My son’s migraines have been increasing in frequency lately. Instead of suffering a major episode once every 3-4 weeks, he’s now experiencing them every 5-10 days. In case you’re new here, his migraines begin with a headache, but quickly advance to an all-out debilitating migraine. He quits moving; he quits eating. He curls up in a ball on the couch or his bed and trembles in pain. His eyes glass over, and he moans. Hours later, he vomits and vomits. It takes anywhere from 24-48 hours to come out of it.
After visiting with three of his doctors yesterday, we have yet another CT scan scheduled for tomorrow to check his shunt. (When he was 3 years old, we discovered an arachnoid cyst that covered 1/3 of his brain. This shunt continually drains this fluid into his stomach cavity.) I am not very hopeful, however, that anything will be discovered because he just had an MRI this last fall with everything checking out just fine.
In any case, if you have a minute, stop what you’re doing right now and offer a small prayer for him. His patron saint is St. Paul, who was no stranger to suffering himself.
She doesn’t mind that I call her obnoxiously, like every other day. I’m a natural chatterbox and like to talk. Who better to call?
When she visits, she likes hanging out with me. I mean, she’ll actually ditch the grandkids and willing do something with just me. She’ll even go to a coffee shop, even though she–gasp–hates coffee!
She’s sacrificial. Like I just said. Furthermore, even though she despises onions–horror of horrors!–she’ll feign to eat them for my sake, for I can’t live without them and put them into practically everything. She just smiles and nibbles away at them.
She also hates running, but guess what? She’s ran a few road races with me. And one time, we even convinced my sister to run one too. But that was awful because she complained the whole time that she was going to die, which she obviously didn’t. (Speaking of, want to do another one, Mom?)
Did I mention that she’s seriously sacrificial? When she visits, if my dishes need washing, she’ll wash them. If my cupboards need cleaning, she’ll clean them. If my toilet needs scrubbing, she’ll scrub it.
I’ve got a lot to learn from my mother.
Thank you, Mom! I love you!
Today, since it’s January 22 and the anniversary of that horrible Supreme Court decision to allow for abortion in this country, and since you’re obviously alive and reading this, give your mother a call and thank her for giving birth to you. (Especially if you were born after 1973, the year that satanic law went into place.)
Secondly, pray for an end to the Scourge of Abortion. Do an act of penance. Today our family will be eating plain bread for breakfast.
For those of you wanting to start the year off with a good read, I thought I’d look back on all the books I read in 2018 and pick my favorite. It is Michael O’ Brien’s Strangers and Sojourners, which I reviewed HERE. It’s actually the first book in a series 7. Click HERE for a look at all 7. (And yes, you should read them all!)
Some of you may be wondering what I’m reading right now. Well, I’ve got a few books in the hopper and hope to do a some reviews in the coming weeks. So you’ll have to wait.
And now, it’s my birthday, and so to honor my loving parents, I offer my Birthday Post from last year. (Be sure to note that I am now 37, not 36!)
It’s My Birthday; My Mother’s Birth Story of Me
Today I turn 36.
I’m sure of this because I asked my husband, and he’s good at math. I remembered I was born in 1982; he commented it was 2018; I said I couldn’t do the math, and he said, “You’re 36.”
Well, and here I was thinking that I was older.
Because birthing stories are never boring, I decided to call my parents to find out about mine, and my dad answered. I asked him what he remembered about my birth. The first thing out of his mouth was, “Well, there were five deer standing on the north side of the driveway. It was snowy.” And that was it.
So I asked my mother how it went. You see, I am the Firstborn, which is always exciting because as you know, mothers and fathers have absolutely no clue what’s going on with Baby Number One. And apparently I also offered some excitement for the little, rural hospital where I was born too. For nobody else was having babies at the time, and those nurses were all bored and probably standing around the front desk smoking cigs. In fact, I was the first baby of the year born there, and I had my photo taken for the newspaper. This is my special Claim to Fame.
My mother said that she and my dad went to a New Year’s Eve party a few days before I was born, where everyone kept asking her, “When are you gonna have that baby?” Her response was, “Tonight!” Well, that didn’t happen, but on the morning of the 2nd she awoke with a pain. So, at 8am she waddled out to the car and off they drove, apparently right by five deer in the snow.
Now as my mother was saying this, I could hear my dad in the background adding, “That car was a 1980 AMC Eagle. Silver, and quite a fancy one.” Then my mother added, “Well, and we neededthatcar like we needed another hole in our heads.” And he responded with, “It was one of thefirst four-wheel-drive cars made. And was agoodone.”
Anyway, I was born at 6:28pm, and my mother was happy because I was normal. Evidently she was pretty worried about that because I wouldn’t come out at the end of all that labor, so the doctor had to use some scary-looking tool – a forceps – to yank me out, which left a scrape alongside my upper right cheekbone. (Look very closely at the above picture for the scab.) So, besides my head being cone-shaped, which took her a little by surprise, she was thankful and happy to learn that scrapes do heal.
And so here I am, 36 years later, mostly normal, even though I was bottle fed and diapered with cloth and safety pins, which my mother said was “crappy.” (They couldn’t afford the fancy disposable diapers.)
Happy Birthday to me. And Happy Birthday to St. Therese the Little Flower; she was also born on January 2, but in 1873.
I’ve been putting in a lot of Mom Hours lately. You know, days when one doesn’t even get a solid fifteen minute break. (Not to say anything of the night.)
Of course it’s been busier than usual with the selling of our home and the purchasing of another, but it’s more than that. It’s the start of a new school year with many new elements thrown in. For example, two of our children are now attending a brick and mortar school, which requires more driving. And I am still homeschooling three others with a Toddler and a Baby bouncing along in the background.
And somebody has to make sure there’s food on the table.
Now I like doing all these things. But I don’t like that my 9-year-old son suffers from migraines. This throws me for a loop every time. I can always sense when one is coming on because I find him sitting on the couch, not moving. Then, there’s a glassy look in his eyes. Then, he doesn’t want to eat, which is a constant worry for me because he only weighs 60 pounds to begin with. And finally, within an hour of that, it’s an all-out migraine.
His migraines last anywhere from 4-10 hours. And they almost always end in vomiting. Last week, as he was throwing up in the toilet, I was moved to tears. He was so weak that when he finished, he simply slumped to the floor and lay there.
I felt helpless. I finished scrubbing the toilet and turned to him and said, “I’m so sorry that you’re hurting. I wish I could take it away.” Then he got up and looked at me with his big, sunken-in eyes and said quietly, “Mom, you are not meant to suffer migraines. I am. It is God’s will.” And he slowly walked back to the couch.
It is God’s will.
He’s right, and I have a lot to learn from him. Even while he was clutching the toilet, he was praying for my cousin who suffers from alcoholism. Surely God hears the prayers of the little suffering children. It was painfully beautiful to witness.
If only I would remember to pray during my hardships – my sleepless nights of insomnia, for example. For the Office of Compline reminds me:
In the silent hours of the night, bless the Lord.
And again in Psalm 91,
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, who abides in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.”
My God, in whom I trust. To whom would I rather go?
It is God’s will that my son suffers migraines, and it is my lot to care for him. It is also God’s will that I suffer from insomnia. And yes, it means putting in long Mom Hours. This is no 9-5 vocation after all, and it requires a lot of sacrifice and prayer.
For those of you who are new to this series, click HERE for Baby #1 and HERE for Baby #7. (Yes, I know, these are a little out of order.) Today, I’m writing about Baby #2 and Baby #3, for you see, we unexpectedly had twins, nine years ago. So here we go.
Pregnant with Twins
This was a wild ride. We were so excited to be pregnant again, because we wanted a big family. Our little girl was just one year old, and she would get a new brother or sister before she turned 2!
But this pregnancy was different from my first “dream” pregnancy. I was growing wider and wider faster than the time it takes to blow up a big balloon. Everyone would smugly look at me and say, “Well, this is your second baby. Of course you’ll be a lot bigger.” I knew that, but would insist that, “No, this pregnancy really feels differently. I think I’m having twins.” At this point, most people smiled and laughed at me. But if I said it once, I said it 50 times. “I think I’m having twins!”
And I was right. A week before my scheduled 20-week ultrasound, I began having severe lower abdominal pains, and so I was ushered to the ultrasound room to see if anything was wrong. The technician squeezed that cold gel on and maneuvered her magic wand, as my husband and I gazed at the screen. Hmmm, I thought, there seems to be a lot of arms and legs in there.
Sure enough, twins! We both laughed and laughed, and I felt vindicated. So we celebrated and ate at Taco Johns.
This was also about the time that I began having contractions too, which landed me right in Bed Rest. This was not fun. Thankfully some very kind friends helped watch my daughter, and we also received quite a few meals. But in the meantime, I reread the Lord of the Rings series and listened to Rush Limbaugh on the radio for entertainment. (If you haven’t read the Lord of the Rings, you should. It’s so good. And as for listening to Rush Limbaugh, I can only say that I was desperate. We didn’t have Catholic radio at the time.)
Towards the end of my pregnancy, however, my body had had enough. I began to retain fluid and my blood pressure skyrocketed. I was preeclamptic and made to come back to the hospital the next day at 5am for an induction.
Labor & Delivery
We were excited, nervous, relieved–all of it. What was this going to be like? There was only one thing I knew. It would be drastically different than my first labor and delivery. First of all, I had to be in the operating room, in case of an emergency cesarean section. And secondly, I was given pitocin to start the contractions and an epidural to block any pain. It was wonderful to not feel all that pain! (With my first, I did not have pitocin or an epidural, and it was dreadfully painful.)
As I said, I went in at about 5am and by 10am was ready to push. It all happened so quickly. Boy # 1 was born easily, but whisked out of the room so fast that I didn’t even hear him cry. I was worried, but was not able to ask about him because immediately after he came out, multiple nurses were sharply told by the doctor, “Hold that baby in place! We don’t want him to flip!” The doctor wanted Boy #2 to stay in his head-down position to avoid a c-section, so the nurses firmly held him by pushing down on my lower abdomen.
He did stay in place and was born just minutes later. And I heard him cry, which was a relief. He was alive and healthy! And so was the first one, I would soon find out.
I asked my husband what he remembered about all this, and he said, “I sliced through the doctor’s glove while cutting the first umbilical cord. He wasn’t very happy with me.”
In the end, it was all so very beautiful – a great gift from God. Even though I had to take some kind of terrible magnesium drug for the eclampsia afterwards, I was only so grateful to have three children!
I was asked the other day if I suffer from insomnia? Uh, yes. From time-to-time anyway, and it’s terrible. I’d say that it sucks, but that’s not proper language for a sophisticated blog. So I’ll just say that it’s terrible.
I never used to have a problem sleeping. Anybody remember those college days of setting the alarm clock for 10am? And sleeping all the way through the night, until 10am? Yeah, that’s a little pathetic, but you get the idea.
Then I got married and started having children. Like a lot of children. And the older I get, the less sleep I get, and not just because the baby wants to nurse and the 5-year-old wet the bed and the 2-year-old just feels like screaming. Nope, with this last pregnancy especially, I was just plain wide awake at all hours of the dark, dark night.
There is nothing more frustrating than getting all the children asleep and realizing that one has only a few precious hours wherein to sleep and then not being able to sleep. Oh, the agony!
If any of you find yourself in this situation, I’ll give you a few ideas that seem to work for me. But remember, everyone is different, so these tips may or may not work for you. (Shoot, they don’t always work for me either.)
4 Tips for Surviving Insomnia
1. Watch what you’re doing those two hours before bedtime.
If I’m stressed out, running around, or worrying about everything I didn’t get done, you bet I’m going to be wide awake at night. This is why it’s very important for me to relax in the evening. I need to forget about the load of laundry sitting in the dryer and the sticky mess on my kitchen floor. Rather, it’s time for me to sit down, have a glass of wine, and play a hand of Gin Rummy with my husband.
2. Eat well.
I always feel better when I’ve attempted to eat well during the day. You know, like pass on the potato chips and have a bowl of plain yogurt with blueberries instead.
Every day I try to get outside and go for a walk or a run. It’s amazing what just 20 minutes will do for a gal. And yes I said outside, even in the cold, cold North. Bundle up! The reason I prefer outside to a machine indoors is because of the quiet. Some of my best ideas come to me when I’m walking down the road outside by myself. And I always feel better at the end of the day knowing my body moved around a bit.
4. Just get out of bed and go pray or read.
This one is so difficult for me, but when I do it, I almost always come back to bed and fall asleep. Instead of lying in bed, staring at the clock, and thinking Oh, I just need to sleep! The baby’s going to wake up in 45 minutes, and I have so much to do tomorrow. Why, oh why can’t I just fall asleep! I just get up and go tell Jesus about it. I grab my robe, stumble out to the living room, and sit before our icon of the Sacred Heart and pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet. I don’t turn any lights on either.
I also have a couple favorite Psalms that I like to pray, which come from the Office of Compline. (Click HERE for it on Amazon.) From Psalm 134, “In the silent hours of the night, bless the Lord!” And from Psalm 91, “Night holds no terrors for me sleeping under God’s wings.”
In the end though, Jesus knows, and he cares. Really. And this too shall pass, or so I tell myself.
I kicked this series off with the story of my latest baby girl, #7, born about six weeks ago. (Click HERE for that one.) Now it’s time to back up and start from the beginning.
My husband and I were married on the feast of St. Agnes, January 21st, 2006. From the earliest part of dating, we both knew that we wanted a big family. So once we were hitched, there was no waiting for such things as a bigger home or more income. Nope. In fact, we were renting a little craftsman-style house in Duluth, MN, and I was still finishing up my degree in Catholic Studies in St. Paul.
It took us a whole month to get pregnant, and we were excited! She was to be the first grandchild on both sides of the family. Our first move was to move, literally. We didn’t want to live in Duluth anymore, as it seemed to snow perpetually–something called “Lake Effect” snow. (It’s terrible.) And we wanted grandparents around.
So six months later we ended up in North Dakota. (This is where my husband was born and raised.) He promised me that on the western side of the state, it didn’t snow very much and was warmer. I remember him saying, “Sure it’s warmer! We used to golf in December in Dickinson.” HA! Our first three years here were record-breaking snow-fall years.
In any case, my first child was a dream pregnancy. I could have been one of those pregnant models in those fake, glossy maternity magazines in OBGYN offices. (You know, the ones that make every real mother feel terribly for having swollen ankles and stretch marks.) I was able to run a few miles all the way up until two weeks before she was born. I had zero problems. You bet I felt great!
And I had no idea what was coming, for I came from a small family and had never even held a baby until mine was born. You could say I was about to have the shock of a lifetime.
Labor & Delivery
After arriving in North Dakota, settling down, and purchasing our first house, it was time to have a baby.
The night of November 13th, after my husband and I had just gone to bed, I suddenly felt a wetness all around me. Naturally, I wondered if maybe I had accidentally urinated? I had read that that could happen, so I went to the bathroom to check. Then I yelled for my husband to go get that pregnancy book, so I could look it up. This water didn’t smell like urine after all.
It was, of course, my “bag” of water. Contractions began soon after that. I did know enough that I’d probably have plenty of time before needing to go into the hospital, so I took a shower at 11pm, put my makeup on, and styled my hair. Who knows how long it might take? I wanted to look good. (Vain. Just vain.) Then we drove to the hospital.
I had also read in some condescending pregnancy article that it was best to not have any drugs or medication, if possible. So I decided to not have an epidural, or any other drugs. I was going to do this all on my own and show all those other “weak” mothers how it was done. (What a self-righteous prig I was.)
Well, it was a long, long 12 hours of sheer hell. And I deserved every pit of pain too. In the end, I broke down and had a dose of Nubain because I started to hyperventilate. Again, I had no idea what to expect.
Thankfully, after tearing and with the aid of an episiotomy, Baby #1 was born. And I was relieved. What an experience.
The Worst Was Yet to Come.
I didn’t know, however, that the worst was yet to come. Remember, I had no experience with babies whatsoever. None. I didn’t know that I’d be up all night. I was used to my 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. I didn’t know that I’d have hemorrhoids. I didn’t know that nursing a baby could hurt so badly – like someone with a knife slicing off my flesh and then burning it with red hot coals. This mothering business was painful!
My own mother, God bless her soul, came to help me for a few days. She was wonderful to have around, especially to hold the screaming baby for a few hours, so that I could sleep. But she only stayed for a short while. The night before she left, I remember bawling uncontrollably in my husband arms because I felt like I was living in a black hole, with no light at the end of the tunnel. My life would forever involve a screaming baby and a terribly aching body. I had a complete meltdown.
Truly, the next two months were very dark. Looking back now, I can see that I was suffering from Postpartum Blues or Depression. It was mentally, physically, and emotionally draining, but I survived it, mostly with the support of my husband. He was just as clueless as I was, but was able to keep his wits about him.
I learned a lot from this pregnancy. Firstly, never again would I look down on any mother who would choose to have medication during labor and delivery. In fact, I think it would have helped me greatly to relax, especially since absolutely everything was so new to me. Secondly, I would never again scoff at any mother having difficulty with nursing, or getting up at night, or anything else related to motherhood. It’s just downright hard at times.
Conclusion & Light At the End of the Tunnel
While this first pregnancy was awesome, easy, and glamorous, everything afterwards was not. It was confusing, dark, and difficult. Thankfully, I would never again experience that kind of postpartum darkness again.
And of course, it was all worth it. Every bit of it.
Stay tuned for future additions of, “Birth Stories Are Never Boring,” as I attempt to relate Babies #2,3,4,5, & 6, wherein the pregnancies increase in difficulty, but where the labor and deliveries become a little easier!
When I’m pregnant, I’m a bad patient. Let me give you an example of what I mean. The following is a pretty accurate account of how my prenatal appointments begin.
Beginning of Prenatal Appointment
A nurse enters the room and after checking my vitals, she routinely asks me, “Have you been taking your prenatal vitamins?”
Glancing at me suspiciously, “And, why not?”
“They make me constipated,” I lie. I just don’t like taking them.
“I see. Have you had any alcoholic drinks during this pregnancy?”
Clearing her throat, “How many, would you say, a week?”
“One or two.”
Incredulously, “And do you smoke, too?”
“No, but my grandma did with all 8 of her pregnancies, does that count?”
(Naw, I didn’t really say that; I just thought it. I’m probably going to burn in hell.)
What the Point?
Now why would I say all that–the not taking prenatal vitamins and then willfully drinking a glass of wine during a pregnancy? It’s not that I’m anti-vitamins, for I do think many people benefit from taking them, especially if their diets are lacking certain nutrients. And it’s not that I think everyone should enjoy a glass of wine while pregnant either.
It’s just that for me, not having the one and occasionally enjoying the other make me a happier wife and mother. We do not all have to be the same, for we are all wonderfully different.
As an aside, I did take prenatal vitamins with my first pregnancy, and maybe my second, out of fear. I thought that if I didn’t, my baby would be born without a limb or missing half her brain or something. Well, I’ve had six other children since then without vitamins, and they’re all very normal.
As for drinking a glass of wine, I’m just thankful that some doctors actually see the benefit of this. Again, it’s not that I think it’s for everyone, but for me, one glass here or there has only ever done me good.
The Appointment Goes On
Back at my typical appointment, I further the dismay of everyone when I refuse the DTAP vaccine and the flu shot and regularly skip my appointments, especially at the end, when I’m asked to come in weekly.
Now if I had any real problems or concerns, of course I wouldn’t skip my appointments. But weekly? This is just too much. Not only do I not want to step on their scale one more time, but how can anyone find time for this? No, I have other priorities. If I’m going to take time away from my children, it’s not going to be to sit in a waiting room for an hour. I’m going to have coffee with a friend. Or lunch with my husband. Or anything else, if I can help it.
And that DTAP vaccine? It’s not that I’m against vaccines. It’s that I had that vaccine with my last pregnancy, and I don’t feel comfortable receiving it again in less than two years. So, no.
And the flu shot? I had Influenza A one year while pregnant, and yes, it’s really terrible, but I don’t like putting stuff in my body that’s not absolutely necessary for survival. So again, nope. I’ll take my chances.
But please don’t misunderstand me, if you like receiving shots, that’s just fine with me. For as I said above, we are all wonderfully different and free to choose what works best for us.
My poor doctor though. He puts up with a lot. I guess I’m just a bad patient.
Birth Stories are just never boring, at least for mothers anyway. Birth stories are also never alike. Each one is unique, and it’s all a miracle.
Today I intend to begin a new series, as I will write the Birth Story of each of my babies, and since #7 is fresh in my mind, I’ll begin there.
Pregnant With Baby #7
Now I know that many of you enjoy being pregnant, but I, however, do not. Let me say it again, I do not enjoy being pregnant. Man, is it difficult. For whatever reason, usually around halfway through my pregnancies, my body decides to commence Braxton Hicks contractions every time I attempt to move. These uncomfortable contractions, along with the cumbersomeness of a large, pregnant body, do not allow for me to exercise, let alone walk up and down flights of stairs or even walk out to the mailbox without pain.
In any case, it’s just not fun. And I am always very glad when labor begins.
Last Monday, which was President’s Day, I was particularly fed up with my pregnant self. That morning my poor husband, who happened to be home because of the holiday, received an earful from me lamenting my inability to do anything I wanted. “I can’t go for a walk.” Sob, sob. “I can’t even bring this pile of laundry downstairs.” Cry, cry. “I’m going to be pregnant forever, and it will be winter forever, and the sun will never shine again!” Hysterical, emotional, breakdown. “I hate being pregnant!!”
I then stomped out of the room and put myself in Time Out, whereupon I apologized to my unborn baby and to God for losing it. Deep down, I knew that all of those statements were lies. Truly, I only wanted God’s will to be done, not mine.
I then prayed the opening line of the Apostles’ Creed. “I believe in God, the Father Almighty.” I stopped and glanced out of the window at the blue sky and thought about this Creator of Heaven and Earth. God is a good God. He knows what’s best for me, and His timing is perfect. I prayed for the grace to accept His will, and I begged Mary to help me, and then I walked out of Time Out and apologized to my husband.
A half an hour later, I noticed a trickle of blood. Any amount of bleeding during a pregnancy is obviously not good, so I told my husband and called the hospital. They immediately scheduled an appointment for me at the clinic, as I was 38 weeks and 3 days pregnant.
So, after we calmly told our children that Grandma was on the way over, we drove in. It was about noon.
At the clinic, a Physician’s Assistant examined me and promptly sent me over to Ultrasound to make sure everything was ok. Then she saw me again and decided I had better head over to the hospital to be monitored, as she didn’t know the cause of the bleeding because everything looked normal.
Since the PA was not overly concerned, and since we were hungry from having missed lunch, we decided to hit up Jimmy John’s first before going to the hospital. At this point, we kind of knew that we weren’t going to be sent home, and furthermore, that the hospital wasn’t going to feed us.
It was while sitting in the drive-thru that I began to have a few minor contractions. Nothing serious, though. And nothing painful. So we ate our sandwiches and filled the car full of gas too.
By the time we rolled into the hospital parking lot around 1:30pm, my contractions were a bit more regular, and when the nurse examined me, I was dilated to 3 cm. So I asked her if my doctor happened to be around? She said no, that he was on his way home from their satellite clinic a few hours away. The reason I asked was because I knew that if he was there, he’d break my water, and we’d get this party started. He, of course, knowing my history of early deliveries.
I then boldly asked her to tell him to drive straight over to the hospital and break my water. She laughed, and then sent me over to Labor and Delivery, as she also thought I wasn’t going home without a baby.
Well, that nurse did tell my doctor, and he actually did drive straight over. (He’s so awesome.) He strolled into the room at about 3pm, ordered the nurses to get my IV hooked up, and said he’d be back in an hour to break my water. Alleluia! (I know it’s Lent, and you’re not supposed to say Alleluia, but really, that’s what I thought.)
At 4pm, he came back, broke my water, and real labor began! I knew it would be quick, from previous experience, and it was. I chose not to have an epidural this time and only requested a dose of Nubain, which is a drug that goes through your IV. It doesn’t take away the pain of the contractions, but only makes you care less. I can only describe it as making you feel a little “loopy” and more relaxed.
Well, it was intense; I pushed three or four times; and she arrived. She would have come even sooner, but she was facing sideways, instead of down. But she was perfect. She is beautiful.
About That Bleeding?
Later on I asked my doctor about that initial bleeding. He said that for some women, as your cervix thins and dilates, your blood vessels begin to break. I guess that’s what happened to me.
And one more providential thing…a Mass was celebrated for our family last Monday, February 19th, when our baby was born. A good friend of mine had scheduled it last summer. Coincidence? I think not.