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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Stroke Deficits

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas (if you celebrate) and were able to have some fun and get some relaxation in. I had a great Christmas, spent with DH, the two boys, and my parents. It was fun and enjoyable, and pretty much stress-free (though having to give Evan two time-outs on Christmas day wasn't a highlight!) .

It's been about 2.5 months since my stroke. I noticed a lot of improvements until my surgery two weeks ago, then that week was pretty awful. It was like I was regressing. Thankfully, the doctor warned us that might happen, and things started to get back on track and things have been going rather well in the last week or so.  I feel stronger, more energetic, and just more "together" in general. That being said, there are still several deficits I'm dealing with:

- Lower right quadrant field cut in my eyesight
- Speech issues (minor, but I notice it, especially when I'm tired)
- Fine motor skills with my right hand (like typing)
- Spelling in written communication
- Feeling foggy (comparable to when you're over-tired)
- Multi-tasking
- Issues with orientation (for example: figuring which way to orient a sock to get it on straight)
- Issues reading and/or writing numbers (especially on the computer)
- Easily frustrated, especially with the kids.

It will be interesting to see how these deficits evolve over the next few weeks and months, or if new ones appear. The doctors said full recovery would take 6-12 months, but it could be a life-time in the making.

The good thing is I'm feeling more like myself, and more confident that I will be able to live a "normal" life. Here's hoping all the worst is behind us now, and that things keep improving from here on out.

Monday, December 23, 2013

11 Weeks

Carter has been with us for 11 weeks now! It's amazing how much he's grown and changed already! I forgot how fast babies change!

- At his 2 month check up, all his measurements were around the 93rd percentile! Such a big boy!
- We've had to break out the 3-6 month sleepers already!
- He's sleeping better at night. Usually 5-6 hour stretches, but has graced us with 8 hour stretches a couple of times. We're hoping it keeps getting better, because we sure like our sleep!
- He usually has 2-3 good naps during the day, but they seem to be at random times still. So, he hasn't put himself on a schedule yet.
- He's having so much more active wakeful time now! He loves when we talk to him and read him books.
- He gives lots of smiles, especially when we're interacting with him! He gives this shy smile that's just so cute.
- He's found the TV a few times, but doesn't watch for long.
- He loves watching Evan and DH play!
- He likes sitting at the table with us when we're eating.
- He's so strong and can hold his head up well.
- He gets so angry when he's hungry! I think he might have a temper ;)
- He has found his hands and loves to chew on them (and his arms too).

Looking forward to what the next few weeks will bring!

Thanks to my friend Amy for this amazing photo!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Enough!

Okay, I had my surgery on Monday and all went well. I was even home the next day, so yippee! Horrray! Everything is amazing!!! I feel perfect, and everything is bliss and wonderful!! La! La! La!

So...not...if you can't read sarcasm in that. I'm so done with all of this. Enough already. I wave my white flag.

I think I've had a pretty good attitude through all of this, but I'm just done. I'm going to say it: this is just not fair. This stuff doesn't happen to me. It's something you read about and be glad it's not you or a loved one.

And now, at the so-called "end", I'm sitting at the kitchen table in a complete fog, with a hugely swollen face (looking like I just finished a few rounds in the ring), and not having any energy to interact with my family.

This plain just sucks.

/end pity party for now

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Next Stage

The next big step in my recover from my stroke is to have surgery to get my bone flap put back in (the part of my skull that was removed in order to gain access to my brain to remove the bleed).

Tentatively, this surgery is scheduled for this coming Monday (Dec. 16th)! Ack! This came on rather suddenly at my appointment with the neurosurgeon on Dec. 6th. I was under the impression it would be done in January sometime, so doing it so soon was a bit of a shock.

And, as weird as it might sound, I'm not actually too nervous about the surgery itself, but about the hospital stay afterwards (which is only supposed to be 1-2 days (!! )). This is mostly because of my experience in the hospital after my last surgery. I did not write about that experience, but it was not a positive one. I remember feeling like I was treated like a child by the staff. I distinctly remember one of the nurses spoon feeding me (when I could feed myself), telling all my visitors about my..um...washroom business, and generally having no dignity or privacy. I get angry even thinking about it now. Yes, I was a stroke patient, but I was also a person, and didn't feel like I was treated with respect. I also felt ignored by many people, especially the doctors and specialists who seemed to stream in and out of the room and were only giving/getting information to/from my husband or other family members. I felt invisible.

I am much stronger now than I was then, but I find myself pre-emptively getting my back up about this hospital stay. I'll be dammed if I don't have a voice this time! I've been envisioning how I'm gong to be telling people exactly just how  things are going to go and when. Thankfully, after talking to my social worker, I've realized that might not be the best attitude to go into this with! Yes, I still want to make sure I use my voice if there is something that feels wrong or I'm uncomfortable with, but I don't plan on telling people off the whole time like I imagine!

Hopefully all will go well, and a few days later I'll be home with a normal shaped head. Wish me luck!

As an aside, I've been trying to find something to buy myself to commemorate this time in my life. I was thinking something like this neuron necklace:  If you have any ideas, please leave them in the comments!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It's DONE! Well, stroke-done.

I started Carter's baby blanket in April and just finished this past weekend. My goal was to finish it before he was born, but with all that has happened, I figure I get a pass.


Fig. 1: The "complete" blanket

Unfortunately, it's not as nice as it could have been if I didn't try to finish it a week after my stroke (and then stopped and started again once I knew what I was doing). So, there is now a physical reminder in the blanket which will be forever known as the stroke line.

Fig. 2: The "stroke line" is clearly visibly  near the top.

Oh well... at least the end user is still happy with the product.

 Fig. 3: Carter snuggled in the mommy-made blanket.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

An Award

Today I received an Outreach Award for my efforts over  the last two years! It is nice that my work is being recognized, and that people see the value in education and outreach :)

The nicer thing was seeing so many people that I worked with and receiving so many warm greetings and hugs.  It's nice to know so many people are following how I'm doing and that they care so much. It's nice to feel loved and supported :)

Many people told me today that they have been reading my blog - so welcome to all my new readers! Please feel free to leave comments!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

This Is Me

Fig. 1: Minutes after Carter was born during a home water birth.

Fig. 2: Happy morning with both kids a couple days after Carter was born.

Fig. 3: Cuddles with Carter a few days after my surgery. They shaved the left side of my hair to remove essentially the left portion of my skull from the crown of my head to my ear. You can see the staples along the top of my head. 

Fig. 4: a better look at the staples.  Those were taken our the day  I was discharged from the hospital and went to the rehab centre. 


Fig. 5: Posing with Evan at his 3rd birthday celebration at home (Nov. 2)! You can see how my head is misshapen on the left side (closer to Evan) above the ear (that's from the swelling of my brain, which is going down). My head will look normal after they replace the skull on that side - we'll hopefully find out soon when that surgery will be done. 

Fig. 6: cuddles with Carter at home!! Isn't my new hairstyle the best (I find it hard looking at myself now)? I'm looking forward to having my long hair back (so is Evan, who uses it like a security blanket). 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Chills

The time between going into the ER and a couple days after my brain surgery is basically gone from my memory, except for flashes. During that time, I  was mostly unaware of what was going on and unresponsive when anyone tried to speak to me (or so I'm told, but I can't say for sure).

One lucid moment often flashes in my memory and gives me the chills: at one point, I don't know when or where, someone asked me if I wanted them to do "all they could do" -- not explaining any further, but the implications were clear.  They then asked me if there was anyone else I wanted involved in that decision, and I distinctly remember answering "yes, my husband."

This coupled with  (later filled in by family members):

- The doctors would only consider surgery if the situation became dire
- The brain surgeons told DH I has an 85% chance of making it
- Each of my family members and lots of others have told me I'm lucky to be here

I really put all of this together my first weekend home (Nov. 2), and finally realized that I very well could have died. DIED. That reality and the implications keep hitting me now and then, and I'm sure will continue to do so for some time. Sometimes it's scary as hell, and other times just makes me feel thankful.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Growing Up

There have been so many changes in Evan lately - he is no longer a toddler and definitely a little boy.

Watching him play independently is amazing - he uses voices, sound effects, comes up with crazy scenarios, wants us to "watch him" or "look at this!".

Playing with him is even more fun. The other day, we were playing with his cars, and making them jump over barriers, and getting them to bash into each other, and getting them to race. It was like I got to play like a little boy too . Watching him and DH play is hilarious. They just have so much fun together, and I love seeing them rough-house, laughing hysterically, and just being boys together. I cant wait until Carter gets in the mix too!

His sense of humour is developing. I love seeing him laugh when he sees something funny on TV or something - it's so cool that he gets verbal humour! It's also awesome when he says/does something funny on purpose  - like when he changes the words of a story, or makes "mommy's angry face"! LOL!

Some of the things he says and does just makes me realize he's getting older.

- He can get undressed and dressed all by himself
- He can go to the bathroom by himself (don't worry, I won't get int potty training details here!)
- Sometimes when we ask him to do something is he says "um, just a minute, I'm busy"
- He loves to negotiate, and always starts with "Well, how about...?" (with the "well" dragged out super long). 
- He's a big fan of playing games on the iPad
- He loves helping with adult chores - like shovelling the driveway, putting away laundry, and raking leaves 
- Recent conversation after him seeing a commercial for a certain toy:

"Mom, I want that"
"Well, maybe Santa will bring it for you"
"But, we can just go to the toy store and buy it"
"We can't just spend money anytime you want something"
"But, it's okay, I have money" (he goes to DH's bowl where he keeps his keys and change and grabs the coins) "see? Now I have money. Let's go to the toy store"
"Evan, they might not have it there"
"Well, we can just go to another store."
Sigh!!

And my favourite: he tells me and DH he loves us just randomly :)

He has an amazing memory. He remembers that I broke a latch on a container that holds a set of his blocks when he was about a year old! He's also really good at playing memory with cards (he's way better than I am!

I think that it's awesome he tells me about his day when he gets home, and that we can have extended conversations.


Evan being pretty happy with himself after getting dressed for daycare on his own :)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Losses and Gains

My stroke has take things away from me (some I'll never get back and others might come back):

- The first month of Carter's life. I'm trying to make up for lost time now, but I won't get that time back ever.
-The breastfeeding relationship we started to develop the first week of his life. That is gone forever, and is a huge disappointment for me given that I wasn't able to have one with Evan either (and even though I know it's okay, and both boys will be fine, but it was always something that was very important to me).
-A month of Evan's childhood, where he seems to be changing a lot and turning more and more into a little boy.
- The first Thanksgiving as a family of four.
- Parts of me - the thing I notice the most is I can't remember when I really laughed the last time. Right now I call myself "stroke Alyssa". Will I ever be "before stroke Alyssa" again, or just someone different?

Are there gains? Sure.

- My relationship with DH has strengthened - it's amazing that a tragic event can make that happen.
- I appreciate our families so much, and how life is easier and better when they're close by.
- There are so many wonderful people out there willing to help, even if you're not close with them.
- Accepting and asking for help is a skill I need to work on :)
- I have more of an appreciation of how lucky I am to even be here right now.
- More interest in how the brain works, the causes and effects of strokes, and  just wanting to know more.
- Wanting to become and advocate for or somehow help other stroke sufferers.

PS: I'm really considering writing a story/book about this experience. That seems really daunting though.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Oh yeah...

...this is why we were on the fence about having another child.

The Newborn Phase

Don't get me wrong...I love Carter, he's cute, and wonderful, and *insert all the other love-y stuff I'm supposed to say here*

But O.M.G.

The constant cycle of diapers, feeding, calming, getting him to sleep...the crying, the middle of the night everything. Yikes.

I know I should enjoy him in the moment, and every phase is a great phase..blah, blah, blah...but I find myself longing for the days when he will be a little older - 5-6 months? 1-2 years? If that makes me a bad mom, then so be it. I for one, think these feelings and thoughts are totally normal and totally warranted given what a lifestyle change it all means! I can't be the only one...in fact, I know I felt the same way when Evan was a newborn too.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Typing


One of the most challenging tasks for me right now is typing. I think it's because it involves fine motor skills on both side and verbal communication - combining both cognitive and physical abilities. It's frustrating that I can't do it nearly as fast as I once could  - those darn "o's" and "p's" are tough sometimes (that little pinky on the right side needs more practice) - but I  have already seen an improvement. Even a week ago, it was a lot harder for me to type. What's good (in my mind) is that it's the physical that needs to catch up to my mind - what I want to say is there in my brain already. I don't seem to have issue coming up with thoughts and the words to express those thoughts. I guess as a scientist, I tend to value my cognitive abilities more. So, if there's a mistake on my blog, just assume it's because I can't type well ;)

As with everything with my recovery, it's just one day at a time. Somethings have improved much faster than others. My general physical ability  recovered fairly quickly. Things that take concentration are a bit slower to come back (like typing and knitting). But, what's awesome is that I'm doing them anyway!

 I try to find things everyday to be thankful for, and to enjoy life as much as possible right now. This might not be my idea life right now, but it's my life now, and it is what it is. Luckily, I have lots to be thankful for to hep get me through my days and the frustrating times. 

PS: The reason I keep writing about this is so people get some sort of insight into what it's like to be recovering from a stroke, especially since it's so common (even though my particular experience is extremely rare)... and really just for my own records. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Six weeks with Carter

Today, Carter had his last check-up with the midwife. He is six weeks old now. He was born at 8lbs 12oz, 51cm long, and a head circumference of 35.5cm. At 6 weeks, his is 12lbs (80th percentile), 61.5cm long (95th percentile), and a head circumference of 40cm. He's growing ver well, and is bigger than Evan was at the same age -- and we thought Evan was a big baby!

He's doing so well! Eating like a champ, but not  breastfeeding (due to hopefully obvious reasons - I figure having a stroke and brain surgery is reason enough). Look, I'm already in mom-guilt world! It's too bad, since things in that regard started off really well this tim around, but what can you do? I think we made the right decision in the end, considering the circumstances. He'll still grow up to be a strong and smart boy, I'm sure!
Here are some of the first "milestones" he's reached:
- making eye contact
- tracking objects with his eyes
- moving his head toward sounds
- starting to "cool"
- we've even seen a few smiles (not just due to gas)
- he had good head control so far
- hates tummy time and baths, just like his brother :)
- Loves his swing!




Realization

Earlier this week, I remembered that I could not read the clock in my room at the hospital. This was scary for me. Afterall, that is a fairly simple thing to do at age 34. What was most scary for me is that I started wondering were there other things I thought I could do and couldn't - either at that same time, or since then? Are there things now that I think I can do, but can't?

A similar thing happened when I was working with an occupational therapist and had a hard time adding two numbers together - another task that should be simple, and something that would have been easy for me before the stroke. At the time, I had to check and re-check my adding until I got it right. I started crying then because it was such a simple task and I had problems with it.

With these experiences, I now find I second guess myself a  lot - am I doing a task correctly? did I really hear that sound or see that? Am I remember correctly? Did I say that right? It's messed up, and screws with my mind. The other day, I made a meal I've made 100 times and I forced myself to read and re-ready the recipe so that I could get it right. Even then, I still checked and re-checked. The same goes when I type a short email or Facebook update - I constantly check to make sure everything is right so I don't look like a fool (yes I do the same here, so don't mentioned any typos to me, please!).

It's messed up, and screws with my mind. Yes -- my mind is screwing with my mind. How messed up is that?


Monday, November 18, 2013

Road to Recovery

The bleed in my brain occurred on October 14th, just over one week since Carter was born. Surgery was performed on my brain to remove the bleed in order to reduce the pressure on my brain. They also removed about half my skull - taking off what's called the left bone flap. That will be replaced in another surgery in the next couple of months. I will also have another CT scan performed to check if the vessels in my brain are changing for the better (that will be on Dec. 16th).

I was discharged from the hospital and transferred to a stroke rehabilitation centre on October 29th. I did very well there - strengthening both my physical and cognitive abilities. Thankfully, much of those had been regaining since the surgery already, and I had a strong base to work with already. While there, I even managed to write and submit an application to teacher's college (which I've been hoping to do for years!).

Just over two weeks later, I was discharged from the rehab centre, and I came home on November 13th. The transition to being at home will take a lot of work and energy - especially figuring out how to care for two kids and myself, and do everything else we need to do to run a household! My in-laws are still here, which is helping a lot. I will also be getting some in-home therapists visit to assess how I'm doing.

One thing I've realized through all of this is I want to learn more and more about the causes and effects of stroke. I hope to become an advocate somehow for others who have suffered from a stroke - need to think on this more. If anyone has any recommendations on where I can learn more (I have started reading My Stroke of Insight that Cath recommended in the last post).

Though it sounds minor, the one thing that has bothered me the most is my ability to hear has decreased. The surgeons said it should have nothing to do with the surgery, and all the other doctors have basically ignored it and have said it'll just come back. It's annoying enough that I'm going to try and see an audiologist. Not being able to hear is a big problem, and is also very isolating. Hopefully I can get it fixed one way or another.

The next few weeks mean a lot of follow-up appointments with specialists who worked on my case, and getting assessed and re-assessed.  I hope to update more!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Brain Bleed

Well things have kind of hit the fan since Carter was born.

About a week after he was born, my midwife was over to do a check up, and I had a sudden headache right in the middle of my forehead and my blood pressure shot way up. I went to the ER, and it turns out I had a bleed in my brain, so they had to do brain surgery, I’ve been in the hospital ever since.

My condition is called postpartum Vasculopathy - basically a constriction or deformation of the blood vessels in my brain. It is related to pregnancy,and is expected to correct itself within 3 months of the birth.

I lost some physical and mental functions – mostly fine motor skills (on the right side) and some memory issues. Right now I’m at a stroke rehab centre in town, and am working with all kinds of people (physical therapist, occupational therapists, social workers, speed therapist, etc, etc.).

It’s all been a blur, and very weird sometimes,

Luckily, it seems I’m recovering well (though sometimes it doesn’t fee like it to me. I get frustrated when I can’t do things as easily as  I used to – like reading, talking (!) and typing for example.)

Thankfully I get to see the kids and DH, and I even get to do home visits now. Just last weekend we finally got to celebrate Evan’s 3rd birthday.


We are very lucky that both sets of grandparents were able to come out to help, and DH’s parents and my mom are all still here. Its been amazing having so much support and help , especially knowing the kids are well taken care of.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Family of Four

Baby #2 - Carter - was born on Tuesday, October 8th, at 2:10pm. I ended up getting the home water birth I wanted (will write more about this later), and Carter was born after 3 hours of active labour. He weighed in at 8lbs and 12oz, and is 20" long.



We're all doing great so far, and he's breastfeeding like a champ! 

Evan is doing okay, though not quite sure what to make of the situation yet. On the other hand, it's really nice to have him around to distract from the newborn craziness. 

Tired as heck though, so don't expect too much action around here in the near future. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Pile It On

Life loves to just pile things on, right? 

This weekend, Evan started feeling worse again, after doing better for a couple days after some sort of flu bug. We ended up taking him to the doctor yesterday and found out he has a minor case of pneumonia. We go the antibiotics, gave him a dose, and then noticed he had some hives at bedtime. They didn't seem to be bothering him, but they were worse this morning. So, back to the doctor today to get something else. 

At least his fever is down today, he seems to have a bit more energy, and his appetite has increased - so that's all good. 

Now I'm hoping Jelly Bean stays in there at least a few more days so this whole thing blows over. Thanksgiving baby, maybe? (Canadian, not American!!!)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

My Mistake

Alright, so I never should have predicted or told anyone I thought baby #2 might come early like Evan did. Now, even though I'm still just over 38 weeks (which is completely normal), people keep asking me if I've had the baby yet and act like I'm super overdue.

Trust me - being pretty much a social media junkie, coupled with the fact that I cannot wait to get this kid out of me, you will know when the baby has come.

So, feel free to check this link for updates unless I post otherwise. 


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

5 Year Blogoversary!

It was recently my 5-year blogoversary! September 27th, 2008, was the date of my first post here, back when the blog was known as Mrs. Comet Hunter. Back then, I wrote mostly about my trials and tribulations as a very disgruntled PhD student. Through the years, this blog has morphed along with my life, and is now mostly about my family and other things I feel passionate about. I think my reader-base has morphed along with the changes too --- is there anyone out there that has been reading since the beginning?

I'm not sure where this blog will go in the future, but the cool thing is I still enjoy the writing, and I definitely love the corner of the blogosphere community that I have connected with because of it. 

To all of you out there - thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Cherry on Top

To add to all the emotions and anxiety I'm feeling right now, Evan has come down with some sort of stomach bug/fever thing. Life just loves to do this kind of thing, doesn't it? I'm just hoping that a) I don't get sick, and b) Jelly Bean doesn't come in the next few days so this virus can run its course through the house before he arrives.

The good news is that baby #2 will come THIS MONTH, as I'll be 42 weeks on the 31st (guaranteed induction date - if not before).

Monday, September 30, 2013

Angry Phase?

Not sure if this is normal, but I've gotten into an angry pregnant-lady phase. In fact, I would say I've been way more angry than weepy with this pregnancy in general. People annoy me easily, and I tend to get frustrated and fly off the handle more quickly than usual. 

This past weekend, I was so angry that I was still pregnant! I was seriously contemplating calling my midwife to schedule a C-section. Kudos to any woman who has been pregnant over 37 weeks, because this is just killing me. I want this kid out...NOW. 

Yesterday afternoon, though, I realized that I just need to take things day by day and try not to let my anger get the best of me. After all, I'm really lucky that I could take the opportunity to go on maternity leave relatively early and have time to relax before baby arrives. So, I'm trying to focus on enjoying these last few days/weeks before we're a family of four (ack!).

One thing that adds to my anxiety is I keep thinking about the possibility of a still birth. I know that my fear is unfounded and that it's incredibly unlikely, but I know a few people who've had to go through this terrible, heartbreaking experience, and I just can't untangle myself from the thought of it right now. So, I just want Jelly Bean to be out, to be healthy, and to be safe.

This post seems random and blathering - sorry about that! My guess is that will be a running theme over the next while as I wait for baby.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Full Term - Now Get Out!

Today marks 37 weeks, which means Jelly Bean is now full-term! I'm not sure which of the three interventions (or combination thereof), if any, worked the magic, but I'm so happy to be at this point. 

Now, though, I'm definitely ready to meet baby. I've been pregnant for 2.5 weeks longer than with Evan, so even though I'm only 37 weeks, I feel like I'm overdue. That being said, I know the longer baby is in there, the better it is for him. I'm still hoping for a September baby, while DH thinks he'll arrive early October.

We are all ready for a home birth, as long as there are no complications (of which there are none right now - the pregnancy is considered very low risk at this point). Maybe at some point I'll write about how we came to this decision, but right now I want to avoid judgements/questions/etc. and keep our positive attitude about things.

So, now it's just a waiting game. Regardless of how long it takes, we're very excited to meet baby #2!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday Madness

This is one of Evan's favorite things to do in the backyard lately:




Friday, September 20, 2013

At Least I'm Not Alone

Man, knitting baby blankets might be the most boring thing ever. I'm not alone in my feelings either --- even professional knitters find it boring. Good thing baby blankets are amazing things in the end, or it wouldn't be worth it!

I started this blanket back in April, and I still have four pattern repeats plus the border to do. I'm hoping to get it done before Jelly Bean arrives, but not sure how likely that is. Hopefully he's not waiting for it to be finished before making his debut.

 Fig. 1: The never-ending baby blanket (pattern - Sunny Baby Blanket)


To make myself feel better, I've knitting another hat for CLICK for Babies, and also a hat to get Jelly Bean ready for football when he finally arrives.

 Fig. 2: Football baby hat (based on this pattern).

I realize this isn't helping in finishing the baby blanket, but at least I'm finishing SOMETHING!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What's Next

I mentioned in my last post that there were still some work-related issues that were left unresolved. Basically, because of funding issues, it doesn't sound promising that I will have a job to go back to next summer when my maternity leave is over. A replacement was not hired for my position, and I was only on contract until March 31st, 2014 (so no, my employer is not obligated to have my job - or equivalent - waiting for my return). Me being a planner means that I will go into the next year assuming I don't have a job. 

I really enjoyed it for the most part, and it was exactly what I wanted to do after I finished my PhD. My favorite parts of the job were working with the K-12 students, learning more about education theory and practice, and creating new activities, presentations, and programming for students and the public. I think I was able to accomplish a lot during my 2+ years in the position, and I was also able to develop some new skills. 

So, what's next? 

Ideally, it would be great to stay in the education and outreach world, but the jobs in that area are really few and far between - especially when limited to staying local. I'll keep my eye out, but here are some other ideas dancing through my head right now:

1. Teachers College: I know teaching jobs are incredibly hard to come by right now, but this has been something I've been wanting to do for years. 2014 is the last year the local program will be only 1-year (well, 8 months, actually), so it would be a good time to FINALLY do it.  
Pros: something I've wanted to do for years, so my interest/passion is clearly there; getting a teaching job means great pay, benefits, and vacation time. 
Cons: 8 months of no work (read: no paycheck) and paying tuition on top of that; could take years to get a permanent position.

2. Not-For-Profit: I would love to take my skills in volunteer management and event organization into the not-for-profit sector. It would be wonderful to be more involved in the local community, and working with projects that are important to me. 
Pros: meaningful work; getting into a sector with more mobility; working with like-minded, passionate people.  
Cons: switching sectors can be difficult; jobs tend to be short term in nature; would probably mean a pay-cut.

3. Doula: Going through my own pregnancy and birth experience(s), and hearing those of others, really makes me consider becoming a licensed doula. Educating women about their birthing choices, and acting as an advocate for them during a very intense moment in their lives could satisfy both my need to help people and my interest in women's rights.  
Pros: amazing, rewarding work; certification can be done in a short-ish amount of time with relatively low expense; would be my own boss; gets me into medical world without huge amount of additional schooling; scheduling flexibility (can choose how many clients to take on, etc.).
Cons: would be my own boss (a bit daunting!); unsure of demand in the area (need to do research on this); always on-call.

4. Midwife: Similar reasoning to #3, but this would require 4 years of schooling minimum. If we didn't have to worry about money, and lived in a city where a program was offered, this might be my top choice. Unfortunately, those are two HUGE strikes against this option, and I don't think I can put my own wants above those of my family for such a long time. Perhaps #3 could lead into #4 in the future though?

Thankfully the timing of all of this works out nicely so that I have about a year to do some research and make some decisions, while getting paid through maternity and parental benefits. I will definitely submit an application to teacher's college for 2014, and then can make the decision whether to go or not later (so at least I have that door open). I also would like to do some volunteer work during my maternity leave to create more contacts in the not-for-profit sector. 

Seems like I'm writing these posts every couple of years. I'm more excited than nervous this time around though - I feel very blessed that I'm in the position to have the opportunity to switch gears and do something different again.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Last Day

Yesterday was my last day of work. It's a bit surreal. I don't think it's actually sunk in yet that I don't have anything to do next week...or anything I'm obligated to do, anyway. It's a lot different than last time when Evan came before my maternity leave was to start. Most things were wrapped up nicely, though there are some job-related issues that are still up in the air (more on this soon).

Nothing like leaving to feel acknowledged and loved, though! My office-mate planned a going-away lunch, which was attended by about 20 staff and students. A group of them even got together and had one of their mom's sew me a beautiful, space-themed, blanket for Jelly Bean. One of my bosses said some very nice words about me at the first planetary science gathering of the year, which was followed by audience applause. I had multiple drop-ins to my office, lots of hugs, and another nice gift from a group of ladies working down the hall from me. All in all, it was a very nice send-off.

Now, I really hope to have at least a week or two to just relax at home, make up a bunch of meals to freeze, and get ready for Jelly Bean to arrive. 

Evan will be starting part-time at his daycare - going three days a week and being home with me the other two days. Honestly, I'm not sure how I'm going to keep up with him while 35+ weeks pregnant, but we'll manage!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Purple Hats for Purple Crying

The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome (NCSBS) hosts a knit-a-thon each year, called CLICK for Babies, to bring attention to the Period of PURPLE Crying.

Many newish parents may be familiar with the Period of PURPLE Crying - it's a peak in crying that begins to rise at about 2 weeks of age, peaks in the 2nd month, and then falls in month 3-4. It can be frustrating for new parents because there seems to be no explanation for the crying. The NCSBS brings awareness to this period of heightened crying to help avoid infant abuse, particularly shaken baby syndrome. Learn more here.

To help bring awareness to this common problem, CLICK for Babies brings together knitters from around the world to knit preemie- and newborn-size hats in various shades of purple to give to new parents (along with information about PURPLE Crying) during the month of November. 

I've made one quick hat, using this pattern, and hopefully can do more (though I still have Jelly Bean's blanket to finish, and I'd like to make him a hat too).

Fig. 1: Simple purple cap. Note to self: need to learn how to take better knitting photos!

If you're interested in helping out with this great cause, check out the locations where you can send or drop-off knit/crocheted caps.


Friday, September 6, 2013

PG Milestones

Here I am, with one week to go before going on maternity leave. There are some job-related things I'd like to blog about, but think I'll wait until after I'm on leave for that. 

My near-term goals right now are all baby related. Here are the milestones I hope to reach:

34 weeks (yesterday!): at this point, I can be in the care of my midwife regardless of where I give birth.

34w4d (next Monday) OR 35 weeks (next Thursday): When Evan was born (34w4d according to ultrasound dating, or 35 weeks according to my chart), so we'd have a good idea of what to expect if this one comes at/near the same time.

35w1d (next Friday): my last day of work, and our 5th wedding anniversary

37 weeks (Sept. 26th): full-term, which means I can decide to have a home birth if there are no complications. 

Oct. 17: Estimated due date. At this point, we'd start thinking about when to induce.

I desperately want to make it to 37 weeks this time, but baby can come at any time after that date. Ideally, I'm hoping for a late-September or early-October baby. But, who knows, this time baby might decide to totally surprise me and come late!

What is your guess for delivery date?

Monday, September 2, 2013

End of Summer

Well, it's the Monday of Labour Day weekend - what I always consider the last weekend of summer. So, looking back at our summer bucket list, how did we do?

- Plant a garden - Yup! Though not many things grew very well. A green-thumb, I am not. But, we'll try again next year.

- Get deck built - Yes! This was done in May, and we're very happy with it. 

- Furniture, planters, and flowers for deck - Partial check. We got a patio set, but are waiting until next year to do planter and such. 

- Paint and decorate Jelly Bean's room - check!

- Thomas the Train event - nope. Decided it was too expensive.

- Vacation at a lake with the ILs - yup.

- Swimming at the local pool - yes! We went to the public pool once, and got invited to friend's homes with pools a couple times. He really enjoyed it, and I wish we could do this more often.

- Pick strawberries - yes, and blueberries too!

- Chalk-board wall in kitchen - no, but it's on our to-do list.

- Garage sale - yes! We did okay, and we ended up selling more online afterward. 

- Beach visits - yes! We went to the beach twice this summer, and Evan loved it!

- Visit 5 new playgrounds - yes!

- Farmer's market - not specifically, but we did buy produce from local fruit/veggie stands, so I'll say yes.
 
- Local festivals - Yup! We hit up a few of them, and will do another today.
 
- Fly a kite - didn't do this. Maybe in the fall!

- Go for bike rides - we tried a couple times, but Evan is still a bit young for this. 

- Finish knitting Jelly Bean's blanket- not yet. I'm about 60% done. It might end up becoming a Christmas present at this rate :S

What were the highlights of your summer?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Almost Missing Out

Today I was chatting with a colleague about my upcoming maternity leave, and she kept saying how excited I must be to meet the new baby, and how amazing it will be to watch the relationship between Evan and him grow.

And, sadly, I couldn't say that I have been thinking about it all that much. 

I don't know if it's just part of the second-child syndrome, but this time around I've been so distracted by Evan, things at work, life in general, and focusing on the negative aspects of having a second, that I just haven't become excited about the impending arrival.

And now, here I am, at 33 weeks along, and I feel like I've let myself miss out on the positive emotions that comes along with expecting. It's even more disappointing because this (assuming all goes well in the next 7ish weeks) will be my last pregnancy. I won't get to experience this again.

I've been telling myself that I'll have time to decompress after I stop working (Sept. 13th is my last day), and then I'll become more enthusiastic about things. But, now, that seems a bit ridiculous. It might seem "too little too late", but I'm going to try my best to stop worrying about work and other things so much, and focus more on the little life growing in my belly, who we'll be meeting in just a few short weeks. Yes, he'll be turning our lives upside down, but it will be in a good way.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

NFL Pool

Anyone interested in doing an NFL pool this year? Email me this week at mrscomethunter "at" rogers.com if you're interested (so I can have a contact email), and we'll see if we can get enough people. 

Season opener is Sept. 5th, and we'd use Yahoo Pro Football Pick'em.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Jelly Bean's Room

Last weekend, we finally put the finishing touches on Jelly Bean's room.

We decided to make the guest room into JB's room (and we combined the office and guest room). It took me much longer this time to decide on colours and such - mostly because I didn't want it to be too similar to Evan's room. There's no theme, really, but I think it came together nicely.

Fig. 1: Guest room before.


Fig. 2: JB's room after. I decided on a very neutral beige colour for the walls, with dark espresso wood furniture and then pops of navy and bright blue as accents.


Fig. 3: The tree decal that I bought off eBay - I'm a big fan :) Also pictured, the photo that made me feel like a real artist - now coloured with crayon and plaque-mounted.


Fig. 4: One last view - sorry about the blurring-out, but that's his name and we don't want to reveal it until he's born!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sweetheart to Ruthless Hunter in 3 Days

I've had my cat, Isaac, for 11 years now. He's been an indoor cat for all that time. But, this past summer, he's decided he wants to spread his wings and roam free. 

He goes in and out generally as he pleases, but we do make sure he's inside at night. He used to just hangout in the backyard, but now roams the neighbourhood. I know I shouldn't let him do that, but 1) have you tried telling a cat where they can and cannot go?, 2) there are other cats around here that do the same thing, and 3) he's 11 - I feel like he's earned the right to put himself in danger of getting caught in a garage, getting stuck in the rain, or chased by neighbours with axes.

He's been having a good time with it all, I think. He has a swagger to him that he didn't before - like he's saying "I'm a real cat now, biotches!!"

But, something changed in the last 3 days. He's brought home 4 dead mice and left them on our deck. And, by the pile of feathers we found in the backyard, we're pretty sure he at least attempted to kill a bird. I get that cats like to bring their owners...umm..."gifts"...but it's pretty nasty. 

My sweet little cuddle cat has turned into a ruthless killing machine! I'm a little scared he might slice my neck open in my sleep. 

Good thing we still have our other cat who's so lazy she can't even be bothered to lick her butt, and has absolutely no interest in going outside.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Back-to-School Nightmares

It's been 4 years since I finished my PhD, and 8 years since I took classes, but every August (and around exam times) I always have school-related nightmares. 

Last night, I was dreaming about taking a calculus exam. But, I had to take it while on a train, getting a tour of some sort of earthquake/flood disaster area, all while attending a family reunion. I kept getting distracted and couldn't finish the exam - meaning I failed the course.

Other reoccurring themes are forgetting I signed up for a class but then having to take the final exam and failing miserably, and forgetting about the final exam so I fail the class.

Do you have back-to-school dreams?

Monday, August 12, 2013

5 Work Weeks to Go

I plan on my last day of work being September 13th, which leaves me with five more work weeks. My due date isn't until mid-October, but with what happened with Evan, the hope is to get to at least my  last day of work and - even better - have a couple weeks at home before baby #2 arrives.

Though (I think) I'm dealing better with the pregnancy this time around, I'm starting to get into the overly-uncomfortable, extremely irritable phase, which isn't making things easier to deal with at work or home. 

I'm finding work a bit stressful right now, trying to figure out what all needs to get done before I leave and what I need to prepare for the person who will take over for me while on maternity leave. All the "you're SO big" comments, having to be in real clothes, and having to sit in an office chair all day does not help the situation.

Home life has become more stressful lately too, mostly because Evan is apparently going into the "atomic temper tantrum" phase. I thought he was already having bad tantrums, but - oh boy - was I wrong. We're now experiencing the epic screaming fits in public places and the totally random crying breakdowns about the most inane things (DH didn't put his puppy in the right place on the couch! I didn't stir his cereal right! He wanted to turn the fan off -- NO, he wanted YOU to turn the fan off!). I think we're pretty good at dealing with it all, but sometimes it's all I can do to not scream and run away. 

With work and home being stressful, I'm finding it a bit hard to feel positively about the impending arrival of baby #2. All I keep thinking is "we're going to have TWO of these? WTF did we do and how are we going to survive?". I'd like to be more excited about it, but all I can think of are the negative things.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Link Round Up 08/10/13

Some good reads from this past week:

Biochembelle wrote a great post about gender inequality


Amanda Palmer's response to the Daily Mail's article about her wardrobe malfunction during a concert

L. Maren Wood writes about the afternoon she decided to leave academia on the PhD Placement Project blog

Starting your work day by checking email might not be the best use of your time

Mars Curiosity celebrated one year on the red planet earlier this week

The Perseid meteor shower peaks this weekend

Monday, August 5, 2013

Fit for Kids

I'm definitely starting to feel my fitness abilities becoming limited by my pregnancy. It's tougher this time because Evan wants me to run around with him a lot, and I just can't keep up anymore. He's getting faster, and I'm...well...not. 

I think my fitness level this pregnancy is better than it was with Evan. Having an amost-3-year-old helps, but so does the prenatal yoga classes I'm taking, and generally just being more active at work. 

That being said, I'm starting to get excited about having my body back after Jelly Bean arrives. I hope it won't take long to get back to my exercise routine I had before I got PG: I was in love with the Jillian Michaels workouts I was doing, and was just starting to get into a couch-2-5K plan and biking. I'm also thinking about taking swimming lessons to get some tips to improve in that area so I can do that more.

My motivation to get fit has evolved over the years --- now, it will be mainly to keep up with two boys, who will just keep getting bigger, faster, and stronger.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

8 Years

Today marks eight years of moving to London - crazy! It sure doesn't feel that long but, when looking back on all that has happened here, I guess it makes sense!

- September 2005: Started PhD
- April 2006: Started astronomy outreach program
- July 2006: Started dating DH
- October 2007: Got engaged
- January 2008: DH finished his PhD and started post-doc
- September 2008: Got married
- September 2008: Started this blog as Mrs. Comet Hunter
- March 2009: I turn 30
- June 2009: I finished my PhD
- August 2009: Trip to Brazil and Peru
- August 2009: Started blogging under my own name
- September 2009: I stayed on with PhD supervisor as post-doc until December 2009
- October 2009: DH got full-time Research Scientist position
- October 2009: DH bought first car ever
- October 2009: Found out I was PG for the first time
- December 2009: Had miscarriage #1
- January 2010: Started post-doc, studying earthquakes
- February 2010: We bought a house
- March 2010: Found out I was PG again
- October 2010: Evan is born 5 weeks early
- February 2011: DH turns 30
- June 2011: Started my new job as outreach coordinator
- October 2012: Found out I was PG
- December 2012: Had miscarriage #2
- January 2013: Joined Awesome London
- February 2013: Found out I was PG again

I'm sure I missed a ton of stuff, but no wonder the past 8 years have flown by. 

When DH and I were first married, we were dying to move out of this city. But, after looking at other options, we decided to stay, and I'm glad we did. It's home for us now, and we're happy to be bringing up our two boys here.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The "Second" Shielding Effect

I've been experiencing a very different pattern with this pregnancy, which has been unexpected and relieving.

First, I get the typical questions - When are you due? Do you know if it's a boy or a girl? How are you feeling?

Then, it's always "Is this your first?"

Last time around, when I answered this question with "yes", I would get the motherly-looks and out came the barrage of advice and you-don't-know-what-you're-in-for looks/comments/stories.

This time, when I say "no, it's my second", that's generally where it stops! No advice, no horror stories, no your-life-is-going-to-change comments. People seem to get that a been-there-done-that mom isn't in need --- nor does she want --- unsolicited advice.

Yes, there have been people who've made comments about having two boys (you're going to be busy! Get ready for lots of fighting!), but it hasn't been nearly as intrusive as the first time around.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Astrono-wrong

I just finished reading Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi Picoult, which was her first book. It starts with a blow out fight between husband and wife, and tells the story of the wife and daughter as they travel across country and arrive at their destination, and of the husband as he tries to find them. 

This was probably my least favorite book that I've read of hers. The story wasn't nearly as gripping as the others I've read, and the love stories woven within were not very believable.

But, there was one thing above all others that really bothered me: The complete misunderstanding of basic astronomy portrayed near the end of the book:
"Do you know what a star is? I asked you. It's an explosion that happened billions and billions of years ago."
and 
"I pointed to the North Star, and said I wanted to name it after you. Jane, you said, too plain for such a bright one. I said you were wrong. It was the biggest explosion, obviously..."
Let's count how many things are wrong in these two very short interactions:

- Stars are NOT explosions - that's a supernova, and every star we see in the sky is not a supernova.

- Stars that we can see with our eyes are a few to ~15,000 light years away. Not even close to billions. We can see the Andromeda galaxy with our naked eye if it's really dark, and that's only ~2.5 million light years away. Billions and billions? No.

- The North Star (Polaris) is not a very bright star compared to others in the night sky. It's the brightest in Ursa Minor (or Little Dipper) constellation, but is the 46th brightest star in the sky. For the record, it's also only ~430 light years away. 

I realize this sounds picky, but really? This kind of stuff is really, really easy to look up. If you don't know what you're talking about, use something different for symbolism. It also makes me question all the other science incorporated throughout the novel (the husband is a marine biologist who studies humpback whale songs).

Does it bug you when books or movies get simple science (or other facts) wrong? I know sometimes it's just fun to ignore reality and just enjoy a story, but sometimes - especially when it's just thrown in there to make a character seem smart or something - it really annoys me.

Friday, July 19, 2013

I'm a Real Author!

And by "real", I mean paid!

My first ever paid article was published in the current edition of Canoeroots magazine. It's a short description of what can be seen in the night sky in the late summer/early fall, geared toward younger children. 

Fig. 1: The actual article in an actual magazine!

I'm very proud, and I hope this is the start of many similar projects!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Why the Blogosphere is Awesome

A couple weeks ago, I was lamenting about my lack of pregnancy wardrobe. That's when GMP, from Academic Jungle, came to the rescue and offered to send me some of her maternity clothes.

Not being one to turn down an amazing offer, I gladly accepted, and now have a much wider variety of clothing to choose from that can hopefully get me to the end of the pregnancy.

And this is one of the reasons why the blogging community is awesome! GMP and I can hardly say we "know" each other - I didn't even know her name - but she was willing to help me out anyway.

Thanks, GMP!!!

Friday, July 12, 2013

San Jose

I'll be heading to San Jose, California, for a conference in the near future. If you're in the area, let me know, and maybe we can do a meet-up! Any tips on what to see or do if I have some free time?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Car Seat Alarm

After reading about two cases in the last week (Ontario and Alberta) of young children dying because of being left in a car in high heat, my brain has been reeling. Though this doesn't happen often (on average 38 times per year in the USA, 4-6 times per year in Canada), it seems needless to me. There must be something that can be done to help this from happening (here's a heart-wrenching article about this topic).

We have alarms in our cars for all sorts of things - door being open, lights being left on after ignition is turned off, and, most related, seat belts not being done up.

I assume the technology for the the former consists of some sort of pressure sensor, and beeps if there is anything above a certain weight in the seat AND the seatbelt is not done up. The one in my car goes off sometimes if I have my work bag in the passenger seat, so clearly the sensor is fairly sensitive.

It makes sense to me that this technology can also be used in the case of a child being left in the car. When the ignition is turned off, an alarm can sound if the pressure on the seat (i.e. baby/child) isn't removed within a certain time limit (or something like this). This alarm would be heard both inside and outside the car, in case the parent/caregiver has moved away from the car quickly. 

I know there are some issues with this - many people sit in cars with the ignition off for many reasons - but there are solutions to that. The "car seat" alarm could be activitated for those who need it, or it could be turned on for only the seat in which the car seat is on. 

In this day and age where we can find any bathroom within a 20 km radius with our cell phones, this shouldn't be that hard. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Labour Plans: Older Child(ren)

We're starting to get a bit worried about our lack of plans for Evan for when I go into labour. We don't have family around that we can call any time, day or night. We also aren't comfortable with asking anyone to be on call 24/7 for several weeks (because who knows when Jelly Bean will decide to make his arrival? He could be six weeks early or two weeks late).

Worst case scenario is that DH takes care of Evan - but that means he most likely won't be with me during the birth.

If you have more than one child, what did you do with them when you went into labour (especially for those of you who are in the same boat as us and don't have family in town)?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dressing the PG Body

With the heat rising and my belly (and other things) getting bigger, it's been getting harder and harder to pull together reasonable looking outfits for work. 

A couple months back, I bought a whole pile of slightly used maternity clothes (who wants to spend full price on clothes that you're only going to wear for a few months?), and splurged on some new items too. With seemingly endless combinations of outfits I could put together, I thought I was set for the rest of my pregnancy. 

Apparently, I forgot how things progress while pregnant during the summer.

The very fashionable skinny jeans and dress pants I bought, while still fitting nicely around the belly, are already tight in the hips.

Some of the tops are already too short to fit over my belly.

My feet are growing/swelling so that my shoes are tight.

The heat means there's no way in hell I'm wearing layers, which is a problem because...

...all of a sudden my boobs have grown multiple cup sizes, making what used to be relatively conservative necklines into cleavage-ville.

Getting dressed for work sucks these days. I seriously get angry even thinking about having to wear a camisole underneath a top because...HEAVEN FORBID...someone might be able to see a bit of cleavage (GASP!!!). Knowing I can't even wear half my maternity pants anymore makes me want to weep. Putting my shoes on in the morning just makes me cringe.

And I'm only 24 weeks along!

The one good thing about all of this is how amazing it feels to come home, get out of my work clothes, and put on a big t-shirt, cotton shorts, and flip-flops.

Just hoping I can make it to Sept. 13th (last day of work!!) with a somewhat intact ability to dress appropriately, then the above becomes my uniform until Jelly Bean arrives (and, let's be honest, for months after except substituting sweatpants and socks for the shorts and flip-flops in the fall). It will be glorious. 


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Deck

Our most recent project around the house was putting in a much-needed deck in the backyard. We considered doing it ourselves, but since I wouldn't be able to help much (if at all), we figured it would take DH many weekends where we could be enjoying our summer instead. So, with that, we put together a design, got a couple quotes, and hired a contractor. 

Though the price was more than we were planning on, and definitely more than if we did it ourselves, having it professionally done in about a week was well worth it.

Fig. 1: Before. Not much to look at other than the horribly crooked cement stairs.

Fig. 2: Finished product!

Fig. 3: First BBQ meal on the deck - many, many more to come!

The next big project on our list is the attic. With my maternity leave coming up, that probably won't be for a couple of years, but I'm sure there will be other smaller projects to write about.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

What Not to Say

Here's a tip: don't ever comment on the size of a pregnant woman. 

Don't tell her you think she's too small or too large (why does no one ever comment that you're just the right size?). You're not an expert. Everyone carries differently. Everyone gains weight differently. Babies grow at different rates. 

Earlier this week, I had a woman tell me she thought I was really big. After telling her that's not really what pregnant women want to hear, she continued to make comments, counting how much time I have left until my due date (like I'm not aware of that), and ended by saying that maybe I'll be "lucky" and not gain much more weight for the rest of the pregnancy.

I was livid. I tried to make her shut-up, but she kept right on going. I wanted to punch her in the throat. 

A couple days later, I had a midwife appointment, and I was a bit worried about my size and weight gain. But, my measurements were pretty much dead on for what they "should" be at this point.

I'm not sure why people think the lives and bodies of pregnant women are open to public scrutiny and judgment. From comments about size and weight gain, to belly rubs, and rude/unsolicited advice about everything under the sun*, it's hard not to just put a big FU shield up for 9 months.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Google Reader Replacements

Well, Google Reader will no longer be available as of July 1st --- that's less than two weeks!

What are you using as a replacement?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Goal: Full Term

If you're a long-time reader of the blog, you might remember that Evan was 5 weeks early. Not early enough for him to have any long-term health concerns, but a bit too early for our liking. He had to spend his first week in the hospital, mostly due to low glucose levels (for the first 24 hours) then high jaundice levels. He then had very large issues with breast feeding and I ended up exclusively pumping for the first six months.

Obviously, we would like to avoid that situation again. The problem is, there was really no definite reason for why I went into labour at 35 weeks. We do know that my water broke first, and this is what induced labour. This absolutely doesn't mean that it would happen again. In fact, though my chances of early labour are increased because of my history, there's still a relatively good chance that I could go full-term this time with no interventions.

However, there are lots of things that can be done to increase my chances of making it to full-term that aren't too invasive, are safe for pregnancy, and don't have any side effects. 

First, I'm taking vitamins C and E. Apparently this combination of vitamins has been showed to strengthen the membranes of the amnionic sac. This might prevent my water from breaking early, which caused me to go into labour last time.

Second, my thyroid levels were measuring high at the beginning of my pregnancy, and this has been linked to pre-term labour and growing large babies (Evan was also quite large for his gestational age - 6lbs9oz). So, I am taking Synthroid, which has lowered my levels into the middle of the normal range.

Third, I am on progesterone injections. Some (but not all) studies have shown that this greatly increases the chance of going full-term in women that have a history of pre-term labour (but otherwise normal and healthy pregnancies). This is the least fun and most-invasive of the three, as I have to give myself an injection once a week. 

Will one or all of these help? Who knows - and we really won't ever know. If I go full-term, it could be because of these interventions, or it could be because it was going to happen that way anyway. If I go early again, it could be because none of these things actually helped or because of some other factor we didn't take into consideration. 

When deciding whether to go ahead with these interventions (especially the injections), it all came down to whether I'd be okay with going full-term and not knowing why OR possibly going early and feeling like I could have done something. So, after some research, I chose to go ahead because the positives far outweighed the risks. 

The goal is to get to September 26th - after that, Jelly Bean can make his appearance any time!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Incinerated

My wallet, that is.

Yup, that's the end to my wallet woes story from earlier this week. I got a call from the rest-stop manager to tell me that it was accidentally destroyed. Apparently, if something isn't claimed after 24 hours, this is what happens. 

I get why they do it --- but I DID claim it, 4 hours after I lost it. I was told they get 100s of lost items a week, and this was the first time in two years that something that was claimed got destroyed.

So, I'm now going through the whole rigamarole of replacing all my cards. At least they said they'd pay for all the costs, but it's still an annoying thing to have to deal with.