A Mid-Week Baby Update

26 Feb

(If You Have no clue what I’m talking about click HERE to read the three former posts about my baby’s, eh…adventure in the NICU.)

Good news!

Right now it’s all good news.

No, we have not been cleared to leave yet.

Yet.

See, while a doctor has not outright said we should be heading home soon, the nurses (for 3 days now) have been prepping me with lists of what we will have to do and mental preps for ‘when you go home’.

Three days in a row nurses have been telling me that my husband and I will be required to learn infant CPR, she will have to pass a 90 minute car-seat test, that we’ll have to watch a video on how to deal with a crying baby and the way, way what not to do’s.

“When you go home…”

It sounds beautiful.

However, once burned, twice shy.

I have gotten my hopes up once. It hurt when they found another little (but that wasn’t how they made it sound) problem and the timetable was wordlessly thrown out the window.

Sunday evening a nurse informed me that they would re-test my daughter’s red blood cell count in about a week. Therefore I figure we should be here at least through this coming weekend, if not another week after that. But what do I know? I’m just a mom trying to establish breastfeeding while watching her daughter slowly detoxing off morphine.

Lots of fun.

It’s not that bad, really. She’s sometimes a little cranky, sucks on her pacifier like there’s no tomorrow when in need of comfort, and, um, has loose stool. Kinda hard to tell the difference, though, all tiny baby poop is supposed to be pretty loose. *shrugs*

Other than the occasional morphine (they’re not going to make a baby go cold turkey! Youch.), Tylenol (only when she really seems to need it), diuretics (probably because morphine can make you retain water), multivitamins and twice a day iron supplements, she is off medications. These are administered orally, since she no longer has any IV’s. The wires coming off her are just monitors (heart rate, breathing pattern, blood oxygen saturation, …and something else). Other than that the only things going into her are the little nasal prongs from her small oxygen tube, and her feeding tube, which goes up her nose and down into her stomach. She hates it and has been trying (and at times succeeding) to pull anything and everything off of and out of her face since day one.

Today’s nurse put word in for the occupational therapists to come visit me and help get her to take the bottle better (they like their measurements when it comes to food intake), and the lactation department is on notice that I want a consultation ASAP.  Everyone has been running around like chickens with their heads cut off because they’re at capacity for patients, but they will do their best to get around to me. They don’t want us around any longer than necessary, they need the bed space.

Meanwhile I have been enjoying watching her make faces in her sleep, smack herself in the face with an unguided arm-jerk, and the fascination that widens her eyes when I make a certain popping noise with my lips.

It may not be ideal, and certainly not what I had planned, but I am certainly going to enjoy as much of her early days as I can be a part of. They’re only this little for a small amount of time, and believe me, I am soaking it up. :)

Let’s just hope my next post is about our NICU escape plan. lol

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#MirthMusicMon – Oldies but Goodies and Baby Update

23 Feb

Sorry for forgetting last week’s post. To be honest it didn’t even cross my mind until Monday was almost over, and even then I think my Mom asked me if she’d missed my Mirth and Music Monday post. (Oops!)

But, here I am, sitting in front of a computer…thinking of all the goodies in the huge kitchen to my right. Good thing I’m feeding a kid or I could end up putting on 10 pounds while staying here.

First up: Mirth!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bo_WE0fStds

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Last up: Music!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_wwP8UZR1o

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Yup, they’re oldies. But they’re goodies. :D

If you would like to see who else is playing along this week click HERE.

That’s also the link to where you would post Your link if you decide to join our merry little band of bloggers.

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That’s all the Mirth and Music Monday for me this week, folks! Have a good one!

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O.K., now for the baby update.

(Do not, I repeat, do not read this if you just want to revel in your #MirthMusicMon laughter buzz!)

Where do I start? (If you don’t know where this drama started click HERE to go to the previous post about this situation)

About a week ago one of the other babies in her room came down with a cold. He was worse off than her, so I was really worried for him. He’s doing well, though. however, because one of the babies in the room was sick with something highly contagious, both she and he (the third cutie got to go home :) ) had to be put into isolation. I don’t know where he went, but my baby ended up in a little glass room all by herself. She is still there.

Thankfully, she did not come down with a cold, but she did test positive for a variant of a strep virus. Among other tests they ran on her to make sure she was going to live through it they talked me into an LP. A Lumbar Puncture, where they punch a needle in below the base of your spine to get a little spinal fluid. The side effects are apparently small, but here was little ol’ me worrying while in the milk pumping room. After running me through the emotional wringer for a couple days they finally decided it was just a small infection in one of her really deep IV lines. So since they were already administering the antibiotic through that tube, they left it at that.

All those tears just to be told it was basically a non-event.

Yup.

Not cool.

Then progress was made! I asked about her weight and was told that she had gained a smidge over a pound (in 3 weeks!). Mother’s milk is hard to argue with, especially when I’ve put butter on everything that could possibly taste right with it. lol  They were able to up her milk amount to just over 2oz every 4 hours…taking 2 hours to put it from the big syringe through the thin little tube that went down her throat and into her stomach. She hated that tube being in her mouth. More than once she got hold of it and pulled it up. Thankfully it wasn’t moving milk at the time. Inhalation pneumonia from breast milk is not on my list of happy-fun things. :/

They changed out the fun machine that put a million puffs of air a minute into her for one that has a consistent flow to keep her lungs open (it’s called a c-pap machine, often used in adults for sleep apnea, but hers had huge prongs that went up her poor little nose and hurt whenever anything moved them around. She actually got raw spots in her nose, from all these types of machines, that would bleed a bit. Oh, those made her cry. It’s so strange to have this person you’d never seen before hold so much of your heart.)

At this point she was just on 21% oxygen, which is basically the same mixture as room air. I was so happy when I heard that! it was about this time that her voice came back from being intubated for almost two weeks. Boy, you now know it if she doesn’t like something. Thankfully, she is mostly a calm baby and only cries until the need is take care of or the uncomfortable thing is done.

A few days ago they changed out the c-pap for a nose cannula (the little clear tube you usually see on people over 60) and she could suddenly move her head around without the pain in her nose. It’s like holding a completely different baby. Now she turns her head to look at things, or to attempt eye contact with whomever is speaking. She has also started making little cooing sounds when I talk to her. Not often, but she’s getting the idea. :)

They took her off her last heart medication, a hormone called prosteglandin which was keeping open a backup tube in her heart which allowed my oxygenated blood to flow through her body without having to all go through not-yet-functioning lungs. Then they turned down the pressure of the air going up her nose.

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Well, yesterday they told me she’s not absorbing oxygen as well as she should. I was informed (just a bit before the last shuttle of the evening) that it could go two ways, either her body is trying to make red blood cells and doesn’t have enough iron, or her body can’t make enough of the cells and they would do an infusion while they figured out why.

Not the thing a mom wants to hear while holding a baby who for all she knew should have been going home a week later. Then the Phlebotomist arrived and I discovered the down side to having a smart baby. She has had her little heel pricked so many times that she starts wailing the moment the lady holds the warming pack to the bottom of her foot. I’m sitting in a rocker with a red, tense, crying newborn, trying not to cry along with her.

After that emotional discovery I laid her back into her bed, calmed her as I could, and left the rest to her kind nurse as I rushed down to the front doors to wait for the shuttle.

They had told me that the test would take about an hour. It doesn’t. The Dr. lady called and told me the good news, Baby just needs extra iron to give her what she needs to make more red blood cells.

I don’t know if the shuttle was running early yesterday evening or if mine was the only name on the list and they lost it, but no shuttle came by 10 minutes past when it should have been there. I didn’t bother to call to find out. I sat down at a table in the foyer and did my best not to fall apart.

I failed.

I know for a fact that if their parents hadn’t called them away several children would have asked why I was crying.

After eating a burger and a package of salted peanuts, and pumping milk, I was in no better state. Every little thought would kick my tears off again. You see, it took a few minutes, but I eventually digested something the doctor had said when she called. They will re-test in a week. A week. Judging by how everything else right now has been going that means a minimum of 2 more weeks in a city I don’t know, in a situation that stretches me past my limits, surrounded by a hundred people who all want to talk…all the time.  I finally gave up the idea of going back to The House for the night and resigned myself to wandering the halls until I found a likely place to curl up for a few hours.

Thankfully, when I peeked in on my baby, she had several people loitering there who negated that idea and made sure I had a place to lay my head when I chose to. So, after holding a sleeping (sedated because she was crying because she was hungry from just 2oz drizzled slowly into her tummy) baby for an hour I handed her back to a nurse who was more than happy to cuddle my beautiful girl (her words), and asked to be led to where the bed was.

Boy did that room bring back memories. It was the room I had when I first got to this hospital. And I slept about as well, too. Ugh.

Well, today I got more good news. Not. Her oxygen needs were up to 70% and supposedly that isn’t all caused by low red blood cells. They decided to follow a hunch and restarted her on the prostoglandin. We knew the moment it took effect because her needs went from 65% to 30% in about 90 seconds.

From what I recall of what the Cardiologist, his resident, and 2 nurses tried to explain to me, this could either mean that her heart just needs a little time to grow…or she will be in for another surgery, which will need to be redone only a few years after that. (Please, God, no.)

That is where I stand as of now. Or rather sit. On the verge of tears every time the world stops spinning long enough to let me string a few thoughts together.

I know she will be fine. She’s a trooper and has a ton of people taking care of her.

Me? I’m not sure that I will survive. This amount of perpetual emotion has been hitherto unknown in my existence and I have no idea how to handle it.

In some ways I am right back where we started, a teary mess on the edge of a breakdown waiting to see what is over the next impossible hill.

Now if you will excuse me, I am going to go to bed and cry until I hyperventilate and fall asleep.

I really wish I was kidding.

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#MirthMusicMon – Rhett & Link and Baby Updates

9 Feb

It’s another Monday as of 20 minutes ago.

How time flies when you’re feeling disoriented.

I need to make out a to do list. It’s been several days and I still have not transferred our (correct) answers from the ‘practice’ financial aid paperwork to the ‘let’s send this out’ paperwork. Hubby left it in my trust Friday…and now it’s early, early Monday morning and I haven’t even opened the folder.

Bad girl.

But, on to something that will make us laugh and hum.

Here we go!

Today I have found a delicious combo of Rhett & Link videos. If you don’t know who they are you are missing out on some seriously off the wall, geek/nerd music and humor.

Let’s try this one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpdOyoqsXzo

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Now for some music:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnzz-eFmKaw

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Yah, only a few of those actually make my skin crawl. Mostly the gum tape, the backwards toilet paper, and the pills taken out of the blister pack out of order. Apparently I’m more of a numbers and patterns girl. Strange, considering math is my archenemy.

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Wow. I just totally nodded off for a moment.

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Baby Update!

(For those of you who have no idea what that means you may want to read this post as well to get the whole story.)

My baby girl is two weeks old now, and in one of the world’s foremost children’s hospitals’ Newborn Intensive Care Unit. This is where she has been since the day after her birth. This is where they diagnosed her with a small, but highly dangerous heart defect. The valve that allows blood to flow to her lungs was much too small, and the muscle of the chamber behind it (that pumped the blood through) was much too over developed in an effort to force blood through such a small opening.

They did the heart procedure a few days ago.

She is doing better this week. This morning when I got into her room she was silently crying away as the nurse changed a poopy diaper. I got her calmed down just as nurse was finishing up. The nurse turned around to deal with the dirty one and baby girl deposited more goo into the brand new one. She almost looked proud of herself. Until the nurse began changing her again, then she got really mad. lol

She was silently crying because of the intubator, which Cardiology requested she be weaned off Monday. So hopefully I will hear my baby squall the next time I witness a diaper change. That would be nice. :)

They have taken her off morphine and only administer Atavan (another painkiller) on an as needed basis. So now she is actually looking around, trying to make eye contact. Poor thing keeps smacking herself in the head/face with the arm that is all wrapped up because of an IV. She has a very mild black eye on that side because of the bumping and rubbing. She keeps trying to get this same hand into her mouth.

That’s another thing, she is still giving the cues that she wants to nurse, so hopefully it shouldn’t be too difficult for us to start nursing when the medical staff deem it advisable. Which will hopefully be soon after the tube is out of her windpipe. I don’t know, though.

They are currently feeding her breast milk through a nasal tube, and probably an IV solution of some sort (there are so many tubes and wires it’s hard to tell. I’ll have to try and remember to ask on my next visit). I was told today…Sunday…that they will increase her feeding amount because she is tolerating my milk very well. They were originally worried about over-stressing her body by distracting her blood into spending too much time in her guts. Not sure how that would affect her breathing and heart, but whatever.

I was informed that they are lowering her prostogadin again. That’s…something to do with her heart. I think it’s the stuff keeping open the lung by-pass tube in her heart that is supposed to close after birth. But with her heart recovering nicely and her lungs doing well they are feeling more confident that she could be ready for it to close. Hopefully her body is ready for these changes. Last time they tried some of this her lungs baulked and they had to reintubate her.

The staff was rather impressed by how much of a fight she put up over the process. Of course, it doesn’t seem that they see very many full term babies there. My little stinker looks almost like a giant (6 pounds, 11 ounces at birth) compared to her two roommates.

Hopefully having the tube out of her lungs will make it easier to get her transferred from the bed into my arms. With the pumping schedule I’m on and the amount of food my body is demanding now I only have about an hour with her at a time before I have to go put more milk into bottles and then eat, again. I don’t remember how long it took to get her into my arms shortly before her surgery, but it was a process requiring three people. O.O

And before you think I’m wasting away at her bed side please know that the place where I am staying has cool arrangements with or donations from local zoos, colleges, and philanthropists for free or majorly discounted entry into some pretty amazing places. Saturday I took a few hours with another family and toured the aviary here in town. I got pictures of some royally ugly birds. And a pair each of bald and golden eagles, and some parrots, etc.

Later that evening I attended my first piano concert. He played all three parts of the Moonlight sonata.

Oh, one of the cardiologists told me to expect Little One to be here for another two to four weeks as part of her heart comes back from insane bodybuilder status and gets out of it’s own way.

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Oops, nodded off again.

I think it’s time to wrap this thing up and get some sleep.

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If you would like to see who else is playing along with Mirth and Music Monday this week click HERE.

That is also the link to where you will submit your link if you decide to join in on our merry Monday game. :D

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Have a Great week!

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P.S. Please excuse any misspellings of medical stuff, Firefox is no help, and neither is my phone’s spell check.

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**Edit: To view the next post with a baby update click HERE.**

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#MirthMusicMon – Blimey Cow …In 20 Years

2 Feb

It’s Monday again!

Yeah. I’ve made it past my 4th annual 28th birthday and I’m still surprised at their frequency. Go figure.
I have also become a mommy this past month. It’s been scary. Mostly because she was in her third hospital before her twelfth hour of life. But I’ll tack that story after the fun stuff for those who want to know what’s been going on and why I was absent last week. :)

For this Mirth and Music Monday I found a funny video by Blimey Cow called Messy Mondays:Seven Things that Won’t Be Cool in 20 Years.

Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkYd2TiOw9c

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Then there’s stuff that I think will always be cool, like Herman’s Hermits. :)

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Click HERE to see who else is participating this week.

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That’s it for me folks.

Have a Great week!

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Here’s where I tack on my P.S. for baby drama.
Without going into too many technical or icky details I’ll explain.

Last Sunday afternoon, after spending months in the ideal head down position, my daughter decided to flip right before being pushed out and came out breech, and grey. I got to hold her for maybe a minute before the midwives whisked her across the room and started working on her. All her vitals looked good except she had inhaled maconium and wasn’t breathing, or even trying.
The paramedics arrived (like 30 seconds later) and got her responsive. She was making unhappy squawking noises as they all marched out the door, taking her to the hospital for observation.
The ladies at the birthing center got me cleaned up and one of them drove ahead of my husband and I to the hospital. Then began my experience of being wheeled everywhere for several days (Baby girl did not come out gently, the little stinker).
We had been informed that she was doing alright. When we got to the small intensive care unit, however, we were informed that she was not doing well at all and they couldn’t figure out why. Then, after they worked on her for a couple hours, they discovered that she had holes in both lungs. She was shipped to the next hospital.
This one is the big sister of the first, just one town over. Our little one had two ambulance rides before she was half dry.
At this hospital she got even worse. They still had no idea what was wrong and were trying to assess the damage, find the underlying problem, and keep her alive. (Afterwards I learned that the doctor was at the end of a 48 hour shift and refused to leave our baby because she didn’t want to waste time updating someone else. Same thing with the two nurses who were hovering the entire time she was there. We are currently trying to decide what to make for them to say thank you.)
It was decided that she needed more help than even that large hospital could provide, so they started looking into their three options and prepping her for a flight.
Unfortunately everything, including our airport, was fogged in. It was several hours before any fog lifted, and the first option to open up was Salt Lake City. They jumped on it.
Thankfully before they could ship her the morning staff had come in and we now had a lactation consultant and a social worker helping boss certain things around for us. I was shown how to start collecting milk for when baby is strong enough to be fed (and the consultant slipped some other essentials into those bags of supplies, bless her), and the social worker booked me a flight that left an hour after our daughter (and cash for a taxi from the airport to the new hospital! It also covered my food for the next couple days.).
Lonnie drove me to the airport. There was no time for us to get me more clothes than what I had brought and worn to the birthing center. Thankfully I had been a little wishy-washy, so had a couple shirts and extra under things. Unfortunately, no hairbrush, toothbrush, paste, or anything of that sort. Then I had to leave my purse with him because it would count as a carry-on. I came over with my pumping supplies, a rented pump machine, and a carry-on suitcase with as much stuff jammed in as possible from my purse.
I enjoyed take off and landing, and thankfully caught a nap during the half hour flight. Then we landed and I was completely responsible for myself…and technically handicapped. In fact they had arranged to have a wheelchair and assistant waiting for me in the terminal.

So I was in a third hospital, only this time I had no one around me. Until, a new social worker and a new lactation consultant found me. Both lovely women.
My family was constantly calling or texting me, so I never really felt alone. My husband couldn’t come for a couple of days because of paperwork and logistics. He and my parents arrived on the same day. Huge sigh of relief.

On the afternoon of the first day here our daughter’s doctor sat me down and told me what is wrong with her. She has Pulmonary Valve Stenosis. Basically the valve that lets blood go to her lungs is too small. To compensate it has been working way too hard and has gotten too thick as well.
They have a plan for that. Yup. I have met with her cardiologist now, too. They are going to put a little balloon in her heart and blow it up until it makes that valve bigger…and not in the gentlest way, unfortunately.
However, if the procedure goes well, and she heals correctly, it could be several years before they have to actually go in and do a real heart surgery to make the permanent changes necessary for adult life.
Now, a week after her birth, she only has one tiny hole in her right lung. Her oxygen levels are great. They are taking her off a couple of the medications, and lowering the amount that the respirators are helping because she is breathing rather well. If she continues to heal and stays stable they will be able to perform the ‘cathing’, as they have been referring to it, some time on Tuesday. We are very hopeful.
We still have not been able to hold her; she is hooked up to too many machines and bags right now. But we can go in and touch her and talk to her.
This evening she had the hiccups and was making all the crying faces but couldn’t cry because of the tubes down her throat. That’s the first time I cried at her bedside. I couldn’t pick her up and make it better. But I toughed it out, kept my right hand on the top of her head and my left on her thigh and quietly told her that I don’t like the hiccups either, but when she gets older I’d show her how to get rid of them. A few minutes later they went away and she fell asleep. So now I’ve shushed my baby to sleep. Finally. A week after she was born.

By the way, in case any of you are wondering: She was full term and came out 6 pounds 11 ounces, and 20 inches long.

If this post and explanation seem a little scrambled and rambling, please forgive me. I have been running on adrenaline and too little sleep for a week now.
One thing I must say is that everyone at the second and third hospitals have been wonderful. It has been scary, yes, but not as bad as it could have been if the staff had not been as gentle and caring as they are.

I have to give huge thank yous to my Aunt Debbie for hugs, getting me some dinner that first evening, and your travel pack of tissues.
My parents for always, always being there.
My husband for holding my hand all the time, being man enough to hold my purse, and for bringing the right clothes when you drove down.
The rest of my family for calling and texting and staying upbeat, and understanding if I don’t get back with you five minutes later.

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Okay, that’s all for now, folks. I’ll try to keep you updated, but for the most part I’ll still just be concentrating on Mirth and Music Mondays here. I need the laughs. :)
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**Edit: To read the next post with a baby update click HERE.**

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#YourTurnChallenge – #Day6 – My Strangest Role

25 Jan

I hadn’t been in a play in several years. Almost 8 in fact.

But some friends of mine had a problem, an actress had dropped out several weeks into rehearsals. They needed someone new asap to fill in this one scene character.

Guess who they begged?

Me.

Guess what the part was.

A washed up, has been show girl, who now performed weddings in a cheesy dive on the outskirts of Reno.

The role of a lifetime, right? And totally outside my normal… anything.

Out of my closet came 4 inch heeled, thigh high boots, a red cocktail dress and my longest fake eyelashes. Into my head went the words and footwork for a brawl I got into with another character. It was very interesting since we were both teetering on high, high heels. Tipping over and spraining an ankle was not in the script.

By the last week of rehearsals (affectionately known as Hell Week) I had learned how to apply old age makeup, found a sequined over-shirt that hid my figure, practiced balancing a large red feathered headdress during a fight and chase (which included coming back through a curtained doorway. Ack!), and had all my lines down. Not bad.

I was a little worried when dress rehearsal went off without a hitch. Not usually a good sign. (Yes, theater people are weird.) However, I had a blast every single performance night. Plus, since I was only in one scene I was able to just sit back and read once my makeup was applied. I think I was reading Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch at the time.

But I digress.

That part pushed me to be loud, brash, and more than a little uncouth. (I do have to admit to changing a certain word to ‘darn’.) I stepped so far outside my comfort zone it was almost comical. Here was Rose D’Andrea, the weak-ankled, mild mannered, bookworm climbing the theaters back stairs in the near dark, clutching the hand rail praying she wouldn’t fall back down them, getting ready for a noisy scene with gyrating, insulting, slapping and running around screaming. And having a ball!

Yes There was the surprise. I loved it!

I loved the difficulty of the part. I loved pacing the house learning to walk in my ‘hooker boots’. I loved hanging out with old friends for hours and hours a week. I loved meeting new friends. I loved being in front of an audience again. I loved learning how to act on a theater-in-the-round stage.

I don’t think I will be back on the stage any time soon. Something about the imminent arrival of my first child**. But, when mommyhood is to the point where I can… I think the stage just might occasionally reclaim me.

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This is not the production I was in, but it will give you a feel for the play.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npZV5TFb6FI

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**Literally. I am typing this between ‘pre-labor’ contractions. Very uncomfortable.

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#YourTurnChallenge – #Day5 – Sand and Kitty Litter

23 Jan

It has been a few years now since I needed this mixture. In fact I don’t think we even have any in the car right now. Not a good thing now that I come to think of it, since it saved my butt more than once.

You’re probably confused, huh?

My father has a habit of putting baggies of sand and kitty litter in his cars. It’s just right for sprinkling around tires that have lost traction on icy roads or drive-ways and become stuck.

My most vivid recollection of using this mixture was one afternoon on my way home when someone several cars ahead decided to turn off the highway. Not a problem. Except that someone ahead of me must not have been paying very close attention and the entire lane of traffic came to a sudden halt.

Everyone in front of me had the benefit of a sanded corner. I was just far back enough that instead of sand I was trying to stop on a sheet of compacted snow. It was either try and steer onto the edge of the road or hit the minivan in front of me.

Yup, snowbank it was.

That’s when the cool stuff happened. Even though my car was out of the way the 3 cars behind me parked where they were and the people got out and helped me get unstuck. With the mixture from my father, and 4 people pushing, my adorable clunker was back on the road in no time.

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I have to give my mom a thank you for inspiring this post. You see, I had been stuck on what to write about getting unstuck when she mentioned that dad had once again used this trick to get a vehicle back into motion. You never know when or how inspiration will hit. (Duck!)

And sometimes, if you’re lucky, someone who loves you will spoon feed it to you.

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#YourTurnChallenge – #Day4 – Worry 101

22 Jan

Today’s Your Turn Challenge prompt is ‘Teach us something that you do well’.

What do I do well?

Worry.

So here’s a how to / what not to do post.

Try not to take it too seriously. I won’t.

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The How To Class for the Beginning Worrier

Step one: The Choice

Choose what you want to worry about.

Believe me, as proud as you may be of your current ability to maintain a general state of worry, fidgeting with a single thought or what-if scenario until you have turned it into stress is an art form.

This could be anything from your health, to whether your coworkers think you stink, to why your (insert relationship) doesn’t call you more often. Just pick something you can stick with for several hours at least. Eventually you will develop the mental stamina to hold on to a topic for weeks, months, and even years. But pace yourself, this will take much practice.

With practice you can work up to worrying over several topics at the same time, but that was only for the advanced class, and my insurance doesn’t cover the liability. Not after the incident.

Now, take a deep breath.

And release.

Did you enjoy that?

Good, because it’s the last one you’re allowed for a while.

From here on out it’s tense, shallow, breaths that only serve to provide feedback to your physical form that now is not the time to relax. Deep breaths have a habit of telling your body there’s temporal space for such occurrences. Do not sabotage all the upcoming training by providing physical feedback that will merely confuse your body and lessen the chance of an ulcer, stroke, or heart attack.

Now, do you have a topic in mind? Will it go the long-haul?

Good.

Step Two: Technique

Now, everyone, after a while, can develop their own style of worry. At this point I will merely walk you through a couple of the simpler forms and you can craft your own from there.

    Technique #1: The Silent One

This form of worry is all about internalizing your concerns, feelings, and the perceived feelings and concerns of all around you. Don’t let actual words be your only food for worry, see if you can find clues as to how people really feel about you by watching how they interact with others as opposed to you. Does Jake laugh a little more when talking with Bryce than when he’s around you? Does your boss spend more time hovering over Cindy’s desk and projects than yours?

This is good. This means that there might be something wrong with you. Go with that thought. Try to pick out exactly what it is about you, your personality, your laugh, your clothing, that would make someone like or respect you less than those around you.

In fact, spend a great deal of time comparing yourself to the people who make you feel inferior. What about them makes you uncomfortable? What would make people gravitate to them as opposed to you?

Now the important thing about this technique is that you never talk to anyone about your concerns. That’s why it’s called The Silent One. You bottle this up and revel in the feelings of inadequacy, mild paranoia and pent up anger and frustration. Talking about it might make you feel better. Or worse, let people know there’s something potentially wrong with your psyche and try to help.

We don’t want help. We want worry. Remember that.

    Technique #2: The Spewer

This one is similar to your first choice, but different in one way: You talk about your worry. To everyone. All the time.

Tread lightly, here. You don’t want to let them know that you’re too serious. Try to insert tones of humorous self-deprecation, flippancy, and biting sarcasm into your speeches.

I call them speeches because you don’t really want two sided conversations when it comes to ‘spewing’ your worry all over those who would try and help or comfort you. No, you don’t want them to get a word in edgewise, because they might manage to change the subject. If they manage that they may find a way to make you laugh, and that would not do. Laughter is one of the best ways to negate all the lovely negative hormones we are working so hard to generate within your body. Laughter would get in the way of graduating simple Worry and stepping into the glory of self-induced Stress. And as you know, deep, soul-crippling stress is the ultimate goal of every beginning worrier. Keep the prize in mind at all times. Do not be dissuaded by well meaning, but ignorant friends and loved ones.

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Have you chosen a technique?

Well done.

Now on to some of the tips and tricks that can speed up your eventual trip to the emergency room or, better yet, morgue.

Do not underestimate the power of the dark side… of looking at every eventuality that could happen. Don’t let reality play too big a part in this. The What-If Game is really just a free-flowing exercise to create tension in your mind and body. Too much ‘reality’ could get in the way.

Avoid watching comedies or feel good movies of any kind, children or animals playing, or tender moments between people who genuinely care about each other. There is an advanced technique for how to turn all these mushy, gooey things to your emotional advantage, but for now it’s best to avert your eyes and go through a litany of your inadequacies.

Do not exercise more than absolutely necessary! Exercising releases positive hormones that have been proven to undo the effects of worry. If you must be physically fit for any reason, try and develop a mantra that will keep your mind distracted from the positive effects. Who knows, perhaps worrying over your chosen topic while maintaining a higher than normal heart rate will contribute to heart palpitations.

Avoid healthy food and quality dark chocolate. Fried foods, sugar, and simple carbohydrates are your only friends. Not only will they quickly elevate your blood sugar and leave you hanging after a glycemic crash, they will also undermine your immunity to the viruses that are circulating your place of employment, the mall, and church. A good month long bout with influenza can be a beautiful thing for those attempting to create worry in their lives. You will have more time to sit on the couch contemplating your mortality, how nobody loves you, and why you don’t have or deserve all the good things in life.

Be proactive in the shower. Many people use time in the shower to relax or sing. Do not fall into this sappy trap. The acoustics of the bathroom are perfect for hearing your own voice as you go over your impossible to do list for the day and find all the ways your day could royally suck. If you happen to be a before bed bather use this time to go over the wrongs of the day; really cement them in your mind.

As long as we’re on the subject of talking to yourself, here’s a tip for the Spewer. Mutter. Mutter as you walk through the house, shop for all the wrong foods, or drive the kids to school (it’s never too early to scar them for life). This will set you up as a person to be avoided. No one wants to initiate a conversation with someone who seems to be just a little more than one step toward crazy. If you get really good at this it’s a great way to spread the worry. Those around you will begin feeling concern not only for your well being, but also for theirs. You never know, perhaps some serial killers started out as mutterers.

That’s it for Worry 101. I hope you learned some ways to make your life and the lives of those who pretend to love you truly miserable.

Have a crappy day!

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Now before you get all huffy with me, please know that in the past I have worked up a class 3 cold sore within a couple of hours. I used to worry so hard I lost weight, catch every illness that came through, and (especially as a college student) silently cry myself to sleep without disturbing the sibling in the bed four feet from me.

That’s not to say I had a horrible life. I just didn’t know how to deal with the outside pressures or how to silence the inner critic that constantly told me I wasn’t trying hard enough. I know how blinding a tension headache can be, how to hold in the tears until an appropriate location could be found, and what it feels like to tamp down a panic attack while still taking notes so you don’t completely fail this class.

It sucks. A lot.

But it’s possible to turn things around. Not easy, mind you, possible.

A few tips that worked for me:

  • Eat a high protein breakfast. This will give you the level blood sugar to help keep some of the more self-sabotaging thoughts at bay.
  • Their bad day is not your bad day. Just because someone else is in a foul mood does not mean you have to absorb their negative vibes. (I am still working on this one, especially when it comes to loved ones.)
  • Dark chocolate. When you have a few moments to yourself snap off a couple bites of your favorite chocolate. The darker the better. If you have trouble portioning try the smaller, individually wrapped pieces sold by Dove or Hershey’s. If you totally can’t be trusted with it in the house, then try setting a time or two a week when you go out and treat yourself to a small bar. Just remember to savor it. Let it melt in your mouth as you relax back and take a few slow, deep breaths.
  • You time is very important. One of my earliest discovered techniques was a warm bath and a good book. Find something relaxing that takes you away from others but out of yourself: a good book, a favorite movie, a walk through a favorite park. This is not being selfish. Self care means you are making sure that you are in top condition to face life as the best version of you. Do not let anyone, not even yourself, make you feel guilty for taking a few moments during your coffee break or an hour in your evening, to bring yourself out of your day and to a more centered emotional state.

I hope some of this helped. Or at least that the Worry 101 class made you chuckle. :)

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Mmm, now I’m thinking about chocolate.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SoTqa23fV_c

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#YourTurnChallenge – #Day3 – Sex Ed.

21 Jan

“Alright, settle down.

I know you’re all wondering who our guests are today. This is Mrs. April Anderson, Mrs. Beth Beckham, and Ms. Crissy Crest. They are here to talk to you about pregnancy. We’re going to let them each have a couple minutes, then we’ll open it up for Q and A. April?”

Clearing her throat, April begins, “I used to have adorable size 8 feet. Last week I bought these. Pretty, huh? Right now I’m a 9 wide. They say there’s a chance your feet will go back to their original size, but I’m not so sure. My mom’s didn’t. …”

Beth, “… I threw up a minimum of twice a day for 9 weeks straight. My record was 6 times. I was so exhausted I didn’t even have the strength to cry when a good friend passed away. …”

Crissy, “… You know how everyone has a personal space bubble? A certain portion of this planet seem to think you’re public property when you’re really pregnant. I can’t tell you how annoying it is to have a complete stranger reach out and touch your belly. Then there’s all the questions. Seriously, how many times a day do I have to say that I’m due next month? …”

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How many teenagers (and adults for that matter) would think twice about getting it on without putting one on if they had to sit through an hour of listening to pregnant women tell the truth about the pregnancy glow?

Yeah, the glow. After a week or two of basking in the wonderfulness that is impending motherhood all the symptoms come crashing in and that adorable glow is now caused by hormone induced hot flashes, or turns ashen as you spend your days always knowing where the nearest trash can is. Just in case.

Not fun.

I’m not saying that all pregnancies are horrible, daily life altering slices of hell. But they aren’t all parades through rose gardens, either.

Kids need to know the truth before they figure out what tab A is and why it goes into slot B.

Take two days ago. I spent half the day crying. Don’t ask me why, I just did. And it wasn’t that poetic single tear down a cheek stuff. Oh, no. It was soul-wrenching sobs, puffy eyes, tears dripping off the chin, blow your nose before you get snot bubbles crying. Sexy, right? (ugh)

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this kind of wide spread info would stop all unplanned pregnancies. That would be an impossible task. We’d just drive ourselves insane attempting it. However, I do think it would give people (girls, especially) a more realistic idea of what they would be risking (besides STD’s and a bit of a mess to clean up).

Yup, just let them know they could possibly get stretch marks on their perky C cups, mood swings that take one from elation to suicidal thoughts and back, or projectile vomiting just because they smelled onion and they might even give abstinence half a thought.

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(Sorry, not little ears friendly, but so true!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jf8B6UQSrW4

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#YourTurnChallenge – #Day2 – Failing Forward

21 Jan

Yes, you read the title correctly. Failing forward.

I have come again to a point in my life when I am hampered by a massive fear of failure, which is also wrapped up in a shiny package of fear of success, all tied together, neat and pretty, with the bow of self-disappointment.

See, if I succeed then fail there will be a much larger audience to witness my mistake.

However, if I never try how can I ever win the ultimate prize of financial independence?

Step right up, folks! You won’t want to miss the prize fight of the season! Avoidance of imaginary future pain versus fact and logic.

Yup. Makes lots of sense. But, there it is.

How do I create forward momentum?

I think the only thing to do is to simply allow myself small attempts. Perhaps with several small successes I can work up the courage to seriously implement larger goals; build up my writer/entrepreneur self-confidence. It’s worth a try, right?

Right.

And wouldn’t you know it, I have already started. Clever me. I have published 3 short stories on a website called Quarter Reads. I don’t think I’ve made any money yet, but at least they were accepted and are up and ready. There are a few more in my Word files waiting for submission. It’s just taking me a while to get them over there.

Why?

Why else? Fear of failure.

You see, part of me expected to make a couple bucks right off the bat after the first story posted.

Now that I have had a few up for a little while that part of me is crowing that this ‘experiment’ was a failure.

The question I should be asking myself is, Why am I listening to my inner critic (who can be a real bully some days)?

Quarter Reads only went live in October. It’s not like they’re huge. It’s not like I’ve invested hundreds of dollars in advertising. In fact, perhaps this lack of self-confidence has led me to not market enough, so that this whole situation becomes a messy self-fulfilling prophecy.

I’m just digging deeper and deeper, aren’t I?

“It’s all so complicated!” She wailed dramatically.

The thing is, though, that I haven’t failed at all. How can you fail if you haven’t really tried yet?

I have a book of poetry on Amazon. I have 3 stories up on Quarter Reads. I have countless unfinished ideas, stories and books sitting on my computer… waiting. How can I fail if I haven’t given it a real go? How can you lose a race when you’re still on the starting block?

Failure is part of learning, growing. How many times did you skin your knee learning to ride a bike? How many times did you bruise your butt learning to ice skate?

Failure means you’re active; you’ve given it a shot.

So, back to Failing Forward. This is my thought: I will try.

More stories on Quarter Reads.

Complete an anthology and publish it on Amazon.

Actually market my products.

Try.

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Besides, nobody’s perfect.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqqqV50zaAc

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#YourTurnChallenge – #Day1 – Finding Adventure

19 Jan

by Rose D’Andrea

A few days ago I came across a blogging challenge.

(Don’t ask me how, because I honestly can not remember.)

This challenge lasts 7 days and merely asks that you post every day about something from your perspective.

They also supply writing prompts. I’m not sure if I’ll stick to the prompts or strike out on my own. I guess that’ll just be part of the adventure.

Lately I have been viewing a lot of things as a possible adventure. I don’t suppose most pregnant women look forward to childbirth as a chance to find out, deep down, what they’re made of. Probably even fewer choose to view the impending ‘hell week’ after bringing home baby as another intriguing experience. You never know what to expect. The kid could react to the fact that I’ve recently eaten chocolate and get the world’s worst gas. She could be a sleeper and have to be woken for feedings. She could come out like the kids on the British show My Hero already talking and uh, flying. (Although that last one is highly unlikely, regardless of how many times a week I refer to my husband as my hero. Besides, I’m pretty sure he’s human. Probably.)

This recent sense of adventure is perhaps what led me to join in this blogging challenge.

And that is perhaps a good enough segue into today’s writing prompt:

Why are you doing the Your Turn Challenge?

I have been thinking, for a long time now, that I need to get back to a more frequent blogging schedule. However, it has not been happening. Imagine that, blog posts don’t magically appear just because we think they should. Huh.

There has always been an excuse: my computer won’t cooperate, I wouldn’t know what to write, I’m sick, tired, too distracted, or don’t have the time.

Now for a while there I was too sick to do more than clutch my water bottle and pray that something would stay down. That was legitimate. But what about the several months now that have been relatively easy? What about the occasional thought that pops into my head that I think would make an awesome post?

That, my friends, was just plain laziness. Pure and simple. Yes, there’s a little shame in admitting it, but more in wallowing in indecisiveness and self pity.

So, what am I going to do to turn this around?

Apparently jump on the #YourTurnChallenge like it’s the last life boat off the Titanic. It’s like God said, “Yes, you’re not alone in this. Now, get off your rump and get back to actual work.” So here I am, blogging the first day of an enticing journey. Hopefully this week of work (and, fingers crossed, some feedback) will spur me toward keeping up a more regular presence on this blog baby of mine.

Hopefully my actual baby won’t mind when I blog over the top of her a few days a week.

And if she does mind, well, I guess that will just kick off another adventure.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6gZe-fUCWg

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