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The Echo

6 Jun

One reason I decided that I liked cardiologist Dr. McGorisk is that when he heard my son Rex’s name, he said, “Oh when he figures out what his name means, he’ll think he’s the king of your family!” and I said, “Well, Walter means ‘Commander of the Army,'” and he replied, “But still.”

I went in for the echocardiogram early last Thursday, bringing both my babies with me. Rex cried during the whole procedure. Walter said, “It’s probably because he is worried about mama,” and then sang “You Are My Sunshine” to him on repeat. A nurse came in to check on who was making so much noise, but then left without really trying to help Rex calm down.

I was trying to relax while laying on the table in the dim light, but it also hurt, because the lovely tech jabbed the wand into me, especially my stomach, trying to get good readings on the ultrasound. My heart actually hurt during a significant portion of this, and it never hurts. My mom later said when I mentioned this that “It didn’t hurt me when I got one recently, but maybe that’s because my heart is healthier than yours,” which may very well be true.

Even though I told him I needed this all to be done before June, he scheduled the echo for June 1, and I didn’t get to talk to him about the results. So we’ll just have to chat via phone unless somehow it is super serious. But the tech would have told me to go to ER if it was really bad. So I’m not worried.

Peace, love, happiness, and presence, y’all. Be safe out there.

Namaste+Alex+Greyby Alex Grey

My Heart Will (Hopefully) Go On

30 May

Life certainly doesn’t ever slow down. While we’ve been traveling to and from Asheville obsessively over the last month to visit and house hunt, I’ve also been taking a deeper look into my heart. This is not just psychological heart ache (per usual), but recently I’ve been to see the “family cardiologist.” My grandmother, my aunt, and my mom have all been his patients.

My mom’s mother is almost 94 and is still going strong. She’s at a nursing home and has been since her strokes the summer after Dave and I were married, so just about six years ago. She actually looks better now than she did Christmas of 2011. My mom’s older sister suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhagic stroke over a year ago, and it’s such a miracle that she’s alive. She’s doing fantastic now and has really seemed to mellow out.

Four days after I had Rex, I couldn’t fall back asleep at 2am because I had a fever and my back hurt when I breathed. When I called my MIL around 7am, nursing a sleeping baby — and crying — to see if she could watch Walter so I could schedule a visit with my midwife, she told me that Pop would come get the 4yo and that I should go immediately in to the ER because I might have a pulmonary clot. This is a woman who usually dismisses my flus as mere colds. So Dave and I did as she said, deliriously tired with the tiniest of babies, and they took an EKG and a chest x-ray. The EKG read as slightly abnormal but the x-ray was fine. The blood they drew had elevated numbers, so both they and my MIL, who was an OB/GYN at Piedmont hospital for over 30 years, recommended that I should get a CT scan.

To make things more fun, they totally freaked me out when they said they were injecting me with a radioactive dye and that I shouldn’t breastfeed for 24 hours. My milk supply had just come in, so I didn’t have any saved up (hello, I had just left the other hospital!), and I was totally unprepared to feed my baby another way. Besides that I just cried because I had spent two years yearning for another baby to nurse, and here he was, brand new, and I had to give him up for a day.

We researched it as best we could — called the MIL, the ER doctor brother, Google — and were given the CT disclosure, and as best we could conclude, the stuff leaves your body in 15 minutes and isn’t a big deal. So we decided to ignore what the one nurse had suggested that started the whole debacle, and I continued to nurse Rex post procedure. Maybe his insides glow in the dark now.

The hospital then kept me somewhat hostage, denying me food and water in case of possible surgery, for about four hours after the procedure. I was a newly nursing mom, horrible postpartum hormones, body out of whack after growing another human being for the last nine months, and I couldn’t get a sip of water for about six hours total (wasn’t allowed it before the procedure also). The hospital I had just left after giving birth told me that I needed to drink 5 big cups of water and 2 cups of milk every day to establish my milk supply, and it wasn’t until I literally started crying and begged for the results and for something to eat or drink (I’ve never known hunger and thirst like when I’m pregnant or nursing around the clock) that they produced all three and told me I could go home. I did, at some point before this, sneak some water from the bathroom sink in the ER. God knows what diseases I could have picked up there doing that.

Right before they sent me on my way with my $900 bill, they described the irregularities of the EKG and told me that I should follow up with a cardiologist. Low and behold, I kinda already had one! I’ve read those stories of women in their thirties having heart attacks etc (and not knowing about it because the only sign was that they threw up twice or something like that). Well, I don’t want that to happen to me. So I made an appointment with Dr. McGorisk, who is this very lovely cardiologist at Emory with a to-die-for Irish accent. He knows what he’s doing and has the greatest glasses. When I told him that I was related to the Fleeman women, he brightened up even more.

Unfortunately, the repeat EKG showed that the irregularities were still there — even though I’ve been working out 2-3x a week recently! How very unlike me! — so I’m getting an echocardiogram this week, which he says is a much better diagnostic tool than the squiggly lines of the EKG. He’s not worried (as the results still fall within normal range), but my blood pressure was super high at the appointment. Hopefully that was related to white coat syndrome. I did wake up earlier than normal and drive through an hour of I-85 collapse traffic to get there. I have struggled with high blood pressure in the past (runs in the family on both sides), but it has usually been pretty good since I had Walter. I stopped regularly eating ramen noodles around that time, so that might have helped. But it’s something to keep an eye on.

I have been hurrying to get it all in before my husband quits his current really great job for our adventure in Asheville. I pretty much had met my out of pocket maximum for the year the first two weeks of January, and this new job change means our insurance is already starting over. I better not need a doc in the second half of 2017! Dealing with insurance (and then still owing a ton of money on top of our deductible) is a huge stressor for me. No wonder I (might) have heart problems.

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Huuuuge News

26 May

This is one of my top five biggest announcements of all time:

We are moving to Asheville, NC in less than a month!

Woah. Just woah.

Some people move around a lot (or at least once!), but I have never lived anywhere but Atlanta, Georgia. Well, except when I was three — my first memories of life are out in the desert in Claremont, California. But everything else in my life has been right here in this metro area.

This is why my brain has been so frazzled lately. I am trying to live life to fullest, transition us up there in the next few weeks, and all while needing to keep the house clean and running after two tinys.

I thought we were done moving for a long time. We finally just got settled in the new house and were enjoying our suburban life as a family of four, when this opportunity came to us. It was literally only a couple weeks after I said to Dave and my mom, “I want to live somewhere besides Atlanta,” but I was thinking of something like Alaska or Canada. Thank goodness we’re only going to be three hours away by car, not six hours by plane. The Universe knew I didn’t really mean that far away.

I’m nervous, but also really excited.

IMG_20170520_221652_716Life will be like this all the time. #SierraNevadaBrewing

It now feels like moving to East Cobb was a baby step for this move. I was very happy to get where we are now, but it had its challenges. I was pregnant, feeling terrible, and spent a lot of time being lonely. Moving 30 minutes away at times felt like an entire state away. But I navigated (and cried) until I got to a place where the boys and I are happy and busy — almost too busy!

Besides uprooting the great life we have here and leaving our beautiful home and yard and all our friends and family, one of the things that makes me the most sad about leaving is the diversity of East Cobb. I have been very happy to be a part of a really diverse (and not just black and white too!) community over the last year. We are sometimes the only white people at an event, like story time at our local library. Asheville, unfortunately, is pretty white-washed. I know the mentality is open-minded there, but still. I like being in a melting pot of culture.

However, I feel in my soul that this is the right move for us right now. Dave is very excited about his new career path. We met our realtor — and so far our only friend in Asheville — through our current next door neighbor, who has been super great to us ever since we moved to Marietta. I’m a hippie at heart who cares more and more about the earth, and I love the artsy, green, sustainable, local culture up there. I’m looking forward to this next challenge and all the opportunities we’ll have. I’ll really miss where we are, but sometimes you just gotta take a leap!

 

A Time for Renewal

24 May

In the past month, as Spring has come to the land again, we’ve been out and about celebrating with friends and family.

I attended my first Seder dinner, which might have been my single most moving religious experience yet. A new friend couple who live in Inman Park had us over for their first time hosting Seder at their house.

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It was a beautiful dinner with great friends.

The next day we drove up to Chattanooga to celebrate Easter with my in-laws. The rituals of Christianity are always interesting to witness.

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And it’s a great excuse to dress up to celebrate the rebirth of earth (well, in this hemisphere)!

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A couple weeks later we went to A Perfect Circle concert. Finally. It was my first time seeing this band live, although I’ve seen Tool seven (nine?) times and Puscifer three times. All three bands are led by Maynard James Keenan: vocalist, poet, musician, and guru. Seeing him perform is usually like “church” for me.

He started his show with giant black and white shadows of the band, then turned the primary colors to red and yellow (the first colors we supposedly see as infants after black and white), and then spent most of the rest of the show in purple light, which I imagine as a very complex and enlightened color.

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Keep it coming, world! This is fun!

 

Stress Dreams

18 Mar

 

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My body has been telling me that I am stressed out. I didn’t think I was, but I went to the dentist recently, thinking I had my first cavity in about a decade, or possibly more, as several of my teeth were hurting. My dear dentist tried very hard to find a cavity but concluded that my teeth couldn’t look better (thank goodness). He then used a device to make them very cold (which was a super fun sensation), and determined that my nerves were upset, probably from stress, extra grinding, and lack of sleep due to the new baby. My bite has always been an issue because of my TMJ problems, so he adjusted one tooth and sent me on my way. I had to agree with him, thinking about how my jaw has been hurting more than normal, causing me to wear my nightly retainer occasionally during the day.

I was under the impression that I was getting great sleep. After the first couple mind-numbing weeks of trying to sleep while holding a baby (because sweet Rex wouldn’t sleep if he was put down), we have been slowly figuring out a system. This system evolved to what we do today, which is swaddle him tight and put him down around 11pm. He sleeps about 5-6 hours, I feed him once, put him back down, and he sleeps for another 4-5 hours. This is what I would call “winning”. But as both he and my husband can be somewhat noisy sleepers, and I am a light sleeper, and the baby is still in our room, I have taken to finishing out the night on our deliciously soft guest bed in the purple room, guaranteeing me a couple more hours in the wonderful land of nod.

However, and I’m not sure exactly why, but every night (well, really morning) for the last week, I have had intensely vivid stress dreams. Maybe because of the shortness and intensity of the sleep?

  1. I was trying to call 911 because a girl was choking. A firefighter was helping her, but 911 thought I was making a prank call, so they hung up on me. The girl died and the firefighter threw her roughly onto the floor. After a moment she got up again (but was still dead) and chased me around the room.
  2. I was at my childhood home hosting book club. I was trying to cook something and I couldn’t control the flames on the gas stove, so they rose too high and burned the cabinets. A small panda was apparently on top of the cabinets, getting burned as well. I handed him to a friend and his singed hair came off in clumps as I tried to clean him up.
  3. I was hosting my birthday party at a new house I purchased with an awesome basement. My realtor was there and he built a human sized sling shot which he wanted to use to catapult the baby across the room. Everyone was drunk and I was mostly sober, and when I went to the fridge to grab a beer, mine were gone, having been drunk by other people.
  4. I was at a hotel, smoked some wacky tobacky in the gardens, and then attempting to get back inside I realized I was in charge of the baby, had to pass by my in-laws to get to the baby, and some lady stopped me to tell me how strongly I smelled of the illegal substance.
  5. Walter had his first soccer match. Instead of attending, Dave and I dropped him off and went out to dinner (maybe book club) with our friends. We got the timing wrong, and I realized not only had we missed his entire match, but we were ten minutes late to go pick him up. Dave argued with me, saying we had more time to go get him, but I left anyway and tried running there, which I was having a hard time doing and at one point my wedding ring caught on something in my hurry and part of it ripped off. When I realized it was too far away to get there by foot, I tried calling an Uber, but I couldn’t use my phone correctly or get my credit card number entered or sign up again or all the things I needed to do to get to my son.
  6. I was trying to find my new coat to leave a very large school (everyone else had their coats but someone told me mine had been destroyed), and I realized I was dreaming. Once I realized I was dreaming, people started looking very crazy and I wanted to wake up, but I couldn’t figure out how to wake up. I realized if I could find my way out of the school into the parking lot, I might wake up in real life too — and that’s exactly what happened!
  7. I was in class and knew I had to take three different tests. Afterwards I was supposed to go directly to the symphony, but I realized I had worn my pajamas to class and milk was leaking all over my shirt. I didn’t have my car with me, so I figured I could Uber back home and make it back in town just in time to make it to the symphony. I tried to get the baby in the car seat, but the car seat was flopping around and I couldn’t figure it out. So I found another car seat that worked, but this time when I looked down the baby didn’t have any arms. Bypassing that issue, I wondered whether I should grab Walter from his class to take him home with me, but I couldn’t find the Kindergarten classroom, and none of the teachers I asked in the hallway could tell me where it was either.

I think maybe I need to take a Xanax before going back to bed.

Rex: Male Model

28 Feb

img_20170221_175556“Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?” – Derek Zoolander

Last Monday night I was getting ready for bed when my friend texted me about LalabuBaby wanting newborn models. Because I was a model for a midwifery magazine ad with my parents when I was three days old, I thought I’d give at least one of my sons the chance at the same type of stardom.

Newly joined to Instagram, I figured out how to DM them a super cute picture I had recently taken of Rex and some basic contact info. After a little back and forth, I agreed to bring my sons the next day, completely unsure of what this adventure would entail.

Tuesday after lunch and my six week postpartum appointment, I wasn’t sure why I had agreed to go do this. It was looking like rain, and we had just gotten back from Ohio, plus the baby had basically been crying since we got home. We figured he was either going through a growth spurt or thoroughly expressing himself after being in a car seat for four days straight. However, I had made a commitment, so I got the boys in the car yet again and trekked into town. We made it to their office in Old Fourth Ward only five minutes late.

When I approached the door a very nice woman came out and told me filming was running late. I could only go in if we would be absolutely silent. With a four year old and a new kiddo I knew that would be impossible, so we went back to the car to wait. Walter played on his Leap Pad, and I nursed baby Rex. Soon they were done, and we headed back in to wait some more. Turns out they just wanted newborns on call, to work as possible stunt doubles for the model and her newborn who were really doing all the shots. At this point I was genuinely wondering why I had bothered to leave my house, but I decided to wait it out so that I could get the free $75 baby-wearing shirt they had promised.

Two other new moms were there. One was a first time mom with a 5 week old boy. She and her husband own The Big Fake Wedding, which was really interesting to hear about, especially since I love all things wedding. The other mom had a 5 day old boy, one of a set of twins, the other still in NICU at North Fulton, even though he was ready to come home. I was super impressed that she was there. She had brought her husband as well, and they also had a two year old girl at home. It didn’t take long for all of us to start talking, and it was a great, albeit brief, new mommy support group. It made the whole trip worth it.

Right when we were about to leave to avoid rush hour traffic, they asked if anyone could spare their baby for a few. Rex was just finished nursing and happy. The other boys were either nursing or sleeping, so Rex went to makeup… just kidding. I put him in a white onesie, and he got to be the baby model in a video showing how to get a baby in and out of the shirt. When he started fussing after a couple of takes, it was time for us to go.

We were parked in the neighboring church parking lot. The car next to us had its windows open and the three occupants were in there drinking beer and smoking some wacky tobacky. I had to ask them to shut their windows before we got close to the car because the smoke was billowing out around my car, which they did of course. Walter didn’t mention it if he smelled anything funky!

Gotta love in-town Atlantans and random experiences.

A Sweet Husband Story

21 Jan

It’s been a bleak day. The weather in Atlanta has been dreary. Many of the people I know are marching in protest of the President who was inaugurated yesterday. This, however, is a story about socks. Really great socks that make me happy every time I look at them.

When I was getting together my last minute things for the hospital while in labor, I picked out my favorite pair of socks to wear. I actually thought to myself, “Maybe they’ll be my lucky socks for labor.”

Once I was done with triage, the nurse had me put on super anti-slip, hospital-issued socks so that they wouldn’t get sued if I fell — I mean, so I wouldn’t fall. Because I was having contractions and my pelvis was still hurting from my huge belly (I hadn’t been able to comfortably put on a pair of socks or shoes for months), in an attempt to hurry I put the socks on over my lucky socks.

An hour later, while I was busy holding my newborn, the midwife or a nurse pulled off one soaked hospital sock in an effort to help me clean up. She didn’t realize that one half of my lucky sock pair was still inside said hospital sock. I had a brief thought that I could deal with that later, but alas, when I next thought about it, it was missing.

My husband, after our magic bonding hour with our new baby, spent a good 15 minutes donning gloves and digging through the biomedical waste baskets in an attempt to find my socks, which at this point had both gone missing. He found one, and I implored him to give up on the other, that it didn’t really matter.

Several days later, while at home, an Amazon box arrived at our door. It was a new box of Betsey Johnson socks (only the coolest socks ever), and the designs were even better than the socks I had had before. Some people might want diamonds for a push present, but this thoughtful gift from my husband means I now have seven lucky pairs of socks and a smile on my face whenever I look at my warm toes.

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Last bit of the year!

31 Dec

Many of my friends currently disparage 2016, but it’s been been a great year for me. I will admit, it wasn’t always easy. But, I think that about every year. My life, especially since 2008 (when I finally set myself free from depression), has always had an upward trajectory, no matter what the hardships or setbacks. I try to enjoy myself, because what else can you do unless you want to be miserable?

Here we are, almost a new year. I can’t believe it’s been 17 years since Y2K. The last bit of this year has flown by, as I knew it would, with all the holidays and hustle and bustle of life, making my anticipation of baby #2 an easy one. He is due right around the corner — any time in the next week or more.

However, I’ve had some anxiety about his upcoming birth. I’m not really sure why, but I think it’s because I had an unmedicated birth with Walter, so I set the bar high out of the starting gate. Poor #2 might not have his own nursery, but doesn’t he deserve the same entrance into the world? I believe in the natural birthing abilities of women like I do in homeschooling, but, I’ve still been scared. Scared since pretty much week 16 when I knew he’d come barreling out of me at some point, and I didn’t want to drug him and me doing it if I could help it.

So today was a good last day of the year in preparation for that. My awesome doula Alice came by to talk about birth #2 and soothe my fears. It helped more than all the great birth stories I’ve been reading to try to bolster my spirits (stories which actually were making me more nervous by talking about overcoming all the pain). We chatted for a couple hours, and I feel once again like I did with Walter, that I can do this.

Then I met a lovely friend for a latte and lunch at Bread and Butterfly, followed by a pampering mani-pedi at Serenity. My boys had flowers waiting for me when I got home, so it really was a perfect day despite the dreary weather outside. Sometimes that makes me feel extra cozy inside, especially when things go so right!

img_20161231_143223115I channeled my inner-Dave and ordered the burger, which was delicious.

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Cool blue for baby boy!

If I make it to midnight, we’ll be enjoying our annual 12 grapes of good luck. And tomorrow collards and black eyed peas will be simmering after breakfast. Looking forward to that and the new boy with many emotions swirling inside. When will he get here?

Pregnancy/Fertility Thoughts

28 Oct

29-weeksAlmost 7 months pregnant!

I have been growing this little one with so much joy inside my heart. It is different though, after secondary infertility and fertility treatments. I think that was why I was so anxious about the birth of this one even from the very beginning. For so many months my body had failed to give me what I wanted, and I don’t think I was truly trusting myself, even after my pregnancy continued to progress smoothly.

The first time I got pregnant, it happened after one cycle of trying. This time it took 2 years almost exactly from the date I wrote “We can start trying!!!” on our Google calendar to getting a positive pregnancy test. By the time it finally did happen, we were trying so many things at once, only God knows what did the trick. It takes three months for eggs to develop from follicles; the egg for baby boy #2 originated from the month we were doing our anti-inflammatory diet. I was going to acupuncture every two weeks. I had an endometrial biopsy the previous cycle. And, we did a Femara IUI cycle.

I think there honestly is a different feeling (for me) to getting pregnant in the quiet intimacy with my husband vs the public happenings at an RE’s office. I suppose some people can hide that aspect of their lives, but I needed the support of my friends and family throughout our years of trying. And by the time I was going to an RE’s office several times a week, it’s hard to hide from the “did you take a test today?” questions — not that I minded. I enjoyed sharing the journey.

The book on orgasmic birth really did help my anxiety. While there were things I didn’t like about that particular book (the author was a bit aggressive, for one), it helped me get in tune with the feeling that “all this is natural, just let your body do what comes naturally.” And that’s when I realized I had a block against those type of thoughts because of how this little one came to be. But the truth is, if God, or the universe, hadn’t wanted it to be, it wouldn’t have happened, no matter how many interventions. I know many people who try fertility treatments for years with no success. So I’m slowly getting back to that assurance I had with Walter that my body knows what it is doing and can handle a birth. Can more than just handle a birth.

My goal this time is to push the baby out with a smile on my face, instead of hyperventilating. My goal is to feel the joy coursing through me every moment of his birth, as I have for every moment of his pregnancy… well, since the unbearable nausea ended. It’s amazing to me how negatively I felt, after trying so hard, when I finally got my wish granted. I’m glad that has passed, and I’m only looking forward to the things to come, like holding this little one as close as possible for as long as possible, and sharing him with all those who love our little growing family.

One of Those Perfect Days

9 Oct

Friday was a really glorious and fun day. A friend turned me on to Goldstar, and it’s quite great to buy cheaper tickets to an event you want to go to. I saw the listing for Disney on Ice, and I thought that Walter and I would probably enjoy that. So I bought some seats.

I debated with myself if I wanted to drive down there and park at Philips Arena, but I truly despise navigating through downtown and trying to find (and then pay for) parking. Walter had never been on a train before, so I opted for us to ride MARTA as part of the all-day experience. I knew he’d enjoy the very long escalators at the stations too, and I wanted to stop at Dua Vietnamese for lunch on Broad Street after the show since we’d be in the area. It’s our #1 favorite restaurant; Dave and I used to eat there 3-4 times a week when we attended GaState.

img_20161007_101209He thought maybe the train was never going to leave the station.

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He drew a map of the tracks and Five Points station where we’d be transferring. He was also very interested in what MARTA does and does not allow to happen on the trains.

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I didn’t take any pictures while we were there, mainly cause it was so awesome I never pulled my phone out. I loved the show, and Walter never took his eyes off the rink (except to stare at the colorful whirly toys that kids around us had). I love when Walter enjoys himself like that.

Afterward we walked from Philips Arena to Dua, which was only about half a mile away. I love walking through Georgia State campus in the early fall because it reminds me of meeting and falling in love with David in the fall of 2008 and all the fun we had in college together. Dave met us at the restaurant, where the bun bo hue was fresh and as delicious as it’s ever been.

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We rode with Daddy back to his office, then continued on to our car, where Walter fell asleep on the way home. I was jealous. It was a great day for a great boy.