“She’s Lyme FREE” (and now I may be too): my Lyme Pregnancy Protocol

Disclaimer** I am not a doctor.  This is just my story of how I managed my disease during pregnancy with the help of a plan developed specifically for me with a LLMD.  This should not be used as protocol for anyone else;  I am sharing it to share the hope of a Lyme FREE child!

Antibiotic Protocol 1st and 2nd Trimester:

  • Prescribed: 1200 mg of Omnicef 3 times a day.
    • I couldn’t tolerate it and and was herxing constantly.
    • After 4 weeks of approximately 0-1200mg of Omincef a day, the dosage was lowered.
  • Prescribed: 1200 mg of Omnicef 2 times a day.
    • I still typically only got down 1200mg ONCE a day due to vomiting and herxing.
    • On the days I couldn’t get anything down, I was given shots.

Antibiotic Protocol 3rd Trimester:

  • Prescribed: 1200 mg of Omnicef 2 times a day
  • Prescribed: 500 mg of Zithromax once a day
    • I typically only got down ONE dose of Omnicef and the Zithromax dose.

Supplements, Pregnancy, Lyme, and Gene Mutation MTHFR:

MTHFR Gene Mutation is SIGNIFICANT to pregnancy as regular Folic Acid can cause embolisms in women with this gene mutation.  It is incredibly common, especially in those with chronic illnesses.  Wellness Mama, does a great job explaining this mutation, its significance, treatment, etc. at her blog, here.

  • Methylated Folic Acid (Methyl-Folate)
  • Methyl-B12
  • Potassium (powder)

I was prescribed several more supplements but these were the only ones I could keep down. I am guessing because they were primarily soluble.

Flares, Herxing, Whatever you want to Call it:

These were a daily (normally 2-4 times daily) occurrence. For me, my flares appear in the form of simultaneous projectile vomiting and diarrhea, muscle spasms, intense anxiety, muscle weakness, and migraines. Coupling this with morning sickness made it almost impossible to eat food, take meds, or function.  This is why I lost over 50lbs through out the course of my pregnancy.

To manage daily Herxing/Fare Reactions:

  • Activated Charcoal /Epsom Salt Baths
    • I would use about 6-10 charcoal tablets (560mg)
    • Along with 4-6 cups of Epson Salts
    • Soaking for an hour or more.
  • Herbal Drops
    • Parsley, Pinella, and Burbur
      • Take 10 drops (each) in purified water every 10 minutes
  • Calming the Child Oils

Nausea Support:

  • I stayed away from Zofran until week 29 of pregnancy, worried about cleft pallets.
  • Diclegis
  • Phenergan
  • Sea Bands
  • Yoga
  • Hypnosis
  • Acupressure
  • Massage
  • Ginger
  • Rubbing Alchol Swatches
  • Herbals
  • You name it…I tried it.

After Birth Lyme Testing

After she was born, the nurse and midwife collected placenta samples as well as cord blood samples. These were sent to IGeneX Lab .  The test kit had been previously ordered through my LLMD and I kept it on hand with me throughout the whole pregnancy. Originally I had been told to expect 6-8 weeks for an answer but 22 DAYS after she was born, I got a call at 3 minutes till noon telling me that my sweet baby girl was LYME FREE!  It was the second best day of my life.

The Hope

I share this because I know the fear I had when I found out what Lyme could mean for my dreams of becoming a mother.  I searched high and low for successful pregnancies.  I was desperate for info, I was desperate for a child, I was desperate for hope.  Please feel free to reach out with questions, share your own stories, etc. Understand as new mother, I may not be the quickest in getting back to you.  But the hope, there is hope.

My Lyme free daughter will be 15 weeks old tomorrow and will be 15 weeks since I experienced 4 blood transfusions that have left me feeling completely symptom free.  I am baffled, excited, and hopeful.  The CDC even suggests dialysis and blood and exchange transfusions for severe Babesiosis patients. Blood work is still coming in, my LLMD is still working on me, but something has changed and healing has begun.  I am excited to share my journey with you.

 

 

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!!!

 

The best worst day of my life: my very Lyme homebirth, part one.

I want to write about this in a way that capture the feeling of these two days, but the emotion is still too raw to share. I can merely recount what happened, from my perspective, over these days.

10/15/15 2:30a

Sharp pressure woke me up. Contractions were nothing new, but this was intense. I was nauseous and tired.

I drank castor oil the night before. My water had broken. I  walked more than 5 hours. I had thrown up anything I ate or drank in the last 12 hours and finally I was 1 stinking centimeter dilated after all that.

Exhausted, I grabbed a pillow, repositioning myself in the child’s pose, hoping to cope and distract myself, I put something on the IPad to watch. I have no recollection of what.

An hour later, the pain and pressure were getting intense. I woke Sam up, I don’t know if it was from moaning or because I woke him up.

Trying a few different positions to cope with pain was nothing new. I had passed multiple kidney stones (sans medication) in the last month and been sicker than I had been in the history of my disease for the last ten.

6:30 am

In the bathtub, listening to Sam talk about being in an ocean (or a ball pit 😂😂😂 ) I remember little but the sound and feel of the water. Sam says I was making noise, lots of noise. At this point Sam called the midwife to let her know that we thought we were in labor. She asked Sam to time the contractions and call her back, she was getting ready and on her way. She had left just 5 hours early to make the 2 hour drive back to her home. I had only been 1 cm only a few hours earlier, after having contractions for days and other labor signs.

8am

I feel a need to push. It is more primal than anything I have felt before in my life. There was no way I could have done anything in that moment other than push. I felt suddenly like I needed to get out of my bathtub. Sam moved me to the couch, worried the baby would hit her head on the floor 😂😂😂😂.

At this point I should say that I have the most incredible, supportive, rock of a man in the world. He was out of his mind with fear and still calm as a cucumber and ready to deliver our daughter on his own.

He called the midwife back and she was on her way, about an hour out. I remember specifically Sam telling me that she was an hour away. This is one detail that rings clear for me. At this point, I willed my body to slow down for the first time the entire pregnancy. I breathed, I pushed, I tried not to.

9am

The midwife arrived.

There had been a few different plans, including delivering at a local hospital, throughout the course of the pregnancy. I would be lying if I said I didn’t WANT a home birth. Sam and I are deeply private people (says the woman with a blog) and have always done things as quietly and simply together as possible. I had fears of interventions among other things. I should have known not to let my fears ever drive a situation or decision. It seemed my body was giving me the labor I wanted when it had so surely denied me the healthy pregnancy experience I craved.

9:05 am

The midwife, Sam and a nurse move me into the birth tub. I remember thinking there is no way I can lift my leg up to my hip to crawl in there. Somehow I did.

Down on all fours, head on Sam’s chest, he sat on the piano stool in front me. The cardinals were pecking at the feeder in the window though we couldn’t see them through the tapestry hung up, diffusing the morning light.

9:26 am

I feel true pain for the first time as Arden crowns. The midwife applies counter pressure and I feel a small tear happen.

9:27am

A moment later, I am flipping over, taking my screaming daughter out of the midwife’s hands. A warm wet towel is placed on top of both of us. She is beautiful. She is bluish pink, pooping, peeing, squalling, perfect baby girl. Sam was in the moment enough to snap 3 or 4 of the most incredible pictures.

It was truly the happiest moment of my life. The most distinct memory is that of her crying and Sam laughing and how incredibly similar and joyful the two sounded.

The joy, adrenaline, and rush of labor were truly euphoric. Calm and warm, holding my child, I delivered the placenta easily and it seemed fully intact. The cord blood drawl began. (Because I have Lyme and co infections I had been on 2400mg of omnicef and 500mg of Zithromax a day for the duration of the pregnancy. The goal was not to pass it through the placenta to Arden. It had felt like an impossible task most days. When I couldn’t keep the meds down, a shot was what awaited me.) after the samples were collected and packaged, the midwife cut the cord, wrapped Arden up, assessed her, weighed her and gave her to Sam to hold while I was examined, showered, and crawled in bed.

Arden on my chest, Sam beside me. The midwife and nurse cleaned up the house, started laundry, checked in on us, took vitals, packaged the blood and placenta samples for Arden’s Lyme test and left about 4 hours after delivery. This time was a blur and really feels like about 60 min. We had called family and told them to come to the house though we didn’t tell them the baby had come. I remember texting my brother, who is a musician in Houston and my best friend to let them know the baby was here.

1:30pm

As we laid together, a family of three. We were high on the joy of birth. It had been an intense but beautiful and powerful experience. It had seemed all to perfect, too quick. We looked at each other and said “why would anyone do this any other way or place?” It was in that moment that God decided to answer us and hemorrhage number one began.

To be continued. (Read Part 2 Here)

My very Lyme pregnancy part 2: a day in the life.

(Read Part 1 Here)

“Wash—blaaaaaa-cough cough-CLOTH.” I manage to get out between heaves.

Was it 2 yet? Had I kept my meds down long enough for them to be effective? 

Shivering, sweating, shaking, voiding everything from my body, it was just another day. It could have as easily been 2pm as 2am. The only way I knew what time it was depended on Sam’s location. If he was home it was the evening. If he was gone it was the day.

Slap! The cold washcloth hits my back as I grasp the trash can in front of me.

“Can I get you anything?”, says a discouraged and sleepy Sam.

Shit, I woke him up again.  I need anything to make me stop vomiting, shaking, dry heaving.

“Can you load something and start the bath?” I ask in between gags, gasps, gurgles.

An hour later, body warmed and calmed, the dry heaving over, the shaking subsiding, it is time for meds round two.

“You should really try to eat something. You haven’t kept food down in at least 12 hours or so.”

Fine. I attempt some saltines and ginger ale. It’s a crap shoot. Sam’s attempt to make sure he doesn’t find me passed out on the floor when he gets home for lunch.

~~~~~~

I had gone in a family medical leave of absence a few days before. There was no point. I could barely get out of bed by myself and had long ago run through my time off.

Was it Lyme? Babesia? Bartonella? Morning sickness? Who the hell knew.

I began an epic few months of seeking distraction from my body and a connection to my baby.  I would lay motionless for hours, trying hypnosis, meditation, acupressure, massage, yoga, meds. Name it and I tried it, desperate to carry this pregnancy to term.

Early on, I read that morning sickness had been linked (in one study) to women who had disease or toxicity in their body that could harm their fetus. The researches surmised that the morning sickness was the body’s way of ridding itself of anything harmful to the baby.  As unconfirmed as it was, I held onto this idea in my moments of deepest despair and frustration, praying that this was the thing  protecting her from this insidious disease. (I was watching my sister begin PICC line antibiotic treatment for her own disease).

Each day was a battle to get down at least 1/2 of my necessary medicine and as many calories as possible.  After I threw up the one thing I could eat from each restaurant in our incredibly small town, this became even more difficult.

Now, there were some good days; almost 3 weeks worth of days I was able to make it out of the house, to sit outside, or see a friend or sibling. Those days were magic. There were even 4 days were I attempted to start the school year before suffering an epic crash that started the kidney stone gauntlet!!!!

All in all, over my 9th month of pregnancy I passed almost 20 kidney stones (7 in one week). For the stone the size of a pinky nail, I had to go to the hospital to get IVs. I hadn’t kept fluids down in more than 24 hours from the pain.

As my due date drew closer, I got more and more excited. I expected her every day! The Braxton hicks started regularly at week 36 and continued every day until I delivered. My stamina was quickly wearing out.

I was so thankful for this pregnancy but had never been more exhausted and sick in my life.

Let the labor dance began! Dance I did. Every day I danced. I danced to The Roots (favorite); I danced to The Avett Brothers;  I danced to old school hip hop! Come on baby!!! Famished, I would only make it for a minute or two at a time, collapsing happy for a stronger a contraction and literally willing her here with every fiber of my being, hoping desperately I would not be sick once she was born.

I stayed on antibiotics throughout the course of the pregnancy in hopes of keeping the Lyme from passing to Arden. I was so sick I wasn’t thinking clearly.  But we made it we made it to due date and then we made it pass the due date.

I was beyond ready (as any 41 week pregnant woman can attest to).

I am a coward. Why I hate Facebook and being friends with my students. Or “F*** you Caitlyn Jenner, you lucky B****!” 

Spend 10 minutes on anything related to social media and you will inevitably end up seeing someone being mocked, serially lying, and/or berating others for not sharing their world view.

Where did our humanity go?

Are we all that scared of someone finding out our secret?

When Caitlyn Jenner, first made public her transition, I watched, curious. To me it wasn’t a matter of gender; it was a desire to live as who she felt she was.  It was to stop living in personal judgement of herself.

After watching, what I am left with is a deep sense of sadness for those who cannot or feel they cannot live out their true selves.

Now…call the waaambulance because here it goes.

I am an incredibly irreverent person.  I, however, am facebook friends with such a WIDE range of people, students, family members, etc. that to put myself out there in any “true” since would lead to stigmatization.

When I saw Caitlyn putting herself out there, when I see others who aren’t afraid to let their freak flag fly,  I applaud them!

I stand up and applaud!

I am deep green with envy.

The deficit is certainly in me.  I care what others think.  The cost is just too high.

 

Ropes of Reality

Today I am alive.

I remember a moment, just 90 days ago now, as everything was going dark, feeling so selfish and not knowing why, seeing Arden’s face, hearing Sam’s voice.

These ropes of reality are the anchors that pulled me back from the brink, drove the warm dark back from the edges of my conscience, and grounds me now.

I may be tethered, I may be chained, but my own living bound me to this earth first.

Today I am alive.  Today I chose life.   Today I am not dead.  I am bound by the ropes of my reality and I am I alive.

Why I am Facebook friends with my students. 

There is a reason why we are told to keep our personal and private lives separate; we need look no further than Hillary Clinton for an example of work/personal technology gone awry.  The public is opinionated, angry, and ignorant. This lethal combo is destroying our ability to communicate in an ethical and authentic way.

My first professional job was working for WVU and supervising both student and regular employees. In my experience, inappropriate use of social media led to more terminations than any other reason (with social justice issues following for a close 2nd).

I spent a couple years in the mental health field after that before transitioning back to the classroom. At first, I refused to add students. I told them, when you graduate and I stuck to my guns the first year.  After spending more lessons than I care to remember discussing professionalism, appropriateness, and audience, it dawned on me…”why am I telling them this. I should be showing them.”

It was then I decided to allow the requests  I had received.

With the exception of a couple months spent overseas, I have lived the duration of my life within 3 distinct regions of Appalachia.  This place has a life and characteristics all of its own.  I LOVE my “home among the hills,” don’t get me wrong, but amidst these incredibly brave, hardworking, imaginative people is the demon of poverty and it has wrecked our lives.  Many of my students are the age their parents had been when they had them. Most of my student have parents or grandparents who both work multiple jobs to support them; those that don’t, are often left to their own devices to survive.

In this kind of environment, who is there to role model appropriate behavior?

I am NOT judging parents for working. I am soon to be a working mother myself.

What I am saying is that our students are now learning how to be adults both in the classroom and online.

If we aren’t there to participate in the conversation, how will they know to grow?

To be continued…

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.

Screw it; hand me the can of sauce. 

I am trying to cook again.  I used to be amazing.  For a year my husband and I moved to the woods, had a garden (indoor and out), cooked everything from scratch, lived so clean. It was an incredible learning experience; we lived without power for 2 weeks during the winter, survived hurricane Sandy, and 5 emergency runs to the hospital over an hour away.  Turns out the the wonderful cabin in the woods had some mold.

Yesterday, I found an awesome recipe for pasta sauce.  Fresh basil, garlic, puréed tomatoes and capers rounded off a list of ingredients that made my mouth water. I had every intention of making the whole thing start to finish, but the call of the can was just too damn strong. 

Right now, I am still in a sleep shirt, watching reality tv, while Arden naps in my arms and dinner cooks in the crock pot. 

Should I feel bad? Maybe. But right now I don’t. Should I be learning a language to teach my child? Probably.  But right now, Tim Gunn is just so comforting.  Am I going to be the parent who’s child’s first words are “make it work”?  At least it’s   better than my original fear of it being di** or f***.  

Three months into this parenting thing, I am, in some  ways, the woman I want my daughter to become, but in many more ways I am not. Somedays, I will drive myself crazy obsessing over my failings and end up painting pastel a bunch of s*** to make my life look better….but it won’t be today.   Today I refuse to be that beautiful cabin in the woods, decaying underneath.  I acknowledge the fact that I have room to improve.

One day I will be back to cooking from scratch while speaking French to Arden and wearing Christian Siriano.   

Today I am visible mold. I’m canned spaghetti sauce, trash tv, and pjs.