A Really For Really Real Entry.

Let’s try this again.

logoutToday, I’m trying to get back on track doing the things that make me happy. Blogging is one of those things. Singing’s another. And truth be told, I am really missing the gym, even though right now I can’t walk for more than 20 minutes without being in pain. (What can I say? 3rd trimester is no joke.)

I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time surfing Facebook and sleeping. I’ve come to recognize that when my day looks like, “Wake up, eat breakfast, check emails, surf FB, eat lunch, surf FB, nap, do some laundry, eat dinner, watch some TV (often while also surfing FB), go to bed.” that I’m doing it wrong.

That’s not to say that by sitting here and writing a blog entry that I’m breaking out of the “sit on the couch on the computer” habit very quickly — but every moment I spend doing something productive, as opposed to reading about strangers problems cloth diapering or raising their children is a moment that I feel like I’ve earned back.

That being said, I’m grateful for the truly staggering amount of knowledge I’ve gained in the last month or two about how to deal with cloth diapers and fussy babies. I have no doubt that the time I spent reading will be helpful, even if I don’t have a book to show someone.

Truth be told, that kinda pisses me off. At least when you read a published parenting book, you can be like, “I read parenting books.”  It’s like getting a gold star for having done your homework or something. Instead, every day, I’ve been reading countless posts by frustrated parents who can’t get their diapers properly clean or whose kids are having what they consider to be behavioral problems and the responses that helpful members of the parenting community have given them.

easytillyouhavekidsOf course, there were parents in these communities who I’ve very badly wanted to smack.

No, random gentleman, wearing a princess costume is not going to “turn your son gay” — and if your 2 year old son happens to grow up to be gay,  you should accept that and love him anyway for who he is. You don’t get to publicly be mad at your wife for letting him get into his sister’s toy chest without people thinking you’re an idiot. She didn’t do anything wrong. I hope his sister got into her little brother’s toys too and is happily exploring the wonderful world of Bob the Builder. I promise that being proficient with tools will not make her crave vag.

To the paleo-crossfit-full-time-career-control-freak moms (who I definitely would have become without seizures): One of your kid’s classmates is going to bring shitty snacks to some event. Probably more than one. Odds are, at school or daycare, your kid will eat something with grains and refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup. I assure you, they will survive, and you really don’t need to take the time to write a strongly worded letter to the mother of the offending classmate.  One afternoon with Goldfish crackers and apple juice isn’t going to ruin your child for life. Ain’t nobody got time for the drama that letter would create. Go lift and release that stress.  There are bigger fish to fry in natural, non-hydrogenated oils.

And every one of you parents out there who is actively complaining about feeling “poor” when you make more than $250K/year and own a house – or those of you who are frustrated and feel entitled to loudly complain and dock pay when your nanny can’t come in to work after a 20 inch snowfall when many of the streets haven’t been plowed and the windchill factor is below -30 – all y’all can seriously just go cry in the corner.  Join the parents who are publicly bemoaning the schools being closed and would rather their kids stand outside, waiting for the bus, in temperatures that cause frostbite in less than a minute.  None of y’all have my sympathy. Not one. Not even kinda.

Fortunately, more often than not, parents have valid (often interesting) questions, and are not assholes to each other. It is awesome to participate in communities of people who are willing to offer words of wisdom or actual assistance when someone needs it.

A Month? Really?

It’s hard to believe it’s been 4 weeks since my last post here. It doesn’t feel that long.

I’m not sure why, but somewhere along the way, I started to think that I should only write here when I have something meaningful to say and not just whenever I felt like writing. I’ve decided that way of thinking is crap, if for no other reason than it means that I unnecessarily self-censor and therefore do not end up entertaining myself or you by writing.

There was a week in there when I was working on an entry, but I seriously depressed myself writing it.  It was going to be 20 Ways You’re *Actually* Doing Better Than You Think You Are – which was an answer to a similarly named entry on ThoughtCatalog that primarily focused on earning enough money to be comfortable, and thus had a needless slant against disabled people. (I say this because 6 of the 20 things focused on earning/having money.)

Instead of focusing on money, I focused on things like being alive, not being trapped by human trafficking, not being in jail, being able to read, and living somewhere where you are not persecuted for your race, gender, or religion (all discussions of privilege or nationalism aside).

If I’d kept it on the shiny, happy side, y’all would have definitely seen it, and it would have stayed short — but that’s not the way my brain works. (Stupid brain!) Each one of those “good things” ended up with its own short exposé about how shitty other people have it and what you can do to help.  After “working to bring  awareness” of so much awfulness that exists in this world that I really cannot affect in any meaningful way, I managed to depress myself pretty thoroughly. Fortunately, I’m carrying a happy thought inside me.

Less than 10 weeks til I’m a Mommy.

This was taken at 28 weeks after several friends requested a baby bump shot.

This was taken at 28 weeks after several friends requested a baby bump shot. Don’t I look classy?

According to the calendar, we’ve got fewer than 70 days to go. I can’t believe that Adam and I have only 2 months left of being irresponsible. fancy-free adults a 2 person family.

The fact that our lives are about to be permanently changed is kind of a mindfuck. I don’t think it’s actually possible to be prepared for it… but at least we have the crib built, even if we don’t have the hospital bag packed yet. (I keep meaning to do it, but keep putting it off for God-only-knows-why.)

There is one thing that I did today that both made me very happy and very weepy, as I tried to sing along. I created a playlist of songs that I want to sing to him on YouTube.

 

Here are the tracks:

Heaven – Bryan Adams
Beautiful Boy – John Lennon
Here Comes The Sun – Beatles
Lullabye (Goodnight My Angel) – Billy Joel
Sweet Child O Mine – Guns N Roses
I’ll Be There – Mariah Carey
You Are The Sunshine Of My Life – Stevie Wonder
Close to You – Carpenters
We’ve Only Just Begun – Carpenters
You Are My Sunshine – Johnny Cash
A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes – from Cinderella (Sung by my favorite Berklee voice teacher, Donna McElroy)
Once Upon A Dream – from Sleeping Beauty (sung by Lana Del Rey)
Blackbird – Sarah McLachlan
Goodnite Sweetheart, Goodnite – the Spaniels
U Smile – Justin Beiber
Baby Baby – Amy Grant
Closing Time – Semisonic
Three Little Birds – Bob Marley
Beautiful – Christina Aguilera
I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston
Everything I Do, I Do It For You – Bryan Adams
Godspeed (Sweet Dreams) – Dixie Chicks
Baby Love – The Supremes
Danny’s Song – Kenny Loggins
Edelweiss – Sound of Music
Waltz – Fiona Apple
Sweet Dreams – Tori Amos

Anything you think I’m missing?  I’m always happy to add to it.

And… that’s all for now, because Adam’s home, and I’ve got to get myself off this couch for a while. Happy weekend, everybody. ❤

Week 26 + 30 Easy Meals – 300 Calories Or Less!

Week 26

lettuceLettuce. Really? I’ve got to admit, I’m definitely confused by the idea that my baby is the size of a head of iceburg lettuce.  I mean, the graphic straight up says the kid is 13.6 – 14.8 inches long.  Your average head of lettuce isn’t more than 6 or 7, tops.  Maybe they did the circumference… and if so, that’s really not indicative of the size of the creature inside of me. A better gauge would be, “Your baby is about as long as the average laptop screen is wide (not the diagonal).  HEY, FREE SERVICES THAT HELP US ESTIMATE: DO BETTER. 🙂

It’s been a good week.  Baby’s still moving a bunch, and I’ve been feeling well, aside from heartburn. Only 2 weeks until our next ultrasound. 🙂  I’m looking forward to seeing him again.

I also read a blog post last night that made me laugh so hard that I was crying and almost peed a little. (What? I’m pregnant! It happens.) I figured I should share the love with you readers. Normally, I try to shy away from Mommy blogs because some of them can be really stress-filled and judgmental, but Beth’s humility and sense of humor really won me over.

On a less humorous note, I got the results of the gestational diabetes test on Wednesday, and the verdict is in — I’m not diabetic! (Thank the Lord.) No need for insulin, no need to cut carbs, which is pretty great.  They did find, however that my metabolism’s not optimal, so I’ve been instructed to eat small meals every 2-3 hours. It’s supposed to help with the damn-near constant heartburn and help regulate my blood sugar.

This way of eating is completely contrary to everything I’ve done my whole life. The biggest change in my life when I was 8 and in Weight Watchers was learning not to snack throughout the day. Apparently, the science behind that way of thinking has changed over the last 25 years. Because of that, I felt like I needed to do some research to find some easy, delicious meals that I could eat.

My requirements for recipes that made the cut were simple:

  1. No specialty ingredients. Gotta be able to buy everything at the grocery store across the street.
  2. It must be easy to make. I am too tired for anything that requires real effort.
  3. It must look, based on my food knowledge, like it’d actually taste good.
  4. It must be filling. There’s no point in making something that doesn’t fill me up.

This is what I found.

30+ meals that are 300 calories or less per serving

I love me a green smoothie.

I love me a green smoothie.

  1. A green smoothie
  2. 1 light multigrain English muffin (or whole wheat bagel-thin) w/ 1 tbsp cream cheese & 1 tbsp fruit spread
  3. A cup of Greek yogurt w/ fruit & or honey (I’m currently in love with coffee flavored Fruyo.)
  4. Apple w/ 1 tbsp. of nut butter (peanut, cashew, or almond)
  5. A cup of oatmeal w/ fruit (Like Kathleen’s Quick Oats. Persian flavor is the best!)
  6. 1 serving of whole wheat crackers w/ 1-2 oz of cheese
  7. 1 pita w/ 2 tbsp of hummus (So yummy.)
  8. A hot dog
  9. 2 scrambled eggs w/ 2 slices of bacon
  10. A can of soup. (Any flavor by Amy’s fits the bill.)
  11. A grilled cheese sandwich: whole wheat bread, a little butter, & two 2% American cheese slices
  12. A bowl of cereal and milk

    crunchy_black_bean_tacos_3

    Yeah, I could eat this…

  13. Crunchy Black Bean Tacos
  14. Skinny Broccoli Cheese Soup
  15. Broccolini and Chicken Sausage over Polenta
  16. Chicken Tamale Pie
  17. Creamy Chicken Quinoa Broccoli Casserole
  18. Mustard & Herb Panko-Crusted Chicken Breasts
  19. Red Velvet Crepes w/ Sweet Cream Cheese Filling
  20. Baked Spicy Fries with Garlic Cheese Sauce
  21. Healthy Fettuccine Alfredo
  22. Skinny Lasagna Rolls
  23. Philly Cheese Turkey Sloppy Joes
  24. Chicken Thighs with Mustard Citrus Sauce
  25. Slow Cooker Pepperoni & Chicken
  26. Black Bean Cakes
  27. Turkey & Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
  28. Slow Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken
  29. White Chicken Chili
  30. Creamy Thai Sweet Potatoes & Lentils
  31. Skinny Veggie Lasagna
  32. Chicken Apple Sausage Breakfast Sandwich
  33. Seveche-style Shrimp & Avocado Tacos
  34. and then there’s this entire collection on AllRecipes.
Um, yes, please.

Um, yes, please.

I think I’ll be able to survive. 🙂 I hope that these recipes are helpful for you too!

Daily Cute

And, because we all can use a good giggle, here is some Cute.

Pregnancy Is So Cool. (Pun intended.)

Yesterday was awesome! I got an email from Erin over at Polar Products, letting me know that they’d chosen one of my reviews to feature on their blog.  I was totally surprised and excited to see that they also linked here!  I figured that was a big hint that I might want to update. 🙂

Week 25

25eggplantAside from being vegetables, what do a head of cauliflower, a rutabaga, and an eggplant all have in common?  They all are used to represent the size of a fetus at 25 weeks.   Please pardon me while I scratch my head.

Like any good cook, I’ve picked out each of these types of produce at a market, and they are not even kind of the same shape or size. I think, based on what I saw at Jewel, that the eggplant is probably the closest in shape and size to a baby.  But whatever!

As far as the baby goes, things seem to be well. Kiddo has definitely slipped into sleep cycles, which would be much cooler if he’d actually sleep when I sleep. Instead, the action of lying down to sleep seems to wake him up and make him decide it’s time to practice martial arts or slam dancing.  Of course, now that I’m typing this, he’s smackin me from the inside.  It’s like, “Gah, Mom. Come on. Quit making fun of me! From my perspective, the whole world just turned by 90 degrees for no apparent reason! What do you expect from me!”

rutabegaTomorrow morning, I already know, is going to be a massive pain in the ass.  Last week, my OB had me do a 1 hr glucose test to help determine whether or not I have gestational diabetes. Well, I managed to just barely fail. The number I popped was actually the very lowest number you can get where they still want to test to make sure you don’t have it. Just the luck!

So, tomorrow, I have to be at the hospital at 7:45 a.m.  This wouldn’t be such a big deal if I just kept the same sleep schedule as my husband…but I don’t. In fact, I get most of my restful sleep after he’s gone to work. I’ve been regularly sleeping until 9:30 or 10 a.m. every day, assuring myself that I can use the extra sleep, and that it’s my JOB to enjoy the ability to sleep in right now, since the damn-near sleepless first months are coming soon, and they have no mercy.

cauliflowerUnderstandably, I’m really hoping that I don’t have gestational diabetes, but with my luck, it only makes sense. I mean, if one hundredth of one percent of people get something, it’s like it’s been earmarked for me — and gestational diabetes is actually fairly common. About 9.2% of all pregnant women in the U.S. end up with it. So, I’m rolling with the punches.

I mean, my current diet already mostly fits all of the meal plans for folks on gestational diabetes, with the exception of having more fruit in my green smoothies than the daily recommended amount (of 2 servings – equal to 1 banana) and drinking ginger ale when I’m sick at my stomach…oh, and having the occasional scoop of ice cream after dinner. Guh. Ok. I’m seeing where the sugar is coming in. It’s not like I’m eating a ton of refined sugar or enriched white flour, but there’s definitely room for improvement. Apparently, eating cereal or greek yogurt for breakfast will be a thing of the past. Good thing the egg aversion has gone away!

What protein-rich breakfasts would you suggest?

Register This.

It’s been my responsibility for the last several weeks to put together baby registries at various places. It’s been really eye opening, seeing how many options exist for every little thing – most of which we probably don’t need. (I mean, really, people, which of you crazy bitches is responsible for putting stroller footmuffs on the baby registry checklist? Fess up!) The most surprising (and disturbing) thing has been looking at how prices wildly vary from store to store, and even with the same product, from color to color.

gracogotham

Clearly superior by at least $60.

Take the Graco FastAction Fold Jogger Click Connect Travel System for example. I have registered for it at 3 stores now – Amazon, BuyBuyBaby, and Target.

In the week since I added it, the price for my chosen color (Gotham) has changed dramatically on Amazon. Last week, it was $199. Now it’s $259.03, while the colors “Marathon” and “Chili Red” remain at $199.  Is there really a $60.03 difference? Of course not… which makes it even more bizarre that if you buy the exact same pieces separately (the car seat and the jogging stroller), your total will only be $248, which means you’re paying Amazon an additional $11 for the convenience of buying them as a system.

gracosystemmarathon

Just kidding. They are so the same goddamn thing.

At Target, the exact same system costs $299.99 (a full $100 difference!), with no option to buy the pieces separately, while at BuyBuyBaby, the system (regardless of color) costs $319.99. At least there, buying the system makes sense (and will save you $20), since the car seat alone is $149.99 and the stroller is $189.99.

Can anybody explain to me why there’s such a significant difference in price here? Because I sure as hell don’t understand it… and it makes me question all the things that I’ve registered for.  I mean, how do I know that the prices on anything on the list are even comparable today to what they were when I added them?

I made decisions for everything on the registries based on the reviews, consumer reports information, and price point information available at the time. Now, I’ve lost faith in my decisions. This whole process has frustrated the hell out of me. This change in price makes it look like I’m willing to blow $60-$120 for a meaningless cosmetic choice… one that genuinely doesn’t matter to me even one iota.  Or worse, like I want a friend or family member to spend way more than they need to for the exact same gift.

Hey, Universe! Why isn’t there a service out there where you can create a registry and it will create and/or modify all your baby registries at every store that you’ve signed up for, as well as alert you and friends & family to price changes?  I demand more convenience!

All That & A Birth Plan

plansandgodSpeaking of convenience, have you heard about birth plans? TheBump even has one that’s a 6 page print-out checklist. The whole idea of making one seems totally silly to me, because when I make plans, God laughs.

I mean it very seriously when I say that my plan is to show up to the hospital when labor starts with bags for me and the baby, ask for the good drugs, and do whatever the hell they tell me to do from there.  The last thing this type-A Rae needs is to be in pain going, “THIS WASN’T THE PLAN!!!”  The days of me being a control freak in the medical arena are LONG since past. Life has taught me that it’s a special kind of stupid.

All I care about is getting out of there alive with a healthy baby, which is why most of the options on that 6 page print out make me chuckle.  I mean, I’ve never been in labor. How the hell am I supposed know how I want to spend the first part of it, let alone the position I want to assume during delivery? What makes me equipped to make decisions about fetal monitoring or labor augmentation?  That’s exactly the specialized knowledge I require from my high-risk OB.

dont-know-how-to-answer

When I looked at the list for pain relief options, I turned to Adam and asked, “Where’s the checkbox for ‘YES’?”  Seriously, I don’t discriminate. If my doctor thinks something’s gonna make me feel better, DO IT. If he has to knock me the fuck out, I’m fine with that. Just do the job and get me and the baby home safely. Everything else is window dressing.

I honestly think there’s some weird, pervasive cultural conspiracy going on, designed to make expectant mothers lose their minds with decision fatigue and self-doubt.  I’d say that I refuse to play the game, but I’m already in too deep.

iwin2

Ladies & Gentlemen, We Have Viability!

week24 As of today, I’m officially 24 weeks pregnant, and the baby, if I were to go into labor today, would have a better than 50% chance of surviving birth.  Now, don’t get me wrong, the little guy has been wiggling and kicking like crazy, but this takes the “realness” up a notch for me.  Not that I would ever personally consider abortion, but the time for thinking about it (or rather worrying that there will be some terrible health thing that threatens me or the baby) has officially passed. It is now time to clean all the things (and buy the ones we need and don’t have) so that our apartment is ready for his birth.

cleanallthethings

In that vein of thought, I’ve been working like crazy on figuring out everything we want and/or need. The Amazon baby registry is finally looking done to me. The Moms (mine & Adam’s) have suggested that I go ahead and register at a brick-and-mortar store as well, just so people who want to buy us a present have options when it comes time. We’re probably going with Target, just because it’s all over the United States, isn’t over-priced, and isn’t Walmart.  I’m just wondering if I should essentially copy the Amazon registry (which would increase the likelihood of us getting doubles) or just put certain things on the Target one and certain ones on the Amazon one (which would decrease the likelihood of us getting certain things).

Either way, I feel totally uncomfortable with the process of creating baby registries and figuring out who to invite to the baby shower/beer & diaper party/Welcome to the World party in the first place. Wish lists and registries have always felt kind of icky to me because they sometimes come off like a “give me this” list (which smacks of entitlement) instead of a “hey, it would be cool to have this” list (which is more of what it truthfully is).

Truth be told, I’m just super stoked to be having a baby, and I want to invite the whole world to celebrate with me. That’s why we’re going to be live-streaming all the events.  Right now, I think the front-runner for the live-streaming platform is Twitch, so that everyone who’s “tuned in” can chat with one another. I am, however, open to other suggestions. The presents are an awful lot less important to me than the presence of friends in welcoming the kiddo to life. Because I am trying to be so inclusive, I’ve posted a survey 3 times on Facebook, trying to get friends to give me their contact info, but so far have only gotten a handful of responses. Not sure if folks just aren’t interested in filling it out or if FB’s recently tweaked algorithm is making it not even show up for them.  I’m guessing that I’ll need to email or PM everyone individually to be able to send out invitations.

My Husband Is a G-D Saint.

My favorite part of pregnancy so far has been laughing about the insanity that comes over me from time to time.  There have been a couple of times now where I’ve yelled at Adam for absolutely ridiculous bullshit and almost immediately broken down crying in apology.  If I hadn’t been through therapy, I would not see the humor, but truthfully, it’s hilarious, and has made me decide that this is my current theme song.

Somehow, Adam can tell the difference between genuine anger and hormonal wonkiness.  He understands me better than I do. And then there’s nesting. I thought that people were joking about feeling an intense need to clean and reorganize everything. NOPE. It’s real. (Why can’t it be a regular thing?) I even accused both of us of living like 10 year old boys, while frantically bouncing between different cleaning projects and getting absolutely nothing productive actually done. Oh, and then more crying.

And cravings? YUP. Definitely a thing. Feeling an intense need to eat something mind-bogglingly specific makes me feel like I’m a crazy asshole. I mean, there’s food in the house! Why am I not craving what’s immediately at hand??  That would be too easy, right? Nope. Can’t be that easy. But Adam takes it all in stride.

panchosanchoTake last night, for instance… after having eaten a delicious dinner of roasted turkey (yeah, he freakin roasted a turkey breast last night), stuffing, and sweet potatoes at a reasonable hour, at around 9 at night, I had an intense craving for Pancho’s cheese dip.  And I don’t mean “intense” like “Wow, I would really like some cheese dip.” but like, “OH MY GOD IF I DON’T EAT PANCHO’S CHEESE DIP UNTIL I CAN’T POSSIBLY EAT ANY MORE, I WILL SURELY DIE.”

Of course, we live in Illinios… far, far from any store that carries it.  Did that deter Adam? Not one bit. We found a copycat recipe from my hometown newspaper, and at the time he usually starts to fall asleep on the couch, my husband went to the grocery store for ingredients, came home, and fixed me some of the most delicious, thick, gooey unhealthy crap I’ve ever asked for. And it was glorious. Angels sang and divine light flooded the room as I glutted myself on it… and it was just as glorious when I ate it cold for breakfast this morning.  Cold cheese dip with tortilla chips sounds kinda gross, right?  Anyone from the greater Memphis area has my back on this one. I promise you, it’s a thing. 🙂 And I have no regrets. Not even one.

It’s Not Easy Being Green… Or Is It?

Of course, on the other side of things, I’m genuinely trying to eat more healthfully for both my benefit and for the kid’s. As you know, Adam and I have taken the 30 day Green Smoothie Challenge as our New Year’s resolution. Have we had a green smoothie every day for the last 14 days? Nah. But we did it for 11, and that’s not shabby! There are a couple of recipes that have emerged as clear favorites for us. I figured I’d share them for anyone else who loves the idea of getting more spinach into their diets, but isn’t a fan of eating salads all the time. Both of these recipes makes enough for 2 people.

Tropicolada Fiesta (My very favorite!)
2 c. spinach, fresh
1 c. coconut water
1 c. water
1 1/2 c. mango
1 c. pineapple
1 banana
1 tbsp. lime juice

Blend spinach (tightly packed), coconut water, and water together until smooth. Next add the remaining fruits and blend again.

Vitamin C Immunity Booster (really more of a purple smoothie… We like to add 2 tbsp of flax & chia seeds to it too.)
2 c. spinach, fresh
1/2 c. orange juice
1 c. water
1 banana
1/4 c. carrots
2 c. strawberries
1/2 c. blueberries

Blend spinach (tightly packed), orange juice and water together until smooth. Next add the remaining fruits & blend again.

Other than that…

There’s not much else to report. Tomorrow, I see the OB for our monthly visit and have the glucose test.  I’m gonna be sure to ask what all I need to do to set up cord blood donation and what goes in to keeping the placenta so that I can get it encapsulated.

Things here have just been really unusually relaxed. I’m guessing it’s the calm before the storm. (Or Stormageddon. 🙂 You know, whatever.)

I’m super-happy that both Adam and I got over the colds we had. It doesn’t matter how many years in a row I deal with a winter head cold, it’s always surprising to me how badly they knock me out. Thankfully, they don’t happen often.

Tonight, I’m looking forward to watching the season 7 return of Parks & Recreation and episode 3 of Agent Carter. (Finally! A well-written female-lead Marvel show!)

Hope you’re doing well ❤

A Decemberween Miracle!

decemberweenmiracle

Woah, posting twice in a week?!  IT’S A DECEMBERWEEN MIRACLE!!! Since my last post, I’ve done a lot of reading, talking to family and friends, and thinking about things, and I figured it’s a good idea to update.

Stem Cell Things

So, first thing’s first – stem cell transplants are making a splash in the MS community. CBS published an article discussing the positive effects of stem cell transplants for those of us with MS.

“In a small clinical trial [currently in year 3 of 5], patients experienced long-term disease remission after undergoing a transplant of their own hematopoietic stem cells.” …

“The researchers found that nearly 79 percent of the patients who underwent the procedure sustained full neurologic function for the three years following the treatment and symptoms of their disease did not progress. Additionally, patients in that time period did not develop any new lesions related to their disease.

More than 90 percent of patients did not experience disease progression, while 86 percent did not have any periods of relapse. Though a small number of patients did have side effects from the immunosuppressive drugs, they were no different than the side effects typically experienced by MS patients taking the drugs who haven’t undergone stem cell therapy.”

While I think this new research is awesome, I’m curious about what the control group looked like, and whether they were on a DMD. RRMS is a tricky sonofabitch because it’s different in every patient and we still don’t know what causes relapses!

It did, however make me think pretty hard about the cord blood banking issue, because these folks used their own adult stem cells, which makes me think that banking the cord blood might not really be necessary.

Private umbilical cord blood banking is crazy expensive. Even the least expensive option, ViaCord, is ~$1500 with a recurring fee for storage. At first, I thought, “Wow, we have to do this for our kid’s wellbeing!” …but then I started getting stuff in the mail, a ton of spam email, and pamphlets every time that I went shopping for maternity clothes. More and more, it started looking like it might be a scam.  So, I did the research — and the truth of the matter is that it’s an extremely expensive insurance policy.

“[A]ccording to most experts, the odds that a child will ever use his or her own stored cord blood are small. According to a 2005 editorial in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, the chances are about one in 2,700.

Other estimates range widely. Advertising from one private cord blood bank puts the odds at 1 in 27. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests it’s more like 1 in 200,000. Indisputably, there are very few documented cases of a child receiving his or her own banked cord blood as treatment. The Institute of Medicine says that there may only have been as few as 14 total of these procedures ever performed.” —WebMD

So, after a lot of thought, talking with my husband and family, I’ve decided to find out what stem cell bank the University of Chicago Medical Center works with most closely, and to donate the cord blood to them.

If, in the future, the kiddo or I need stem cells, that’s what those public banks are for! I see no reason to hoard potentially life-saving cells when there’s a better chance of winning big on a lottery scratcher than our kid needing those stem cells.

Cloth Diapering MADNESS!!!!

For the last several days, I’ve been learning about cloth diapering. Or, now that I’m in-the-know and part of the cool kids’ club, I suppose I should call it FLUFF.

At first, I was really overwhelmed at the sheer amount of information needed. I naievely thought there were 2 options – disposables and cloth diapers. NOPE. There are disposables… and then there are NINE different types of cloth diapers. NINE!  (flats, prefolds, fitteds, contours, hybrids, pockets, sleeves, all in ones, and all in twos!) I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still feel a little bit overwhelmed with choices.

Truthfully, I’ve had moments over the last couple of days where I’ve thought that it’d be worth it to use disposables if for no other reason than it meant that I wouldn’t have to keep learning about diapers.  But then I realized that thinking that way was not helpful. It was the first time I had to tell myself, “Don’t be a lazy parent.”  It probably won’t be the last.

From everything I’m reading, it looks like these 3 choices are likely the way we’ll go – either prefolds w/ a cover, pocket diapers, or all-in-twos.  I like the snap feature of the all-in-twos, but I’m gonna have to see about the washing routine with each of them before I make up my mind.  And even then, if I make up my mind, there’s no telling whether or not it’ll be the best fit once the baby comes along.

Sure, cloth diapering is more economical in the long run, and it’s better for your kid’s skin and the environment. But let’s be real here… it’s all about fashion. Disposables have nothin’ on these.

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Food-type Things

It’s getting towards the new year, which for most folks means New Year’s Resolutions. What’s the #1 resolution?  GET FIT & LOSE WEIGHT!
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Fortunately for me, being pregnant  means I don’t need to worry about losing weight this year. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I can’t improve my diet. Today, my good friend Annie asked if I wanted to join her for a 30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge, and I agreed.  I’ve gotta find a way to get all my veggies in! The kiddo seems to only want me to eat pizza, pickles, and ice cream. Not the healthiest! At least he’s not causing the same cravings that I did to my mother… which would be eating scrambled eggs on top of pizza! Then again, it’s only week 22, starting tomorrow. There’s all sorts of time for crazy cravings! 🙂

I’ve read about women who are able to continue the paleo diet while they’re pregnant, and I have to say, my hat’s off to them! I’ve been surviving on greek yogurt, whole wheat bagels, carrots w/ french onion dip, french fries, cheese bread (pizza), burgers, macaroni & cheese, and ice cream. I can’t seem to get enough dairy. It’s so unusual for me, so I’ll be grateful to get smoothies back into the rotation.

Speaking of food… dinner should be here any minute, so I’m gonna log off for now. Hope you’re all having a good day! ❤

Wooooooahh! We’re halfway there! Woooaaaahh! Livin on a prayer!

21 Weeks!

Officially, we’ve hit the halfway mark on this pregnancy.  Sure, full term is 39 weeks, but it can also go as far as 42 weeks, so I’m calling this halfway.

Wanna see the newest pic of our little wiggleworm?  Here you go! 🙂

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I love this picture because he already has so much character. He’s sucking his thumb, and has his other arm stretched out behind his head, just chillin’.  I really hope this is a portent of things to come.

Yes, I know that his hand kind of looks like a foot, but I trust the tech when she says that it’s his hand. She took pictures of his feet too. 5 fingers and 5 toes on each limb! His heart and kidneys look good too. I’m so excited that he’s developing well.

Oh yeah, and there’s also this other little thing I haven’t announced… we know he’s a boy! 🙂  I would post the ultrasound picture that confirmed that, but I don’t want to be the mom who posts pictures of her son’s genitalia on the internet before he gets the chance to make that mistake himself.

The “fruit of the week” to show baby size is either a pomegranate or a banana. I find this perplexing, as the two are very different shapes. At least they agree that the average size is 10.5 inches and 12.7 oz.

I found some weekly questions that I thought might be cool to share with everyone.

Total weight gain/loss: None! Not since conception. Doc’s not worried about it, so neither am I.

Maternity clothes? Um, YES. Belly panels are the best. I might not ever go back. I mean, it’s like having built-in SPANX that make your clothes more comfortable. Why don’t all plus-size pants have these?

Stretch marks? Not yet!

Best moment this week: A tie between turning 34 and Adam surprising me with a Snoogle!

Miss anything? DEAR LORD, YES. I was really sick this past week, and I have really missed decongestants.  I also missed wine at Christmas dinner.

Movement: Loads! He seems to like to wiggle the most when I lay down to go to bed or when I wake up first thing in the morning.

Food cravings: pickles

Anything making you queasy or sick: Not really, but I’m still afraid to try turkey again. It made me so violently ill during my first trimester.

Have you started to show yet: Yes and no. Adam can definitely tell, but other folks might not be able to see it. If I’m naked, you can totally see the roundness of my lower belly, and how much my waist has changed — but with clothes, I just look like I did before I lost weight in order to conceive. The plus side of that is not having any new stretch marks, and still fitting in all my t-shirts.

Labor Signs: Had my first Braxton-Hicks contraction on Christmas day. MAN-OH-MAN do they suck.

Belly Button in or out? In

Wedding rings on or off? Off my hand, but on a necklace.

Happy or Moody most of the time: Mostly happy, with scattered showers of irrational, silly crying over things like cartoons or adorable baby clothes.

Looking forward to: having a big, round pregnancy belly

My Most Recent Adventure With Time Travel

Earlier this week, I had my first time travel seizure in months.  I guess I was due for it, since I’d been really sick for about a week.  Sure, MS goes into remission when you’re in your second and third trimesters, but, sadly, that doesn’t preclude pseudoexacerbations.

I thought it was February of 2013 and couldn’t figure out what was wrong with my tummy, and why it was hurting. I thought I was having some kind of awful gas. (Of course, I was feeling the baby moving around!) Adam asked, in response to my question about what was wrong with my belly, “What’s our goal for this year?” and I said, “To not want to kill myself?” at which point he realized that he was thinking of 2014…and that I was further behind.

The follow up was him showing me ultrasound pictures and me crying and asking him how on earth I’m going to be a good mom if I can’t stop thinking about suicide. He assured me that I’ve gotten much, much better. After the confusion lifted, I was very relieved to have done all the hard work in therapy and continued with good daily mental health habits.

Amusingly enough, I’m halfway through this pregnancy and am actually smaller in size than I was in 2/2013. I was amazed that I could have life inside of me and be “so much smaller.” I was my heaviest then, weighing in at 30 pounds heavier than I am now.

All the things!

As the big day ekes ever closer, I find myself starting to think about things that previously fell under the heading of “Eh, we’ll worry about it closer to time.”  Things like finding a pediatrician (?!?), making a short list of doulas to interview, budgeting for all of the things, making a baby registry (God bless you, Amazon, for having a universal registry.), planning for a nursery, and creating a guest list for the baby shower.

Baby Shower Guest List
Honestly, I don’t even know how to go about putting together a guest list for the baby shower. Most of my friends and family are scattered all around the country. Is a virtual baby shower a thing? Can I Skype/Google Hangouts/Live Stream the shower? What’s the etiquette on that? But more over, does the etiquette even matter, so long as I’m genuine in who I want to include and grateful for whatever gift they give – whether it’s their presence or their presents? I mean this is me we’re talking about. I’m not exactly known for following convention, and I want to include as many people that I love as possible because celebrations like this are rare and awesome. I just also don’t want people thinking that they’re only invited because I want stuff. That’s not the case at all. Then again, anyone I want to invite probably knows me better than that anyway.

Cord Blood Banking
I’ve also started reading up on things like, “what to pack in your hospital bags for you and baby” and whether or not I want to blow ~$3000 on cord blood banking. I mean, as someone with MS, I definitely see the benefit of having my kid’s stem cells available to him. On the other hand, tons of people opt to donate their kid’s cord blood, making it available to people who need it. It’s a much less expensive option, and seems to me like it would be a mitzvah. There’s no telling whether my baby will ever need his extra stem cells, so spending a bunch of money to hoard them for him seems like it might not be the best use of our money.

Then again, there’s a part of me that wonders if I could use those cells, since stem cell therapy has been proving very helpful in the fight against MS. That part of me feels, oddly, like I’m somehow being selfish even thinking that it might be an option. But then again, I’ve grown those cells. That umbilical cord is as much mine as it is his. *shrug* I can’t even begin to understand myself on this topic. I’m hoping my husband and parents will have some helpful thoughts.

The Great House Hunt
And then there’s the whole “finding a house” thing.  Adam is still hopeful that we’ll find the right house for us before the baby is born. I am much, much less hopeful. In fact, I would say that I’m sort of against the idea of moving at this point. My parents are going to be in town for the first month that the kid’s around and they’ll be staying less than 20 minutes from where we are currently residing. The idea of moving is just too stressful and complicated for me right now.  Right now, I just want to figure out how to keep this apartment clean on a regular basis and somehow fit all the baby things in here.  My best guess is that we’re going to need to either get a storage unit for all the already-packed boxes we have, or unpack and sell a ton of stuff that we clearly don’t need (since it’s been sitting in boxes for months).

Clean, Clean, Clean
The need to nest is real. Every day, I wake up and think about all the cleaning and organizing I want to do and then am thwarted by my body’s limitations. At least I’m regularly getting the dishes put away and the laundry done, folded, and mostly put away. It’s becoming increasingly frustrating to bend over and pick stuff up. I am sure it’ll only get worse as the baby gets bigger. Maybe there are some ab exercises I can do to make that better.

Too Hot For My Own Good.
Also, I’m surprised that TV and movies don’t make more fun of how disgustingly sweaty you get during pregnancy. I swear that it’s comical. I’m deeply in love with the Kool Max® Deluxe Cooling Neck Tie that I was gifted by Polar Products. It’s currently 70 degrees in my apartment, I’m in barely any clothes, and I’ve got it on because I can’t stop sweating. Adam, on the other hand, is enjoying his sweatshirt.

Usually, I try to find some kind of witty way to end a blog post, but I’ll be honest with you: today, I’ve got nothin.  Hope you and yours are doing well and that you had happy holidays and are headed for a very happy new year!

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3 Important Things I Want My Child To Do

Earlier today, I read an article that inspired me. A father-to-be wrote out 14 things that he wants his future child(ren) to know… things that he doesn’t embody right now, but that he’ll probably strive to embody as his child grows.

I’m not so arrogant as to say that I feel prepared to be a mother.  I honestly don’t know anyone who isn’t either totally narcissistic or uniformed about the complexities of parenthood that can say they feel totally ready. Hell, I don’t even know if it’s possible to be ready.  But that’s the first thing I want my kid to know.

Try new things, especially if they scare you.

As a kid, this is gonna be easy because everything’s new. You don’t really have a say in the matter. You’re going to be presented with challenges over and over again. It’s part of growing up. But… as you get older, you’ll notice there are some things that you’re great at and other things that make you feel uncomfortable because you aren’t yet proficient. You’ll get comfortable with the idea of who you are and what you can do. That’s when you need to try something out of your comfort zone.themagic

The scary things — the things you see other people doing that make you think, “WOW, they are awesome!” Those are the things I want you to do, especially if you are afraid that you will fail or that people will laugh at you. Neither of those things are a good reason to stop yourself from growing.

When you think about doing those things, part of you will be excited and giddy… but there will also be a tiny, cowardly voice inside you saying, “Are you sure you can do that?” or “They’re so much cooler than you. There’s no way you can do that.” I want you to respond to that voice in a loud and powerful thunder inside. Respond to that voice by saying, “WATCH ME KICK SOME ASS.”  And then do whatever needs to be done. Don’t shy away from the hard work. It’s the most important work you can do.
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Embrace the suck.

I’m gonna bet that well before you’re an inevitably foul-mouthed teenager, you will have already heard the following phrases so many times that they seem reasonable to you. I say this, not because your father and I will say them frequently, but because they’re pervasive in pop culture, and real people say and think things like this all the time.

“Life sucks.” … “Work sucks.” … “I suck.” … “The Bears suck.” (Okay, that last one might be true.)

First, I apologize for cussing through your whole childhood. I’d like to pretend that becoming pregnant with you magically improved my vocabulary, but it didn’t.

Secondly, I’m gonna let you in on a secret that most people in our day and age have forgotten: Life is supposed to be hard. It’s a feature, not a bug! Sure, there will be times that are awesome and fun and happy and easy. It is my greatest hope that those times are a much bigger part of your life than the others… but you can’t have the good without the bad.

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I know, for a fact, there are going to be moments in your life that just, well, suck. You’re going to face loss. You’re going to face failure. You’re going to have your heart broken. You’ll lose hope. We all do, from time to time.

But, if your dad and I do our jobs well, you’re going to become resilient. You will know that nothing lasts forever – not sadness or happiness. You’re going to understand failure as a step towards success.  You’re going to accept loss as a natural progression that comes from having people and things in your life that you truly value, and you’re going to appreciate people and things while they’re around as best as you can. You’re going to learn that your heart is stronger and bigger than it ever feels like it is at any given moment. You will learn that time heals most pain, and that hope and happiness are things that you choose.

 

There are gonna be times when you’re building skill at something and you’ll get frustrated and think to yourself, “I suck at this!”  That’s a good thing, really! It means you have good taste, and that you should keep working.

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I can’t tell you the number of times I heard classmates at Berklee College of Music say that they sucked at their instruments. It was almost mandatory to believe that you weren’t good enough. Heck, it might as well have been an entry requirement. Truthfully, nobody who attends that school sucks at their instrument. They all are just humble and know how much better they could be. Everybody there was working hard to get better every day. I would go so far as to say at least half the folks at my college were perfectionists, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  There are folks out there who say that “perfect” is the enemy of “good”… but really, the enemy of good is quitting.  This is as true for honing your skill in any art form as it is for gaining skill and technique with bodybuilding, gardening, carpentry, or any other pursuit in life.

KMBA-Ira Glass Quote

There are also folks out there who will tell you to follow your dreams. I’m one of them!  But in all the dreamy talk, people often forget that the actual act of doing what you love is still damn hard work. It really doesn’t matter what you choose, honestly. The way you’ll know that you’re on the right path is that you will not hate the hard work or yourself for doing it. Sure, it’ll still suck. Work almost always sucks. That’s why it’s called work and not “fun.”  But if you’re doing the right kind of work, you won’t mind it so much. You’ll think to yourself, “Well, at least I’m doing this and not [insert something you truly hate here].”

One of my friends in college had a gross saying that used to make me laugh pretty hard, but it’s dead on in this regard. He would say, “Being happy is all about deciding the right flavor of shit sandwich to chow down on.”

So, embrace “the suck” in all of its forms. Doing so will make your life so much more enjoyable. Resistance to pain only makes it subsist.

Love Yourself.

For some people, this is one of the hardest lessons they will ever learn in life, if they ever learn it.  The world is full of folks who exist in a state of sadness that comes from years of untreated trauma. They have low self-esteem. They believe they somehow deserved whatever bad treatment they’ve endured. They don’t believe they deserve good things. They don’t feel like they deserve unconditional love. I know this person.  I’ve been this person, and I healed because of your father (and our family)’s unwavering and unconditional love and patience, and a lot of work with several good psychologists. It took years for me to be able to say that I love myself without feeling guilty or like a fraud.  I will do everything in my power to make sure you never have that same challenge.

I want to assure you, right now, that you are unquestionably loveable.  I can say this without hesitation because I already love you like crazy, and you’re not even born yet. Heck, you were created from love. I thought this world needed more of your father in it… and he thought the same thing about me.  If you ever find yourself wondering, “Why did my parents have me?” the answer is very simple. We loved the idea of you before you were part of our world. We wanted to hug you and love you and teach you and watch you grow. We wanted to leave a legacy of goodness and love, and the best way we could think to do that was through you.  And that goes for any siblings you might have later too.

So please, treat yourself with the same compassion you would treat anyone else. Be kind to yourself. If you ever find yourself beating yourself up over anything at all, ask yourself, “What would Mom say to me?” I promise, I’d say something nice. 🙂

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Advertisements, magazines, and many TV shows exist to make you believe that you’re not enough exactly the way you are. Companies, in an effort to sell you things, will tell you that you need to be thinner, faster, sexier, richer. Don’t believe any of it. You are the only one of you that has ever existed or will ever exist. Your existence is unique event in the history of the universe.

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Right now, you are the size of a sweet potato… and I know there are many more important things that I want to teach you.  Those lessons will have to wait for another day because I desperately need a nap.

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Apples & Oranges

Week 15!

week15-2I’m currently very amused by the fact that some websites say our baby is the size of an apple and others say s/he is the size of an orange. There’s something poetic and hilarious about it because it means that you really can compare apples an oranges, at least as far as size is concerned. 🙂

week15 For all interested parties, I am now showing!  Most of my clothes, though, are loose, so unless you felt my belly, you still wouldn’t know.  One of the perks of losing ~20 pounds before conception has been that most of my clothes still fit very comfortably, jeans aside.  I basically am living in my pajama pants and t-shirts. That hasn’t stopped me from falling in love with maternity clothing, however.  I honestly believe that belly panels and shirred sides on shirts are some things that plus-sized women’s fashion has been desperately needing for a long time.

And can I just say how totally bizarre it feels to have all of your organs shifted around and up, and for your lower abdomen to start feeling kind of like an inflated ball?  Because it’s straight-up weird. And it’s occasionally acutely painful.  The best way I can describe it for guys or ladies who haven’t experienced it yet is that sometimes you get cramps that feel sort of like the cramps you get when you are super constipated and really have to make a bowel movement, but slightly higher in your abdomen… and no amount of pooping is going to make anything better, so eating a big handful of prunes, while great for its fiber and nutrients, is ultimately folly.

This week has been much better in the realm of tummy issues, though. Only 1 day where I got sick – otherwise, things are alright!

One thing that has been a bit disturbing to me is that I’ve had a few seizures.  Not like, a ton or anything – heck, it’s nowhere close to what I dealt with prior to pregnancy, but it still freaks me out when it happens.  I got so used to not seizing! I got some tinglies in my feet and back yesterday too, so I’m willing to bet money that I’m fighting off some kind of ickyness. It’s nothing to be worried about, just so you know. My epileptologist told me that as long as I continue breathing through the seizures and am not falling, it’s not likely to harm the baby. Her biggest concern is making sure that me and Hush Puppy have sufficient oxygen at all times.

Pre-Birth (or “Soul”) Contracts

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So, one thing that Facebook is really great for is introducing me to concepts that are second-nature to friends of friends but are totally unusual and bizarre to me.  One of these things is the concept of the Pre-Birth Contract.

A quick summary: Before you were born, you and a bunch of spirit guides got together, reviewed your last lives for what was good and bad, and decided a path or “destiny” for yourself to move towards enlightenment — to better understand what life is all about — to better understand how you are a part of God.  This solidifies the idea that there are no coincidences or accidents — this was all part of God’s (and your) plan. The curve ball?  You forget all about the contract you made upon incarnation and have to experience it without the knowledge that you’ve chosen your path for your higher self’s greater good. That’s the only way for you to experience free will and the ability to creatively problem solve.

At first blush, this notion made me angry (It seemed like the cruelest form of victim blaming I’d ever seen.) and then it amused me greatly. My response to my friend’s friend was, “If I planned the life I’ve gone through for my greatest good, I am a serious pain in my own ass.”

I mentioned it to Adam, who is an even bigger fan of table-top roleplaying games than I am, and his immediate response was, “What a neat idea! It’s like cosmic character creation.” He made a joke about how there’s got to be real estate in Heaven, and that we’re all just trying to get to the de-luxe apartment in the sky — that folks with harder lives get better quarters.  Imagining that I’d get better digs because of MS and seizure disorder gave me the giggles.  When I said, “I’m doin’ it all for us,” he was quick to remind me that we’re only married until death, so he’d have his own place.  I asked him a moment later if my eyes were actually shooting laser beams into his face or if I was just imagining it. 🙂

I wondered if Hush Puppy was currently in negotiations, or if that happened before conception.  Then I wondered, with all the things I’ve endured (and continue to endure), what enlightenment my soul was after.

Why NOT me?

whynotmeYesterday, my friend Erika wrote a great blog entry about how she deals with self-pity in regard to having MS. Her tactic is not to say, “Why me?” but rather “Why not me?”  She reminded us all that everybody’s got their burdens to bear, and that it’s better to do so without unnecessary sadness over the hand you’ve been dealt — but then she said something that I’ve seen many, many folks with MS say.  She said, “I want my ‘old’ life back.”

For whatever reason, when I read that, it made me think about those Pre-Birth Contracts. It made me wonder, “What am I trying to learn?” I can’t count the number of times over the last 7 years that I’ve wished that I never developed MS… the number of times I thought about how much better life would be if I were still able to drive… to be a full-time attorney and to still perform musically without fear of experiencing seizures on stage… the number of times I have shamed myself for not being an equal financial contributor to our household… the number of times that I worried about being a burden to the people I love, or worried about frightening children with my seizures… the number of times I’ve had to fight suicidal ideation.

It got me thinking: what good has come out of dealing with MS and seizures?  And the answer was, “Quite a lot.”

The Upside of Down

findthegoodHaving MS and seizures has caused me to learn many lessons that I would not have otherwise have learned.

  • It’s absolutely forced me to learn the importance of regular meditation and/or prayer for physical and mental health.
  • It has highlighted the need for self-compassion and made me learn how to practice it.
  • It’s made me question the way that I think about everything – and to constantly examine those thoughts for truth and rationality.
  • It’s made me wildly change my expectations of myself and others.
  • It’s made me face some of my biggest fears (like spending huge amounts of time alone or being locked up in a mental hospital against my will) and to learn how, not only to cope, but to thrive in situations that prior to seizures, I would have avoided at any cost.
  • It’s required me to face demons of past abuse and to do the hard work to move as far past those memories as possible by both growing as a person and learning to forgive the people who caused me harm to begin with.
  • It’s made me take a long, hard look at what I thought was important and to reassess my priorities.
  • It’s made me redefine what love means, and to see how vital it is to not only feel gratitude, but to express it loudly and regularly.
  • It’s made me a more kind, empathetic, compassionate person to others.
  • It’s made me much, much more patient. (Which isn’t saying much, since, emotionally, I’m still wildly impatient – especially with myself. Still, 2014 Rae is way more patient than 2006 Rae.)
  • It’s made me redefine what it means to be a good friend, and to more fully appreciate the people who are willing to be on this ride with me.
  • It’s made me painfully aware of mortality, of the importance of never taking any aspect of your body or health for granted, and of the fact that doctors are just people who are doing their best to help people with the knowledge that they currently possess.
  • It’s helped me to recognize what’s really important versus what society and advertisers suggest are the things we should be focused on.

If it weren’t for my disability, I wouldn’t have the privilege of staying at home with my future children. I wouldn’t know, deep down, that the most important work I will do in my life will be to raise kind, emotionally intelligent, community-minded, curious kids. I would be trapped in the Quest for More Stuff and More Power.

I wouldn’t know the joy of the double-nap day or the freedom that comes with being able to say, “The dishes and laundry will be there tomorrow.”  I wouldn’t be able to laugh about people who are genuinely fretting over fashion or other “first world problems.”

Does that mean that I’m grateful for my challenges?  OF COURSE NOT. That would be silly. Challenges suck! Nobody’s genuinely grateful for disability.  But I am genuinely grateful that there’s gold to mine from the rubble. I am genuinely grateful for growth that wouldn’t have otherwise occurred.

When I think about my “old” life and my current existence, it really feels like looking at two very different people… sort of like comparing apples and oranges. 🙂

But either way, the fruit is sweet. Life is good.

Everyday Earbug

And just because life is amusing in its serendipity, while I was writing this, I found out that one of my favorite bands (Marina and the Diamonds) has released a new single.  The name? “Froot.”  I couldn’t make this up if I wanted to. 🙂 Hope you enjoy.

Happy Friday!

Exercising My Right To Abstain.

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Today’s the mid-term election in America. Damn near every post on my Facebook feed is the same digital sticker saying “I voted.” that is otherwise completely devoid of content. For everyone who is proud of themselves for participating, I say, “Good for you!”  I, for one, will be abstaining.

Why?  Because of 3 reasons:

The first is logistical: I can’t get to the polling place.  When we moved to the Chicagoland area, we moved in to my brother-in-law’s house in Romeoville (a town that’s an hour away from where we live now). That’s where my ID says I still live, and hence is where I’m registered to vote.  Yes. I know that I need to get that ID updated. Adam and I have delayed that process because we thought we were going to be getting a house somewhere, and that it would be a lot of unnecessary waiting in line and filling out of paperwork. We expected to live in this apartment for maybe a year.  It’s been almost 3 now. So, we will be remedying that soon. Strictly logistically speaking, thanks to my seizure disorder, I lack the ability to drive way the fuck out there while Adam is at work. So, there’s no way for me to voice my opinion, if I even had one.

The second is practical.  I am not remotely invested in this community, and I am not educated on any of the races. Other than not wanting Bruce Rauner to be governor because his family gave $700,000 to the lobbying groups behind the terribly flawed SCOTUS Hobby Lobby decision, I have absolutely no opinion whatsoever on anything that’s being voted on.

Honestly, I am just starting to accept that Chicago is going to be my permanent home, and that I don’t have any say in the matter. I absolutely hated this city before being forced to make the best of being here.   I wanted to live in Los Angeles.  I still do, but I know it will never happen again. I did all the hard work necessary to get out there… but disability completely stripped me of my autonomy. I couldn’t support myself anymore, and when Adam couldn’t get a job there for over 2 years, we had to choose between going to a homeless shelter or moving in with family. Not a tough choice, especially considering that Adam had a job here within a week of our arrival — but it has been a long, difficult adjustment for me.  These days, I look hard to see what’s good about Chicago… (and there’s a lot!) but I still don’t feel like a Chicagoan. I don’t know if I ever will. I feel like the people who live here and love this place should have a louder voice than me when it comes to their local politics.

The third reason is intellectual honesty. I factually know that my vote wouldn’t matter anyway. I would only be playing my part in a nation-wide charade. We are no longer living in a representative democracy. We are living in a society where the only people who make it to the ballot are there because they have the financial support of oligarchs. We are living in a society where votes are lost all the time by malfunctioning hardware, where the Republican party actively works to stop poor people from voting and miraculously has the SCOTUS’s aid in doing so, where the only real votes we have are with our dollars.  You know, because money is speech now. Voting gives us the ability to PRETEND that we have any say in what goes on here. It gives us the ability to PRETEND that we’re not succumbing to neo-feudalism. This pageant gets played out because people buy in to partisan marketing messages and can’t be convinced of truth afterward.  I have had to accept that very, very rich people are the only ones whose voices will actually be heard by our government, and that those people, by and large lack empathy and are out of touch with the needs of the common person.

Personally, I don’t like participating in a farce, even if it’s the “American” thing to do.

Chasing the American Dream

Remember how I said we had a contract on a house? (This would be the 7th house we bid on in the last 6 months…)  Well, we don’t anymore. We had a housing inspector out on Saturday and found out that the property we were slated to buy had all sorts of interesting problems.

Electrical issues! There was no electricity to the kitchen, wiring to the main breaker using wires that aren’t even available in this country, and all of the electricity to the garage was not grounded, and was therefore a fire hazard. Also, the connection to the city’s power was not up to code, and there were wires just randomly sticking out of the ground that could hurt people!

Plumbing issues! All of the spigots on the outside of the house were leaky. None of the showers or tubs drain properly. The sump pumps were both homemade, rigged incorrectly, and non-functional. The whirlpool tub was non-functional. The hot water heater needed to be replaced.

Safety issues!  The door to the basement opened over the stairs. The outside stairs, both in the front and back were irregular in size and could cause people to fall. There were cracks in the foundation.

For these reasons and more, we decided to step away from the property.  At this point, I’m completely over the idea of owning a house. Other than wanting to be closer to family and friends, I don’t see a benefit. Our 2 bed/2 bath apartment has good access to public transportation and damn near everything you could want in walking distance, for a good price.  If Adam finds a place he wants me to check out, I’ll give it a look, but I’m absolutely done spending time on Zillow and RedFin for the time being.

Pregnancy Update

It’s been over a week now since I last worshiped at the porcelain altar! Morning sickness has been replaced with extreme crankiness and bacne.

Tomorrow, we enter week 14. The traditional “size” this week is “lemon.”  I much preferred this graphic, however.

Our next OB appointment isn’t for another 2 weeks, so there really isn’t much to report. Things are just rockin’ along.  I have, however, come to a very important conclusion – and that is that I don’t need to participate in The Bump’s May 2015 mommy board anymore.

Why I left TheBump: Somebody asked about whether or not it’s ok to host your own baby shower, and she got mercilessly flamed. She was told, “If no one throws one for you, you don’t get one.” I jumped in to say that I vehemently disagree, and that Emily Post and Dear Abby’s opinions should never mean more than your personal experience and your genuine relationships with the people in your life. I said that folks are going to be giving their unkind, unwanted opinions regarding motherhood for the rest of time, so she should start getting in good practice on telling people where they can shove those unwanted opinions, and that she should do whatever makes her happy. At that point, I became the target for the catty, hormonal bitches, and decided that if I actually stood by my opinion, the correct next move was to completely ignore theirs.

I have found it interesting, however, that when I’m super cranky, I have an unreasonable desire to click back on that thread and see the mean things that these women have said and get upset and fight.  Resisting that urge has been a big deal for me.

3 Great Things About Yesterday

  1. Started a new 21-day meditation challenge by Oprah & Deepak Chopra. I always enjoy those.
  2. I was taking the bus home from my chiropractor appointment, and on the second leg of it, when I tapped my Ventra card, it said “insufficient funds.” I started to look for the money, and a total stranger offered her card. She said, “Happened to me just last week, and somebody took care of me. I’m just payin it forward.”
  3. Was an effective housewife – got dinner on the table, did the shopping, did the laundry.

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Daily Cute

Everyday Earbug

And now, it’s time for me to go do all the things! You know, things like actually eating breakfast… 🙂

Finally!

I’ve been keeping a secret.

For the last 2 months, I’ve had a secret to keep. It actually made it really tough to blog because the only thing I really wanted to talk about was something I needed to keep “hush, hush.” Well, it’s finally time to announce…

We’re expecting a baby!

I’m 12 weeks and 2 days pregnant. 🙂  Here’s our first picture from the beginning of week 8.

HushPuppy1-sm-redacted

So far, pregnancy has been pretty good. Sure, there’s been morning sickness, but I’ve had fewer seizures in the last 5 weeks than I have had at any time since I was diagnosed with seizure disorder back in 2008. It’s a trade-off I’d be happy to take for the rest of my life, if it were at all possible.

In many ways, MS prepared me for the first trimester of pregnancy. I mean, there are really a ton of ways that the symptoms of the first trimester of pregnancy looks just like having multiple sclerosis. You get intensely tired in waves without warning. You have to pee damn near all the time. You forget random things and are a bit doofy. You have random, intense mood swings. You get painful leg cramps. If it weren’t for the nausea and vomiting, I honestly wouldn’t even know that there was anything different going on. 🙂

I actually have been feeling better, health-wise, for the last 3 days than I have since 2005. If this is the beginning of what it’s like to have the neuroprotective effects of pregnancy (which happen to ladies with MS during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters), I will very seriously be considering remaining pregnant until they cure MS. 😉

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3 Great Things About Yesterday

  1. Adam and I heard our baby’s heartbeat for the first time. 🙂
  2. My brother, who I haven’t seen in over a year, was in town for business, and I got to spend more than half of the day with him!
  3. When the sellers of the house we bid on at the beginning of the month came back to us with a counter-offer and a ton of addendums, my brother (who just so happens to be both a broker and attorney) helped us get through all the paperwork and feel confident that we understand our risks and obligations.

Daily Cute


In honor of my brother’s pug, Maggie. 🙂

Everyday Earbug


I have had this song stuck in my head for a week straight. No exaggerating. Looking very forward to rocking this someday at karaoke.

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