AFE: Week 10

Week 10, Day 75

Today sucked. Like really sucked.

This week has shown me several things. The first thing being that as a human, I am a frail and generally unproductive mammal, who (praise be to Jesus) only has a chance because God was gracious enough to send His Son. Yes it has been that kind of week, and it is only Wednesday.

This verse I read on Monday puts into words what my spirit is feelings:

“Thus my heart was grieved, and I was vexed in my mind. I was so foolish and ignorant; I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel and afterward will receive me to glory.”

Psalm 73:21-24

Everything feels completely out of wack. My health. My parenting. My immediate family. My schedule. Everything. Absolutely everything. And today, I threw my mind out the window with everything else.

I’m pretty sure I am beginning to feel the first pangs of PPD (Post Partum Depression). My stomach churns just typing those words because of the havoc PPD has wreaked in my life before. It seems to hit me hardest between 3 and 9 months post partum. Yay me… 

Do you want to know something that is incredibly frustrating? (Please don’t send me hate mail over this…) Why do people jump to help when someone is going through physical hardships, but the emotional ones get pushed into a corner? Why do people want to help you if you just almost died, but if you want to die they don’t act? (I am not suicidal or having any harmful thoughts). Perhaps because physical needs are alittle more concrete, they can have an end time generally, and there are physical tasks to be helped with? I don’t know, but I do know one thing: the Lord put me on this Earth to help put an end to this ridiculous norm. Take a deep breath, Natasha…

The world feels so heavy and this week I have failed at every level of my 5 Focuses (see here, here and here for more on that). And not just forgot about them, or set them aside, I have drastically messed up in every category. Please cue dramatic music because that feels appropriate. 

HEALTH: Some good news: my neurology appointment went really well. I have an MRI of the brain scheduled for next week, just to make sure nothing was missed. Physical Therapy has been incredibly difficult for me physically and emotionally. My GI blood work still came back with elevated liver enzymes but no other determining factors so we are at a standstill with those issues. My echocardiogram had to be rescheduled for next week due to some miscommunications. I doubled up on my probiotic, since I missed a few days, and miserably spent a good 24 hours in a lot of pain… Oops.

5 FOCUSES: Last week went decently. I saw some areas that I needed to adjust and had grand plans of adjusting them this week. Those plans crash landed in the middle of the desert and burst into flames.

MENTAL HEALTH: Today I am in a horrible fog. As if you can’t tell by this post… I’m still thinking through how to best talk about this.

END NOTE? Praise be to Jesus for those whom I’ve reached out to, those who wanted to celebrate my birthday, those who have done so many things for us during this hard time. None of those things were in vain… Thank you. I know this wasn’t a very uplifting post, but if anything, I want everyone to know who reads this, that I am human. Without Jesus, I am simply nothing and no, I don’t have it all together, no matter how badly I want that. Tomorrow will be better.

-Mae

 

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AFE: Happy Birthday To Me

Day 73.

Today I turned 31. Thirty-one. That feels incredibly bizarre. I feel so young, and yet… in the midst of this long healing process, I feel… old. Scarred. Bruised. At times frail.

Recent events have given me a completely new perspective on so many things. For my birthday this year, celebrating with a party seemed not only underwhelming… it felt wrong. (This is in no way a commentary on whether you should have a party… I did for my 30th and LOVED it.) But this year… celebrating in ways I used to felt non-existent.

What do I want for my birthday? Nothing. Everything. What I want is to keep getting better. Keep focusing on my family. I want to eat my delicious sister-in-laws homemade apple pie… I want there to be an end to AFE. And end to cancer. World hunger. In the light of the world’s circumstances, my birthday feels insignificant. It made me rethink and rehash the very sobering truth that most women do not survive AFEs. Why did I survive but so many other women don’t? As solemn as these thoughts are, they lead me to this conclusion:

I have everything I need. 

Why does celebrating with usual festivities seem so dull? Because I already have everything I need. And the things I need to focus on right now are already being focused on. Perhaps the event of my actual birth isn’t significant, but the Lord knew me before I was formed. What I want to celebrate, to be truly honest, is that in the end, He will put an end to suffering. That’s what my heart longs for. And while I’m here, I am determined to know Him and serve Him all of my days.

I don’t need anything, just more of Him.

Don’t think me ungrateful, it isn’t that. I’m so incredibly thankful. I’m thankful for everyone who called me. Who wrote on my Facebook page. Who texted. I appreciate it all. I’m just thinking about things differently this year. What could I possibly want that I don’t already have? I just want to invest in that.

-Mae

 

Simple Sundays: Week 1

First week of Simple Sundays. At least it started.

Last week I shared my ONE focus for this year:

To sow seeds everyday in my relationship with God. My relationship with my husband. My relationship with my kids. Investing in hobbies that make me thrive. And investing in my physical and mental health.

I plan to share with you all how I’ve been doing that, what works, what doesn’t, the hardships and victories, to encourage you in your own walk.

 

God:

Each day I have been reading a Psalm that corresponds with how many days postpartum I am, and a chapter proverb that correlates with the day of the month. I read Psalms 59-65, and Proverbs 4-10. During that time, I ask the Lord to speak to me through His Word. He never fails to do so, even if I don’t “feel it” everyday, I know His Word never returns void. That fresh spring of truth helps to carry out the gunk the world feeds me everyday, and I want to learn to filter that gunk better and better.

I made these graphics with the verses that I reflected on this week.

 

Husband:

This one turned out to be a lot harder than I thought. Which tells me that I’m out of practice and sadly, it isn’t coming naturally anymore… (insert cringe face here).

But. None the less, that’s why I’m doing this. To step out of the “norm” and create better daily habits of investing what matters most.

I found that the things I thought about doing for him were things that would like. I had to think about him and his perspective in a whole new way. It was honestly a bit romantic, haha, if I can say such a thing. Made me think about how much I love him and all the reasons why.

So, I tried to give him more attention when he talked to me. I tried to incorporate his first love language into things I did. I tried to plan out acts of service for him that he would appreciate. I observed that he does lots of small things for me everyday to make my day a little easier. I made sure I told him I noticed an appreciated it.

My goals for this week: keep observing and serving.

Kids:

Marzden: He is my oldest one. He is more sensitive than Ammons. He needs more time to relate and feel loved. I spent time listening to him. Asking questions about his day and how he felt. I spent more time saying yes to him when he asked to do something with me. It felt so good to intentionally do that.

Ammons: He is a challenge. He is fundamentally different than me. Not just because of his age. He wants consistent structure. He thinks linearly and logically. Preschool is his jam because its the same structure everyday. I have been trying to be more consistent with him. He is easily frustrated with change, so I’ve been challenging him, while also communicating so he isn’t blindsided. I have been reading more books to him, and simply enjoying being with him and fully present with him.

Mahalia: Her and I are attached at the breast hip because, well, I’m a breast feeding stay at home mom. I have been focusing on spending time with her developmental milestones (developing neck muscles, tummy time, etc) but also doing fun and silly things with her. Letting Marzden carry her around (don’t worry, he does amazing). Singing her songs. Focusing on eye contact.

All The Kids: I love spending time with all three of them. Reading books. Playing peek-a-boo with Mahalia. Singing songs. Praying. Talking. I’m working on providing more time for us to intersect and love on each other. Let’s also be real, there is a lot of fighting, a lot of crying, a lot of discipline and a lot of hard times too. But that’s okay.

 

Hobbies:

I had high hopes that Valentine’s crafts with the boys would be fun. It has turned into a huge messy whine fest. So that was thoroughly unsuccessful.

Something I have found simple joy in, surprisingly, is my planner. That’s where I ‘ve been writing two things that made me smile that day, where I write down what scripture stood out to me. It’s gorgeous, and inexpensive. (You can find it here.)

I’ve also been experimenting with essential oils more often. I recently switched brands and I’ve seen an enormous difference. That’s been fun.

Each day, honestly, this has been the last thing on my mind…

 

Health:

Considering in the last two week I’ve seen a PCP, cardiologist, GI doc, have had blood drawn several times, seen an urgent care doctor twice, a neurologist and I had to cancel an echocardiogram… I’d say this one takes up a lot of time currently.

So I’m focusing on things that get me closer to the goal of overall health. That did include doctors visits.

I now have PT exercises to do. Those count. Drinking water. My awesome Mom gave me her old Fitbit so I’ve been using that to track progress of mine slowly.

 

Over all, I’d say this was a start. Successful start? Sure. Because it started.

-Mae

AFE: In The Valley

Day 64.

Today has been hard. Honestly, this week has been hard.

Mahalia’s birth and experiencing an AFE are in juxtaposition. They are placed close together, with completely different effects.

Every step of this journey seems to have something to celebrate and something to grieve.

We are celebrating a brand new, amazing LIFE; while grieving how close I was to losing mine.

We are celebrating the Mahalia’s milestones, while grieving how I missed so many in the first few days.

We can celebrate each step of recovery I experience, and yet we are full of grief over what my body endured.

Each doctor I see celebrates that I’m alive, and yet I am grieving that we still aren’t sure exactly where my body is at and how it was affected.

It almost feels wrong to grieve in the midst of such a beautiful time with Mahalia’s life. But it just the way it is.

I celebrate that we have been able to stay home and spend so much time with just our little family, and yet grieving the holiday time, visits, attending church, and more that just hasn’t been able to happen.

I feel so full of contradictions that way. All the wonderful events that we celebrate share a boundary with the closest I’ve been to death. It’s so heavy.


 

MEDICAL UPDATE:

GI: Today, on day 64, I went in for a simple blood draw, but it had me very nervous.

A blood draw last week, with the Cardiologist, revealed some heightened liver enzymes, and low potassium. So, I ended up needing to see a GI doctor and get an ultrasound done of my liver and gallbladder. I have been having some disgusting interesting symptoms. Pale/white stool, stomach ache, nausea, and sometimes throwing up while having a bowel movement. (And no it isn’t because I’m straining so hard… I have no idea why anyone would ask that, but several people have! I’m not even constipated! Ugh, this subject is hard to talk about… no pun intended.) My ultrasound came back with minimal results except that they couldn’t actually see the part they were hoping to…But it all sounds like gallstones. Okay, not so bad, but then he says if that’s true, then they are causing issues. What do they do with gallstones that cause symptoms? Surgery.

Waitwhatnow? Wait, back up… surgery? My GI doctor said that would only be if we happened to find out it was in fact a gallstone. How do we find that out? Well, he wanted me to do a blood draw on day 2 of my symptoms that are coming and going. So. Today, on snowpocalypse, I ventured out for that blood draw.

The nurse told me that my left arm probably has PTSD from the 5 IVs I had in it… after she stabbed my 3 times and couldn’t get a blood draw. (Also, can we please stop using mental health disorders as a joke? It isn’t funny.) The right arm worked.

Now we wait. And if it comes back and shows whatever the GI doctor is looking for, then we do an MRI. Sigh. This has been a long process.

 

CARDIOLOGY: I visited Cardiology to follow up with what condition I left the hospital in. Which wasn’t bad. My heart was beginning to fail during the AFE, and while in ICU, they were checking it frequently, as it was only pumping around 40%. Thankfully that returned to normal, and the only effects they found were leaky valves and dilated ventricles, which are supposed to heal on their own. I have an echocardiogram next week. 

 

PRIMARY CARE:  With all the specialists I need to follow up with, I needed someone to be the point of contact. The amazing doctor who led my surgery and most of the measures I needed then, is an OBGYN. So really, after postpartum, he couldn’t be my primary care provider. So, I selected one carefully, fought with insurance for two weeks to get her and to see me before MARCH 27, I finally had that appointment.

I’m feeling snarky tonight, so I am going to say, I am just a tad disappointed. I know I’m not the most important person to this doctor… but I was hoping she would have researched AFE a little, and had a lot more direction to give me. Thankfully she listened to me well and did give me the referrals I needed. She also talked me through a few things she has seen after embolisms in general…. neurological damage.

Neurological damage. Great. Why not? Every other part of body is in shambles at this point so go ahead and mess with that too… Okay, now I’m just being cynical. Sorry, excuse the snark.

She explained how my entire body basically went without oxygen more extended periods of time. So neurological damage is likely. But really, only time will tell to what extent. So I get to see a Neurologist who is likely to become someone I see more often than I expected. She explained that neurological damage isn’t always just cognitive, it can be in the process of the brain communicating with the body…. anything from mobility, memory, organ functions. Yay…

She also referred me to Physical Therapy. I am excited about that part. I’d like to be able to get moving more. I will update you on that when I can.


 

I am feeling heavy with grieving tonight. Processing what my body endured and how the process of finding out how it’s parts were affected may take a long time. I feel as though everyone else is moving past me, and I am stuck in the middle of the room, watching everyone else. It’s an odd feeling. I feel disconnected from my “normal life”. I want to feel normal again, and yet… who knows when that will be. And it certainly won’t be the normal that it was before Mahalia was born. For good reasons and sad reasons.

But isn’t that what makes life rich? We can appreciate the peaks in life because we have spent time in the valleys. 

Today I’m in the valley, but that is also where the fruit grows. 

-Mae

 

Simple Sundays: 5 Focuses

1. God.

  • Prayer.
  • Reading God’s Word. (I am currently reading a chapter of Proverbs that correlates with the day of the month, and a Psalm correlating with how many days since Mahalia was born.)
  • Hearing His voice.
  • Obeying His Word and instruction.
  • Following and allowing His Spirit to lead me, even if it isn’t convenient. Because let’s be honest, it often isn’t. 
  • Taking time to encourage other believers in their faith.

2. Husband.

Guys, I hate to admit this, but I have not been making my husband a priority. It breaks my heart to say that, but I know it is true. He has come last. I feel so busy with kids, nursing, trying to eat enough and drink enough water, care for my mental health, laundry, etc… that I end up expecting from him instead of building him up. I plan to change that. He not only deserves it, the Lord has impressed that upon my heart.

  • Making time for his primary love language.
  • Complimenting him daily.
  • Helping him achieve his goals.
  • Knowing and listening to him.
  • Say yes to him more often.
  • Intentionally spending more time with him.

3. Kids.

I want to be intentional about how I spend my time with my kids, how I influence them and making sure they feel heard and loved. They also need to be directed and guided.

Marzden:
  • Coloring/drawing with him.
  • Reading him books.
  • Working on school work.
  • Asking specific questions about his day and then listen with my complete attention.
  • Play a game.
  • Say yes more often when he asks to do something.
  • Ask him what he wants to do and do it.
  • Encourage and compliment his abilities.
  • Talk to him about God.
Ammons:
  • Listening to him with my complete attention.
  • Imagine and talk with him.
  • Play a game with him.
  • Do “heavy work” with him.
  • Include him in things.
  • Encourage and compliment his abilities.
  • Talk to him about God.
  • Dual Language on Fridays.
Mahalia:
  • Skin to skin time.
  • Extended eye contact and talk to her.
  • Play.
  • Tummy time.
  • Mindful nursing.
  • Read her books.
  • Sing songs.
  • Bath time!

4. Hobbies.

  • Make cards.
  • Take pictures and share encouragement on social media.
  • Blog.
  • Write letters.
  • Arts & Crafts.
  • Garden.
  • Marco Polo with family and friends.

5. Health.

  • Take a walk.
  • Relaxing exercises.
  • Yoga.
  • Oils.
  • Hydrate.
  • Eat a healthy snack.
  • Prep meals.
  • House hold cleaning.

 

Simple Sundays

I need things to be simple.

Not just because of the season of life I’m in. But because life is too short and too complex already. For anything to be doable for me… it needs to be simple.

I want to be intentional about my time and my life, but I often find that I don’t follow through. Over the years I’ve studied how to set goals and attain them, and one of my biggest weaknesses is setting my goals too specifically or unrealistically.

On top of that, I’m a pretty strong E/INFJ, so I run on pure inspiration. Motivation comes in waves. I can be more productive in one day than I was in a whole week because of that. Creativity is my blood life. Strict schedules strange me. Too much loosey-goosey and I never get anything done that needs to be done.

The balance is hard.

I’ve come a long way. I can now commit to things and generally get them done, but I struggle with the over all balance of the several important aspects of my life.

So I made a game plan. And a simple one.

I need a way to focus. Visuals help me. Simple visuals. So I brainstormed what things are most important to me. And simplified them into 5 simple words.

God. Husband. Kids. Hobbies. Health.

Everything I wrote down that is important to me fits into one of these categories. I want to be investing in these things EVERYDAY. Instead of long, complicated goals I have ONE. That goal is to do something to invest in these 5 things, EVERYDAY.

I am so excited to really dive into this more and share with you more on Simple Sundays. Simple ways I am investing my relationship with God, my relationship with my husband, the forming of my children, creativity that makes me thrive and the health of me and my family.

This years word is SOWING… and this is the perfect way to set me on the right track.

What would be your top 5 things?

For my ideas for each category and simple explanations, visit Simple Sundays: 5 Focuses.

-MAE

AFE: Week 8

10 Things about where I am 8 weeks out from the AFE.

8 weeks?! That seems so short, and yet it feels like a lifetime of sitting on my couch, healing. Time has felt like such a strange swirl. On one hand, it has felt like only a few weeks. On the other, it has felt as though I’ll never be back to normal.

Here are a few updates with how things are going:

  1. Mahalia (8 weeks): She is so perfect. She only fusses if she needs something. She has been a wonderful sleeper. She is growing and getting so plump! I adore it. She has been cooing and smiling. She has the most beautiful almond shaped blue eyes… dreamy girl!
  2. Ammons (5 years): I’m just going to be honest, he has been driving me insane lately. He has SO MUCH TO SAY. And although I love that… my ear needs a break sometimes so my brain can have some quiet. Thankfully he is in Preschool 3 days a week for about 3 hours. Praise the Lord, haha! Now that you think I’m a terrible mother, let me say that he is a great big brother. He loves helping with Mahalia. He loves being with me and doesn’t really leave my side. He is hilarious and always brightens my day.
  3. Marzden (6 years): He adores having a little sister. He wants to carry her around places, and prides himself on being extra careful with her head. He is a very kind kid with a soft heart…and currently throws a lot of fits. Anyone have any advice for that? He needs extra space when he comes home from Kindergarten, so we give him some time to read, draw or color for a bit before we let Ammons maul him.
  4. Jordan (35 years): He is getting tired. He has been working hard since the beginning of my pregnancy to do extra around the house. That has tripled since the birth of Mahalia and I think he has hit his max. Thankfully he is hitting the gym before work and making a lot of music. Those who things ground him really well. He has been the most hard working, reliable man I have ever witnessed. And I married him… cue fanning of my flushing face.
  5. Physical Healing: The bruises and tape marks have faded, and now the scars are what remain. My incision is still a very fresh and tender scarring, but scar none the less. I can still feel the internal stitches where they sewed around where my uterus once was. It is tender, and somedays it hurts more than others. I am getting feeling back in odd places across my abdomen. I have this really unattractive “lip” that sits above the long scar… My body doesn’t feel the same. It doesn’t feel like mine yet. With intentional practice, I’ll get there.
  6. Follow Up: Let’s just say that The-Insurance-Company-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is lucky I didn’t commit mutiny and overthrow their leader… All in all, I’m making progress. But it makes me feel like a pirate.
  7. Processing the AFE: Processing has been going well. I have been able to work through a lot of the things I experience (flash backs, memories, emotions) on my own. I do see a counselor regularly to aid that process. Most recently, I had the most surreal experience of laying on my back and closing my eyes… every time I closed my eyes, I was feeling and seeing what I did on the OR table as they worked to save my life, before they put me out. I let my body and brain lead me through the experience so I can process it. Its a painful experience, but it sure helps me.
  8. Small Steps: I’m slowly figuring out what “normal” is for a while until I get all my specialist appointments so I can be cleared for “normal” life again. I can’t help but think… I’m not normal. Never have been. I’m not “back at it” right now. I don’t know when I will be. Somedays are so infuriating. Somedays I think I could get used to couch-dwelling. Small steps, everyday.
  9. Faith: The Lord has been ever present. He has been speaking life into me through His Word. I adjusted my Bible reading to a chapter of Proverbs correlating with the day of the week and a Psalm correlating with how many days post partum/post AFE/ how many days Mahalia is. That has been doable and spoken so much life.
  10. Food: Oh boy. Guys. I am not an awful cook… I just lack creativity. I follow recipes and when there is no recipe, I’m the woman who is like ” We have no food in the house! Just ingredients!” and I lose it. I try to meal plan but that has gone COMPLETELY out the window after this whole ordeal. Send help. And food.

-Mae