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I’m Back

11 Jun

Recently, I stood in a public space for four hours and advertised my experience with postpartum depression and anxiety. You would think that after years of blogging about how I suffered, I’d be used to speaking about PPD, but there’s something unique about face-to-face interactions.

b.good benefitMy local b.good restaurant was kind enough to host a benefit night that my new friend and fundraising partner, Candice, cleverly named “Take a Bite Out of Stigma.”  We felt so professional, with our glossy signs and our fancy raffle tickets, and I’m convinced we appeared professional as we greeted customers, shared b.good tattoos (fake, I promise!) with the kids, and spoke about PPD.  But deep down?  There was a part of me that wanted to shrink back from the arena, that wanted to hide behind the 15 latex balloons that announced our presence.

But then?  Then my local bestie walked through the doors and I found myself squeeeeeeeing and running to hug her.  An older gentleman stepped through the doors only to walk back out and stand at our poster, reading carefully through the information, returning later to hand me a twenty dollar bill with only a few words exchanged.  I met moms who had a multitude of questions about PPD.  I saw old friends and heard about how I was inspiring people.  And I sat with Candice and we talked about our common hell over milkshakes and strawberry lemonade.

We walked out with over $250 for Postpartum Progress, a new partnership with a great local company, and a feeling of empowerment and sisterhood.

And now?  Now we have a new video promoting our Climb Out of the Darkness and the faces of our warrior moms, with an up-and-coming musician.

Special thanks to David Gray for the use of his beautiful new song.  It speaks right to the hearts of the Warrior Moms.  We?  Are BACK.  I have watched this as least 2 dozen times and it still gives me goosebumps.

You can donate to Climb Out of the Darkness HERE.  Those are the faces of your wives, your sisters, your daughters.  You neighbors, your childrens’ teachers.  Your mother.  Honor their recovery by supporting the recovery of moms just like them.

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All local donors can be entered to win our amazing local raffle, including a night tour of Wallace Observatory!

All non-local donors are entered to win a $20 gift certificate to my Etsy shop, Crocheted Happiness!

Kitty Cuddle Time

17 Apr

Need a little happy today? You can borrow Marble, my 11-year-old Tabby. She’s got your happy right here.

“Do You Wanna Build a Snowmaaaaan” Cover: by my 2-year-old

4 Apr

You guys.  The toddler who wouldn’t talk suddenly has a huge vocabulary.  And thanks to a few dozen viewings of Frozen, she SINGS.  Sings.

Wait for it – it’s worth every second.  The way she leans into the door to muffle her voice like Anna?  And when she touches the door before singing “okay, byeeeeee….”  I just couldn’t love this kid anymore.

p.s.  The husband and I will perform Love Is An Open Door when my Climb Out of the Darkness fundraiser hits $400.  I am not a singer.  That’s how epic it will be.

 

 

Making Paper Bells

23 Dec

Bell ImageI’m still so, so sick, but the girls and I are bringing you a simple holiday craft: Cut paper bells.  The lovlies are delicate and will leave your holidays guests wondering how you made them.  But I promise, they are so, SO easy!

 

 

 

Supplies Needed:  White copy paper, Scissors, String (for hanging), pencil (optional)

Origami Diagram Paper Bell1. Fold the paper and cut off the extra as shown to make a square with your paper. You can leave your paper folded for the next step.
2. Fold your triangle in half and then in half again.
3. Holding the triangle at the bottom tip, plan (or draw on) your lines.
4. Cut almost all the way across the triangle, alternating sides, beginning at the hypotenuse and ending before the inside tip.
5. Carefully unfold until flat.
6. Trim the middle of the square to give yourself a flap to hold onto.
7. Hold middle flap and gently tug down on outside corners to stretch out the bell.
8. Hang and enjoy!

 

One Kidney McGee

14 Aug

Did you know I only have one functioning kidney?

I discovered a lump in my abdomen when I was 8 weeks pregnant with Doodlebug almost 5 years ago.  My OB chuckled and told me it was probably just my organs moving to make room for my growing uterus and joked that I was so tiny that it was probably my kidney being pushed up.  When it failed to stop growing and moving around (I marked my skin with sharpie to document its comings and goings), and it began to hurt, I went back 4 weeks later and insisted on an ultrasound.

Two hours after my scan, the OB called and asked me to “come in right away.”  I was instantly sick to my stomach.  She explained that the ultrasound showed a large mass, 11cm x 18cm, and they were unsure what it was.  She wanted me to go for more tests and to see a surgeon for removal of what might be a cyst.  At 12 weeks pregnant, the idea of abdominal surgery terrified me and every doctor I spoke with seemed unsure as well.  Turns out, pregnant women make doctors (and their malpractice insurance) very nervous.

One day before my scheduled exploratory surgery, I had an ultrasound with a specialist to check on the baby.  With one glance at the screen, she diagnosed me with an enlarged kidney.  Apparently the first set of doctors didn’t put two and two together when the original ultrasound showed a large mass but noted that my left kidney could not be found.

I was then diagnosed with severe hydronephrosis of the left kidney, caused by a congenital defect that narrowed or blocked my ureteropelvic junction. Basically, the urine created by my left kidney couldn’t drain into my bladder, backed up into my kidney, and slowly destroyed the healthy tissue.  All I had left was a thin membrane of kidney tissue filled with fluid.

Here’s a picture:

The good news? Hydronephrosis is benign in most cases.  A severe urinary track or kidney infection is the largest threat I face because of the difficulty the doctors might have treating it.  But the reality was that my kidney had most likely been this way for a while and I never knew it. It’s often diagnosed in infancy or childhood and corrected with a simple procedure, but mine was never caught.  In fact, the human body can function just fine with only one kidney!  This article from Scientific American describes how the remaining kidney can grow to compensate.  Thankfully, my right kidney has done just that and has 99% function.

None of this was much consolation while I was pregnant (and an anxious mess) for the first time. Doctors weren’t sure how my still-functioning right kidney would do when the pressure from the pregnancy caused the expected (and totally normal) mild hydronephrosis of pregnancy in my right side.  I was given options to stent the UPJ, to drain the kidney to relieve the pressure, or to do nothing.

I am grateful for the St. Louis urologist (because that’s where I lived at the time) who talked patiently with me while I weighed all my options.  He treated me like an intelligent partner in my health decisions and was frank but kind about the risks.  He helped me find a knowledgeable high-risk OB who monitored me closely, watching for signs of preterm labor and additional stress to my body and the baby’s.  And he supported my choice when I decided not to undergo any procedures.  He’s the kind of doctor everyone deserves.

My first pregnancy (and subsequent accidental second pregnancy) were thankfully unaffected by the kidney.  I am not, however, symptom-free.  The kidney is still huge.  The size of a small loaf of bread or a large eggplant.  It presses on nearby organs (including my intestines) and can be very uncomfortable if I move the wrong way or exercise too hard. I wish I had a copy of the MRI image to show you – it’s impressive how half of my abdomen is basically all giant-balloon-animal-kidney-thing.

The plan is to have it electively removed.  I even had a surgeon all lined up to take it out laproscopically before I got knocked up with Bean (oops).  My risk of kidney infection and my discomfort will both be ameliorated by its removal.  Plus, there’s nothing like a good old nephrectomy to lose a few pounds.  Kidding.  Now is just not a good time – we’ll do it when the girls are a little older.

I used to think about how I was down one kidney all the time.  It used to terrify me.  Now it’s just another part of my day, but I do take good care of Ol’ Righty.  Which is why I’m writing this post in the first place.

People, take care of your kidneys.  Drink water.  Pee when you have to – don’t hold it in.  Assess your risks for kidney disease.  Don’t take for granted the amazing work your body does for you.  I sure don’t.

 

That extra little bulge above my hip?  Kidney.

Here I am 35 weeks pregnant with Bean.  That extra little bulge above my hip? Kidney.

Talking Racism With My Four-Year-Old

1 Aug

Based on the positive responses to our original chat about postpartum depression prior to the Climb Out of the Darkness fundraiser for Postpartum Progress, Doodlebug and I decided to tape a conversation about skin color and racism.

Now, I’m no expert.  And watching the conversation, I count many things I wish I had said in a better way and others that I think we still need to discuss.  But it’s a good start.  Talking with your kids about racism is so important.  And it’s not as scary as you might think.  Especially if you bribe them with strawberries and cream cheese icing.

p.s. NutureShock: New Thinking About Children has an excellent chapter about how children think about race and racism and why white parents don’t talk about race.  Worth a read!  Here’s an excerpt from an outside link.  I can’t stress enough how thought-provoking it is.

Talking Climb Out and PPD With My Oldest Daughter

20 Jun

If you’d like to donate to our hike, head on over to Crowdrise!

Vlog Ramblings and Adorable Baby Shenanigans

20 Feb

This is all I’ve got today, folks. Happy Humpday!

She Walks!

13 Dec

This one?  Is fearless.  Such a different little person from her big sister.

Quiet.  Easy-going.  And mobile.

Send wine.

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Hurricane Sandy

29 Oct

We are very fortunate that the hurricane has brought only power loss and a bit of rain our way. I take comfort in the fact that our house is up on a hill, in an elevated area of town. Still, severe weather is a huge trigger for my anxiety.

This is how my husband is helping battle it. Forgive me if the YouTube like doesn’t play in this window. I’m blogging from my phone.

Hoping you are staying safe if you’re in Sandy’s path.

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