The grief ocean

I will forever find similarities between the ocean and grief.

Grief can be all consuming. Surrounding you in a dangerous way. Making it hard to breath, focus or feel any hope. There are types of waves like types of grief. There is the initial tidal wave. All consuming and overwhelming. it drowns everything in sight covering it with pain. That’s what losing a baby is like. You don’t think of anything else. You can’t. You’ve made plans, arrangements and already have so many hopes and dreams for that little one you are carrying within you. The loss rips those out from underneath you like the water washing away all those prints you’ve made in the sand. Suddenly it’s all gone.

Next for me was the more gentle but still ever present rise and fall of the waves. The repetitive in and out. You feel ok and then you don’t feel ok. Back and forth onto the shore and back out. You have a few days of distractions followed by a newborn announcement on Facebook. You just about forget the water is there and then it’s back in again. Just long enough to take a deep breath.

Just like the ocean grief has sneaker waves. They are the most shocking for me. They come from no where. Out of shallow seemingly calm waters. All of a sudden you are assaulted and drug underneath the wave. Just begging for the pain to stop. I’ve had a few of these moments. During a happy trip to Target to look for movies to buy with Matt. We walked past the infant section and it was too much. There were the cutest dresses, tutu and bows I’ve ever seen. All the things I should have been buying for my daughter. An old friend at the grocery store congratulated us on our “little bambino” it had been weeks since she had been gone. A month or so ago a former co-worker looked around for our baby when she saw us at the store.  I will be living my life getting by the best I can and those quiet vicious waves continue without warning.

I assume it will go on like this for years. The sneaker waves becoming less frequent and violent but still present. You never get over the death of your baby. You simply do the best you can and keep moving forward even if you are treading water you are still swimming.

The beautiful ocean on my side of the world

Everything you wanted to know about Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia has changed my life forever. It’s a sneaking disorder directly related to pregnancy. It’s incredibly common and too often fatal to infant, mother or both.

Lets start with the name.

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A nurse told me the origin of the word eclampsia was derived from the Greek word meaning lightning. Because eclampsia “strikes light lightning” often without warning.  This is quite true in many cases. The symptoms and signs are usually attributed as pregnancy related and considered normal, or missed entirely.

What is Preeclampsia?

Previously known as toxemia, Preeclampsia is a disorder that occurs only during pregnancy and the postpartum period. It affects both the mother and the unborn baby. There is no cure for PreE other than delivery. A deficient placenta affects the mother’s blood vessels and raises blood pressure. High blood pressure begins to interfere with the placenta’s ability to deliver oxygen and nutrition to fetus. If left untreated it can lead to kidney failure, in extreme cases leading to seizures. Eclampsia is an extension of PreE with the addition to seizures.

Once the placenta is delivered your risk is deflated tremendously.  PreE can occur anytime after 20 weeks but commonly develops after 37 weeks. Mothers are also at risk for up to 6 weeks postpartum.

PreE now affects nearly 10% of all pregnancies worldwide. Globally PreE and hypertension disorders during pregnancy are the leading cause of maternal and infant illness and death. PreE has  76,000 maternal and 500,000 infant deaths are recorded each year.  20% of the 13 million preterm births a year are PreE related.

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Symptoms:

  • Headaches (usually unrelenting)
  • High blood pressure
  • Abdominal pain
  • Visual disturbances  and oversensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision
  • Swelling
  • Seeing flashes or auras
  • Shortness of breath or burning behind sternum
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confused state and heightened anxiety
  • High levels of protein in urine

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As you can see many of these symptoms are frequently experienced during pregnancy. The trick is to be aware and if you are experiencing multiple symptoms from the list to call your doctor immediately. Additionally if you are experiencing an extreme on this list like a headache that will not go away or swelling larger than usual. They can check your blood pressure and take a urine sample to be safe.

Long -term effects can include organ damage, chronic blood pressure in later life or have no affect down the road.

Who is at risk?

Really any pregnant women is at risk for developing Preeclampsia.

Those at higher risk include:

  • First time mothers
  • Those with a previous pregnancy where PreE was present
  • Women with mothers or sisters who had PreE
  • Those carrying twins or multiples
  • African Americans
  • BMI of 30% or greater
  • Women younger than 18; older than 40
  • Already high blood pressure, kidney disease or diabetes
  • Women with PCOS, Lupus, Autoimmune disorders, In-vitro, Sickle cell disease

Treatment:

  • Blood pressure will be monitored closely
  • Monitor protein levels in urine
  • Monitor baby’s growth
  • Check amniotic fluid levels via ultrasound
  • Signs of instability in the mother including very high blood pressure that’s not responding to treatment, signs the kidneys and liver are failing, and reduced number of red blood cells or platelets
  • Start a magnesium sulfate drip to reduce swelling and lower blood pressure to prevent seizures

If the baby is growing insufficiently, not al all , or scores poorly in a “stress test” the healthcare provider may make the choice to deliver. Under these conditions the baby is unlikely to thrive and survive until full term. Delivery is the only sure method to reduce the risk to both mother and baby.

For more information please visit the Preeclampsia Foundation Website.

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How can you help?

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Promise Walks for Preeclampsia are being held all over the United States. Their goal is to raise funds for awareness, educational materials, and most importantly research! Preeclampsia is a fatal illness if not properly treated and diagnosed. Thousands of precious lives are lost each year because of lack of knowledge, insufficient testing, and incomplete healthcare practices. Being your own advocate and aware of the signs is a huge step towards combating PreE. Also sharing your knowledge is key. Many lives could be saved if proper education about PreE is provided.

What’s for dinner?

Tonight we are having a recipe we got from my sister. I’m not a big enchilada fan but these are awesome! We eat Mexican food probably 3 times a week. (I know it’s ridiculous) The hardest part of this recipe is making sure the enchiladas don’t get mushy. I hate mushy tortillas. I’ve tweeked the recipe and use what works for us. My alterations will be in bold.

Original recipe (source)

Here’s the goods:

1 bunch cilantro (we use 2 because we like the flavor, 1 is totally acceptable)

1 cup sour cream

2  7 oz. cans jalapeno salsa (1 large can enchilada sauce , hot)

2  7 oz. cans prepared green chile salsa (smaller can green enchilada sauce, medium)

2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and shredded (we use 4 medium sized breasts)

1 yellow onion

2 cups shredded cheese

1 jalapeno

1.  Preheat oven 350 degrees.

2. To make sour cream mixture: In a blender or food processor, puree cilantro, sour cream, both sauces and jalapeno. It should be a nice minty green color.

3.  To make chicken mixture: Combine shredded chicken, onion and a little over half your wet mixture. I add half my cheese at this time.

4.  Heat tortillas in oven or microwave until soft. Spray 9×13 inch pan so enchiladas don’t stick to the bottom. Add a spoon full of cilantro liquid mixture to bottom of pan. Just enough to coat the bottom.

5.  Add 2 large spoonfuls of chicken mixture to each tortilla. Place rolled tortillas seam side down in dish. Cook for 15 minutes or until tops or tortillas are golden brown.

6.  Pour remaining sauce mixture on top of enchiladas sprinkle cheese. Heat for another 10 minutes or until sauce is warm and the cheese has melted.

*Life pro tip: I cook my chicken in the oven and then put the whole breasts in my Kitchen-aid mixer. I use the flat paddle and lock the head of the mixer down. I turn it on medium and in less than 20 seconds I’ve shredded all my chicken and not lifted a fork or burned my fingertips to Hell. My favorite trick to use in the kitchen! It also helps to keep your chicken from getting cold while you are shredding it.

 

This is a favorite at our household! It’s even awesome warmed up. The chicken soaks up all that yummy spicy cilantro flavor. So good. Served up with some Mexican rice and you’ve got yourself a might fine dinner! Enjoy!

About me A to Z

All about me. A through Z.
*Special thanks to the lovely Jenn for sending along this all about me survey!

A. Attached or single? 

Attached. We’ve been together since 2004 and married for 2 years now.

B. Best friend? 

I know Matt qualifies for my best friend.  My best girlfriend would be there for me, best friend for 14 years Toni. She’s been wonderful and so great to have in my corner. Love her!

C. Cake or Pie?

I really like both but for different reasons. If I had to choose I would probably go with pie. Who can turn down an amazing apple pie? Not me that’s for sure. I also think making pie is much more of an even than cake. Cake’s are so generic. But pie is special.

Pie

D. Day of choice? 

I love Saturday’s. Hanging around the house all day or getting things done either way I love Saturday. I love sleeping in and spending time with Matt. Easy choice.

E. Essential Item?

Sunglasses. I hate not having them and squinting like crazy.

F. Favorite color. 

Anyone who knows me will tell you I have quite the love affair with the color pink. I like most shades of it. I blame it on Barbie. I’m pretty fond of this shade but really most are good with me!

pink

 G. Gummy Bears or Worms? 

Oh boy! I hate both with a fiery passion. Mostly I don’t like anything gummy. Even just smelling them makes my stomach turn. I couldn’t even take prenatal gummies which everyone swears are a Godsend. Nope not me. They repulsed me even more!

H. Hometown?

Where my heart is and my baby is buried. I’ve done most of my living here and am happy to still be a resident. A great place to have a family and some pretty interesting historical aspects to go along with it!

I. Favorite indulgence? 

Such a toss up. But I think they are pretty much the same thing. I love coffee and ice cream. Give me a Starbucks frap and that’s basically both wrapped together in rich creamy goodness.

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J. January or July?

I like July’s events more. January bums me out because Christmas is over. I also lost Addison that month. It has left a pretty bad taste in my mouth. I’m hoping it won’t always be that way but it’s hard when such a significant event happens. That month and day will always remind you. July is still happy for me. My anniversary and the 4th. I love fireworks and BBQing and all the festivities of the day.

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K. Kids?

We’ve had one. She was precious and perfect and had a funny little personality even in-utero. We are working on having more.  We want 2 or 3 so it will be a while until we feel like our family is complete. Maybe never with the emptiness we feel from losing Addison.

L. Life isn’t complete without?

Movies! I don’t know how people can’t love a great movie. I watch a movie at least once a week. Most of the time more. I watched this blast from the past this weekend.

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M. Marriage date?

July 15, 2011

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N. Number of brothers/sisters?

1 sister and 2 foster brothers. It’s kind of odd for me because they came along much later in life. It’s like 2 different sets of siblings. They are more like cousins to me younger kids I see often but live in my parents house. It’s just tough because I was in college when they were added to our family.

O. Oranges or Apples?

You can’t go wrong with a good Honeycrisp.

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P. Phobias?

Dying tragically in a freak accident.

Q. Quotes?

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R. Reasons to smile?

  • My nephews who make me laugh every time I see them.
  • My health.
  • My fantastic husband.
  • My home.
  • My garden.
  • Good hair days.
  • Friends who get me.

S. Season of choice?

Fall in Oregon is magical. It’s really amazing. I’ll have to add our engagement pictures to prove my point. For now here’s just a stock image. Yes it really does look like this. For at least 2 months. I love it.

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T. Tag 5 people.

I’m still keeping the blog kinda under wraps so I’ll leave this one be.

U. Unknown fact about me?

I have different laughs. It cracks Matt up and he is occasionally commenting on how it’s a different laugh than usual.

V. Vegetable?

I think asparagus is my favorite. Potatoes are pretty versatile though. I’m all about veggies!

W. Worst habit?

I bite my nails. It’s a nasty gross habit that I wish I could stop!

X. X-ray or ultrasound?

Ultrasound. They as a live link to what’s going on inside of you.

Y. Your favorite food?

I’m kind of obsessed with Pad Thai at the moment.

Z. Zodiac sign?

Aries.

Happy Anniversary

Today is my second wedding anniversary. Who would have thought in that short time we would have become loss parents? I never ever would have guessed that would be us. One of the things I admire about my husband is his resiliency. He’s amazing. I know I’m supposed to think that but I really believe it and think others should see his brilliance. He’s smart, great with numbers, funny, quick-witted, strong, supportive and loving. He’s been my partner in everything for years. We were high school sweethearts and I knew from the moment I met him I couldn’t be apart from him. I always knew he and I would end up together.

Two years does not seem like an exorbitant amount of time. And it’s really not. But we’ve packed so much into those two years it’s daunting. We always knew we wanted children. Seemingly as soon as we were married Matt started wanting children of his own. (I thank my sweet nephew Konan for this. He and Matt bonded right away.) Matt was hooked and had baby fever soon after his arrival. We went on a cruise the week of our first anniversary. Without giving too much away we had decided to start trying for a little one the month or so before that trip. It did not take long and I got a positive pregnancy test around two weeks after we got home. We were so excited it was easy for us to conceive. We were concerned we would have trouble. Rightfully so but with a different timeframe.

Now a year later I look back and yearn for that carefree attitude. We thought having a baby would be easy. Sure it would be stressful and hard but we would make it work. I look at my wedding pictures and know Matt and I are entirely different people than we were then. That’s what losing a child does to you. It changes who you are down to your very core. Sure we are the same in many ways but a loss like ours is like a shadow. Something you can’t get away from. Yes, 2013 has been hard for us. But I have made it because I had a partner literally  holding me when I could not walk. Sharing in my sorrow and joy. We’ve clung to one another as if our lives have depended on it. I know the damage a loss of a child can do to a relationship but I truly believe it has brought Matt and I closer than ever. I realize now how it’s possible to love someone even more than the day you marry him. Trials and struggle make you realize and appreciate what you have. And what I have is one phenomenal husband.

Here is my little love note to him that I posted on Facebook this morning:

Happy anniversary, Matt. In the past two years we have been through more than I ever could have imagined. We’ve had some of the best days of our lives accompanied by the very darkest. Through it all I’ve had you and together we have made it. I’m so very lucky to have you by my side always. You’ve been supportive, loving and patient. Looking back at our wedding photos I see such bliss and happiness. I’ll cherish those photos and memories forever. Happy anniversary to the love of my life and the best husband anyone could ask for. I’m so happy I get to walk the rest of my life hand in hand with you.

Our trip to the beach for my 26th Birthday

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Our cruise to Alaska on our first anniversary
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One of my favorite wedding pictures

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Matt proposing almost a year exactly before the wedding
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A few things on my mind

Here is a quick list of a few things on my mind that I want to cover when I get some time:

  • What I did in the hospital
  • My nightmare MRI
  • Out of body like the movies
  • Seeing my nephews for the first time after losing Addie
  • Distancing my family
  • Burying my baby
  • Visiting the cemetery
  • Life after the hospital
  • Going back to work
  • What about next time
  • The Bump and the best people I’ve never met
  • Minutes of Gold and other foundations
  • Life after a loss
  • Cross-post of what not to say to a loss mama
  • How my family is doing
  • Transforming Addie’s room
  • Us; before and after
  • Pregnancy journey; bump pictures, deciding to try, telling our family, getting that first BFP, 2nd tri celebration dinner, V-day, buying things for baby, ultrasounds, the feeling of something not being quite right, picking name for baby, pregnancy books, and things I will do differently

There are so many other things floating around my mind. I don’t know if I will get to each of these in a timely manner. I’m still lobbying for a computer of my own so I can post when the mood hits. It has been a slow start for me but with each post I realize how much more I have to say.

Things that were done

As I think back to the time surrounding my loss I am so very thankful for my family and friends. For the most part they handled things spectacularly. I will write another post later about the support Matt and I were given as I was admitted to the hospital. I wanted to share now a few things I really appreciated during that time.

1. All the cards, flowers and little mementos we were given

I read each and every one of them. It was nice seeing Addison’s name on things. It reminded me that people knew who she was and that she was a loss not just something that happened to me. I still have each thing we were given. They are in a tub the hospital gave us to transport some of our stuff home. I will hold on to it until I get around to my scrapbook. Each card will be kept and reread on the day in January that she was born.

2. Meals

I have always known that was something people do. They don’t know how to help in a tragic or stressful time and they make meals. Coming from a home involved in church it’s always been this way. I never realized the full extent of the food giving until I was released from the hospital. I came home and our fridge was PACKED! One thing I wish people had done was left a little note saying who brought what. I was still very ill at this stage and had no idea where the food came from and who to send a card to.

3. Meals in disposable containers

I can’t tell you how much I appreciated this gesture. We received so much food that our refrigerator was packed. I hate to say it but it was too much. We are just two people and ended up sharing much of the food with family who were also affected. We also weren’t in the mood for eating much when we first got home. We were numb and I was still very ill and slept most of my days. But back to my original point;- disposable containers. They were amazing because I didn’t have any added stress of tracking down who the dish came from. Even washing and returning dishes was a hassle during this time. It was a burden and mad me feel like I needed to get them back their things right away. I was so thankful for the people who gave us disposable snap-locks and tinfoil dishes.

4. Information liaison

We had so many people asking for details and what they could do , bring or cook. Appointing one or two people to share information kept my other family members sane.  They would send emails and texts with updates and heed the endless questions.

5. Donations

One thing that happened that shocked me was the numerous checks we received from our family members. Several came with amazing cards and said they knew it couldn’t take our pain away but it could help us somehow. We obviously did not expect this nor did we expect the sudden hospitalization. The generosity shown by our family member’s helped us pay rent, get out of the house and go to dinner when I felt well, buy food and gas and pay for several bills. If not for that money times would have been much much harder. I will be eternally grateful for their generosity and kindness.

6. The little things

I remember several little things people did for us as well. Family washed our sheets and made our bed, removed all baby related paraphernalia from our home and put it out of sight. Things like my chalkboard bump calendar, doppler and Christmas presents for Addie. (Luckily our house was spotless and clean because we had just taken down our Christmas tree and put all our decorations away)

People provided so much for me; my favorite drink form Starbucks, a case of red bull to help my spinal fluid return to normal, dry shampoo because showering was quite the ordeal.

I’m so thankful for these things and many more. My family and friends have always been amazing and they really rallied together during this time. Isn’t that always what babies do? Bring people together. I’m thankful for Addison for this. She was the reason we were all there. My family is amazing and I’m more than lucky to have each of them. If any of them see this I’d like to extend the biggest thank you to each of them! They helped Matt and I more than they will ever realize!

5 things

In hopes to keep my spirits up and remind myself to be thankful for the things in my life  I’ll periodically post things I’m happy about.

Five things that make me happy today:

  • Waking up early to go for a walk with my husband before work
  • Dutch Bros.
  • My nephews
  • A washing machine
  • Our BBQ