Monday, November 7, 2016

Heading Into The Holidays With A Healed Heart



Art by Henn Kim


Here I am. On the other side. It's been nearly eight weeks since my open heart surgery at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. I can't explain it in words. It's one of those things that can only be experienced and if you're lucky, you'll never have to. It was a hard journey and I am so grateful it's behind me and I am feeling so much better. You guys! My heart is fixed! I still have a road ahead of me. I'm not completely recovered and now I have to get back in shape (recovery is a lot of sitting in bed and not moving). But, I am a modern miracle! I give my love and blessings to Dr. Gillinov for sewing up the very large atrial septal defect in my heart. I am eternally grateful. He is brilliant and saves lives every day. 

I also couldn't have made it through such a terrifying time without the love and support of my family and friends. You guys have been amazing! Mom, Sara, it was so nice of you to come all the way to Cleveland to be with me. That really meant so much. Alicia, you were every bit a best friend. By my side through the entire procedure and a second mother to Fox when Mark and I couldn't be there for him. I know I would have had a complete breakdown if you weren't there with me. 

The amount of love we received when we got home was overwhelming too. We were provided with meals for almost the entirety of my recovery period. Cynarra, I want to thank you especially. The meals you lovingly prepared were so nutritious and just absolutely delicious. You went above and beyond to help us when we returned home. 

Dad, I know you would have been there if you could have, and I am always so thankful for the way you stay rational and calm my fears. I know you were praying for me. I could feel it. 

I want to say that my husband has done everything for me through this entire ordeal. Until he went back to work this morning, I didn't have to lift a finger if I didn't want to. He took care of Fox and kept the house clean and made sure I took my meds and ran all the errands and made sure that we had FUN! (Which is not so easy when you're dealing with a person in pain and doped up on drugs). Mark, you are the most amazing person and I am so happy I get to spend my life with you. 

Finally, little Fox man, you are just so awesome! What a good baby. This kid sat through endless hours of boredom in waiting rooms, slept in his pack-n-play in different hotels, behaved in his car seat for hours on the road, and through it all, I'm pretty sure he found a way to make it kinda fun. 

I don't plan to write about this epic adventure I went through anymore. I'm ready to wrap up this year and start fresh in 2017. I have already started to set things up for a new blog, and will let you all know as soon as I have it up. 

Thank you for reading this and to all of you in the digital world who have supported me through the surgery,  THANK YOU! I LOVE YOU ALL! 

~ Love & Light ~












Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Open Heart Date




Art by Pamela Jaeger


After much waiting, I finally have a date for my heart surgery. September 15th. So yes, still more waiting. Right now I have the robotic surgery room reserved at the Cleveland Clinic, and if all of my pre-op tests check out, they will go ahead and perform minimally invasive robotically assisted open heart surgery that morning. Let's hope those tests go well and I get the robot...if you have to have heart surgery, it is the least awful recovery time (6-8 weeks).

I think I will probably do a few more posts on this blog concerning my heart surgery experience before I create a new site. It's been so much fun here on No Place Like Home, but I'm ready to focus more on the magical, witchy side of my life and less on the geographical location we live in. So, check back if you care to know how my surgery goes, and to find out where my next blog will be; and as always, thank you for stopping by and reading! 


~ Love & Light ~


P.S.  How perfect is the artwork with the Fox looking on? 😀

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Broken Hearted






By now I had planned on having a new blog. I've decided I want to go in a different direction with content and just start fresh. That was the plan, but I've been a little distracted.

I won't go into the details. I'll keep it simple. I've been diagnosed with a hole in my heart (Atrial Septal Defect or ASD) and advised that it must be repaired by open heart surgery. I only got confirmation that surgery is necessary yesterday, and it hasn't really sunk in. I'm in a fog.

This post is meant to let you know why I haven't been blogging lately. I will update once I have a date for the operation. Please send positive thoughts my way.


~ Love & Light ~ 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

2016: Year Of The Red Monkey






A new year is upon us and that means it's time for a post about the Chinese zodiac. Chinese New Year begins on February 8th during the new moon and I am ready for the shift in energy. For the past two years I have incorporated the Chinese zodiac into my altar. In 2014, the year of the wood horse, I placed a small wooden box painted with a horse on the lid from my childhood, and in 2015 a small sheep cast of iron for the year of the sheep/goat. I liked having these small symbols upon the altar as a visual reminder of the influences affecting all of us. I've decided to go ahead and do the same in 2016 and have chosen a small hand blown glass monkey from the miniatures collection my mother gave to me. 

I found a great description of the monkey and its influence at apanache.wordpress.com


"Full of strength and determination, Fire Monkeys are excellent at not only setting goals, but in meeting them as well. Others enjoy being in the company of Fire Monkeys, even though these Monkeys want the upper hand in every situation.
The positive and negative quality of the Monkey Year 2016 culminate in a year that anything can happen. There is little point in storing up goods or planning one’s life. The influence of the Monkey puts everything into flux. Things will get accomplished, but largely through personal and individual efforts. Group movements, such as political upheaval or revolutions, will not make a mark during this year.
This cheeky animal bursts with exuberance, bringing a lightening fast pace and fantastical motivation. The Monkey increases communication, humor and wit, helping us get through stressful times with grace and ease. Business flourishes and risks tend to pan out. The Monkey’s gift is the ability to find unconventional solutions to old problems. Daring to be different can lead to success.
Talk is fast and cheap though, so be on the alert for deceptions. With so much mental energy zapping around, everyone needs to re-think their fitness program, diet and health plan. If you don’t have one, you definitely need to instigate some form of regular physical activity this year. The body was designed to move! Honor it! Stress needs to be burned off by going to the gym, swimming, yoga, water aerobics, dance, martial arts, team sports, tennis or long walks. When was the last time you did any of these things?
Although a lively, optimistic and progressive year where finances, politics, and real estate should see an upturn, there will be a decided undercurrent of insecurity. Everyone wants to work the shrewdest angle, get the best deal, and win big. However, business decisions made this year should be based on fact, not emotion. Problems and chicanery abound, so nothing this year should be taken for granted, whether politically, financially, professionally, domestically or emotionally.
A particularly auspicious time for new inventions, the Year of the Monkey is for taking risks and being rebellious, a year where agile, inventive minds, sheer guts and bravado will win out. Now is the time of courage, action, anarchy, and true devotion to even the wildest of schemes, a time to start new endeavours, for they are destined to succeed under Monkey’s influence. But a word to the wise: those who can hang on for the wild ride, outsmart the confidence-trickster, and bluff their way through will come out unscathed. Those who are dull or slow witted, and can’t handle the stress will come unglued.
On the individual level, do go ahead with your life. Move forward, make strides, and stretch out for what may lay ahead. The Year Of The Monkey 2016 is a time for business considered as risky, and here the seeds of unplanned success lays. Run with ideas, embrace the inventive, and don’t look back.
Remember that this year will reward the individual effort and those who place their trust in the group collective will face disappointment."
Little point in planning one's life? Works for me! One of the challenges I have faced after Fox was born is letting go of my rigid daily schedule/routine. With an infant the idea of a routine is almost laughable and I welcome the chance to practice flexibility, and do things differently to reach my visions and goals. It might also be the year to revamp this blog or start fresh with a different focus. 
I admit I will probably be pushed out of my comfort zone this year. I'm not the first to jump at taking risks, but as I read more about the monkey influence I'm sensing this will be an awesome year for my husband! Mark is a gutsy risk taker, one of the many reasons I love him, and I have a strong feeling this year is going to be good to him. As for me and Fox, I picture new endeavors here on the home front. One thing is certain; I am going to do my best to be present for every last drop of every last minute because lately time has a way of racing by so fast that I find myself wishing I had a pause button. This year, no matter how crazy, I'm going to embrace it all.
~ Love & Light ~




Tuesday, December 29, 2015

After The Birth: Postpartum Challenges




I thought about if I would write this for days. I don't want the blog to be a place that feels negative; but after much contemplation I decided to tell my story. I think that other women (and their partners) who have a less than perfect postpartum period need to hear that they aren't alone.


I think I will start by saying that my pregnancy was a breeze. I didn't experience any of the first trimester nausea, the hormones actually made me feel good, my hair and skin looked great, I encountered no health complications and I was doing yard work, shopping, etc. up until the day my son was born. Sure, I had some heartburn and once I was the size of a house my back ached but overall I had a wonderful pregnancy. I really enjoyed it and felt a deep connection to my baby before I ever met him.


About a week before my due date I noticed I was leaking a very small amount of watery fluid. I noted the change but being so close to my due date I guessed it was normal. To be safe I called a nurse and was told I was fine and that it was typical of many women. I felt fine and put it out of my mind. Three days before my due date, I was leaking enough fluid to worry me. What if this is amniotic fluid? I dreaded the idea of going to labor and delivery to potentially receive unwelcome news but I hadn't come this far to let something go wrong. Mark and I packed our hospital bags "just in case" and headed to the hospital.


It took no time at all for the fluid to be identified as amniotic fluid. The bag housing my child and the fluid that was his current world had ruptured and was slowly leaking. I was told I would be admitted and induced. I couldn't leave. It was happening now.


I know a lot of women would have been happy and excited at that point; and really I was so ready to meet my son, but I wanted it to happen naturally, I wanted my body to decide when my labor began. I had said from day one that I would not allow pitocin during my birthing process to encourage contractions and here I was, three days away from my the due date being told I needed to do just that. I had already been leaking fluid for days and if I lost enough it could be devastating for my baby. How could I refuse knowing that? Off we went to a delivery room.


As I recounted in my last post, my birth experience was tough. It was long and exhausting and when it was over and my husband and our new baby an I were finally home I felt like I had been to battle and back. There was a lot of crying. Mostly tears of joy and gratitude but also from overwhelm and my hormones being out of whack! I had also fractured my tailbone during birth and sitting and standing up was (and still is) very painful. Throw sleep deprivation and learning how to care for an infant on top of that and I was really stressed. I credit Mark for getting me through those first days at home. He assured me that my hormones would eventually get better and I would feel like myself again. I kept my focus on the baby and allowed myself to process my emotions as they came up. I was coping and feeling better each day but I had a headache that just wouldn't let up. At my one week check-up I was told I was probably experiencing "nurser's neck" from bad positioning while nursing. Over the next few days I worked on perfecting my mechanics but the headache kept getting worse. It traveled from my shoulders up my neck into my head. After about a week and a half with no relief I made a call to the on-call nurse at around midnight. I just couldn't believe this was normal. She asked me to check my blood pressure to rule out postnatal preeclampsia. I drove to Walmart to use the blood pressure cuff but it wasn't working. With my head throbbing I grabbed one off the shelf and spent the forty dollars.


When I got home and checked my pressure it was ridiculously high. Something like 189/110 (normal is 120/80). We put Fox in his car seat and headed to the ER. I had no idea the nightmare I was about to endure.

At the hospital, in the ER,  I was put on an IV drip of magnesium. This was to keep me from having a seizure. They also started me on blood pressure medicine. After several hours my pressure was down a bit but not enough to release me. I was admitted back to labor and delivery.


In labor and delivery the lights were turned low to keep the room dark and I was put back on the magnesium drip and had a nurse in the room for constant monitoring. I wasn't allowed to be alone with the baby in case I seized. We hadn't eaten for hours and it didn't look like I'd be getting any food for awhile. They were going to keep me on the magnesium for 24 hours. My main concern was breast feeding the baby. I was told it was safe but that he might get drowsy from the mag. Of course this made me feel even more upset. The mag was making me feel awful, the way your body feels when you have the flu but worse. The thought of my baby feeling even a little bit that way broke my heart.

Several hours later we were transferred to ICU. Still on the drip, banned from leaving the bed, forced to use a bedpan and barely able to sit up to feed my child, I felt depressed. This wasn't how I wanted to start my new journey as a mother. It wasn't fair. I'd had such a healthy pregnancy...why was my body failing me now? I asked Mark to text my mother and let he know what was happening. When she arrived I broke down sobbing. I felt helpless.


The next day we were moved to the postpartum unit. I was finally off the magnesium and my blood pressure was at a safe number. We spent the next two days in that room while my vitals were monitored every hour. I felt scared and didn't understand how something so life threatening was expected to just correct itself. Would I always be monitoring my blood pressure now? How long before I'm off the medication? What other illnesses does this put me at risk for?


In the postpartum unit after being taken off the magnesium. Fox is in the bassinet behind me.






That was weeks ago and I'm still taking medicine to keep my pressure in check and I have to check my numbers every day. Now that I'm past the 6 weeks postpartum period my care is being transferred to a cardiologist because it's no longer considered a pregnancy related issue. Does that change my situation from postnatal preeclampsia to flat out hypertension? Does that change the outlook for my recovery? I hope to get some answers when I see the new doctor next week.


For now I am trying really hard to focus on the positive. The medications I am taking make me dizzy and give me the feeling of being weighed down but they are keeping me from having a seizure or a stroke so I can deal with it.


I tell you this story because it is important to be truthful about our experience of birth and the postpartum period. It is a way we can support one another. Women need to know that it might be hard or overwhelming or even scary if you have a health issue; and our men, our partners, need to know what to expect too. I also tell it because this is a personal blog and this is my life right now. This is what I have to share. Things haven't gone even close to what I had imagined but I am still lucky. My baby is perfect and beautiful and the most wonderful gift I could have ever imagined. Every day my body gets stronger and my thoughts more positive and my heart swells greater with this new love for my little guy.


Home with my little love.


~ Love & Light ~

















Saturday, December 12, 2015

My Birth Story




Art by Amanda Greavette






On the afternoon of November 15th, a Sunday, Mark and I drove to labor and delivery at the hospital. The hope was that we would be sent right back home, but intuition told me we better pack our overnight bags. I had been leaking watery fluid for a few days by that point and had the fear that it might be amniotic fluid. Everything I read online told me I would definitely know if it was amniotic fluid but that wasn't the case for me.

At labor and delivery a quick test was done and we were told that I indeed had a ruptured water bag and would have to be admitted and induced. My heart sank. This was exactly what I did NOT want to happen. I knew induction meant the use of the synthetic oxytocin hormone called pitocin, and I also knew that in many cases pitocin was the first step in a series of interventions...the exact opposite of the natural birth I desired. To add to my dismay, my doctor wasn't there and I would have to be attended by a doctor I had never met.

Once in the delivery room, we were given permission to attempt getting labor started naturally. This came as a relief and gave me a glimmer of hope. We were provided a breast pump and spent the next 24 hours trying every natural method we could. I managed to dilate from 1cm to 5cm in that time, which is actually pretty amazing progress, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to satisfy the doctor (It was now Monday and my doctor had arrived). She was hoping I would have reached at least 8cm at that point. That is when she said that we needed to start a very small amount of pitocin to try and bring the contractions closer together. The baby wasn't showing any signs of stress, but after so many hours (days) in a leaky bag she was concerned he could get an infection. I had read over and over during my pregnancy that pitocin causes very painful contractions, so I was really upset that it had come to this. I was determined to bring my son into the world without pain medications that could leave us groggy and detached from the experience so I would just have to endure the pitocin pain. Luckily our doula was with us during this time and helped me keep it together. She talked to me between contractions and reminded me that Mark and I were the ones in control and that we had choices. Although things weren't playing out how I had imagined, she was there to remind me that it was okay.

Soon after the pitocin drip was started I could feel the contractions change. I was managing them quite well before, but now they were getting very painful. This went on for several hours but my labor wasn't progressing so my doctor broke my water and said things should really start moving now. She said we should have the baby within the next four hours. This was very exciting and I felt re-energized. But four hours came and went, the pitocin was increased, and then another four hours came and went. I felt like I had been in labor for days.

The doctor increased the pitocin one last time and put me in the SIMS position. I was in terrible pain at this point, the contractions were miserable and the SIMS position was excruciating to be in...but it worked. Within what felt like minutes of being in this position I was ready to push.

I had heard many women say that once they reached the pushing stage they felt relief, that the hard part was the hours of contractions. This wasn't true for me. Pushing was painful and hard work! I mean VERY HARD WORK. And then after maybe 20 minutes, on the evening of November 16th,  our son was ready to be born. The most rewarding part of the experience is that Mark caught the baby. He was the first person to touch Fox and was the first face our baby saw. He brought him up to my chest and I said a prayer that our son was healthy and finally in my arms. What a miracle!

A few minutes after Fox had been earth side, Mark cut the umbilical cord. Our lives were now changed forever. We had become a family.


~ Love & Light ~

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Fox Orion






Fox Orion joined us earth side on the evening of November 16th 2015. His father and I think he is the most amazing thing ever. 

I really am excited to blog about our experiences as new parents and everything we are learning along the way, but as anyone who has had a newborn knows, our focus right now is getting sleep when we can and trying to create some type of schedule again. 

I hope you'll keep checking in at the blog and following our little family as we go along. 




~ Love & Light ~