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

 

Why I’m Not A Mom (and neither are you)

No, no, no.  Calm down.  No one needs to call Social Services or anything, my son is very well fed (as is evidenced by his Michelin man legs).  I’m just on my  soapbox  again.  I don’t like the label “mom,” never have.  Mom is a palindrome; it’s written the same forwards and backwards.  I also have an irrational fear of palindromes, in case you didn’t know.  The “M”s on either side of the “O” are like little bookends.  They’re little, mean bookends confining the “O” in the middle.  The word is stuck as it is and can be nothing else.  Yes, I’m writing this on very little sleep.  So allow me to explain, since my previous sentences sound like the ravings of a madwoman.

Ooooh watch out!

Ooooh watch out!

Seemingly, when you become a mother and other people begin to refer to you as a “mom,” the world around you gets a little smaller.  You’re now “just a mom.”  The media isn’t interested in you as a “woman” anymore.  Magazine articles either cater to alluring, interesting young women or to “moms” and their quilting and hors d’oeuvre making.  You find yourself wondering if you should just resign to wearing sweats and always smelling just a bit like baby spit up.  The suggested ads in your Facebook are suddenly about minivans, artichoke dip recipes, and losing weight.

Yes, FB, this is totally accurate

Yes, FB, this is totally accurate

What happened to everything else I am?  I love to travel, discuss religion and politics, sketch, and watch an ungodly amount of BBC America.  I’m still an activist for animal rights, environmental issues, gay rights, and raise awareness for invisible illnesses.  I still shop at H&M, Urban Decay, and (embarrassing as it may be) Forever 21.  Why does becoming a “mom” mean to many that I am no longer that person to so many people I’ve encountered?

I FINALLY GET TO USE THIS GIF!

I FINALLY GET TO USE THIS GIF!

I am so proud to be a mother and so humbly grateful to have received a gift that many women desperately want.  Through all the ups and downs, I would still do it again for my sweet son.  I am responsible for him and to him now.  But I’m also obligated to show him what a strong woman looks like.  What disservice would I be doing to him if I sent the message that once a woman has a child she ceases to have any other identity except that of a mother?  Or what would it imply about women who are unable or choose not to have children?  Are they less of a woman or somehow less caring?   How would he then treat women?  I hope to show him that women can be nurturing yet independent, kind yet bold, and yes girls can like mud and science and Tonka trucks, too.  I hope he will in turn exhibit respect and empathy towards others and strive to be aware of his impact as well.

because babies holding hands is adorable

because babies holding hands is adorable

So that’s why I’m not a mom and neither are you.  We’re mothers, partners, artists, goofballs, chefs, secret-keepers, dancers, nerds, and everything in between.  We owe it to ourselves and our children to be a full person, flaws and all.  Children learn so much about the world by watching what we do, how we act, what we say.  Show them, tell them that you are, not were, an artist or a nerd or a thrill-seeker or a musician.  Let them see all that you are so that they might know who they can be.

They'll grow into those shoes quickly, trust me

They’ll grow into those shoes quickly, trust me

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?

C-Section Checklist

We’re gonna hop in a little time machine here and go back to the frantic days leading up to THE BIG DAY.  Everyone was telling me the “must haves” I needed for the c-section.  But some of them just sounded downright silly.  Like, who is actually going to need to bring their make-up bag nonetheless have time to apply it?  The answer is no one, by the way.  No one has time to be model pretty and if they say they do, they are either lying or some kind of future alien thing.  So as if I didn’t have enough things on my mind – is the house ready? will the baby like the nursery? what if I fart during the c-section??? – I had yet to do anything that even closely resembled packing.  Time management isn’t really my “thing.”

Basically me everyday of ever

Basically me everyday of ever

So, without further ado, because my rambling and tangents could theoretically go on forever, here is a (mostly) foolproof packing checklist for your c-section and hospital stay:

For Just You:

  • Pajama type or loose fitting dresses.  Having a tight waistband pressing on your incision is Guantanamo-level torture
  • Some hospitals will provide socks with little grippy things on the bottom, some will not.  If they don’t, I highly suggest bringing a pair or two, because slipping on a cold hospital floor after major surgery isn’t super fun
  • Maternity bras (plus nursing pads) and really comfy undies.  Some ladies like to go the low-cut route (so it doesn’t touch the incision) some like high-waisted undies (because it feels like it keeps everything “in”).  It’s dealers choice
  • Your own pillow(s) and blanket(s).  Not only are hospital pillows flat and oddly noisy, but hospital blankets are thinner than truck stop bathroom toilet paper.  And that’s saying something
I just want to be warm and slee-hee-hee-heep

I just want to be warm and slee-hee-hee-heep

  • If you’re breastfeeding, bring your own pillow and cover and other paraphernalia because most hospitals will only provide a hospital-grade pump
  • LOTS OF HEADBANDS.  Between puking, sweating, tossing and turning in bed, and other things, you do not want to deal with hair in your face
  • This is a big one!  The hospital room I was in had a shower with washcloths and towels, but no shampoo or soap.  Also, even if you’re not going to breastfeed, your body will still be producing colostrum (aka liquid gold) AND your baby needs to smell you, pheromones and all.  So BRING YOUR OWN SOAP.  Use something unscented and gentle so as not to confuse your baby’s Basset Hound-like scent receptors.  Oh, and Q-tips.  Bring Q-tips because water in the ear is super annoying.

For the Baby:

  • Note:  Thankfully you won’t actually need to bring much for your baby during your hospital stay.  In between hospital staff and visitors, there will be an ample supply of diapers, beanies, bottles, formula, and everything else for your little one
  • Going-home outfit.  It’s up to you if you esteem fashion over ease, but remember that your baby is floppy, fragile, and impatient
  • Receiving/swaddling blankets.  ASK FOR TIPS from your nurse on how to make a nice little baby burrito because swaddling is not as easy as it looks
This is a fairly accurate equivalent of trying to swadde a baby

This is a fairly accurate equivalent of trying to swadde a baby

  • Mittens are a must because babies just love trying to scratch themselves and simultaneously gouge their eyes out with their tiny, angry fingernails
  • Grooming kit type things and pacifiers are optional again based on what your local hospital will/won’t provide

For your Partner:

  • Note:  Your partner’s sole job is to hold on to and take care of all the things you don’t have time for, just being honest.  With that said, the following items are less about things to keep your partner comfy and more about keeping your life stress-free
  • Facial toner.  This was a Godsend because I didn’t have the time/energy to wash my face yet I still felt like I had spent 13 hours over a fast-food fryer.  The toner not only let me feel refreshed but I didn’t even have to get out of bed!
  • IDs, insurance cards, and any other paperwork your hospital or doctors require
  • Camera (or SmartPhone) for all the necessary pictures you need to take.  I don’t care if people say all newborns look the same, I want pictures, gosh darnit!
  • Chargers and batteries!  This one CANNOT be stressed enough, people
  • Cash for vending machines, valet, or any other services that don’t accept cards (which, surprisingly, is a lot!)
  • Here’s one I didn’t think would be important but I’m so glad I brought – BAGS.  Bags for dirty laundry, supplies the hospital gives you to take home, gifts visitors bring, paperwork from your doctor/nurse, and everything else that will come your way.  Believe me, you will leave for the hospital thinking you are fully packed but then you will go home looking like a Canadian experiencing Disney for the first time.  No offense.
Be careful or this could be you

Be careful or this could be you!

Hope this checklist helps or at least gives you a guideline for packing!  Up next is a post about all the “wonderful” things they don’t tell you about getting a c-section!  Hang in there, though, ladies; you can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel (insert vaginal birth jokes).

5 Things You Need to Get Over Now

Whether you’re pregnant with your first or a seasoned vet, you already know that your life is different with a child in the picture. So here are five things I realized I needed to get over (quickly!) in order to have a healthy, less stressful life.

5. Saying No

Whether you’re a social butterfly or a people-pleaser, you’re going to need to add this word to your vocabulary: NO.  In the beginning, your life as a mother might not have changed that much.  But soon, you’re probably going to need to get used to turning down party invitations, not volunteering for projects, and no longer being a pillar of strength for everyone but you.  Don’t feel guilty if you have to say no to a girls night out with your best friend.  The people who love you won’t be offended and will understand that you are going through a crazy tough time emotionally and physically.  Don’t be afraid to say no at work, either.  The laws in most states are pretty good at protecting pregnant women from unfair treatment in the workplace.  So if your boss orders you to pull multiple all-nighters or do something physically demanding, be unafraid and unashamed to say NO. 

Say it LOUD and PROUD

Say it LOUD and PROUD

4. Superficial Things

Nothing puts things in perspective like bringing a life into the world.  All of a sudden, the little things seem comically small and you wonder why you ever worried about those things at all.  But we, as emotional women, will sometimes put a magnifying glass to trivial concerns and work ourselves into a tizzy over them.  Don’t fall prey to stressing over the superficial things.  First thing to go for me was caring about my appearance.  Once, I opened my door and the UPS man made a joke about me wearing pajamas in the afternoon.  I responded with, “I’m sick and I’m pregnant.”  He paused and replied with, “Did I mention those are very nice pajamas?”  Wise man.  You learn to not only get over caring about how you look, but about what people think.  You’re caring for and raising a human.  So remember that everything else comes second to that. You need to take care of yourself and be healthy in order to be able to take care of your little one.

You go, Penny!

You go, Penny!

3. Mistaking Pride for Bravery

I’ve brought this issue up before and continue to do so because it was such an important realization for me.  When my Lupus and Ehlers-Danlos were in full swing (pre-pregnancy), I was bound and determined to still live a normal, active life.  I wasn’t going to use my illnesses as a crutch and be dependent on others.  However, this kind of bull-headed approach can be quite dangerous when you enter motherhood.  You are not doing your baby any favors by trying to be “tough” and putting yourself in potentially harmful situations.  If you need help lifting something, ask.  If you can’t work anymore, don’t.  If something hurts, stop.  This was incredibly hard for me to do, but if you won’t accept support for yourself, do it for you baby’s sake.  Even the strongest people need help sometimes.

Even the best people need help

Even the best people can you extra support

2. Being Easily Intimidated

Some of you ladies may already have a strong, mama bear instinct, but some of us just need a little extra encouragement.  Outsiders also underestimate how frightening the whole experience of going through a high-risk pregnancy can be for a woman.  Not only are you getting opinions and advice from family and friends, but you’re getting news and orders from your doctors, too.  Whether you’re making decisions about your child’s health while you’re pregnant or while you’re in the pediatrician’s office, you need to stand firm in your right to protect your child.  When every decision you make has the potential to impact your baby’s health, it can be very easy to let anxiety take over and for your instinct to take the back seat.  A dear friend of mine – through no fault of her own – is dealing with the consequences of neglect and abuse of authority on the part of the medical staff that was supposed to be keeping her baby’s best interest at heart.  Though she doesn’t have a weak bone in her body, the doctors still made mistakes that changed the life of her baby forever.  Remember, you have the right to tell the doctors what you do/don’t consent to and you also have the right to be informed every step of the way.  You have to dig deep, listen to what your gut is telling you, and be outspoken about the issue.

Find your inner lioness

Find your inner lioness

1. Being Embarrassed

Fact: when pregnant, strangers will be examining your downstairs.  Fact: you will not always have time to prepare for said examinations.  Fact: sometimes you will accidentally snart (sneeze+fart) on your doctor.  These things happen.  The only reason I put this on my list of things to get over, is that your well-intentioned preservation of dignity can actually be a bad thing.  I’m unfortunately speaking from experience.  Early on in pregnancy, I let my shyness, modesty, and embarrassment override my better sense of judgement.  I wrote off my pain and bleeding as possible hemorrhoid issues.  I also told myself that I was probably overreacting and that the blood was barely more than what I would call spotting.  As it turned out, I had a ruptured uterine cyst and a subsequent infection that led to a pre-term labor scare.  Thank the good Lord that everything worked in the end, but boy did I learn my lesson!  From then on out, I didn’t care if I grew a second anus and I didn’t care how many doctors would like to see my mutant sphincter.  (For the record I only have one anus, thankyouverymuch.)  Point being, get over any hang ups you have about embarrassment or weird body issues.  Your baby’s health is top priority.

Judy Garland knows what's up

Judy Garland knows what’s up

All joking aside, this was a very personal post to me.  I hope it lets women know they’re not alone in this struggle, there is support, and, now more than ever, it is necessary to have (and use) your strong voice!