Thursday, January 31, 2013

It's hard for us too - Opening up


I've started and abandoned this post many times. Here goes.

I am opening up about a subject that has been very sensitive for me. The more children I have had, the harder it is for me to talk about the miscarriages. Because of the number of children I have, some people are very insensitive about the subject at this point. "Maybe God is telling you that you have enough.", "You've probably hurt your body having so many already." (The fact is, I'm healthy and there is no reason I can't have more.), "You have so many already. You probably should just stop anyway.", "At least you have a bunch of kids already." on and on and on... Then of course there are the people who disagree with you having a large family to begin with, that like to twist the knife.

The reality is, it's hard for us too. It's hard, even when you already have children. It's hard, even when you have several children. When you really want another child and you lose a pregnancy, it hurts. Period.

I've been SO fortunate to have the children that I do. I love them more than anything and they are my entire world. I know how lucky I am. I know there are women who ache for even one child and I hurt for them.

My husband and I want more children. I'm not saying we want 20 of them, but I know we want at least 1 or 2 more. Over the years we have had a few miscarriages. They were all early, so I have been very fortunate to not experience late term miscarriages. I imagine they are harder to deal with for many reasons. They still take a toll emotionally, though. It's still so sad to see those positive tests, to be excited and starts thinking about names and all of the exciting things that come with a new baby... and then lose that baby. It's so sad

My last miscarriage was almost a year ago. A year ago today, I got the first set of positive pregnancy tests. I got positives for a few more days after and then I started bleeding. We have been wanting another baby and despite it being early, it was still sad. I didn't tell anyone at all, at first. Then I told a few family members and friends after a while. My husband never told anyone. While I was experiencing the miscarriage, 2 women who I had thought were "friends", were publicly harassing me over my desire to have more children. They are nasty people and I'll never forget how much worse they made me feel.

I was sad. I'm still sad. I think it's harder to "get over" when you keep it to yourself like it's a dirty secret. 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, so why does is still have such a stigma? Why does it have an even bigger stigma when you already have a few children? I think opening up about it is the only way for it to get better. It's hard going through it with no support. It feels lonely.

It's hard for us too. Even those of us with 6 children.

Friday, January 25, 2013

"I have to go to work, Baby Girl"

My kids often do or say things that are just SO sweet and remind me how innocent they are, or how much they really look up to and love my husband and I.

Earlier this afternoon, Annabella was playing with her Princess Duplo Legos. She was saying that her Cinderella lego figure was her. I was quietly watching and listening to her play. She walked over to our Navy teddy bear, that is dressed in a uniform that resembles the NWU's (Navy Working Uniform) who the kids call "Daddy Bear". She made her princess run and hug the bear while calling out Daddy. Then the little exchange between the 2 toys was just so sweet.

Cinderella Lego aka Annabella:  "Come on Daddy, lets go play!" 
Daddy Bear aka Daddy:  "Aw I can't." 
Cinderella Lego aka Annabella:  "Come on Daddy!" 
Daddy Bear aka Daddy:  "I have to go to work, Baby Girl. *Squeeeeeze* (She made the Daddy Bear pick up her little princess lego and squeeze [hug] it)  I love you!" 
Cinderella Lego aka Annabella:  "Ok, I love you Daddy. Miss you!" 

If she is awake when my husband leaves for work, he picks her up, gives her a big hug (or "squeeze") and says "I have to go to work, Baby Girl. I love you!" This is obviously something that really sticks with her and almost brings tears to my eyes, realizing how much it means to her. She loves her Daddy.

When she was done playing, this is how she left them. So sweet.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sharing My Labrador's Story

Our beautiful Silver Labrador, Stormy, now has no pretty tail to wag. I know I have some animal lover followers out there.

I wanted to share the whole ordeal she went through because, while losing her tail was unavoidable in her case, the suffering she went through afterwards, WAS avoidable.

Stormy had a pretty well known Labrador problem called "Happy Tail". We have had her since she was 9 weeks old, she had never had any issues with her tail until we moved here, into military housing in CT. This house is much smaller and crowded than where we were previously living, so her tail would hit things all of the time as she walked around. Very soon after moving here, she began cutting open the end of her tail from it smacking off of things. This happened several times and it was always a stressful healing process. Trying to keep it covered and keep it from hitting things long enough to heal etc. 

At the end of the summer, her tail became cut yet again. This time I was so frustrated I told my husband to bring her to the vet so that they could do something to help it heal faster. I couldn't deal with the month worth of dealing with it again. Well, $180 later, they sent her home with it bandaged, exactly how I had done all along, except they shaved the area. After several weeks, it finally healed. She didn't need to bandage anymore and all was right with the world. Or so I thought. 

We went out for a couple hours on a weekend and came home to blood EVERYWHERE. She had chewed a couple inch section on her tail where the fur was growing back and I assume was making it itchy (She had NEVER chewed her tail before). I began the bandaging and cleaning care of it, as I always did. This time as the days went on, I realized something wasn't right. The last few inches of her tail, all of the fur fell out and it began to change color and shrivel. One morning, when the bandage fell off and I got a good look at it, I knew she needed to see the vet. I KNEW the end of her tail had died form all of the trauma. 

My husband took her to the vet (A different vet a friend suggested) that afternoon and what I already knew, was confirmed. The end of her tail had died from the repeated trauma. The vet reassured my husband that there wasn't anything we could have done to prevent it, we didn't do anything wrong and cared for it right and he said he was surprised it hadn't happened already with how many times she has injured it. 

Our options were to do a partial amputation or a full amputation. The vet suggested a full amputation, because with a partial, it was likely to happen again and she'd need another surgery later. We talked it over and agreed to do a full amputation of her tail. She's not even 5 years old yet and still has a lot of life ahead of her. She had the surgery that night and was sent home the next day, with it all bandaged up and pain pills.

Stormy, the afternoon she came home from the vet hospital.

I questioned her being sent home with only pain pills and no antibiotic. The vet who had done the surgery, said they were not necessary. I didn't feel good with that answer, but I ignored my gut because he was the Vet and I figured he must have given her a super dose of antibiotics right before or after the surgery. That evening she had peed herself and just laid there in her urine until I took her out, cleaned her up etc. I called the vet, asked about it and they changed her pain pills, figuring it had something to do with them.

Over the next 2 days, she was completely not herself, very VERY skiddish, could barely get her up to go out to pee or eat etc. Both my husband and I chalked it up to her being in some pain and maybe even a little depressed over losing her tail.

But then, the bandage on her tail started leaking puss onto the floor. We knew that was bad and brought her back to the vet hospital right away. She saw a different vet, at the same animal hospital. This vet looked at her and told my husband she could NOT go home and he had to keep her there. He looked at her file and saw she had been administered no antibiotics whatsoever. Not before or after. NONE. He basically told us, in not so many words, that the other vet made a boo boo. She was very sick, but at the time, we didn't realize quite how bad.

She was treated at this animal hospital for a MONTH. This new vet, made her his personal project. He cared for her himself each day and he gave us updates on her each day. She spent a good portion of that time on an IV and the rest of the time, she received antibiotic injections as well as bandage changes, irrigation etc. of the wound every of couple hours, around the clock. A big area, below where the actual incision and stitches were, had opened up from infection and flesh in that spot had started to die, like the end of her tail had died. The only problem this time is she only had a little nub left. If they removed that, she would likely lose her sphincter control. This vet was determined to cut away the dead tissue as he had to, get control of the infection and get her well on her way to being healthy. That is just what he did.

After a month of being cared for by this vet and the staff at this animal hospital, Stormy came home, well on her way to recovery. The wound had made huge progress in healing and we were only left to administer oral antibiotics for a little while longer and spray it with a special spray a few times a day. That is when the vet told my husband that when we first brought her in, he wasn't sure she was even going to make it, but didn't want to tell us that at the time. She was so sick, that he didn't know if he could save her. Thankfully he did. This vet practice decided not to charge us for any of the stay, food or supplies. We just had to pay for the antibiotics that she needed. In the end, between the surgery, pain pills and antibiotics, we still walked away dropping about $1,000. Much better than it could have been though.

The day she came home, she was happy and herself again! It was like she had never been gone, never got sick, never had her tail amputated, nothing! She has since completely healed, her fur has almost fully grown back and she is showing no signs at all of being traumatized over the whole thing. We are very lucky and happy that we still have her!

Stormy being her normal LAZY self!

Stormy with her sock monkey :)

I wish I had went with my gut feeling and pushed the issue more about the antibiotics. Perhaps had she been given them 2 days earlier, we could have avoided this whole grueling ordeal. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

To My Husband.

To My Husband.

Our life together didn't start out like a fairy tale and things weren't always perfect. When we met, we were both young and had a lot of growing up left to do. Despite the hard times, we were both still madly in love with each other. I can't imagine going through it all with anyone else. I am glad we grew together. I am glad we stuck out the hard times. I am so glad for all of the great times. I am so proud and in love with the family we have created and the life we have made together. We make each other better people. You are one of the hardest working men I've ever met and I am proud of the man that you are. I am proud of the Navy Chief that you are and the care and dedication to your job and those who work with and under you. I am proud of the father that you are. I am glad to be your wife. We'll keep making it through any obstacles that might be thrown at us and come out even better. That's what we do. We're a pretty awesome team.

Things are great. We are great.

I love you.

"And I am, overwhelmed, by you
Am, overcome with joy
You've, taken me higher, and shown me what love can do
Where would I go, or be, without you"

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Some days, I feel like I'm in the movie "Signs"...

I leave my children free access to their cups and water via the filtered water dispenser from the refrigerator. I prefer if they reuse their cup throughout the day, but if they don't, putting it in the dishwasher is preferred.

I walk around and pick up all through the day (You know.. so it doesn't become a massive disaster) and some days each child will have multiple cups that they have set in random parts of the kitchen and school room, with small amounts of water left in them. With 5 of them doing this (the little guy isn't quite there yet), I'm sure you can imagine how many cups I'm walking around picking up. Today was one of those days and all I could think of was "Am I in the movie "Signs"?" I'm just waiting for an Alien to come busting through the door any minute now.

Hmmm, where's my baseball bat?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Cooking at home and staying within a budget

This post was inspired by Jill over at Baby Rabies. She's trying to become more diligent about cooking at home and also keeping the meals healthy.

I thought I would take the time to share some things that we do.

We make a menu and then the grocery list from there. One of the BEST ideas my husband came up with was a spreadsheet with meals and side options (Using Google docs, it's free). This is a huge help! When we find a meal that everyone loves, we just add it to our spreadsheet. Over the years we've tried websites, recipe builders etc. none of then have really stuck for us. When we want to find new recipes, we just do a little googling and searching. A portion of our recipes we've found online, the rest we have come up with. After we try a new recipe or meal idea, if it's a hit, we add it to the spreadsheet. Such an easy yet convenient solution. This is one reason that being married to a geek is awesome.

Here are some tips to get started.

1. Start a meal spreadsheet. Input all of the meals you already like to make. (You can use a binder or whatever other method, we just find the spreadsheet the most convenient.)

2. Look at grocery store sale flyers (they are often online) to see what kind of deals/sales they are having. Use this to help with the menu planning. We cut coupons when we come across something we use.

3. Use the meal spreadsheet and sale flyers to make your menu (we typically do a week at a time). When you write the menu, detail sides to help make it easier to write the grocery list. Of course, try new meals in there so that you can build your meal spreadsheet.

4. Write the grocery list! Use the menu to help you write the list. Don't forget to check your pantry to make sure you have all necessary seasonings ;).

We use very little boxed or processed foods and we buy organic as much as we can. We "pick our battles" so to speak. We focus more on organic thin skinned fruits and veggies. We don't bother spending the extra money on organic bananas since it has a thick skin you peel off. We try to spend the money on organic where it's more necessary.  

Partially because of my 8 year old's food allergies and partially for healthier meals, we have some alternatives to starchy/carby foods that we love. For meals that would go well with rice (particularly things that are served over white rice) we use Quinoa. It's good for you and is a great alternative. Mashed cauliflower is a good alternative for mashed potatoes and much better for you. Whipped butternut squash makes an excellent nutritional side. Raw, Sauteed and Steamed Veggies are a regular here. 

Canned foods are practically banned in my house (I seldom have very few exceptions). To help offset the cost of produce, we buy frozen vegetables (NEVER canned veggies) when they are for a meal that I don't feel it needs to be fresh for (like broccoli being mixed into sauce with chicken).

In the past I've tried to be one of those super awesome couponers surrounded by newspapers, clipping a bazillion coupons and paying $10 a month in groceries... But then reality hit when I looked at all of the coupons and most of them are processed boxed stuff that I wont feed my family. It just doesn't work for us, as much as we wanted it to. We use the coupons that do work for us though! Other things we do to save money in the long run is we have a small deep freezer in our garage for when my husband finds great deals on meat. We also buy in bulk when it's cost effective. 

This is all very easy to do, I promise. It's not incredibly time consuming and it makes cooking at home a much less stressful process. The menu helps you plan ahead to defrost and prep. We keep our menu posted on our fridge. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

10 reasons why being married to a geek is awesome!

1. A spreadsheet of meals and side dish options so that making a menu and grocery list is easier!

2. Computer issue/question. He's got that!

3. Phone issue/question. He's got that too!

4. The wireless router for the internet being difficult? Yup, he's got it.

5. Google TV. Need I say more?

6. Busts out the measuring tape and math skills when I want art neatly displayed.

7. Eagerly helps the kids with legos.

8. Would much rather work on an Android ROM than get drunk on a Friday night.

9. Cheesy inside gamer jokes are fun.

10. Big brains are sexy.