Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014

When I look back at this year the first thing I remember chronologically is the car accident.  I was hit pretty hard on a highway driving to work.  I still get anxiety when I drive past that spot each day or when I see other accidents. It was over 10 months ago in February right around my birthday.  The car was totaled, I had a concussion, dislocated some ribs, had bruising from the seat belt and had to see a chiropractor for at least a few months.  I had just started a new job in Boulder.  One step forward, two steps back, I thought.  I decided to make it two steps forward, one step back, and bought myself a used mercedes.  While I don't like the stigma that is attached to it, the car is a rock, a tank, makes me feel safe and I can't complain about the heated seats in the below zero temps this winter.  What I still can't wrap my head around is that the car was the same price as the car I totaled, a GMC.  Two steps forward...

Within weeks I had my first cancer scare.  And boy, was I scared.  CT scans, specialists, blood work and swollen 'lymph' nodes in my neck.  I couldn't hold it together.  I couldn't go in to work.  Turns out it was my submandibular glands which were inflamed.  Looking back it was probably the stress of the accident which flared yet another autoimmune disorder.  Doctors wrote it off as sjogrens syndrome (aka dry mouth).  Cough drops, gum, and a fancy toothbrush became regular parts of my day.

Migranes.  I wouldn't leave the house without my migraine medicine.

Strep throat.  Every couple months, if not constantly.  Another positive test.  More antibiotics.

Enough!  I started a new diet.  Why not?  Nothing to lose.  I talk about it too much, I know.  It's a low inflammatory diet.  It's not the kind of diet where you try to lose weight.  In fact, I'm trying to gain weight.  I've been trying my whole life.  It's one of those things I need to accept and let go of.  Off on a tangent again, but I think life is about tangents.  What's fun with straight and narrow?  Low acidic, high alkaline, no nightshades.  I know, I sound like I'm from Boulder though I've somehow managed to spare you the words gluten and paleo.

Some doctors were skeptical.  Some were supportive.  I surrounded myself by the supportive people as much as I could.  3 months in and my rheumatologist said I could try going off my medicine.  6 months in and he said I didn't need blood work.  I'm about 7 months in and originally said I'd give it 15 months.  Let's not forget when I said that it was 15 months, it was being strict on my diet and I cheat way too much.  Perhaps that should be my new years resolution - not cheat, for 3 months and see what happens.  At the rate I've been going, it can only be good.

Let's also not forget I'm still dealing with strep throat at this point.  One doctor recommended going paleo.  Paleo for strep?  The last time I had strep the antibiotics didn't work.  After a week I went back in and got a stronger dose.  It was enough to scare me to go under the knife.  In October I elected to have a tonsillectomy.  To say it was hell and back is no understatement.  It was worse than childbirth, but I don't regret it in the slightest bit.  I was scared for my life, scared of choking on my own spit.  I couldn't eat.  I crushed pills.  I went through 30 pounds of ice chips, which my husband kept for me in a camping cooling by our bed.  I couldn't sleep.  I got a yeast infection in my throat.  Smoothies burned.  Orange sorbet burned.  I lived on sips of milk to coat my stomach when I had to take a pill.  I flared and got a spot of psoriasis on my elbow and a toenail that dislocated from the nail bed.  My psoriasis reared it's ugly head but the arthritis of my psoriatic arthritis stayed dormant.  I got back on my diet as soon as I could and while the one small spot of psoriasis and nail bed remain, they haven't gotten any worse nor have I flared again since the surgery.  One step forward, two steps back?  Haven't you learned I'm optimistic?  I'm two tonsils less, haven't had strep since, and am still off my medicine!!! Two steps forward...

Brycen had hand, foot, mouth.  Horrible.  His hands peeled like snake skin.  We found out he's allergic to sesame too.  Two steps back?  No.  We also found out he's not allergic to stone fruits, sunflower... and we've graduated to oral food challenges.  Two steps forward...

I could go on and on about the year we've had.  As one of our neighbors said, "never a dull moment at the Vroman house".  I could talk about the multiple ER visits we've had.  But I don't want to blow up every single thing that happens in our lives.  It's life.  It has become the new norm.  Shut up and deal with it, as my dad used to say.

Did I mention I got a promotion?  Two steps forward...

Cheers to 2015, I'll be dong my best to focus on the good things.  Cheers to family, cheers to health and being off all meds, cheers to friends and cheers to neighbors.  Cheers to life because while it's hard, at least I can say I'm living.  I'm alive and living life and we should all be grateful for that.




Friday, August 23, 2013

Rules for Eating

There were 2 things my mom taught me about eating and I think they've served me well.  No, we didn't eat by the clock.  No, we didn't eat by the food pyramid.  No, we didn't have to finish our plate.  And yes, we could have bedtime snacks.  It all surrounded these two main principles that I hope to never forget.

1) Eat when you're hungry, don't when you're not.
2) Make your meals colorful.

Thanks Mom, I love you for just being you as well as for all the good things you've taught me in life, this just being one of the many!

Preschool, really?

Each door in our daycare is nicely labeled.  "Infants", "Young Toddlers", "Early Preschool", and so on.  This week my baby Caden entered a room with a questionable label: preschool.  Wait a minute.  There must be some kind of mistake.  Really?

Every time a child transitions up to the next room, you get a nice note from the director warning you of this and it is accompanied by even a nicer reminder that you'll be charged less due to the higher child to teacher ratio.  I got the letter and really didn't think anything of it since we get them every 6 months, but when I physically walked into school and saw that sign on his door I knew I had hit a real milestone.  No, not the, "stand and let me take your picture before your first day of school" milestone because my kids have been in "school" since they were 3 months old but, a working mom's milestone that went a little more like, "wow, is this happening right before my eyes?  when the heck did this happen?".

For Caden it is nothing new as he's been doing this for years now, but for me, I felt a small pain in my heart as if my baby had just grown up before I even had a chance to make it "Facebook official".  No, we didn't do any prep the night before for his first day of "school".  No, we didn't take any special pictures.  But I did have my moment.  It may not have been like all the moments you see plastered on Facebook, but it was still a special time of my own and a feeling I hope to never forget.

Let's also not forget that I even asked the director on my way out the door, "Is that right?  Preschool?  Like, 'preee-schoool?'"  You know, like the real school that all kids go to and not just daycare kids?

Yup, he's in preschool!  Congrats Caden, I'm so glad you are enjoying the transition.  You even cried when I tried to take you to your old room yesterday.  "No", you said, "Preschool!"  Oh yeah, thanks for the reminder sweetie.  Rub it in, your a big boy now.  Preschool.  Love you Caden, we're so lucky to have your in our lives!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Happiness Project

I'm realizing now that while I enjoy writing, I've been breaking some very elementary rules of blogging and perhaps should not be a blogger.  I do not blog every day.  I do not have an audience.  I do not notify others when I post.  I don't have an underlying purpose.  Perhaps then, this exercise of writing should take more the shape of a journal with paper pages than a public webpage, but alas, there are memories here I enjoy revisiting and let's admit it, typing is much faster writing.

I'm just beginning to dig into "The Happiness Project", a book a co-worker dropped on my desk after we spoke in passing about being moms and reading 'self-help' books for years on end about pregnancy, childbirth, and raising children.  Interestingly, this book, while 'self-help', was not about the enormous changes my body was about to endure, the overwhelming birth plan I was supposed to determine, or how to tame temper tantrums.  It was about me.  Wow, what a concept after having popped out two children in the past couple of years.  Something about me!  What a crazy idea.  What mom has time for that?

Ok ok, my husband might say it's all about it me anyways.  Happy wife, happy life, right?  And as much as I've been neglecting everything from work to my marriage for the sake of staying afloat as a new mom, I starting to drink the kool-aid this book is dishing out and believe that to really make all these areas of my life work, and work well, it starts with me.  Such a simple concept and not a new one, but one we as the giving and unselfish beings we are, need to remind ourselves from time to time.

To "be Kristin", I spent a whole ten minutes doing something today that I've always enjoyed.  Writing.  Tomorrow, maybe I'll spend five minutes, or fifty minutes.  Honestly, I probably won't write at all.  I'm still trying to figure out where I'll focus that ounce of energy I might have at some point in the day since it's been so long since I've been anything other than mommy or wife.  I enjoy running.  I enjoy being outside.  I enjoy helping people.  I enjoy going to new places.  I enjoy time as a family.  I enjoy leaving the house but coming home just as much.  It's a start.

And now for the disclaimer should my unknown public following take a glance.  You're not happy they ask? You were voted most optimistic my senior year. You have a husband, a house, a job, happy children, so why are you reading this book?  Truth is, while I may appear as if I have a lot to be happy for, the past couple years have been the hardest of my life.  It's been more than a healthy challenge and I feel somewhat beat up, physically and mentally, from it all.  So, I hope this book can steer me back on course to sleep more, appreciate what I already have, nag less, persue a passion, reconnect with friends... all of which should only help my children, my marriage, my work... and the cycle begins.  But the cycle has to start somewhere and today, it starts with me.  Cheers.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

One vs Two

There are a lot of differences between having one kid or two. Here are just a few examples.

When you hear a child cry...
1) you immediately drop everything and help.
2) you think oh good, they're still breathing.

When a child spits up...
1) you change their outfit as soon as you see it happen.
2) you wipe it off and keep going (so long as it's not soaked and will dry soon enough, I'm not that mean) and wonder how long they've been that way.

When you hear a child wake up on the monitor...
1) you go get them.
2) you turn off the sound and wait until you can hear them without the monitor.

A child wakes up in the middle of the night...
1) you give them a few minutes and see if they will put themselves back to sleep.
2) you jump up and get them so they don't wake up the other one.

Your child is finally down for a nap...
1) you give up taking naps yourself and do something productive. A ten min nap before they wake up isn't worth it.
2) you put your feet up and try to take a nap. It lasts ten seconds, you never fall asleep and you are thankful for every second!

I'm sure there's one for three kids or more too, but I'll let my sister fill me in on what that's like in a couple months!


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Brycen's Birth

When I got pregnant with Brycen, something clicked. It's hard to explain what exactly unless you've been there, but when I look at the misty fog over the foothills in the morning out my bedroom window, I know the fog (my mental fog, that is) has lifted. If you've ever experienced depression or postpartum depression you may not even know you’re in the fog until you come out of it. Suddenly, my mind was clearer and simple things were more enjoyable again. I was worried though that after I had Bryce the fog would creep back into my life. Luckily, that hasn't been the case.

With Bryce being my second I thought everything was going to be easier the second time around and boy was I wrong! The pregnancy was tough and very painful! Back pain started sooner, hip and pelvic pain reared its ugly head, and my hands even swelled enough that my wedding rings didn’t fit anymore. I even went on daily walks every afternoon at work to help keep my body feeling fluid. Even the first trimester was more difficult, most likely due to the fact that I was running after a toddler and never had an opportunity to rest. I always felt bad that baby Bryce had a little rough housing from his big brother before he was even born, but Caden was too young to understand what was in my belly and did very well at being gentle with my growing belly.

I took the opportunity to take two weeks off of work prior to Brycen’s due date. I was conviced he would come earlier and at least earlier than Caden (who was two days early), but Brycen joined us just one day before his due date, on Thanksgiving day. He was my 8lb 10.5 oz turkey. The days leading up to his birth were the hardest part of the journey. I envisioned my time off of work would be relaxing, full of fun with Caden on his last days as an only child, and productive in preparation for Brycen’s arrival, but I was very wrong. The first day, I came down with a horrible case of strep throat which put me in urgent care and required my first shot of antibiotic as well as a full week of antibiotic pills. I broke down and Caden and I watched TV all day for multiple days in a row! I could barely move and remember barely being able to swallow liquids. Luckily the medicine kicked in rather quickly and I spent the remaining time trying to rest, heal, and get my strength back.

My contractions started two days before Brycen’s birth, which meant I was having contractions at least every ten minutes for at least a minute for two days! I am still shocked they went on that long and that I was able to labor at home as long as I did. I was anticipating labor and was able to breath through them much easier than when I fought them with Caden. I first called my doctor the evening before he was born.  She suggested I head to the hospital for a quick check as a precaution.  I drove myself there and Jason stayed back with Caden.  All the tests showed that yes I was having contractions, but everything was normal so I was given the choice to stay in the hospital overnight or head home.  I decided to head home because I much prefer my own bed and being with my boys than being in a hospital bed by myself!

I next called my doctor morning of his birth but she advised that I stay put until the contractions were at least five minutes apart. Hours later, literally in the span of a single contraction, I told Jason to call my doctor as I was unable to do so myself and not ask but tell her we were coming! Our friend Patti rushed over to pick up Caden. Caden joined our friends and Patti’s 1 year old son Ryder for a Thanksgiving feast and Jason and I rushed to the hospital! I was so worried about leaving Caden, but knew he couldn't come along on this ride. He joined us on the hospital tour and pulled about every cord and opened about every drawer he could find, plus we had no idea how long of a night it was going to be.

When we got to the hospital I walked in slowly and the security guard brought me a wheelchair. I almost didn't sit down because it hurt too much to anything, even sit down. I eventually sat down and remember watching everyone’s faces as I was pushed down the hall – all the not-in-labor people watching me – some in fear of the unknown and some totally understanding what was about to happen and smiling at me as if I already had a baby in my arms.

 Up to triage I went. The nurse asked me to sit on the bed so she could check how far along I was and I immediately bent over on the counter unable to even make it a few feet over to the bed because another contraction started. I remember her saying, “you’re going to make me run!” When she finally was able to check I was already 8cm dilated and by the time I was wheeled down the hall to the labor and delivery room I was 9cm. The anesthesiologist rushed in and said, “I know this sounds wrong, but I’m going to do this right away on your next contraction, not in the middle of contractions. The pain of the contraction will distract you from the epidural placement” and in it went. I was feeling pressure and ready to push and the epidural hadn't even kicked in yet. Push the button, push the button (we thought and did as much as we could, to administer more of the epidural)! Ok, legs up, draft and bright light between the legs, tears running down my face, and one set of four pushes. Almost there. Almost there? What?! One more set of four pushes, the most pain stinging I can imagine, and a nurse telling me not to scream so much and to try and put that energy into the pushing and well, hello baby boy! Wet, gooey, white and bloody, wrinkly, a head of brown hair, a perfectly round head, and a healthy boy was suddenly on my chest. He lifted his head off of my chest and it frightened me. He was so strong, even from the very first moment of his life.

It was less than 20 minutes from the time I had entered the labor and delivery room when Brycen was born at 4:32pm MST. The nurse said that if he were any smaller, we might have had him at home or in the car. Good thing the epidural kicked in because now it was time for another set of stitches. I’m an old pro at this now, so get on with it. Push the placenta out, stitch me up, and let me order some food! I got to watch the sunset over the mountains out our window and even enjoy a thanksgiving dinner in the labor and delivery room. An hour or so later and we were already on our way to our room.

Our hospital was “baby friendly” so instead of having a traditional nursery, mother’s were encouraged to room-in with their baby. I was anticipating this with fear and as a burden, but found it to be the most enjoyable experience. After I got settled, Jason left for the night to go pick up Caden and get him home and to bed. I stayed put with Brycen at my side. I could look over and just watch him sleep so peacefully. I didn’t get a lot of sleep that night because I spent most of it watching over Bryce. He spit up once and I had to change him. The nurse thought it was more fluid from the birth. Given the speed at which he came to join us, not all the fluid may have been pushed out of him when he made his way out. He didn’t like the ceiling lights so I tried to keep it as dim as I could.

The next morning I ordered Texas Toast and a smoothie for breakfast. I had pasta for lunch and even got a 30 min massage in my room in the afternoon and in 24 hours, we were saying goodbye and were on our way out.

I never understood the women who talked about wonderful births, but it was indeed a rather wonderful birth and Brycen continues to be wonderful to this day. We are so lucky to have such an amazing little boy and I am so thankful that he helped lift the fog away.  Cheers, Jason. We did it. We did it twice and lived to tell the tale. We are now a family of four.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Caden - 15 months

Our little baby is 15 months! It’s exciting because he can now do the following things…
- Unlock our iphone by sliding is finger across the screen
- Almost run
- Throw food and hit multiple rooms and people with a single swipe
- Say “hot” and everything is “uuut” right now
- Point in two different directions at once
- Easily crawl up and down stairs
- Almost reach the doorknobs
- Figured out how to climb on things so he reach and climb higher
- Drink bath water
- Drink out of a cup though most of the water ends up on the front of his shirt

Ok, now that I’m seeing this list I’m not sure why I said I’m excited. I should be terrified! I guess we are just proud of our little man, growing and learning, one day at a time. We are especially proud of him after his doctor appointment! He got three shots, cried when he was poked, and now doesn’t need another shot (except for an annual flu shot) until he is 5 years old! He also went from being only in the 7th percentile for weight to 39%! Go Caden! He was 22 lbs and 4 oz. His doctor was even intrigued by our tips for feeding and controlling his eczema. Throughout his appointment, his doctor called Caden 1) smart 2) strong and 3) happy. And that, makes us happy too.