What A Difference A Year Can Make….

Wow!! It’s been a year since my last post. It’s amazing how time can get away from you when you’re not paying attention.

Ironically enough my last post is titled, “If I Only Had 12 Months”….

Don’t get worked up, the family is all good but we did have HUGE health scare with BB. Every mother worries from time to time what will happen if the kids get sick. It’s natural and normal and I think part of what brings out the Mama Bear in us. I never considered what would happen if my husband… my best friend… the person who keeps me grounded and gives me strength got sick.

BB hadn’t been feeling well for a while but a lot of his symptoms didn’t seem related and honestly could be attributed to getting a little older (you know I love ya honey :), having a heavy work schedule, and having a number of kids in the house. BB and I went to see a few doctor’s, starting with our family doctor. She referred us to an ENT/sinus specialist who ordered a CAT Scan of his brain. Then we were sent to a neurosurgeon and I started to get really scared.

On April 7th 2011 our lives changed forever. We had driven hours away to a world-renowned hospital for pituitary diseases. BB was given the diagnoses of Acromegaly and we were told he had a tumor the size of a black olive on his pituitary. He needed brain surgery. In that moment, on that day, I thought he was going to die. Writing this I’m getting choked up because the sheer thought of losing BB is too much for me to handle. On that day I let my mind wander and I tried to picture A and C growing up without a father. I knew A was too young, if BB DID die, A wouldn’t remember him. Then I decided the outcome I had worked myself up over was an impossibility and we were all going to come through this fine.

Over the next few months, we had many visits at the hospital with an endocrinologist, neurosurgeon, and ENT. They are all fabulous doctor’s who really know their stuff. Because the hospital isn’t local, each time we needed to go for a visit was an all day trip. Some visits we got reassuring news and I felt myself calming down. Other trips we seemed to be bombarded with scary information. I excused myself to cry in the lady’s room more than once because I needed to stay strong for BB.

He was my rock, he really was…. I felt bad because he was the one that was sick, but I was the one who was falling to pieces.

June 1st, the morning of his surgery, we had to be there at 5:30am. I hadn’t slept the night before, thinking of all the things that could go wrong, what I would do if he didn’t make it out of surgery, hoping that everything would turn out fine. The nurses took him back to get ready for the surgery and then myself and his parents were allowed back to give reassuring hugs and to tell him we’d see him in a few hours. I jokingly told him maybe he’d luck out and get a really cute nurse. Then I held him tighter than I did on our wedding day and told him that there was no other option but to pull through. The kids needed him, I needed him, and he wasn’t done yet. I gave him a kiss and walked back to the waiting room.

The surgery only took a few hours and everything went really well. They got all the tumor they could see and only time would tell whether or not the Acromegaly got better, stayed the same, or got worse. The tumor was not cancerous (99% of Acromegaly tumor’s are non cancerous). His Type 2 diabetes would be monitored but should improve (diabetes, another symptom of Acromegaly). He stayed in the hospital for 3 nights and 4 days, where I spent maybe a total of 18 hours at the hotel and the rest in a chair in his hospital room. I had never seen him so weak. BB is the one that holds me together, not the other way around. A stayed with my in-law’s for that week and the girl’s stayed with their dad and step-mom.

The next 9 weeks BB was out of work and there were a lot of follow-up visits at the hospital.

We decided that since he couldn’t go to work and it was summer, we’d take the kids to the beach often and spend as much family time together as possible. We are lucky enough to have family with a beach house, so we didn’t have to worry with the expense of a hotel. I figured out how to juggle the kids and BB’s recovery and how to take care of myself so that I didn’t have a nervous breakdown. We have a lot of wonderful memories from this past summer 🙂

In August BB was released to go back to work and the beginning of September the 3 older kids all started schools. Everyone is doing great and for the most part, life has resumed to “normal”. Except for 1 thing. We don’t take a-ny-thing for granted anymore. Ever.

BB is managing his Acromegaly and diabetes with medication (and diet, lifestyle changes, ect). He’s feeling much better and seems happier overall than I’ve seen him in a long time.

We know that his tumor could grow back… or my fibromyalgia could flare up… or one of us could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Nothing is forever and today may be all we have. With that in mind we ARE living everyday as if it’s our last.

A is still home with me during the day (although we are checking out preschool’s) and instead of rushing him into *big kid-ness*, I’m enjoying his stories and songs and lengthy discussions about dinosaurs. G started high school and while she still thinks I know nothing, I’m taking the time to listen to her talk about her friends and boys she likes and why she doesn’t like History. B is coming out of her shell and really trying to figure out who she is. Watching her turn into a young lady is amazing. BB is the love of my life and my best friend, but I’ve learned to take time for me and stand on my own two feet.

Heck, I recently started kickboxing lessons… LOL

So, I’ll ask you one more time….. If you only had 12 more months, what would you do with them? Why aren’t you doing them now?

Live ~ Laugh ~ Love

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If I Only Had 12 Months

Earlier I watched a little bit of the first episode of The Big C on Showtime.  So far from the little bit I’ve seen the main character gets  diagnosed with stage 4 cancer (what type I didn’t hear).  She doesn’t feel she can share the diagnosis with her family and starts doing things she wouldn’t normally do because she doesn’t have very long to live.  She spills red wine all over her couch because she’s always hated it, parents her teenage son in a very unconventional way, does cartwheels down the hallway of the school she teaches at.  Her reaction to the diagnosis and behaviors that follow made me wonder….  What would I do if I knew I was going to die in 1 year?

With the expectation that I wouldn’t be around to have to deal with the consequences I’d:

1. Use credit to buy whatever I wanted.  I’d buy 2 of whatever I wanted.

2. Get plastic surgery to fix things that don’t really bother me but would certainly make me hotter.  If I’m going to die young I want to look good.

3. Travel. I always think about going to places like Ireland, the Caribbean, Italy, and England. In reality other than getting married in Vegas a few years ago I haven’t been anywhere in a while. I think if I knew my life was going to be cut short I push myself to travel places like South America, China, Turkey, and Africa. Those destinations take me way outside my comfort zone. I’m picky about my food and I know I would constantly stress about not understanding the culture.

4. Eat whatever I wanted. Get drunk from time to time. Watch trashy TV and read even trashier books.

With the knowledge that I will leave behind family and friends that love me I’d:

5. Hug and kiss my kids and husband constantly.  Not so much that my teenage daughter will need therapy, but enough so that there is no doubt they are loved.

6. Pull the girls out of school and travel with them. I’d turn life into a learning experience. I would use grocery shopping to teach them math and economics and how to pick out ripe fruit and why it’s not ok to wear pajamas to the store. We’d learn spanish and japanese together. I’d listen to their kinds of music and watch silly movies with them.

7. Stop taking pictures and start being in them. Other than some professional family pictures we’ve done there are almost no pictures of me. I always take them and freak out a little if anyone points a camera at me.

8. Since A is so young I’d video tape us  doing things together. It wouldn’t really matter what… playing, him helping me clean, singing Rolling Stones songs together..  I’d just make sure there would be something for A to look back at and remember me.

9. I would tell my girls step mom everything I’d want them to know but couldn’t tell them (because they are too young or it’s not the right time in their lives). I’d tell her how I picture my girls weddings, how I would console them when they first get their hearts broken, and how I think they need to go to college and know how to support themselves even if they want to stay home and raise babies. I’d also make sure to tell her how much I love and support her and am thankful she’s in my girls lives.

All the list making got me thinking….  If some of the things on my list will benefit me or those around me why am I waiting until I receive some terrible news? Obviously some of the things are silly or irresponsible but aspects of #3, and 5-9 are really good ideas. Instead of going through life just trying to get to bedtime each day, I’m going to start living life as the gift it truly is.

 

The Happiness Project: Having a Conversation

C had his first day of 5th grade yesterday and things went really well. His homework assignment was to get 3 things from home that help explain who you are and bring them in today.

Now…  I think I’ve explained this before but C is on the Autism Spectrum, he has a language processing disorder, ADHD, ect. He’s in an inclusion classroom but gets pulled out for help in certain areas.

After I explained his homework assignment, he went off to his room to collect a few things and came out with, 1. a picture of him with his siblings, 2. his medal from Special Olympics, and 3. his favorite toy car. Then he EXPLAINED to me why he picked out each things. After I picked my chin up off the floor I told him he picked out great things. THEN… we had a 10 minute conversation about Special Olympics and how much he enjoyed it, how he wants to do it again, he REMEMBERED his teachers name from last year and who all his friends were in his class this year.

I have to admit, after he went back to his room to watch a movie I went to the bathroom and cried for a minute. More and more often we see these glimpses of C that are absolutely spectacular. It makes me proud be to his step-mom.

For more happy, go to:

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Marvelous Mondays (on Sunday)

As Sundays go and Mondays come a lot of us think, “ugh, not again.” With this in mind I bring you Marvelous Mondays. Each Monday I will show you something that makes me look forward to the start of every week and I’ll tell you what I think life is all about.

This weeks Marvelous Mondays is on Sunday for a few reasons. One, I have a wicked cold and am only posting in those brief moments that I’m not either heavily medicated with Sudafed or feeling so terrible that there is nothing marvelous to post about. Two, school starts tomorrow and it’s going to be a hectic day.

This weekend my oldest celebrated her 13th birthday. To honor her a bunch of us went down to the beach for a party/ last weekend at the beach before school.  A worked on making his big sister a “happy-birthday-sand-shell-cake”. He was very happy with his creation and G was equally happy that he made something for her. B, BB, and I all helped a little bit with the cake. B searched for suitable shells with A, BB helped get the cake into shape, and I kind of helped a little with everything.

Watching everyone come together (extended family and friends included) to celebrate a birthday was a wonderful thing to experience. It made for a long, hot day out in the sunshine. There were no DS game systems, texting with the cell phones, no laptops….  It was just family, friends, fun, sun, food, drink, and play (and a few presents).

Seeing everyone so happy certainly makes for a marvelous end to the beach season. School is about to start and instead of thinking about the copious amounts of school supplies I still haven’t bought or how many homework battles are in my future, I’m going to focus on how marvelous it is to be surrounded by such loving family.

A’s Baby “Truths”

A is at an age where he is very curious about a lot of things and his latest on going topic is babies. He’s pretty good with understanding that birds have eggs and mammals have babies. He also understands the baby animals get their food from their mother and human babies can nurse… or have a bottle. The older he gets the more detailed question he asks and I’m just not willing to give him a straight answer.  I have a friend who is having twins and he tends to use her as fodder for questions.

Toward the end of my friend’s 1st trimester I explained to A that she had babies in her tummy. He asked how they got there and me wanting to skirt the whole sex topic said, “the usual way.”  That seemed to satisfy his curiosity and I didn’t hear anymore about it… until I told him we were going out to meet her. As soon as A found out we were going to meet our pregnant friend he flipped out, flung himself on the kitchen floor, and held onto the table legs for dear life. Ten minutes I managed to calm him down and ask him what was wrong. As serious as a heart attack he said,

“I don’t want her to EAT me! She’s already eaten 2 babies and they are in her tummy! I’m NOT getting EATEN!”

Today we met our now 6-months-pregnant-with-twins friend for lunch.  While waiting to be seated A decided to ask how the babies are getting out.  Without skipping a beat she told him that when the time is right they are going to push her belly button and eject the babies. We all laughed and had lunch.  On the way home A asked,

“When the babies are ready, can I push the belly button to get them out?”

His innocence and willingness to accept what he’s told as truth is so adorable. Hopefully he won’t need therapy to straighten things out later…

My Own Baby Truths

Recently while reading pages from one of my favorite bloggers, Confessions of a Conflicted Mean Girl, I came across her list of Shit Nobody Ever Tells You About Having A Baby.  I loved this list and the point behind it.

I’ve given birth to three babies and have gotten all sorts of advice from people. Everything from Hallmark type sayings to scare tactics and almost nobody tells you the real deal about having a baby. From conception to delivery and postpartum, here are some “truths” I have learned.

1. Pregnant women do NOT glow. They swell, itch, grow excess hair, lose all coordination, pee every 15 minutes, have sciatic pain down one leg, and forget stupid things like how to spell the word “blue” or how to make the microwave work. Pregnant women who seem to glow like Jennifer Garner and Katie Holmes are a special breed of genetically altered hollywood woman.  Pregnant women do NOT glow.

2. Yes, there is a high likelihood that you will poop while having your baby.  There is an equally high likelihood that it won’t even be in the top 10 things you’ll care about after the baby is out.

3. The baby product market is a racket. Babies need to be clean, fed, clothed, and have shelter.

4. Every few years pediatricians change their minds about certain topics.  When G was born babies slept on their stomachs.  When B was born they were on their sides.  When A was born they slept on their backs. I’m sure that medical research is improving and thus the basis for changing what is normal but as a parent it often feels like they are just trying to keep us on our toes. Parenting is 30% knowledge and 70% instinct.

5. No matter how much you love your child there will be times when you need to lock yourself in your bathroom to get away from the crying. This does NOT make you a bad parent.

6. Women who try to make you feel inferior because of your parenting choices (breastfed/formula, disposable/cloth diapers, baby wearing/stroller, work/stay at home, etc.) are insecure and need to make you feel bad so they can feel better.  There is no right way to raise a baby.

7. Your doctor will tell you no sex for 6-8 weeks after giving birth.  You may not want sex for months and months after giving birth…. Your partner will live.

8. After having a baby (or two) don’t be surprised if you tinkle a little when laughing too hard.

9. The first time you think something is wrong with your baby you will feel an adrenalin rush like nothing you’ve ever experienced.  Keep breathing.  Your heartbeat will return to normal.

10. I promise you will love your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th child as much as your 1st. I can’t explain where the love comes from or how, but it will happen.

11. Breastfeeding is not always best.  It depends on the health of the mother/child, amount of stress it creates, how the mother feels emotionally, the mother’s diet… Choosing to not breastfeed does not make you a bad mother.

12. Breastfeeding past 1yr of age does not make you a freak. There are tons of mother’s everywhere who nurse well past a year and their children are well-adjusted. You don’t have to breastfeed hidden in the bathroom away from the public. Your child has as much right to a meal in a pleasant environment as everyone else.

13. The term “birth plan” is a misnomer.  It’s good to research what your hospital and OB’s policies are but there is a good chance your body and baby won’t adhere to any plan. 

14. It’s ok to ask for help. It’s ok to be tired. It’s ok to cry while watching Lifetime movies. It’s ok to not have time to get a daily shower until the baby is at least 3 months old. It happens.

These are some of my truths.  I think if women were more real with each other about childbirth and raising children, there would be a lot less stress all the way around. What are some of the things you’ve figured out about having  a baby that nobody told you?

 

Marvelous Mondays

As Sundays go and Mondays come a lot of us think, “ugh, not again.” With this in mind I bring you Marvelous Mondays.

Each Monday I will show you something that makes me look forward to the start of every week and I’ll tell you what I think life is all about.

 

This week I don’t have a picture so I’m going to paint you a verbal picture…

Tonight at soccer practice with the girls the temperature dropped to 70 degrees and it started to drizzle.  The falling temperature conjured up images of Fall.  I love summer as much as the next person but the luxury of living somewhere with 4 separate seasons means that I always have the next one to look forward to. I’m over summer.

Orange, red, and gold leaves, sweaters, pumpkins, meals from a crock pot, football, jeans, soccer, Halloween, rainy afternoons, apple cider, gingersnap cookies, turkey decorations, matching gloves and scarves.

This is Fall to me.  Autumn in all it’s glory.

I know I have many hot days ahead of me but starting the week off with some mild weather gives me a glimpse of what is to come.  I had a Marvelous Monday and hope you did too!