Birth Story Part I

So LS is here! Everybody loves a good birth story, right?!

It’s been a humbling month or so, starting with BG getting conjunctivitis and sharing it with myself and Mr. MLACS, then I had Flu A, then some other flu-like virus BG brought home, which culminated in a double ear infection for me and I lost most of my hearing in both ears.

I was practically deaf.

I went into urgent care a couple Saturdays ago because my right ear was causing agonizing pain, and walked out with Augmentin and ear drops, which helped me to feel better but did not help my hearing loss.

Mr. MLACS took me to see my OB on my due date, thinking maybe they could help me by giving me a referral to see an ENT (our insurance is PPO but a referral would expedite my appointment). They put me on the monitor and LS was good, but chillin’. So I drank some apple juice to wake her up. And she started hopping, but I noticed some decells–her baseline heartrate was about 150bpm, and she would hop up to 180bpm, but then fall to 110-120 bpm. I wondered if that was just her falling off the monitor, but I didn’t think so.

Sure enough, my OBGYN came in and said baby was not in distress but she didn’t like the decells and would rather play it safe and induce me, since I was officially 40 weeks. I wholeheartedly agreed.

It felt surreal, because I had resigned myself that I would probably carry to 41 weeks and that LS would be born on BG’s 4th birthday.

We called the sibling doula and the back-up sibling doula that we had hired to come stay with BG and the pets while Mr. MLACS and I went to the hospital to deliver LS. Our primary doula was available and set to be on her way. I had already written several emails with detailed instructions for the doulas. We nervously drove from the clinic to our house. My hospital bag still wasn’t fully packed, the house was a mess and I had cleaners coming the next day, and I needed a shower. I could hardly focus on the tasks at hand and BG was following me around asking 20 questions. I was relieved when the doula showed up and realized I needed some privacy to complete my tasks and process the overwhelming fact that I was going to have a baby–MY baby–in a matter of hours. BG adored her and they ran off to play.

Noteworthy items I packed in my hospital bag were:

1. SOMA intimates pajamas–the softest jersey material, like butter on your skin. Button down is a must for breastfeeding and they make you feel comfy and elegant in the hospital. Not cheap, but worth it.

2. An exercise ball for labor–I bought a pink one from amazon. A lot of hospitals say they have them but you never know if one will be available when you need it and also it’s a safe bet that A LOT of other peoples’ bodily fluids have christened the ones at the hospital.

3. Baby gowns instead of footie pajamas, because they have to wear an ankle bracelet and also for easy access to change diapers.

4. Swaddles–I prefer velcro swaddles in soft fabrics rather than wrapping baby up in hospital blankets.

5. I brought my own diapers. I use honest diapers and unscented wipes. The nurses were annoyed because my diapers dont have the pee strip, but oh well not their call. The diapers in the hospital are scented, and I want to smell my baby, not aromantic pampers.

6. A phone charger with a long cord (like solid 6ft) so you can plug it in the wall and still have it next to you in bed.

7. Obviously for me–ostomy supplies. I packed plenty of supplies–more than what I thought I might need, just to be safe.

8. My medications. Hospital is supposed to have a list of current meds and provide them for you, but just bring them anyway.

So I tidied the house (i.e. stuffed sh*t in closets), showered/did my hair, finished packing and off Mr. MLACS and I went. It was hard saying goodbye to BG, knowing everything was about to change.

It was a solid 40min drive to our hospital–a perk of being induced is that I didn’t have to do this drive while in active labor. We arrived and they had a L&D room waiting for me–another perk of being induced is I didn’t have to go through triage (while in active labor) before being admitted.

It was about 6:30pm–we got there right as they were changing shifts and there was a flurry of activity. Even still, I was quickly attended to.

Everybody in L&D speaks in hushed and soothing tones, like Bob Ross.

The moment they walked in the room and opened their mouths I had to stop them and say “I have a double ear infection and I can’t hear you unless you SPEAK UP.” This was not ideal, but everyone obliged so it could have been worse. My ear pain in my right ear rivaled the pain of my contractions, so that was fun. They gave me Tylenol and offered me Nubain, but I was not trying to be high on Nubain since I’d had Staydol during my (incredibly painful) labor with BG and it made me psychotic.

My induction started with the foley bulb (sp?) which involves the nurse threading a balloon attached to a catheter through my 1cm dilated cervix and then inflating the balloon with water so that it causes my cervix to dilate to 3-4cm, then the balloon falls out.

I also had an IV and pitocin drip started as well. My nurse Jennifer (whom I liked) started the pitocin “low and slow”, at like a 2 or 3. By the time the foley bulb fell out my pitocin was up to a 7. Jennifer offered me the epidural (which I knew I wanted) but at first I refused, with the idea in mind that it could slow my progression and cause me to need a c-section. But Jennifer said that actually the epidural would allow her to push my pitocin and that would help my labor progress more than anything. She asked if there was any other reason to delay the epidural and I said emphatically *No* because I had ALL the pain during my 37hr labor with BG and then also with my Crohn’s disease so I have nothing left to prove–bring on the epidural!

….to be continued…

XOXO,

MLACS

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24 Weeks (With an Ileostomy)

As every IF and RPL lady knows, reaching 24 weeks pregnant is a milestone to celebrate because at this point your baby has a real chance at survival if you were to go into premature labor. Like your baby would a micro-preemie and would spend a solid 20+ weeks in the NICU–but at least they’d have a chance.

So I’m marking this occasion with my little LS. She is still kicking away in there! I have an anterior placenta (same as with BG) so I don’t feel her in the front very much, but often on my left side or the bottom of my pelvis. As I recall, BG was more chill than LS and I didn’t feel her moving as often. I do wonder if it’s because I drink 1 cup of coffee a day during this pregnancy and I only rarely had coffee with BG. But my heart tells me that LS is going to be more hyper and intense than BG, regardless of how much coffee I drink.

BG is such an easy and pleasant child, and I’m pretty sure the laws of the universe state that you don’t get two pleasant and easy kids in a row. I try to think on the bright side, that a kid who is challenging and pushes you out of your comfort zone can be awesome–that was me, always pushing my parents to see my point of view and get excited about new things (and being frustrated when they didn’t get it). I do hope I’m able to successfully cultivate two very different kids, if that is the case. My sister and I are very different and my own parents did not do a great job of meeting our individual needs and harmonizing us as a family despite our differences. I want to do better for my own kids.

BG is quite excited to meet LS and will put her face close to my belly and say “Hi baby! It’s your big sister! I love you!” And kiss my belly. Does it get any sweeter than that?! I think not. When looking at toys for Christmas, BG has already picked out some things she thinks LS should have, so I figure I’ll throw a few gifts for LS under the tree, even though it feels kind of silly…and a little scary… With all the loss I have experienced, I am naturally afraid of losing LS and I have the f*cked up but very common fear that if I start feeling and acting overly confident, the universe will take her to teach me a lesson. Logically I know that’s not how it works, but emotions are not logical.

I feel like I need to write an update about BG, but for now let me just put on the record that I love this kid with my heart and soul and I think she is an amazing little human and a gift to the world. She is such a loveable little kid, and I tell her every day that she’s a great kid and that I’m so lucky to be her mom ❤20181116_103728_Film1 XOXO,

MLACS

Wow…second trimester already!

Hey guys, today makes 15 weeks! I had an OB visit today and her heartbeat was spot-on at 160-170 bpm. My belly has been expanding, but not like it did with BG–even though I weigh less now than I did with BG, my tummy is soft/squishy instead of hard. I presume this is because I have loose skin and, moreover, because I don’t have my colon (which was impacted due to taking Zofran with BG).

I loved my body/my belly with BG, but between my squishiness, scars from surgery, and my ostomy bag, I don’t feel very cute. I think part of my lack of enthusiasm for my “bump” is also that it’s my 2nd pregnancy and I have A LOT more on my plate–with BG, Mr. MLACS was gone 50% of the time, we lived in an apartment (now we are homeowners) and I didn’t have a toddler, plus it was a hard-won pregnancy, so I reveled in my ‘pregnant-ness’ and had lots of time and money to buy cute maternity clothes and take bump photos. I can’t be the only one–has anyone else found that their first pregnancy was all pinterest-y, but subsequent pregnancies were less so? I don’t want baby sister to feel less important or celebrated, because she is my little miracle and just because I’m not into *myself* right now is no reflection on how much I’m into her. I hope little sister understands and doesn’t take it personally. Because once she’s here, I’ll give her everything I’ve got just like I did for BG. Oh, and henceforth little sister will be referred to as LS.

So maybe you are wondering…how is pregnancy different with an ostomy? Well, first off, my ostomy bag covers the right half of my belly. As my belly grows and changes, I’ve had more challenges…

1. I eat more–a lot more–so my stoma and ostomy bags are getting a “workout” from all the food I consume.

2. My stoma is changing size. It has increased 2-3mm in diameter (so currently 28-29mm) and is protruding more.

3. Because my belly isn’t flat anymore, my stoma is changing size, and I am eating more, I’m having more leaks. In fact, I’ve gone from changing my appliance once every 4 days to changing it almost every day. And when I have leaks it irritates my peristomal skin.

4. I’m going to try different bases/bags to see if I can prevent leaks, and also because my preferred base only goes up to 35mm and may become too small.

5. My bag is much harder to hide under clothes. I had an easy time concealing it, even under skin tight clothing, prior to pregnancy/my belly growing. But now I can see my bag through almost anything I wear, tight or not. I’m frustrated about that. And between wanting to prevent leaks and also wanting to be comfortable, wearing compression garments is basically out of the question at this point.

6. I need to buy some new maternity clothes that suit my new body, but because I’m not into myself right now and I’m busy, I just haven’t made the effort. I really need to. I really wish I had a good friend here who I felt comfortable asking to go shopping with me.

So to be honest, having an ostomy has made pregnancy less enjoyable for me in some ways, as much as I hate to admit that. But I’m grateful to be healthy and moreover I’m grateful that LS is healthy, and that’s what really matters. The rest is trivial.

XOXO,

MLACS

 

Blunted. Muted. Faded. (Adrenal Fatigue after Prolonged Corticosteroid Use)

Terms which describe how I feel right now. I’m exhausted. I have alot of aches and pains in my muscles and joints. I’m cold all the time, and when I’m cold I can hardly move–it feels like a chore to get up from a chair and go to the next room. I’ve gained weight even though I’ve been eating healthier…

This is Adrenal Fatigue.

Post-surgery and a deadly fight with chronic illness. When does it get better and STAY better? Because I felt fabulous right after surgery…but then weaning off the Prednisone and pain medications revealed that my body is in rough shape and in no way back to “normal”.

It’s good that I’m off the Prednisone–my face has shrunk and I recognize myself in the mirror. My body now has a chance to recover from the damage the Pred did. But how f*cking long will it take to heal???

I’m tired of feeling like sh*t.

And I’m trying to help myself. Been eating more whole foods, way less sugar/processed foods, even though I crave sugar because *adrenal fatigue*.

I started going to the gym again, taking barre and power yoga and lifting weights. I only manage a couple days a week though, so I haven’t seen much results. I’m sore.

I started taking CW (charlotte’s web) brand CBD oil (cannabinoid oil) and it has helped me to feel somewhat better–it successfully weaned me off pain killers, as I was dependent on Hydrocodone (small amount, half of a 5-325 daily). And thank goodness because I have no way to obtain more pain meds at this time. Nor do I want to.

While I like feeling calm and not angry all the time (‘roid rage from presnisone), I miss having energy. I miss having intensity. I feel so lame now.

I read that it could take 12-18 months to recover from “moderate” adrenal fatigue. I really don’t have the patience to feel like crap for another year. I have an almost 3yr old to chase after. I have a house I still need to finish moving into and organize. I have a garage that is full of stuff that I need to declutter (sell/get rid of A LOT). I want to get in shape and look/feel amazing–I also have my 20th highschool reunion coming up in August. We might be moving again (Mr. MLACS is looking for a new position). And if I’m going to TTC, I have to do it soon because I’m 38yrs old already! Plus I want to do more with my life…

I don’t want to just feel ok, I want to feel *good* again. Soon.

XOXO,

MLACS

Resurrection

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“As the legend goes, when the Phoenix resurrects from the flames, she is even more beautiful than before”–Danielle LaPorte

In 2017…I lost my house to a fire, my health to Crohn’s disease (and subsequently my colon to a colectomy, my hair to Stelara, and my mind to Prednisone), and last–but certainly not least–I lost my husband to a SCA (sudden cardiac arrest).

Luckily, I got them all back.

My house has been repaired, my health recovered, and my husband resurrected.

And I lived through it all, with as much grace and courage and dignity as I could muster.

I have scars, both inside and out.

But I feel so proud of myself.

So at peace with myself.

Strong. Confident. Determined.

I have walked through the flames.

I will rise from these ashes.

More beautiful than before–not in vain–but rather, a beauty of essence. Of spirit. Of soul.

In 2018, I will emerge, radiant.

XOXO,

MLACS

 

I Did It! I’m An Ostomate!

I had my surgery late Tuesday afternoon on October 17th, 2017. I woke up to find I have several scars, a stoma, and a colostomy bag, and I was…

Relieved! Happy! Ready to jump up and go live that slice of life I’ve been sidelined from due to chronic illness!

I’ve been walking, eating low residue foods, and emptying/applying my own colostomy bags. I’ve been conservative with my pain meds and I’m ready to bust outta here tomorrow!

Mr. MLACS and my uncle drove me to surgery and stayed there all day and into the night because they didn’t even take me back until 4pm or so. I told them they should at least leave and go eat some delicious food, since I was starving but couldn’t eat. I told them if the shoe was on the other foot I would totally ditch them to go to the thai restaurant around the corner. But they stayed close by and ate at the hospital cafeteria.

The surgery went well and only took 2 hours vs. the usual 3-4 hours. I was told my colon was one of the worst the surgeon has seen–that was validating. CRS said he believes pathology will reveal I have Crohn’s Colitis, but we won’t know until next week.

I have ordered lots of samples of ostomy bags and accessories, so excited to try some stuff out–I haven’t particularly like the first 2 bags I’ve tried, mostly because they are one-pieces and the one I have now has a filter that gets super messy and takes for-ev-er to clean (sensura mio one piece). I will have to try a 2 piece tomorrow, hate to irritate my skin by changing it so much but I’m uncomfortable with the sensura mio one piece. It’s going to take some trial and error to find what I like.

I’m on A LOT of corticosteroids and cannot sleep (it’s 2:30am) even on percocet. I’m also very bloated from the steroids and cannot wait to get back to my 30mg oral dose and start tapering! Before long (God willing) I’ll be down to just 2 pills per day + my supplements! That’s kind of amazing.

I feel SO MUCH better with the colon gone–there is a tiny bit left actually–but I’ll deal with that later and my CRS said it shouldn’t give me much, if any, trouble.

I want to train for a marathon. I want to clean my house all day and play with BG without having to lay down every 15 minutes. I want to go back to nursing school. I want to travel. I want another baby. I want to do ALL THE THINGS!

It’s going to take some getting used to, but I think I will make my own way and figure it out. Being an ostomate is part of my destiny, and I’m going to embrace it and be the best version of myself–even better than before, I think.

XOXO,

MLACS

Aloha, Colon–Booked My Colectomy and Not Looking Back


So the obvious–I’m f*cking done being sick. Things have been worse the past couple of weeks, owing to our moving house (stress), my Stelara is wearing off (like clockwork), I lowered my Prednisone (down to 20mg), and the last f*cking straw–wait for it–I had the flu last week (just shoot me).

After a couple days of toileting 12+ times per day, mostly blood, straining (felt like my body was trying to expel my colon with brut force), dehydration, pain, weakness.etc. I called up my IBD Nurse and said “Listen up–I am well and truly ready to schedule surgery. Tell IBD Specialist she won’t need to have ‘the talk’ with me on Monday and we can just get down to business.” And I meant every word. Something in me just ‘clicked’ and I knew I was meant to have the surgery, and I felt relief and resolve to move forward.

So I met with IBD Specialist yesterday as well as the Colorectal Surgeon (CRS) and the Ostomy Nurse. IBD Specialist said “Just in case you’re interested, you could try Entyvio, Cimzia, or a clinical trial drug”, but I shook my head and said “Nope, drug therapy is not for me. I failed 3 biologics–they all worked but wore off too quickly because I metabolize them too fast, so drugs are not the answer”. Which IBD Specialist wholeheartedly agreed, and basically wished me well and sent me off to the CRS. I asked the CRS a few questions and made it known that I may look like hell *now* but I used to be hot, so minimal scarring would be ideal, as I aspire to be an athlete when I’m well again and to look good naked. I’ll get into the logistics of things in another post.

I saw the Ostomy Nurse, got marked where my stoma will go, and am now testing out a Coloplast mio bag. Testing the bag out is a game changer! Most people don’t but I think everyone should. It’s not bad at all–I forget it’s even there! Easy to conceal under clothing. BG thinks it’s cool. I was building it up in my head that it would be strange and awkward, but it’s not.

Of course then today my colon has been much better and I’m like “WTF colon–quit playing games” but I am still ready for surgery. Mr. MLACS only has to use a week of vacation and they’ll let him work from home the second week, so he doesn’t need to file FMLA. He and BG will stay in a hotel near the hospital (since it is a 2hr drive from where we live) until I’m released.

Ok so so so exhausted, but just wanted to let you guys know “the scoop”.

T-minus TWO WEEKS until surgery!!!

XOXO,
MLACS