Friday, October 29, 2010

The lupus catch-all nap - I'm out of practice!


Can you believe baby Bernadette is three weeks (and 2 days) old?! The last few weeks have absolutely flown by - with the help of my parents and Johnny, taking care of two little ones has been a fairly easy undertaking. (Should I jinx myself by saying that?) I've been able to get in almost two naps a day (three when I need it), and Deirdre has been thoroughly entertained while Mom has been otherwise detained.
***
Bernadette, thus far, has been a little dream - sleeping well, eating well, tooting well (as her sister will tell you), and she's getting into her own little schedule already. Thankfully, that schedule includes about 5 hours or more between feedings at night...which has been an added bonus over the past week. I think I'm beginning to function semi-normally now that I'm only waking up once during the night to feed her (is this another jinxing opportunity?), so things are going well.
***
On the health front - I'm feeling fabulous. I've had absolutely, positively no joint pain or swelling, which was not the case with Deirdre two years earlier. With her, at about the two week mark, I woke up one night to feed her and wasn't able to pick her up or hold her because of the joint pain in my hands and wrists. I didn't waste any time contacting my doctor back then, and we were able to nip in the bud any flare that was afoot, but what a treat that I haven't even had to contend with any symptoms thus far. Even my hair is staying put at this point (last time, I'd started losing it even a month or two before giving birth), so growing my long locks over the summer may not have been necessary. Nonetheless, it's still early, and as I continue to resume my normal activity level, I'm sure I'll be testing the limits of what this lupus-ridden body can handle. So far, so good, though!

And of course, none of this would be possible if I didn't have the greatest support system in the world right now. Johnny's been taking off most mornings to help get Deirdre up and fed, and my mom and dad have been filling in for the past three weeks while we wait for our full-time help to arrive (more on our permanent, full-time, babysitting solution in a future post). To the say the least, I've been spoiled with four extra hands around the house during the day. My dad's been on Deirdre-patrol, and my mom has been doing a phenomenal job of helping with Bernadette - all the while making sure I get my rest when and if I need it. The dishes haven't sat in the sink or the dishwasher for more than five minutes, our laundry's been washed and folded with promptness, and Johnny, the girls and I are getting along wonderfully - I guess their mission has been accomplished. I'm going to be sorry to see them go (today's their last day on the job), but I'm looking forward to seeing how this "mother of two" thing really works. Of course, they leave today, and our full-time help starts Monday - so the transition should be relatively smooth. We shall see!

The only thing that I struggled with during those first two weeks or so was perfecting the art of the cat nap. I've always been a good afternoon napper...and when or if I was in a lupus flare, I could barely do anything besides nap. But now that I'm feeling good, it's taken some talent to close my eyes and fall asleep at the drop of a hat. Of course, when I was feeding little sweet B every three hours around the clock, my body had no intention of waiting for my afternoon siesta. I needed a morning nap, and an afternoon nap, and sometimes an after-dinner rest, too. But lying down to let your body rest and shutting your mind down in order to allow that nap to happen are two separate things - and I found the latter to require a bit of effort on my part. I went back to a small section of my book in order to refine my napping skills. Here's a short excerpt from Despite Lupus that helped me get back on the napping track. It must have worked...I'm three weeks in and napping like a champ. (Now to work on that two-year old of mine and her naps!)
***
FOCUS YOUR ENERGY ON THE PRESENT TASK
You may have heard that multi-tasking can actually be less productive than focusing on a single task. Have you ever considered the drawbacks of “multithinking”, the tendency to think about the other things you’re going to do once you finish that which you are currently doing? How many times have you tried to take a quick nap, but couldn’t fall asleep because of the thoughts roaming around in your head? You toss and turn, frustrated because after 30 minutes, you still haven’t fallen asleep. Your mind is a constant swirl of ideas and plans about what’s to come, so you have to train yourself to focus on the task at hand.

Learn to maximize the time and energy you have, especially since both of these are now limited.
The next time you nap, practice the act of relaxing rather than just lying down and closing your eyes. Remind yourself that the only objective at that very moment is to rest, and nothing else. See, hear and feel yourself resting. Imagine your mind relaxed; considering it to be on break. If you’re hyper-focused on resting, your mind won’t be able to wander. This goes for any activity that you find is not as productive as you’d like it to be. Whether it’s a workout, a trip to the grocery, or a visit to the doctor, envision a spotlight in your mind, singling out the thing that you’re doing, and focus on the task at hand. Take full advantage of the resources in front of you, and I’d be willing to bet that, soon enough, you’ll be able to accomplish what you want in even less time than before!
***

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Despite Lupus cameo

One of my loyal readers sent me a link to this video, put together by Molly's Fund, a national lupus organization. The video, titled "Young Mothers with Lupus", features a shot of my book cover, Despite Lupus. Pretty cool, huh?

And kudos to the ladies who were featured in the video - what courage and strength they demonstrate, giving us all hope, and reminding us that we are not alone in our struggle. Thanks so much, ladies!

Here's the video:

Monday, October 25, 2010

The chronic control spreadsheet - making it your own

Many of you know, from both my blog and my book, that during my darkest hours with lupus, I found solace in what I call the "chronic control" spreadsheet: a simple excel spreadsheet that I used to track my symptoms, medications, hours worked, hours napped, and other lifestyle factors that seemed to be contributing to my illness. It worked like a charm - allowing me to better articulate the degree of disease activity to my doctor, and forcing me (because it was there in black and white) to make connections between my lifestyle and my disease that I wouldn't have made otherwise. Most importantly at the time, it gave me back a little bit of control that I had lost during those first few years with lupus. I so desperately needed to exert myself - and doing so with pen and paper was a whole lot smarter than trying to run my body into the ground.

Since coming up with this spreadsheet years ago, I've shared the concept with many people - and I even devote a chapter to the concept of managing and tracking the disease in my book. I've received a ton of feedback about the spreadsheet, and I'm pleased to report that others seemed to have found the exercise just as helpful as I did. What makes me even happier is that readers have shared with me their own personal tweaks and adjustments to the spreadsheet, all in an effort to get on the track of living well. I couldn't ask for anything more!

I thought I'd share just a few examples of readers who have written in to Despite Lupus headquarters with their spreadsheet success stories:

One woman wrote me over a year ago, attaching her own version of the spreadsheet, saying that it had completely changed (and improved) the way she and her doctor communicate during appointments. Hooray!

Another woman (a teacher) contacted me a few months back, letting me know that several of the kids in her summer school class had chronic illnesses or other issues where a "tracking" system of sorts would come in handy - and that the spreadsheet was to become their summer project. Wow!

And most recently, a girl shared with me that she had been so vocal about how important she thought having a spreadsheet would be for her chronic illness, her boyfriend actually created one within days of her diagnosis. It came complete with terms of affection and a picture of the two of them at the top. Pretty cool, huh?

Think you may need a way to get a better handle on your disease? Take another peek at chapter two of my book - perhaps it's not a spreadsheet that fits the bill, but maybe one of the other tracking systems recommended will do the trick. Whatever you choose, tweak it, tailor it, and make it your own. And then be sure to let me know about it!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Keurig - another must have in the lupus kitchen

I've discovered another time/joint/pain saver for the kitchen - and that's the Keurig coffee maker -the single serving coffee maker that allows you to have a steaming cup of delicious coffee in, say, 30 seconds. We're big fans of our Keurig, which we received as a birthday gift from my in-laws this summer. It requires very little clean up, doesn't tax the fingers like measuring up ground, loose coffee can, and it's extremely efficient. Here's how it works:

The coffee comes individually sealed in little K-Cup® portion packs (short, little tubs varying in roast, flavor, and caffeine level, about double the size of a creamer), each which contain the perfect amount of ground coffee needed for a single cup of coffee. The water is housed in a tall column on the side of the coffee maker, which you just have to refill after every few cups, and is pre-heated and dispensed automatically once brewing begins.

You slip the sealed K-cup into the top of the coffee maker, push the button on the top to start the brew, and presto! Thirty seconds later (give or take a few), you have a hot, steaming fresh cup of coffee.

It's ideal for Johnny and me, not only because he drinks caffeine, and I don't, I prefer flavored coffee while he likes his a little less, well, froofy. This way, we can each have a cup of coffee (or two or three) in the morning without having to make one full pot, clean the machine, and then start all over with a second pot. And the flavors! You wouldn't believe the options - I favor the hazelnut variety, while Johnny seems to enjoy the Italian Blends and the Cappuccino flavor. And of course, hot tea and cocoa are available as well. Deirdre enjoyed her first cup of hot chocolate just a few weeks ago...brewed just for her in the Keurig.

So enough of the infomercial. I'll let you let explore the appliance at your own pace - but I'll leave you with this:

The fact that I've been able to enjoy a hot cup of coffee every morning for the past three months without the hassle of cleaning a pot, fussing over the bag of coffee, measuring out the perfect amount of grounds, or struggling to add the right amount of water has me feeling pretty good. And ordering my specially chosen K-cup flavors online and having them delivered right to my door is an added bonus. And I'm much more apt to serve coffee when visitors come knocking. Why not? No hassle for me, and we get to show off our clever little gadget.

Coffee or tea, anyone?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Toss out the highlighter - Kindle feature to the rescue!

Listen to this great Kindle feature!

A customer recently contacted me, telling me that she had purchased Despite Lupus on Kindle, and had been reading it on her iPad. She'd found many sections that she thought her husband needed to read - either he would appreciate knowing that there's at least one other person out there who deals with lupus like she does, or he would be enlightened and gain further understanding of what she's going through. In either case, as she read the book, she highlighted sections for him to read at a later time. When she was finished, she handed him the Kindle and let him "thumb" through the pages, reading her selections.

Pretty nifty, huh?

I've had other customers mention that they've left Despite Lupus open to certain sections on the coffee table or a kitchen counter, hoping that a family member will just happen upon the book, glance at a few paragraphs from the open pages, and learn a thing or two about what it's really like to live with lupus, from an outside perspective, of course (i.e. anyone OTHER than their own family member!)

Like it or not - sometimes those closest to us struggle to understand what we're going through. Perhaps they've lost perspective, maybe they just don't want to face the facts, or they may just need to read about someone else's plight, in order to make sense of what's going on under their own roof.

I say if reading about the struggles of life with lupus from some no-name gal who just happened to write a book - well, then, give it a try!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Crossword debut

My mom was doing a crossword puzzle a few weeks back, and she ran across the following clue:

"A 5 letter word for a common autoimmune disease."

How about that!

Of course, "lupus" was the answer, and she wasted no time filling it in.

Are we coming up in the world or what!

Perhaps the tide is changing. Within the span of about 6 weeks, my sister-in-law wrote me to say that she'd seen a television ad about lupus in the Philadelphia area, and my dad phoned to say that he'd seen several billboards along the highway in Indiana that were part of the "Could I have lupus" campaign. Add to that Love Simple, the recent feature film where the female lead character had lupus, and now the crossword puzzle, and lupus has practically become a household word.

Here's hoping!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Lightening your load - for your kids!

Before I became a mom, I scoffed at the idea of buying, serving, or eating frozen pancakes or waffles. I just couldn't understand why someone would sacrifice the taste of freshly made breakfast delicacies for their frozen counterparts. But now, I get it. They're fast, easy, require very little clean-up, and serve their purpose well. And I'm learning to enjoy the taste...a lot. They're practically a staple on our weekly breakfast menu - and I'm proud to serve them. Maybe someday when the kids are older (i.e. sleep late), I'll return to my made-from-scratch versions - but for now, I'll take the convenience.

Which brings me to another saving grace in the kid-convenience department - that being a little item called the "kitchen helper." It's a stool type of thing with four tall sides, so that your little one can "stand" beside you at kitchen counter top height and watch you prep meals, snack while you cook, or lend a helping hand when it comes to whisking eggs, buttering toast, or adding flour or sugar to a batch of cookies. Whatever degree of involvement you want your little one to have, it's possible with the kitchen helper. AND it gives you two free hands with which to work quickly and efficiently.

We entertained the idea of getting some sort of stool when Deirdre first started to show interest in helping us in the kitchen. She'd insist on being held so that she could watch us prepping every meal...and it was just too much to handle (especially when I was pregnant.) Now - she just climbs up in her helper, we scoot her over to where the action is (clearly NOT close to the stove top, but anywhere else where she feels she's helping and involved), and she loves every minute of it. She's even started to "do" the dishes. I say, "Have at it, girlfriend!"
***
Here she is buttering her toast. Cute, huh?


The one I've featured above is available from One Step Ahead. We are thrilled with the construction, and the fact that it folds up as easily as it goes together is a real plus. I know similar items exist elsewhere (some for more than twice as much), but I can't say enough good things about this little item. (And thanks, Mom, for the gift!)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lupus in the work place - setting the standard from an employer's perspective

Those of you who have kept up with my blog or read my book know that the company I worked for when I was diagnosed with lupus was extremely accommodating. I worked there a total of 10 years - pretty much 5 years without lupus, and 5 years with lupus. It was very difficult for me to transition from being a work horse/leader/go-getter type of employee to being an employee struggling with fatigue, pain, and dozens of doctor's appointments. Despite the fact that I struggled to accept my new limitations, my supervisors and co-workers embraced my disease, and did everything they could to make sure I was taking care of myself.

Just to show you how supportive the company was, I thought I'd post a few quotes from emails I received from my various supervisors. This is the kind of thing I walked into every day at work - kind, considerate, caring emails that conveyed nothing but concern. Every one deserves to have such support - whether it's at home, at the office, or among friends. I know it doesn't always happen, but perhaps the kind words below will inspire those around you. Feel free to send them a link to this site...maybe it will help them find the words they've been looking for to reach out and tell you how much they care.

***
From my supervisor, a year and 1/2 after I was diagnosed:

"How are you feeling? You looked very tired yesterday...do not wear yourself out, please!"

*
Another note from the same supervisor, a couple of months later:

"No problem at all...I know it is so hectic up there - things will
happen. You are doing great...just don't work so hard that you wear
yourself out....thank you."

*
Note from my next supervisor, a year later:

"I really want to make sure that you take care of yourself, because your health is more important than anything else. Please let me know how I can help you out to make sure that you
are able to stick to your part-time schedule, whether it's stuff I could do, or [another manager]
could do, or stuff we can delegate to others in [your] department. So thanks
again, but please, please, please let me know how I can help."

***
And that's just a sampling!

I know, I know - with this kind of support, why did I have such a hard time letting go at work, right? Well - you know how it goes...the problem isn't the expectations others have for us, it's re-evaluating the expectations we have for ourselves.

Want to hear all of the gory details on the subject of re-evaluating expectations? Feel free to check out chapter 7 of "Despite Lupus" - where the author tells all!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Deirdre's a big sister!!!

Baby #2 has arrived...and it's a girl! Deirdre, along with her mom and dad, are proud to announce the arrival of Bernadette Kennedy Gorman, the most perfect baby born Wednesday, October 6th at 3:31 pm. She arrived on the scene with ease (4 pushes, and I'm not joking...), weighing 6 lbs 9 oz and measuring 19 1/4 inches long. You can see from the pictures that most of that weight comes from that beautiful mop of black hair on her head - this little lady needed a barrette the moment she was born!
***
She's doing well, I'm feeling super, and Deirdre is madly in love with her little sister, whom she affectionately calls "Bernie", said in the cutest, sweetest voice you've ever heard. Of course, Johnny and I are beside ourselves with these two lovely ladies, falling more in love with Deirdre each day and prouder than proud of Miss B.

Here's how it all went down, or rather, how she came out:

On Tuesday the 5th, I woke up feeling great. By about 12pm, however, I was feeling downright crummy. I didn't have pain, and there wasn't anything specifically wrong, I just felt very winded and tired, and I was feeling so bad that I grabbed a chair as I was making lunch for Deirdre because I didn't feel like I could stand any longer. Of course, this was the ONLY day of the week that Johnny had an afternoon appointment outside of his home office...and since I wasn't contracting, just feeling bad, I'd encouraged him to just keep his phone close by while he was away. The faintness continued after he left, and by 1pm, I found myself in the bathroom, getting sick. Poor little Deirdre didn't know what was going on, and kept saying, "Mommy, wha' happen, wha' happen?"

As the vomiting continued, I started having back and side pain - not contractions, but definitely a pain that was sharp, and constant, and odd - and coupled with my illness, there was no reason to wait a moment longer. I called my O.B., and desperately waited for them to call me back since they were closed for lunch. I also phoned my sister, who rushed over faster than lightening, and together we waited for my doctor to call back. We got the call to come to the hospital immediately, and we phoned Johnny to let him know he needed to abort mission and meet us at the hospital. Thankfully, he was there when we got there. Oh, how all of my peeps came through for me!!!

I was admitted into the hospital, and went up to Triage for evaluation in Labor and Delivery. I spent about 9 hours there (about 3pm to 12am) while my doctors and I figured out what was going on. Over the first 3 hours, my nausea and back pain subsided completely, and we were all stumped as to what was going on. I was contracting, but nothing that I would have made note of had I been at home. My doctor was reluctant to let me go however, choosing to watch me for another hour or two, and running blood and urine tests to check for preeclampsia, high protein, or any sign of infection. Of course, as that hour or two passed and we waited for the test results, things started to change. Bernadette was making her move.
My contractions became more pronounced, more severe, and by 9pm (just moments before I was going to be sent home), my doctor decided that since my contactions had only been increasing and had never really subsided, I'd earned myself a ticket to labor and delivery. We were thrilled - you hate to spend almost 6 hours hooked up to an IV, watching (and eventually feeling) yourself contract and then go home...knowing that you'll probably be right back there again in the wee hours of the morning.

By 12am, they had a labor and delivery room ready for us - in fact, the exact room where Deirdre was delivered 2 years ago. Guess we waited for a reason! I continued to contract all night long, but slept like a baby because I could barely feel them. What a treat!!!

By the morning, I figured I'd be sent home, since my contractions, although consistent, were so mild. We were minutes away from signing the discharge paperwork when one of my OB's decided that I should try walking around the halls of the hospital for about an hour, just to see if that would move things along. The last thing she wanted was for me to get home, resume normal activity, and then go into labor this afternoon. Well - she was right! After about 25 minutes, my contractions were strong enough that I had to stop to let them pass, and they went from a consistent 8 minutes apart to 3-5 minutes apart. So - I earned myself a hospital stay for the day! They broke my water around 11am, started pitocin, gave me an epidural less than an hour later, and by 3:00, I was ready to rock. Fully dilated with baby Bernadette lying in wait. As they were preparing the room for delivery, I made mention of the fact that the baby seemed awfully close, and before you know it, she had crowned, all on her own. I gave my requisite 4 pushes...and baby Bernadette was born. Wow! Could I ever do THAT again!

Of course - the hour or two of nausea, getting sick in front of Deirdre, and the ride to the hospital on Tuesday were less than pleasant, but all in all, a successful, relatively pain-free delivery. Who would have thought!

I'll be sure to fill you in on all of the "lupus-related" issues that arose along the way in a later post (medications before and after delivery, infection possibilities post-delivery), as well as B's almost-extended stay in the hospital, but for now, I'll leave you with a picture of the proud big sister. Apparently, while we were in the hospital for four days, she took up with a rough and tumble scooter gang. Pink must be their signature color.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Sympathy weight...

I'm happy to say that while I've gained my fair share of weight for this pregnancy - not too much, though - just enough - Johnny and Deirdre have fared pretty well.

Johnny hasn't gain one pound of sympathy weight over the past 9 months - he never seems to, despite my penchant for buying pop-tarts during my pregnancies.

And Deirdre has kept up her good eating habits while I've been pregnant, although I've definitely been more open to indulging her with a handful of M&M's at ten in the morning when I need my fix. Perhaps I'm just trying to teach her the notion of sharing...

But the one who's really benefiting gastronomically from this pregnancy is Darwin. He gets all of Deirdre's scraps at breakfast, lunch and dinner (particularly because I don't feel like getting down on all fours to clean up), and we've been a little more lenient about letting her feed him, a) because it's just cute, and b) because I'm just not interested in exerting the extra energy to police the grounds. Unfortunately, he's also suffered for it around the waistline. Our walks are less vigorous (although I'm proud to say just as frequent...), but come the birth of this baby, we'll get right back at it. Dar, included.

I wonder if he knows what's in store.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The choice is yours...

So my afternoon babysitter hasn't been quite as available as I'd hoped, thus leaving me very little time during the day to tackle those last few projects I had planned to get to before the baby comes. No worries - they're not urgent...but you know me. If they're on my list, I want them done!


A few days ago, I woke up from my nap - and contemplated the 4 or 5 things I wanted to try and accomplish in the 30-45 minutes I had before Deirdre woke up. Everything seemed super important...and although I wasn't stressed about accomplishing any of them, I was stumped as to which one or two I should tackle first.


Do I pick something that can be started and completed, but isn't a priority?
Do I opt for a task that's been on the list for way too long?
Do I do something that could be done while Deirdre's awake, but is such a priority that I should do it now?
Or do I tackle a large project, just so I make some headway on it?


These are the things I was considering as I lay in bed, taking just 5 minutes or so to choose my plan of attack. Of course, my mind also considered the fact that it's a bit of a raw deal that I have to choose in the first place. I found myself irked with the reality that I had just spent 2 hours sleeping, when I could have crossed almost all of those things off my list if I hadn't taken a nap. (Of course - that's not true...I probably could have completed about 3 of them...but when you're throwing a mini-pity party for yourself, rational thinking isn't normally allowed.)


So I felt sorry for myself for another minute or so, frustrated that my lupus fatigue can be so demanding, and then I wised up. I realized that although I nap, which forces me to prioritize and choose only a short list of things to accomplish in the limited time I have left, the fact that I take time to recharge and re-energize allows me to have a choice in the first place. If I didn't nap, I would be a royal mess. Maybe not the very first day...but by the second and the third, my joints would be aching, I'd probably see some swelling, and then where would I be? I wouldn't have any options at all - I wouldn't be able to choose this task over that one, because I wouldn't be capable of tackling any of them in the first place.


Having reminded myself that I'm actually creating opportunities, rather than squashing them, I returned to my mental list of things to do, gladly choosing the highest-priority item to tackle.


Of course - within a minute of my epiphany, I heard Miss Deirdre calling from her room, awake and ready to tackle the afternoon. Oh well - my great list of to-do's would have to wait. Deirdre was waiting for me to come read books with her...something I would gladly choose to do any day of the week!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lupus pregnancy: party of three, please.

I spoke at a lupus conference earlier this spring, and at one point, someone in the audience asked me how I handled lupus and pregnancy. I was somewhat prepared for this question (because this seems to be a hot topic among lupites, as it should be), but I misspoke as I started to give my answer, saying, "When my doctor and I decided to get pregnant..."

Of course, laughter filled the room, which I appreciated, and then I corrected myself by saying, "I mean, when my husband and I decided to get pregnant, and when we consulted my doctor on the subject...", so on and so forth.

It was a slip of the tongue, clearly...but it's not that far off base. When we contemplated our options to have a 2nd baby, (and even more so with Deirdre), my rheumatologist was very involved. I was upfront with him about what our goals were in regard to pregnancy, what our timeline looked like, and we talked openly about how those were going to fit in to my short and long term treatment with lupus.

Johnny and I were counting on him to lead us in the right direction - we wanted his "OK" to move forward, and we needed to make sure that we weren't jumping too quickly into baby territory, both times around. Dr. S. is the most accurate gauge we have for how active my lupus is, so working with him months ahead of time to make sure I was healthy, stable and strong (not to mention on the right medication and taking the right dosages, etc.) was imperative. Having his blessing was and is key.

That said, his recommendation can't be the end all. Yes, it's important that he give us the green light, and yes, he knows better than anyone how my body is "performing", but his stamp of approval must be accompanied alongside a careful and honest reflection of how things are really going, based upon my own evaluation of my life with lupus.

Each time I ventured down the path to pregnancy, I needed to considered if, in fact, it was the right time, right place, and the right circumstances to have a baby. As much as my rheumy knows about my life with lupus...he's only looking at a sheet full of statistics, a couple of blood tests, and the symptomatic information I've given him; I have just as much responsibility to evaluate the facts (said and unsaid), as he does.

Here's what I mean:

When I tried to get pregnant back in 2002, I, of course, consulted my rheumy. I was on multiple medications, several of which I would have to come off of in order to get pregnant, but according to my blood work and disease activity, my doctor believed I was ready. Medically speaking, there was no reason I shouldn't get the green light. But did he really know (or, ahem, had I really told him) how much I depended on those meds to alleviate my morning aches and pains? Did he get that I counted on my evening meds to help me fall asleep? Did he understand how hard I was working, and how taxed my body was during the week? Did he know that I had no plans to slow down, even during the pregnancy? Did he grasp that although most of my non-joint pain symptoms (like angioedema and swollen glands) had been curtailed over the past 6 months, they were still occurring every couple of weeks? I knew all of this, of course...and while I thought I'd sufficiently conveyed this information to him, my version of "spilling my guts" in regard to my lupus activity wasn't usually as crystal clear as it should have been.

(Most of you know the rest - I tried to get pregnant...miscarried, then tried again...and went into the worst flare of my lupus history. Then, of course, I wised up, changed my crazy ways, wrote a book, started a blog, and now have a 2nd baby on the way. Thank goodness for happy endings!)

In hindsight, it's so clear that in addition to his correct analysis of the current state of my lupus activity, I owed it to myself to be honest about the condition my body was really in...and to listen to it when it called out for help, regardless of whether I liked what it was saying. The fact that I was in constant pain the moment I went off one of my anti-inflammatory drugs should have told me my body wasn't ready. But it wasn't horrific pain, and I had high hopes that it would subside once I got pregnant. Plus, I was holding fast to the fact that "my doc gave me the green light." Oh, the games we play with ourselves...

Thankfully, I've been able to learn from my mistakes. This pregnancy (as with my previous one in 2008) has been full of full disclosure, honesty, and frankness - amongst everyone involved. I'm ready to rock - and so is this baby. Johnny and I couldn't be happier...and somehow, I think Dr. S. is pretty proud of himself, too.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Kit Kat's getting cheeky in there...

Kit Kat set the record for the biggest cheeks featured in a sonogram this past Wednesday. Apparently, the previous winner was a young lady featured in ultrasounds from 2008...but she's been overtaken, not surprisingly, by her sibling!

The sonographer gave us just the essentials at our last sonogram:

Kit Kat has big cheeks.
Kit Kat has hair, and a lot of it.
That hair is dark - no doubt about it.

The doctor confirmed that things are moving right along...I'm showing all the signs of delivering early. He's doubtful that I'll make it to my inducement date of Tuesday the 11th (moved up one day due to scheduling conficts), and is banking on the end of next week. Oh my! Deirdre's birthday is Friday, October 8th! If I have anything to say about it...which I don't think I do, I would love to pick any day OTHER than that Friday...but we shall see. Perhaps I'll employ my previously successful methods of indulging in a crispy KFC dinner and a walk in the park to move things along. That did it for Deirdre years ago. And if Kit Kat's cheeks are as big as we think...the big K won't be able to resist a big ole' chicken leg. (Or a biscuit with honey. Or that cole slaw.)

So everythings looks good. I'm ready. Johnny's ready. Deirdre's big girl room is ready. Dar's on baby watch, and Deirdre's about to become a big sister. Could life get any better?