Real Housewives of West Virginia (RHoWV)

“life’s a bitch, but you don’t have to be!”

Dear Andy Cohen, 

 I have carefully been considering what my tagline would be if you ever wanted to do a REAL Real Housewives show. (Like really real!)

Like really real when a 60 foot gyser erupts in your front yard, your refrigerator and hot water tank die in the same week.

Like really real when you put your creditors name in the phone so you can say “hey Bob! Sorry, it is really tight this month…you are gonna have to keep calling.” Sorry man.

Like really real when you have to decide between taking a day off because you can’t get out of bed or forgoing a day’s pay. 

Like really real when you realize you left your coffee cup on the roof of your car and it made it all the way down the road, only to fall through your sun roof (cough rust roof cough cough) and douse you in sticky Carmel / hazelnut sweat to coat your day and your spirits.

Life is seriously the biggest bitch I have ever met, so be kind. Help a sister out. Let’s do a Dave Chapelle version of the Real Housewives and get really real!  

“life’s a bitch, but you don’t have to be!”

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Ooooooh so you wanna try cloth diapers mommy? Or The Pending Poo-pocalyps

My daughter is finally big enough to fit into the cloth diapers we have for her. I have to say I really have the perfect baby for cloth diapers as she is not a prolific pooper. In fact, it is more of an every other day or once a day situation with her. However, this week, the week we choose to try cloth diapering, something seems to have changed.

The universe, my daughter’s adorable little butt, and 3 insane bowl movements later…I am a little less excited than I was 24 hours ago.

The look on her face, as I quickly snapped a picture of her, after the first ill fated diapering attempt…the look on her face says it all….

….She knew before I did.

Tapenade Tuesday

One of the many benefits of winter storm Jonas was the fact that my husband was home for an extended stay.  With him there, I got to cook, clean, shower, relax, and watch tv.  He always makes sure I relax, which both drives me crazy and fills my heart with his love and care.

Tapenade is one of mine and my husband’s favorite snacks and right now I am always looking for a high protein snack to help keep up with nursing.  Tapenade is a dip that is made of olives, nuts, herbs, garlic, capers, and a sweet element like a roasted red pepper, date, etc.  All the ingredients are minced or pureed to create this delicious, high protein snack.   I strapped Arden into the baby carrier and away we went.

Ingredients 

  • 1 jar 6 oz Kalamata Olives
  • 1/2 jar 6 oz Green olives
  • 1 cup of walnuts
  • 15-25 fresh mint leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons of capers
  • 1/2 cup of roasted red peppers
  • Flour Tortillas or Pita Bread

Directions

  • Drain Olives, Capers and Roasted Red peppers
  • Rinse and dry the mint leaves
  • mince the garlic, mint leaves, and walnuts
  • Use a small food processor to chop, puree, or mince the olives and capers (to taste)
  • Chop up the sweet element
  • Stir all ingredients together
  • Toast up some tortillas or pitas, slice in 8ths and serve! 

   
 
And wearing a cute baby helps too.

 

 

Good parent/bad parent: the modern parenting facade

I am no angel but lately I have been asking myself a lot about the American parent dichotomy. This “perfect on the outside, shit on the inside” facade that we are all barely holding together.Where are my truthers? 

Where are my unknown friends who have sat sobbing on the kitchen floor at midnight, with dinner burnt, your boobs hanging out, and your baby screaming? 

Where are the women who forgot for 6 or more weeks what it was like to live with sex, sleep, and any rationale control of your hormones?

Where are the woman who love their children fiercely, but occasionally have thought “could I give you back for an hour?”

Where are these truthers hiding? I can’t hear you among the pleas of my peers for acceptance, approval.

14 weeks of parenting has afforded me very little time behind this maniacal wheel, but what I do know is that “you know nothing.” 

Jon Snow be damned, I am giving it my best shot.

As I sit here, snowed in by Jonas, mounds of laundry piling up, struggling to breast feed and hoping the snow lasts till June so I never have to leave, I am reminded of the times I do get right. Half of them are by chance while the other half is hard work. Regardless, the triumph of these moments is all the greater because of the shitty odds of the battle going in, and the masterful f***-ups that somehow got you here.

Truth: I feel like I do more work than my husband.

Truth: he feels like he does more work than me.

Truth: we both are often working to what feels like our limits and sleep is not what it used to be. 

Truth: today I own my my duality. I am a good parent. I am a bad parent. 

P.s. Nap-time, you are a cock tease. I am beginning to loathe you as much as those perfect princesses with their Einstein infants, Martha Stewart magic, and white girl angst. 

The day(s) of death and life: my very Lyme Homebirth part 2.

(Read the first part of the birth story here)

*** Warning ***

*this post contains graphic information and is not for the faint of heart.

Part 1: Right After the Birth.  (end of my birth story blogs)

I had been warned that passing clots was not abnormal after labor.  I was expecting it.

But this felt different.

Sam can you call the midwife and tell her I just passed some substantial clots? I asked.

I am feeling a little light headed.

Sam checked in with her.  I had delivered our healthy 6lb 2 oz baby girl about 4 hours earlier and the midwife had left our home about 30 min before.

She’s in Elkins; do you want her to come back? he asks

I am not feeling quiet as hot as I had a few minutes earlier.  I was fine.  My heart wasn’t racing quiet like it had been.  I was just nervous.

No, tell her I am doing better and just going to crawl back in bed, drink fluids and rest.  I reply.

We enjoy the next 20 min as we wait in anticipation for the rest of our family, who are on their way, to join us!  It was a gorgeous day.  Warm and balmy, it was like summer but in the middle of October. Suddenly, I was hot all over.  My head was swimming; I was sick to my stomach.  Then I felt a loss of blood that felt similar to her shoulders exiting my body only a few hours earlier.

Something was wrong. That was too much blood.

I asked Sam to come around and help me to the bathroom, thankful I was laying on a chuck pad.  I thought I could get up and walk with it underneath me.  I quickly realized that wouldn’t work, and asked Sam to bring the trash can. Placing the plastic trash can between my legs, I tried to walk to the bathroom.

This is the last thing I remember.

RACHEL! RACHEL! RAAAACCHHHEEEELLLLL!!!!!

Sam is yelling in my face as I feel the cool breeze hitting my skin.  I am slipping back and forth.  He has my shoulders.  He looks terrified.  I have never seen him so scared.

What’s wrong? I manage to get out

YOU ARE! he screams in my face  YOU ARE WHAT’S WRONG!!!

In this moment, somehow seeing Arden though she lay 25 feet away through a wall, I willed myself to consciousness.  Sam and I spent a minute or so discussing options.  It felt like an eternity.  I wanted him to drive me to the hospital.  He called the midwife and she suggested cutting the placenta and eating it, calling 911, etc.  she was too far away at this point.  He knew he couldn’t carry me and take care of our infant so he called his dad to have him come help carry me to the car.

Sam asked me if I could stand.  I thought for sure I could.  I was sliding but didn’t realize it was from the blood that was running out of the sides of the toilet, covered my feet, and stained the tile.   Somehow, I made it to the bed, raised my feet and began massaging my uterus, hoping it would clamp down and the bleeding would stop.  Suddenly my husband came in.

There is an ambulance, down the street.  It was taking someone home.  It was just sitting there.  They are on their way.

 Apparently at this point, Sam’s dad had arrived and was having a panic attack on our front porch, called Sam’s mom, and then my mom arrived.  No one realized that Arden was there.  She lay there perfectly calm in her swing bed, swaddled, awake, calmly taking it all in.  At this point, the EMTs come into our bedroom.  They have a stretcher and are trying to get it in the door.  It won’t open all the way because of a thin black dresser behind the door.  I think “oh god…of all the things…why is my lingerie dresser behind the door…they are going to move it.  they are going to see.  what if one of my students is working today.”  

Thankfully they got it in the door without moving the little black dresser, but my one thought was quickly replaced with sheer wonder at how these two men were going to get me and this gurney out of the house and down the stairs.  It seemed an impossible task!  I completely judged a book by itscover while I lay there, slowly bleeding out.  They were two of the most wonderful men I have ever met in my life.  They are/were my angels.  They helped to save me.  But they were almost as wide as they were tall and the task of getting a 155lb woman out of a house and down the stairs seemed daunting, to say the least.

I remember each excruciating step because with each hit of gurney wheel, I felt myself loosing more blood.  I felt bad for my husbands robe.  I knew that was a goner at this point. Finally, in the back of the ambulance, they radio the local hospital to check and see if they have blood (they did) and they begin the short trek to the ER.

PART 2:  The ED Purgatory

At some point, it was decided that my mom would go with me to the hospital and that Sam and his parents would stay at our home with Arden while Sam checked in with the midwife who was frantically calling. When we got into the ED, the doctor immediately began to question why the baby wasn’t there.  He wanted to see the baby.  For some reason I got very scared and was worried they would try to take Arden away from us.  They take some labs ( I don’t remember this) and my vitals.

 My blood pressure was almost 200. My WBC was 41.  Something was wrong.  I offered the answer, lyme, for the elevated WBC and the ED doctor stated that he knew all about Lyme and that wasn’t it.

The next two hours I remember very little about.  Apparently they let my husband bring Arden there so I could nurse her.  When they arrived no one was massaging my uterus.  My mother-in-law asked for pitocin and they stated they “didn’t know what it was.”  The only persons of true help with the EMT personnel who took exceptional care of me and checked on me, got a zofran script to help stop the vomiting (which was increasing the bleeding).

During this time, my husband was talking to the midwife who had turned around and gone to the hospital closest to us with a labor and delivery surgeon and prepped them of my case.  The ED I was at was notified of this and then the mystery begins.  I was told the ED doctor and the surgeon on call got into an argument and my bed was cancelled.  Regardless, I laid in an ED for almost 2 hours, bleeding, with almost no care while two ego maniacs battled something out. Before being wheeled out, the doctor made a point to come in and tell me what an idiot I was for having a home-birth before hitting on my mom and strolling cocksure out of the room.

Part 3: The Transfer

This was my first time in an ambulance.  I really didn’t want to take one because I wasn’t sure if insurance would cover it or not.  Turns out, I didn’t have a choice.  I had lost three-fifths of my blood volume.

As we wound around the curvy roads of West Virginia, the nausea came back with a vengeance and the vomiting began.  Not even Zofran was helping now.  Things really became a blur.  I remember little but that sunset and those firey orange trees.  Those two things I remember, as we sped up I-79.

Part 4:  From Bad to Worse

I remember very clearly how bright the room and how many people there were.  I thought surely all these people aren’t here for me.  it is like goddamn stadium lighting in here.  i have never had so many people looking at my vagina.  oh my god those lights are so bright. A man in blue scrubs and a face masks talks to me about when I last ate and drank.  I realize it has something to do with intubation and asphyxation.  He seems surprised. Next I think I am telling people the story of story of the recent hostage situation at the school at which I taught.

You lost three-fifths of your blood volume so we are going to be starting some transfusions.

damn those lights were bright.  

The rest of this is pieced together based on what I have been told.

It is now almost 8 hours since I have delivered my daughter and they take me into surgery.  Apparently there was some sort of complication with the placenta and the uterus.  I had some blood clotting issues to say the least.  My labs, however, were what was terrifying.

I had HELLP.   It was a bad.

An hour or so later, out of surgery, I was back in the room with my husband and a couple other family members (maybe sister and mom or mother in law).

All of the sudden, I can’t breathe.  I am crashing.  I can’t breathe.  I am trying to tell the nurses, the doctors, someone.  There 9 goddamn people standing around my bed.

 I can’t breathe why can’t you hear me! Help me!

Apparently, I was getting some of it out as I terrified my waiting husband and family.  I was in bad shape.

  • I had been experiencing seizures as a result of the blood loss.
  • At the second hemorrhage, I seized, passed out, hit my head on the wooden window sill in-front of our toilet and received a concussion.
  • My Liver Enzymes were almost 600.
  • My platelets were at 4.
  • My blood pressure was still through the roof.
  • I needed more blood transfusions.
  • They started a magnesium drip to prevent any more seizures.

I woke up the next morning with 5 IV ports in me, monitors everywhere.  My skin was literally black from all the bruises where I had been poked, drawn, and transfused.  I was a mess.  Everything was blury and bowing towards the middle.  My husband looked terrible.  I  knew something must have happened.

I sat up and tried to hold my perfect little 6lb daughter, but I couldn’t.  Something didn’t feel right.  I called the nurse and asked if it could be anesthesia.

Next thing I knew, two guys showed up to take me to CT scan to check on my concussion.  Going down the hallway, I saw my dad talking to someone, but didn’t know who.  (It was my best friend) When I returned to the room, I couldn’t sit up.  Everything was dark.  Something was wrong.

Next thing I knew, I was paralyzed.  I started vomiting.  I was on my back.  I was terrified.  I couldn’t move.

At this point, my sister who is an ICU nurse, jumped up, turned on the suction machine and began suctioning me.  My mom called the nurse while they tried to turn me on my side.

Over the next hour, my heart began to slow, I couldn’t catch  a breath. I heard someone talking about magnesium toxicity and what it would do to the body.

That! That’s it!!!  My muscles can’t move.  I can’t move them!  Stop the magnesium!  my brain is trying to  yell

An hour and a half hour later, thanks to an amazingly quick thinking nurse, I was still paralyzed but quickly coming round once she turned off the magnesium drip.  I had become toxic as result of my liver not working and the magnesium had slowly paralyzed my muscles.

It has been 28 hours since I had given birth to my daughter.  Just 24 since the hemorrhage began.

In all of this, the hospital apparently tried to force my husband to take our daughter to the ER.  He was terrified as he watched me quickly go from bad to worse once I was admitted and told them so.  After some time, his family and mine talked him into admitting her.  My sister and brother-in-law, who thankfully worked in the children’s hospital, worked with the charge nurse to have her directly admitted so she wasn’t exposed to anything in the ER.

She was perfect.  She scored a 10 on her APGAR (a 9 after birth).  I was terrified of being treated like an imbecile for how our birth occurred but our midwife worked with the hospital to show the care we took for protocol, pre-natal care, testing, etc. and we were treated with EXTREME respect.

Five days later, we went home after the first snow the season, a family of three together, barely, but forever.

Picture from bruising 10 days after leaving the hospital.

Lactation support and ideas 

After giving birth to my daughter, I experienced a hemorrhage that, unfortunately, has left my milk supply a little on the low side.

Supplements I have tried:

  • fenugreek
  • blessed thistle

Food and Drinks I have tried:

  • lactation cookies
    • Recipe 1  (easy to make, can be a little salty)
    • Recipe 2 (a little flat but tasty)
    • Assessment: both worked well and I would recommend either.  When my sister made the first recipe her’s were much better than my original batch, but baking is not my specialty, it is hers.
  • lactation teas
    • Yogi – 2/5 stars.  I didn’t notice a huge difference with this tea.  I ordered it originally because of it’s price.
    • Mother’s Milk – 4/5 stars.  A little pricey but it definitely helps support the nursing supply.
    • Welda – 4/5 stars.  This one only gets a 4 out of 5 stars because it is so expensive.  It is by far the best nursing tea I tried and I noticed immediately results. As far as results go, it receives a 5 out of 5 stars.

Ideas not yet tried:

  • Placenta Encapsulation – I originally didn’t do this because we were unsure if I had passed Lyme through the placenta to Arden.  As it turns out, I didn’t!!!  I have recently begun considering that as a option to help support my nursing supply.
    • has anyone had any experience with this for their own nursing supply?
  • Other ideas? I am open to suggestions!!!

 

A whole new view

The first time I saw this shirt, it was on my husband.  We were in a Wendy’s parking lot in Morgantown, WV because he had gotten lost. I was so nervous. It was our first date.

I stumbled out of bed this morning, planning on packing up the baby and heading out for doctor appointments and a chance to see my sisters.  I have never been good at seeing what is right in front of me. I can see the whole picture, everything that needs done, but ask me to see what is right in front of my face and I miss it more often than not. 

In my morning haze, I had thrown on clothes as I stumbled towards the kitchen to let the dog outside. Sam had Arden and was reading to her. I never saw what I put on. 

Today, with a snow storm barrelling towards us, I managed to see what was in front of me and we stayed home. After a brief “relapse” into my frantic big-picture-gotta-get-stuff-done mentality, I sat down rock Arden to sleep, I looked down at her beautiful smiling face and saw the shirt. 

For one moment I was 23 and worried about what I had on, whether I should hug him, shake his hand, or just say “hey.”  I saw the shirt in my living room as he awkwardly spit cherry pits into a bowl.  I saw the shirt as he came back for a second kiss after having already left. He “couldn’t wait a week for another.”  I saw the shirt with our daughter’s hands softly resting on it and I realized that for all my big picture scheming, I never saw this. 

Almost 8 years later, I am surprised at how well the shirt has held up. But today I am most surprised that I saw what was in front of me.   The first time I saw this shirt I almost missed the moment for all the worries and anxieties of a first date. 

Today, I am trying a new view.

Well, at least she pooped.

I would like to practice gratitude more frequently.  I would ALSO like to start off each day with a million dollars but that rarely happens either. 
The last three days have been  particularly challenging, but with all the roughness that has occurred, from broken down cars to a sick baby, there have been some really special moments. 

For the first time, today I got to do yoga with Arden, and it was wonderful. As I sit here holding my sleeping daughter, I am thankful. Despite all the things I could be worried about, my constipated baby pooped and my sister is coming to visit. Life is good.