Monday, July 20, 2015

Pregnancy, Diabetes, Death of a Friend, & now... Melanoma

A friend of my recently posted this quote by anonymous:
"An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards. When life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it is going to launch you into something great. Focus and keep aiming."

Pregnancy, Diabetes, Death of a Friend, AND now Melanoma. REALLY? Just really, I ask? Somehow it is all so much to take in that I just have to laugh. Thank goodness for a positive personality, because otherwise I may just be at the bottom of a lake somewhere...

Getting pregnant was exciting, and while we planned it, we didn't plan for it to happen the first time we tried. (I was sure it would take at least 6-months.) So in our not-well-thought-through "planning" we found ourselves pregnant and in the middle of a house renovation.  Through horrible morning sickness, mood swings, and generally disliking being pregnant, I pushed through and we kept working on our house. Luckily, we were able to move into the house in February, and now we are 98% finished with it. We are currently tying up lose ends on the house as I wait to go into labor. We are cutting it close, but it has mostly worked out so I am not complaining. (I just really want air conditioning before the baby comes!)

At about 30-weeks into my pregnancy I was randomly diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I am not in any of the risk groups for getting it, it was just a random, freak diagnosis. Freak diagnosis or not, I have gestational diabetes and it has thrown me for a complete loop. It was weird and scary to get the news and I cried for a whole day. Since then, I have come to terms with it, learned how to take my blood sugar, and now I eat a super clean diet consisting of low carb and low sugar. While I have lost weight at the end of my pregnancy rather than gaining it, I feel healthy and more importantly the baby is healthy. All is well now in my diabetic life.

Just as I got over being pregnant while renovating our house, then got past horrible morning sickness, and adjusted to a diabetic lifestyle, I then had to lay a very close friend to rest. She fought cancer for 3-years and while the end was predictable, it was still horribly sad. It is hard to say goodbye to a friend at such a young age. It has also been extremely hard for me to process her death as I deal with pregnancy, house renovation, and diabetes. Prioritizing what to focus on and what to process when, is becoming increasingly difficult for me.

So to add a cherry on top of this mess-of-a-life-ice-cream sunday...I was just diagnosed with malignant melanoma. (*pause for loud laughter*) It was found in a mole above my left eye. They won't operate until the baby is born, but they are saying that they will have to take the majority of my eyebrow. (The dermatologist said, "plenty of people get tattooed eyebrows!")  Luckily, (which at this point, I'll take any kind of luck) they say that it is only stage-1 so I will not have to follow up with any kind of chemo or radiation. So now I wait for this baby to be born (any day!), so that I can get surgery to remove a chunk of my eyelid and eyebrow, so that hopefully I can be free of skin cancer and get on with my life with a newborn baby.

At this point I find life purely humorous. I no longer know how to process anything. Processing has gone out the window and it has been replaced with joking and laughter. I guess humor is how I deal with things...? Either way, I am focusing on the quote at the top of this page in hoping that even though I have been dragged back in life with these difficulties, hopefully my misfortunes will soon launch me forward into something great. "Focus and keep aiming." (It's ok, it's ok, it's ok)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

An Ode to Jenna

Having a friend pass away so young is a difficult thing. The only people I have laid to rest have been grandparents, older relatives, and the odd parent of a friend. Jenna was one of my best friends. It has been difficult for me to process her death as I am about to birth a baby. It is such a strange and odd time for me. At this point, I feel that the best I can do is this little write up. I wrote it for her "celebration of life" (funeral), but then couldn't bring myself to read it. So here is part of my processing on death and life:

I feel like a bit of a contradiction.
Mourning Jenna's death, while I grow new life.
But all life is a celebration.
Life and death are what make the world go round.
They are the purest form of this world.

Jenna was an innocent bystander of life.
Enjoying, loving, living.
Just living one 4th of July to the next.
Because she loved the holiday...
And made us all swear to spend it together.
Together forever, because this holiday is for friends.
That's what she said.

Jenna was an innocent bystander of life.
She loved candy and cheesecake.
Always had something stashed in her purse for later.
She loved laughing and dancing.
Many a late night was spent dancing the living room away.

So here I am a contradiction.
Growing new life, excited for each day.
But Jenna is gone, how do I cope, how do I mourn?
She was my friend, my buddy, always there.
Now she's never to be seen again, only in memories.
In my heart I hold her, my by arms they never will.

Jenna was an innocent bystander of life.
She lived it well and short, her time was sweet.
The insult that is cancer took her too soon.
She fought hard and strong, never wavering to defeat.
She was one fierce lady, always positive in her fight.

So I say goodbye to Jenna.
As I welcome new life, a babe into my arms.
This is life I tell myself.
Life and death, it is the purest form of what we live.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Weekly Wonders

I made mini goat-cheesecakes with berries for a friends birthday.
My view these days.
Cute mini sandals. They belong to my friend's 7-year old daughter.
Some of the ladies at my baby shower working hard on one of the games. :)
LOTS of cute baby clothes and blankets from the baby shower to be washed.
Andy and I have a Monday night grill-out tradition.
I can't get enough cherries this summer!!
A sign that I am 37-weeks unmade bed.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pregnancy Update: 36-weeks (1-month to go!)

Here are my 36-week stats: 

I feel great these least during the day. It seems as though the farther I get into this pregnancy, the better I feel. I have great energy and I have been getting a lot of cleaning and organizing done lately. (Could I be nesting??) I don't know if my diet change from having gestational diabetes has any part to do with my feeling great, but whatever it is I'll take it. I do however, have aches and pains when I stop moving. If I sit for too long I get uncomfortable, and in bed at night there is a lot of tossing and turning. I am still not sleeping that well due to having to pee almost once an hour (!) along with being uncomfortable. I am sure it is my body's way of preparing for sleepless nights with the baby. Also, backaches in pregnancy are over talked about. My back doesn't hurt at all, for me it is my ribs and my feet. Ohh the aches! All in all though, I am feeling quite positive and energetic about the end of this pregnancy.

The bump has either not grown in the last month, or is growing ever so slowly. I felt like I was getting really big really fast, and then things halted. When I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes they put me on a fairly strict diet and I have actually LOST weight. (whoa there!) I never expected to restrict what I ate during pregnancy let alone lose weight. My midwife doesn't seem concerned though, so I am not going to worry about it. The baby has measured small for my whole pregnancy, so it makes sense that my bump isn't that big. (Right, right? Should I be worried??)

Craving: cravings are limited these days since I am on a diabetic diet. I have mostly cut out complex carbs, or anything moderately high in carbs, along with sugar. So that leaves me with veggies, meat, cheese, yogurt and some fruits. The fruits that I am living on (or that I crave, I guess) are cherries and strawberries. I can eat a decent amount of them without making my blood sugar spike, whoop whoop! It's the small things. Occasionally, I will eat salads all day so that I can get ice-cream at the end of the day and not mess up my blood sugar. This whole gestational diabetes thing has become a game really. I am always learning little tricks.

Baby Stats:
Babycenter says the baby is the size of a melon right now. She should weigh about 5 pounds and measure about 20 inches long. Wow! I don't know where my baby fits into those stats though, since she is small for her size. (They are saying that she will probably come LATE since she is so small!) I can feel her regularly throughout the day. The midwife says my uterus is all the way up under my ribs and I don't doubt it because I have gotten some swift kicks from behind the ribs. That's a special feeling let me tell ya... Usually when I sit or lay down is when the baby gets really active. She kicks and moves all over the place. If I lift up my shirt I can often see my belly moving, so crazy.

What about a name?
Everyone asks us if we have a name picked out and what it is. So far we have told everyone everything about the baby and my pregnancy, EXCEPT for the name. We've had a name picked out since we knew she was a girl, but decided not to tell anyone. Well, the weirdest thing happened. I stopped liking the name! How does that happen?! I started saying the name out loud to get used to it and I didn't like it. Just like that. Bah humbug! So now at 36-weeks we are starting from scratch with names. We really have no clue what to name her. Any suggestions? I think we are going to wait until she is born and wing it. Great plan right?

36-week (diabetic friendly) Pregnancy Food:
dill pickle, cherries, whole grain crackers with cheese, hummus with celery
grilled steak, asparagus, 1/2 piece of corn

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Letters to a Pregnant Lady

Since getting pregnant I have received a few hand-written/handmade(!) letters from friends. I have found this gesture both surprising and extremely supportive. There is no other time in a woman's life (well, maybe menopause) that she needs solid support from her woman friends, than during pregnancy. I have always thought of pregnancy as a hugely defining time for a woman. You are more woman/feminine when you are with child, than any other time in your life. (In my opinion.)

During pregnancy, the woman's body does what it was made to do, it is real-life working biology. It is so incredible to think about! This real-life working biology can take a toll on the average woman though. Everything is changing: body, emotions, mental state... And really, the only other people that can truly understand this is other women. Yes, men can be empathetic and caring, but they don't truly understand what a woman goes through during pregnancy. Thus, the importance of women friends.

A lot of my pregnancy has felt lonely (especially the beginning). I didn't have any other close friends who were pregnant, and the majority of my friends just had no idea what I was going through. I have actually felt alienated by most of my friends due to not drinking anymore. As time has gone on though, special people have come out of the wood-work of life to show me support. Some of them are moms already, some are just intuitive friends who understand that a pregnant lady needs extra support and attention. Either way, I will take what I can get.

These special people that have reached out to me during such a big change in my life have made it worth all the while. I am sure that when I give birth and see my baby, I will say that she was worth it, but right now my lady friends are what make it worth all the tears, stress, and body changes. They have taught me the importance of woman-support. Not just through checking-in to see how I am or what I need, but through letters, both from near and far friends. Their letters and creative cards have gotten me through some trying times in my pregnancy. I cannot express enough gratitude to those supportive women in my life. They have shown me support, wisdom, and love in such a crazy time of womanhood.

Weekly Wonders

Last week at the Outer Banks.
Evening beach stroll.
Sun baked wooden beach furniture.
Breakfast in my backyard. Such a peaceful time of day. :)
A beautiful fairytale-like wedding outside of Nashville, TN.
Old college friends at the Nashville wedding.
I love this idea of a place setting! The inside had questions and facts about the bride and groom.
The best way to wind down a busy weekend.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Weekly Wonders

A local brewery that just opened serves kombucha on tap. How exciting!
Friends at Pale Fire Brewery.
Sunday afternoon floor naps. :)
Andy digging fence post holes so we can finally have a fenced-in backyard.
Andy and I took a little trip to the Outer Banks, NC.
My man likes color!
Sunglasses selfie.
Coffee with my brother. He pulls out all the stops, including roasting his own beans!