Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day / Migraines / Duggars

I'm still having almost daily headaches. I have enough medication to make the pain go away temporarily but once the meds wear off, it comes right back. When I'm on the meds, I'm soooo out of it so my quality of life is not great right now. I was reminded by my friend Roberta that gatorade helps headaches and I made the connection between the time I stopped drinking gatorade and when the headaches started. I'm on my third day of gatorade and the headache is still here so... yeah. There may be a visit to Urgent Care in my future.

I haven't had much Cosette time this week because of the headaches and I'm hoping we can get her over here for a little while tomorrow while her dad is off work. I miss her sweet face! Tasha said one of the smaller 0 to 3 months onesies fits her now. She was being swallowed up by anything that wasn't newborn just last weekend. She's growing and I'm missing it! Her dad is doing a great job of working, not missing any days and being on time all of the time. My kids are great workers once they get in the swing of things and I'm so proud that Austin's got working worked out finally. Tasha is doing a great job of sticking with breastfeeding and taking care of Cosette. It's been a long time but I know how hard that is for the first month or so and I'm so proud of her for being such a great mom! I love my kids.

Oliver is at 31 weeks now. I cannot even begin to explain how exciting it is to have two brand new people to love in my life! It's like twins but without the stress of having them at the same time in the same place. Marquee's shower is Saturday and I can't WAIT! Of course, hoping against hope that I finish his gift before then. If not this makes two showers in a row I wasn't ready for... but I am trying. I should also mention that I'm proud of these "kids", too! Cody and Marquee are going to be amazing parents!

Not to leave Ryan out... I'm proud of him and Sara, too and can't wait to see them in just a few days!

Besides the headache that won't stay away, I'm having a lot of hip pain. One thing we found out through all the testing related to the Crazy Gut Pain is that the arthritis in my hips, especially my left hip, is worse. The pain doctor still believes the Gut Pain is related to something gyn related, especially since I have a history of adenomyosis but agrees that we've eliminated the scariest possibilities. I still haven't rescheduled my visit to the Urologist because I'm just so tired of doctor visits. It's so painful to drive the 45 minutes to Civilization, sit for whatever length of time, get absolutely no resolution and drive 45 minutes home.

Anyways. So what do you all think about the Duggar situation? I've wrestled with it for the past few days and read through the police report. Here are a few of my thoughts:

I don't fault Jim Bob and Michelle for not making it public at any point. People are saying they were deceptive/hypocritical to talk about purity and make their Christian beliefs public when there was "sin in their own camp". I'm just saying as a MOM that I can't see how publicizing this very private situation would have been fair for the daughters involved or for Josh either. I know that their strict conservative stance is unpopular but I don't believe that having someone in your family commit sin (and we all do) means that you can't be clear about your beliefs.

I don't think any of us would want our deepest darkest sins to be revealed in public. I realize that the Duggars purposely put themselves in the public eye but I don't think being on a reality tv show obligates you to share every skeleton in your closet.

I think (know) that kids will play "you show me yours, I'll show you mine". I don't think it's right and am in no way condoning it in a "boys will be boys" attitude. I just think kids operate from a perspective of curiosity more than for sexual fulfillment. The violation is every bit as real and my heart breaks for those girls but I don't put a curious 14 year old in the same category as a pedophile.

The one huge mistake / misstep that I feel like the Duggars made was not having competent, professional counseling for all of the kids involved. I value counseling from a Christian standpoint but I don't feel like there's any proof that they did all that they could do to heal the hurts from this situation. I base that on reading the police report... it seems like they thought sending Josh to a "work program" would correct the situation. The gave him a mentor, not counseling. And there's nothing to show that any counseling was provided for the girls. Kids will make mistakes. Mine made tons of them and there were many times I failed them as a parent. HOWEVER... even with my limited resources I made sure to get my kids the help they needed when their behavior went outside the boundaries of my ability to correct.

I'm really heartsick about it all. I hate the backlash and criticism they've brought on the Christian community. I hate that the girls are being re-victimized by the story being made public. I believe the opportunity to show that God's grace is greater than all of our sins is lost in the sensationalism of it all. I'm frustrated by the situation because I just don't know how you should handle something like that. I would have been torn between wanting to comfort my daughters and wanting to demonstrate unconditional love to my son. If Josh was just some creepy uncle, I would have kept my daughters away from him but he's their brother. A brother who I believe could have been (may have been) rehabilitated and redeemed.

I guess I can't escape from the concept that God's grace is greater than all my failures. I need that to be true in my life so I can't stand the thought of it not being true in someone else's life.

And with that... I'm going to concentrate on not concentrating so hard so my head won't hurt so bad. Happy Memorial Day to all of you (even those of you who aren't in the U.S.!). Love and hugs, y'all!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

How To Survive A Migraine

The last time I met with the attorney representing me in my disability case he asked how often I have migraines. I said, "oh, about three times a month...". Since then I have had a headache almost every day or at best have one every other day. I haven't had two days in a row headache free in several weeks. It's frustrating and annoying BUT I am glad that I'm not trying to work while dealing with these nasty brain pains.

There are a few people I know who suffer more frequent/more severe headache than I and I've tried to be a good steward of their knowledge and experience. I've also developed a few tried and true things that make the time pass with as little misery as possible. I'm sharing my knowledge here to remind myself in the future. If you have any tips I'd love to hear them.

How I Survive A Migraine:

1. Cosette. Oliver. Because seriously, getting through the pain means getting to be a Nana to two precious babies. (Photo credit: Candi Franklin, Rose Studios)

2. Advil liquigels or generic equivalent. It has to be ibuprofen and it has to be a liquigel. Even though I've had recurring headaches almost daily, the advil does work for a certain amount of time and makes it possible to get through the day. I have a prescription for percocet but honestly, it does nothing for my headaches. It's so weird to me how different painkillers affect different maladies but whatever it takes. In my case I would rather be out of toilet paper than be out of advil.

3. Order and organization. I'm not a neat freak. Not even the least little bit. I have been walking past the same pink sock on my bathroom floor for a month. But there's something about exercising control over the things I can control that makes me feel less overwhelmed about the pain that I can't control. This really only pertains to headaches. Back pain is a completely different animal for me and I can't explain why. Yesterday morning I got up and folded the laundry that has accumulated on my bed for... months. I didn't finish it and I didn't put it away but for some reason the fact that it was somewhat folded made me feel better.

4. Eat what I want. That's not terribly different from what I do on other days but a little indulgence goes a long way in soothing the brain pain. Right now I'm drinking a dr. pepper and I never drink soda. Never. Ever. I drink wine more often than I drink soda and I never drink wine so... yeah. I don't know why but it helps. Honestly, my treats may also be my triggers, who knows at this point but I don't have any other vices so food wins the day.

5. I try to fight off the dwarfs... you know, Sleepy, Grumpy, Meany... well, whoever they are. I am not always successful but if I can stay on the bright side with my attitude it doesn't feel like such a tragedy.

6. Continue with as normal a schedule as possible. Obviously, for me, it's not like I'm running marathons or working in a coal mine or doing anything that is physically demanding BUT I do wake up at the same time and do things like sew, do genealogy, read blogs and watch vlogs on a fairly predictable schedule. Sticking to that schedule even when I'm in pain keeps me from going insane and sort of harkens back to the theory of controlling the things I can control.

7. Ice, ice baby. These headaches I'm having lately involve a throbbing vein on my right temple. Putting something cold on it helps a lot. For instance, when I get my Luigi's Mango Italian Ice out of the freezer for my evening snack, I hold it on the side of my head for about fifteen minutes. Or even a cool bottle of water. It doesn't have to be ice, necessarily, just something cool.

8. This is new to me but my pain doctor has recommended an herbal blend that seems to work for a lot of his patients with chronic migraines - magnesium, coQ10 and vitamin b2. He said if it was too expensive to do all three (and coQ10 is really pricey) to at least do the magnesium. I don't know the science behind it but I bought a big bottle of magnesium and I'm taking a dose every day as recommended. (disclaimer, I'm not a doctor, I just spend a lot of money seeing doctors and google a lot. Consult your real life doctor before adding or changing medication or supplements).

9. Lights low. Sounds muted. Avoid strong odors. Wear comfy clothes. Environment is everything. I'm fortunate to be in a very peaceful place - other than the sound of a barking dog who shall remain nameless but his initials are O-S-C-A-R - but there are rarely sirens or honking horns or noisy neighbors and I am grateful for this.

10. Keeping my jaw unclenched and muscles relaxed seems to help. Last night I tried sleeping laying down - I normally sleep in a recliner because I have a hard time achieving the perfect position for my spine otherwise. Last night I decided that headache trumped back pain and constructed a cozy nest that helped me relax my neck and shoulders. I woke up to horrible muscle spasms in my back BUT it relieved the headache for a short while.

11. And if all of that fails to make things easier, I just go to sleep. Better Living Through Pharmaceuticals... it's my motto.

So that's what works for me... I'm interested in hearing what you do to beat a headache.

Cosette is three weeks old today... even on headache days, good things happen! Thanks for letting me whine. Love and hugs!






Monday, May 18, 2015

More Cosette - Lots of Photos

I'm on day eleventy-seven of a migraine but I wanted to share a few photos of my little Cosette that haven't been posted here yet. She spent the night at our house on Friday (with her parents, of course) and I got to soak up some extra g-baby love. She's opening her eyes more and she responds to my voice. I swear she knows me! Today I head back to the pain doctor and... that's the only thing on my calendar until Marquee's shower on the 30th. I'm going to be hibernating and reserving energy for our trip to New York on June 2nd. Hope you're all well and I hope you enjoy these photos! Love and hugs!











 

Photo credit for the following photos is Candi Franklin, Rose Studios. If you're local and need a birth photographer, Candi is awesome! We felt like she was one of the family and are so grateful for the photos she captured of Cosette's birth. It would have been impossible for a family member to grab these shots as we would have been caught up in the emotion of the moment. I'm so glad Candi was there to record this precious time for us. (not a paid advertisement)
 



 
 





 A Nana is born. 




Sunday, May 10, 2015

My Trip To New York, Volume 1

I wanted to blog about our trip to New York while it was still fresh in my mind because I'm finding these days that things don't stay "fresh" in my mind for as long as they used to... short shelf life for me as far as memory goes, I'm afraid.

Just a little background information - my brother Bryan is #4 out of the five of us kids and was born when I was ten years old. He was an adorable little redhead with an active imagination. He went through this cat stage where he constantly wore a cat costume, spoke in meows and wanted to take his meals on the floor, like a cat. He's also the brother who famously protested my sunbathing in the area where he wanted to play when I was 17. (That's him in the blue shirt in the background. He's holding a protest sign he made.) He was seven when I got married the first time and holds the distinction of being the only person on Earth (besides me) to have attended all (both) of my weddings.

Bryan went to college in South Carolina and then to law school in Chicago. Since getting his law degree in ... 2004? I think?... he has worked for a pretty big international law firm in New York City handling anti-trust cases (I think that's what it's called) and recently was made a junior partner. He dated a girl for about ten years who just really didn't gel with our family culture. We all did our best to connect with her and for awhile she and I were in frequent contact but over the past few years she pretty much had us all on *ignore*. And that's fine. I have an amazing sister-in-law who is like a sister to me and I have two others. Long, not really my story to tell story short, their relationship ended and Bryan met Helen. At the Metropolitan Museum. They met at the Met. Get it? Bryan brought Helen to meet the family last Christmas. We had a great time and were all completely smitten with her, Bryan proposed, they're getting married in June.

A little while back Helen asked me, mom and my sister-in-law Angie (the amazing one, in case you were wondering) if she could fly us to New York to attend one of her bridal showers. The time frame was a little tight because it was three days after Cosette's due date and we didn't know for sure she would be here before then and because Angie wanted to make sure she was home for Mother's Day. And now you know the "why" of our trip to New York.

I have not traveled much in my life and not at all since my back problems started. I was a little bit anxious about pain management with all the walking that is required in airports and sleeping in a bed as opposed to my recliner. Yet I felt like this was a good test run for the week we're in New York/Connecticut for the wedding and I so very much wanted to have the opportunity to connect with Helen's family and close friends before the big event. In short, the benefits far outweighed the potential pain.

We live about an hour and a half from the Atlanta airport and our flight was to leave at 9:45 on Friday so we left our house around 5:45 and drove to Angie and Jim's house. Jim was in New Orleans so Pop was going to stay with the girls before school and take them to school and Angie drove us to the airport. She travels a lot and traveled a lot growing up as her dad worked for Delta so we really turned over the reigns to her. I knew that the best way to conserve energy would be to have assistance in the airport but I was so embarrassed about riding in a wheelchair. That was not on my list of life goals. When I checked in at the Delta kiosk in the airport I requested "special services" but didn't know how to arrange for a wheelchair to the gate. Fortunately our flight departed from the "T" concourse which is very close to where you enter so ... not much walking. When we got off the plane at LaGuardia there were two Delta representatives waiting with wheelchairs for me and mom, holding signs with our names on them. That was incredibly helpful because there was a good bit of walking, some of it uphill to get from our gate to where we met Helen.

This is out of order but I wanted to describe our "special services" on the flight back. We told the guy at the curb check in for Delta that we required wheelchair assistance. I don't think he checked my boarding pass the way I checked it in Atlanta because although he arranged for us to be taken to the departure gate in LaGuardia, we didn't have wheelchairs waiting when we got back to Atlanta. What was worse, and truly what caused me the most pain, was that they left us at the gate at LaGuardia but then changed the gate at the last minute. The new gate was a pretty far walk and there were no seats there. We stood for quite a long time waiting to board the plane and although they allowed us to board early, as I said, there was no one waiting at the gate for us in Atlanta. Fortunately there was a guy there just in case someone needed assistance but only the one guy so I rode and mama walked. He was a super nice guy and offered to carry mom's purse and got her to hold on to one of the handles of the wheelchair so she had something to lean on. He took me all the way through the airport to the Park and Ride bus. Overall I give Delta a 50% score for servicing customers who are less abled. The flight attendant leaving Atlanta was great about helping me get seated comfortably and putting our carry on bags in the overhead compartment. On the way home I asked the flight attendant who greeted us when we boarded if I could get some assistance with the carry-on and she said, "ok, I'll take care of that" and then didn't. My mom tried to put it up and I flagged down another flight attendant and said, "we asked for help but it didn't pan out". And so... yeah. About half the time they were great and half the time they were indifferent.

Upper West Side
Helen picked us up at the airport and took us to her parents house in Pelham, New York. Pelham is a nice little suburb that reminded me somewhat of Druid Hills in Atlanta - nice older homes, neatly manicured, landscaped yards. Her parents served lunch out by the pool and it was exactly what we would have served at home in such a situation - lunch meat, pasta salads, chips. Helen had to head back into Manhattan for an appointment with the hairdresser for the wedding to work out the placement of her veil. We stayed out by the pool with her parents for quite a while having a very enjoyable conversation. Her grandmother arrived by train from Philadelphia and joined in the conversation. The weather was perfect and we felt very much welcome and even at home with them.

We all decided we needed a little freshening up before the party so Helen's mom, Sarah, took us up to our rooms. We each had our own bedroom and we shared a bath. Bryan and Helen were also staying over night and there was plenty of room for all of us. I wish SO MUCH that I had taken a picture of the bed in my room. It was so high up that the top of the mattress was chest high on me! Sarah brought up a step ladder for me to climb into the bed! It wasn't too hard, actually. It was kind of like getting on a horse - I put one foot on the bottom rung of the ladder and swung the other leg up onto the bed.

I climbed into bed and rested my eyes for a few minutes and mom poked her head in to check out my accommodations. I told her the bed was AWESOME and I was able to lay on my back with two or three pillows behind my head and another pillow or two under my knees. Both beds I have here at home would feel like a knife in my spine in that position but this bed was so very perfect for me! Mom had to try it out so she climbed the ladder and laid with me with the breeze blowing across... it felt like the scene at Twelve Oaks where all the girls have to nap before the party.

We got dressed into our party clothes and I touched up my makeup. Helen's parents were making shuttle runs between the train station and the house where the shower was being held. Helen drove me and mom to the party. Angie came later in another group, I think. I can't remember now. I'm not as good in new situations as I used to be. I get tongue tied a lot now and if I'm in pain I get shaky and feel very self-conscious about not drawing attention to myself. That's hard because I like people. I'm not quite the extrovert any more but I do like connecting with people. The people at this party were friends of Helen and her parents, people she went to boarding school and college with, people who you would easily assume had a very different life from what I've had. They were wonderful to us! I don't think there was a single person at the shower that didn't introduce themselves, make conversation and completely make us feel welcome.

Mom and I slipped out to the backyard where it was a bit cooler and quieter. Sweet Helen brought me some lemonade and we met a few more people. The party hostess came out and gave us a tour of her garden - she has a bumper crop of basil that I am totally coveting - and then we settled at another grouping of outdoor furniture. Several women joined us - an oncologist, a lady who owns a publishing company, a former Ford model - many diverse people from different backgrounds but the conversation flowed easily. We were having such a great time that some of the younger girls joined our group. Appetizers were passed... I didn't eat much because I did feel shaky and felt like it could easily take a turn toward nausea. I also didn't take photos because I just wasn't sure if that would be intrusive, not knowing these folks and all. Also, I find that if I'm behind the lens it serves as sort of a barrier and I miss out on things.

 Then they called us in for dinner. There was a lovely buffet of "Cheap Chic" food such as little lobster rolls, crab cakes, oysters, mac and cheese, salad... a lot of stuff. Too much to remember! The food was delicious but I really mostly nibbled because I was afraid to start feeling poorly. Mom was also feeling a bit nauseous and the hostess very sweetly brought her out chamomile tea.  I was in pain to the extent that I was uncomfortable but not miserable. The house was pretty warm and it got pretty loud in there at times but I'm so glad we were able to be there and I'm so much more excited about the wedding since we've met some of the people who will be there. Helen got some nice gifts but ours... ooops... had been left at her parents' house.

Helen's dad, Mark, sweetly asked if the girls from Georgia were in need of rest and truly, by that point we really were. We went back to the house, changed out of our party clothes and turned our coach back into a pumpkin. I settled into that fabulous bed and was still a little bit awake when I heard Bryan and Helen come up the stairs. I called them into the room and told them about the forgotten presents and raved on the very zen position I was able to achieve with the bed. Bryan said we'll find out what kind it is and buy one. Or maybe Helen said that first. It was late and I was medicated by that point. We also chatted about babies because we know Helen wants babies and, well, babies are sort of on my mind at this point. I was trying to pin them down (as big sisters are known to do. a big sister can be worse than a Jewish mother at times) on whether there would be a honeymoon baby and how many babies and I think they don't really know yet. They bought the apartment next to Bryan's so they could expand to have room for kids so there will be a place for them, for sure! At any rate they were giddy from the excitement of the evening and I was fading into sleep and so we all settled in for the night.

My Christmas gift to Bryan - he added the frame
I slept about five or six hours straight that night - without waking up - in a bed in a strange house without a tv on. That's on par with loaves and fishes miracles, y'all!

We all pulled ourselves together and loaded up in order to leave a little after 9am. Bryan and Helen took us to breakfast at The Smith Restaurant . I had corned beef hash and it was SOOOOO good! I could only finish about half of it though, it was huge. Then we went back to Bryan's apartment and spent a little time chatting and looking out off of his patio over to Central Park. The only pictures I really took were during that time. About 1:30 we loaded into the car and made the drive back to the airport.

Ugly swollen foot
The flight home started badly (see previous paragraph about changing the departure gate, etc.) and the past 36 hours started catching up with me in an ugly way. We had a lot of "rough air" and it was a bumpy flight. I have a huge problem with swelling in my legs if they're not elevated and there was no way to elevate them on the plane. I get swollen, my joints get hot - they feel like they're on fire on the inside and they're hot to the touch on the outside. Even with the kind wheelchair driver who pushed me all the way to the bus... and the kind bus driver who dropped us off right beside our car.... by the time we made the hour and a half drive home I was really miserable and hating life/loving life all at the same time. It was an unforgettable weekend and I'm so grateful to Helen for arranging for us to be there and to her friends and family for making us feel so welcome and to Bryan for picking the RIGHT GIRL FINALLY!

In 23 days we'll be leaving on a jet plane again and I can't tell you how excited I am to see new things, reconnect with family and friends on both sides of the family and just to celebrate how happy my brother is and how blessed we are as a family to have another amazing woman join our clan. I promise to take lots of pictures that week!

Hope your weekend was fabulous! Love and hugs, y'all!


Baby Clothes Haul!!

Before I blog about my fabulous (albeit exhausting) trip to New York, to be chronologically correct I want to share a few of the adorable little girl clothes that my mom's friend brought for Cosette on Thursday night.

Mom's friend Becky has been a part of our lives forEVER and since she works in the "birthing industry" - teaching childbirth classes and that sort of thing - was able to score some awesome hand-me-down baby clothes. Since I did EBT (early bedtime) on Thursday night I was asleep when Becky came by and it was only today that I got to sort through them.

Baby girl clothes are so adorable!!! Baby boy clothes are too (Oliver, Nana loves window shopping for things for you just as much!) but today's haul was exclusively of the pink and or feminine variety. We received two of those reusable shopping bags completely PACKED with clothes and other baby accessories/necessities. A good bit of them are 6-9 months (and perfectly seasonable for when Cosette will likely wear that size) but there are also some really, incredibly adorable itty bitty things.  I wanted to share just a few of my favorites for those who like to ooooh and aaaaah over these things like I do.

Disclaimer: This blog entry is exclusively baby clothes so if that's not your thing, standby. An adult oriented post is on the way very soon. Soonish. Before I forget all the details.

As far as girly, feminine, princess-y things, I'm a huge fan of pinks and purples but I've got to say... I'm finding this ruffly, light green seersuckerish dress absolutely precious!












And even girly blue is cute! I'm running out of ways to say cute. I'm a big fan off the matchy-matchy mixing stripes and polka dots when they're obviously meant to go together. I would have a hard time making that look work for me, but in baby clothes it's... well, it's cute!










This dress will make Austin's dad and step-mom happy. Houndstooth patterns are a signature of University of Alabama and they are a huge Bama fans. College football is a big deal in the South and you can find a lot of baby clothes that represent their parents' loyalties. I've been looking for Florida State stuff for Oliver for a month. Etsy has a lot of stuff but it's so pricey! Anyways... this dress is 6-9 months so it should fit Cosette during football season.





These. Itty. Bitty. Leggings are so sweet and should fit Cosette now. They're newborn size. I put a package of wipes beside them to show scale. Seriously tiny.













Other really, really tiny things are this onesie .....























and this little lightweight jacket. Using a normal size pacifier for scale.















This little bright yellow and black bee outfit are size three months but if she can't fit in this until it gets cool we'll just add a little cardigan or put a tiny long sleeved shirt underneath. Or, who knows, she might be able to wear it by August/September when it's still very warm here.


















These onesies are 0-3 months, which, I'm finding is bigger than newborn. It's been so long since I've been around baby clothes, it might have always been that way and I just figured it out. But definitely, 0-3 months and 0-6 months are too big for Cosette now. At least I think they are... I haven't seen her since last Thursday and I miss her so much!






Sweet little girly girl sleeper ... I'm all about small patterned florals....






















Like this little yellow dress.
















And a jacket which should fit her by November/December when a light weight jacket would be appropriate.















And finally... some little accessories... Cosette loves wearing the hat they put on her at the hospital. We also got tons of tiny socks and shoes.

That's it for the baby haul. Stay tuned for a post on my trip to New York sometime soon.