Oops, I did it again

Today is HG Awareness day, so I think it’s only fitting that this is my first blog in over a year so here it goes:

Oops, I did it again…
Miles Joseph Beljo

 

Meet Miles Joseph Beljo.

Ok, ok, I know it’s been 3 months since he was born but after my hellish pregnancy things got more complicated when Miles started having some struggles of his own making it pretty difficult to do anything but care for him, but I will get to that another time. (maybe by doing my first vlog in 2 years!)

And I know, I said I was part of the “One and done” club and I truly thought I was, but personal experience as an “only” over the last 2-3 years made us re-think that position and now here we are proud members of the “Two and through” club and this time I AM DONE!

My last post was around this time last year, it was about my struggle with mild HG, and I never thought a month later I would be pregnant and battling that beast once again except this time, it was far worse.

Miles was planned…kinda.

We knew we wanted a second child but we thought we would have more time to “practice” and put a plan in place for my possible struggle with HG again. I had it all planned out in my head. I would find a doctor that understood HG, was supportive and open to the proper medications. I would stock up on books and prepare friends and family to help with Henry or me in case it got bad but none of that happened.

We got pregnant right away and for the first 5 weeks, I thought we were in the clear. With Henry, I was sick before I even knew I was pregnant but this time I had a fluffy 5 weeks and tried desperately to just find an OB, let alone one that would be able to support me with HG.

With Hyperemesis Gravidarum you need to get an OB almost right away, factor in that I was also 40 and had to get genetics testing between 8-10 weeks well the race was on. Unfortunately, there was a shortage of doctors in Durham and the earliest appointment was at 20 weeks!

By this time, the nausea started. I tried to be optimistic hoping it was regular morning sickness, but it became clear very quickly that it wasn’t and things were going downhill and fast!

Can I get a doctor?

I was finally able to get an appointment with an OB in the GTA, but it wouldn’t be until I was 11 weeks which was better than 20. Until then I was on my own or at the mercy of walk-ins and Hospitals which in my case was *not* a good place to be in.

By 7 weeks, I was maxing out my daily dose of Diclectin, I was barely holding down water, I had lost 10lbs and my son Henry was asking if I was going to die. This was when I made my first trip to Oshawa General.

Dehydrated and dry heaving into a vomit bag I waited in the waiting area for 6 hours to see a doctor and when I finally did he chastised me for waiting so long because I was “severely dehydrated” and told me I need to “take better care of myself”. When I asked him for Zofran, a life-saving medication for HG, he ignored the history I just spent 10 minutes giving him on my current condition and my previous pregnancy, told me I just had “morning sickness” ordered one IV bag with Gravol and sent me home. I was back 2 days later worse than before and this time I had to beg for a 2nd IV bag and I was once again refused the medication I knew I needed.

This is one of the worst parts of HG. Many healthcare “professionals” treat you as if you are overreacting to a “natural” part of pregnancy. They dismiss you. They discourage you from getting medical intervention and sometimes, like my second ER visit, they treat you as if you are a drug seeker. Last time I checked, anti-nausea/vomiting medication was not a narcotic. Nonetheless, I was made to feel like a horrible person for wanting to get medical intervention because “what about the baby?”

Which by the way is a great question, what about the baby? Is it good for the baby that I cannot give it nourishment or stay hydrated? How will my baby grow and thrive inside my body when my body is at war with itself? By this time I was down 24lbs.

Emotionally and physically drained

I cried a lot between 8-10 weeks. I had trouble working, I couldn’t sleep, and I was barely functioning. I started to think that I was not going to survive and neither was my baby. At this point, I was down 25lbs. I was filling my fridge with different juices and drinks, hoping to find something I could keep down. Nothing was working. I forced myself to eat small things just so I had something I could vomit up because the alternative was far worse. I knew I needed to go back to the ER, but I didn’t have the energy to move let alone face their judgement.

Getting up every morning and getting Henry to school during that time was an exercise in pure willpower and a miracle. It was instructions in between vomiting; it was carrying vomit bags and pulling over multiple times during a short 7 min drive to vomit or dry heave because there was no one else to do it, and keeping him home was not an option because I could barely care for myself let alone him all day. So, as many in my position do, I did what I had to do, how I had to do it.

The semi-light at the end of the tunnel

Just before week 10, I was able to hold down some Fruit Punch Gatorade for a day or two and I had run out. So, after dropping Henry at school I made my way up the street to the gas station to get a new bottle and I looked up and saw the Courtice Urgent Clinic across the street.

It was like an answer to a prayer.

I walked in, I was seen right away and the doctor took one look at me and without question or judgement wrote me a prescription for Zofran.

She saved me.

Driving to fill the prescription, I had to pull over to the side of the road, not just to puke, but to cry tears of relief and joy because I could see the “end of the tunnel” again. I had a better chance now to survive and beat this disease (again) and walk away with my baby. I wasn’t going to let it break me but there was still a long battle ahead.

The long road to labour

Even medicated, it was a struggle. I threw up a lot but I wasn’t nauseous; I was mentally drained but functioning. I had more complications this pregnancy, more aches and pains, less sleep and more to do with a 5-year-old, but I managed.

My goal was just to manage and I achieved that.

There were days I was so violently ill I thought I was going to pop a blood vessel. There were days I could barely make it from my bed to my couch. There were days I just cried and cried because I knew I was failing as a mother to my oldest because I was too weak and too sick to function, that was one of the worst parts.

I also had all the fears that many who suffer from HG have, the most terrifying being – am I getting enough food down for my baby to survive?

There was one night, I thought I lost him. I spent 45 minutes uncontrollably sobbing, trying to make him move and when he finally did I got violently ill from the stress of it all.

What many people don’t realize is that 1 in 3 HG pregnancy ends in a loss. So you go through all of this struggle for this little bundle and there is a great chance you will not bring a baby home. Even though I was medicated this was not going to be over until he was in my arms.

By the time I gave birth I had lost a total of 30lbs and only gained back 14lbs through my entire pregnancy.

Forever grateful

There is so much that you lose on your journey through an HG pregnancy such as friends, sometimes your marriage, in the worst cases your child or your own life. But there is one thing I gained, my Miles.

I am not mad at the friends I lost. Until you experience this disease up close it’s hard to understand that even though there is joy at the end, the struggle to get there is debilitating.

I am also not mad/hurt at the friends/family who are reading this now who think “I should’ve”… let me tell you now, you couldn’t. I was in no place to receive your love and support. In fact, it would actually cause me to have to exert some effort that most days I didn’t have. When I could, I posted on Facebook what was going on, I saw your comments there, and that was enough. And you know me, if I needed you, I would have called/texted/messaged. Just knowing you were out there doing you, made me happy when I needed every ounce of happiness.

You see, there is an amazing support group on Facebook for HG that I was able to find through a life-long friend, my sister from another mister, Cindy and from there I joined a subgroup of women who have become amazing friends. These women understood every aspect of what I was going through and that is what I needed. These women, who are now also my friends, gave me so much love, support, understanding and advice. They took care of me.

And Cindy, her support and guidance saved me twice. I love you forever and always! Oh, and the thoughtful books she sent including one for my Henry to help him understand that Mama was just sick for a little while – she is simply the best!

My work colleagues, thank you for making me laugh after you caught me vomiting in the bathroom, for being so kind and non-judgmental. For understanding when some of my pieces of the project were a little late and for not making a big deal out of my odd hours some days.

My new “village” in our new community, thank you for checking on me and making sure I could get out with other adults even if it was only for a little while.

My doctor, Dr. Logaridis who listened to me and made sure I was well taken care of.

Then there is my husband who was so supportive and picked up my slack, I would have been lost without him.

As always, if it weren’t for my parents’ love, concern and support I don’t know if I would have survived, because there were some dark times.

Lastly my son, my bug, my Henry. No child should have to sit outside a bathroom door day after day listening while you vomit to make sure Mama is ok. He shouldn’t get up to “check on her”. He shouldn’t have to pause his childhood because Mama is so sick. However, my Henry did. This child has so much love, empathy and patience, he is the reason I wanted to do this again.

I am grateful every day for all of these things and more, but most of all I am grateful that I survived and now our family is complete.

If you are so inclined please consider donating to Helpher.org

 

 

 

 

Perfect Parent Syndrome: The Age of Parent Shaming

I love social media. It’s what I do for a living and it pays my bills. But there is a sub-world in social media that is both a blessing and the devil incarnate. It’s a world that many parents find to be a sanctuary for great advice, camaraderie, a good laugh, a good cry and where “Perfect Parents” go to shame us all.

From TV time/screen time to organic foods, gifts from Santa to letting your kid play in the backyard by themselves. The “Perfect Parents” are always there to tell you that you suck as a parent and a human being, your children are doomed to become drug addicted mass murderers, you are completely wrong, and you should be ashamed of yourself constantly. Oh and if you are doing “X” then you “Shouldn’t be a parent”.

There is no room for mistakes in the world of perfect parenting. There are no excuses. No grey area. If you are not perfect, then you do not deserve the honour of raising children. Period. Full stop.

10319799_10154037859845321_1000483012_oThey would never forget it is their day to pick up their child. They would never forget to pack a lunch. They would never forget a birthday party on the weekend. They would never forget a doctors appointment. They would never laugh at their child who got into the bum cream and smeared it all over their face hands and ate some because their child would never be alone long enough to do so. They would never be so tired that they forget to put on pants to go to work. (Thank God for mirrors at the front door). They would never because they are perfect.

These “Perfect Parents” want you to know how perfect they are cause they are right there in the comments section of every parenting article, parenting group, your twitter feed and instagram posts and they are going to shame you until you hand your children over to the nearest police station because you are unfit!

It’s is a phenomenon that is crazy to me! I mean, how quickly they forget that we are human beings that are flawed and we make mistakes. But not them, cause they are perfect!

I remember the summer before grade one, I had a friend who was a grade ahead of me named Shannon. We bowled on Saturday mornings together and we would also meet at the pool in our apartment building and swim together. I remember we used to have these races and she was always so fast, a much better swimmer than I was. That summer, Shannon went camping with her Mom, her little brother and her Mom’s boyfriend near Wasaga Beach. And Shannon never came home. She drowned that weekend. Her mother looked away for a few seconds, maybe minutes to tend to her little brother and that’s all it took for her Mother’s worst nightmare, any parents worst nightmare to become reality.

No parent in our community shamed Shannon’s mom, they wept with her. I remember after my Mom told me what had happened to Shannon she hugged me so tight it actually hurt. Because it could happen to any of them. They were not negligent parents. Shannon’s Mom wasn’t negligent, she was human. Accidents happen, that is why they are called accidents. And our parents 

understood that and supported each other. So what happened to us?

If that were to today, the story of what happened to Shannon would be plastered all over Facebook with the “Perfect Parents” all over it with the “How could the mother allow this to happen?”, “She is a horrible Mother, I hope her other children are taken away from her!”, “This should have NEVER happened, her mother should have paid more attention!”, “That woman should have never had children!”. And these people feel justified in writing this.

I read a great blog by Melissa L. Fenton on her site 4boysmother.com called Stop BLAMING Parents for Accidents. Please. This blog stuck with me because she touched on something we are often told: if you can’t say it to a persons face than you shouldn’t say it at all. She basically asks these “Perfect Parents” if they have the balls to walk up to the parents who have suffered the loss of a child at the funeral for their child and repeat the comments they are so quick to make from the comforts of their own homes hidden behind a phone or computer screen? I’m willing to bet that none of them have the cojones for that.

And that is on the extreme side. What about the memes or posts telling people how many presents they should be handing out to their kids at Christmas, or shaming parents who encourage a belief in Santa telling us that we psychologically harming our children. Give it a break already! I get that it takes a village to raise a kid and our village now includes social media, but every village has a Mayor who makes the rules and I am the Mayor of my village so I make the laws and if you don’t like it move to a new town!

It is getting more and more ridiculous! For example, I’ve seen a Mom in a parenting group ask “How long should I allow my little one to cry at bedtime before I check on him/her” and I’ve seen Mom’s start jumping all over her calling her a horrible mother for letting her child cry it out and list off all the ways she is traumatizing her child. Um that was not the question, thus your answer makes you an asshole, I’m sorry, I meant a “Perfect Parent”!

The question was, in case you missed the subtext: “Help me please! I need reassurance as I cannot stand to sit outside little Billy’s door while my heart is breaking listening to the person I love more than anything get used to being on his own in his crib to fall asleep. What is an acceptable time frame of torturing myself before I can break down his door, wrap him up in my arms and kiss his tears away? And please tell me we are both going to be ok!”

And the appropriate answer if you don’t agree with her parenting choice (cause newsflash it’s not your business to agree) is “It will be OK, you go in when you feel you need to” and if you have used similar parenting method then give the woman a time frame!

And if someone asks an open advice question, lets just all agree to give our own personal advice and not tell other commentators how wrong they are unless the advice phyically harmful like:

“Just do what I do! I slap Billy upside the head six times, tell him to grab the eight ball off the top of the fridge and rack up some lines. Then I make sure he gets my beer while he’s at it cause Mama’s feet are aching from carrying this baby around all day in my belly and I need a little ‘pick me up’. Now sometimes I gotta repeat myself with the little dipshit and tell him to hurry up and bring me a cigarette and to not to forget to light it for me this time. These 4 years olds, I tell ya!”

Perfect Parents are not just hurting the parenting community with the fights they start with other parents who had enough of the shaming it’s also about who else is reading their sanctimommy/daddy stuff. It’s parents who suffered similar losses, had children harmed in accidents, or are just struggling and the last thing they need is this BS. So give it up already!

Parenting is so hard, no one is perfect at it, not even these “Perfect Parents” and let’s be real they aren’t fooling anyone but each other.

*Please note: I got my Feature Image from fellow Mommy blogger dianth. I found her while researching “Perfect Parents” and now I am binge reading her blog. She an amazing blogger and Mom who shared her story of the time she accidentally left her son in the car once. If you got a minute check it and her out!

New York City: Happy 40th Birthday To Me and My BFF (Vlog)

My best friend Lisa turned 40 last month and I am only 8 months behind her. To celebrate this momentous milestone we decided to plan a trip to New York City to take a huge bite outta the “Big Apple”. When we first began planning this trip 5 years ago we had a pretty good size group, but when it came time to solidify plans only 3 Moms were left standing; Lisa, her sister-in-law Tasha and myself. Armed with a New York Pass (I’ll have separate blog on that), camera phones and sheer willpower we were three Moms, with no husbands, no kids, 6 days and a mission to explore as much as humanly possible in the city that never sleeps. From the Museum of Natural History to Madame Tussauds (Hey Allen and Ivan); From the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park and Wall St. to Times Square, we weren’t going to miss a thing!

I have always loved New York. Since FAME came out I wanted to go there, live there. I sometimes think in a sliding doors version of my life I probably do live there. I am also probably broke and living off of PBJ with 10 roommates sharing a studio apartment in that version of my life, but a piece of me lives in that city somewhere. There is this feeling I get whenever I am there, something about New York City that makes me feel more alive, free, a part of something artistic and soulful.

From The Upper East Side to the Lower West Side we covered it all. Our feet hurt, we barely slept and our bodies screamed at us to stop, but we kept going and I am so glad we did. For 6 days, I can say I lived in Brooklyn New York and I made memories with my best friend and Tasha that will last a lifetime. So this is it, our Moms only, #ThisIS40 Trip to New York – check it out: