How Does A Family History Of Cancer Impact Us?

Hey everybody! I’ve been thinking lately about how our family’s health history influences our own lives. Do you let it impact your decisions? Do you feel your lifestyle choices are judged by people who know about your family’s health history?

If you wouldn’t mind, I would super duper appreciate it if you could take this survey and let me know how your family’s health history has affected you. Thank you!!

Just click here to get started!

And remember, I always appreciate the great community here and couldn’t have done it without your support!

you're the best

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WebMD Gal Gone Wild!

I am beyond delighted to have the uproarious and talented Stephanie D. Lewis of Once Upon Your Prime as today’s guest author. Her post deals with a subject many chronically ill people deal with on a regular basis: the dangers of searching your symptoms on the internet. Prepare for a hilarious parody of the physician-kind and make sure to check out her bio at the end!

WARNING: If you have any post-baby bladder problems, grab a pad because this post can cause you to laugh hard enough that you may suffer a urinary accident!

The Doctor Is In But I’m Out . . . Of My Mind!

All my adult life I have dealt with a debilitating disorder – – it’s called, “Tell & Show Syndrome.” Someone will TELL me about a new rare disease and WHAM! – – all the signs of it SHOW up throughout my body.

new-girl-might-be-dying-gif

To say I am highly suggestible is an understatement. I can read an article in a woman’s magazine entitled, “10 Symptoms You’re Too Bashful To Discuss With Your Male Doctor (But You Should Before It’s Too Late!)” ~ Immediately I have all 10 plus 4 bonus ones the author wasn’t imaginative enough to think of. Fear and panic overtakes all my shyness. Gimme that doctor right this minute! I might even consider going to second base with him for a second opinion.

webmd-whats-wrong-with-me-kristen-wiig-gif

I do have a regular physician I call several times a week, and I’m sure the nurses give him messages that go like this – –

“That hypochondriac lady (who resembles a highly fatigued Amy Winehouse, minus the tattoos) is on the phone again. Today she’s claiming that when she walks, it feels like thumbtacks/paperclips are poking her feet. Should we advise her to proceed directly to the local office supply store?”

wont respond arrested development

Feeling rather unwelcomed there, I go to my beloved online medical information mecca – – “The Web MD.”

First of all, it never dawns on me that the word “Web” in their name is a subtle symbolic tip-off that I should stay far, far away. Let’s think about this, shall we? Who has webbed feet? Ducks! And what do ducks say? “QUACK!” Hello??

But this doesn’t deter me from typing, “thumbtacks sticking feet” into the symptom-checker box and obtaining a shocking diagnosis. Four shocking diagnoses, actually. One relates to my Brain, one relates to my Heart, another to my Lungs, and the final one to my Stomach. Interestingly, none of the diseases have anything to do with Feet. And all are extremely fatal.

dying ferris bueller

Having gotten C +’s in my Deductive Reasoning classes in high school, I know it isn’t possible that I would be afflicted with ALL four of these maladies. That’s only logical, right? So which one can I safely eliminate?

Next I do what I always do at 2:00 in the morning – – I log onto a hospital patient message board and post about my situation, asking if someone “out there” has ever experienced a symptom like this but everything turned out to be completely fine? I stare for hours at my computer screen waiting for anyone to type a reassuring response. And then it dawns on me. .

The reason nobody can answer my question. . .

Everyone who had this same problem has ALREADY died.

miss j scared

Should I start writing my Obituary or my Last Will and Testament first? And what about guardians for my precious kids! Why, oh why couldn’t my ex-husband and I ever agree on whom to name as caretakers in the event of our deaths?? His sister puts ketchup on eggs, doesn’t believe in orthodontia, and Danielle Steele is her favorite author. So what? I shoulda let all that go.

“Please God,” I bargain, “I know last week I hated this world and said I’d rather be dead than go to the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew my expired driver’s license. But I promise to find gratitude and get a new lease on life – – just please don’t let me expire!”

please leslie knope

There’s nothing left to do. Except find a brand new doctor who hasn’t heard about my “Boy Who Cried Wolf” past. My previous doctors have issued, “WARNING: Circus Side Show Freak” bulletins about me to the medical community at large, so this will be no easy task.

I finally show up on the doorstep of an office in a faraway town. I watch as their “The Doctor is in” sign lights up. I’ve always believed first impressions are important so here is how I fill out the paperwork on the clipboard.

 New Patient Form:

NAME: (circle one) Miss/Mrs./Ms.    I’m divorced so technically it’s “Ms.” But please call me “Miss” as in “Little Miss Menopause.” Although Mr. may be a distinct possibility these days – – can you check my testosterone level?      

AGE:  I just caught a glimpse of you at the reception desk….I could be your mother’s big sister.

REASON FOR TODAY’S VISIT?   Look at me! Isn’t it obvious? I just need the Dr. to confirm how much time I have.

WEIGHT:  Who cares at this point? Just order me a size 8 burial gown. And yes, I’m banking on the fact that loss of appetite will kick in soon with this particular disease.

PROFESSION:  Writer (Pssssst! Hot tip: Publish this New Patient form. Everyone knows a deceased author’s last work commands a high price.)

EVER SKIPPED A PERIOD?  Yes, but I’m working diligently on eliminating my run-on sentences.

WHOM CAN WE THANK FOR REFERRING YOU?  You mean blame?

PERSON TO CALL IN EMERGENCY: Um…my two ex-husbands will deny knowing me. Let’s see….My kids will just ask, “What’s for dinner?” Oh, don’t call the neighbors, they’ll tell you I should have died 7 times by now.  Hmmm, I think you might call Mabel, my hairdresser. But when you say, “Died” – – you better spell it. She’ll think you mean Clairol Nice n’ Easy Deep Burgundy Brown.

I’m interrupted by the Doctor, who calls me in. He listens to my heart and pronounces it steady and strong. I resist the urge to ask when he’s last had his stethoscope calibrated. I describe how I feel (this time likening it to my feet being stabbed with steak knives) but he cuts me off before I can get to the Web MD part.

DR: Have you ever heard of Transient Paresthesia?

ME: Oh no, Doctor! Not that! I don’t even ride a train or bus!

DR: Not “Transit.” Transient, meaning Short-Lived.

ME: Good Lord, you mean I’m gonna go even quicker than I thought?

DR: Where ya headed to?

ME: Aren’t I dying?

DR: We all are. But I think you’re gonna survive this one. Transient Paresthesia = Limbs falling asleep.

As I depart, I glance over my shoulder to see him sketching a big-haired woman with the caption, “BEWARE OF CREATIVE BLOGGER WITH TOO MUCH TIME ON HER HANDS….She needs to be cut off ASAP!!” He then posts it on the WEB MD website!

gaga yes i'm judging you


 About the Guest Author:

Stephanie D. Lewis is a regular contributor for The Huffington Post and her work has been featured on Scary Mommy, The Mid, XO Jane, and Bluntmoms. She pens a humor blog called, “Once Upon Your Prime” and her novel, “Lullabies & Alibis” is available on Amazon. A single mother of six, she declines a full-time nanny/housekeeper but needs a live-in psychiatrist. Follow her on Twitter @missmenopause

 

What To Do When You And Your Baby Are Sick

This is one of those posts I was kind of hoping I wouldn’t have to write.  But, alas, my little one got the flu and a bonus ear infection a while back and then just kept getting sinus problems coupled with (BONUS!) teething.  For all the fellow autoimmune disorder moms out there, you know what that means, right?  Yup.  It means you’re getting sick, too.  Over the course of the past couple months, I also got the bonus ear infection (full with perforated eardrum) plus a super sized sinus infection and limited edition stomach flu!  So here are my first-hand tips on what to do when both you and your baby are sick:

1. SANITIZE ALL THE THINGS

Not even kidding with this one.  My husband usually teases me because of my OCD and proclivity for decontaminating things, but this time of year no one is joking about the Purell!  Your little one, no matter the age, is carrying a copious amount of germs.  Whether your baby is sneezing in your face, putting everything in his mouth, or touching everything with sticky hands, he or she is spreading germs.  Your first line of defense?  Sanitize things and do it often.  Wipe down hard surfaces and plastic toys, wash bedding and soft toys, and pay special attention to communal areas (like the living room or bedroom) and shared objects (like remotes or pillows).  So even if you are already sick, this will help limit the length of your sicky days and will hopefully prevent it from being reintroduced into your family.

Dean knows what's up

Dean knows what’s up

2. Limit Time in “Danger Zones”

Whether you’re trying to prevent getting sick or you already are, it’s a good idea to limit your baby’s and your exposure to germy hotbeds.  Now may be the time to cancel play dates, say no to Chuck E Cheese, and avoid busy malls.  This goes both ways, too.  Not only are you trying to reduce your chances of getting sick, but you also don’t want to be “that mom.”  You know the mom I’m talking about.  It’s the mom who brings her clearly sick child to daycare or a group play date and seems oblivious to the fact that he’s snotting all over the toys and is coughing directly into your child’s mouth.  So yeah, don’t be “that mom.”  And limit time in potential danger zones so you don’t have to run into “that mom.”

You know the type. Won't even turn away to sneeze

You know the type. Won’t even turn away to sneeze

3. Rest, rest, and more rest

Easier said than done, right?  While I’m inclined to agree, there is one exception to the rule.  You can’t properly care for your sick child if you are running on fumes.  Take it back to the newborn days when you repeated this mantra like a bloodshot-eyed zombie “you sleep when the baby sleeps.”  If your baby is sick, hopefully he or she will actually be taking more naps than usual since they’re feeling pretty rundown themselves.  So forget dishes and errands.  Seize every opportunity you can to nap and take it easy.

God bless this girl for having the courage to do what we all wish we could

God bless this girl for having the courage to do what we all wish we could

4. Ask for (and accept) help

Thankfully I live within ten minutes of both my mother and mother-in-law.  And thankfully we all got sick when people weren’t terribly busy.  So thankfully (again) I had no shortage of help when my baby and I needed it.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, don’t mistake pride for courage and remember it’s not a Mompetition (remember that one?).  No one is going to judge you for letting your mom watch the baby while you get some shuteye or if your mother-in-law graciously brings over dinner.  And if anyone does judge you, they are either jealous or… well no they’re probably just jealous and you should feel bad for them.

Let yourself feel a little braggy for a minute

Let yourself feel a little braggy for a minute

The Dirty Truth About Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding – whether you’re a fan or not, one thing is for sure: everyone seems to be talking about it. For many mothers around the globe, this is a wonderful celebration of the emotional and physical bond shared with their child. Breastfeeding pride is everywhere you look these days. From Instagram protests to celebrity magazine spreads, this topic has caught some media attention, as well. Olivia Wilde’s photo shoot in a diner seems appropriate since that’s the purpose of breastfeeding: nourishment.

via Glamour

via Glamour

But here’s the dirty truth about breastfeeding: not all women are able to do it. I’m sure breastfeeding is an amazing experience between a mother and her baby. And I think I may have even had a small glimpse of it. But that’s all it was for me, a brief glimpse. I cradled my son, tears streaming down my face, asking the heavens for a miracle while he cried, hungry and unable to receive any life-sustaining milk from the very body that unceasingly nourished him for nine months.

But the milk never came.

Don’t get me wrong, I am in total support of breastfeeding and completely aware of all the benefits. I could even cite you ten statistics off the top of my head about how awesome breastfeeding is. I am full of this knowledge for two very important reasons: first from the overwhelming amount of pressure and opinions from doctors, nurses, lactation consultants, other moms, friends, family, strangers, etc., and then from the debilitating guilt that followed and had me desperately searching the internet for answers.

Bottom line, I cannot breastfeed. My heart breaks a little more every time I admit it out loud. But my shame diminishes just a little, too. You are not a whole woman; you’re not even a real mother.” Those thoughts still poke their way into my mind every so often and it’s difficult to ignore when tags like #FreeTheNipple started trending on Twitter and famous celebs started posting breastfeeding pictures on social media. All this pride, all this “I am woman, hear me roar” type empowerment can be both intoxicating and poisonous at the same time. I could scroll through beautiful photos of women breastfeeding their children for hours, envying them and hating myself at the same time.

The dried up desert aka my mammary glands

Dried up desert lake beds aka my mammary glands

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: you are not in control of your body when you have a chronic illness. I know this, but I am stubborn. And bitter. And I think all of us with a chronic illness are better off for being so insanely optimistic even if we never get the results we want. I wanted so badly to breastfeed. I wanted it so much it made my insides hurt (or maybe that was just the c-section). Three intimidating lactation consultants, some very caring friends, a connective tissue disorder, multiple breakdowns, a gazillion hippy-dippy remedies, and one empathetic mother later, I came to the conclusion it just wasn’t in the cards.

Shut up, tarot card!

Shut up, tarot card

The moment I finally resigned myself to my milk-less fate, I felt like an udder failure. Get the pun?  Eh, this blog post needed a lame joke, but I digress. It took my very kind OB-GYN and my own mother to pull me out of my pit of despair. My doctor told me that many women are unable to breastfeed and that it’s common for women with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome to have issues with breastfeeding. The connective tissue disorder can make it difficult, if not impossible, for the mammary glands (which are made up of connective tissue) to produce and maintain a milk supply. So that helped on the factual, medical side, but my hormonal, emotional side still needed consoling.* Thankfully my mother was there for that. Though her story is not mine to tell, I can say that I trust her completely when she said there was nothing more I could have done and it makes me no less of a “real” mother for it. So let me tell you, if you haven’t been told already, you are a real woman, a true mother. Being able or unable to breastfeed does not make you any more or any less of a mother. Shame on anyone who would try to tell you otherwise. While I still openly support breastfeeding, I wish there was someone like me on the cover of a magazine. I wish I could see a woman – flawed, chronically ill, unable to breastfeed, tired, and with loose skin where a tight stomach once was – in the spotlight, praised by the media and told how beautiful she is. Until that happens, you have me, telling you the dirty truth and reminding you that you are beautiful. 

 

*If you feel you are unable to cope or are having serious concerns after having your baby, you may have postpartum depression. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Click this link for resources and support.

10 Things No One Tells You About C-Sections

Ah, the c-section. Whether it’s the iconic film scene of an alien bursting out of some poor chap’s torso or a picture of medieval torture in a history book, the images that come to mind when discussing c-sections are not usually happy ones. Let’s be honest: you’re getting major surgery, taking a tiny human out of a bigger human, and are (most likely) going to be awake for it all. So if anyone tries to dismiss your right to be a little antsy, well I won’t say what to do for legal reasons, but you get the idea. This isn’t meant to scare you, of course. But I always thought that the unknown was the scariest thing. At least if someone had told me what was going to happen during the c-section, I’d know what to expect. So that’s what I’m going to do for you. Here are all the gross, scary, awkward things that will happen before, during, and immediately after your c-section!

 

10. Paperwork & Red Tape

Even if you thought you were super smart and preregistered with your hospital prior to giving birth, there will still be paperwork to fill out and red tape to deal with for a solid twenty minutes. We arrived nice and early to our scheduled c-section, yet when we checked in at the desk (after my impromptu puke session in the parking lot bushes), they didn’t have my name right and had me listed with a different OBGYN. But we perma-sickies are used to knowing more than the hospital staff, aren’t we?

You better listen when I'm talking to you

You better listen when I’m talking to you

9. You Will be All Sorts of Exposed

I knew my c-section wasn’t exactly going to be a fun getaway to Club Med (that’s still a thing, right?), but I didn’t expect to feel so much like a patient and not a person. That’s no reflection on the staff, it’s just the nature of the beast. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity in the lobby, my husband and I were taken back to our room where I was told to change. No undies or socks or jewelry, just a gown and a a gross hair net. Then a nurse came in and shaved my lady area and acted like it was a totally normal thing to do. This was my introduction to how matter of fact the staff would be about all the private and embarrassing aspects of the ordeal. In some ways it was reassuring, but at the end of the day it’s still very awkward when someone is silently shaving you.

Do I make eye contact? Is that rude?

Do I make eye contact? Or is that rude?

8. You Will be Alone… a lot

After the grooming session was over, I was told my husband would have to leave and no one would be allowed back in until the surgery was about to begin. Suddenly I was alone, just waiting for a nurse to come in, and full of time to daydream about all the things that could go wrong. Even after the pre-op stuff started, it’s still just you and a handful of people.  Technically they had more people on staff than usual as a precaution for my high-risk pregnancy risks, but without a loved one there you still feel very alone… and nervous.

becoolbecoolbecoolbecoolbecool

becoolbecoolbecoolbecoolbecool

7. Yak City, Sick, Yak Yak City

Okay, my not-so clever spin on a line from a rap song may not be funny. But you know what is funny? Telling the nurse like nine hundred times that you’re GOING to puke, have them nod but do nothing, and then letting a glorious waterfall of vomit wash over them. It didn’t feel great, but a small part of me thought “maybe next time you’ll listen to me when I say I’m about to upchuck.”

Deal with it

Deal with it

The actual point of this entry is to warn you that you will definitely puke at some point. It may be when they’re poking or prodding or it may be when your internal organs suddenly shift as they finagle a human out of you. Which brings me to my next point…

6. Lines and Wires and Garishness, Oh My!

Second time in a row I’ve tried to be punny, but whatever, it’s who I am! Aaanyways, no one really told me the frequency with which people would simultaneously be both in and making holes in my body. First there was the three-attempt IV in my arm (EDS makes for lousy veins), then there was the two-attempt spinal block (scoliosis doesn’t help much), and then there’s the fact that someone has their hands INSIDE of you. It’s like the dentist, “You won’t feel pain, just pressure.” Yeah, right. I didn’t feel the scalpel but it felt like someone was sitting on my chest AND pushing my stomach and lungs up into my throat.

gross-out-gif

Yup, pretty much

5. So… c-c-cold… might… die

Another one I wasn’t warned about, surprise! Not only will you be freezing due to lack of clothing, but they keep the operating room super sterile and apparently that is synonymous with ARCTIC. Oh, and the spinal block. Unlike a vaginal birth, you have no choice about whether or not to use some kind of anesthesia. And spinal blocks give you this horrible sensation of internal cold and uncontrollable trembling. Super fun symptoms to have when you’re puking while horizontal. But the cold! Maybe it’s just me, but being freezing cold with nothing to do about it was ridiculously aggravating. It helped to imagine this, though:

Oh, Vince, you do go on

Oh, Vince, you do go on

4. Here Comes Baby!

Nothing can really prepare you for the big moment. Most of the things they don’t tell you about c-sections are negative, but this is a rare positive surprise! I cannot put into words the mixture of intense emotions that surged through me when the big moment arrived. I was extremely relieved he was healthy, so excited to meet the little thing that was once smaller than a blueberry inside me, in awe of the fragility of this new life, nervous that I wasn’t going to be a good enough mom, and just blown away that this HUMAN came out of ME!

It really is!

It really is!

3. Alone Again, Naturally

I may be in my late twenties, but I love me some melancholy 70s music. As Gilbert O’Sullivan so poignantly states, “Reality came around.  And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces.” Except I was cut just once, maybe six inches wide. Boy, did reality come around, though. After the awesome moment that you hear your baby’s first cry (of many), you are on your own again. I wanted to do the “natural” c-section thing, but with my severe shaking and unstoppable, frequent vomiting, they couldn’t bring the baby near me. So off he was carted, my husband went with him, and I was alone on the table getting stitched up. I guess I should have figured this, but the “finishing up” portion of the c-section took about forty-five minutes and was much longer compared to the “pre-baby coming out” part. Emotions were running high, I just wanted to be with my baby, but this is one you just have to endure.

OH THE FEELS

OH THE FEELS

2. EXIT ONLY!

Warning: TMI ahead.

Pee-pee holes, as adults often call them, are meant for one thing and one thing only: to let urine out of your body. In other words, it is an exit only. This is why I hate catheters and do not like when grumpy nurses with cold hands wake me up and fiddle with a tube in my sensitive area.

Excuse me?!

Excuse me?!

Oh you thought the c-section was the end of people all up in your nether regions? Haha, nope! You will be woken up just as much, if not more, by the hospital staff than your own baby to check out your “stuff.” P.S. you don’t get to wear underwear for a while. You’ll lay on a doggy pee-pad while Carrie-sized amounts of blood just pour out for way too long. I thought that since it wasn’t a vaginal birth, it was normal down there. False. You’ve just had a baby taken out of you (a significant trauma) and the blood has to go somewhere. So expect your “exits” to still be examined for a while after the surgery.

1. You Want Me to Do WHA?

Hey you know how you just had a baby and you’re super achy but have somehow managed to muster what little strength you have to care for your baby? Well now they want you to freaking WALK. The audacity! They stress the importance of getting vertical and walking, and I get it, but does it have to be so soon?

Not an option, bro

Not an option, bro

Apparently, yes. You really do need to get up and walk. In the end, walking when I did – and doing it often – significantly helped with the healing process and getting my bowels moving. Trust me, do not underestimate the value of getting your tummy factory up and running again!

 

So there you have it: ten things that you probably didn’t know about the whole c-section process. Some parts of the experience are super unpleasant, some are just awkward, but in the end you get an incredible reward: your very own baby! Its resale value is slightly less now that it’s out of the original packaging, though. (GET IT?) But for real, I’d do it all again (maybe take a few more stool softeners) because nothing compares to the moment when you look into your baby’s eyes for the first time. Oh, geesh, where’s my Kleenex?

5 Stages of The Countdown

We’ve all heard of the 5 stages of grief, and for many high-risk mamas out there, the countdown to your little one’s birth can feel very similar.  You’re excited but terrified, ready for this pregnancy to be over but not sure what will happen when it ends, and the ever-present hormones are wreaking havoc on your sanity.  With less than a week to go until the “Big Day,” here are some of the roller coaster emotions I’ve been going through.

1. Denial

Maybe if I just don’t think about it, I can delay labor indefinitely?  I mean, that sounds pretty logical, right?  It seems like the closer I get to the big day, the more people want to tell me about all the scary aspects of labor, delivery, and the first few weeks home with a newborn.  Apparently it’s considered rude to just plug my ears and run away?

My usual response these days

My usual response these days

So I’ve buried my head in the sand.  Sand takes many forms, though.  It can take the form of binge-watching my favorite shows on Netflix, spending (too much) time on Etsy/Pinterest, or starting laborious arts and crafts projects.  All of which seem completely acceptable.  And worst comes to worst, I’ll just cross my legs really hard and keep the little bugger in there until I’m really ready.

2. ANGERRR!

WHAT?  You mean I can’t just cross my legs and will the baby to stay inside until I’m ready???  Preposterous!  Facing the inevitability of the situation can drive anyone to anger.  I thought I was already used to the whole “lack of control” thing when it came to my health and this pregnancy, but with time slipping through my fingers, I just wanted to yell and yell until something happened.

Yup, this is happening

Yup, this is happening

Maybe it’s because I’m pregnant, but nothing feels as good as “Angreating.”  Yes I made this word up.  It’s a combo of angry and eating, and it means exactly what you think it does.  You’re mad, feel like you’re out of options, so you pick up that tray of Oreos and just start shoving ’em in.  So feel free to shout “I’M ANGREATING!” when your significant other fearfully asks what you’re doing surrounded by Dove chocolate wrappers.

3. Bargaining

Okay, okay, you’re right.  I went a little overboard there, covered in Doritos dust and shame.  So if I start reigning in my crazy just a tad, perhaps the Universe can do me one teensy tiny little solid with this whole labor and delivery thing?  Shall I resort to yelling again until I can convince the world to cut me some slack?

This is my mantra as of late

This is my mantra as of late

I’m sure there has been some point in the middle of the night when you can’t find a comfy position, your hips are about to disintegrate, your mind is racing with WebMD photos of c-sections, and now you have to pee, that you have called out to a Higher Power for some kind of relief.  Don’t feel embarrassed, we’ve all been there, desperately offering up whatever we can think of in exchange for a shred of sanity.

4. Depression

Clearly bargaining doesn’t work, you’ve eaten all the cookies, and there is no sand left in which to bury your burdened little head.  Oh don’t mind me, I’m just going to spend the rest of my days in bed, staring at the wall, wondering where it all went wrong.  Sigh.

This is my life now

This is my life now

And according to all the forums on baby/pregnancy websites, I’m undoubtedly going to be the worst mother ever.  Perfect.  With only a handful of days until my baby is here, the reality of the situation has moved to the unbearable stage.  In less than a week, a tiny human is going to be completely dependent on me for survival, and I can’t even manage to work up the necessary energy to put on pants.

5. Acceptance

If I’m being completely honest, I haven’t fully embraced this stage yet.  I am optimistic, though.  What I’ve realized is that, whether I cross my legs or not, this baby is coming.  While it may be easy to just sit around (pantless) and eat my feelings, that’s not going to change the situation.

It sure is!

It sure is!

Alright ladies, the big day is indeed approaching!  So let’s try to put all the unsettling thoughts and unwelcome advice on the back burner and focus on really taking advantage of every moment leading up to the minute you get to meet your baby!  Get your partner or family or friends to help you with any last minute errands, treat yourself to something you’ve been putting off, and rest up mama!  GET READY FOR LIFE!!!

5 Lies You’re Told

This is going to be a fun one!  Not only are we going to discuss the lies you’re told about being pregnant, but also about the lies dealing with illness.  Even before I was pregnant, there were all these misconceptions out there about how a “sickie” is supposed to feel and act and live.  Now that I’m with child, it seems like I’m fighting two different yet equally prejudicial battles.  So here are some things I’ve been told that have turned out to be completely false.

5. You Can (and should) Have it All

Now I’m just as much a feminist as the next gal.  I even hyphenated my last name when I got married!  If that’s not proof, then I don’t know what is 😉  But seriously, there’s this unreal standard that women are held to in society.  You’re told you should be able to juggle your personal and professional life – all while staying in perfect shape, of course!

Me thinks Photoshop has been used

Me thinks Photoshop has been used…

There is absolutely no shame in picking your own path, even if you feel like you’re admitting defeat.  The moment I realized it was okay for me to take time off work to focus on the health of me and my baby, I felt amazingly relieved.  Don’t fall prey to the lie that you are supposed to be some kind of “Wonder Woman.”  You’re growing a human inside of you!  How much more Wondrous can you get?

Real women. Real bodies.

Real women. Real bodies.

4. It’s Just in Your Head

Pre-pregnancy, when I was searching desperately for a diagnosis, I was told by many doctors and specialists that the joint pain, fatigue, and subsequent anxiety was all in my head.  I had never felt more confused, full of self-doubt, and even angry than when I started to let those doctors get to me.

NO IT'S NOT!

NO IT’S NOT!

Thank God (after quite a few years) I found a doctor that listened to and believed me and was able to give me my diagnosis.  Then, as a high-risk pregnant woman, I’ve also been judged by non-high-risk women telling me that I was just exaggerating my symptoms.  The insulting part was when they would tell me their “real symptoms” as if a) mine weren’t real and b) that their symptoms were worse than mine.  Honey, I would take your puffy ankles over my hip dislocation any day!  So just tune out the negative people in your life and don’t back down with your health professionals if/when they don’t take you seriously.

3. It’s All About the Birth

This was a new one for me.  Out of all the weird comments I was expecting to get, this was kind of a curveball.  While it’s true that “It’ll all be worth it in the end,” some people take it to the nth degree.  Some people made it sound as if the entire process of pregnancy is only about the end result.  So anytime I would be talking about a speedbump we had encountered in the pregnancy, the validity of my concern was immediately thrown out the window, because I should just “focus on the main event.”

The indignation of it all!

The indignation of it all!

But the entire nine months are important in their own right.  For instance, my husband and I have never felt closer than through these months of pregnancy.  I’ve gained a new perspective on motherhood from many late-night phone calls and talks with my mother and mother-in-law.  I’ve made deeper layers of friendship with the women in my life that are moms or moms-to-be.  I’ve even formed bonds with people on internet support groups where we can all rally around each other and our shared health issues. There are so many wonderful experiences I’ve gained through this pregnancy, that I would hate to think what would have happened if I only let myself focus on the end result of birth.  Live in the now and appreciate the process, warts and all!

This applies to so much in life

This applies to so much in life

2. Just Push Through It

Whether you are pregnant, have a chronic illness, or a combination of the two, you have had days where the word “pain” is an understatement.  For the average person, pain is your body’s way of saying something is wrong, but often we are told that as high-risk pregnant women, the pain is just something we will need to learn to live with.  While there are some things that I’ve gotten used to with my Lupus or EDS, I know from experience that not all pain is the same.  Listen to your body.

Some days are a 10

Some days are an 11

There is also this misconception that asking for help = weakness.  Admitting that your body can no longer do the things it used to isn’t being weak, it’s being honest!  To “push through it” and “suck it up” is not only delusional, but potentially harmful to both you and your baby.  So, no, don’t stress out over every little twinge of pain, but also don’t ignore the signals your body sends you.

1. You’ll Get That “Pregnancy Glow”

Maybe this one is just me, but one of the things I always heard about was how women will get this “glow” during pregnancy.  I imagined that when my pregnancy was in full swing, I’d have this cute little bump, radiant skin, and fabulous hair.  Well with a little help from MasterCuts, my hair is pretty fabulous, but besides that I don’t feel like I’m glow-y.

SHE'S SO RADIANT!

SHE’S SO DARN RADIANT!

And I’ve realized that’s okay.  At this point, I’m actually just stoked that my baby is staying healthy and is growing how he’s supposed to be.  Us high-risk ladies find happiness in the little things “normal” moms-to-be take for granted.  While some of my pregnant friends were talking about how their skin cleared up and their hair and nails seemed stronger than ever, I was over here being like “Hey I had a brief moment where my joints didn’t feel like they were on fire!  It’s gonna be a good day!”  It’s also good to remember that most celebs (and even some of our friends) just happen to have the extra time, money, and stylists to make it possible to look like an actual human in the morning.  For me, not so much.

I ain't even playin right now!

I ain’t even playin right now!

So in the end, no two pregnancies are exactly alike and we shouldn’t expect ours to hold up to the magical standards portrayed in movies and on magazine covers.  Your pregnancy is your pregnancy.  What is normal for you won’t necessarily be normal for everyone else.  This is basically how life goes, by the way.  The quicker we can acknowledge and accept that we make our own definition of what’s beautiful, the better.  Now I love the bags under my eyes, sallow skin, and swollen joints.  You know why?  Because it means the little life inside of me is still alive and kicking and my body is so busy keeping him healthy, it doesn’t have time to worry about looking “fresh.”  Flip the script and embrace it!