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

 

Grief, Anxiety and Depression (and what I’m doing to heal)

I don’t know where to begin. I’ve been spiraling since my dad died.

I was just starting to get traction in my life after several years of of tumult. My health declining and autoimmune issues usurping my life and finances. Infertility and miscarriages. Mr. MLACS’s heart failure when I was 32 weeks pregnant. Being a new mother and deeply feeling the loss/void of my own beloved mother. Coping with Mr. MLACS being gone for work for weeks at a time. Overwhelming PPA (postpartum anxiety) and coming to terms with cutting off our toxic family members, including my dad (it took 2 years of weekly therapy and a lot of processing). Finally buying our first home–our dream home–only to have it burn down as we were packing to move. Moving to a very depressed area of Louisiana after the Great Flood of 2016, where I knew no one and felt like I didn’t belong.

Becoming ill and spending the entirety of 2017 fighting for my life with no support, because I was too sick to even ask for it. Feeling useless and hopeless at times.

Finally embracing the idea of a total colectomy surgery–having a prosthetic colon for the rest of my life. Finally about to move into my dream home.

And being deathly ill and having my husband drop dead at work, revived…but I am haunted by the way he looked and smelled like death in the ER. The nurses hearing me sob in the bathroom next to his bed in the ICU, as I sat on the toilet bleeding, desperately needing to be admitted myself but terrified to have my surgery because I was afraid I might die and orphan my child. My precious BG and my precious dog so sad and scared despite my best efforts to spare them the grief I felt. My heart was broken into a million pieces.

But I overcame everything. I beat infertility and I have the most precious daughter. I overcame PPA and came to terms with severing ties with my father. Mr. MLACS got a new job where he would be home every night. Our dream home was repaired. My surgery went well and I don’t need to take any IBD medications–I am not “chronically ill” anymore. My husband has a pacemaker/defibrillator and has taken responsibility for his health and lost a lot of weight. We moved into our dream house and I even bought my dream furniture.

I was making a comeback with my fitness, going to Burn Boot Camp and Barre3 classes and I volunteered as the organizer for a local moms fitness group–I was transparent about my ostomy. I was living my truth. I felt brave. I felt bold. I felt powerful. I felt beautiful. I felt like I was going to crush my goals.

And then my dad died.

And after everything I’ve been through–what I’ve overcome–and the fact that he wasn’t even a very good dad, you wouldn’t expect *that* to be the “straw that broke the camel’s back”.

But it was. I have been depressed and anxious. I can’t focus. I can’t think straight. I’m constantly waiting for the next shoe to drop.

I feel alienated from people. Lonely. Broken.

I’m angry because I fought SO. HARD. through the rock-bottom pit of hell that was 2017…

I had just started to feel safe. I wasn’t obsessing over the past or worrying about the future. I was living. I was embracing life. I was open to possibilities. I was all *positive vibes*.

But now I’m struggling again.

Dealing with my parents’ estate is torture. They were smart–everything was deeded to the trust. Every property, vehicle, trailer and boat. Nothing going to probate. Take heed and for all my IF friends who are parents now, make a will and/or trust so your spouse and kid(s) are not screwed when you die.

But my sister and I have never gotten along and now we are co-trustees and must divide everything in half. Meanwhile, there are 20-something properties that need to be managed and bills that need to be paid. And we have to fix up and sell “the big house” (our family home) to settle debts so we can dissolve the trust. It’s daily stress. It’s a daily reminder that both my parents are dead and that I am going to die. And BG is not tolerant of me being on my phone talking or texting, etc. She relentlessly pesters me and then has meltdowns when I snap at her. I can barely force myself to think about or do any of the drudgery associated with the estate, and with BG agitating me I feel like I might lose my mind. I need to put her in preschool and I have her enrolled in one but it doesn’t start until the fall. And I do not even have the stomach to vet preschools right now. I am looking at summer camps but that’s a week here-and-there. Oh and I dread having to take BG back to the midwest with me *without Mr. MLACS* to deal with this estate BS. F*ing nightmare. That is a 12hr car ride easch way, which I cannot do alone so I’ll have to split into 2 says–that is 4 days of travel. Just shoot me.

But I’m rich now. So there’s that. Not a “one percent-er” or filthy rich–like mansion/servants, car and driver, private plane and NY fashion week rich. But like, I will have a monthly income from my trust and it is legacy wealth that I can pass on to BG.

I’d give it all to have my Mom back though.

To have both my parents back, because our family was functionally-dysfunctional until my Mom got sick, which brought out the worst in my dad.

I’d give anything to be one big happy family.

I want peace in my life again. I want to feel like everything is going to be ok.

I am doing EFT tapping and trying to take care of myself, even though I don’t feel like showering or brushing my teeth or going to yoga or doing laundry or vacuming or anything. I’m sort of dead inside–dormant is a better word–I was starting to blossom but now I am dormant like a bulb in the winter. And I hate it.

So I am trying to claw my way out of this depression. I’m weak. I’m scared. I’m vulnerable. I’m confused. I’m frustrated. I’m emotionally drained. I’m distraught. I’m burdened. I’m defensive. I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m apathetic. I’m literally tied in knots and seeing a new chiropractor to try to unclench and untwist my poor body.

But I haven’t given up hope yet. And I’m trying to get better.

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

Screenshot_2017-12-31-22-43-35

“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

 

MLACS Mash-Up

Hey y’all…

(I live in the South now so “y’all” is how they say “you all”…I still say “you guys” because I cannot bring myself to say y’all…IRL…)

I figured I’d update. But I’m exhausted so this won’t be interesting. If you’d like to skip it then cliff notes are: the MLACS family is doing just fine.

I actually feel worse now than I did directly after surgery. Why? Because I’m weaning off Prednisone, I’m down to 20mg/day, and I’m in *withdrawal*. My adrenal glands ceased function and let the Prednisone take over back in January of 2017. Now weaning creates a *deficit* in hormones (adrenaline, cortisol, epinephrine, etc.) which is supposed to “inspire” my adrenal glands to wake back up and start producing hormones again. Except, after being dormant so long, me being so sick, etc. the adrenal glands don’t simply *snap* back to life. Nope. That’s not how it works.

So here I lay, exhausted to my core yet unable to sleep properly. Anxious and feeling the urge to OCD clean the house and do ALL the things, but struggling to actually get anything done–and thus I am frustrated.

However sluggish I may feel, I have still managed to cook and bake and EAT quite a bit and I’m craving *sugar* due to my adrenal fatigue, so I feel crappy about eating all that sugar. And I’ve gained a few pounds instead of losing it like I had planned. But if you could only taste my gluten-free pumpkin bundt cake or my bread pudding with bourbon sauce–you’d know why.

Ironically, I am not cooking Thanksgiving dinner–we are going to a fancy brunch buffet at a Waldorf Astoria hotel–the menu is like three pages long and while it is pricey, kids under 3 eat free so at least we don’t have to pay for BG. I’m excited, but then also nervous because we have to drive 1.5hr+ and this is *the worst* travel holiday of the year and what if we get in a car wreck and die, all because *I* wanted to stuff my face at a fancy buffet???

This is how my mind works…

I also don’t know what to wear to this buffet because I need to dress nicely but also comfortably enough to eat my $85 worth *and* conceal my ostomy bag when it gets full. I’m considering taking closed bags (as opposed to the drainable I usually use) and just tossing them as they fill up. FTR, I’m currently using the coloplast sensura mio click and my base/flange is #10502 (I forget the bag #’s but those are less important).

My hair stopped falling out in clumps and is actually growing back (remember how I lost like 50% of my hair while taking Stelara?) which in theory is good but in reality I have all these 2 inch strands of hair sticking up all over my head and hairspray won’t tame them and not even a ball cap can conceal them–I’ve seriously considered getting a wig.

It’s hard. I want to look and feel *good* again. I want to look like I did a year ago *before* I got sick…in fact, I want to look better than that. I hate pictures of myself now. It’s pathetic–I need a family photo because we haven’t had our portrait done in 2+ years and Mr. MLACS just almost died, etc. But photos are expensive (for a good photog) and it’s a PIA to plan outfits, hair, etc. and most of all *I hate how I look* so I have not booked anything and it’s stressing.me.out.

Oh and because I’m absolutely insane I decided to host an open house on 2 weeks notice and invite everybody we know here. Am I having it catered? Am I having someone to come and clean my very *white* house? Of course NOT! I’ll be doing it all myself. Oh and I’m letting people bring their kids.

I know. I know. I’m already kicking myself.

So to change the subject, I saw my Colorectal Surgeon (CRS) yesterday for a post-op. I asked about the pathology report for my colon and I was not prepared…

It’s Crohn’s.

Without a doubt.

I really truly thought it would say UC. My disease never acted like Crohn’s–I got better when smoking cigarettes FFS!

The CRS said I can still have the j-pouch surgery but chances are I’ll have complications and eventually the pouch will have to be removed. I knew all of this already. I’m intending to keep my ostomy but I’m not ready for “barbie butt” yet. I told my CRS I really want to heal and then try to get pregnant.

Speaking of pregnant…

A lot of people (both my IF blogger girlfriends and ppl IRL) are falling pregnant and/or giving birth. I’m happy for you/them, but sad for me.

There, I said it.

I’m having the secondary infertility blues.

Which are NOT the same as primary infertility–my heart goes out to those who are dealing with primary infertility.

I mean, I haven’t even been able to *try* to conceive. So is it odd that I claim secondary infertility? I don’t think so…because lack of ability to get pregnant due to medical issues still adds up to *not pregnant*.

Ok gotta go, but I hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving (to my USA friendsl and that everyone is getting in the holiday spirit.

XOXO,

MLACS