Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Wonderful Vacation

I never made time to tell you about our vacation! Sorry - stuff got a little wild there for a while...

We Doyles made our way to Florida to meet up with the British contingency in order to celebrate Kittyn's 40th birthday. What with my diseased gallbladder, Kittyn's deteriorating back condition and BOTH of us being in our first trimester at the time (:-0), it wasn't your typical Florida vacation. It was WONDERFUL, though.

The weather was colder than we had originally anticipated. Sandy had blown past Florida a day or so before, and was on her way to decimate the Northern states. In her wake, she left very little damage to Florida, but the temperatures were much lower than the seasonal norm. Kittyn and I had specifically planned lots of sunny beach loll-ing time, and we did not get it.

What we did get, was lots of other cool stuff.

A visit to a real swamp with real alligators who were standing RIGHT NEAR US. Now, despite the slightly cheese website and terrifyingly sulfurous entry, this ended up being an incredible day with a great guide at Jungle Adventures Nature Park.

A very cold gator - too cold to move!
So very, very close to the fence :-O
An encounter with giraffes who were, quite frankly, cracker whores at the Brevard County Zoo.

Matt and his new... um... girlfriend?
An unexpectedly fun Halloween spent at the mall (??!!) and at "home".

A bit overwhelmed by her candy haul and all of the costumes.
A Zombie, Pirate, Skeleton Ballerina  and Peter Pan scoop out the pumpkin
 A fun day at Disneyworld complete with princesses and stolen moments.

Wuv... Twu wuv...
She's so happy, but so nervous! The face is PRICELESS!
A great day at beautiful Cocoa Beach. Even in November, just days after a big storm, it was still warm enough to frolic on the sand and in the water. A good thing, because it ended up being our only beach day.

Turning Maddie  into a mermaid on Cocoa Beach
A Lily Ruth Mermaid
A wonderful birthday dinner for Robyn.

They just had to squeeze into the picture!
Another unexpectedly neat adventure on a boat tour... another day that we were afraid was going to be cheesy and ended up being awesome. I would show you dolphins and manatees, but we were too busy watching them to get any pictures!

And last but not least - a day at Sea World. My favorite bit... because of this:

That's right, people - I WAS PETTING DOLPHINS. Now, I know that this is not earth-shattering. In fact, I've done it before - we have a Sea World here in town for heaven's sake. But it never gets old. Marine mammals hold a special place in my heart :-)

I could bore - I mean bomb you with more pictures of our adventures, but I have grown weary of uploading. If you want to see more, you'll have to come over to my house... Alright, alright! Stop begging already! You're embarrassing yourself! :-P Here are 3... o.k. 4... more that I found on Don's phone :-)

He likes this one too :-)
I absolutely cannot resist a "kid squatting to play in the sand" picture 
There are 4 children and 2 adults in this picture ;-)
Tired but so happy :-)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Garden on Hold

Poor garden. I had the best intentions, really I did. In August, I drew up my plan:

Don and I went out and cleared then prepared the beds. I bought seeds. I planted...

... and then I got sick. Poor garden. It never stood a chance. By the time we left for vacation at the end of October, the pumpkin vines had taken over the bed meant to nourish purple bell peppers and rainbow quinoa. Weeds and hungry bugs were choking out and devouring beet shoots, Brussels sprout stalks and protective broccoli leaves. The less said about the spinach and edamame, the better. I closed the shutters and stopped opening that gate.

It's current state is a true testament to the tenacity and grace of nature. Two pepper plants sun themselves (fruitlessly).

 Chewed upon but hopeful beet leaves preen. Rows of optimistic Brussels sprouts and broccoli march through the neglect.

 A red quinoa stalk stands defiant and alone.

Lily Ruth has announced that she "will NOT give up on the garden." Well, neither will I.

I am ridiculously overly optimistic about my plan for Spring planting. Wanna see it? O.k.:

First, we address the pots. The Plumeria is currently wintering just inside the back door. It is leaf-less, but alive. We (Don) remembered to bring it in before we killed yet another helpless Plumeria by freezing. His dad grows them for us. The ones that he keeps are HUGE and have been flowering for years. We have yet to keep one alive long enough to see a flower. *sigh* The current Basil crop is d-e-a-d. I will replant. Not so much with the fancy Basil this year - I wasn't crazy about cooking with cinnamon and lemon Basil. The third pot is self-explanatory. Lily Ruth likes mud.

Bed "A" will once again play host to the champion food producer of last year - OKRA! I will plant a few more of them to create some shade for my Baby Mescalun Lettuces. Those poor dears got too hot and stopped producing way before I was done enjoying them. I haven't decided what kind of flowers to plant on the other side. Maybe just Marigolds again - but those guys try to take over... hmmmmm...

Bed "B" will be strictly Edamame. That stuff is so tasty that it's ridiculous. I think that I'll divide the bed into thirds and do successive planting so that our harvests are staggered better.

Bed "C' will be a bean tee-pee again this year, but I want to try Red Runner Beans instead... I think... but the Purple Pole Beans were sooooooooooo tasty! We'll see.

Bed "D" is going to be a lesson in Native American agriculture. A Three Sisters garden:

I absolutely cannot wait!

Now all I have to do is rip out my poor survivors... and mulch the soil or maybe put down a layer of hay to discourage any more weeds... and then wait another month or so before I start planting... *sigh* These 80 degree days in January are KILLING me! Plus, I'm not getting any smaller girth-wise over here!

Waiting to plant means it's going to be harder to squat. Harder to reach anything. Harder to drag myself out there to weed and water. Oh, and the family jokes about me giving birth between the beds have begun. My darling husband thinks that I am delusional for even considering planting this year. My beautiful mother is behind me 100%... but is probably only there so she can catch the baby before he lands in the Edamame... Whatever. I'm totally doing this. Wanna come over and help me?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mothering by Feel

Lily Ruth has not been well this week. This does not mean that she has been sick. Rather, she suffers from a vague malaise. She's tired and out of sorts. Gently congested and coughing intermittently. She has been requesting "pajamas, stories, brush teeth then rock" around 7 or 7:30 every night. 

She lists around the house complaining about everything and picking fights with anyone who will listen. Her usual spark of determination is being used to light pathetic tantrums full of crocodile tears and slammed doors. Honestly, I thought we had a bit more time before the pre-teen years. I guess I was misinformed.

It doesn't help that all of her friends seem to be experiencing the same phase. Sinus crud is par for the course around these parts in January, and most of her close friends are very close to her age, so the typical 3 1/2 year old breakthrough combined with an extra lack of energy is knocking them out left and right. Playdates  are tentative and nothing is set in stone until a friend actually walks through the door. Cancellations and rescheduling are the order of the day. Much energy is spent redirecting disappointment into something else. 

Yesterday, Lily Ruth was in her carseat bemoaning her lack of a plan for something fun to do. She interrupted herself with a hacking cough fit. When she finished, I asked if she was all right, and if she needed a sip of water. She turned down the water, and with perfect three year old logic, she threw aside her friend woes and said "See, Mama - I told you I don't feel good. This is why I can't go to school." But it wasn't a school day. School had not been mentioned. Less than 2 minutes before, her world was practically a wasteland. Barren and completely devoid of companionship or fun. All of which is obviously my fault. Now, she's practically consumptive and in need of a fainting couch and a restorative cordial STAT.


After another early night for Lily Ruth, Her daddy and I tucked ourselves in for some grownup t.v. and some quiet time. Don fell asleep long before I did. This is not a surprise. He wakes up incredibly early in the morning in order to be home in time to play with his daughter and share dinner as a family. I settled in with my kindle fire to read and unwind on my own. 

Lily Ruth padded in somewhere close to midnight. I love to watch her do this. She pauses at our doorway, and assesses the dog's position. Then she carefully navigates around Keely and says "hi, Mommy" as she reaches for my hand and crawls up and over me. Last night, she paused and added "I need my agua." Some nights, I send her back for her cup and her blanket on her own. Last night, I told her that I would get it. When I returned, she was snuggled in next to her daddy, with her head on my pillows. I handed over her water ("Gan-you, Mama.") and began the process of settling my old body and my baby belly into the bed. These days, it's a bit of a production. 

I was barely settled when she started another coughing fit. When it ended, she fell asleep immediately - thumb hanging crookedly from the corner of her mouth. Nose completely clogged by congestion. Stale breath blowing directly onto my face. I wanted so much to be asleep. Instead, I began another ritual. One that I do any time that Lily Ruth is unwell and asleep. I don't even know really how to describe it, but I am so compelled to do it, that it feels hardwired. I just start checking her out. One kiss on the forehead becomes a routine of pressing my face to hers. Lips to forehead. Cheek to cheek. Forehead to chin. My hands press softly to her back then her chest and belly. I move her feet so that they press onto my thigh. All checking for what? Temperature differences, sweat, bumps? I don't even know. But it's instinctive. All I know is that if I don't do it, I'll just wake up in a few minutes and have to do it then. It makes me feel like a true mammal. I can't help but wonder if I'm not meant to snuffle into her hair for pheromones and lick her once or twice as well... I don't do those things, but if I thought they'd help, I would... Instead, I move her face farther from mine, tuck her water cup into the crook of her arm, and join the rest of my pack in sleep. Sweet, dream-filled, open-mouthed-snoring sleep.

A tired Lily Ruth "rests" with Sam


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Recovering from Gallbladder Surgery

O.k. - so here I am. Seven weeks out from my surgery and finally sitting down to write about my recovery. Once again, this is not a fun crafting, recipe or Lily Ruth post (although I WILL get back to those soon - promise.). This should be the last time I post about my gallbladder and subsequent lack thereof. I just want to put more information out there for folks who are looking for it.

Day 1: The day after surgery, I woke up feeling great. I made myself a smoothie from a blend that I had pre-made and frozen (very green and yummy) mixed with some yogurt. I drank it slowly and made a few phone calls. I had grand plans to have my grandmother take me out for lunch (she was my support person for the day), then I would pick up my pain prescription then maybe lounge about. I took a (very careful) bath. I got myself dressed and coiffed. Then I tanked. I called my grandmother and asked her to pick up my prescription. Then I hung up, stripped down and crawled into bed. My intestinal tract spent about ten minutes protesting the re-introduction of food after over 24 hours with only a very small amount of water. I situated myself in bed with a nest of pillow support and a hot pack. My entire belly ached. My wound track (navel to gallbladder internally) hurt. My right shoulder HURT (remember the referred pain that I talked about before?).

To back up for a second, back when I was a full time massage therapist, I experienced occupational pain on a daily basis. My right shoulder, arm and hand were miserable. I loved what I did, but I was existing on 4 Advil 3 times a day just to keep working. I obviously stopped the Advil when I became pregnant with Lily Ruth, but the only thing that stopped the pain was not working as a massage therapist full time. The pain that I experienced post-surgery was that same, agonizing, constant burn.

My grandmother brought my pain pills, and made potato soup for me. The soup went over very well with the remaining internal organs. I fell asleep hard for most of the afternoon.

My parents came over for dinner. I managed a small-ish, but normal portion of chicken casserole and steamed veggies. This also went over well with the digestive set. That made for my first two pain free meals in WEEKS, people.

Pain management: I took 1 Hydrocodone (I think it was 325 mg acetaminophen / 5 mg hydrocodone) every 4 hours. The prescribed maximum dose was 2 pills every 6 hours.

Day 2: I woke up in a lot of pain. I called my mama at work immediately, and when she asked me how I was doing, I snapped "I feel like someone yanked my gallbladder out through my belly button." I'm a delight.

She came over almost immediately - because she loves me, not because I am so charming - and brought me a rice-filled sock. If you are not familiar with the rice sock, you are missing out. All you need is a (clean) knee sock and a bag of rice, barley, flax seed, etc. Dump the grain into the sock then either tie the open end in a knot or sew it closed. I prefer to sew because then there is no knot to fiddle with, and you can stuff more rice into the sock. Once it is securely closed, you can heat it in the microwave - no more than 2 minutes at a time!!! - and apply it where you hurt. I used mine at the base of my ribs and under my pregnant belly. I also used it under my belly when I wanted to lie on my side. When you have been inflated with carbon dioxide then deflated and glued shut, you feel a bit 'sloshy' for a few days. Not unlike the sloshy feeling just after you give birth before stuff remembers where it belonged before it took up residence in your rib cage. In any case, I could not have rested on my side without support under my belly.

After she warmed me up and made soup for me (a family specialty ;-)), I felt enough better to sleep the afternoon away. Meals went fine all day.

Pain Management: 1 Hydrocodone every 4 hours.

Day 3: Overnight, I began to develop a reaction to Hydrocodone. Not surprising since I am allergic to Codeine. I began to itch. Not like a mosquito bite, but in a 'I may rip all of the skin off my legs' kind of way. I finally woke up enough to realize what was happening around 3 or 4 a.m. I almost started crying. I called my surgeon's office when they opened. They were sympathetic, but because I am pregnant and allergic to Codeine, there's nothing else that they could give me. I had to stop taking Hydrocodone, and tough it out with Tylenol.

I was up and around a little. Still sloshy, so moving slow. I made my own rice sock. Lily Ruth came home from her grandparent's house. I made Lily Ruth her own rice sock. She confiscated Nanny's rice sock and carried her two 'Snakeys' around non-stop.

Oh, and I conned a friend into bringing me coffee!!!!!! Well, she brought herself, her daughter and coffee. My first real clothing (no pajamas), sitting upright on the sofa visit! It was great. The coffee didn't hurt a bit!

Pain management: 500 mg Tylenol every 5 hours. Zofran for nausea.

Day 4: With Lily Ruth home, my morning was a bit busier, but her daddy took her to Parent's Day Out, and I rested most of the day.

Pain management: Tylenol, Zofran for nausea.

Day 5-6: Things were better each day. I was still moving slowly, but I was moving. Lots of resting, but I was still able to interact with my family.

o.k., so I mentioned that my navel had been filled with glue following my procedure. Well, it started to come loose over the weekend. It was awful. The glue had held everything in that general area very still. as it started to loosen, I was very nauseated and slightly alarmed. I knew intellectually that there was nothing going wrong, but it was a highly unpleasant sensation. I had a very strong urge to grab a tube of Crazy Glue and re-fill my navel. I did not give in to said urge.

Pain management: Tylenol, Zofran for nausea.

Day 7: I managed a short trip to the zoo with Lily Ruth in the morning, and had a quiet afternoon resting and playing around the house.

Day 8: I took Lily Ruth to meet some friends in the park during the morning. I waaaaaaay overdid it on the walking, and had to put my feet up for the rest of the day. I also accidentally slept for 2 hours in the afternoon. I swear - Lily Ruth is a SAINT. She only slept for part of that time. The rest of it was spent playing quietly next to me on my bed. I was in and out of awareness. Each time that I surfaced, the pile of toys on and around my body had grown.

I managed to cook my contributions to our upcoming Thanksgiving celebration during the evening without over-doing it.

Day 9: We drove to Houston (4+ hours) to spend Thanksgiving with Don's family. I could feel a knot of swelling just above my navel, and my entire wound track was very uncomfortable. It was a lousy drive :-( but worth it to see family.

Day 10: Thanksgiving Day - I could very clearly feel the surgical path from my navel to where my gallbladder used to reside. I had a lot of pain under my ribs (diaphragm?) and in my back. Luckily, I have an awesome extended family, so Lily Ruth was entertained by aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents in addition to daddy. She swam and sang karaoke for hours while I napped. I was able to eat and enjoy each and every part of the Thanksgiving feast, though!

Day 11: We drove home. This was a much better drive. I don't know if I was just better rested, or if 2 additional days of healing made that much difference, but it was definitely better :-) I could still feel a lump of either swelling or scar tissue (golf ball sized) just above my navel. It worried me.

Day 12: For whatever reason, I was irritated and nauseated all day, but I could still tell that things were improving.

Day 14 and 15: I still didn't fell 100% myself. I was upset that I could still feel a lump above my belly button, and I became fixated on my scar. I spent a lot of time worried that when my belly button 'popped' that there would be a thick, ropy, ugly, visible scar. I was frustrated that I had made it to the 2 week mark and still didn't feel completely healed.

Day 16: A BIG day. I had my anatomy scan scheduled, a visit with the midwives to review the results AND my post-surgical follow up visit with the surgeon. As you could have predicted, I was running behind, so I raced through my morning ablutions - including wound care) and ran out the door. During my visit with my surgeon, I started to whine about my lump / ugly scar worries. He took a look and said 'what are you talking about?! That is a beautiful incision!' I felt around on it (for the first time that day), and he was right! It had changed totally. The lump was gone, and the scar was thin and faint. I apologized for deriding his good work. He accepted and released me into the wild with no further recommendations  My only follow up from here is to bring the baby boy by for viewing when he's ready :-)

This was my first day of feeling really good in a very long time. Part of it was (I'm sure) the abundance of great news, but I was on the go from 9 a.m. until after 4:30 p.m., and I was fine. No bone-crushing exhaustion. No debilitating or worrying pain.

Luckily, that trend has continued. Aside from normal pregnancy (tiredness and weird stretching) stuff, I feel great. I eat without fear. I don't take medication of any kind on a regular basis.

I truly believe that I made the right choice for me - even though it was really scary - in having the surgery while pregnant. I am healthy. My baby is healthy. I am fully able to take care of my family (something that I was losing the ability to do because I had to spend so much time and energy on pain).

So that's what I have to say about that.