Ninja Kick

The Final Countdown - No More Bed Rest

It’s the final countdown and I still can’t believe she’s made it this far. I just had my last check up, had yet another membrane sweep and one way or another I will be holding my daughter this week. YAY!

Let’s recap this insanity…

First I announced my pregnancy via illustrator ninjas in a casual way on Facebook and Instagram. I immediately received a LOT of shit from friends and family about keeping the secret so long. I’m not the best at breaking news to people and my Dad has learned this over the years… he wasn’t shocked at all when I e-mailed him the news.

Then I found out I was having a girl – What I didn’t announce at that time was that some things had come up but I had to wait to find out the details.

Vasa previa and placenta previa issues – BOOM – Bed rest. It took me awhile to announce it, but when I started obsessively making baby hats friends started to wonder what was up. My bed rest changed depending on the week – I started out modified with the basics of no lifting, driving and taking it easy. I had weeks where I had to stay off my feet, don’t sit upright and only get up to use the restroom. It all depended on my symptoms.

With the complications I was having we were anticipating a mandatory early c-section. I made peace with a c-section. I honestly started to look forward to it and how efficient it would be. I always try to focus on the positives to find my “om”.

Life was turned upside down, but we made the most of it. It was one of the hardest times of my life. The daily stress of not knowing if my unborn daughter would make it, the stress it created at home and how much I had to let go of wasn’t how I thought this year would play out. I can look back on it all and just appreciate how much it’s brought our family together. There is a different sense of appreciation for one another despite how difficult it was some days.

Then things got better. As my uterus grew my placenta moved on up. Signs of vasa previa were gone and my blood loss issues cleared up along with it. My abdomen pain wasn’t as bad and my placenta abruption seemed to have stopped. We hit a remarkable milestone and things changed for the better.

Bed rest can make you feel crazy… You have to learn to laugh. A lot.  Especially when my preggo belly vanished one morning.

Just before I reached 36 weeks I started having regular contractions. They were far apart but kept coming. I then lost my mucus plug. I felt like I was ready to go. I felt like labor was coming. I was seeing my OB in the morning and felt excited over the possibility that I was going to hold my baby girl. I went to sleep with anticipation…

I woke up in the middle of the night and I felt odd. My abdomen hurt. I had massive heartburn. Suddenly, I felt like I was getting stabbed in my lower parts. I realized my contractions stopped. I drank a bunch of ice water and counted fetal kicks… she was fine. I went back to sleep.

At my appointment it was confirmed that she freaking flipped! She went breech at 36 weeks. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me” were the only words to sum up the moment followed by a lot of jokes and laughter. My OB could not believe it.

I had just been taken off of super crazy bed rest talking about a vaginal birth and planning to induce as I did with my other labors to possibly having to do a c-section… again.

Of course this little ninja continued to keep us on our toes.

I went back on bed rest, we scheduled a follow up appointment and hoped for the best. A 36 week breech baby was painful. I lost 3lbs that week and felt sick in ways that made me long for the pukey days of the first trimester.

Then it went away. I woke up Tuesday morning before my appointment and felt… okay. I wasn’t holding my breath. This freaking baby likes to mess with me and I’m convinced she knows it!

“So, let’s take bets! What do you think?? Did she flip back around again or is she going to keep making us crazy?” I looked at my OB and said “I feel like I can breathe again but I have NO idea anymore!”

We confirmed it… she moved… she turned head down and assumed the labor position. Yay! For now. “This is the most difficult and unpredictable baby I’ve ever had!!” – Words from my OB… not me ;)

She’s flipped breech and then back again once since then. After the last time I was finally taken off of bed rest. My OB was sure I would deliver her right away as soon as I was able to return to most normal activities. Nope. I have had regular contractions that do not progress for weeks. I’ve had to go into the hospital twice for monitoring for different reasons and still no progress.

Tomorrow I am 39 weeks. I am full freaking term now. We’ve spent months – since February – trying to keep her cooking and now she doesn’t want to come out. There were times when no one thought it was possible to even reach my third trimester and every day was a milestone. I counted days in the beginning because every day was better for her. I didn’t expect to even reach the point where I would still be pregnant and taken off of bed rest.

The past few weeks I’ve been quiet online since being off of bed rest. I’ve enjoyed feeling (somewhat) normal again. I spent the first weekend cooking up a ton of food and enjoying time with my family. I was able to attend some school functions. I can drive a limited amount. I watched my 7 year old son take his first ice hockey lessons. I enjoyed shopping. I still have to take it easy but I’m making the most of what I can do.

I’ve had so many Braveheart moments where I just want to scream FREEEEEEEEDOOOOOOOM!

It’s been awesome.

And this little ninja actually listened to me and is still cooking. Unless she changes her mind on staying put we are inducing on Thursday. She will be born, full freaking term this week. I still can’t wrap my head around that.

I cannot wait to hold her.

My sweetie has been telling me all these months that I just need to have faith, think positively and everything would work out. It’s the first (and only) time I’ll be thankful that he can tell me “I told you so”.

Thank you all for being a part of this crazy journey – the support and awesomeness helped so much. During it all I felt like it would never end and now it all feels like a blur. After this insane journey all I can focus on is having the moment of her in my arms and knowing we finally made it.

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#LoveWhoYouAre

When my daughter was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease when she was in the second grade, it was jolting. We had been managing her life threatening food allergies since she was an infant so adding something else on top of that ignited concern over how hard this would get for her.

We managed it and the life adjustments we had to make just became part of our everyday routine. No matter how hard life gets you figure out a way to make it work. It becomes second nature and you accept it. The waves of chronic pain come and go – we appreciate the times where her body isn’t attacking itself and we do the best we can to get through the hard times. Honestly, it becomes such a part of the process that we don’t even think of it anymore. It’s not a negative, it’s our way of life.

She has had an exceptional past year of minimal flare ups. We truly appreciate those times since we know they are temporary. I was especially thankful for the lack of major flare ups since she just started middle school.

She had hives and red splotches all over her face and arms when she got home from school last Wednesday. As I asked her about them they multiplied before my eyes. Initially we thought it was an allergic reaction. The hives turned into oozing blisters that she has never had before – this was something different. This was something new. We haven’t had anything new come up for many years.

My daughter is twelve years old and has this genuinely amazing ability to shine despite how hard it gets. She is full of awesomeness and isn’t a complainer. She is truly a sweet, kind and happy kid. She isn’t naturally selfish and because of that I think she lacks a personality trait that makes her obsess over herself or her looks. She would rather act a little crazy, silly and not take things seriously than be the girl who is checking herself out in the bathroom every passing period.

I don’t know how I got so lucky – she inspires me and has honestly helped me get through bed rest with her constant optimism. Sure, she has her moments of damaging my calm, trying to push limits and epic freaking eye rolls over chores – she is still a normal tween in most ways.

But, she is my shining ball of hope in this world and I hope her health hurdles won’t change her. With such a visible disability that has the ability to cause her so much pain she doesn’t even want to get out of bed I can understand if she became angry, resentful or bitter.

She embraces the fact that everyone is different in their own way, but I wasn’t sure how she would react this time. Being different is difficult at any age, but especially in middle school. Adding in social platforms like Instagram for teens and some of the potential drama that can come from it I wasn’t sure what she would do.

We always take pictures of her flare ups so we can document them. That may sound strange, but when you have a special needs child who has chronic illness record keeping is important. After I took a photo of her arm she asked if she could share it on Instagram. She said she didn’t want to hide what she really goes through and she wanted people to understand. She wasn’t looking for pity or sympathy… she just wanted to be real. I was so proud of her.

Love Who You Are

After a major flare up we usually spend many hours with her immunologist (and often other doctors) running blood work, xrays and trying to figure out what is happening. This was not easy with my modified bed rest limitations and my husband having to juggle his work from the lobby on his laptop – but, we made it happen. It isn’t an easy process and she get’s a lot of blood drawn at one time. I’ve always tried to make our long days at the hospital fun – as fun as it can be considering the circumstances. She shared some of it with her friends on Instagram and had a very upbeat personality about it. Again, I was very proud.

#LoveWhoYouAre

The night before Mother’s Day she insisted on baking me some goodies. No matter how terrible she feels she is still this thoughtful little human being who muscles through it and thinks of others. She was emotionally in a really good place – but there was something weighing on her. She was dealing with moments of sadness with how her face and skin looked. She was frustrated at how her body reacts. We talked about all of that and it was heart wrenching.

She decided to take a selfie and share it with her friends. My daughter doesn’t want to hide what she goes through and she doesn’t want to be ashamed of how she looks. She doesn’t see anything wrong with it and she knows she cannot control how others may see her and doesn’t care to. Proud doesn’t begin to explain how I felt in that moment.

She wrote -

Life is a struggle every day but nothing can keep me down. Despite my health I can still be happy with who I am and that’s just how I think the world should work.#carefree #beyourself #lovewhoyouare

#LoveWhoYouAre

I’m sure she will have many low moments with this. I’m sure I will be there to dry her tears over the years when she can’t focus on the positive. I’m sure she will go through phases of anger, bitterness or resentment…

But, right now I can take comfort knowing that she can have this perspective at such a young age. Right now I can know that she will be okay. Right now is what matters most and we will face those battles together in the future.

Right now, I hope each and every one of you can #lovewhoyouare and if not…

Live, laugh and ninja kick those obstacles out of the way until you do.

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Bed Rest Can Make You Crazy

by Leila on May 5, 2014

Bed Rest Makes You Crazy

These are things that I’ve learned while on bed rest so far…

When you are laying down and balancing objects in the air with your feet – because you may get so bored you do that – make sure you don’t use anything heavy just in case they accidentally fall on your face.

Everything on the ground that you can’t pick up bugs the shit out of you.

Dropping food on the floor can feel like the end of the world… and it is.

Your children may figure out if they all hide in another room, away from you, they can try to get away with things they aren’t supposed to be doing – like watching movies on their iPads or playing online games when they are supposed to be doing homework.

When you don’t text friends back (because you took a nap) for a long time after texting them something like, “I’m feeling really horrible today.” they may freak out a little and/or just show up at your house to make sure you are okay.

Said friends won’t think it’s as funny as you do when you laugh about it.

You aren’t as intimidating as a parent when you can’t get up from your bed rest position. Threatening to throw pillows just makes kids laugh. They will keep all heavy objects away from you… just in case.

Your internal dialog isn’t as internal as it once was. You start to have a deeper understanding of the relationship Tom Hanks had with “Wilson” in Castaway. Bed rest makes your bed, recliner, couch or hospital bed feel like your own secluded island.

Stacking small objects and balancing them on your forehead is really entertaining.

You may find yourself daydreaming about when you used to be able to drive and listen to music. Traffic seems like a welcome vacation from bed rest.

When/If you are able to leave your house for a short amount of time you totally understand why dogs stick their heads out the window. Also, people will look at you crazy when you imitate a happy dog in the passenger seat… and you do not care.

Pregnancy hormones and bed rest can create completely irrational angry reactions to simple things.

The silence of an empty house makes you crazy. The noise your amazing family creates in your house makes you crazy. Most days you are crazy.

When you are nesting and cannot physically do the things your hormonal body wants you to then you will make everyone in the house crazy.

Laying on your back and throwing objects in the air may, or may not, have the same results as balancing objects on your feet.

Some days are more difficult than others but, some days are still so awesome you forget you are on bedrest and why. Focusing on that makes you less stabby.

You may develop and allergy to people’s bullshit and drama.

For every really freaking mind boggling annoying thing your family does you find dozens of amazing things that they do to prevent you from plotting their doom.

Every milestone is a huge sigh of relief. Every week you get further along the easier it gets. Each and every damn day is cause of celebration… and no matter where you are on the timeline of bed rest you are further than you started.

If you are reading this because you are on bed rest just remember – You are doing the most important job you can right now… You are incubating your baby. Everything else doesn’t matter and don’t let any amount of frustration, annoyance, drama or negativity take away from that. There will be many low moments, and that is expected. It will be over before you know it…

Just don’t make a habit of balancing things on your feet and accidentally dropping them on your face.

It hurts.

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Funny Pregnancy Pics

Life is so unpredictable.

I’m the type of person that likes everything laid out. I like understanding all the possibilities so I can plan accordingly. Living in a constant state of unknowns is not easy for me. This has been the reality of my existence for the past few months.

My appointment this morning went better than expected, especially after the terrifying dog attack yesterday, my unexpected fetal monitoring in the hospital last week, and all the unknowns I’ve been dealing with. I was still with a lot of what ifs but even more relief.

Before we began the ultrasound I told my doctor that I was suspecting that she was now breech. She paused and said “I pretty much expect every possible worst case scenario to pop up with this pregnancy so I bet you are right! This one is going to be your troublemaker… she’s already keeping us on our toes…” she grinned at me and I told her if I was a betting woman I could have made some money on this. As soon as she touched the ultrasound probe toward my cervix we both saw feet and laughed. We seriously laughed a lot. I probably shouldn’t have laughed because it’s very serious stuff if she doesn’t turn. She was shaking her head and thanked me for having such a great sense of humor.

What else can I do? Honestly, the breech at 31 weeks is the least of my concern with everything else.

The biggest concern of vasa previa that was going to cause a mandatory early c-section between 34 – 36 weeks has been ruled out. It’s. Been. Ruled. OUT. The membranes that were exposed are not visible anymore. The blood flow in the umbilical cord is healthy. My placenta moving up which also caused no more membranes and/or umbilical cord to block my cervix. Oh and the placenta itself isn’t blocking my cervix either! I’m honestly not used to the small statistic of BEST case scenario working in my favor… it’s usually the opposite. I will freaking take this change, gladly!

At around twenty three weeks we thought I was going to deliver a micro preemie because of vasa previa and placenta previa. I was bleeding, contracting and showing all the signs. I was stuck on bed rest and dealing with all the scary possibilities. My cervix was completely covered with the placenta and umbilical cord and membranes. We looked at the scans and the progression was amazing to see… like the evolution of my pregnancy. It was truly the best possible scenario.

My doctor said “Normally, these two things being resolved naturally would mean life can go back to normal… but…”

Always a but…

I also have had a placental abruption (we don’t know how bad of one it is) and with my daughter being breeched, after my “she-hulk” moment, I have to continue to stay on modified bed rest. DOH.

However, the risk of a stillbirth have dropped significantly. The risk of my health has also dropped… though, with an abruption there is still a lot of concern but the vasa previa had a much higher mortality rate. It’s trading the lesser of two evils but I’m relieved.

What we do know right now is that she is very healthy. I’m losing weight but she is gaining again. She is measuring at approximately 4lbs and “seems very long”. She is a little bit bigger than expected at this point and that is a good thing compared to the last scan when she was showing to be very small.

It is also possible I may not have to get a c-section. It is also possible I may carry to full term without risks. Neither of these things were a possibility just a couple weeks ago. A couple weeks ago I was having to prepare with the possibility of having a premature daughter and hospital bed rest. Now, these things are not ruled out completely just yet but they aren’t mandatory. 

This has been the hardest few months of my life. Right now I’m so relieved I want to dance around like a happy drunken monkey. I can’t. But, I want to. 

For months I’ve been telling myself, “I’ve got this…” but now I’m really feeling it… and I have many amazing supportive people to thank through all of this.

I’m due on June 11th and have two months left. I’m hoping the final stretch of this pregnancy is smooth sailing. I was in a lot of pain today and still not feeling like my usual self, but I slept most of the day and woke up feeling like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.

It’s a damn good change of pace. I’m thankful for it.

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I’m an animal lover, but I am also very cautious of them. I’ve always taught my kids what to do if a dog attacks them or how to behave around dogs. It is a constant lesson that I try to reiterate to them. When we are hiking and camping they are all quizzed about the predatory animals in the area and how to avoid problems. As much as you prepare for a worst case scenario you don’t ever really expect it to happen with your kids… at least I didn’t.

Yesterday the kids had their normal routine of playing out front with friends and neighborhood kids. I got a recliner chair for the porch so I can sit outside with them while on bed rest. My friend and I were talking when my neighbor drove by and I saw he had a new dog. I noticed the dog right away because it started to bark at the kids and even tried to get out of the van by jumping out of the window. It kept its eyes on the kids, barking the whole time and my instincts told me this was going to be bad.

Everything happened fast…

I stood up and kept my eye on the van. As soon as my neighbor opened the door the dog bolted for the kids. I was running towards the kids at the same time and yelling at the top of my lungs before anyone really knew what was going on. The dog’s fur was standing up, it started biting at the kids who were trying to run away and it knocked my son off of his wiggle bike. I was only a couple steps away when he started to bite my son’s back. The dog backed away as soon as I got close but it was biting at me, barking and I was expecting it to attack me. I made noise. I grabbed my terrified six year old son in one arm to hold him up as high as I could and had his wiggle bike in the other hand. My daughter said it looked like I was going to start hitting the dog with the bike. The dog backed off when my neighbor finally got close but the dog never stopped his aggressive stance. My son was crying and I was still screaming at my neighbor. I don’t even know what was said but all I knew was that I was truly terrified and it was a feeling almost unknown to me.

It was all honestly a blur.

Thankfully my son’s injuries weren’t bad. He has scratches, bruising and a few puncture marks where you can see the dog bit him. I was grateful that I go there in time. I was relieved the dog didn’t go after the 17 month old toddler who was outside. I was happy no real harm had come to any of the kids. I cannot imagine how bad it could have been had I not reacted so quickly.

Instincts and adrenaline are a funny thing… I reacted before I even really knew what I was reacting to. My body has been in a lot of pain with this pregnancy and I usually can’t even get up off of the couch without wincing. I felt nothing during all of this.

When the adrenaline subsided and I stopped shaking that’s when my body started to let me know how bad of shape I felt I was in. My son was okay but I became aware of what this could have done to my unborn daughter because of all my complications. I thought I felt terror when I saw a dog going after my son… this was a different level of fear.

The more time that went on the more pain I felt. I had a check up in the morning and we had planned on doing an ultrasound. If any of the big scary signs came up I knew I needed to get to the hospital immediately. I did fetal kick counts. I changed positions every time I started to have contractions. I tried to hide it from the kids how bad I felt and I waited for any signs of distress. Besides all of the pain everything seemed to be mostly okay. My abdomen felt completely different. She had been transverse for a couple weeks and after the incident she was sitting really low. It was painful. I felt like I was being stabbed from the inside of my lower girly parts. I spent the night tossing and turning and worried that I was going to go into early labor or that the membranes from the vasa previa would rupture or that the placenta abruption was going to become worse. Every worst case scenario was running through my head.

When I’m in a moment of real vulnerability I usually withdraw. I usually just kind of hide out and wait for the smoke to clear. I was really shaken up and put it out there what happened. I’m thankful for all the friends and family who were thinking about us, giving support and offered help.

It helped. A lot.

I read a lot of the comments from my Facebook and texts to my son and it comforted him. I often have a lot of apprehension about sharing difficult things with my rad people online because it’s not attention driven. I was well into my pregnancy complications diagnosis and bed rest before I shared it with anyone outside of a small group of friends and family. What I share I usually try to have some kind of meaning – humor, inspiration, awareness or uh mostly humor. One thing that I have learned with my pregnancy complications that the great world of the interwebs is more than we often give it credit for… it is a place of amazing support and awesomeness. And to be totally cheesy – love. Sure, there is a lot of hate bashing and parent shaming that goes around but I try to tune out all that noise and focus on the things that don’t suck.

Basically, what I am trying to say is that you all rock and I’m thankful for it.

Though, I would really like a totally uneventful, uninteresting and BORING life until my baby ninja arrives! 

My son snuggled with me all night, he woke up a few times crying about dogs and I took comfort in knowing he was okay until my appointment in the morning…

Thankfully, everything with my baby and pregnancy was okay. (Continued on another post)

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Making the Most Out of Bed Rest

by Leila on March 20, 2014

Bonding Moments on Bed Rest

He insists on snuggling with his baby sister daily.

One of the biggest hurdles during bed rest has been not being able to bond with my family the way I am used to. It’s really hard at times, but we try our best to get through it.

I’m the type of Mom that would love to drop everything and go camping for the weekend.

I’m the Mom that will say, “Let’s go to an amusement park for dinner!”…

I’m the Mom that will gladly invite all of the kid’s friends over and have play dates, pool parties or let them run amok like wee little lunatics.

I’m temporarily the Mom on bed rest that can’t do any of the things that I am used to and I am thankful that our family has mostly adjusted well. 

The priority, of course, is keeping my daughter cooking as long as possible, but I need to also consider my other kids. I’ve learned to accept that things are different right now and look forward to when we can go back to our usual crazy life after she is born. I’ve researched and planned about three dozen camping trips already!

We bought a double recliner last week so I could be comfortable while having snuggle time with the kids or to be able to sit with them and help them with homework. It’s been one of the best purchases I’ve ever made and it’s helped bed rest significantly.

Bonding on Bed Rest

We read together more. We make origami. We draw, paint and make crafts. My six year old loves making journal books that we put together. We find ways to bond while taking life one day at a time in a more mellow setting. We talk about the summer often, I think it helps everyone look ahead.

I get drawings like these that make my heart melt – Does anyone else notice how terrified my son looks in his own drawing?

Bonding on Bed Rest

When I am on my feet and trying to take a prego belly selfie I get photobombed by my daughter… because she can’t help her hilarious self.

Prego belly selfie photobombed

For now, I’ve realized I’m the Mom that finds different ways to bond with my kids while not physically doing much on bed rest. That rocks just as much as us going on an adventure. Life, as always, is what you make of it… and I refuse to allow it to suck just because I can’t go out and do what I want with my family.

Live, laugh and ninja kick – and invest into a super comfy chair if you are able to while on bed rest.

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A Huge Pregnancy Bed Rest Milestone…

by Leila on March 19, 2014

Pregnancy Bed Rest Milestones

This pic was taken a few days ago after a really tough day.

My son always knows how to make things better.

We made it to the third freaking trimester!!!!

In early January I casually announced my pregnancy with an illustration of a big family with a baby ninja. In late January I found out I was having a girl and I was told to take it very easy until I had my follow up with my doctor. I was put on modified bed rest days later.

I started out with “just take it easy” modified bed rest to “don’t do much of anything” bed rest. I may end up on hospital bed rest if my symptoms don’t improve and each day my body is reminding me to do less and less. It’s frustrating but I am staying positive, keeping busy and taking it one day at a time.

When I started down this bed rest and pregnancy complications road I was 20 weeks. The statistics were scary at that time… if my daughter had been born at that point she would have had a less than 40% survival. I was losing blood, contracting and had all sorts of bad things going on. Bed rest has helped tame my angry uterus to keep my lil baby ninja cooking.

The first big goal was to make it to the third trimester. That seemed like a lifetime away and at times seemed impossible.

Today I said goodbye to my second trimester and welcomed the third. We are in the home stretch now. We are at a point where my daughter’s chances of survival are greater if she had to arrive today.

If I could dance right now I would be doing a super happy monkey dance while singing “Just keep cooking”.

I have no idea where the last 8 weeks have gone and I hope the next 8 fly by as smoothly. I’m so grateful to be where we are right now and surrounded by amazing and supportive people. Our world is full of awesomeness.

We got this, my baby girl… just keep cooking and Mommy and Daddy will see you soon. Don’t rush it, keep incubating and stop trying to play the congos on my cervix, please.

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Waiting for his sister

Except.

That word isn’t something you want to hear when you are at a prenatal checkup. It paralyzes you as it continues to echo in your ears.

Except… except… except…

There is no amount of delicate bedside manner that can make a blow like that any less painful.

It’s just one word. One freaking word that halts you.

Except would be an amazing word if it was followed up with something like…

Except, she’s wearing a ninja mask.

Except, you are further along than expected, she’s going to be delivered today healthy and painlessly. Yay, no more pregnancy!

Except, we found a million dollars while we were examining you. Here is your cash – cleaned up and sterilized of course.

Oh that last one painted a weird visual. Sorry, everyone.

In the fraction of a second all of this ran through my head as soon as my doctor said “Except…”

Yes, even the bit about the million dollars. My mind has strange coping mechanisms for stress.

I have placenta previa – which means the placenta is too close to my cervix and that makes natural delivery complicated – this is pretty common and not a big concern.

But… there is always a freaking but… in addition to that I also have vasa previa – which means there are vessels that aren’t in the right place, and are exposed, which means there is a possibility of them rupturing which puts my baby at risk. If there is a rupture I could lose her within minutes. That right there makes every other insignificant complaint I could have possibly had irrelevant.

Thankfully, this was all caught early and doesn’t pose a developmental concern. She can keep cooking until it’s time for a c-section (which I haven’t had one before) and be out of harms way so long as there isn’t a rupture. Vasa previa is very rare, hard to diagnose and not preventable. I feel like those three things are a common theme in my life when it comes to health hurdles my 11 year old daughter. When it is caught early that increases her chances of survival which is all I can focus on right now. As always, I have to make the most out of the cards I was dealt while trying not to freak out.

I’m on modified bed rest until, what feels like, the end of time and space. This isn’t easy for someone like me who is constantly going. I have to reduce my stress, which resulted in some massive purging of negative people and situations in my life that I refuse to waste energy on. I have had to become comfortable asking friends and family for help. I have to fight everything that is naturally me by slamming down my brakes and doing what is best for my daughter who needs to “Just keep cooking”. I’m at a point where the stress doesn’t consume me because I’ve had to force myself to get there. It’s not easy since I usually reduce my stress by finding solutions and the only solution is that I sit, wait and hope for the best.

I’ve made a long list of projects I’ve procrastinated on so I can keep busy. I cannot sit around and watch TV or play games all day because that weighs me down. I have to feel productive at the end of the day even if I can’t physically do everything I am used to doing. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, living in fear of losing my daughter, or complaining about this situation I am going to spend the next few months accomplishing all I can while sitting on my butt.

I almost didn’t share this news. It’s taken me weeks to decide to go “public” with it. It feels different when I share hurdles that I help my loved ones overcome compared to something that is about me. I get very uncomfortable when I’m not 100% and this isn’t the sort of attention I like. I also don’t like to cause anyone stress. Above all, I absolutely hate feeling vulnerable.

I would rather avoid the subject and then months later casually mention, “Oh and by the way, I was on bed rest for 4 months and couldn’t really hang out… sooo, whatcha wanna eat?!”

The friends I’ve known for a long time can probably go on for hours about all those “Oh and by the way” moments I have thrown at them after the fact. Sorry, guys! (Insert evil laughter here)

The reason I changed my mind is because I’ve realized there are a lot of parents who are, or have been, in the same boat as I am. Those parents who have had to play the waiting game and hope that their babies keep cooking as long as possible are more common than I ever realized.

We all want to have healthy and thriving babies, and we try not to think about those worst case scenarios. But, what I have learned in this past month is that there is so much strength in embracing these challenges and taking comfort in the miraculous success stories. I’m choosing to share what I’m going through so I can not only explain why I may pick up obsessive habits like making hats, but, to also connect with others who are finding themselves in a similar situation. Maybe my experience will provide some comfort or raise awareness no matter what the outcome.

I started this blog with the intention of sharing my “Nothing can hold me back” attitude and I plan to do just that with this situation as well. I’ve had several friends express how inspiring I am when life throws obstacles in my way. Truthfully, I don’t see myself as inspiring… I just try to get through every crazy situation with the least amount of damage while focusing on the kickassery times that are just beyond the struggle.

It is going to be a long road. I am hoping for the best while making the most out of each day while my daughter continues to cook in there and uses my ribs and abdomen as punching bags.

Live, laugh and ninja kick to happiness. Always.

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Birthday Parties in the Classroom

When a food allergy debate pops up on the interwebs I start getting flooded with links and my awesome people asking me how I feel about it or asking if I will chime in. The scenario is usually the same – Someone out there is annoyed that his or her child cannot bring what they want to school because of someone’s food allergies. This week Carina Hoskisson on Huffington Post is asking why my child’s allergies mean she cannot bring her homemade death cupcakes to school for her beloved child’s birthday.

Update: The same article was also posted to “Today’s Mama”. 

Well, she isn’t asking about my daughter specifically, but very well could have so I decided to answer directly. Carina, let me clear up some obvious misconceptions you have about this topic and maybe give you some insight so you, along with your friends, can stop whining about this potentially fatal topic.

“All over the country parents are being asked to accommodate the specialized needs of other people’s children thanks to the skyrocketing number of food allergies and food intolerances. (They both have similar symptoms, but intolerances are generally considered less serious and not life-threatening.) “

Correction – Parents are being asked to accommodate the specialized needs of children who have a disability and need to have a safe, secure and functional school setting so they can attend for the purpose of school. That purpose of school is to learn, not to eat cupcakes or celebrate your child’s birthday party. It doesn’t matter if there was one student or twenty in the classroom – their disability and legal rights trumps your preferences for birthday parties. Period.

You can throw a pity party with cupcakes over that fact if you want.

Additionally, reactions to food allergies and a food intolerance are very different. One should not be taken more or less seriously than another. Intolerances should not be considered less serious because you are assuming there isn’t an autoimmune disease that is triggered by said intolerance. Ultimately, it is irrelevant if it’s an anaphylactic reaction or an intolerance because both are an unfortunate disability for that child. Don’t make light of either of them because you simply don’t understand the difference. We live in the age where information is at our fingertips any time we want – use it.

“To a certain extent, I get it. “

No you obviously don’t…. But, nice try.

“I would never endanger the life of a child over a peanut butter cookie; that would be ridiculous.”

Then you are obviously ridiculous because you contradict this attempt at making yourself not seem like a selfish person who cares more about the type of cupcake you want for your kid rather than the well being of a child. Or did you mean you would only accommodate over a peanut butter cookie and not any other fatal allergens?

“My children’s school requires that we only provide store-bought treats because some children have allergies or dietary restrictions.”

You are misinformed and assuming on this one. Most school districts along with PTA policies state that any food brought to the classroom for celebration or part of an event has to be store bought and pass safety regulations. This has to do with liability. Same goes for school events when they have to research vendors who are serving food. Your lovely, homemade, buttery, gluten-stuffed cake may give the kids food poisoning. No one wants their children being fed listeria, e coli or salmonella no matter how delicious you claim them to be.

“I don’t always get to eat what people are serving, but I certainly don’t demand that my friend make me a separate cake for me on her birthday.”

Your egg white allergies and sainthood for not demanding that your friends make a separate cake have nothing to do with what is appropriate inside a classroom. It’s honestly a little pathetic that you would even try to compare the two just to make you seem like you “get” it.

“Some schools have even gone the route of banning all classroom birthdays and celebrations, which is ridiculous.”

Actually, a lot of school districts banned classroom parties because they take up valuable classroom instructions. All schools should ban classroom birthday parties from school NOT because of food allergies but because children are in school to learn not to eat your damn cupcakes for your child. Why is the classroom YOUR platform to have the party you deem worthy of your kid? Why do you feel entitled to take away an hour of instruction from twenty to thirty other kids because you want them make your kid feel special? You think it’s selfish for your child not to eat cupcakes or whatever crap you want to bring, but a lot of people don’t even want their kids eating junk food or taking away classroom time for your kid.

The classroom is not for your celebrations no matter what the occasion. Have a party at the park after school. Prepare whatever the crap kind of cake you want in your home and have thirty kids get hopped up on sugar on your own time and dime. It’s not the school’s responsibility to host your child’s party, but it is the school’s responsibility to keep their students safe.

“However, my kid shouldn’t have to forgo his birthday cake because yours can’t eat it.”

“The fear of one shouldn’t outweigh the rest.”

“Let’s stop the allergy insanity, and let the rest of them eat cake…”

This is where I lose my temper on people who have little common sense or compassion for others.

No one is telling you to forgo your son’s birthday cake because another child can’t eat it. You are being asked not to do it in the classroom that would harm another child.

I will be very blunt about this – Your child’s birthday cake does not mean more than my daughter’s life. If you truly think that your death cupcakes are more important than a child’s life, then I am so thankful not to know you. It makes me sick that parents would try to fight to put my daughter’s life in danger over a birthday party at school.

Your child’s birthday party in the classroom could easily take away the rest of my daughter’s birthdays. Could you live with that? Or would you just justify a tragedy like that with “Well, it’s the girl’s fault for even being in my kid’s classroom.”

Your view on how your child’s birthday should be celebrated in a classroom is completely selfish, uninformed and you should be embarrassed for sitting down at your keyboard and whining about it. You should seriously stop whining about how hard the world is for your child’s birthday party to be inconvenienced because of food allergies and maybe be a little thankful that this is the least of your worries in your, obviously, perfect world.

The road of food allergies for my daughter has been filled with people like you and I have gone out of my way to do everything in my power to work with other parents, make sure she is safe and even throw down her legal rights over their entitled preconceived notions. Ultimately, we always win and situations like this help me weed out the people who are not worth our energy. I am constantly thankful for the caring, open minded, selfless and compassionate people in my life that don’t even flinch at any accommodations they CHOOSE to make for my daughter’s safety.

They love her that much not to be such a jerk over what she cannot control and that could end her life.

I do not know you at all. I am trying so very hard not to judge you. I’m simply going off of what you have put out there in your article which, to me, just screams “Yet another uninformed, entitled parent, who doesn’t want to think outside the box and they want to bitch and moan over the world not being the way they want it to be”. I do hope that you can see outside your misinformation and assumptions and maybe grow a little more from this.

However, if you still think that your child’s cupcakes inside the classroom are more important than my daughter’s life then I will gladly show you multiple things that you can shove somewhere uncomfortably. 

I’m not going to apologize for my tone, harsh words or visuals. They also make me laugh despite how angry I am.

For everyone who gave me a heads up about this article – Thank you. For all of you who I know through my blog, or “real life” who have been cheering my daughter on or appreciating how much I advocate for kids who deal with people like this or those who are in the same boat as us – this is all for you.

For my not so baby girl who now reads my blog regularly and helps encourage me to keep fighting the good fight for her – I love you and your health hurdles have never been and never will be anything negative in our world. They are simply you and nothing more. Don’t let people like this hold you back or get you down. You are an amazing self advocate who is compassionate, caring and a better person for the struggles you have had to face in a world surrounded by people like this. I’m proud of you. Focus on the rad people out there who have your back. Oh and please… clean your room! 

Thanks for stopping by my ninjas. Let’s all keep living, laughing and ninja kicking to happiness and a, hopefully, more compassionate place.

Update 2/23/14: I decided to finish an article about how I manage food allergies and classroom parties for my children. If you are looking for some insight on how we make it a success and overcome hurdles hopefully you will find it of use. Thank you all for the amazing response to this. 

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Ninja Family And a Baby

When you have a big blended family of four kids, ages 6 – 14, it may seem crazy to add one more.

But, who cares?! hehe

In June we will be bringing another little ninja into the world and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve been wanting to announce it for awhile but couldn’t think of how I wanted to go about it. I do plan on doing another trashy preggo photo session but I’m not quite rockin the pregger belly, yet, to make it entertaining enough.

If you missed these pictures from before here is my favorite:

Funny Face Friday : Pregnancy Pictures

I started writing this weeks ago and got caught up on the visual part of it. Do I want to take some picture with a bunch of shoes? What about wookiee slippers? Ninja masks? Oooo Ninjas! I thought about how I wish I was able to use illustrator so I could make a family of ninjas.

Then I realized that I love learning new things, the internet is a free resource of information and I spent hours, while sick with a cold, learning how to make ninjas in illustrator.

I officially had no more excuses to procrastinate on the announcement! I’m terrible at making announcements like this. It’s a somewhat obvious quirk of mine. Plus, look at those cute ninjas!

Look, I just got around to officially announcing my engagement that happened well over a year ago so I know I kinda suck at this whole announcement thing. I probably would have waited even longer had it not been for the ninjas.

I also broke the news to my Dad about the baby in an e-mail because that seemed like an okay thing to do, if you are me. Yes, in an email. In my defense I hadn’t seen him much lately because he’s been crazy busy and I had my head in a toilet for months. Apparently, this is not a normal way to break the news but it was better than a text, right?! I know… I’m not right. Sorry, Dad!

Now… before I get a bombarded with texts, emails and calls with “How could you not tell me!?” let me explain…

Honestly, this pregnancy hasn’t been easy and I don’t like to make anyone worry. I waited to say anything because there was genuine concern that something may happen, or, may not happen depending on how you look at it. I felt like the first couple months or so were a blur living each day trying not to get horribly sick and trying to think positively. I’ve lost a lot of weight. I haven’t felt right physically and emotionally. I’ve been more hormonal than I am used to (I am usually below zero on the hormonal meter) and I’ve just been kind of processing, dealing and trying to stop vomiting every time I think of food.

Do you know how difficult it is to be online when the mere sight of food makes you barfy and everyone is constantly sharing pictures of food? Pinterest and I had to break up for awhile but, we are better now.

Anyway…

I was terrified. Genuinely, terrified that something may happen. I don’t like to be a downer and this pregnancy has been a difficult road.

This made me feel a level of vulnerability that I just wasn’t dealing well with. I go into shutdown mode. On top of all that there were a lot of people trying to bring unnecessary negative mojo and drama into our lives that I just didn’t want to deal with. So, I also went into apathetic towards stupid people mode. I had to back out of some commitments and took a break from blogging. We also had a lot going on personally that made it feel like there was an avalanche of wtf-ery falling on top of me.

Mostly, I just puked a whole lot.

The news started to trickle to friends and family. And by trickle I mean I took every opportunity to spring it on unsuspecting friends and family. Everyone has been so supportive. A few of my friends literally almost fell over in shock. I have blindsided others with blurting out “I’m pregnant!” … “What?! Who… you?!” “No, I’m just kidding… wait, no I’m not!”

I also learned that if I go to a Girls Night Out and don’t order wine right away that some of my friends immediately pick up on the fact that I’m growing a sea monkey.

I have the raddest people in my life and I am so sorry they have to put up with me.

Going into my second trimester was a sigh of relief… and some panic because I must plan all things. All the time. Always. As well as have backup plans to my plans and know every variable of possibilities. I spent months getting through my puke-a-palooza and now I feel like I am running out of time to get things sorted. Then again, I kind of always feel like that.

Looking at our situation it can seem a little crazy. Between us we have four kids. Two that are biologically mine, two that are my step-kids, three live with us full-time and all we consider our own no matter the biological connection or not. It’s just our family and how we roll. And now just one more. JUST ONE MORE. After this… one way or another… my sweetie, will be getting fixed.

You heard me.

Lucky him!

This year was the first time in years that I can remember not waking up insanely early on January 2nd to purchase camping spots for the summer. I couldn’t even talk about how I wasn’t planning camping trips and I avoided all the “where are you camping this year” questions during the holidays because we hadn’t made the big announcement yet. This is how much I don’t make sense… my pregnancy is messing with my usual camping routine and I could spend hours rambling about just that.

Yes, I do plan on camping with an infant. It’s actually easier than you may expect because they are super portable at that age. That is a post for another day.

Anyway, I wanted to share our great news and ask that you all please keep happy and healthy baby thoughts coming my way. I’m hoping for a girl (though some days I wonder if I am insane for that) but either way I will be happy. I just want another happy, healthy and fun little ninja to fill our lives with insanity and awesomeness.

Thank you all for being a part of the awesomeness, too.

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