Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Change is inevitable.  Sometimes it comes our way without warning, without our consent - and we struggle against it as if attempting to swim upstream.  Other times, we embrace change with open arms, hoping it will bring renewed hope and energy to our lives.

Becoming pregnant with a brother or sister for Ava has been both exciting and stressful.  Two little ones in the house will be a big change for us, but I know we'll accept the newness of the situation and face any challenges head on...or, maybe not.  There will be days of tears, of frustration, of "I can't do this."  But eventually, we will learn to adapt as a family of four, just as we adapted to becoming a family of three.

If you've been with my blog since the beginning, you know that I started it at the same time I got my first "big girl" camera.  Photography is a great way to capture the changes in your life - and when you pull up an old photograph you took almost a year ago to play with some editing, you realize just how much not only YOU have grown, but also your little muse. 

Just ONE year ago! 

And now look at her.

Changes - we can't stop them.

It has been a stressful few weeks, to say the least.  I've posted almost all of my problems with Dr. B's office: nurses who don't know about cholestasis and who don't order the correct lab work, not getting to see Dr. B on a regular basis, fighting for someone to listen to me, not getting my questions answered, long wait times in exam rooms...   This is supposed to be a happy time in my life, not one filled with constant struggle against my OB's office.  So, I switched.  I decided the best thing to do was go back to Dr. C.  I know he's made a few comments here and there that I didn't like, but I think calling him out on them and moving on is the best route to take.  At this point, I'd much rather drive the 40 minutes to his office and deal with a staff who is friendly, punctual, and conscientious than continue to fight with Dr. B's staff - specifically the nurses - and continue to feel upset.  It's just not healthy for myself or this little life inside of me. 

Weight lifted.  I am glad I made this change!

However, amidst change is always sameness.  Some things stay the way they are, for just a little bit longer, and it helps life feel balanced.  Ava is still two years old.  She changes every day, yet these changes are subtle and build upon each other in a way that is almost unnoticeable. 

Consistency: her love for water.

Consistency: her desire to line things up.

Consistency: her ability to make me smile and laugh on a daily basis. 

I guess she prayed for chips and a drink?

I am definitely looking to the future now and deciding what other changes need to be made, both in my career and in my family.  Even though some of these changes bring the unknown, I feel that eventually, we all have to take a chance and make a leap of faith.  And a year from now, when I come back to this post, I hope I am able to say that the changes I made were worth it!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Little Things

Sometimes, it's really hard to take the saying "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" to heart.  Inevitably, lots of small things put together equal one big thing and your day is officially ruined.  "That's the last straw," you hear yourself yelling when you run out of milk or make a wrong turn or burn your finger on the stove.  And of course, this is after a day filled with insignificant small things - a stale pot of coffee at work, losing your favorite sweater, it's raining, you forgot to pick up the dry cleaning...

I find myself in this boat a lot.  Why is it so much easier to focus on all the negative little things in life than all the positive little things?  Take yesterday, for example.  My Negative Nelly list included:

-a cloudy, rainy, cool day
-nothing in the house for lunch
-whines and tantrums from a certain two-year-old
-Said two-year-old dropping an entire snack bag of Goldfish in Target, which meant I was on my hands and knees picking up crackers in the middle of a busy aisle...
- maternity jeans that I had to keep pulling up (Seriously, could they not have figured out by now how to make maternity jeans that don't slip down?)
-a sad, depressed feeling that wouldn't go away
-the daunting task of meal planning and grocery list making was hanging over my head
-a husband who was gone for six hours playing golf, having a grand old time while I was marinating in my "bad" day

The thing is, it wasn't that bad of a day.  But my brain kept track of those little things, adding them up and adding them up until I was almost at a breaking point.  Sometimes it's really hard to get off that negative path, but thanks to my camera and the ability it gives me to reminisce on the day through the lens, I can now see the tiny little good things that I should've been adding up instead.

Despite the dreary, drizzly day, Ava and I spent time outside, where she reveled in the feeling of the cool drizzle hitting her skin:

We had a tea party:

She posed for me without any prompting:

We played with bubbles:

It doesn't have to be a camera though, and while I love photography, I don't always want to get my camera out.  I think I'm going to start a Thankful Notebook.  A cute little book - yes, it needs to be cute, not a plain, boring one - to write down a few things each day for which I am thankful.  Maybe it will help me focus on more of those positive little things instead of the negative ones.

Today, I am thankful for:

-a new necklace that I scored for $5 in the clearance section at Target
-a husband who gets Ava up and takes her to daycare every day
-a rainy day that gave me the perfect excuse to make a new cheesy potato soup recipe
-a daughter whose giggles fill the house when she plays with her daddy
-the time to curl up in bed and continue reading The Help

And every day, I am really thankful for the time I take to capture all the little moments in Ava's life.

More examples of how she lines things up - a little something that always makes me smile!

Yes, there will be bad days when truly, nothing seems to go right.  There will be that constant feeling of things spinning out of control and it will take every ounce of willpower to not yell or scream or cry or simply fall down and give up...

However, I am hoping that even on those days, I can write in my Thankful Notebook and continue to try, with all of my might, to see the bright side!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

And the Cholestasis Verdict Is...

Nothing.  Yet. 

I've been to my doctor's office three times in the past four days and while I don't feel that I'm at square one anymore, I'm barely at square two. 

I finally saw my regular OB today, Dr. B, who knows about cholestasis, who knows what tests should be run, who knows the treatments...but who refused to give me medication until my lab results come back next week.  I mean, I do understand.  My initial liver profile came back normal, so we're waiting on the bile acid test.  The medication is one that requires continuous upping of the dosage for it to keep working and if I started it now, I'd be taking 10 or more pills a day by 35 weeks.  It would be a bit much. 

Dr. B did refer me to a high risk doctor on the north side of town - a doctor who is featured on one of the best cholestasis websites, Itchy Moms.  He agreed about not taking any medication until my bile acid test comes back.  If the test is positive, medication will be prescribed.  If it's negative...then it's back to itching and re-testing until the results change.  I will have an ultrasound with this high risk doctor in a little over a week and I'm assuming we'll develop a treatment plan from there - again, depending on that last test result. 

In the midst of all of this, I've missed a lot of work and it's been stressful dealing with lesson plans for subs, keeping the administrators up to date on my situation, etc.  I wish I could just fast forward to maternity leave and stop dealing with all of this!  I am sure once my student teacher takes over in a few weeks, I will feel much better.

For now, it's still a waiting and guessing game...I am trying not to worry too much, but based on my previous experience during my pregnancy with Ava, I know how quickly this condition can worsen and I'm afraid of going through weeks of testing and the agony of itching before getting relief.  Let's all pray this isn't the case.

Monday, September 12, 2011

You've gotta fight...for your the best healthcare

As many of you know, I was diagnosed with cholestasis of pregnancy back in 2008, when I was pregnant with Ava.  Cholestasis effects your liver, NOT your gallbladder as some doctors would like to believe (having it taken out does nothing and women get cholestasis whether they have their gallbladder or not), and it causes severe itching that can only be taken care of with one medication, Actigall.  Anti-itch creams don't work and Benadryl doesn't work because the itching comes from bile acids getting into your blood stream.  The itch is literally UNDER your skin, not on the surface.  Actigall helps reduce the bile acids and thus relieves the itch.  If you're interested, this is a great website with lots of helpful information: Itchy Moms

When I was seeing Dr. C during Ava's pregnancy, I had to fight and fight and fight to get diagnosed and put on Actigall.  I called him numerous times during Christmas break, even calling on Christmas Day to state that I would be going to the hospital for testing.  I was in complete misery, wasn't sleeping, itching 24/7 and I had a doctor who was skeptical of it being cholestasis because it's such a rare condition.  When I finally got in to his office after having tests done at the hospital, I was armed with print-out after print-out from the internet in case I had to basically be my own lawyer and fight for my rights as a patient.  Thankfully he finally relented at that appointment and put me on the medication, and from there it was smooth sailing - I was carefully monitored the rest of the pregnancy and followed standard protocol for cholestasis: Actigall, follow-up blood work to check my bile acid levels, bi-weekly NSTs, and a 37 week induction date - which thankfully was unnecessary since Ava came on her own at 36w2d. 

However, my relationship with Dr. C was tainted after this experience.  I just couldn't forgive him for the way I felt I was being treated in those early days of severe itching.  I went through agony trying to get relief, was sent for tests I didn't need, and had to endure rude comments such as, "What do you think you're going to do when the baby comes?" when I mentioned I hadn't been sleeping at all.  All of this, coupled with the fact that Dr. C was a 40 minute drive away, led me to a new OB/GYN practice closer to my house.

My first visit with Dr. B was positive and she seemed to know a lot about cholestasis and the proper treatment.  I felt as though I had nothing to worry about...until today.  The itching has just barely started and I decided to get in the office right away for blood work and a prescription.  The unfortunate thing is that this is a large practice and many times, instead of seeing your doctor, you see a nurse practicioner.  I felt like I was talking to Dr. C all over again. 

NP: "Have you used any new soaps or lotions lately?"
Me: "No" (thinking in my head, DUH lady, cholestasis is not caused by soaps and lotions)
NP: "Let me see your hands, do you have a rash?"
Me: (showed her my hands, thinking DUH lady, there is no rash with cholestasis)
NP: "Why don't you try some Benadryl?"
Me: "Benadryl doesn't work with cholestasis." 

She did finally look at my records from Dr. C and ordered the correct blood tests, but, refused to give me medication until the results come in.  Insert me banging my head on the wall.

The test results should be in no later than Wednesday.  Thankfully, my itching is very mild right now, but I know from previous experience how quickly it can escalate.  I don't want my bile acid level to be high already, but I'm worried it'll be too low and they won't put me on the Actigall...and if this is the case, I guess I'm going to have to bring in print-out after print-out and once again fight for my rights.  It is just so frustrating to know more than your doctor's office.  I realize they cannot possibly know every single affliction out there, but if you have even one patient with a rare diagnosis, do some research!  Prepare yourself in case you see the exact same thing in the future!  Not to mention, check out a patient's records.  If this nurse had simply looked over my files, she would've known all she needed to know and we could've skipped that ridiculous conversation...

I will update when my test results come back.  Please pray that I do not have to fight a doctor about this AGAIN...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


We've got a theme going on in our house: if you can line it up, do it.

I could read into it and think: my child is going to be a neat freak or my child is going to be super organized (which both sound better than my child is going to have OCD - which really isn't a joke, as I've been told that I have OCD tendencies).  But really, I think it's just a quirk.  It's just something Ava is into right now; some strange phase that has manifested itself into her little body, filling her with the need to line up certain toys and ignore the mess of others scattered on the floor. 

We all have our little quirks.  Jeremy has so many of them, it would take up an entire post. 

Even I will admit to a few quirks: I keep Kleenex boxes in the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen and on my desk (Never know when you'll need a tissue, and who wants to be far away from one when feeling a sneeze come on?)...I can't sleep without a fan on and bring it with me on overnight trips, on airplanes, to the hospital, basically wherever I may be spending the night...I let my nails grow long enough to be annoying and then pick them all off...and on and on. 

My quirks during pregnancy mainly have to do with food - and, for a pregnant woman, food is serious business.  I had been craving blueberry muffins for breakfast, so on Sunday, I made it happen.  Not that blueberry muffins are a quirky thing to have in the's just that usually, I don't go to the trouble and instead prefer a Starbucks run.

Ava definitely wasn't complaining about Mama baking!

Morning hair...YIKES.  It's gotten horrible since she's been using a pillow like a big girl.  We had to invest in some detangler.

I like noticing Ava's quirks though.  Two year olds have loads of them, if you just pay attention.  And to them, it's all normal business and not weird at all. 

Wearing a bunny around your neck?  Normal.

Giving your baby food AND money?  Normal.

Putting small baby dolls in toddler-sized diapers?  You guessed it...normal.

What quirks do you have?  Which ones of your child(ren) do you notice the most?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Summer Break: Part Deux

I unexpectedly had to take the day off yesterday because Tammy, our daycare provider, was sick with a stomach bug.  She had become ill Wednesday while watching the kids and Jeremy had to pick Ava up around lunchtime, so it was my turn Thursday to be at home with her - and since I'd already taken Friday off due to Tammy's vacation day, I happily dove in to two days at home with my girl.

For whatever reason, maybe the hot temperatures or the fact that we got out and stayed busy, it felt like summer break all over again, not just a simple day off of work.  Jeremy and I both know from experience that when one of us has an entire day to spend with Ava, it's best spent doing:  visiting family and friends, eating lunch at McDonald's, browsing through the aisles of Target, or, in our case yesterday, making a morning trip to the zoo.

We got there about a half hour after opening time and it was practically deserted; just a handful of other moms or dads pushing strollers and leading little ones up to the fences to admire elephants, monkeys and sea lions.  Ava is very vocal about what she wants to see when we're at the zoo.  The only animal she truly cared about seeing were the tigers - who were way back in the farthest corner of their cage, snoozing in the shade.  Thankfully the other animals were entertaining enough.

These two chased and jumped and wrestled for a good ten minutes.

Now, even though Ava had a good time and it was a nice way to spend a random Thursday was also hot and pushing that stroller up and down, back and forth across the entire zoo is quite tiring for a pregnant gal who never works out!  (And then I tortured myself with the stroller again this morning at the Children's Museum, pushing it up countless ramps...)  Certainly good exercise, but not quite the "relaxing morning at the zoo" I had hoped for.  Still, it was worth it and it's fun to watch Ava's reaction to the animals.

After lunch at home, we stayed in the cool confines of the house and played.  Ava has very much been into a "nice and cween" play room, picking up her toys as soon as she's done playing with them.  But yesterday seemed as good a day as any to dump out her entire ball pit and not pick it up until prompted before bed time.

Something else I noticed while being at home with her yesterday:

My child is obsessed with lining things up!

She also took quite an interest in my camera while we were playing.  I had put it down on the floor and she picked it up, put the strap around her neck and then played with the buttons.  I ran upstairs to grab my new one so that I could get a picture of her with my old camera (***sidenote: Upgraded to a Canon 60D, EEEK.  Love.  Still, my Rebel is my go-to for day-to-day shooting since it's smaller and easier to tote around)  I wasn't able to capture her with the camera, but after some assistance, she took her very first photograph.

Unlike her Mama, she took a tilted angle picture.  I personally don't like this look, but maybe Ava wants to rock it out.  She's gotta have a style independent of Mama's, ya know.  By the way, those bottles on her stove?  They were being heated up.

Seems a bit unsafe to me, but I didn't question her about it.  And really, heated juice

Finally, the biggest event of the day was converting her crib into the toddler day bed, aka the Big Girl Bed.

She and I talked all about it and went shopping for a pillow and this Dora blanket: big girl stuff.  She helped her daddy put the small rail up and was extremely excited about sleeping in this "new" bed.  In fact, at bedtime, she was so hyper, we thought she'd never calm down.

It took four times of gently talking to her and coaxing her back into bed and three times of not talking and simply putting her back to bed before she finally gave up and cried herself to sleep. 

Nap time today has been worse.  She got out of bed and opened her door about twenty times or so, with me not talking or looking at her and leading her back to bed before she realized I meant business and again, cried herself to sleep.  I know it'll take a few times before she's used to this new sleeping arrangement.  It's a hard transition from little girl to big girl!

I definitely feel as though I'm getting a second summer break, even if it's only a few days.  There are still three days ahead of me, days I hope to fill with shopping, dinner alone with Jeremy, hanging out with friends, and spending as much extra time as possible with my big girl!