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Posted on Jan 13, 2018 in Health, Parenting, Wisdom | 0 comments

NICU Post Traumatic Stress is a thing?

NICU Post Traumatic Stress is a thing?

It’s been a hard year and a half with my pregnancy and Redmond’s health challenges.

When I was single, I marked hard times by watching Netflix in bed, isolation, binge eating, and fantasizing about the things I didn’t have. In psychiatric terms, I’ve learned that I disassociated for a time. I didn’t know how to handle the stress of what was happening, so I shut down. I went through Christian counseling in my twenties and am incredibly grateful to the wise woman God placed in my life to help me process some hard things and move past them.

Several years before Rick and I married, I taught myself how to deal with anxiety in a natural way. I learned to relax and not let things get to me like they had. But when I married him, I warned him that depression had been a bit of a dark cloud over me in the past. I had mostly dealt with it, but am always concerned about it coming back. When I got pregnant with Eliana and experienced such extreme sickness, it did come back. I was miserably ill, newly married, in a place I hadn’t lived since I was 12, in a new church, and without an established support system.

For about 7 ½ months, I spent the majority of my time on the couch, and it got to me. I didn’t call my friends often. I didn’t read my Bible. I was so sick that I didn’t go much of anywhere. When I had to grocery shop, I cried as I struggled to make it down the aisles – a mix of nausea and sciatica and exhaustion making me feel like the floor was pulling me in. I didn’t do much of anything, except feel very, very sorry for myself. I was upset with God for not waving His magic wand over me for my years of (somewhat) faithful service and letting me sail though pregnancy for the first time at 37 years old. Embarrassed, I was concerned that others thought I was being dramatic and attention-seeking. At one point it got so bad that I actually had a fleeting thought of ending the pregnancy. 

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Posted on Aug 25, 2016 in Fertility, Health, Love, Marriage | 11 comments

Baby Wyse #3

Baby Wyse #3

Rick and I are so happy to let you know that Baby Wyse #3 is on the way! The baby is due to be born on March 16, 2017. We are soon to be out-numbered!

After Charlie was born, I decided there would be no more pregnancies for me. Pregnancy and I didn’t get along very well, and I had my son and daughter. My hands were incredibly full with a 15-month old and a newborn, so the idea of another baby made me feel like suffocating.

But the kids are now 3 1/2 and 2, much more self-sufficient and getting along great. I considered returning to work, but the options in our rural area are limited. After exploring those options without success, Rick and I decided that another baby might be a good thing. I was still terrified of pregnancy from my two previous experiences, so I began exploring alternative health options to see if I could have a different experience in the future.

I found a wonderful chiropractor who helped with the energy deficiency I couldn’t seem to shake. She introduced me to a local naturopath who ran some tests and provided hope that I could get some deep-seated health issues resolved and have a better experience. I had excruciating pain in my knees, in spite of having lost 20 pounds and following a diabetic diet to keep my blood sugar healthy. My primary care physician, chiropractor, naturopath, and the massage therapist I’ve been working with for several years all told me the same things: 1) This is a reaction to stress. Go on vacation and get your mind off your recent disappointments. 2) You need an anti-inflammatory diet. Meat, vegetables, fruit. No more bread and sugar.

I heeded their advice. I began taking the remedy the naturopath gave me (one bottle, not hundreds of dollars in various supplements). Our family rented a beautiful cabin in the mountains of Gatlinburg, and we brought our babysitter along. For the first time in about four years, Rick and I slept through the night without interruption for 8 nights in a row. I cannot minimize how much that helped me. A lack of sleep for that many years had really affected me. During that vacation, I took a complete break from social media and things came back into perspective. I have been so blessed with a wonderful family, and I simply enjoyed them.

Following that vacation, I started The Whole30, which I’ve written about before. I used that eating plan to help find a good balance for my body, and while I’m not where I want to be yet, I am confident that I’m headed in the right direction. As my diet changed, anxiety fell off me. My knee pain all but disappeared. I lost more weight. I began exercising again, and as summer came around, I began enjoying gardening and the warm, fresh air.

Strange things began happening, like instead of falling asleep after over-eating, my body screamed at me to MOVE. I started jogging a little, doing jumping jacks, and even (shock…) craving vegetables! I began to have healthy, normal responses to hunger and satisfaction. My hormones balanced out and the naturopath could find NO vitamin/nutrient deficiencies when she tested me.

Baby Wyse 3As I worked on my health, Rick and I decided to let nature take it’s course to see if we might conceive, but nothing happened. We thought it was possible that we had reached the end of our biological clocks and were okay with that. We are so content and blessed with our precious children. But I’m not very good at “going with the flow”, so after almost a year of seeing what might happen, I got serious. I began tracking and testing and was very pleasantly surprised to find that IT WORKED! The first month! Whoa.

Within an hour of getting that positive pregnancy test, I went to work. I made a list with the title, “Preparation for Armageddon”. I listed all the things I needed to do in the next one to two weeks to prepare for the sickness I’d had with the other two. I cooked up a storm and filled our freezer to the brim. I organized and planned and prepared. I had boundless energy and I used it!

When week five hit (the first time I threw up with Eliana), I still felt great. Relieved, I scurried around more, doing fun things with the kids while I could, making lists, and working in the yard and garden. I was intent on meeting my “step goals” on my fitness tracker and did so every single day that week.

When week six hit (when I really got sick with both kids), low-level nausea made it’s appearance. It was no big deal. I didn’t throw up, I wasn’t couch-bound, I even felt a little better if I went for a walk! So I walked and gardened and kept on cooking. One day we had a family fun event and I was pretty tired of feeling nauseated, so I took some anti-nausea medication. The rest of the day was great and I had no issues at all.

The days since then have been a combination of feeling pretty good (except for very, very tired) and feeling yucky/nauseated. I haven’t thrown up. On the days when I’m extra-tired, I take a nap with the kids. My energy comes back within a few days and I make up for the days before. I’ve been spending more time indoors and not getting many steps in, but I’m giving myself grace for that.

So far, this pregnancy is pretty normal. I remind myself that nausea isn’t that big of a deal and repeat out loud how grateful I am that I’m not throwing up. I can go for walks (with Eliana, extreme motion sickness made walking impossible), work in the garden, pick peaches with my husband, and cook meals. My meals aren’t spectacular right now, but they’re often hot and nutritious.

We’ve decided to wait until the baby is born to find out the gender. Once the baby gets here and is big enough to sleep in a crib in his or her own room, we’ll evaluate where the older two are with their maturity level and decide how to arrange the kids’ bedrooms. We have lots of ideas, but no solutions right now, and are hoping it becomes obvious to us when we need to decide.

I’d like to have a different birthing experience this time. The epidurals didn’t fully take either time before, and last time led to a horrific spinal headache that negatively impacted Charlie’s birth and my health for a while afterward. I’m planning to fully educate myself on non-epidural pain-relief methods, utilize a local midwife, and plan for a midwife-attended hospital birth. I take medicine for a headache, so I see no reason to go through labor and delivery completely un-medicated. However, the epidural is off the table. Thankfully, with the last two, the birthing process was actually the “easy” part. Not really, but so much easier than the pregnancies themselves.

We’ve told Eliana and Charlie and they’re thrilled. They have all kinds of fun and interesting questions. I have an app on my phone that shows an illustration of the size of the baby each week. Eliana LOVES to look at it and asks me almost every day to show her how big the baby is right now. Some questions I’ve had so far include:

“When the baby gets big enough to come out, will your belly just POP?” (A basic anatomy lesson followed that question and seemed to satisfy her concerns.)

“Do I have a baby in MY belly?”
“No, sweetheart. You’re too little to have a baby in your belly. That won’t happen until you’re more grown up.”
“Like Kristina?” (our 18-year old babysitter)
“Well, yes. You have to be at least as grown up as Kristina to have a baby in your belly.”

One day when I was particularly nauseated and tired and laid on the couch most of the day…
“Is the baby in your belly still sick?”
“No, Charlie, the baby isn’t sick. But because the baby is in Mommy’s belly, Mommy’s belly is a little upset today.”
“Oh, okay. Can you walk?” (Well, shoot. I guess I’ve been particularly lazy today. After that, I got up, took a Zofran, and got some things done.)

“If you throw up, Mommy, will you throw up the baby?”

****************

I’ve always wanted a large family. Maybe we’ll stop after three and call that “large enough.” Maybe we’ll test nature a little more and see if four is possible. Rick looks at me like I’m crazy when I say that, but these kids will keep us young! 🙂 Our babysitter’s mom told me she had four more after she was my age, so it’s possible that if I keep myself healthy, I have plenty of time left…

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Posted on Jun 22, 2013 in Fertility, Parenting | 10 comments

Ten Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman with “Morning Sickness”

Ten Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman with “Morning Sickness”

DSC_0019 CROPPregnancy.  Ugh.  I’ve decided that the women who say they feel great and actually like being pregnant are lying.

Okay, so maybe they aren’t exactly lying, but they aren’t actually telling the truth.  Could they be?  Nah.  Pregnancy, as beautiful as the outcome may be, is not what I would ever call “fun.”

No, I’m not trying to announce that I’m pregnant. I just had a little trip down memory lane and thought that in my non-preggo, non-sicko state, I’d make a list to help you out when you encounter other women with that glow. And for the record, “morning sickness” is the most under-descriptive name for the all-encompassing, 24-hour, flu-like state of many pregnancies.

1. You should try ________ (fill in the blank – saltines, ginger, peppermint, etc.).
Do you want to know how bad those things taste coming back up?
Get me a trash can!

2. You just need a little fresh air. Go for a walk!
I puke when I walk to the bathroom and you expect me to make it outside and down the road?
Get me a trash can!

3. Everyone gets it. Suck it up.
Oh, that makes it so much better…
Get me a trash can!

4. I can’t believe you’re sleeping again.
I just grew a pinky finger in my womb. What did you do today?
Get me a trash can!

5. You think you’re sick now, just wait until labor and delivery! (Snort.) Let me tell you my horror story…
Thanks. Now I’m not just sick, I’m terrified.
Get me a trash can!

6. If you were busy enough, you wouldn’t have time to be sick.
Are you freaking kidding me?
Get me a trash can!

7. Do you want to have sex tonight?
Do you want to clean puke up off your face?
Get me a trash can!

8. I don’t smell anything. You’re imagining it.
How can you not smell that? It’s awful.
Oops! The trash can wasn’t close by enough. Sorry about the floor.

9. Why do you need a trash can? Just puke in the toilet.
Yes, because in my extremely nauseous, motion-sick, hyper-sensitive to smell state, I want to stick my face in the pot where we poo.
GET ME A TRASH CAN!

10. I don’t feel like going out to get the food you’re craving right now. You’ll just puke it up anyway.
If I can’t have [pickled bananas] right now, I’m going to claw your eyes out.
And yes, after eating the crazy food I requested, get me a trash can, please…

And now, for some encouragement on what you could say to a pregnant woman with “morning sickness” to help her through it.

• Tell me about what you’re looking forward to most when your baby is born. (Then remind her of that when she’s feeling the sickest.)

• Is there anything I can do for you? Clean? Cook? Get your groceries? Get you a cool cloth? Turn the heat/AC up or down?

• Your shoulders are probably aching from the constant strain of vomiting. Can I rub them for you?

• I see that it must be difficult to reach your feet these days. Would you like me to paint your toenails?

• How do you feel about epidurals? Isn’t it nice to think that after all this sickness, you won’t have to feel a thing when you deliver this baby?

• Here are some boxes of baking soda to absorb odors. Where all should I put them in your house?

To all of you who are going through this difficulty right now, my heart goes out to you.  Remember, there will come a day when you have a sweet reward.  What got me through some of the worst of it was imagining little baby toes, little baby fingers, a little baby nose, and the joy of it all sometimes helped me to smile through the nausea and exhaustion and discomfort.  It won’t last forever.  One day soon(ish), you’ll be rewarded with big smiles, adoring eyes, and chubby little arms wrapped around you tight.  Then, if you’re anything like me, you’ll wonder how quickly you can do it all again.

What dumb things did people say to you when you were pregnant?  And what brilliant things did they do to help?

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Posted on Dec 10, 2012 in Fertility | 6 comments

Uncomfortable

With 16 days left until my due date, I find myself amazed at how good I feel.  The earlier misery of this pregnancy left me absolutely terrified of how I’d handle the end.  Instead, I’m elated to no longer be suffering from constant nausea, to have only gained four pounds through the entire 38 weeks, and to have a bit of my old energy back.  I actually look pregnant, rather than just a little chubbier than normal, and can enjoy the experience of feeling the baby kicking, rolling, and punching in there.  The idea of Braxton Hicks contractions (“practice contractions”) also caused me anxiety.  I didn’t relish the idea of being in pain for weeks leading up to delivery.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that those contractions don’t actually hurt, but are just a bit uncomfortable.

Trying to sit up too straight or bend over makes me uncomfortable.  Because my lungs have been pushed up so high, my capacity to breathe has been diminished.  That can be frustrating at times, especially when trying one of my favorite activities of singing.  I can’t eat too much at one time because my stomach doesn’t have much space to expand.  All these things are uncomfortable, but not miserable or intolerable.  THIS is what I was expecting pregnancy to be!  I can handle “uncomfortable” a lot better than miserable.

I wonder how often we become scared and full of anxiety at the beginning of a journey and give up.  The thought did cross my mind at week fourteen.  Nine weeks of constant misery had me so full of frustration and despair that I caught myself with the horrible thought of ending it all.  As soon as I recognized the thought, I was saddened and shocked by my own weakness.  I told Rick that I had to do something different, had to find help somewhere.  The next week I found some relief through an acupuncturist.  A few weeks after that, I learned the trick to the anti-nausea medication.  I wanted an all-natural pregnancy, free of medication.  I thought I was tough enough to handle whatever difficulties pregnancy brought my way.  Instead, with hyperemesis gravidarum (click the link to read an article written by someone I relate to well), an all-natural pregnancy might have caused me to severely compromise my health and the pregnancy with dehydration, malnutrition, and other complications.

When I heard that Kate Middleton/Princess Katherine of Wales had been hospitalized for hyperemesis gravidarum, I felt a huge sense of something like relief mixed with compassion for her.  Someone else has what I have, someone who can bring some light to the little-known disease, has what I have!  I wouldn’t wish this horrible sickness on anyone in the world though.  I wanted to scream when I saw someone suggest on Facebook that she was getting special treatment for “morning sickness” because she’s royalty now.  While approximately 70% of pregnant women have some morning sickness or nausea, most women do not have this monstrous difficulty.  The thing that’s been especially hard for me is feeling like others have judged me as weak, not physically fit enough to handle pregnancy, or too old.  I have certainly questioned myself about those things.  But here comes tiny little Princess Kate, a picture of health and fitness, young and strong – hospitalized for it!  My own mother, pregnant with me as a fit 24 year old, also suffered in the same way.

Unlike many of the women I’ve read about as I’ve researched this disease, my doctor was a God-send.  She didn’t bat an eye when I told her I needed anti-nausea medication and was willing to help however she could.  The first doctor I interviewed said the only way he gives medication is in extreme cases where the woman has already lost 10-15 pounds.  Otherwise, he suggests not drinking with meals.  Seriously?  Several medical professionals I’ve dealt with during this time have suggested that I probably wouldn’t have gotten gestational diabetes or high blood pressure if I hadn’t been so sick at the beginning.  My entire body was thrown out of whack by the constant, violent vomiting and other side effects.

And so I continue, one day from my 38th week of pregnancy, to unashamedly take the medication that has allowed me to function and survive this ordeal.  I embrace the discomfort of this late stage of pregnancy, even the four-times a day needle sticks to test my blood sugar.  Even the twice weekly non-stress tests that monitor my baby’s heart rate, movements, and my health.  Even the long days of bed rest, bland meals, and constant alarms going off to remind me to take my medication.  I embrace it all, so very grateful that it is just discomfort these days.  And soon I will hold my heart’s desire in my arms – a baby, a rich reward for the days of misery and discomfort.  And yes, I think I may even try this all again someday…

Uncomfortable is a condition I can handle, a condition I can even smile through.  Thank You, God, for feeling uncomfortable!

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Posted on Dec 1, 2012 in Fertility, Marriage | 3 comments

Mine

Mine

I have a little confession to make.  I’ve allowed myself to indulge in a bit of fantasy over the years, dreaming of the day when I’d have a family of my own.  Becoming dependent on a man for everything never appealed to me so I wanted a career I could rely on if I ever needed to take care of myself, but I also wanted to get married and be a dedicated full-time mom to a house full of children.  (Talk about conflicting ideas in one head!)  I guess the only way I could get both things was to do what I did – focus on education and career, then get married and have babies later.

I couldn’t just want my family without having an idea of what I was getting into and how exactly I could be THE BEST mother and wife possible when the time came.  Strange as it may seem, I began reading books on parenting and marriage while I was still in high school.  I listened to radio programs that centered on healthy family dynamics.  I watched other people – how they handled their marriages and children – and made mental notes:  do this, do NOT do that, research that option further…  I went to counseling and learned what family systems I had grown up with that were healthy and unhealthy.  I worked hard to become someone who could have thriving relationships with others, free from insecurities and false notions of what normal family life is.  By the time I was in my late-20s, I felt like I’d gathered enough information to do a pretty decent job and had come to the conclusion that every parent and spouse messes up in some way so I could pretty much count on that too.

I spent a lot of time taking care of other people’s children.  I worked part-time as a nanny for an agency, meeting many different families.  I babysat for the children of my friends, deciding to love the children God had put into my life and enjoy the love I received in return.  And for about 18 months before Rick and I got married, I helped a dear friend take care of her six children and run her large household.  I filled my empty heart with the love of these dear friends and it made the loneliness much more bearable.

Part of my indulgence in fantasy included pretending like the kids were mine when I was out with them in public – driving, shopping, playing at parks.  For a little while, I’d allow myself to pretend like I was the mom, allow the strangers around me to believe what they wanted, and think about what my life would be like if it were true.  Car seats, French fries ground into the carpet, toys everywhere, germy little fingers – all of it!  I imagined they were my responsibility, not children I had borrowed for a few hours but ones I had nurtured from the beginning.  And most of the time I was happy to give them back at the end of the day or the outing, allowing their parents to deal with the long nights without sleep and the difficult discipline issues.

Much of the joy and wonder of this pregnancy has been eclipsed by the way my body has rebelled against it’s intruder.  All the love I have for this unborn child has somehow not been picked up by my digestive system, which has fought us every step of the way.  Surviving the next day has become a bigger concern than dreaming about what’s to come and there have been very few fantasies about my life after the baby arrives.  Instead, I’ve faced a lot of fears.  Why was I so confident that I’d be good at bringing children into the world?  I’m not nearly as tough as I thought I was.  What if this baby is as difficult to manage as this pregnancy has been?  Can I ever handle another pregnancy again?  What if I lose this baby after everything I’ve gone through?

As the end of the pregnancy has neared, my fears have calmed significantly.  It’s easier not to be afraid when constant vomiting and nausea aren’t your daily companions.  Much of my energy has returned and I see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Even if the baby were to come at this point, the pregnancy is viable and the baby appears to be thriving in my womb.  We have nearly everything done to our home in preparation, and the joy of this long-awaited Christmas season is starting to sink in.

120312131207Yesterday I was able to drive myself into the nearby town to drop something at the Post Office – a pretty exciting outing for this bed rest mommy.  As I got out of the car, I noticed the infant car seat strapped securely into the back, just waiting for it’s occupant, and I had to stop to catch my breath.  Tears sprung to my eyes as I realized that anyone passing by would assume – and rightfully so – that the baby seat is for MY baby.  It isn’t pretend any more.  I don’t have to give this child, this car seat, back to the woman whose been blessed to call this child her own.  I am the one who has been blessed!  Never again will I face that awkward moment when the child calls out to me by a name other than “Mommy” and those around us realize that I’m the aunt or the babysitter.

I remember once when my nephew was just a tiny baby, someone confused him as my child in front of my sister.  She was thoroughly annoyed and quick to correct the offender.  I was a little taken aback by her reaction until she explained.  She said after everything she went through to bring him into the world, all the pregnancy discomforts, plus the sleepless nights and countless dirty diapers, she wanted all the credit for him.  She did not want to share it with anyone else.  I get it now.

I’m grateful to God and to Rick for giving me the opportunity to be a mother.  I’m also grateful for all the research I did in a time when I had the energy and focus to do it.  The day that Rick and I actually put our new baby into his or her car seat for the first time and drive home will probably be one of the best days of my life.  I’m so excited about this new little person who I will have the privilege of calling my own.

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