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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Just Turned Three & Now Me!

So my little one celebrated her third birthday this month.  Where had three years gone??  She is changing so much every day, speech is coming along nicely, toilet training on the other hand is becoming quite a challenge. It doesn't help that we are just coming out of a long, cold winter and I imagine feeling the cold toilet seat on her backside isn't helping LOL! Hopefully with the warmer weather on the way, she will take more interest in getting out of diapers. I know I'm getting anxious to get her out of them!

So now that she's three, I'm finally feeling like I can catch my breath and take stock of what I'd like to do for myself. One thing is to drop the baby weight.  Nothing like a pregnancy to put on the unwanted pounds and now with menopause on top of that, oh boy!  I expect this one is going to be a challenge!  I've struggled to keep my weight within a normal range my entire adult life and with everything going on in the last three years, I've been losing the battle. Seems like every time you turn on the TV lately, there is Valerie Bertinelli and Marie Osmond showing us moms who are pushing 50 how great you can look if you sign up for their diet plans. My congratulations to them both, they are proving to the rest of us that it's possible! Hope I can get motivated!

So I was watching Oprah the other day and saw the show she did on Exceptional Dads. Talk about an eye opener! I've never felt so lazy and inadequate in my life as I did watching the tape of the dad who is raising 9 children by himself while working full time! His youngest is three, only a few months older than my own and he is doing a fantastic job with all 9 of them. Somehow I have to walk away from that show with the determination to do a better job for my own daughter. With the warmer weather coming, there are no more excuses not to get out and do more. It's so tempting to just hibernate here all winter huddled around the wood stove.  We have had snow up to our necks for the last 6 months but somehow we still managed to go on a horse-drawn sleigh ride with her, do some sliding down hills and I even pulled her around the neighborhood on her sled a few times when it wasn't 20 below zero!  

Sometime next month, the swings will go back up in the parks and we will be able to play out in the yard. She may even pitch in and help with some of the yard work. I found a cute rake for her so she can play while I try to get the lawn and garden in shape for Spring and Summer.

So on that note, I've just pledged in this journal to get out with my daughter more and take on losing the baby/menopause weight. Wish me luck! I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Coming Into Focus!

Recapping the second year.

So that first year breezed by so quickly in spite of being up nearly around the clock. Lots of feedings, diapers and spit up!  You know, I hardly felt a twinge of nausea during my pregnancy but boy did she make up for it once she arrived!  I am still wiping dried puddles of spit up off floors, walls, furniture, you name it. So much during the first year that I gave up and wore sleepers on her full time. Dress her in a nice outfit?? Why bother - it was ruined within five minutes of putting it on her. I remember going to get photos done and admiring the sweet little frilly dresses the other newborns were wearing, so clean and sweet smelling. Not mine! Spit up everywhere and sour LoL! She was a year old before I could get a professional photo done of her in anything but a sleeper!

The other major challenge I faced for those first two years was taking her anywhere. So many times I would dress her, somehow find the energy to get dressed myself and try to go out. But once she was strapped into the car seat, the screaming and hysteria would begin. So much that I would go over and over the straps, were they too tight, were they digging into her back, her front, her shoulders, her neck, anywhere??? Could she possibly be uncomfortable in a chair that looked so plush and luxurious it would put a Lazy-boy recliner to shame??  It didn't matter what I did, she would get so hysterical before I even backed out of the driveway, you would think she was sitting on a bed of nails! We couldn't take her anywhere more than a few miles from home and even then, it was exhausting to listen to her scream nonstop. How can such a tiny being make so much noise for such a long period of time??  I was afraid the cops would pull me over to see what I was doing to her! I had never heard of this. Everyone I spoke to had used their car seat to put their little ones to sleep. Mine sleep in the car?.. NO CHANCE!!! 

So on top of all the challenges of spending twenty four hours every day looking after our baby, my husband changed jobs and we moved. As if moving alone wasn't enough, we ended up renting a house for 10 months while we completely renovated an old historic home! Talk about have your hands full. We didn't use an architect, we did all the design ourselves with the help of a very good contractor. If you think adjusting to a new baby can test a marriage, try throwing in a home renovation and moving twice within a year on top LOL! Somehow we ended up with a home that we love with our marriage still intact! And yes, the baby is doing fine too!

So again, all through that second year of moving, renovating, hardly sleeping and trying to manage a somewhat normal environment for the baby, I must have been going through menopause! Do you think I noticed anything unusual?? When would that be LOL!!  

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Blur!!

Recapping that first year.

Funny how when you are pregnant, you plan for your new bundle of joy, buying cute little outfits, taking the time to shop whenever you feel like it for stuffed animals, pretty decorative items for the nursery and thinking about the things you will do together. Dreaming about all the fun you will have, how this new baby will respond so lovingly to everything that you are doing for it and with it.  

I had no idea that this little 7lb 6oz person would start exerting her will the minute she got here. I had planned to do a "Baby & Me" Post Natal Yoga Exercise DVD with her. I had already purchased baby lotion so we could bond over loving massages I would give her while we listened to soothing music together. What a wonderful relationship we were going to have. Do I need to tell anyone out there who has kids that the DVD is still in the cellophane wrapper and I recently threw out the UNopened baby massage lotion because it had expired?? Probably not! LOL!!

The reality hit while I was still in the hospital trying to learn how to breast feed. Is it just me or does anyone else wonder why some nurses have to make this so damned complicated! It's no wonder so many moms give up! They had me propped up in the bed while they stacked six big fluffy pillows around my body with exact precision enabling my baby to lay in that perfect position. I would sit there barely breathing for fear one of those pillows would move and the entire mess collapse and go flying off the bed in all directions leaving my baby hanging on to my boob for dear life. Is it any wonder I wanted to run screaming down the hall for formula in a bottle? They wanted me to do this every three hours for the next how many months??!!  I would have been better off grabbing an old pair of pantyhose, stuffing them full of rags, duct taping the waistband shut and tying that around my gut for the baby to lay on. Thank God for those stuffed horseshoe-shaped feeding pillows. Without mine, there is no way I would have been able to feed this baby the way they showed us in the hospital.   

Had I actually been planning to sleep that first year? LOL!  I honestly thought she would need sleep. I expected the nighttime feedings but I didn't expect the sleep deprivation that goes along with having a new baby around. Everyone tells you "Go ahead, sleep when she naps". So simple but realistic, no chance! When would I take a shower, get dressed,  grab something to eat, cook a meal (as if!), wash the clothes I had been wearing for a week straight? Feeding on demand may not sound like such a big deal but I can tell you, everything else either gets put on hold or ignored unless it's on fire! 

Unless you have around the clock help, there is no way you will get ten minutes in a row to yourself. Having a live-in nanny must be the secret to how movie stars can emerge a month after having twins looking well rested and sporting skin-tight clothing to show off their perfectly flat stomachs. Time to workout, prepare a healthy meal, are you kidding?? I needed sleep! Hell, I couldn't even find time to comb my hair. It's no wonder so many new moms cut their hair short. I'm still wearing mine in a ponytail everyday! 

So in all that chaos, I must have been going through menopause.  Is it any wonder I didn't notice?? LOL!!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

44 Years Old And I'm What??!!!!

First a quick recap.

So I went off the pill. Wouldn't you know it, within six weeks of saying "I do", there I was alone in the bathroom pacing as much as you can in a 9' x 4' space quietly waiting for the little window on the test strip to do something. I couldn't believe my eyes when that "plus sign" appeared. "Oh my God!" I thought "What have we done!!"

My first reaction was to panic but it wasn't long before a big smile spread across my face. Could this really be right? I didn't even think it was possible to get pregnant at this age without some sort of fertility treatment or donor eggs. But I had. I was staring at the proof right there on that little wand.

We didn't tell anyone, I was afraid to jinx things but I breezed through that first 8 weeks. No morning sickness, I had started doing prenatal yoga everyday, I was excited and felt great!

But once the medical community caught wind of my condition, the testing and in-depth screening began. Being over the age of 40 made my pregnancy extremely high-risk in their eyes and it didn't matter how terrific I felt or how great my ultrasound results had been. They couldn't wait to run every possible exam and test in the book on me. We had a nuchal exam at about 12 weeks and aced that but then a few weeks later, it was time for the dreaded amnio which I later wished I had refused.

For those of you who believe this test is 100% foolproof, think again. What they neglect to tell you is that this test is only as accurate as the cells that are drawn and how those cells are handled and reproduced once they are extracted. Let's just say for the record that it was a terrible experience that I don't want to go into. Several weeks later when they recommended that they go back in for a test on the cord blood no matter what the risk to the pregnancy, I firmly said "No way!"

Thanks to that amnio test, I ended up in a large hospital 2 1/2 hours away meeting with genetic specialists, getting in-depth ultrasounds and poked with even more needles for additional blood tests and screening. It's nice to know this assistance is available for those who need or want it but thanks to a botched amnio, I was subjected to enough unnecessary stress and anxiety to nearly cause a miscarriage or heart failure!

Bottom line, in spite of the results of that "foolproof" amnio test, I had a beautiful, healthy, 7lb 6oz baby girl at 39 weeks. Great, she even came a week early so I wouldn't be freaked out in week 40 every time she hiccuped!

So during this entire pregnancy, what symptoms of pre-menopause had I missed?? For me to have the hormone levels of a postmenopausal woman just two years later, I must have been in full-blown menopause either during or right after the pregnancy.

Let's see, if you do a search of pre-menopausal symptoms, you will find:

Unexplained weight gain. I wonder how I missed that one LOL, do you think the 35 pounds I gained during the pregnancy might have been a clue?

Mood Swings, well I think that anyone who was pregnant at the age of 44 might be a little touchy, especially being subjected to so many tests so I missed that one.

Irritability, oh I don't know. I was lugging around a gut the size of a barrel LOL! I still remember the day I was coming down the stairs and my husband looked over at me and commented that I had finally reached the stage where one half of my body was now made up entirely of stomach! What a guy!

Fatigue, well carrying around this bundle of joy would have tired out a 20-year old. Of course I was tired, I was 44 years old and pregnant!

Low metabolism, did I mention I gained 35 pounds!!

Water retention, did I mention I was pregnant!

Well the list goes on and on and for anyone who has been pregnant even in their 20's, none of the pre-menopausal symptoms would have stood out as anything unusual except maybe the hot flashes, which I didn't have.

So needless to say, nothing that was going on with my body that could have been that "Hey, I must be pre-menopausal" was going on that couldn't be easily explained by the pregnancy or was I just missing some obvious sign!!??

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Getting The News & What Was I Thinking!!

It came in the form of a phone call.  The nurse from my doctor's office where I had recently had my annual check-up.  "Did you get the results of my hormone tests" I asked, anxious to find out why my periods had been so inconsistent lately believing it was my bodies way of trying to readjust after my recent pregnancy.

"Oh yes." she replied "You have the hormone levels of a post-menopausal woman, you're in menopause.  Nothing to worry about, you're normal, we'll see you next year for your check-up. Bye."  click.

What did she just say!!  Was that it?  Shouldn't I see the doctor for help or for something?  I stared into the phone and then looked over at my daughter sitting in her highchair eating cereal.  She is only 2 1/2 years old! This can't be right, or is it?  I'm 47 now.  Maybe this is normal or is it?  Do I have to figure this out at the same time I'm trying to adjust to being a first-time mom?!! I need help!!!!!

I'm lucky to be close to my own mother even though she lives about two hours away.  Few topics are out of bounds.  I called her to find out again what age she was when she went through menopause.  "48" she tells me. "My periods just stopped one day, everything was running like clockwork right on time and then nothing". "What about hot-flashes?" I asked, this was the only symptom of menopause I knew about and so far, I hadn't had any.  "Oh yeah" she replied, "I still have them once in a while but not like I used to." 

The only difference I had noticed was my periods had become inconsistent. Surely my recent pregnancy had triggered that, not menopause. How could this happen now when I needed every bit of energy I had left in my body to raise this child? I couldn't be sidetracked with the challenge of facing menopause too! At least not yet!

Life was finally getting back to being somewhat normal.  We had moved twice in the last two years, renovated an old historic home and at the same time, I was making the difficult transition from career woman, to new wife, to stay-at-home mom and now this!  I had heard that menopause makes you tired and zaps your energy levels.  Are you kidding??  I would need every ounce of energy available just to get through the day.  I couldn't help but wonder, "Who the Hell am I now?" 

Before all these changes, I had worked in the insurance industry, every position from reception right up to traveling on the road doing sales and service.  More than 20 years of building up a rewarding career that had allowed me to buy a home, travel, do whatever I felt like, at least on my days off.

I hadn't married or lived common-law.  I was one of those women who could enter any room full of men and walk out with the only one who was unemployed, drank too much, already had a girlfriend he had forgotten to mention, and was either living on his friend's sofa or in is mother's basement.  No problem, he just needed a little help to get back on his feet (as if he had ever been on them!).  I was a magnet for this type.  My friends at work used to joke about how my life could be any "movie of the week". Most of them were living the traditional life of being married to a nice guy and raising a family. Not me,  but at least at that time I had a clear perception of who I was.

I guess I should backtrack a little and say for the record, how blessed I feel to have had my first and it turns out only child at the ripe old age of 45. She was the typical beautiful, bouncing baby who now fills every one of my days and finally now that she is three years old,  just the occasional night.

So with that now out of the way, I can't help but wonder "What the Hell was I thinking?!!"  At the age of 44,  I had married a nice, self-employed older man who already had four children, either in university or on their own.  Life was going to be good, just the two of us other than the occasional short visit from one of his kids.  I had moved 2 1/2 hours away from my home to get married so I couldn't keep my old job but that was okay, he earned enough to support us both quite comfortably.  I could find a part-time job for something to do.  I had it all figured out.

What I didn't know at that time was how much my husband missed raising children now that his were finally out of the house.

During my single years, I had lots of time on my hands to read and I had seen those articles about how difficult it was to become pregnant in your late 30's and nearly impossible once you reached the age of  40.  The odds of becoming pregnant now were extremely low, probably impossible even if I did seek medical intervention, which I wasn't going to do.  We've all seen the older TV and movie star moms beaming on the glossy magazine covers with their newborn multiples.  Access to that kind of medical intervention is not reality for most of us.  My own eggs?  Impossible at this age.

So there I was, 44 years old and well aware of how remote my chances of becoming pregnant without intervention were.  They must be somewhere in the negative numbers by now I remember thinking.  No problem.  I'd stop taking birth control.  I probably didn't need them anyway and it would satisfy my husband who wanted to make sure that if there could be a child in our future, at least we were allowing nature to take its course.

So that's how I ended up like this.  Up to my neck in dirty diapers and staring menopause right in the face!