVERYTHING about Robin Williams' life, and will take all of that into consideration, not just his cause of death.

So now, let us remember the laughs he gave us and the lives he brightened. I will always remember him as the Genie in Aladdin, since that was how I was introduced to him.

C'mon everybody, group hug, group hug!






Saturday, July 19, 2014

On the road back to normal

After spending the better part of a month bleeding in some form (spotting for two-ish weeks and miscarriage bleeding for one week), I am now free.

My feelings on the end of this month's reign of blood?

This video sums it up best:



I asked my doctor if I could have a "get out of periods free" card for the next few months, and he laughed. Not mockingly, he genuinely thought it was one of the funniest things he's heard in the eight years he's been an OB. I am so sad that he's leaving the practice and going somewhere that doesn't take my insurance. Otherwise I'd have him deliver my next child. Sighs...oh well.

If you are male and reading this first part, I am so sorry.

Hopefully the mood swings will go away too. Seriously, one day I'm doing fine, and the next....

For all of my fellow Whovians.

That's probably an exaggeration. Really what happens on my bad days is that I just become more withdrawn and don't really want to be around people. Actually, I still have some trouble being around other people--mostly because now that they know I had a miscarriage, I feel as though no one really knows to act around me. It could just be the anxiety talking though. Oh yeah, my anxiety has been acting up more recently too, causing some insomnia and the like. I hate anxiety--I wish it would just go away and never come back.

What are my plans now? Mostly getting back into the swing of things, but not overdoing it. I've re-started FlyLady's baby steps because housework was on the backburner while the methotrexate made me want to sleep all.the.time.

Are we going to try again? Eventually. Again, I need a bit of time to recover, and frankly it's nobody's business when we start trying to get pregnant again ;)

However, I have found out that my progesterone levels are not so hot. I've been spotting for at least a week before my periods for the last several months, and that's a classic sign of progesterone issues. My doctor and I are going to be working on getting that balanced out so I'm not bleeding two weeks out of every months.

And since my doctor is leaving and the midwives I saw during my pregnancy with Kate have left, I'm in the market for a new doctor. Yeah, I could follow the midwives, but they've moved to a really large practice and I'm afraid of getting lost in the shuffle over there. Plus, I feel like I need to see an actual OB for my next pregnancy, since I'm pretty much guaranteed to have ICP in future pregnancies, and there was some disagreement in how to handle my case, since it was a pretty big practice. I don't mind group practices, I just want a smaller group for my next pregnancy.

Then there's the fact that Stephan needs a doctor. Do we both just go to a family practice so I have a way of renewing my prescription when it's time and I look for an OB when I'm actually pregnant? Urgh, decision decisions. Or I could stay with the current practice, which is going down to three doctors, but again, one of those doctors was willing to let me go longer even though my Bile Acids levels were borderline severe. Argh.

I shouldn't panic about this right now, but it's so hard not to because...ANXIETY!

For some people it would be easy to just go to whoever is close, but unfortunately, we don't live very close to a lot of doctor's offices. Oy.

I miss living in Orem--we lived close to three hospitals and so many doctor's offices. Sigh. Oh well.

Okay, I got off on a tangent there. Back to our regular posting.

I'm also going to try getting back into a routine of moderate exercise and healthy eating. I've been cooking dinner most nights this week, so that's a good start.

So...that's how things are going. Miscarriage complete, want to not have periods for a while, trying to get back to normal (or something like it), and contemplating doctors.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Craziness

This last week has been nuts.

On Sunday, I started miscarrying. There have been many emotions surrounding that--grief, relief, moodiness, etc.

Then on Monday night, our air conditioning died.

Going through a miscarriage and having your air conditioner die in the middle of July is just as awful as it sounds. Did I mention that our condo is on the top floor? Yup.

I talked to our landlord the next morning and she gave me the number for the company that could come fix our AC. When I called the AC people, the earliest they could send a repair man by was Wednesday afternoon. While it was nice knowing that there was help coming, having to go through yet another night of no air conditioning was not fun.

Thankfully, a friend invited Kate and me over to her air conditioned house, so we didn't need to spend all day sweating in our own. Kate and her son (whose name is Jonah) really hit it off too, and it was so nice to have adult interaction. I also bought fans to help us get through that night.

Another tender mercy: we were having meals brought in for a few days this last week, since I've been recovering from the shots and having a miscarriage. It was a good thing because then I didn't have to cook in our sweltering house, and we didn't have to spend money on going out to eat.

The AC repairman came by on Wednesday and restored our AC to its wonderfulness. I had to restrain myself from embracing him passionately when he was finished. Well, not really, but I thanked him profusely.

I went in for more blood work yesterday to make sure my HCG levels were going down like they're supposed to. My OB called me with the results a few hours later, and said that my levels had gone from 455 to 39, which means so far that the injections have been successful. The goal is to get my levels below 5, which at this rate may happen next week.

How am I feeling currently? I'm doing okay--I just want to stop bleeding (it's getting lighter). If you are pregnant or just had a baby, I do not, repeat DO NOT hate you. I'm just a little sad that my turn isn't coming yet. I save my resentment for people who do cruel things to their children--like that guy who left his toddler in the hot car on purpose and that woman who killed six of her babies right after they were born. Why are those people allowed to reproduce again? Right--agency.

I have seen the Lord's hand in all of this and we have received so many tender mercies along the way--friends who have watched Kate, brought us meals, people praying for us, those who lent a listening ear, etc. For all of this, we are grateful.

My turn for having another baby will come someday (when we start trying again is no one's business ;)), and I will be overjoyed when it does. I know Kate will be a great big sister when the time finally comes. Until then, I am giving her extra loves.

Eight months old and oh so adorable.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Ectopic

A timeline of events.


Monday--June 30

I got a positive pregnancy test. But I knew something wasn't right because I had been spotting for two weeks (expecting my period)--spotting and a positive pregnancy test can be a bad thing. Plus, I wasn't feeling nauseous like I did even before I got a positive test with Kate.

Tuesday--July 1

I called and made an appointment to see one of the OBs at my practice. Normally, I see the midwives but I just wanted to see whoever was available. This would be the first time I ever met with one of the doctors at the practice.

That afternoon, I met with Dr. Wall. He was very kind and listened to my concern about the spotting, and agreed that it could be ectopic. He walked me back to the ultrasound room so we could get a look at what was going on inside of me. He did tell me that we might not see anything considering how early I was in the pregnancy. The image of my uterus came on screen--there was nothing in it. So, we looked around the rest of my reproductive system....and found something near my right ovary that looked consistent with a six-week-old embryo (I was only five weeks).

"It looks ectopic," Dr. Wall said.

He walked me to the lab so I could have blood drawn and told me that if I started having things like severe cramping, vomiting, dizziness, etc. to go straight to the emergency and have them call him, even if it was in the middle of the night. He also told me that his nurse would call me everyday to check in on me. I felt a lot of comfort knowing that he was always going to be aware of what was going on with me.

After the blood test, I went home feeling like a ticking time bomb. Was I going to wake up in the middle of the night needing to go to the emergency room? What would happen with Kate if I needed to go to the hospital? What if I lost some of my reproductive organs to this? Agggghhhh!!!!!

I went over to a good friend's house and told her what was going on and told her my worries. Even though she's still recovering from surgery, she said that she would take Kate if I needed to go to the hospital, even if it was in the middle of the night. That helped ease my fears knowing that Kate would be taken care of should that happen. She even got us pizza so I wouldn't have to worry about dinner, and her husband assisted mine in giving me a Priesthood blessing. In that blessing, I was promised that I would not have permanent damage and that doctors would know what to do.

Wednesday--July 2

My doctor's nurse called me to tell me that it looked like that the pregnancy might *not* be ectopic after all, but I was having a miscarriage. She said to come back the next day for another blood test.

Thursday--July 3

I went back for another blood test.

Dr. Wall called me back within two hours (on his cell phone!), and told me that it was ectopic after all. He said we could wait, which he did NOT recommend, or we could go ahead with methotrexate injections. Since I had been spotting for coming up on three weeks and I didn't want to risk a middle of the night trip to the emergency room, I opted for the injections.

So later that day, I went to the hospital first for yet another blood draw to get a baseline for my liver function (since methotrexate can affect the liver). Then I went to the IV Center so I could get methotrexate injected into my hips. Oh yeah, that was fun. The nurses who injected me did it simultaneously too, and since it's a cancer drug (a type of chemo in fact) they were gowned up and everything.

I'd have taken pictures, but it would have required partial mooning. You're welcome.

It's a good thing I don't have a needle phobia because my poking days are not nearly over. I have to go back for pregnancy tests every week until my HCG levels are down to zero. Well, if I had a needle phobia, this would be a great way to conquer it.



I'm sure all of you have burning questions you want me to answer, so I'll answer the ones I'm most likely to get.

How are you feeling?

Physically, I am very tired. Fatigue is a common side effect of the methotrexate. I have been sore from all the poking, and have had some aches and pains. I'm only allowed to take Tylenol right now, but it is actually helping. I am grateful that it's a holiday weekend and Stephan is home so I can rest while he tends to Kate. I have already contacted our Relief Society President about having meals brought in so that's one less thing for me to worry about while I recover.

I've only had some spotting so far--I was expecting more bleeding, but maybe this is all my body will do until I have a period again.

Emotionally, I'm doing a lot better than expected. As I said before, I felt like something wasn't right with this pregnancy as soon as I found out. I do have comfort knowing that since I already have a child, I'll be able to have another. However, I do feel some guilt knowing that the age difference between Kate and our next child is going to be even bigger.

I am also very grateful for modern medicine. Ectopic pregnancies used to kill a lot of women, and still does sometimes. The doctor who has been caring for me has also been very kind and respectful--it's really sad that he's leaving the practice. In fact, the midwives are all leaving the practice! Yeah, I might be looking for a new practice soon. I am leaning towards having an OB for my next pregnancy, since my next pregnancy (whenever that happens) will likely be high risk too.

Spiritually, I am seeing many blessings and tender mercies. I know the Lord is aware of us and is helping us through this. I also know that there is another little spirit who will join our family in time, and that brings me comfort.


Was it a planned pregnancy?

Yes.

It was always the plan to wait a little longer than the average Mormon family to start trying for child #2. The main reason was because the end of Kate's pregnancy was so difficult with the ICP, and knowing that I was probably going to have it again. Another reason for waiting was that I felt like Kate needed more time being our baby.

We'll have to wait until the methotrexate has cleared out of my system to try again, which may be a few months at least. I'm okay with this.


How is Stephan handling this?

He has been grieving in his own way, and has been much more protective of me than usual (which is saying something). However, he has also been driving me to my appointments, tending to Kate so I can rest, and has been treating me very well through this whole thing.


Anything I can do?

I am very grateful for the kind words, thoughts, and prayers being sent my way.

Of course, if you want to do more, food is always welcome. Just make sure it's nut free, so Kate can have some too :)


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