Parenting, the hardest job I’ve ever had!

Being a parent is hard work. Yes, there are lots and lots of rewarding times thrown in but when you get right down to it, it’s tough. Being a single parent is doubly tough. In a 2 parent household, in theory, you have a partner to help you out with those rough patches. You have back-up. When you’re a single parent you have no back-up. It’s all you, baby! I have all the respect in the world for military families who have one parent deployed while the other is manning the home front. Those are a different kind of single parents. Having to parent without your partner and having the extra worry for their safety would be unimaginably hard. I can’t imagine the stress that would add to a family and I’m grateful from the bottom of my heart for each and every one of those who are defending our country and making the world a safer place. Please don’t think I’m discounting those parents in that situation. I’m not! It’s just different.

You see, when you’re a single parent, whether by choice or by circumstance, you don’t have back-up. Ever. You have one income that has to work for everything. Food, clothes, housing cost, medical bills, utilities, transportation, repair bills, hair cuts, toothpaste. All of it costs money. Lots of it! When you’re a single parent you don’t have the luxury of an extra income coming in to help with that. Some are lucky enough to get child support from the absent parent. Not everybody is. Sometimes the amount of money you get in child support is such a small amount that if I told you what it was I’d be laughed right off the internet.

In the last 20 years I’ve done it all. The 2 a.m. feedings? Yep, that was me. The 4 a.m. run to the E.R because your child won’t stop throwing up and you can’t get the fever down? Done that, too. Sleeping in a chair for 3 nights with your 2-year-old who has the chicken pox and won’t lay down? Been there. The preschool assessment lady asking your 3 1/2-year-old her name and being told “My name is Shark Bait Hoo Ha Ha!”? Not my finest parenting moment. Really funny and a great story now but at the time? Not so much. The call from the school that your child was in a “situation” on the playground and they are considering suspension, IN KINDERGARTEN? Yeah, that really happened.

When you’re a single parent with a single income trying to raise a family sometimes you have to make a choice between eating lunch (even one you brought from home) or putting gas in your car. Wearing the same coat for 3 years just so you can get a new one for your child at the thrift store is sometimes just the way it works. Losing your job can mean losing your home. I’ve been very lucky that I have family around that has, more than once, taken in my girls and I so we could get back on our feet. I’m lucky. Not everybody has that kind of safety net.

Being a single parent has also been the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. Now that Beauty is almost 20 (How the heck did that happen???) I look at the beautiful young woman she is becoming and I am proud. I did that! I look at MiniMe who just turned 14 and I know that even though some days she still makes me crazy, she’s a good girl who loves her family and cares about those around her. I did that too!

Yep, being a parent is the hardest, most rewarding job I’ve ever had.

 

Happy Birthday MiniMe!

Less than an hour old

Less than an hour old

On this day, 14 years ago, I gave birth to my Mini Me. The above picture is the first time Beauty held her. She was so very proud of her baby! It started a few days earlier. I went to the doctor for my last check-up on that Wednesday and he told me things looked great and she could come any time. He also told me he was leaving town for the weekend. I told him not to go because if he did I would for sure have her over the weekend. I don’t think he believed me. I went back to work and called my mom and told her they might want to start thinking about making the trip from Idaho since it could happen any time. My parents left the next morning so Grandma could be there when the baby decided to make her appearance. That Friday my sisters-in-law, my mom and I went shopping. I think they were trying to walk that baby out of me! We did more shopping (Christmas was coming soon!) on Saturday and I started having contractions so off to the hospital we went. They decided she wasn’t quite ready so they sent me home. ::sigh:: As we were getting ready for bed, my step-dad told me that if I went to church with them the next day I would have the baby. If I didn’t go, I wouldn’t have her until  Monday (my birthday). Anyone who’s ever been pregnant or known a pregnant woman knows that by that point, she’ll agree to just about anything to be done being pregnant. I was no different! I slept great that night. Well, as great as you can at the end of your pregnancy. We went to church and of course sat IN the middle OF the middle in a big huge church sanctuary. The singing started…and so did my contractions. They were 3 minutes apart right from the beginning. Grandma went to let Beauty’s teacher know we were headed to the hospital so she could tell the rest of the family and off we went. Once we got to the hospital, they wanted me to lay down so they could check me. I refused because that hurt way to much. So I paced around the room. They called my doctor. He was on his way back from his weekend trip with his family. I TRIED TO WARN HIM! Anyway, once I finally had enough and the nurse pretty much forced me to lay on the bed so she could check me, I was dilated to 8 cm and ready to push. I begged for an epidural (I’ve heard they are wonderful things!) but she told me it was too late. I was devastated! I tried to reason with her and tell her I would just stop everything so she could do it but she didn’t fall for it. My doctor called about that time to say that he was back in town but had to drop off his wife and son at home before he came to the hospital. The nurse told him he didn’t have time for that and to just bring them along. At that point, I really didn’t care who was there, I just wanted to get this show on the road!

He finally showed up and came in my room to announce that he had arrived and was going to change. I told him to hurry up and come break my water because I was done with this business and I was going home. He laughed at me. JERK!

He made it back and as he was opening the packaging of the device they use to break your water, I looked at the nurse and told her I thought I needed to push. She told me “Go ahead. Let’s see what happens!”

I pushed.

My water broke.

I pushed 2 more times.

MiniMe was born at 12:27 pm on Sunday, December 5th. She weighed 7 lbs. 15.5 oz. and was 19 inches long. She was perfect.

Grandma gives the best hugs!

Grandma gives the best hugs!

Sounds simple enough, right? Well, that part was pretty simple. My family was waiting in the hallway to meet the newest little person in our family. They all came in as soon as the doctor cleared me for visitors. Beauty got to be there when they checked out her baby and got to help give her very first bath. They brought me a lunch tray. I remember it was turkey, mashed potatoes, peas and cherry pie for dessert. I really wanted the pie but my mom told me I had to eat lunch first. Unfortunately for me, I listened to her.

Remember the part up there where I said I refused to lay down? Well, it’s pretty difficult to put an IV in when your patient is pacing the floor. So they didn’t. That probably wouldn’t have been a problem if the patient in question wasn’t me. You see, with my whole family there to welcome the new baby and me pushing the peas and potatoes around on my plate, that nurse came in to push on my tummy (I know there’s a medical reason for this but it’s not fun at all!) and found that I had been hemorrhaging for the last hour. They made everyone leave except my mom and they took my lunch tray.  I remember them frantically trying to start an IV. I don’t remember much but I do remember there was figure at the end of my bed telling me I would be ok. I asked my mom later. There was nobody at the end of my bed. I had an angel watching over me that day.

MiniMe and I spent the next 3 days(including my birthday) getting to know one another in a hospital room. I never did get my cherry pie. We were released on Wednesday evening. That Friday we all left for Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Idaho where we stayed for the first month of her life.

14 years later

14 years later

The last 14 years have been an amazing journey. I love you MiniMe and look forward to many more birthdays with you.

Love,

Mom

 

I miss her

Mom and I 2013

Mom and I 2013

Today marks the 4 month anniversary of my mom passing away. This morning my sister reminded me that this means that for 4 months Mom hasn’t been in any pain. She’s right. It also means it’s been 4 months since I last held her hand and told her I loved her.

Adjusting to this new reality without my mom has been really hard. Mom died on May 16th. On July 17th I put Beauty on a bus to Idaho. I’ve seen her exactly one time since then and that was a month ago at our family reunion. (That epic adventure will be told in a future post) A few weeks ago I met a friend for coffee and we ended up sitting and talking for 4 hours. Before we even got out of the car I made the comment “My mom died and 2 months later, almost to the day, I put my daughter on a bus.” My friend looked at me and just totally got what I was saying. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said “So it feels like you lost your mom AND your daughter.”

She was exactly right.

I know Beauty is safe and doing well and really needs to be where she is right now but I miss her so much. We have always had a very close relationship, something that I’m sure most single parents can understand. The bond we have is something like the bond I had with my mom. My dad died when I was 12 and from then on it was just Mom and I against the world. Well, that’s the way it has pretty much always been with Beauty and I. Us against the world. She has been my rock more times than I care to admit. She was there by my side as I held my mother’s hand and told her I loved her for the last time. She was there when I had to call the doctor because I was having an anxiety attack and thought I was going to die. She was with me when we had a service locally for all of the friends and family that couldn’t make it to the second service. She was with me when we drove all night to get to my sisters for the final service and graveside memorial. She was with me a month ago when I had to tell my mom’s sisters about the last week of my mother’s life. She was right there with me holding my hand and making sure I was okay.

Today is the day that I grieve for my mom and remember the amazing life she had. She made me who I am today and I can only hope that I’ve done half as good a job with my girls.

After Mom died a friend posted something on my Facebook that I struggle to remember every day. She told me to keep my chin up and a smile on my face so my Mama can see my beautiful face as she looks down from Heaven.

I love you Mom and I’ll see you later.

I love you Beauty and I’m so proud of you for the amazing young woman you have become. I’m so glad God made me your mom.

I love this girl!!!

I love this girl!!!

I remember

9114People everywhere are remembering the day our world changed. On that fateful day 12 years ago I remember exactly where I was.

At the time I was working in a call center for a cell phone company. We hadn’t heard much when I received a call from a woman whose phone automatically transferred her to my department. The woman on the phone that day was frantic. She was a stewardess for United Airlines. She was trying to reach her friends and co-workers. She was supposed to be on one of those planes.

Twelve years later I don’t remember her name but I’ll never forget her voice.

Shortly thereafter we received word that if we wanted to leave work we could go and not face any attendance infractions. 21-month-old MiniMe was in daycare and 7-year-old Beauty was in her second grade class at school. I chose to leave. I knew there was nothing I could do and thankfully I didn’t personally know anyone who was killed that day but I needed to gather my children close and keep them as safe as I knew how. I picked up the girls and we went home. Thankfully they were young enough that they didn’t understand at the time what was going on. I struggled to answer Beauty’s questions in a way that she would understand.

Twelve years later they have learned to live in our post 9/11 world.

I have relatives who have served in the military and a nephew who is a civilian firefighter in Afghanistan. There’s a local family who lost a son a few years ago. We live in a small community and the day he was brought home everything stopped. The motorcade from the airport to the high school gym where his memorial service was held was one of the most amazingly heart wrenching things I’ve ever experienced. Beauty and I were on the freeway and every overpass was filled with people. The fence along side the freeway was filled with flags.  Cars pulled over to the side of the road to show respect for this fallen soldier who was one of our own. I was one of those cars.

I am thankful every day for the men and women in uniform who work so hard to make sure that our world is safe. Whether it’s a military uniform or our firefighters, EMTs, police and sheriffs, all of them are working together to make sure that we in this country are safe.

For this, I thank you.

My response to the Daily Prompt

Mooooooommmmm….

I’m going to change my name. I’ve decided. I can’t tell you what it will be because one of you will tell my kids then I’ll be screwed.

7195 days ago I became a mother. I suppose you could add 9 months to that if you wanted to get technical about it but I think that number is overwhelming enough as it is. Little did I know that I was about to embark on the most difficult, sometimes heartbreaking, often terrifying, frequently enjoyable, always rewarding adventures of my life! Almost from the beginning I was mostly a single mom. When she was 3 months old, I became a really real single mom. Thankfully I had MY mom to help me. Those early days were tough as we learned about each other and got to know one another. My baby Beauty was my first true love. She taught me things about myself that I never knew. I didn’t know you could function on so little sleep for extended periods of time. Not function very well but still able to be semi-coherent. She opened my eyes to the little things I had never noticed. She was excited about pretty much everything and learning to see the world through the eyes of a child is an amazing experience. For the first 6 years of her life we were a team. It was her and I against the world. 5019 days ago her sister was born. Beauty was such a great help when I was pregnant with MiniMe. She loved to cuddle with me on the couch and lay her head on my baby bump. 2 weeks before MiniMe was born we moved into the hotel I worked at and were living in a room there. 3 days before MiniMe was born my parents arrived and stayed in a room across the hall. Because of complications during childbirth (I almost died! For real!) I had to stay in the hospital for a few days. Poor Beauty had never really been away from me for that long and wasn’t happy about it. That first night she decided she was going to sleep in my bed since she couldn’t be with me. Grandma couldn’t get her to change her mind for anything. MiniMe brought many changes to our lives. Beauty was the very best big sister around. Right up until her baby started getting into her stuff and trying to eat everything. Then the days (and nights) were filled with “Mooooommmm she has my…” or “Moooooooommmm she wants my…” That never really changed even as they got a little bigger. Except instead of only 1 of them saying it now I had 2.

MiniMe was my “no leg baby”. Not literally of course but the kid seriously had the shortest little legs it was crazy! Beauty was 7lbs 6oz and 21 1/2 inches long at birth. Long and skinny. MiniMe was 7lbs 15.5 oz and 19 inches long. She was the Gerber Baby. Most of that 19 inches was her torso. She didn’t even hit the charts for height until she was almost 4! Beauty was off the charts from the beginning and finally stopped at 5’9″. She didn’t get that from me! MiniMe is now 13 and a couple of weeks ago we measured her and she’s 5’1″. Yep, that’s my girl!

The other day I was making dinner and MiniMe just randomly yelled “Moooooommmm”. I’m pretty sure it was just to see if I’d react. That’s when I told her I’m changing my name and I’m not telling her what it is. She didn’t find the humor in the situation.  Right now Beauty is taking some time away and visiting family and working on herself. The last year has been a rollercoaster and she needed to get off the ride for a while. MiniMe is keeping me on my toes this summer. We now have a kitten so she’s been busy with that. Horse Camp Season will be ending soon and it will be time to go back to school and get our routine back. She is definitely a creature of habit and not having anything to really do during the day is driving her a little crazy.

10 days from now we will be at our family reunion with my aunts and uncle and cousins on my mom’s side. The day we get there will mark the 3 month anniversary of mom passing away. I’m glad I’ll get to be with my extended family on that day. But I guarantee I’ll still get to hear one or hopefully both of my children call me Moooooommmm… And ya know what? I’m gonna enjoy every single minute of it!

How am I?

Well, that’s just a loaded question right there.

In the last 12 days:

  • Monday – Beauty was admitted to the hospital with kidney problems again
  • Tuesday – My mom was admitted the following day to the same hospital with internal bleeding. I also had my first ever anxiety attack
  • Early Wednesday morning – My brothers and sisters and I had to make the decision to let mom go. I had another anxiety attack
  • Thursday – Mom passed away. I had 2 more anxiety attacks. It was also my step-dad’s birthday 😦
  • Friday – Beauty was released from the hospital because the doctor is an idiot. My sisters came from Idaho
  • Saturday – Had a service here for mom. Another anxiety attack
  • Sunday – Went to my old church (also the church my parents attended). It was good to see so many of those who have been praying for us but still hard to be there without my mom.
  • Monday – Worked all day and ended up taking Beauty back to the hospital to be re-admitted.
  • Tuesday – Worked all day after getting 2 hours of sleep in a chair at the hospital with Beauty. Doctor released her again because they can tell us what ISN’T wrong with her but can’t figure out why she’s still in so much pain. Really dissatisfied with our healthcare system right about now!
  • Wednesday – Worked all day, probably the most uneventful day I’ve had in a while.
  • Thursday – Got to see the little boy who is like my grandson. Haven’t seen him since Thanksgiving. He’s growing so much! **I didn’t cry for the first time in a week!!!**
  • Also Thursday – A truck with an oversized load hit a bridge on the freeway about 30 miles from where I live and the bridge fell in the water. Thankfully nobody was seriously injured! Bad news for me is that I have to drive that way today after work! Yep, that will be fuuuuuunnnnn!!!! NOT!
  • Today is Friday and after work we are leaving for Idaho for a second service and burial for my mom. Good news is that I have Valium!
  • Tomorrow is Saturday and we will be having the above mentioned service for family and friends that weren’t able to come to the first service. I expect I will cry a really lot.
  • Sunday we will be driving back home.
  • Monday I will sleep and clean my house that I’ve barely been at in the last 2 weeks.
A very sick girl and her very sick Grandma

A very sick girl and her very sick Grandma

During the last 2 weeks I have learned just how amazing my friends are. I can’t thank you guys enough for being there for me during this difficult time in my life. Y’all know how to make a girl feel loved!

Mamma Mia

I was 13 and totally rockin' the mullet!

I was 14 and totally rockin’ the mullet!

That’s my mom and I. I was 14 years old. It was about a year after my dad died. We were still having lots of struggles in our relationship. When Dad was alive he was the calming influence between us. I’ve mentioned before that I was totally a daddy’s girl. When he died there was no longer anyone there to calm things down between us. We had lots and lots of struggles. I’m sorry Mom! I get it now!

I am the youngest of 5. My oldest sister has kids older than me. The next to the youngest was 12 when I was born. I was basically like a second family for my parents and when I was younger it was almost like being an only child. Well, until my sister and my niece moved in with us. My niece is 6 months (and 4 days!) older than me and we fought like sisters. We lived in a 2 story house and she and I shared a bedroom upstairs. We were always falling down the stairs. One particular morning we were both coming down for breakfast and each had a glass of water in hand. She went first and fell and didn’t spill a drop. I wasn’t so lucky. By the time I hit the bottom my glass was empty and I was soaked. One year I got a Slinky for Christmas. We were trying to get it to work like the commercials said it did when Mom/Grandma decided to come show us. Mom became a human Slinky. 😦 Of course at the time we thought it was super funny because we did it all the time. Now that I’m about the age she was when that happened, I’m so very sorry we laughed. I’ve fallen down a couple of stairs recently and it’s not funny anymore.

Shortly before we moved from my little hometown to the county where I currently live, Mom had surgery. It was a huge change for all of us and Mom couldn’t do much at all. When we got here she was stuck in bed for weeks. Not the easiest way to start our new life but she did what she had to do and we all survived. When my dad died we were all thrown into grief, heartache and chaos. I can’t imagine how difficult things were for her. She showed amazing amounts of strength and kept our family together during the most difficult time of our lives.

During my teenage years we had daily struggles. Now that I have teenagers myself, I don’t think I can ever apologize enough to my amazing mother. I love you mom! I moved out when I was 19 and now that I have a 19-year-old myself, I understand how scared my mom must have been for me. But she always let me know that she loved me and was there for me even if she didn’t agree with my choices. I learned a lot from her.

Now that Mom is older and her health is failing, I realize how grateful I am to still have her in my life. We may not always agree on things but I know that she loves me unconditionally and I am so glad God chose her to be my mom.

I love you Mom and I hope your day is amazing!

Mom and I 2013

Mom and I 2013

Beauty and MiniMe

Beauty age 9 MiniMe age 2

This photo was taken in I think 2002. Back then my children liked each other. Minnie is actually the principal of the elementary school both girls attended. We love her!

When I found out I was pregnant with Beauty I knew my life was going to change. I was 20 years old and in what I thought was the perfect relationship. Looking back, I’m not sure why I didn’t realize sooner how very wrong I was. But things happen for a reason. If I hadn’t been in that relationship I never would have had Beauty. My pregnancy was very difficult with her. You see, I didn’t handle stress very well even before I got pregnant and during, I couldn’t handle it at all. My relationship was incredibly stressful and every time things would get bad I would start having contractions and end up at the hospital. When I was about 5 1/2 month I fell and landed on my stomach. That was another trip to the hospital but they checked us out and everything was ok. My doctor put me in the hospital overnight about 6 weeks before my due date because the contractions weren’t stopping. Thankfully we got them stopped and I was able to go home. All in all, I was in the hospital 13 times during that pregnancy, the 13th time was when I had her. That Saturday we went dinner at a local steak house. I went to bed early because I was feeling a little off. My contractions woke me up at about 9 that night. I had moved back to my mom’s house due to some things that were happening at our apartment. I got my mom and let her know that I thought this was the real thing. She had me go lay down on the couch while she made me some chamomile tea. She sat a cup of boiling hot tea in front of me and I grabbed it and sucked it down (scalding my throat in the process!), set the cup on the table and said “Ok, can we go now?”

We got to the hospital and they said that while it appeared that I really was in labor this time I wasn’t very far into it and needed to “walk the baby out”. I walked all night long, stopping at one point to weigh myself on the scales they had in the hallway. Every single contraction I had while walking almost brought me to my knees. Beauty’s head was pushing on my tailbone the entire time.  I had skipped Lamaze classes so I didn’t even know I could have asked for an epidural. And they didn’t offer! So after 12 hours it was time to get down to business. They finally did give me something that made me see stars but it only lasted about 3 minutes so that wasn’t very helpful. We all knew that Beauty was a boy. Although I had 3 ultrasounds we were never able to see THAT part but every single person I knew said it was going to be a boy. So when the doctor said “It’s a girl!” we were all pretty shocked. Beauty was born at 9:48 am. I should have known because my friend was also pregnant about the same time and her doctor TOLD her she was having a girl. Yeah, she ended up with my son and I got her daughter. It’s ok, we just traded clothes and it worked out perfect for both of us. I ended up with a beautiful baby girl, and a broken tailbone. I also weighed myself the day after I had her and I was 12 lbs heavier than when I was in labor! O.O How does that even happen??? I gained a total of 87 lbs with her. Granted my big craving was baked ribs and lasagna from a local Italian restaurant that I had to have at least once a week. I’m sure that didn’t help matters…

Five years later I got pregnant with MiniMe. I found out I was pregnant at 2 weeks. You’re not supposed to know that early. There’s a reason for that! It makes the next 38 weeks go incredibly slow! I found out I was pregnant and less than a week later I had what I thought was the worst morning sickness in the history of morning sickness. It lasted all freaking day! I was so sick I lost 15 lbs in 3 weeks! Turns out I had the stomach flu. Except when that went away I was still throwing up. Just first thing in the morning but still! Do you know what it’s like to throw up every single day for 38 weeks??? Not fun, let me tell ya! Despite throwing up every day it was a super easy pregnancy. I only went to the doctor for my regular check-ups. When I had my ultrasound at 5 1/2 months they told me it was a girl. I didn’t believe them! My entire pregnancy was so different this time that I thought there was no way it could be another girl. With Beauty, I never threw up one time. With MiniMe, every single day. Cravings with Beauty were, like I said carbs! I also called a local Mexican restaurant and got an order of deep-fried ice cream, to go! MiniMe cravings were fresh fruits and veggies. I seriously had nectarines available everywhere I went. Sometimes they were in the glove box of my car! When we went to the mall? I had one in my pocket! Not even kidding!

I went to the doctor the Wednesday before she was born and he said he thought it would happen within a week. I went back to work (I was Assistant General Manager at a local hotel) and one of my employees was freaking out and wouldn’t let me do ANYTHING! He wanted me to just sit and watch everybody else work! I think he was terrified I was going to go into labor at work and he would have to deliver the baby! I called my parents (they had moved back to my hometown 8 hours away) and they got here that Friday.  On Saturday my mom and my sisters-in-law and I went shopping. I didn’t have much for the baby because I still didn’t believe them when they said it was a girl. We picked up a bunch of neutral color stuff so I would have something at least. I started having contractions and ended up going in but they said I wasn’t far enough into it so they sent me home. I got home and my contractions pretty much stopped. That night my step-dad asked if I wanted to go to church with them in the morning. His exact words were “If you go to church with us you’ll have that baby tomorrow. If you don’t, you won’t have it until Monday.” That particular Monday was my birthday. So I went to church with them and Beauty was down in her little Sunday School class while we were up in the sanctuary preparing for the service. It was the first time I’d ever been to a contemporary service where there was an actual band playing! We started singing and it was stand-up/sit-down/stand-up/sit-down… After the 3rd time I looked at my mom and said “I’m not standing up again! My contractions are less than 3 minutes apart. Maybe we can go to the hospital now?” We got to the hospital and the nurse wanted me to lay down so she could check me. I told her she was crazy and refused. I paced approximately 3 steps back and forth in front of the bathroom until I looked at the nurse and told her “I think I need to go to the bathroom”. She said I had to lay down first so I did. I also asked for my epidural. She said it was too late. I was very close to delivering and there wasn’t time for that now. Yeah, I cried. I begged her and promised that I wouldn’t push and I would just stop everything until they gave me the epidural! Yeah, like THAT would have worked? Anyway, My doctor had gone out of town that weekend for his son’s soccer tournament and was on his way back. He was still a good 30 minutes away and I was about ready to push! He ended up bringing his wife and son to the hospital with him and they went to have lunch while he was delivering a baby. He got there and popped his head in to my room long enough to tell us he was there and going to change. I told him to hurry up so he could break my water. I think my exact words were “You need to break my water right now because I’m done with this and I’m going home!” Well, he made it back in time for me to tell the nurse I needed to push. I pushed. My water broke. I pushed 2 more times and MiniMe was born at 12:27 pm on Sunday, the day before my birthday. After she was born (Yes, they were right…it was a girl!) all of my family came to see us. Beauty was so excited! Some of my favorite pictures are from the first time she saw her baby sister. Everyone had to leave suddenly about an hour after she was born because I was hemorrhaging and bleeding to deal, literally. Lucky for me I was in the hospital so they had measures in place to take care of me. If I had done a home birth or been alive back in the early 1900’s I wouldn’t be here today. Because of the complications I ended up staying in the hospital until Wednesday. We left that Friday for my parents house 8 hours away. Would you like to know how much fun it is to sit in a big pick-up truck for 8 hours less than a week after giving birth? Let’s just say I don’t recommend it.

Being a mom has been the hardest, most rewarding job I’ve ever had in my life. I love my girls more than they will ever know. They are my whole life and although life hasn’t always been easy, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Living with RA

Mt Baker (2)

This picture has nothing to do with RA but this weekend we got to house sit for my brother and sister-in-law. This picture was taken from the back yard. Beauty took it early Sunday morning. She spent the night with us and woke up early. She grabbed my phone and took this picture. It was a great surprise when I woke up. One of the local coffee shops is having a photo contest and it was suggested that I submit this for it. I did but got an email back saying they needed a higher resolution copy. Unfortunately, I don’t have one. Oh well, I like the picture anyway. Those of you who are Facebook friends have already seen it but I just love it so thought I’d share here too!

I’ve mentioned before that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was diagnosed in February 2006. I had spent a year with what I called “The Amazing Traveling Pulled Muscle”! I was at the doctor nearly once a week with pain in a different location every time. The first was my right shoulder. My brother, Beauty and I made a quick trip for my uncle’s memorial service. A very quick trip. We were gone a total of 20 hours and about 15 of that was spent driving. I went to work the next day and couldn’t lift my right arm. My shoulder felt like someone was stabbing me with a red hot poker right in my shoulder joint. Any movement at all was excruciatingly painful. That was the first time I went to the doctor and was told “You have a pulled muscle. Here, have some narcotics!” They didn’t work. Three days later I was sitting at work and watched my left hand swell up and turn red. My left arm started hurting as well. You may recall that my dad died when I was 12? He had a massive heart attack. My mom? She’s had 3 open heart surgeries and a mild heart attack. Pain radiating down my left arm? You can bet I headed for the ER. Interestingly enough they didn’t even check anything with my heart! They ended up telling me “You have a pulled muscle” and giving me more narcotics. Really? And we wonder why so many people are addicted to pain pills???

Over the course of the next year, like I said, I was at the doctor multiple times only to be told that I had a pulled muscle. Finally after doing some research on my own I called and asked for a referral to a Rheumatologist. I ended up going in to my doctor’s office but saw a different doctor who FINALLY ordered lab work! Yes, I had been in this much pain for a year and my doctor never even did any labs! The very last time I saw the man who kept blowing off my very real pain he actually said to me “I got you in here on an emergency appointment. I don’t have time for this.”!!! Needless to say, that was the very last time I saw him. He’s still practicing. He’s even in the same office my girls and I still go to. But I’ve made it VERY clear that none of us will EVER see him again. I would rather take my chances at spending 12 hours in the ER than see him again. Lucky for us we now have an AMAZING primary doctor who actually listens and seems to genuinely care about what is going on with us. I was able to get in with a Rheumatologist that I really like. He understands that I haven’t had insurance for the last couple of years so he works with me for my appointments. He also has been instrumental in helping me get the most expensive of my medications ($2400 a month?!?!?) for no cost.

Now, 6 years after my initial diagnosis and 7 years after the onset of my symptoms, my life is mostly normal. Yeah, I have to take it easy some days and the cold generally hurts. Now that I’ve been on this most recent medication my flares are not as frequent (maybe 1 a month unless I completely overdo it) and aren’t nearly as severe as they were. When this first started I didn’t know how I could live my life with this horrible disease. Now I know I just do. Yes, it’s still horrible but I’ve learned that my body has certain limitations and as long as I remember that, I do ok. I have been blessed with a great job where it’s not overly stressful on me (which causes flares really bad!) and it’s physically not a difficult job. My last job before this was at a big box store and I walked 6-8 miles every single day.

Interestingly enough when I started writing this I was feeling great. This morning I woke up and could barely open my mouth because I’m having a flare in my jaw. Let me just tell you how much fun THAT is! If you have ever suffered from TMJ this is pretty similar. I can’t open my mouth all the way and I can’t bite down all the way. Makes eating interesting for sure! Today was the busiest day of the week at work and all I wanted was to take a nap! That’s what happens when I take my meds before work. Luckily I don’t get all of the common side effects associated with Chemo medicine, mostly because I take such a low dose. I just put a reminder in my phone to take meds on Friday night or Saturday morning so this doesn’t happen again. We’ll see how that works…

Loopie Moms!

Back in the dark ages, like before wi-fi, there weren’t a lot of options for internet. I had an awesome boss that actually helped get me online. I worked at a local hotel and we had one computer at the front desk that we could use to access the internet, with dial-up. Remember that? It was sad really. Anyway, one of my co-workers set me up under his AOL account and I was off and running. Those slow evenings at work consisted of sitting at the front desk and going into AOL chatrooms with my boss on her computer from home. Talk about a fun boss! I met some really fun people that way, some of whom I am still in contact with today. Chatrooms wasn’t the only thing I did tho. I was a young single mom with a preschooler. I found a couple of websites for moms and signed up for them. One day I received a random email from a random person asking if I wanted to be part of a mom’s email “loop”. I had no clue what that ment but figured, what the heck, I’ll give it a try. Honestly, that was the best “what the heck” moment I’ve ever had! That was 1998.

I started getting emails from young moms all over the place. It was awesome! At one time there were 25-30 of us spread all over the U.S. These ladies helped me through so much. They helped me through the final split with Beauty’s father. They encouraged me when I started a new relationship and let me vent when it ended badly. These moms whom I had never met in person actually helped me name MiniMe. When I had the ultrasound and found out I was having another girl I came home and emailed everyone that I needed ideas because I already had my girl and had nothin’. Not even joking when I say they named her. They totally did!!! Another of the mom’s got pregnant with twins the same year. Her girls recently turned 13! I remember calling her right after they were born and congratulating her. That was the first time I’d ever heard Kay’s voice.

A few years ago we got word that one of us had taken her own life. That hit all of us really hard. I know for me, I will always wonder if there was something more we could have done to support her. I was going through some old papers a few months ago and found a couple of poems she had written. It makes me sad to think that she’s not here anymore. I hope her girls are doing ok.

Over the years many moms have come and gone (we even had a dad at one point!). Each one of us has had more children and all except me have been married and some have since divorced. A few years ago I had an opportunity to finally meet 3 of my “Loopie Moms” in person. The original Loopie, Erica, was graduating from college and invited a couple of us to fly to Texas to attend her graduation. I got to hang out with Chelle and Erica the entire weekend and Kay met up with us a couple of times and we got to spend some time with her too. It was Mother’s Day weekend. It was AWESOME!

I honestly can’t imagine what my life would have been like if I had not responded to that first email. These ladies have helped me through so much and likely saved both of my children’s lives more than once. In the last few years we have been able to stay in contact through Facebook more so the whole email thing has mostly gone away. That kind of makes me sad because although I get to follow them a little closer it just isn’t the same as getting that more personal connection we used to have. Maybe some day I’ll get to meet Stacie and Andie but at least I know that we can still stay in touch through Facebook. Hopefully soon I will be making another trip to Texas to see my BFF Loopie Erica and help her plan her happily ever after.

Mostly, I’m really really glad I have my loopie mom friends and I can’t imagine what my life would be like without them.

Live you guys!!!