Saturday, January 17, 2015


I have felt so homebound lately. It's tough for me because I'm so extroverted and at least was formerly adventurous. Being trapped in my room or bed drives me nuts, but I'm finding new ways to excel and enjoy. In the words of that famous cat, "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." Knowing how to have fun within the walls of not just my house but the confines that my limited energy creates is requiring new learning and creativity.

Here are a few things in which I have invested time and thought:

1. How to take a perfect bath 
Lock the door if another adult is home. If not, place children in a nearby location with "the babysitter." The babysitter could be books and coloring (if you have those imaginary children), but it's probably Netflix and a show that they think you don't really like for them to watch but actually YOU just don't like to watch. The moment you decide to take a bath, plug the drain and start the water even if it's not a perfect temperature. Too hot will cool when filling the cold tub and too cold is easily fixed once the hot water warms up. Feel good about not wasting any water. Throw in a handful of baking soda. DO NOT FORGET TO BRING IN YOUR UNDERWEAR AND YOUR DRINK BEFORE YOU GET IN. I have worked long to develop the foot dexterity to adjust water temperature and turn water off using only one foot. You too may be able to achieve this with hard work and determination (to not raise your body out of the water.)

2. How to make a delicious fennel salad
Order things on AmazonFresh. You need fennel bulb (buy 3, you'll want this a lot), orange, apple, onion, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper. Thinly slice the fennel bulb and a few tablespoons of the leaves. Thinly slice half an apple. Finely chop about a tablespoon of onion. Peel and chop up about half an orange and save any juice that runs out on the cutting board. Throw all this in a bowl. Stir together. Add a drizzle of olive oil and more apple cider vinegar than you think. Generously salt and pepper it all. Allow salad to change your tongue's life.

3. How to watch Project Runway with a 3 year old girl
Get snacks. We recommend these gummy bears and pretzels. Turn on the subtitles so that you can see the word "bitch" coming. They use it a lot. Cough on cue to cover the offense. Encourage 3 year old girl to decide whose team she is on. She will probably pick a color. Think she is adorable. Give her more candy.

4. How to cheer up
Use music.

5. How to not ruin the rest you got during your long stay in your room
Pretend you are a kid home from school on a sick day for at least 2 days. Enjoy activities with your kids. They like quieter activities just fine when you are doing them too (unlike when you are trying to force them to do them when you need to get some work done). Puzzles, drawing, beads, play dough are all good choices. Watch movies, but make it an event and snuggle together without scrolling through your phone the whole time. Eat simple meals. Resist the urge to freak out over the disaster that is all around- Mt. Rainier sized laundry pile, Mt. St. Helen's sized pile of dishes, Oregon's dunes' worth of dust on the floor. This step requires at least 20 rounds of bed confinement requiring recovery time to achieve. 

With time and effort, you too can begin to lower your expectations beyond what you ever imagined, and fennel salad, a bath, and a glow in the dark T-Rex puzzle can be your week's greatest achievements too!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Feeling Better and Seeing Baby

This month I learned the importance of always knowing your own TSH number. That may mean nothing to you, and I actually hope it means nothing; that would imply that you maybe have a thyroid that works. My thyroid, however, is a dead crusty thing that no longer does its job. I've known this for a long time, and have been on replacement thyroid hormones for about 7 years (Dang! I'm getting older!). When that TSH is high, it's bad news. My first pregnancy measurements showed that my TSH was super high and that I needed more medication. Long story short (and some alarming, insensitive comments from an endocrinologist about my baby omitted), it took me awhile to get on the proper dose. The 7 day half-life of the medication means that it takes about a week after beginning a new dose to feel its effects. MORAL: know my number and get the right medicine quickly.


I feel so much better!! POTS still sucks, and I do have experiences of it even on good days, but I have mostly functioned like a semi-normal person (or at least a normal pregnant person) for 4 whole days! Cue the singing princess and the chirping little bluebirds! I went to the store even! I don't know how long this will last, but I'm hoping I may be sliding into the 2nd trimester and the hope that POTS symptoms will improve. I also can tell that I'm on the proper thyroid doses, and that is a very good thing (just ask my endocrinologist).

I had a visit with my midwife today that I was very much looking forward to. For one thing, I love her, and she is a dear friend to me. Secondly, I was pretty worried about my baby, and I really needed to hear that heartbeat. Hypothyroidism is connected to miscarriage. I also have only lost weight (which is not that unusual but is not reassuring). I also just worry about that stuff because of my history, my family history, and too many bad things happening to good friends. Well, we couldn't find the heartbeat with the doppler, and I was thinking, "oh no, so this is how it goes." Thankfully, my midwife now has an ultrasound machine and ultrasound training, and she pulled it out immediately. Right away, as if already displaying the family traits, there was my baby doing a crazy dance as if he or she was aware of being on stage. PRAISE GOD! Baby looked great! 4 limbs and a heart beat- I'll take it! I will be 12 weeks on Tuesday (not that I'm counting...)

Today's technological visit with my baby was such a comfort to me and just made me fall that much more in love with the child. I can't wait to meet him or her and can already sense the joy that is in store for us. Just telling the boys about the ultrasound made them giggle and smile. The fact that they can't wait to have this kid in our family too makes the whole thing just that much more fun. I really do love kids. And I mean all kids, but I also mean MY kids.

(Of course, as I write that, my daughter is downstairs throwing an epic fit about bedtime to St. Brendan, and one of my sons has left a duplo mine field around my bed. Still- I love my kids!)

I'm grateful tonight for celebratory frozen chocolate cheesecakes from Trader Joe's, ultrasound technology, a fantastic midwife, and the bravery required to undertake this pregnancy. All of these have been opportunities for me to see God's love. It is always there, and I wish I was ALWAYS looking for it. I can even be grateful for the terrible few weeks in a row I suffered because they help me to keep my eyes open.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

I think this one is really just for me

So, I wrote all this out, and I'm glad that I did. But, I'm really hesitant to post it. Sharing these parts of it all is really hard. It feels like people are left with such a one-dimensional impression of who I am. And, honestly, a post like this inspires pity, and I hate pity even though I do need it! Alright, conclusion of meta-post.

I spent the last three days in bed. I knew I'd be crashing at some point, but it doesn't usually take me this long to recover. Of course, given all the medical facts of the moment, I shouldn't be so surprised. I think the baby has increased my requirements for recovery time.

So, what am I recovering from? Not entirely sure, but I think I'm paying for my New Year's Eve activities. I went to the park with my family, and even though I just sat in a blanket with Hazel the whole time, it was the most significant outing I've done for a while. It felt good to get some fresh, cold air in my lungs and sunshine on my face, even if it was only 38 degrees. I should have stopped there, but I had already decided to pretend I wasn't sick and enjoy some NYE festivities. I REALLY should have thrown in the towel. In fact, the whole time I was struggling through putting a dress on I was saying to Brendan, "I should not do this. I do not want to do this." First stop was dinner at a Chinese restaurant with the extended family. Normally, this would have been fun, but I was trying not to vomit (POTS, not preg-related, I think...). And given my state, dealing with the very exuberant child to my left who shall remain nameless was extremely taxing. I took our first opportunity to get out of there just to be done worrying that they were going to rip the tablecloth off the table or upset the lazy susan because it was raising my heart rate by the minute. Brendan and I left our kids in the kind and capable hands of their aunt and uncle and departed for one of my favorite events of the year and the reason I was so committed to the fact that Denial is a river in Egypt. The all-adult dress-up party was lovely as always. Sadly I couldn't enjoy it. I perked up a little bit being around my friends, but I quickly began to flag. My brain fog became ridiculous as did my headache and heart-rate, and I wound up standing on the porch just to be away from everyone while I waited for Brendan to come out and take me home.

I started out angry, but wound up crying my brains out for the next hour or so about my deepest fears and disappointments (no biggie) and going to bed where I have pretty much stayed since.

So, why was I telling you all this? Ah, yes, this morning. Because I've been trapped here for so long, I was determined to turn the denial back on and get my butt to church this morning. Mostly, I wanted to be able to teach my Sunday School class, but I also really get so much rejuvenation from worship. I'm definitely needing some rejuvenation. When things get really tough like this, I just sort of go into this shallow-thinking mode where I kind of disassociate from what's happening. I try to keep myself on a steady diet of non-demanding Netflix watching and snuggling with whatever child comes in to see me. I braided Hazel's hair about 20 times. Giving yourself a day like that is probably fine, but three is way too many. All the real feels that are trapped inside just really start banging on the walls and driving me crazy. It's hard for me to want to engage with God when I'm like this. I KNOW that it just takes me breaking the ice by cracking open my Bible or even finding a song to listen to, but I get very lazy and resistant. Coming to God means being honest about my need, and that doesn't mix well with shallow-thinking denial. So, anyway, I was looking forward to church because I knew that would help snap me out of my awful funk and give me some new hope.

But, I woke up feeling dizzy. Not good. Waking up means I'm still horizontal. After whisper screaming some expletives to myself, I dragged on my BP monitor. Super low blood pressure. This was no surprise to me since I had been up late dealing with chest pain. It's a POTS thing that no one really understands. Comforting, right? I stood up to see what the damage was. (For those just joining us, POTS stands for POSTURAL orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, so the real test for how symptomatic I am comes with checking my heart during postural changes) The first time I started the monitor it was flashing at me that I was arrhythmic, and I think my pressure was so low that it couldn't get a reading and displayed an error. So, I tried to start it again but had to sit down because I blacked out and my ears filled with cotton and clanging. DARN IT. No church for me.

The Holy Spirit convinced me to do my own little horizontal worship time. I followed the regular order of liturgy and used music from my church website and the site of another musician I love, and his church's website as well. I called myself to worship with these words of Moses and God from Exodus 33: "'If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways, so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.' The Lord replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'" I listened to songs and tried my best to sing along as they were choking me up. Confession flowed easily as I knew full well I'd tried hiding from God for three days. I was going to find a sermon to listen to, but I decided that I was preaching to myself already. And, really, that's what I pulled open the blog to try to write through, but I guess just narrating the last several days was what needed to happen first.

Maybe all this is the offering portion of my worship. "Here's what I have, Lord. This is what I'm working with. You might as well take it because only you can make good of stuff like this. And I love you." These thoughts are taken from the speaker we enjoyed on our church's women's retreat. She presented the concept of just giving God what I have, even if it feels unworthy, like the widow's mite or a kid with a fistful of dandelions, because God will receive with love and acceptance. What a relief!

My ears are still ringing. My heart pounds if I get up. But, my deepest health need, the need for spiritual comfort has been relieved some now. God, give me strength for tomorrow and the week to come! But help me to give all to you so that you can make good from what is happening whether I like it or not.