Thursday, February 28, 2013

Another P. Report

All good things must come to an end...
 


And today, in our Little Red House, this certainly rang true.

For almost 2 years our Sweet P. would have therapy twice on Wednesdays... What once was a stressful day which usually ended in tears, turned into a much anticipated hour.

We discussed goals and worries. Made plans and had "Homework."

And the women who I let into my life, and my heart, became like family to me.

They understood my worries and I shared my fears. They visited my P. in the hospital when she was sick and gave her kisses when she conquered a new goal.

They laughed at her silly antics and helped her with her fears.

Today I signed the last piece of paper, closing her case and her goals.

A day I prayed for, was a day I cried over.

Im not sure why and I get so mad at myself for getting attached. Its much easier to go through life guarded and "cold hearted" sometimes. Then days like this won't cause sadness and pain. I hate that sometimes.


I guess because when I finally let someone into my life, and the lives of my children...

There in for good...

And Im very particular over who that is...

I tried to tell Penelope that Courtney would not be coming over anymore and we need to say goodbye... but I don't think she understood. I saw the tears start to form in Courtneys eyes and I tried to change the subject. Preoccupy myself and avoid this one last moment.

Hubby knows me well, and quickly took over as I busied myself in the kitchen and the chaos of the other kids...

He stood at the window and waved goodbye with her...



and just like that our journey ended...

But Im rejoicing knowing that these sweet dear women will go on to help someone else who needs them...

And those kids will be in the best hands.

But we will miss our weekly visits with our friends...

Xoxo




GiGi

Monday, February 25, 2013

The 7th Wonder.

I didn't want to go through life never knowing what it was like to have a son... what would he look like? How would our dynamic be with a bit of testosterone mixed in? Would our family name die with my husband? I desperately loved my 3 girls and would be over the moon to buy even MORE pink, but I couldn't help but just wonder what if? I remember being in the Drs office waiting for my sono. Our good friends were also waiting there. Janene was pregnant with her 2nd ( HER FIRST boy...) and the hubbys were taking bets on whether or not we would join the boy club that had suddenly sprouted in our church.

Noah Michael 2-24-06

Much to my shock... the ultrasound tech rolled over his boy-parts and gave us the good news. Fist pumps and hootin n hollerin were heard all the way into the waiting room and we celebrated.

I would finally see my SON! My 4th baby, born into a world of girls. Noah Michael would be his name. A fine name from good stock!

I remember seeing him for the first time and thinking..." WOW! He looks just like the rest...."

And I also remember walking up and down the hospital room trying to console him after his circumcision. I felt like a first time mom... Not knowing what to do with this small man-bundle... or how to calm him down.

His First day home...in our little yellow house in NY


Turns out, that wouldn't be the first time I felt so helpless. I was reminded again after he crawled over at 10 months old and plucked buttons off a toy and ate them. Hubby tried so hard to get him to breathe again but we had to call 911...

3 days later, we were back at the hospital again because he developed cold like symptoms, they were afraid the button got in his lung and caused pneumonia. That darn little black button... it aged me 10 years.

Our visit to SC to take a look at our new hometown
We frequented the hospital again 3 years later. For 3 days I kept vigil by his bedside as the Drs tried to figure out what was wrong with him. The best guess was an intestinal blockage. His worried sisters spent their 3 days camped out in my bedroom wanting to feel close to their only brother... this time, another baby was in the mix. Little Miss Muffet..A.K.A Abigail... born 15 months after her brother and has not left his side since.

Hannah And Noah....


His expertise in gaming can even impress grown men. There isn't a game he can't beat and he will always accept the challenge.

His ninja-like skills help Molly fulfill her need to wrestle. He becomes the best "first Mate" on the Black Pearl.

Chocolate cake at WALT DISNEY WORLD 2009


Our house is 10 decibels louder because of him.... and we have walked into a room ( several times) just before he karate chopped one of his sisters from behind.

His sensitive heart gives people the wrong impression sometimes. He gets frustrated easily and his sisters know the exact buttons to press and exactly when!

Abigail and Noah: Main St USA at WALT DISNEY WORLD 2009

When baby #7 was making a debut, he prayed so hard for a brother and so did his dad. A brother is priceless and every boy should have one! I don't know who almost cried first at the news, him or my hubby. He prepped and he planned. It was so cute to watch.



They may be 6 years apart, but like my other children, age doesn't seem to affect the relationship. He can't wait to share a room and stay up late together.

Yesterday he turned 7. Lately, I have been seeing glances of the man he will become and my heart melts... and then it terrifies me both at the same time. I don't want him to grow up, I don't want to let him go, yet I want him to become the best man he could possibly be. I pray he becomes the strong man his daddy is....

Getting sand for his sand castle Myrtle Beach 2012


His arms big enough to cover his wife and family with. His hands worn enough from being able to fix anything he touches... and a selfless heart. I pray the man his daddy is, is passed down to that sweet blond boy with soft brown eyes.

But today, I will hug you because you just adore your new ninja turtle pajamas. And I will still hold you close because I can, and I will fall asleep thanking God for your precious soul.

May God forever surround you with a hedge of protection against the eveil of this world. May you always come out a winner and know that MOMMA LOVES YOU WITH ALL OF HER HEART...

His Birthday morning February 24th 2013


Even if I still can't find that darn button.

XoXo

GiGi

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Large Family Logistics: Laundry

*** I hope y'all liked yesterdays post and the first in my new 9+ month series... Stay tuned every FRIDAY to follow Michelle on her journey***

Getting asked weird questions doesn't shock me anymore. I'm getting used to it, I guess. I mean, I personally don't think our family is THAT large anymore. seriously!!! to me, they are not numbers. I don't see them as a bunch of kids. Their individuals... And all mine. But whenever I'm out in public, I'm almost ALWAYS stopped and asked questions. People count out loud. Or just stop and stare... And some will just go right up to me and start asking me all sorts of things. Even in my circle of friends, questions will amount... And that's ok. I'm fine with it. Large families interest me as well... Well, families that are larger than mine. For years, I was the first one in front of the tv watching the Duggars. It's only natural to be fascinated about the inner workings of the large family way, so for all those with a million questions, but are afraid to ask, let me try and answer them for you... Bit by bit and piece by piece.

A popular subject is laundry...


Where we tackle Mt. Dirty Laundry


The dreaded L word... The "dirty" word..... The word that has me wincing because I am forever behind on. I am blessed enough to have a laundry room on my main level in my home... Which is more than I had in my last home. It's not the biggest room, but it does the job. I think that if the room were bigger, it would only allow me to collect MORE dirty clothes. I have just one washer and dryer. Extra large capacity and it really does hold ALOT! ( trust me, I fill that sucker UP!)

"Laundry day" doesn't fly with me. I don't believe in it. It just doesn't work. If I were to wait to do laundry for one day... Well, lets just say 24 hours wouldn't be long enough to do it all. On good days I do about 2 loads a day. Doesn't seem like much to some but my teenagers do their own laundry, so 2 loads a day covers the 7 of us. This also doesn't include the extra load a week I do of hubby's uniforms,....I keep those separate because he gets all sorts of dirty on them and wouldn't want it ruining our stuff...( I ruin enough myself...) or any bedding I might do. Baby blankets are saved for another load as well.

When the clothes are finally dried, I usually throw them in a pile in the corner of the living room. My greatest intention is to fold them as soon as they get out, but reality is that it sits there and we may sometimes live out of it till I can sit down to fold it all. The pile ranges in size depending on how many articles are taken out and how quick I throw new clean clothes on top. 

My very sophisticated laundry method


Shamefully, it's not the best system I have but hey, I never claimed to be perfect. My 8 yr old is in charge of bringing the folded clothes upstairs and placing the appropriate clothes in the right rooms... Then I make my way up there and put away. My little ones are still too little to do all the hanging on hangers but we are working on that. Hopefully that torch will be passed within the next year. 

*insert happy dance.*  

My closest friends grant me so much grace when they come to visit and naturally just step over the pile. But on school breaks and summer, when I have more time, the laundry pile is literally non existent... ( I have to make myself look good somehow!!!)

I DO have an amazing system IN my laundry room though. After years of having to run up and down the stairs because of who can't find socks and she needs new underwear, I have white plastic bins which hold ALL of that... In size order... By gender. Literally, I heard the angels sang when this was implemented. Now, whenever we are running out the door and socks can't be found... WHOOSH... into the laundry room I go and * Voila* there they are! I plan to get more bins as more socks and underwear join the mix.

I also make my own stain remover that works WONDERS. I mix DAWN dish detergent ( 1 part Dawn to 4 parts water) and mix. Takes anything in the world out. I keep it in a spray bottle in my laundry room. It gets out all those grease drops that fall on my shirts while I cook.

My laundry room is pretty much hopping 100% of the time. There is always a load needing to go in, a load in and a load waiting to go out... The dirty clothes hamper is always overflowing, but that's ok. Its a small price to pay for the benefits of what all these special people bring into my life. Life is more important than a few dirty shirts.

But there you have it folks, the big secrets behind this familiy's large family laundry... how we stay clean and looking good, by the skin of our teeth!!!!

Feel free to ask me any other questions you want me to answer about loving, managing or schooling this large brood!!!!


- XoXo GiGi

Friday, February 22, 2013

Through Infertility and Beyond.

My very sophisticated office
 
Most of my Thursday afternoon was spent at my workstation...well, my Bar top, in my kitchen, amongst my 7 kids and the mess. With piles of mail to my right and a million interruptions. I had writers block... about 10 MUST post pictures and a VERY delicate subject. I had decided long ago that I wanted to chronicle a dear friends struggle. Her journey. A very private one. A subject some find taboo and others hide.
Infertility...
But for my friend Michelle, she struggled in silence. See, she has 3 children, and according to the world, she should be done. I mean, at least she HAS kids right? Just be happy with the children she was blessed with, Maybe its not Gods will for her to have any more... and most of all, WHY ON EARTH WOULD SHE WANT MORE???
In a world where the blessings of babies are replaced by corporate climbing, and the burning desire to receive one of the greatest gifts this universe can hold, lies women very much like Michelle. Lost in the shuffle of the infertility realm. Lost in the world of secondary infertility. Disregarded by infertility support groups due to her living children but carries the same pain of those without babies of their own.
Recently, she guest blogged about her 3 year struggle. She wrote about her pregnancy loss and her 5 failed IUI'S ( intra uterine insemination.)
My first " Real" conversation with Michelle was during her Loss of her 12 week pregnancy. That was the Fall of 2009. I had recently gone thru my own brief season of losses and remember that pain But I was finally pregnant with my Penelope. It was nice to support someone who experienced the same issues... and I have been there ever since. Running over pregnancy tests when she thought she was pregnant, but getting a negative. Exploring IUI'S and having insemination wing night parties...
I was there when she would tell me that they failed... each and every time. Even after she needed an emergency D&C after one procedure and had a heart reaction with another one.
So why wouldn't I be there to chronicle her biggest life changing decision? And with her permission, I will share with YOU... as she takes her first steps down the road to IVF (In-vetro fertilization.) A journey that took everything in her to start. And a journey that I will be sharing with my readers every Friday, in hopes it gives support to other women who are going through the same thing... or think they can't. For women who know what its like to throw themselves on the temple stairs and cry so loud in anguish because their bodies have failed to give them the one thing they desire most....

YAAAA the day was HERE!!!!!

Yesterday was the day! The day she had been waiting for, for over 2 years!!!! And a day she NEVER imagined having to EVER experience. Her FIRST IVF consultation. Like a good friend, I left my kids at home and jumped in her mini-van to join her. I had no clue what this is all about, but she told me she needs to take about 2 billion injections and a few pills, so another mind would be wonderful to help remember what shot goes where.
The office was empty, with beautiful pictures of newborns adorning the walls. I couldn't help but imagine the thousands of women who sat where Michelle was... wondering if THIS place would help them. Coming here as a last resort.
A sweet young nurse named Lindsey called us back and we sat in a very plain room where she began to pull out paper after paper of medicines, schedules of what shot to take when, which one gets mixed with what shot, the Long needles go in the Butt, the smaller needles go in the stomach. 2 at night and 2 in the morning. This medication had a pen, this medication had 2 vials that get mixed into 1 vial....
My hand just kept going, as Nurse Lindsey talked, I tried to capture her every word. What I really needed was a tape recorded... My phone has that but I didn't think soon enough.. I kinda got distracted a bit too....
My Fertility notes...


Michelle just kept nodding, " ok, Yes... OK, Uh-huh... " I could see she was getting overwhelmed. I would too, if I had to remember all of this, but luckily, since I wasn't the one having to inject myself, My mind was not as overloaded and I pretty much remembered everything she said. Lindsey kept talking and I kept writing...Dates of what to start taking and when, 2 inches over from the belly button on either side, This day you come in for bloodwork, that day a sono, 2 days later more blood... VERY time sensitive, the patch, always wear the patch, Some will come with dried ice, some stored in fridge, some remain on counter, call if you mess up...
" you understand it all???"
Um....
Yeah, I was amazed at science. For all the craziness that has taken over the world, THIS.... this very process of helping life was just as amazing and special as the medical science that we all use to SAVE life....


Lindsey then gave us a tour of the procedure room where they retrieve the eggs and then transfer them. Surprisingly, its done IN OFFICE! And, it was just on the other side of the wall where we just sat.
I got so excited and tried not to embarrass Michelle by doing a full blown happy dance right in the OR. It was HERE where her baby would come to be!!! It would be HERE that her journey would be completed and a new journey of motherhood start.... something that she had dreamed about and cried about for over THREE long years...
And she is letting ME in... And I am humbled...

And I will be documenting it all, her hopes, her fears, her injections, the egg retrieval and the transfer... her baby's first picture in the dish...
So, would you join me friends?? Would you join me by supporting and loving my friend as I document and support her through secondary infertility and beyond?
XoXo
GiGI

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Our Eye Was On The Sparrow....

Ok, maybe I am being a bit dramatic here... but we were eyeing Carolina Wrens and North Carolina Cardinals.... For me, the sound of birds means SPRING. Early mornings in my screen porch, listening to their songs and sipping my beloved coffee.
Our house is only 5 years old, in a fairly new neighborhood. The kind where they bulldoze every trace of a tree and start from scratch, so birds were really missed. But as the houses were built and the trees grew, our feathered friends started to return. the more neighbors moved in, the more they planted more shrubs and trees... and needless to say, they are coming back.



This makes me SO happy. I sure do miss large trees, all around me, but know in time, mine will grow. In just a few weeks, hubby and I will be getting a shipment of about 5 trees for our backyard. so, to get ready for some new furry residence, we are learning about the types of birds that frequent our area.
We have also set up some feeders in the front and backyard, to get the little fellas used to feeding at our little red house. Every day, my kids are stalking the window with their telescopes,hopefully waiting for one to feast. They go outside and see if any of the food has been scattered. We also go on the internet and listen to their calls.Nothing beats the music of a Wren, in your kitchen, on a cold winters day. We watch nature videos and get an up close view of them bathing and walking. The kids crack up!



We also plan on putting in a bird bath among the elephant ears that grow HUGE in a dark corner of our yard... which also happens to be right near my precious screened porch (not coincidental;) and hopefully our yard will be the envy of all the birdes in the land.

I must be getting old, I MUST! Isn't the love of birds a right of passage to "oldness?" I remember how my Grandmother always loved the birds. How she would talk about them and even had some in her kitchen... and while she stirred her rice and beans, she would sing to them in spanish.

I can't wait till the summertime. When my sliding door is open and the sounds of summer invade my kitchen, but most of all, when I walk out my back door and sit on my wicker couch... to watch all the birds that have made my little Red house their home.
- XoXo GiGi

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

At The S.C




Every once in a while, a momma needs to go out and join other mommas for some girly time... and for this momma, that night was TONIGHT! After I made dinner and set out pajamas for the kids, with directions, I threw on some lipstick and a gallon of perfume and out the door I went. I was meeting about 7-8 other awesome REAL homeschooling moms of the S.C who go to my co-op. The evening was GOOD....




We laughed and exchanged stories. Talked about our kids and our homeschooling ways. We compared curriculum, funny stories and trials of "the job."

Celebrated a BIRTHDAY!!!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SUSAN

But most of all, we related. We related to the fears and struggles we have for our kids. The calling we all tried HARD to run away from and that God that works all things out for GOOD!

A true night of fellowship that did not contain gossip nor slander.

Isn't that what friendships are supposed to be about anyway???


Oh, and we DIDN'T talk about snorting Neosporin...oh no sir we DIDN'T!!!!

- XoXo

 GiGi

Monday, February 18, 2013

In 15 Minutes....


I'm finally home! After a day full of drop offs and running arounds, I'm finally settled on my favorite spot on the couch. In about 15 minutes, the dinner, bath/shower, bedtime routine will start and I won't be able to sit again till I settle in to watch my most favorite show EVER!!!!

We usually follow the public school calendar when it comes to holidays. We start the year about 2 weeks early so we can end by mid May, when I'm ready to have a book burning party... But for most little federal one day holidays, we take off. In the fall, when we are still gung-ho about the new year, we skip them. But by February, we are more than happy to accept a 3 day weekend. But like everything else in my life... I over committed and overbooked myself and before I realized it, it was too late. So after dropping off/picking up the older kids, I was brewing a humongous pot of bubbly white bean chili. This chili is my absolute favorite.... Crumbled with tortilla chips and smothered with cheese... I eat until I'm sick... And then I put on my Jammie's and eat some more.



Anyway, I was making dinners for 2 sweet families in my co-op and vowed to get it done way before dinner time. I was pretty successful for the most
Part, minus a detour at my favorite clothing store where I tried on the CUTEST dress. ( I will be going back for said dress... It's Polk-a-dot people.... POLK-A-DOT!!) and a very, very..... VERY messy kitchen. But now i can relax. All dinners were delivered on time and I am happy. Feeding is my specialty... I don't mean cooking, even though I'm a good cook... I just LOVE to feed.

But in between the chopping of the garlic and the sautéing of the onions, I kept receiving emails from some very special ladies. Last week I finally told my story about my battle with Peripartum Cardiomyopathy. I have since, not been able to get over HOW MANY women have reached out to me. Either being recently diagnosed or someone close to them being diagnosed. Many knew nothing about it and many had lost hope of any type of recovery. I feel so blessed to have gotten to know these women, and continue to do so. Some have left comments on that post and I have been unable to write back to you because I don't have an email, so PLEASE, if you happen to have left a comment, please make sure you left your email so I can write you back. And to all the others, I WILL write back as soon as I can. But thank you so much for taking the time out to write me. I'm simply amazed and humbled. I read each and every one to my husband and share your story with him as well.

Well, looks like my 15 minutes are up. Time to put the biscuits in the oven and feed my troops before a mutiny breaks out...



- XoXo

GiGi

Saturday, February 16, 2013

She Finally Found Mama....

I won't begin to tell you that as I write this blog, my table is scattered with remnants of breakfast.
Ok, maybe I will tell you that. 9 crusty plates with leftover eggs, bacon and toast... with an occasional spill and crumbs galore... remnants of a big Saturday Morning breakfast.

Feeding time is over... for now and most have left the table to cause chaos in other parts of the house. A typical saturday morning in our Little Red House... especially after a payday... 

But more on that later...

Right now, Im too excited and happy that I am blogging from my very own iPAD!!! I finally joined the rest of the world earlier this week as my sweet hubby placed this special little box in my lap!





Isn't she a beauty?? I have been patiently waiting for my turn to come...

Ok, since hubby reads my blog, I will be honest. I have been spending months complaining that I don't have my OWN computer to blog/work/play on. I was sick of my kids hogging the iMac, logging in every single time I needed to go on a site and did I mention kicking my kids off of it? I mean, my hubby has a nice MacBook Pro all his own... I needed something right? Whats a little housewife to do when she has blogs to write...




 And  social media to catch up on?
I must admit, its so nice to have some thing that I can tell the kids NOT
TO TOUCH!!!!!

Although, new technology and I don't mix very well. Hubby already had to stop what he was doing to come help me and I might have yelled the words *hate* a few times. I think I swore that it was broken at least 10 times.... He told me to not talk to him for at least an hour....



But, after the big breakfast I made this morning, he should at least limit it to 20 minutes.
see, yesterday was shopping day!!!,
After hubby got home from work, I snuck out by myself and completed by bi-weekly shopping trip....our BIG shopping trip.... Where I fill 2 carts up with food and STILL need to get more...

But my kids know the day after shopping day is delicious!
(Because the day BEFORE.... Well, not so much)




I fill the house with all sorts of treats. And usually on Saturday, a big breakfast is made. Today we cooked enough food to just about feed an army.... But sincerely fell short on eggs, looks like I will have to upgrade to OVER 2 dozen eggs.
But the bacon was delicious!!...
And my family is content and full.... For now.
It's only a matter of time before they come to me convinced they are starving to death and NEED to eat.
But thats ok, I don't mind feeding them most of the time...

Except today.

Because I will be spending my day wrestling MY iPad out of the hands of Penelope...

Who thinks its hers...

XoXo

GiGI 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

When Prayer Changes Things...

I make it no secret that Mondays and I don't mix. It isn't peanut butter to my jelly. It doesn't complete me.

This past Monday wasn't any different. I'm not sure why our little Red house suffers so much on that dreaded "M" day. After all, we are homeschoolers. That usually means relaxed schedules and ability to postpone whatever is necessary to make room for whatever is needed.

But for some reason, every single Monday my kids decide to drink the kool-aid and its outta control. Tears with school-work, who forgot how to read, The baby won't stop crying, Penelope pulled her diaper off and continues to dance naked on the kitchen table...

And to throw the modern world into the mix... the computer is jammed. You know, the one the older kids need to do online school.

Get my drift? Raise your hand if you can relate... anyone???
I'm tired of it, my kids are tired of it. By the time Tuesday comes, I'm determined to not have another Monday and we transition fairly easily into the rest of the week. You know, Tactical Tuesday, Wacky church night Wednesday, Thirsty for the weekend Thursday and our beloved "Fried-Day."

"Blessed is the man who endures trial for... he will receive the crown of life."
James 1:12 

Last night, as I lay in bed and exhausted from the day, I decided to unplug from the world, laid down my phone and  pray.

"God is not the author of confusion but of peace."
Corinthians 14:33

I was going to pray the next day in.... This had to stop. I had lost control of my home. Most people will laugh at me and remind me that I have 7 kids... I lost control 4 kids ago, but other large family moms can relate when I say NO... thats wrong. Within the chaos lays a peace... and on Mondays, our Little Red House had lost it all.

I prayed over the kids, over our roof, I even prayed nothing and just focused on my family... ( I think thats when I started to drift off but we will just say... meditating in His presence k?)

I expected great things when I woke up.

( after the first 4 times I woke up to feed baby Caleb... but thats another post.)


I would love to say that I woke up awake and ready for the day... But I didn't. I like my bed too much for that. But I did wake up with a better attitude.

Kids were fed, routines were stuck to...

We even squeezed in a really interesting science experiment.

Reading lessons were done, Geography covered, flashcards reviewed...

And I tried a delicious new recipe which my family loved.

"ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find."
Matthew 7:7




My house was a mess at the end of the day but thats ok. I cried out to the Lord for peace... not perfection.

During the day, in between the fussy baby and sribbles on the wall, He whispered sweet reminders on why I do what I do. A calling I tried so hard to run from.

Its hard and like my sweet friend Jeanne once told me...

"Every night I cry and want to quit... but then in the morning, my strength is renewed.

"Those who wait on the lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles."
Isaiah 40:31

I will never regret the time I spent with my children. Teaching them, watching them look up in excitement at me when they finally read for the first time...
or at 15, want to hang out with me and chat away...

The calling to homeschool is tough. Not for the faint of heart, but like I have said many times before on my little space in the world...
Nothing in this world comes easy, everything worth the most takes hard work.

And what better way to work hard then into your children.

They tell me that one day I will have an empty house, so enjoy the business now... Im tempted to call their bluff on that one...

I know Im not the only weary Monday mom out there...

But I vow to lose that title fast and commit my days in prayer. Nothing fancy, and most times I tell him to read my mind because im so worn to even say the words... and in His goodness and Grace He does.

"Come to Me, all you who Labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28

XoXo

GiGi

Monday, February 11, 2013

Matters Of The Heart Part 2

 In case you are just tuning in, You can read all about Part 1 here.

WHAT??? OH MY GOD!!!

Speaking of God.... WHERE WAS HE?

Did I slip his mind? Did he forget me for a second??
Transport came and I was stared at as I was loaded in the ambulance and driven away...

Just crying and crying as the distance between my baby and I grew larger....

I've never been to the hospital I was being transported to, but heard it had wonderful care. I was wheeled up the back door and up to the 6th floor... The Cardiac Care Unit. I passed room after room of {gulp} elderly people.

Family members of some patients gathered outside their room and were crying. Nurses hustled beside my stretcher to help get me on more monitors and get settled.

"oh look her toes are so cute. Its nice to see such cute feet..."

Are you serious? Im here dying and you are all oohhing and ahhing over my new french pedicure...

Ok, for the record... my toes DID look awesome!
After they settled me in and made me take about 10 pills, iv meds and answered a million questions... a team of cardiologists came in.

They listened to my heart and then all but 1 walked out.

He sat down next to me and very kindly began to talk...

"Do you understand what is happening to you?...."

Did I mention I was still crying?? Ok...SOBBING?

" You have something called Peripartum Cardiomyopathy. Basically your left ventricular function is failing. Your heart muscle is not able to pump normal which is the cause of all the water retention... because of the failing heart muscle, your getting all of these symptoms. We are going to do everything we can to help alleviate your symptoms and help you.."

"But am I going to get better? Will I die?"

"well, lets not think ahead. Lets take this moment by moment and run some tests. We need to see just how bad your heart is damaged. We will run a test to get your ejection fraction. (EF) normal heart function is 55% or higher. Before we know anything, we need to get you on proper medication to help your heart pump and find out your EF... "

By this time my husband was back. He had put the word out on Facebook for prayers and the word spread. People all over began adding me to their prayer chain and lifting me up in prayer. To this day, I cannot express enough thank you's to my prayer warriors who stood in for me when I was too devestated to say the words.

The Drs didn't say what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear that I would be just fine. After a few days and some medication, I would be fine.... But they would not. They danced around the subject.
A nurse came in and mentioned to me that someone that worked on this floor also was a PPCM survivor... but at the time, I didn't pay much attention. I just cried and cried until I fell asleep.

The next day I woke up and as I looked in the mirror, I noticed just how swollen my eyes were from crying...

" Oh great... now their gonna think Im a crack head... not just a heart patient."

I washed my face. and greeted the morning nurse. She was rather chipper and didn't blink twice at my swollen face. I asked her if it were ok to bring up my baby. He was 5 days old and I needed him.
She told me she would check. Things had been pretty busy last night. Apparently someone tried to pass away and the  nurses spent 12 hours trying to keep him alive... 2 doors down from me.

Oh great! Im on the dying floor....

word spread fast though and all the nurses kept popping in to see me and perhaps catch a glimpse of a little baby.

" we never have young moms and babies on our floor."

Everyone was precious and moved mountains to make sure I had everything I needed for my Baby.

Finally holding Baby Caleb


And hubby brought him up. I was calm and happy and surprisingly peaceful about everything.
When my nurse came back in, she mentioned she had had ppcm about 6 years ago... bad. She almost needed a transplant. But the Drs were wonderful and now she is fine. Off all meds and as healthy as a horse.

She was my angel.

She came in hour after hour and told me I would be fine. I would live to raise my children and live to see old age. She answered my questions... all of them.
She gave me the reassurance the Drs. wouldn't. And I was so thankful for her. I knew she was God-sent. God's way of letting me know, that even though this happened... He would see me thru... and send guidance along the way.

Later that afternoon, my cardiologist came back in to tell me my Ejection fraction was between 30% and 40%. He made it quite clear that when I first came in, he thought I would be much worse. Based on your bloodwork and your symptoms, we expected a much lower number...

Again, I knew God had intervened.

I was borderline moderate/severe heart failure.
I remember clapping and smiling at him because my numbers were better than we all expected...

And he thought I was crazy.

But I was happy. Anything below 25% would qualify me for a transplant... and I could keep my heart. I didn't need a ventilator, I woudn't require a heart pump...

I remained in the hospital for three long days. On blood pressure medicine, beta blockers and diuretics  to remove ALL excess fluid. In a 24 hour period, I lost over 20 pounds. I also received one shot a day in my stomach of lovanox which was to prevent blood clots. Since my heart was pumping so poorly, blood clots were common. More meds helped my heart slow down, other meds helped my heart pump better. Sleeping pills at night because I was afraid to sleep... If I closed my eyes... would I wake up??

Finally it was time for me to go home.

signs my kids made me

 I couldn't wait. My symptoms were under control, I was taking enough medicines to choke a horse, and they felt that even though my heart was in the moderate/severe zone... they managed to pull me out of acute heart failure. I was holding steady. I was responding very well to all the treatment and they stopped the progression. Prayerfully all my heart could do was go up.

Every morning, I asked  my doctor if I would get better... and every day He told me to not think that far ahead. Today was good. Lets be happy with today.

But my hope had returned and God had supplied the peace I needed to see me thru... and I was

HOPEFUL!
I remained under the close eye of my Dr, and was on strict orders of rest.

My recovery was slow and I have had a few set backs. My first Drs visit after being discharged brought on an anxiety attack... before I even left the house. I was afraid I would go back and they would re-admit me because my heart was failing again. The reality of my situation hit me hard that day. Thank God My favorite Italian, Michelle drove me and took notes as the Dr rattled off a list of instructions.

Anxiety attacks are common with PPCM patients... or for any heart patient. You only have 1... and organ that represents life. If it starts to fail....

Prayerfully, I have only had a handful of anxiety issues and heart related issues where I have had to call my Dr. I was a lucky one. Even my Cardiologist kept saying how happy and how surprised he was on how I recovered so well. Most women aren't so lucky. Their recovery takes years, and many complications along the way.

At the Dr. after JUST finding out the good news
4 months later and my heart function is back to normal... by the skin of its teeth... But it is. In time Im praying my heart function will continue to rise. Im off restrictions but remain on lots of medicine. I weigh myself daily to make sure I am not retaining water. With little known about the cause of Peripartum Cardiomyopathy, The problem lies in when to take the women off the meds... and if they do, will they slide back into heart failure. Studies say no... but reality says yes... sometimes.

You see, the studies are old. Dr's are not aware of PPCM. This can happen to anyone at anytime...and up to 5 months after delivery. Most moms who are finally diagnosed are told they will die. Husbands are told to make arrangements. Lots of the Drs never had a patient with PPCM... but its real. And striking 1 woman in every 1500-3000 live births.
Looking back, I had PPCM with baby #3... and I went to the ER and told I was fine. It was stress. A common misdiagnosis. By the grace of God, I went on to have 3 more babies and didn't die... before it struck again....Mortality rates double with a subsequent pregnancy after having PPCM....
Also looking back, I was in heart failure the last month or 2 in pregnancy... but at the time I assumed it was just those 9 month struggles. In summertime... chasing after 6 kids...

For me, Im not allowed to have any more children. The risk would be too high. After surviving twice, the 3rd time won't be pretty.

But GOD had me in the palm of HIS hand for sure. Perhaps to tell others... to make Dr's aware that this is REAL and not so rare after all.

I was the first patient my Ob/Gyn had ever had with PPCM. You can't find this in the pregnancy books...

Not enough studies have been done.

Too many mothers are dying....

So please, share this blog post. Not to scare anyone, but to know the signs. My passion is to get PeriPartum Cardiomyopathy just as common as Gestational diabetes and Pre-eclamsia.

Will you join me in getting the word out...

Will you help save a mothers life??

XoXo

GiGi 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Matters Of The Heart


Betcha didn't know that huh?


Prior to August 23rd, I would have worn green because it was my new favorite color. Not the dark green, but the nice minty, funky green. I couldn't get enough...

Today I wear it as a reminder that I am a survivor. I beat a hard set of odds and I lived to tell the tale on how my perfectly healthy heart began to fail. Quickly.... Because I had a baby.

Back in September, I gave y'all a quick synopsis of what happened after the birth and delivery of my last baby Caleb. But I never told my full story. A story that forever changed how I view my life. Im not sure why I have not blogged about this sooner. But Last night I realized that TODAY was the day...
It was time to step up and tell my story. To everyone.... and start my journey of educating everyone that I come in contact with about a silent killer. Its favorite victim is a new mom... a healthy mom, and for over 50% of the women that it strikes, will die. 

Many just collapse and are found by their husbands....

But let me back track just a bit...



To the day before August 23rd... when I was sitting up in bed trying to sleep. After a hard and difficult delivery, I ended up having an emergency c-section. My first one. Thank God my mother-in-law was staying with us. Without her to help with my recovery, I don't know how I would have gotten through. It was all new to me, But I wasn't sure the chest pain was part of the recovery process. It got worse when I layed down. Any slight reclining position cause extreme pressure in my chest and I felt as if my heart wold beat right out of my throat.

Was it hormones? Recovery from the surgery? Perhaps the meds... either way, I kept going. 

Im FINE!

Was what I kept telling myself. But I was SO tired. So so tired. I just wanted to sleep but I couldn't. Every time I laid down the pressure got worse. So there I slept, propped up with 4 pillows. My left arm hurt too... and my hands felt weak.
But Im fine. I just need sleep... Its been a rough recovery.

My swelling from all my iv's would NOT go away. My legs began looking like tree trunks. Im drinking water like I should, but they just won't go down.
The next day, we took Caleb into the pediatrician for his weight check. We are quite friendly with Dr. V due to the various visits with Penelope. We exchanged c-section stories and laughed that after 6 natural births, Caleb came with a bang. She left to get me some formula samples when hubby turns to me and says...

"Just ask her, she had 3 sections. Ask her if these symptoms are normal."

I didn't want to. I tend to be a bit of a hypochondriac and knew I was over-reacting But right before she left to go on to her next patient. I grabbed her ear...
"You need to call your dr. right away... seriously. Sounds like a clot."

I managed to hold myself together until we walked to the van and then the tears started. Deep down I knew something was wrong and I was scared. The nurse told me to go straight to the hospital....
And thats just what we did. Crying... the.Whole.Time.

Immediately the nurse told my husband to take the baby home. The E.R. was filled with flu's and viruses. I cried even harder as my husband promised to come back after he took my newborn away. 
All I could do was think these words...

Female dr please...

And in walked a young, curly haired Dr. Through my sobs she assured me she didn't think I was crazy but tests needed to be done.

I couldn't stop crying. Between fear, wanting to come home, my baby being away from me, the wires and tubes....
I cried and cried and cried till my eyes started to swell.
Hubby came back , and we waited. Cat scans were done and eventually they took me off the monitors.

Well thats a good sign right?

The curly haired doctor came in and pulled up a chair. She talked clear and slow as she assured me I didn't have a blood clot....
But

You might have had a heart attack

But most likely you have PPCM

I had something called Peripartum  Cardiomyopathy...

Waa Waa Waa

Thats about all I heard.
I was laid back on the table.

We have to get you back on the monitors hun, your in heart failure...

WHAT???

Your being admitted and transferred downtown to the Heart hospital.

A team of specialists are waiting for you.

Your husband will meet you there.

The crying began again. I couldn't stop . I couldn't die. Not now. How would my kids go on with life without me? I began to pray that God would watch over my kids for the rest of their life, since I would not be alive to pray over them.
I texted my sister. She knew exactly what I had, she is a nurse and took care of heart patients all the time. But I couldn't process her words. She assured me I wouldn't just drop dead... But I didn't believe her. She said without treatment I would die but they need certain tests to see how bad my heart failure was and whether the damage was enough to need a heart  transplant...

WHAT??? OH MY GOD...

To be continued... 

PART 2 TOMORROW

STAY TUNED...

XoXo,

GiGi

FOR PART 2.... CLICK HERE 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Saturday Morning


Its Saturday morning and im drinking my very awaited hot cup of coffee. Just the way I like it....
Maxwell House Master Blend, 1 sugar and half and half...
Out of my favorite mug.


Yes, I know its a harvest Fall mug but its short and round and the handle is just the right size...
You know what I mean. Everybody has one. I have already re-heated it once. Hopefully, since some kids are still sleeping and the others are upstairs playing the Wii, I can finish it before it cools down and the running begins.

Yesterday was co-op... a.k.a. "Fried"-Day  but thankfully, it didn't make me as fried as usual. Im not sure why... and after Lunch, I was certainly ready for a nap, but I didn't have that usual "Im dying..." feel to it. I was able to pop into worship and enjoyed chatting singing with the other moms and the rest of the co-op. I was so proud of my 2 older daughters who are on the worship team singing... I just had to be an embarrassing mom and take a picture.


I might have also waved a few times and blew them kisses... maybe.

The best part about the day was this





No matter how many times I see her eat, I still just want to cry out loud and announce to the world what a miracle she is.... its only been 2 months since her first bite, and a month since her latest hospitalization... where I was certain a feeding tube would have won....

But once again, GOD answered prayers and I think our long 2 year journey is slowly coming to an end.

My second favorite part of the day was devouring this:



Once hubby got home from work, we all packed in our big white van and followed his dad and step-mom to the most glorious burger joint around...

Red Robin- YUM!

I ordered my usual Whiskey River burger and oohed and ahhed through the whole entire thing. We went there to celebrate several special moments. Most importantly, that Gma Ei came back from NY after a long visit taking care of my sister in law who was very sick.... for a very long time. 
AND...
That Aunty M was on the road to recovery...
AANNDDD...
Celebrating the fact that the house their building is just about COMPLETE!

So while the kids guzzled chocolate milk and ate french fries, We celebrated many happy and important moments in our life.

So, today is a slow day... as slow as it gets in our Little Red House. Im about to heat up my coffee for the 3rd time this morning and drop off my teenagers at a church event. The sun is out and most of the kids have wandered down the stairs and are all over the living room...

Remnants of our fun last night still linger around. Half deflated balloons are still being smacked as vollyballs and we are all in our pj's.

isn't that the BEST way to spend a Saturday morning?

Enjoy your my friends...

XoXo,

GiGi




Thursday, February 7, 2013

What Happens in the Van Doesn't Stay in the Van...


After a much too long hiatus, My wednesday night ladies bible study was back! For the last 3 years, we have done Beth Moore studies... and in 3 years the class still keeps growing. I think if we ever stopped, a pentecostal revolt will happen, with me leading the way! This class fills a HUGE need in our church and the women are soaking it in like a nice dry sponge...

To be honest, I was a little disappointed to hear that we were re-doing a study I have already done. In this class. 3 years ago. Im not one for re-do's when it comes to bible study, But I didn't want to not  join in. I also knew that I still had plenty more to learn.... since I {gulp} never finished the study to begin with.

So, with a van full of kids, my kids and my friends kid, we swung by another girlfriends house and picked her up too. It has been a while since we have seen each other so after I yelled at the kids and re-gained control over the very loud music, we began to catch up. Her family has been going through such a hard time... and as the clock ticks, more things keep piling up. I shared a bit about some struggles we are having... mostly homeschooling kids with babies around, finances and the sort... and then the jokes kinda got started...
"Don't you feel like Job??"
" Hello God? Am I your running joke or something..."
" Um... Im down here...screaming for help... did my ear press the mute button on the batphone?"

We laughed because we both knew it wasn't true... But we both felt like it was.

We pulled in, scattered kids to various classes and gave hugs to long lost faces... It felt GOOD to be back in those metal seats and even better to be greeted by Beth Moore's face on the screen. 

I was happily surprised to realize I didn't remember anything from 3 years ago. And hearing her words were fresh in my mind. 

But as the night went on, her words were like hammers in my head. I felt as if her image became 3-d and she was pointing over to us...

God's name does not appear in the entire book of Esther but as Psalm 138:2 says... Gods name may not be in it but it is all over it....

His name is not appearing on the page on purpose... for when we cannot find God, we have to look to the book in faith. 

This study is for women who feel God is not as close as we think He should be..

{{ DOUBLE GULP}}

She talked about the Providence of God. How God not only shows up during momentous events but during diaper changes and picking up the same darn toy for a thousandth time.  Mundane and trivial times as well....

And while some people might sit and wait for the miracle...

The healing, the check in the mail, the supernatural confidence, etc...

the miracle might just be us going through it!!

( Um, even though the check in the mail might just be easier...maybe.)

NOTHING happens by chance... and coincidences are little miracles in which God wants to remain anonymous.

Perhaps thats what happened in my van last night? A big white van among thousands of cars on the road that night... full of kids and chatter and music ....

With 2 women in the front seat sharing life.... or maybe wanting to escape life for just a bit...

Or even fast forward life to a bit of a better place.

Wondering where God was.... when the miracle would happen... and if we somehow got lost among the other middle aged women of the world.

But God had our number. And He used a video that was over 5 years old...

" For such a time as this...."

 I haven't had a chance to talk to my friend since then. She left before I did, but I knew she got the message too. Our sideways glances at each other told me the message was received loud and clear.
 So we hold on a bit more... Knowing God still has our back. He's answering our prayers for the purpose of HIS will...

And in the meantime we wait... and build faith...

And realize even God hears our conversations in our van...

XoXo,

GiGi

Saturday, February 2, 2013

STOP and Receive The Blessing....

I Bet you thought I fell off the blogging world again didn't you?? Three whole days without a post. But SURPRISE! Im here. Just been drowned in Mommy business and all.

Wendnesday I was pre-occupied with tracking those vicious tornadoes that swept across the south... right over our Little Red House. Luckily, where we are, seems to be protected and most vicious storms are either a bit above or below us.

Then Thursday our oven BROKE! 

Yes, completely and utterly broke! I discovered it when I was making chicken marsala and realized it took over 30 minutes for it to pre-heat.... and it still doesn't get hot. This of course, gets my hubby itching to tear it apart. He is one of those manly men who really  do enjoy fixing things.... and has been known to fix other peoples household appliances when we are invited out and he realizes something doesn't work. Yup, thats him. Challenge always accepted and challenge always won! I do think he is just a bit awesome ya know ;)

But yesterday was when I really thought about y'all. It was shopping day. I had tons of food to buy and Publix fried chicken was CALLING my name. Among some of the stops was a little old pharmacy on the other side of another town. Not too far from me but you get the picture.

If I back up the story a bit, I can REJOICE by telling you we FINALLY have an answer to P's latest health issue... NOT related to her eating one. But an answer to prayer none-the less. AND to solve this problem, she needed special compounded meds that most large pharmacies do not make. YES... make!! NOT count out pills out of a bottle..... M-A-K-E.

Upon hearing the news I rolled my eyes. I knew this place would be a hole-in-the-wall old kinda place. You know those places. The run-down part of town. Old building type of places. I was angry that not only did I have to go out of my way, but it wasn't going to be visually stimulating as most new places are. I mean, Heck... why go there when good ol Publix has meds AND fried Chicken right?? In a beautiful building??

But off I went. I grumbled in the car as I drove past what seemed to be the remains of a semi-main street. Old buildings... deserted tire stores... A typical OLD small southern town. Again, I complained WHY couldn't this place be on the newer side...HELLO who the heck would CHOOSE to even drive down this road. Hannah squished her nose at me and happily agreed. And of course in unison, we rolled our eyes as we actually pulled in.

In I walked. Opening the door and stepping in, I was instantly transported back to the 1950's. I couldn't believe it. Even the smell seemed old. A simple old counter lay in the middle of the store, next to a rickety old metal candy display. Heck, even the sign couldn't have been any newer than the 80's. An elderly woman was chatting it up with the pharmacist and she turned to me to share what she was showing her...

"This here's ma dog... on Santa. I take her to see Santa every year for 12 years!!"

I politely smiled and said how cute. She was a cute old lady. Complete with a cane and about two hand knitted hats on her head. She must have been born and bred in the South.... knitted hats and scarves on a 50 degree day... yup!

I didn't mind their chit chat. I found it cute actually....and it gave me time to whip out my phone and start snapping pictures. I had to capture this. I had to share this with you... Right out of Fried Green Tomatoes... I expected to see Idgie Threadgoode bouncing around.



Ok, maybe im exaggerating just a bit... but it was old!

Finally, the Elderly woman left to go feed her cat or something and it was my turn. I was handed my bag of very expensive meds and asked again...WHY it wasn't covered by insurance?? I was a bit perturbed at their cash only policy when I had a very good, very shiny prescription card buried at the bottom of my huge purse!

It was then another lady came forward and began explaining the old way of medicine. Before the days of manufacturers, bulk, generic and the like. We talked for about 20 minutes as she patiently explained how they make medicine for you! By working with doctors and lab results... they specially make medicine thats right for YOUR body. Safe for YOU to take and the specialize in women... who are all so different in needs. Who's bodies don't always respond to bulk generic... because we are NOT. We are all unique and so should our medicines be! I was amazed as she drew pictures for me and talked about formulas....
And how insurance companies don't recognize these as drugs because they are NOT manufactured in plants and factories. But they ARE! Before the 1050's... THIS is how medicine was made. BEFORE big companies took over and dollar signs replaced health on the important scale. Its hard to find doctors that still do this... but they are some in our area.

We chatted a bit and I ignored the texts coming from my daughter wondering if I was being held captive inside...

I left with a different view of that rickity old building... A building I am sure to visit again if I need medicine... Medicine for ME!

I learned once again, at the age of 36, not to judge a book by its cover....
New river rock on the outside and shiny new floors on the inside don't make it better.

I was so caught up with views of what I thought was "right." I lost the view of looking at the heart.

I think I must have told10 people this story yesterday. And I know I completely bored 9. But I don't care....

That little old pharmacy will definetaly see me again.

And maybe I WILL buy some candy off that old metal rack...

XOXO

GIGI

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