Photo by Layna Hendrich of PhotographyLayn

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Being a Wheeling Momma (Part 3)

We celebrated Addison's third birthday Sunday, complete with a princess theme. I decided to make her cake this year, complete with homemade fondant. I was able to find an easy recipe online, and some really helpful cake tools at Walmart. I'm really happy with how it turned out and am looking forward to having fun with this new hobby in the future! I have a tradition of making her birthday dress every year as well, so this was this year's dress...

Looking forward to trying more elaborate cakes in the future...

So cute- but got sparkles everywhere!

I really can't believe my little girl is already three years old. After her birth, people warned me that time would pass quickly. Although the days seemed to drag until she was sleeping through the night, it has been a whirlwind since. I thought I would finish this three-part parenting series with some general thoughts and ideas about my experiences, and hopefully answer a few more questions that I often am asked.

First of all, in an earlier post, I had mentioned that one of the problems that I had during my pregnancy was the inability to gain weight. (Wish this was a recurring problem...) Although I wasn't really nauseous during those nine months, I did have a little trouble with my bowel program, so I always assumed that was the culprit of the weight loss. At my check-up the day before Addison was born, I weighed exactly what I did when I went in for my first appointment six months earlier. Addison was measuring small, but everything had always checked out with her development, so there wasn't ever any concern- it was just a little puzzling.

During the C-section, we soon discovered what the issue was. My pregnancy had triggered an over-stimulation of benign cysts in both of my ovaries. They were probably always there, but all of those fun hormones that come with baby growing had really wreaked havoc. I will attach a picture below. It's a little graphic, so if you are a queasy person when it comes to blood, scroll quickly! Ovaries are usually the size of walnuts. As you can see below, mine were slightly bigger...

Yes, those are my ovaries. They're not supposed to be the same size as my uterus...

Because my doctor knew that Russ and I planned on having more children, and because the ovaries themselves looked healthy except for their size, it was decided that they would be left alone until we could decide on a course of treatment.

We followed them via ultrasound, and for the first five months, they only caused me minor pain. I had an appointment with my OB/GYN in January, and he did a full exam. Since the ovaries hadn't shrunk, and there was a risk of them twisting and causing serious problems, he made plans to refer me to a specialist in Billings to seek further treatment options.

I woke up the next morning in a lot of pain, and I have a very high pain tolerance. I thought it was from the exam, but as the day went on the pain worsened, I got lightheaded and nauseous, and my temperature started to increase. Russ and I headed to the ER around 9:30 that evening, and after another ultrasound and some blood work, we left around 5:30 the next morning. We were able to get a few hours of sleep before heading to Billings, MT, to see Dr. Gibb, who is a gynecological oncologist. Even though they didn't think my cysts were cancerous, Dr. Gibb is the only specialist in a five-state region who handles this type of thing, so we were happy he was able to fit us in.

Long story short, after a long day of tests and exams, I was scheduled for a full abdominal hysterectomy the following Monday in Billings. The ovaries were taking over my abdomen, and the pain and risk of torsion/twisting was too great to leave them. Russ and I had prepared ourselves for this recommendation, and thankfully, the Lord had given us peace about it. We realize now how fortunate we were that Addison was conceived and delivered healthy, and that this abnormality would definitely threaten future pregnancies. I wasn't super excited about having this done at such a young age, but I would rather not have the threat of future problems hanging over my head as well.

The surgery went well, and they found that the ovaries were twisted, one three times around, which was what was causing the intense pain. Because of the amount of blood thinner I am on, surgery is a big deal, and has to be planned at least 3-4 days in advance in order to get my levels under control so that I don't bleed out during the procedure. So while I was under, they took out everything they possibly could to avoid having to go back in at a later date if I had more complications. I even teased the surgeon to check out any other expendable organs while he was in there, and if anything looked less than perfect, to just remove it! :)

We had always planned on having more children, but I guess the Lord, in His wisdom, know one child would be more than enough for us to handle! So to sum it up, when people ask if we are having more kids, the answer is no, unless God drops one in our laps! Since people in wheelchairs are not able to adopt internationally, and we never felt peace about actively seeking domestic adoption, we are happy in our current situation of a three-person family. Well, four if you count our dog, Shadrach. (And we do!)

I am continuing to learn more every day about parenting. Just when you think you finally have something figured out, the little boogers go and change everything on you. Here are a few of the things I have come to realize are essential to semi-sane parenting, whether you are in a wheelchair or not:

  • Accept advice, good and bad, from those around you, but in the end, YOU are the one that will know your child best. Trust me, I nearly killed myself trying to follow every book, website, and whispered word of advice from other parents. No one will love your child like you do, no one will understand your child like you do, and no one will ever take better care of your child than you. God gave that specific blessing to you, knowing your every strength and weakness, and He never makes mistakes. So take a deep breath, smile pleasantly at the experts and their usual good intentions, and go rock out being the amazing parent you are.
  •  Cut yourself some slack. No one is born knowing all of the answers to anything, especially not how to parent and care for a shrieking little banshee. Some days, I have to give myself this little pep talk every thirty minutes or so. As I mentioned earlier, you will never stop learning, so don't expect perfection from yourself or your child. ESPECIALLY not from your child. Especially.
  • Keep a healthy sense of humor. One of my and Russ' favorite expressions is, "It's a good thing she's cute!" If we didn't laugh at some of the parenting obstacles we have faced, we would probably be in the loony bin somewhere rocking back and forth in the corner of our padded cell. Discipline is important, and some issues need to be taken seriously, but try to enjoy the journey. Don't get so wrapped up in the responsibility that you forget to have fun. It goes way too fast to miss enjoying it!
  • Develop a support team. I am known for my independence, and have always prided myself in being able to do things on my own. This didn't change when I had Addison. Although I don't like to dwell on past regrets, if I could change one thing from early on, I would have reached out more. Confide in family/friends you trust that love you and have a decent track record of their own in the parenting field. And know that asking for help doesn't make you a bad parent- it makes you a better parent.
  • Work out a schedule. I'm not saying you have to go all hard core Baby Wise every time, but God created us in His image, and He is a God of order, and I firmly believe He made our bodies to function best in a cyclic pattern. It may not work for everyone, but give yourself and your baby a chance to find out if this rhythm will work for you. 
  • PRAY! I can't stress this last point enough. I don't know how Russ and I would have survived anything we've been through, including parenting, without the Lord's help, love, and guidance. He loves to teach His children how to be amazing parents.

I am obviously in no way claiming any sort of expertise in the subject of parenting, but I hope this series of blog posts had allowed you a glimpse into my life as a Wheeling Momma. As always, questions are welcome!

Next week- My Life as a Wheeling Wife!

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