Working mom woes

My hat is off to you my friends, my comrades, my partners in crime, those of us who will be perpetually tired and never reach the end of our list.

We make it look easy, even when every muscle is crying for sleep, engagement, relief. 

We work. At home, in jobs, both, neither, it doesn’t matter. 

We work. We, women, win.

Tomorrow is Wednesday.

Thank the universe. 

My hat is off to each of you…Making it work, as only you can. 

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).

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.

My very Lyme Pregnancy, part 1: the good news

When I was first re-diagnosed with lyme in 2011, I remember feeling this crushing sense of thinking I would never have a child. Five years later, as I hold my daughter, I am amazed that I have made it this far.

My Lyme journey began with that tell-tale sign of a bullseye rash in 2002. My doctor gave me 100mg of doxycycline for one week. I took it as prescribed but didn’t take the diagnosis seriously, even though Lyme had recently killed the nephew of an acquaintance in Colorado. Besides that there wasn’t Lyme on the east coast. I knew that, my doctor new that, everyone knew that. Duh.

Over the next few years, my health began to rapidly decline. Eventually I found myself in the hospital, without insurance, sicker than I had ever been in my life, with doctors confounded, and a positive Lyme test.

Fast forward a few years to January 2015. Work was incredibly stressful and I was facing some issues with students (I was teaching 10th grade English) as well as battling my own disease. While my period was late, that wasn’t abnormal. Hormones had been drastically affected by the Lyme itself and the added stress of 160+ papers, parents, and life made a late period seem normal.

February 4, 2015 I woke up famished with super sore breasts, downed a sleeve of crackers, and thought something is not quiet right. The night before, my husband and I had gone grocery shopping and on our 30 minute drive home, the song “Closing Time” came on the radio. We talked wishfully about what life would be like when we had a child.

My husband was in the shower, preparing for the work day as I slipped into the bathroom to take a pregnancy test. I had a pregnancy scare a couple months prior while I was dealing with a bout of shingles 😁, so the left over pregnancy tests were fresh in my memory. The first one read positive; it couldn’t be. I did a second test to confirm before opening the shower door and just blurting out to Sam “I am pregnant!”

As tears and water rolled down his face, I shook with excitement! I felt good! I could do this! I had recently read about pregnant Lyme patients experiencing symptom reversal during pregnancy and I was so excited at the thought of feeling really healthy and having a great pregnancy! Still, apprehensive about the increased risk for miscarriage, we tried to keep it quiet.

The next day was a snow day which enabled us to get a blood test to confirm our surprise! My gynecologist, who worked with my Lyme doctor (LLMD), had recently stopped delivering babies, so I sent out an email blast to the midwife organization in our state and started the search for a provider who would work with my LLMD. By February 8th, I had met and made a connection with a midwife and made an appointment with my LLMD.

So excited to tell our families, we decided to wait until after I had talked to my LLMD. February 10th, I went to the doctor who immediately knocked the wind out of me by his brutally honest assessment of the case.

While there was little that could be done in the next 9 months, our focus would be sustaining a pregnancy and not passing Lyme, Babesia, or Bartonella on to our child.

The next two weeks were filled with excitement, exhaustion, and slowly more and more morning sickness. Determined to make it through, I pushed and pushed until I made it to twelve weeks. At this point, I had already lost 30 pounds and was unable to keep down any necessary medication. With no positive changes to the morning sickness and the addition of daily herxing, (sometimes as many as 4 or 5 times a day) I decided to take FMLA and focus on the pregnancy.

This was my miracle, my time, and I was not going to let anyone take it away from me.

Little did I know, the battle had just begun…. To be continued.

Read Part 2 Here.