Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happy Third Birthday Kellen!

Three years ago (yesterday), I woke up in a strange house in a foreign neighborhood with a lot of baby stuff invading this unfamiliar space.  Within a few hours I was pretty certain that our son's arrival into the world was imminent.  Later that night, I circled the block trying to encourage my contractions, reflecting on how different the experience was than the expectations I created, how the houses I were walking by were not the ones I had pictured most of my pregnancy, how we wouldn't be bringing our child home to our house for months, and even then, it still was a different house, a different me.

It's amazing to me that three years have passed.

Kellen is no longer a baby.

He can spell his name, knows the alphabet, has a sense of humor.  He has preferences (and makes them well known!).  He has a personality and likes rules.  He plays games and loves trucks and trains.  He is his own person.

That's what I think the biggest change is about this age, the realization that our children are individuals, that while there still is attachment, they are no longer extensions of us in the same way they are when they are fully dependent upon us.  Kellen goes to school, has friends, does work, expresses himself, all without me present.  He has a life outside of me, a life that I can only know if he chooses to share it (and so far most of what he shares is the fact that he cried in his class that day, usually because I left).  There is still some amount of knowing from being able to talk with other adults in his life, but it is still up to Kellen to share his own experiences.  And this reliance on his telling of his life will happen from now on (and will hopefully be able to withhold from interjecting my own version of his experience on him).  While the things I want for my son still matter (to me), he has choices and will exert his independence in ways that could change the course of his life.

I think this is a hard shift for a mother, especially when your children are still so young.  We want to believe that we have more control over our kids' choices.  But watching Kellen develop into his own person, his own strong-willed person, has made me realize that there is a process of letting go that happens far sooner than eighteen.  And I hope I can be the kind of parent who can step back and support my son's (healthy) choices as he gets older, each year releasing a little more control.

Happy Birthday Kellen!  May you have a year full of smiles and laughs and continue to grow and learn and become.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Nursery, version 2 (sort of)

I knew this pregnancy thing was going to be hard for me emotionally.

I don't think it's uncommon to compare one pregnancy to another.  And for me, one pregnancy was mostly before the fire and the other is after.  We've been trying to move things around the house to clean out the nursery for this baby.  And all I can think of is cleaning out the room that was supposed to be Kellen's.

The room before it was the nursery (or was supposed to be the nursery) was, for lack of a better description, our junk room.  At one point it was an office.

On a side note, it's really strange to look at some of the contents on the floor as "Oh yeah, I forgot about that" thoughts reverberate through my mind.  And Dan's electric guitar is in the left corner.  The bench it is sitting on opened up for storage, and it's only because we put his guitars IN there that they "survived" the fire.

After hours and hours of work, the room was finally clean.  A few weeks later we moved all the books out of the bookcase.

And over the course of the summer, we ended up with this:

More pictures and the scope of the loss from our old nursery can be found on this post I wrote the week after the fire.

And here I am again, faced with the challenge of cleaning our the nursery, converting it from Kellen's toy storage (his "playroom") back into a room for a child to sleep.  I'd be lying if I said there aren't still fears that we won't get to bring this child to our home either, a fear that I know is totally unfounded but still resides in my heart.  And if we lost this home, why do all the work to prepare the room if won't exist anyway?  I push those thoughts away and try to focus on the excitement of the new baby.  I'm sure some of it is just the fact that it's our second child, but I do feel that the fire has also robbed me of the opportunity to enjoy this process because of the fear that it could all be taken away within minutes.

We moved Kellen's toys, got out the baby swing (and put a Cabbage Patch doll from my childhood in it for Kellen to kiss good-night), moved the glider back into the room, and put the crib pieces along the wall to be set up once we know whether we're having a boy or a girl and get the room painted.

I wish I could view the fire as a neutral event, something that happened with no lasting effect on my life.  But that just isn't the way it is.  And the nursery is just one more reminder of the life that I worked so hard to create.  And the life that was so quickly turned to ash.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Update on 30 by 30

It's hard to believe I'll be 30 in less than 10 months.  I've thought a bit about my 30 by 30 list and thought it would be better for me to reflect on the list throughout the year, instead of looking back in a year and thinking about how I didn't do what I wanted to.

1.Launch the Life After the Fire site - we are SO so close.

2. File 501(c)(3) paperwork for Life After the Fire so that we can fundraise to assist other families in rebuilding their hearts and homes after a fire. The paperwork is crazy, just in case you were wondering! - I finally have read through the IRS paperwork and am just waiting on a response from my attorney.

3. Submit 3 essays to anthologies or newspapers.  Even if they aren't published, it's important to keep submitting. I haven't even worked on any... will put on my list.

4. Finish my shadow box with things left from the fire (there's not much) and hang it in my living room. I've talked about this.  I need to finish the photo collage for the background and then I can start actually working on it.

5. Finish painting Kellen's bookcase- I started it over a year ago. DONE

6. Launch our business website. DONE.  You can check it out at Boise Web Design - Digavise

7. Secure 15 clients by the end of the year. Working on it.

8. Remember to not overdo it and to continue to rest as needed. Trying.

9. Take Vitamin D everyday; my levels are a bit low. Mostly compliant.

10. Attend 2 business related conferences... and make friends while I'm there. DONE, though I don't think we really made "friends" at Mozcon.

11. Remember when I said I was going to try to send out cards, actual physical cards, every week?  Well, I didn't even send one.  I really want to revisit this and send more cards.  Let's set a goal of 12 this year that are "Just Because." I pulled out my card pile, and I've written the cards in my head.  I just need to write them out and send!  

12. Actually get the photos for HGTV taken.  This has been a nightmare. DONE. I'll let you know when the article is out.

13. Try to be kinder about criticism while still honoring my need to be direct. I'm trying.

14. Spend more time in my real life and not in the virtual one.  It's hard to do when you work online, but it's important. Also working on it.

15. Cook more meals. Nope.  I am really struggling with this because of the pregnancy.

16. Create a blogging schedule for this blog and Mommy in Chief... and STICK TO IT! Not really, but I am almost ready to relaunch my mom blog, so that's exciting.

17. Read more books. Why is this one so hard?  I love books.

18. Channel my son's smile in the midst of his tantrums (this will be the hardest to achieve by far).  Not successful so far.

19. Read and comment on more blogs. Trying.

20. Learn to cross-country ski. Will have to move this to next year when I won't be 7 months pregnant!

21. Make a decision about completing our family.  I'm not so sure it counts as a "decision" but regardless, the decision has been made. 

22. Finish Kellen's second year in his scrapbook. I'm almost done with the first year, so that's progress!

23. Continue cleaning out the house of things that we no longer need. I've been purging!  After next year, we'll really be able to clear some things out.

24. Celebrate how far we've come since the fire. I feel like I've been better about this.

25. Tell my friends and family (more often) how much they mean to me. I probably still need to work on this.

26. Try to find the beauty in each day, even when I don't feel like it.  Especially when I don't feel like it. Ummm...

27. Accept the limitations of my health... and be ok with the frustrations that come with that acceptance. Being pregnant has thankfully helped in this department.  I have trouble accepting the nausea though!

28. Go camping once with my family without stressing out about the open flame. Will have to be moved to next year.  I didn't want to go camping pregnant and sick.

29. Allow myself to just be. Trying.

30. Journal more... just for myself. Is this really one of my goals... darnit!  

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lyme disease and pregnancy

* Disclaimer - This is not medical advice or a medically-based post, simply my experience.

Before I got pregnant, I was doing ok.  I'd probably say I was at about 80-90% most days.  I occasionally had some fatigue. My nerves sometimes freaked out and started acting like I was hooked up to a low voltage machine pulsating electric current through my fingers and sometimes my legs.  I still often felt like I was sitting on top of a washing machine, my insides vibrating to the point it often made it hard to sit still.  And the dizziness was better, though I still had days where I was really dizzy, in particular if it had been a long day.  I had been on the heavy metal chelation protocol, and even though it helped tremendously sometimes I was a little lazy about my meds.  Honestly after two years of daily meds, I was just tired of popping pills, even if they made me feel better.

Getting pregnant was not exactly our plan this summer.  While I definitely was talking about babies (baby fever and on my 30 before 30 list), we were looking more at next winter, not right now.  You'll also remember that I was afraid to get pregnant myself because we weren't sure how my body was going to handle the pregnancy.  I would be lying if I didn't say that it scared me (and still scares me) that my Bell's Palsy could come back.  And even if I wasn't any worse pregnant, I certainly knew that pregnancy itself has a tendency to kind of make you feel, at least for twelve weeks or so, that you've been mauled by a bear and yet are expected to feel so, so blessed when all you want to do is throw up on the shoes of the people who are talking about what a wonderful blessing this kid is.  I have been sick for long enough, and the thought of nine more months made me cautious about pregnancy, even if I truly did want another child.

I joked with my Lyme doc that since I couldn't make up my mind about how to complete our family I just threw my hands up and let the universe decide for me, which is ridiculous because I understand biology, and well it's far less complicated than whatever the divine plan is will happen.

And as it turns out, my fears about my Lyme symptoms so far have been mostly unfounded.  According to my doc, most women tend to have a reduction of symptoms when they are pregnant (and my totally unscientific theory about this is that chronic lyme can turn into an autoimmune issue and for me, I'm almost certain it's more autoimmune than active infection).  But I was still nervous.  I know where I tend to fall in the odds category, and it doesn't often seem to be with the majority.

I stopped my chelation meds once I found out I was pregnant.  The last thing I needed to do was load a tiny fetus up with some mercury and lead!  I was worried that my dizziness would return, but I've actually had far fewer days where I feel chronically dizzy.  I still have episodes, but after three (THREE!) years of nearly round the clock spinning, I will take mere episodes.

I have also had some neuropathy, especially at night in my hands, but I had that with Kellen and is likely more related to the pregnancy than the lyme.  B6 seemed to temporarily help that, but it does appear it's back, and I have returned to the oh-so-chic wearing of wrist guards at night.  They really freak Kellen out.

Honestly, the hardest thing for me so far has been the nausea.  With Kellen I got sick, but then I felt immediately better.  With this bundle of joy (;-)) I feel sick from the moment I get up to the moment I go to bed, and even if I'm hungry, food makes me feel worse.  I finally got some meds for the nausea yesterday and have finally been able to eat, even though the meds give me a headache, so I'm also taking Tylenol.

Speaking of meds, I'm also taking a mild antibiotic in the event that I still have the Lyme bacteria.  One of the pitfalls of the current state of Lyme disease is that there is no way to ever be sure that the bacteria has been fully eradicated.  And it's just not a chance we're willing to take. So much for being tired of taking pills!

Overall, I honestly feel better than I have in a while, other than the not being able to eat or drink thing.  Even with the pregnancy fatigue, I still feel like I'm able to do more than I have in a while, and I'm hoping that a second trimester energy boost will help even more.

It's hard to predict how I'll feel the next six months and if the Lyme symptoms will stay at bay.  But for now, I feel really lucky, and I'm glad that we were forced into this situation, that I didn't have to make a choice about our family in terms of being finished or surrogacy or taking this risk.  More than that, I'm glad that I haven't felt worse than before, which would have made me feel guilty about this pregnancy.  I'm hoping that I am just as lucky post-partum.