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Friday, January 31, 2014

Poof!

I blinked and there went January!

I blinked and Carter is no longer a newborn.

I blinked and Evan is no longer a toddler.

I blinked and we're making vacation plans for the summer.

I blinked and I feel normal far more often than not.

Yesterday, I had a bit of a freak out that I was going to have another stroke. The good thing about that is I realized it had been at least a couple weeks since I  felt that way. It used to be a daily occurrence. Then I started thinking about how far I've come since coming home in mid-November. I don't often think about because the changes so gradual sometimes I feel like I'm never getting better. But, then I realized things like I'm totally fine on my own with Carter, I don't need afternoon naps, I can just get in my car and go anywhere, I don't get overwhelmed when Evan gets home from daycare, or I can socialized without feel warn down (and actually crave it)..these are all things I thought would never happen. Now, here we are.

I know I'm still not 100% better. I'm not sure if that will ever happen. But, holy cow, have I come a long way. I guess the only way for me to see it is for time to go by and to look back at how things once were.


Monday, January 27, 2014

If it's not one thing...

Note: This is a rant. I am not looking for advice or for someone to tell me to suck it up and that's life (I KNOW that, thankyouvermuch - I can still bitch about it). 

...it's another! I feel like my to-do list just keeps getting longer and longer. How is that possible? I'm on maternity leave! I'm supposed to be enjoying my time off with the baby, not:

- Registering Evan for kindergarten (!!)
- Ordering new contacts
- Calling Employment Insurance AGAIN to try and get that whole thing straightened out
- Calling various doctors' offices to confirm/change appointments
- Answering questions about a conference I helped plan last year that *must* be done ASAP
- Answers various work-related emails
- Paying the bills
- Doing the never-ending cycle of household crap
- Making yet another potty chart (and POTTY TRAINING --- potentially the worst part of parenting thus far).
- Trying to come up with 100 ways to entertain Carter

Plus I'm dealing with a cold. Ugh. Can't I just REST and forget all these stupid obligations of life??


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Use of Time

I've been finding myself trying to keep myself really busy lately - probably a little too busy. Instead of just relaxing when Carter is napping, I've been working on a job application, putting together a mom/knitter group, catching up on our finances, doing chores, running errands, etc..

I know it's because I'm a bit lonely around here. I've also been setting up visits with friends, or calling family or friends, which is nice! It feels good to be social!

Basically I've just been keeping myself going and busy so I don't have much time to think or feel sad. It's working well in that regard! But, I know I need to balance things a bit more and make sure I'm spending down time doing things just for me - like knitting, reading, napping, or even watching TV.

Next week will hopefully be a bit better since my job application should be done and in. We also plan on getting a family membership to the YMCA, so I'll be able to go, drop Carter off at the child-minding centre, and get a workout in, or even just go sit in the hot tub! I'm looking forward to doing that a couple times a week!

I think once we get a routine down I'll feel more settled. I need to make sure we get out of the house or have people over, but I also need to make sure I'm getting some relaxation time in too! It's always a fine balance.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Hard Transition

The past few months have included some tough changes and transitions for us. The latest one had my mom leaving a couple days ago. After having someone in the house for over three months, we are now back to our family of four (which we only were for 1 week before everything happened)!

It will be a tough transition for all of us. DH and I are feeling like we're missing our support system. I feel like I'll be a bit lonely during the week when Evan is at daycare and DH is at work (but I'll enjoy my one-on-one time with Carter, since we didn't get that before). Both Evan and Carter will get attention from less people, and we can tell they're missing having other people around too.

One thing that came out of all of this is DH and I have a much bigger appreciation for the importance of family and how great that support system is in times of need (and in "normal" times too). It's actually a large factor in making a possibly life-altering decision in the near future, but not something I want to write about just yet.

Meanwhile, we're trying to get back to "life as usual", even though we never had a "usual" life as a family of four. I guess we'll be defining that starting now!

We are also trying to make some plans for this year so we have some things to look forward too. We're planning a family vacation, possibly  renting a cottage within a couple hour's drive from here in the summer. We also hope that both our sets of parents will be able to make trips out here in the summer. DH's sister (and husband and daughter) might also make a trip out here in the spring!

Another big change will be career stuff for me. Will I be attending teacher's college in the fall (I find out April 1st if I got in), or will I find another suitable job instead?

Evan will also be starting kindergarten in the fall (Ack!) and Carter will be starting daycare at the same time!

Regardless of how everything goes, we're in for some changes and hopefully lots of fun this year too!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Randoms

- I was given the okay to drive by my stroke specialist! Turns out, I actually didn't need an "okay", because I was never "not okay'd". It's good to have all my t's crossed and i's dotted anyway.

- Had a hair consultation and she evened out all my random length hair so it will grow out as best it can. Have to probably grow it out until May to be able to do anything reasonably stylist with it. Good timing in a way though, since I'd just be wearing a toque most of that time anyway!

- Stylist also found the walk-in doctor left a couple of stitches in. Good thing I had an appointment with my neurosurgeon the same day. Not a great use of his skills, but whatever!

- Carter giggled for the first time this week! What an amazingly sweet sound.

- Yesterday I was trying to ask Evan a question while he was watching TV, but he wasn't responding. After a few seconds, once he saw that I was looking at him waiting for him to say something, he said  "What? Did you say something to me?" LOL! It was like looking at the next 20 years.

- A restaurant across the street from us closed down last summer. Now I keep thinking what kind of cool things could go in there. It would be a perfect spot for a coffee shop, for example. Or an ice cream place in the summer. Or a yarn shop (our city really needs one in the south end). Too bad I have no business skills or know how, or know much about any of those types of goods/services.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Lacking in Skills

As a reader of this blog, you'll know that I knit here and there. I took it up during the last year of my PhD as a way to relax. I love and adore it. I like that it takes creativity and skill, and that you get a product at the end too. It suits me perfectly as a hobby - it gets my brain going, taps into a rarely used creative side, and it's quite and solitary.

My skills are very basic at the moment. I can knit and purl and do other basic stitches based on those. I can do basic colour changes, but that's about it. When I see things like this, or receive books like this, it makes me realize I am sorely lacking in the knitting skills department.

I really want to amp things up - either learning how to make things like socks or sweaters or shawls, or learn new techniques like colour-work, cables, or lace, or being able to fix mistakes. I'd like to feel confident enough to follow a more complicated pattern.

I do hold myself back from trying new things because I don't want to fail. I know I can make decent looking things using my beginner skill set. and I enjoy it. I don't want this nice, relaxing hobby to become frustrating. On the other hand, learning new things and improving any skill is always a good thing. Also, there are really no consequences for failing, are there? The only way to learn is to just try and see how it goes. So what if I have to pull out rows of stitches, or the whole project? It wouldn't hurt anyone, that's for sure! Just my pride a bit, maybe.

For the knitters out there: any suggestions on how to learn new techniques or some intermediate patterns to try out that aren't too much a step up from beginner?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Age of Defiance

Feel free to ignore this, because I really just needed to vent about a really annoying stage, and some of these are bad examples. 

Evan is deep into a defiant stage. He will refuse to do pretty much anything we ask him. It leads to good times like these:

*In the morning right before we normally get Evan to sit on the potty (right after he got up)*
Me: Evan, to get a sticker for the potty chart* you know all you have to do is say "I need to go potty" and then go!
Evan: NO (shaking his head)
Me: Just say "I need to go potty", then you get a sticker! Then all you need is one more sticker to get a prize!
Evan: No (shaking his head)
Me: Evan, you know you have to sit on the potty when you wake up. so just say "I need to go potty" and you'll get a sticker!!
Evan: NO (shaking his head)

*Evan has a giant sliver in his finger*
DH: Okay, just sit still and I'll get it out quickly
Evan: NOOOO!!!!! I don't like it!!
Me: Evan, just look at mommy and it'll be over quick!
Evan: NOOOOOO!!
Me: Okay, just watch cartoons!
Evan: SHREIK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
DH: You need to stay still
Me: Evan, if you don't let daddy do it, then it might get infected and then hurt really bad.
Evan: SHREIK!!!!!!!
DH: Evan, it will only take a second! I used to hate this too, but my dad did it for me too.
Evan: SHREIK!!!!!
Me: Evan, either daddy does it, or we'll have to go to the doctor. Would you rather go to the doctor?
Evan: NOO!!!!!!!!!!!!
Me: Okay, then just let daddy do it!
Evan: SHRIEK!!!!!!!!!!! NOOOO!!! I DON'T LIKE IT!!!!
*DH wraps him in a blanket, pins him down, and gets the sliver out*
Evan: goes back to watching cartoons and is totally fine

Playing games with him is SO infuriating. I know he understands the rules, but refuses to follow them, even though I say things like "it's way more fun when everyone plays by the rules!". And then he just starts doing whatever he wants, and I know it's just to do something other than what I ask him too.

We also almost lost the kid at Home Depot last week because he refused to stay beside us or come back when he ran down the aisle. I tried to explain to him that it's dangerous of him to go off on his own like that, but he just refused to get it (even though I know he can). Argh!! This was extra infuriating because he's normally very well behaved in these situations.

What annoys me the most is when he outright refuses to do things he used to be able to do or we know he can do them (like getting dressed, or setting up the potty, or cleaning up his toys).

Any tips on:
a) How to reasons with a three year old (I know you can't, but how can you get important things through to them?)
b) How to go from peeing/pooing on the potty when we get him to sit there (on a schedules and/or with a timer), to him knowing he needs to and either telling us OR going himself?

*Yes, I'm at that point! I think he's so close, but he just needs some extra motivation somehow!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Diagnosis Update

I had an appointment with the stroke specialist today. I was a bit nervous, since I would be finding out the results of a CT scan that was done about a month ago.

It looks like the deformation in my blood vessels in my brain is normalizing. This is as expected with the diagnosis of a postpartum vasculopathy. This is very good news!

As for this happening again, because it was pregnancy-related, my chances would obviously increase if I were to get pregnant again (which is not in the plans at all). Even then, it wouldn't necessarily develop, and I would just have to be monitored closely during a pregnancy. In general, I'm at a slightly higher risk for suffering a stroke just because it's happened before. So, if I were to develop some other sort of health concern that increases chances of stroke (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc), then my chances would be ever-so-slightly higher than the average person with those same concerns. That's a bit of motivation to take care of myself.

She was also quite pleased with how I'm doing in general, and the only thing she can see is that I just have a very slight vision deficit in the lower-right quadrant (as before, but it's even better now). So, this is all very good, and I felt good leaving the appointment. I'll see her again in six months to follow-up.

I'm happy to be crossing all these doctors and therapists of the list!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Before/After

Lately, I've been struggling with two realities of my life - me "before" the stroke, and me now. I feel like I'm always striving to become me "before" (how I talked, how I typed, how I read out loud to Evan, etc.). If anything doesn't happen like it would have "before" (I stumble on words, or make a mistake typing, or forget something minor), it's because of the stroke and my brain. Then, it becomes something I need to "work on". But, if those things ever happened "before", I wouldn't think twice about them - I wouldn't need to "work on" those things. Sometimes, you just have a bad moment or day or week, and that's it. Now, mistakes are a much bigger deal to me because it's due to my brain not working right.

I also recently realized that I'm much close to "before" than I thought. I'm constantly reminded of what I couldn't do, but that's not my reality anymore. In fact, I've cut a lot of my therapy, because there is just no need for it. I don't need to work on strengthening my right side because there is no weakness there. Really, if I kept going with a physical therapist, he would just become my personal trainer (though that would be nice, that's not the point). When you're always being reminded of what you couldn't do, or what you need to work on, your confidence in your abilities gets diminished.

All this rambling can be summarized like this: I'm not perfect (now, or "before") and I need to give myself a break. I don't need to "work on" things. Mistakes happen, to me and to "normal" people. I just need to let myself live my life. In fact, living my life is the best rehab I can do.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

3 Months

Carter is 3 months old! When he was born, it was still warm and sunny, and now we're having the coldest temperatures I can remember. Yuck. Good things we have things to celebrate around here, because this weather is depressing!

- This kid loves to smile! And it's so cute with his big chubby cheeks! He's not laughing/giggling yet, but I think it'll be soon because he's making noises when he smiles - and how awesome will that be?


- He can give an awfully cute pouty face! I wish I had a photo - it breaks our hearts, but it's so cute it makes us laugh.

- He loves to snuggle with DH in the evenings, and especially likes it when DH sings "then ants go marching". That relaxes him 98% of the time!

- He's a talker! In fact, he was born a talker - he talked for a good 45 minutes as soon as he was born. Now he coo's all the time and loves having conversations with anybody, especially grandma and grandpa.

- He adores his big brother! He'll just lie there and watch Evan do whatever he's doing. It's adorable! It's cool to already see that relationship developing.

- He's a big fan of his swing, and being walked around. Movement always seems to calm him down.

- He outgrew his bassinet and is now in his crib.

- At night he goes to sleep between 10-11pm and sleeps until 8:30am. Yes, we know we're very lucky in the sleep department! Yay for us! He also tends to have 1-2 longish naps during the day, and otherwise has shorter naps in between feeds.

- He is very alert and interactive when he's awake. He loves to look at toys and books, and has found the TV.

- He loves to exercise on the floor, but hates tummy time (just like his brother) - though, to be honest, we're not very diligent about that ;) Actually, as of today, he's doing pretty well with it!

- He rolled over (tummy to back) for the first time today!

3-month measurements:
Head circumference: 42.25cm (74%)
Length: 64cm (85%)
Weight: 14lbs 14.5oz (79%)

Friday, January 3, 2014

A New Goal

I added a new goal to my 2014 list: to take better care of myself (mostly  to focus on my recovery from the stroke). This includes:

- Getting the rest I need. Right now, I still need to get to bed before 9pm and sometimes take an afternoon nap (though I don't need this nearly as often as before). My deficits get noticably worse if I'm tired. I need to be more in tune with this.

- Do the things my therapists ask me to do. I've been slacking on working on my recovery. I guess I feel like just living my life as normal will get me back to where I was before, but that's not how it works. So. I need to make a concerted effort on this front.

- Do more research on possible career paths: look for job opportunities that I'm already qualified for, figure out what skills I need to gain or work on or if I need additional training (and if I want to put time/money into getting that training).

- Do things that make me happy (like a lot of my other 2014 goals)

- Carve out alone time in order to do all these things.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Goals Recap

At the beginning of 2013, I made a list of goals. How did I do?

1. Read at least 15 books.
Nope - got to 12.

2. Finishing this afghan, and knit another baby blanket.
I did the second part, but still only 5/8 done the first.

3. Back to style, including: 
- Get a skin-care and make-up consultation, since my skin has changed a lot in the past few years.
- Focus my work style more by bringing in more of my own personality.
- Develop a casual/weekend wardrobe
- Pact: no going out in public in yoga pants unless actually going to do yoga or other workout.
I did the make-up consult, which was really nice, actually. I did fairly well on the yoga pants pact until I went on maternity leave in mid-September. Just haven't had time/money/energy for the others, and just was not a priority for me.

4. Get back into one of dance, music, or golf.
Nope - again, just kind of ran out of time/money/energy.

5. Planned charity giving.
Took part in Awesome London.

6. Get house more organized.
This is always a work in progress. DH did reorganize the basement, and I worked on some of our closets and such. Need to figure out better storage solution.

7. Make note of the little things.
I did pretty well with this by journalling fairly consistently throughout the year. I now have a separate journal for stroke-related things.

8. Become more in tune with my body.
Not good at all - low energy and being in pain/uncomfortable most of the year screwed with this one.

9. PD for work.
I attended a few workshops, conferences, etc.. But, having my job cut kinda put a damper on this one.

10. Nurture marriage more.
Another not so good one.

11. Try 24 new recipes.
Looks like I got about half-way there. Not bad, considering.

12. Have baby #2.
Hey, look! I can check this one off :)

So, didn't do well at all, but I'm okay with that. It was a tough year for so many reasons, so I'm just ready to leave 2013 behind and start fresh.

What about goals for 2014?
1. Get the okay to drive from doctors.
2. Knitting: finish afghan, and choose some new (smaller) projects.
3. Begin to learn to play the piano (DH got me a keyboard for Christmas!).
4. Decide on next step in career and make progress in that direction.
5. Read at least 1 book a month.
6. Find ways (and time!) to exercises.
7. Find new and fun things to do with the kids.
8. Figure out some storage solutions for our house.
9. Keep trying new and different recipes.
10. Get Evan fully potty trained by the time he starts school in September!
11. Find a way to be an advocate for or work with other stroke survivors.
12. (NEW!) Take care of myself more (specifically in terms of progressing in my recovery)