Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Journey Through "Morning Sickness"

I am preparing for the possibility of another little blessing in the not too distant future, and in preparing for that I need to deal with what was the biggest issue of my previous pregnancy, because the fear of it happening all over again is looming over me, and reassuring myself things will be different this time will hopefully help me. I'm scared but I know God can work miracles and I'm praying he will work one in me. I am sharing my story, not to whine and complain about how bad it was, but hopefully to make someone else not feel so alone, or to help someone else get the help they need. I've not gone into great detail with names and brands here, but if anyone is suffering and would like some more infomation feel free to comment and I'll email them.

I now know I suffered from a severe form of morning sickness, hyperemesis. At 6 weeks the nausea kicked in, bad. Relativly late onset for most HG women actually, but it made up for that by sticking around for the entire 9 months of pregnancy, which is what I dread the most. I think I could cope if it was only 2 or 3 months, but 8 months is a very long time to be that ill. I was also fortunate to be able to keep down fluids, but this also meant that the doctors refused to help me, claiming if it was more than just normal morning sickness I wouldn't be able to drink, and refusing to give me vitamins or anything, until I hit third trimester by which point I was self-medicating and had things under control. I was also not vomiting often, perhaps once a day, mostly because I didn't eat anything which would cause me to vomit, which was, well, everything! But I had constant unrelenting nausea that was so bad I was unable to stand, and often unable to sit.

I lost 15% of my body weight between weeks 6 and 16, at which point I was feeling faint whenever I stood up, and having dizzy spells regularly. This was completely unmedicated except for travel sickness bands which took the nausea from i-want-to-die, to i-feel-like-death. One morning I woke up and I had this strange feeling. I've always considered myself pretty in-tune with my body, and that morning I just felt like I had nothing left to give. I felt like some vital vitamin store was depleted or something, as it would be, really, going 3 months eating nothing but a couple of crackers and a piece of fruit each day, which is about all I could manage. I decided something needed to happen and went to the ER, where they basically told me to stop whining, that it was almost gone, and had trainee nurses stick an unneeded IV in my arm (I had one epic bruise from that, because she got it completely wrong, and punctured the vein like 3 times.)

After arguing they finally gave me something, Maxalon (Reglan I believe in the US), fed through the IV. When I recieved it I began panicing, I thought I was dying, and I very seriously contemplated ripping the IV out and simply running out of the hospital, I was hysterical. But I did not show the major side effect risk of maxalon, being muscle spasms, so they sent me home with the bottle of pills. I continued to have panic attacks and delusions, though they were less severe than the first time, and on the 3rd day I researched maxalon further, discovered my panic attacks and delusions were a side effect of the maxalon (confirmed by the fact it was much worse when given via IV as opposed to the pills) and the maxalon didn't help anyway, it stopped me throwing up, which wasn't much of an issue for me, but it made the nausea so much worse.

Of course, a 'rare few people' suffer from withdrawl from maxalon. And of course, my oversensitive body went right into that group. I ended up calling my MIL to come pick me up my first day off them because I was losing time and blanking out, and couldn't focus on anything, (not distracted non-focus, actually unable to look at anything and think about it for more than a couple of seconds). Due to the way I grew up, which I can't go into here, I had to learn to have a lot of control over my mind. I do not think idle thoughts, I simply can't. So being unable to focus, losing time, it scared the heck out of me. Needless to say my husband knows the medication and knows to check anything I'm being given if I'm not able to, and that maxalon must not be given, even as a 'just one dose' medication. I won't go through that again.

After that I was desperate, I felt an urgency inside me that I needed to do something. (something that didn't involve ginger!) so I bought some travel sickness pills. they worked! I mean I was still nauseous but I could eat small amounts and bland food, and I could stand and walk. They took it from HG to 'normal' morning sickness (normal 9 month morning sickness >_<) and I was so greatful. I never thought I'd be greatful to have normal morning sickness lol! As time passed on the nausea lessened but it never fully let up until after I gave birth. I found out after the birth these pills (which no doctor would approve of me taking for insurance reasons, however their only other option was zofran, far too expensive for me) are actually made up of components commonly used to treat HG and nausea in pregnancy in the US and Canada.

(just so no one thinks I took a random medication in pregnancy, I actually did a LOT of research and even went as far as to read and compare medical studies and read through various professional doctors. I'm very grateful that I was taught to comprehend those things! By the end of it I knew more about my medication than my doctors did.)

I am trying to convince myself it won't happen again. This time, I know more, I know the medications, I know the signs, I know what dosen't work, I know what helps. I feel safe taking certain medications in the first trimester, I can stop it getting worse at the start. And this time, I have a history, doctors and family will know it's not 'just morning sickness'. But I am still frightened. It seems silly, it's not even the worst thing to ever happen to me, and I've seen a number of women with HG who have suffered worse with it than me, but I still fear it.

So my plan of attack.

Find out all I can to prepare
Get house in order so that I don't need to worry about deep cleaning
Obtain various pills and treatments ahead of time
Eat more beans - just a theory that beans might help, I believe it may have even come from Kim at Life in a Shoe.

Positive pregnancy test
Prepare make ahead meals, begin asking friends and family to make an extra portion and send it over.

As soon as it begins
Begin wearing sea sickness bands
Try 'treatment' (I am going to experiment with a controversial 'medicine' that I believe is safe, but don't wish to share the details of here. Again, if you want more info, comment and I'll email you.)
If treatment dosen't work begin travel sickness pills immediately (again, comment for ingredients)
Arrange family to come over and help out regularly
Inform doctors of situation and past history with it, insist on talking about options that are not zofran or maxalon,
Begin taking anti-natal vitamins and iron supplements at night before bed to minimize sick feeling from iron.
GET OUIT OF THE HOUSE, it's never as bad if you're out and about.

Hopefully this will get me to a stage where it is simply 'normal' morning sickness, AND, the theory is, treating early lightens the severity and shortens the timespan, perhaps even clearing it up before baby is born (I found last pregnancy I was able to half my medication in the final month, I don't know if it was my body or the meds.)

That is all I can do, and I pray God will help me, give me the strength to care for myself and Arwen, and perhaps even prevent another HG pregnancy!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Wearing Skirts?

I wear skirts and dresses every day and have done for almost 2 years. I don't look down on women wearing pants, I actually only let go of my remaining pants and jeans last month, after finally being convinced that, if I hadn't needed them for over a year, I won't need them again. Funny that, how I felt I 'needed' this item of clothing. So I understand it's a personal decision and certainly not a salvation issue. Nonetheless, I thought I would share some of my experience on the matter as I see a growing number of women wishing to do the same, and some inspiration as to why.

Yesterday, while ice-skating at a local rink (yes, in a skirt) , a girl around 12 years old came up to me and complemented me on my outfit. Now, my outfit was whatever I could find as I was rushing out the door with a baby that hadn't co-operated all morning. Not the prettiest thing I've ever worn. But it was the skirt that stood out to her, and her friends who I caught watching me later in the afternoon. I now regret not taking those extra 5 minutes to put on something nicer. I made an impression on these girls, an impression of femininity. In my 3 years of skating at this rink I have never once seen another woman in a skirt at or below knee level (there have been girls in short skirts and tights, slightly different). We make an impression on people wherever we go, whatever we are doing people are watching just as we are forming an impression of the people we meet, the lady behind the checkout, the woman sitting at the table next to us, we always make an impression on someone. What impression do you want to make? Clothes play a big part in this impression.

Now the practicalities. I have done a lot of things in skirts, and modestly. I have
Ice skated
Ridden a horse
Ridden on rides at a theme park with those stupid between the leg harneses
Camped by the creek
Done heavy work in families yards
Bike riding

With a bit of luck I will soon be adding rock-climbing to this list. Many of these are traditionally 'pants' activities, but why? All of these can be done safely, comfortably and modestly in a skirt WITH THE RIGHT CARE TAKEN. I emphasis this point because in some of these cases, it's not a matter of modesty or practicality, it's a simple matter of safety. If you don't think about the type of skirt you're wearing, it can be downright dangerous to do some of this in it.

So below are the major objections to skirts in various activities, and my best tips for them!

Lets deal with this one up front, if you go bike riding in a loose skirt it will get caught and you will crash. If you go skating in a tight skirt, you will not be able to separate your legs far enough and you will fall. Think about the situation. I had a dangerous situation when I went swimming in the surf in a skirt for the first time. I didn't have a modest swimsuit, they are much harder to find in Australia and were too expensive for me at the time. So I wore a slightly below the knees, light and quick-drying pleated skirt over a maternity one-piece. I got in the surf, and my skirt clung and begun to get tangled. It also did not give me anywhere near as wide a leg span as I had expected. Thank God I was a local who knew how to be safe in the surf, knew about rips and whether the tide was coming in or out, etc. If I had been a tourist who had never been in surf before, I could very easily have been pulled out and unable to get back in what turned out to be a very constricting skirt. Modesty or not, I will not wear a longer than thigh length skirt in the surf until I can be sure the same won't happen again (hoping the swimdress I am ordering shortly will be suitable for surf!) So please think about the safest type of skirt for the activity you are doing, and then build the rest from that.

 The first thing I would like to say on this topic is, pants are not immodest, pants are unfeminine. There is a difference. checkered material is generally considered less feminine than floral prints, does that mean florals are more modest than checks? Absolutely not, and in the same way, pants are less feminine than skirts, but not necessarily less modest, and a skirt can be very immodest also in certain styles. And that leads me onto my next point, being, layers are your best friend in situations like these. When I went on the rides at the theme park I knew the harness would come between my legs, so I wore a pair of pants specifically set aside for layering underneath. It didn't matter if I looked feminine while on the ride, it DID matter that the people lining up couldn't see my underwear! With a bit of maneuvering I did manage to get my skirt covering my thighs most of the time, but for the occasional spot where they were visible, pants covered my modesty and, frankly, at those times no one noticed whether I looked feminine or not! Upon getting off the ride I smoothed my skirt down and looked feminine once again. Keep a couple of pairs of tights or plain pants for this purpose. Maybe if you're wearing something victorian in nature you'd even like to try out a pair of bloomers! In other instances your legs may be showing more than you'd like, but not all the way up. In this case, I LOVE thigh high socks, which reach a couple inches above the knee. I think they look great in the right outfit personally.

In winter I have people say 'it's too cold for a skirt!', In summer 'it's too hot for a skirt!'. The preferred dress is jeans or shorts in these instances. So when is it ok to wear a skirt then? I can't speak for very cold temps, I have never even seen snow, so I give no advice to those living in those climates, maybe you really have to wear something other than a skirt?. But I can speak for the Australian winter, which feels pretty cold to me! and the Australian summer, which can be sweltering, especially in a country where air conditioning is not considered a necessity.

To keep warm there are thigh highs and pants, layers are great. But I rarely ever use them, because I consider the material and style of my skirts. Some of the skirts in my wardrobe are paper thin, others are denim or material that's very thick. Some of my skirts have underskirting with them, others do not. Some of the skirts allow air to blow through the material to a point, others block it out completely. And then we have A-line skirts and gathered skirts, skirts that come straight down and skirts that poof out with lots of material. I have skirts that I can wear stand-alone in any temperature my climate gives. Wear thin, straight skirts in the heat of summer, and thick, gathered skirts in the winter.

PRACTICALITY much less of an issue than people think. Really, unless you wear short skirts or tight skirts, kneeling down, climbing up, and moving about are not a problem most of the time. Our grandmothers used to only wear skirts, and many of them were much more active than we are today in out age of the internet.

I'm yet to find an activity I can't do in a skirt. With a little forethought and consideration, you can do anything in a skirt just as well as you would in pants.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Taking time for the little things.

I'm currently typing this one handed as my 6 month old sleeps on my lap, curled into the crook of my arm. This is the same 6 month old who, despite rubbing her eyes in tiredness all day, has refused to sleep for more than half an hour at a time, but has now decided mummys lap is a good spot to snuggle in for, what has so far been, an hour and a half nap. I have things I need to do (namely all the things I couldn't get done because of her lack of sleep and refusal to be put down all day). The kitchen needs cleaning, the dress I am making is half finished with the makings of it scattered around the living room, and dinner is yet to be begun.

But she looks so sweet, so innocent, so lovely lying against my chest like this. How much longer will this little girl sleep upon her mothers lap? The kitchen can wait, the living room can wait, and even dinner can wait a little longer. My baby wants her mummy, and I want to savour these moments with her. She grows up too fast to wait for 'later', to be put aside for housework and chores.

Does your 'baby' want you today?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Housekeeping Help for the Easily Overwhelmed and Obsessive

I get overwhelmed. Easily. And when I get overwhelmed I lose all motivation to do anything. When faced with my house in a mess that seems too big for me to fix by myself in a matter of hours, I simply don't do anything because I think that I *know* I can't do it. And then, when the house is made spotless by a day of hard work that someone else has motivated me to do, I then feel like I have to keep the house perfect, and I have to deep clean it every day. I can work on the house for half the day, but if I go to bed that night and see clothes on the floor, or a dirty mark on the bathroom sink, I feel as if I have failed. Some might say I am OCD, and they could well be right. It's this feeling that stops me from doing anything, because it no longer seems worth it, and leads to my home becoming a wreck once again.

Does the first point, becoming overwhelmed, sound like you, or perhaps, more likely, your children? Children are more easily overwhelmed than adults, and I can fully appreciate why! Our primary response to being overwhelmed, generally, is to simply shut down and not know where to start. For the children that suffer worst from being overwhelmed, this often leads to lessons on lack of diligence, or obedience, etc. Not to say that those are not justified responses, regardless of the excuse the child did not obey, but sometimes we set our children up for failure in this area, just as I can make no excuse for failing in my housekeeping to this point, though I too feel 'set for failure', without the right tools or resources to cope with the task. Does the second point, obsessing and feeling failure when one element is not finished, sound like you or your child?

Recently I've NEEDED to get on top of it all, my husband is working again, and we are open to being blessed with a second child in the near future, which could mean a terrible few months of hyperemesis. Even though I am preparing and have options to make the hyperemesis livable (I am fortunate enough to have responded well to medication last pregnancy) I will still be in 'bare minimum' mode for certain periods. And after many tears and research, this is what I've come up with. I hope it can help you also.

Lets start with the first point, the point most likely to affect your children rather than yourself. Being overwhelmed. I see my house after a busy weekend. Clothes, paper, dirty dishes, rubbish, toys, lying everywhere. I see chairs out of place, bean bags not put back, clutter on benches. A few weeks ago I would have simply sat in front of the computer, wasting the day away, maybe motivating myself to pick up one or two rooms, but feeling a failure and asking for help when hubby comes home. Why? Because it seems like an impossible task. Clean the house. Where do I begin? With the rubbish in the loungeroom or the dirty dishes in the dining room or the clothes in the bedroom? It's too big, and I feel defeated.

But today was different, I broke it down into bite size chunks.

Neaten the loungeroom
Neaten the dining room
Do the dishes
Hang out the washing

When I finish each one, I have accomplished something. There is no more or less work, but lets say I don't manage to get the washing hung out today. If my task is 'clean the house', then I have failed. If my task is the above list, I achieved 3 things! It also allows me to break things into segments during the day, I can sit here relaxed writing this because I know I only have 5 items left on my list of about 20 things to do today, and I know I can finish those 5 items before the end of the day, instead of seeing the rest of one big task looming ahead of me and never really finishing it for the day. Another thing is remembering. It's easy to get sidetracked, but having this list and breaking it up I can remember what I have and haven't done. For example, instead of writing 'Do a load of washing' I have

Put on load of washing
Hang out load of washing
Bring in load of washing
Put away load of washing.

This means that, if the first 3 are ticked off, I can still look at my list, see I've accomplished some of the task, giving me motivation, and remember that I still have a basket of washing sitting on my bed.

Lets translate this into something more applicable to your child. You tell your child to go clean the playroom. He walks in and sees a huge mess, and doesn't know where to begin. You can't always give him a checklist of what to do broken up. But you CAN teach him to take bite sized chunks. Assess the room. There are blocks on the floor, toy cars on the floor, a blanket scrunched up in the corner, and assorted items that don't belong in the room. Teach him to recognise those tasks, and then set about finishing one task at a time. Eventually he will learn to break it up himself.

Now the second point, obsessing, feeling like you need to do everything everyday. Without a to-do list, I feel like I need to do everything. That isn't possible, or needed, and feeling like you have failed everyday because you didn't do everything is a problem. And then I say 'ok, I only need to vacuum once a week', but then that once a week never comes, and I never vacuum. And this is where my to-do list comes in. It's what I need to do each day. I need to do no less, but more importantly for me, I need to do no more. When I have finished it for the day, I feel as if I have finished my work for the day, I am done, and there is a sense of closure. It doesn't matter that I didn't vacuum today because I know I will do it thursday and that's when it needs to be done. Nevermind that there is still clothes in the washing basket, I did my load of washing for the day, and those clothes will be done tomorrow. It gives me a much needed goal, a finish line, and allows me to relax without worrying about a bunch of things that I think need to be done, that in fact do not. I can go to bed at night and not be bothered by the mark on the bathroom sink because that mark wasn't part of my jobs for the day, and I'm ok with that.

It's all a mindset, but this is what has helped me with my problems. If you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments!

And finally, here is my current 'checklist' that I try to follow each day, as an example. For the sake of this list, 'neaten' means make presentable, put away objects not meant to be there, etc, meant to be able to be done in a couple of minutes. 'clean' means organizing the storage spots, dusting, clearing out that corner that everything seems to collect in etc. See the difference? Also, a number of the daily chores are accomplished during my '20 minute tidy' where I set music to play for 20 mins and get as much done as I can in that time. It helps motivate me to knock a great deal off my list in a short amount of time and helps me keep focused for 20 minutes instead of doing one room then wandering off.

Daily Tasks
Neaten Lounge Room
Neaten Dining Room
Neaten Kitchen
Neaten Study
Neaten Baby Bedroom
Neaten Mummy Daddy Bedroom
Wash Breakfast Dishes
Wash Lunch Dishes
Wash Dinner Dishes
Put on Washing
Hang Up Washing
Take Down Previous Washing
Put Away Previous Washing
Unpack 1 Box
Take Out Bin

Weekly Tasks
Clean Toilet
Clean Lounge Room
Clean Laundry
Clean Computer Room
Christmas Project
Grandma Day, no extra tasks
Or get a head start on Monthly tasks
Clean Out Fridge
Monthly Tasks

Monthly Tasks
Change Bed Sheets
Clean Bathroom
Clean Linen Closet
Big Project?
Clean Out Freezer
Clean Baby Room
Clean Craft Room
Clean Bedroom