Thursday, May 31, 2012

My Big Girl & My Big Belly

Emma is growing into a little person right before my eyes. I only have two months left to enjoy being a mother of one, so I'm trying to take extra time to enjoy in my girl before I have to share my attention all the time.

Taking a "nap" with her baby doll.
She is learning so much. She started saying Ls correctly some of the time. The "L" sound has always come out as Y sound at the beginning of words. If you ask what her little brother's name is, she'll say, "Baby Yiam." As of this week, she tries EXTRA hard to get that L sound in there, and it's adorable. She now says "yellow" correctly almost every time.

Unfortunately, Em wakes up between 6 and 6:30 A.M. This has been going on since the start of Spring and I am not a fan.

Emma has crying fits because she wants to be independent. For example, this morning (shortly after 6A.M.) I helped my girl step into her underwear. She had a full-on screaming fit. "Me do it all by myself!!!!!!" She insisted on taking them off only to put them on again, independently. While I love that she wants to do things on her own, I could do without the tantrums.

At least twice a week, when she wakes up (at 6A.M.) she tells me that she wants to wear a dress. A dress?!?! Whose child is this? Help! I have a girly girl on my hands.

We're constantly working on ASKING "May I have _____, please?" instead of just telling me, "Mommy, I want _______." She kind of gets it.

When she wakes up (at SIX A.M.) she shouts from her room, "Mommy! Pick me up! Please!"


Though I don't really feel like I look pregnant all of the time, I REALLY do look pregnant all of the time. When I catch a reflection of myself in a full-length mirror I stop and say, "Woah!"

I'm 30 weeks along and got to hear Liam's heartbeat at the doctor's today. I weigh the same now as I did at this point while pregnant with Emma. That's good news, because I started this pregnancy six pounds heavier than at the start of pregnancy #1. I don't want to gain too much weight because then I have to lose more later. Goodness knows that lazy, old me doesn't want to have to exercise on a regular basis.

I don't sleep so well these nights. Mr. Liam thinks that when I lie down he should start Celtic dancing, doing karate, and practice jumping in a mosh pit, all at once. When his theatrics are over, it takes a while for me to get comfortable enough to fall asleep. An hour later, the dog might bark to wake me so he can go out and pee, or maybe the cat will wake me because she's hungry, or maybe my bladder will wake me because it's full. Who knows? Last night, when recounting my regularly broken sleep to my husband, he said, "No wonder you're crazy."

Em took this one all by herself. She didn't even throw a tantrum first.
Despite being crazy, I feel like a very successful super-mom this week. I took two toddlers to the zoo one day, then to the park and library the next. I did lots of laundry - which I enjoy this time of year because I get to hang things outside to dry and that makes me happy. I even made delicious, beautiful dinners TWO nights in a row. I feel healthy and very happy, aside from being tired because I sleep in two-hour chunks and start my days at 6 A.M.

It's hot outside, my house is cool, and life is good.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Our First JAnniversary

Love those normal knees!
What?

A year ago I had never heard of Juvenile Arthritis. I didn't know kids could even get arthritis. That changed pretty quickly.

One year ago today, Emma started to limp in such a way that could not be ignored. For two days she had been waddling in the mornings and I knew something wasn't right. I attributed it to the tetanus shot she'd gotten in her leg at her 15 month check up a few days before, because those things HURT. However, on the 15th of May, 2011, things were worse. That was the beginning of Emma's real pain. She couldn't stand in the mornings and would cry if I made her. When I sat her on the floor she stayed instead of chasing after me. I carried her until after breakfast, then I made her walk it off and start moving, but all day long she was really limping.

That's when we noticed the swollen ankle. Then came the X-ray, the blood work, and more swollen, stiff joints. It wasn't long afterward that I heard the words "Juvenile Arthritis" for the first time.

Thank heaven for Emma's pediatrician who suspected what this really was and diagnosed her promptly. Thank goodness for my dad's friend who has connections and got us in to the rheumatologist swiftly. The average time for diagnosis of autoimmune arthritis is one to three years. It took only TWO MONTHS from the onset of Em's limp to the start of her methotrexate treatment. How much permanent damage might she have if Emma hadn't received quick, aggressive treatment?

This year has brought a wide range of experiences. Pain, stiffness, doctors, oral medications, tears, relief from pain, weekly injections, blood draws, more doctors, more tears, more relief, regained range of motion, decreased swelling, no more oral meds, more laughter, more smiles. Tears of joy.

I have been introduced to a wonderful community of fellow JA families and have gained strength and information from parents who know our struggle. That has been a huge blessing in my life and I am thankful for the friends I have made this year.


Here's the good news: Emma has NO ACTIVE ARTHRITIS.
She started getting Enbrel in October, and once it kicked in things improved rapidly. Em's rheumatologist found no active arthritis during our January and April check ups. If that's still the case in July, then Em will be consider in medical remission! If things continue in this awesome trend, we'll likely treat for a year, then try to wean off meds!

Since JA is typically a lifelong disease, I'm hoping, praying, and keeping my fingers crossed that my girl goes into remission, even if it's only temporary. I want my kid to have a few years of a "normal" childhood, free of pain.

So, a very happy JAnniversary to you, my Emma.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Walk This Way

Last weekend we participated in our first Arthritis Foundation Arthritis Walk. It was similar to the Jingle Bell Run/Walk we did in December, except it wasn't timed. Also, we were in L-town this time, which is less scenic and hotter than Monterey, where we walked in December.

Thanks to so many friends, we had a very large team supporting us. Twenty of us walked on Team Emma. More were signed up online, which is support enough for me. If we walk again next year, I'm going to make matching t-shirts and get a group photo. We have managed to raise $1,302 so far, and I think a few more checks are on their way. I am impressed that we raised so much money, especially since I am not too fired up about fundraising. A HUGE THANK YOU to those of you who donated.

The whole event was a lot of fun. There were several booths with games for kids. There was a big bounce house with a slide that Emma desperately wanted to go into. However, once inside she was a bit intimidated and came out again. She did get her face painted, which was very lovely.

When the walk started, we were towards the end because I had been standing in a long line to use the bathroom. I'm a smart pregnant lady who knows that it is best to go pee before taking a three-mile walk. Good thing, too, because there were no potties along the way. Our team stuck together for a good part of the walk, then we started spreading out. As we approached the half-way mark, where you turn around and head back, I took a detour. It was motivated partially by my bladder, and partially by a desire to say hello to my friend, Dawn, who was riding in a gymkhana nearby. I got to talk to Dawn, pet her lovely horse, and use a port-o-potty.










During the 1.5 mile walk back, I started to tire out. I'm 6 months pregnant and was suffering from allergies so we cheated by taking a short-cut at the end. When we reached our finish line, they fed us hot dogs! That was a wonderful surprise, because everyone was hungry!

Grammie & The Bean!
I feel fairly good about raising funds for The Arthritis Foundation. They have a free family education day about Juvenile Arthritis. We went to that this year and learned a tiny bit, but mostly it was about stuff I already know. They also hold a Family JA Conference each year, which I'm hoping we can attend next summer. When Emma's older, she can go to a camp that they have especially for kids with JA. I like all of these things, but I'd love to see the Arthritis Foundation raise more awareness about Juvenile Arthritis

Just so you know, there's a very cool non-profit out there called International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement that works to raise awareness that autoimmune arthritis is very different from osteoarthritis. I think that's a pretty important thing to do. I'm all about raising awareness.

Okay. I'm done blabbing on about JA. Until next week...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Emma Knows Some New Tricks

I've spent a bunch of time the past few weeks teaching Emma skills that will help her through her life, because that's what mommies do.

First, I am proud to say, the girl is POTTY TRAINED! We've been virtually accident free for about two weeks. She's still in a diaper during her nap and over night, but that's a-okay with me. She's amazing and I am thankful that she caught on so quickly. I was afraid this was going to be one of those highly frustrating parenting experiences, but it was no big deal. Thank goodness.

Proof that potty training has its ups and downs.
Secondly, she finally knows the names of more colors than just pink. We have been using jelly beans to help her learn. We've got a bunch of Trader Joe's natural jelly beans that are delicious. If she can name the right color, I'll let her eat a bean. Talk about motivation. She's pretty much mastered red, orange, yellow, green, blue, pink, dark pink, and white.

Isn't she so great?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Children's Nonsense

Emma and I have been watching Disney movies and listening to nursery rhymes a lot lately. I have a few observations that I just have to share with you.

1. Disney princesses come from screwy families. 

Ariel and Belle have no mothers. Cinderella and Snow White are missing their fathers and raised by horrible step-mothers. Only Aurora and Rapunzel have both parents, but in both cases, some crazy lady has it out for them.

Why do we love these stories so much?

2. Some nursery rhymes are really morbid and spooky. 

The rhythm and melody of a lot of these rhymes sound exactly like those of a fourth grader taunting another kid. "Hackett, Hackett, makes a lot of racket!" isn't so very different from "Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater."

The lyrics are what really gets me, though.

Peter, the pumpkin eater, couldn't manage to keep a wife until he put her in a pumpkin shell and "there he kept her very well." That sounds like an episode of Criminal Minds to me.

Even though "Four and twenty blackbirds (were) baked in a pie" they still manage to sing when the pie is open. Creepy. Then, the royal maid is outside hanging up the clothes, when "along came a blackbird and pecked off her nose." Really?!?! Is this a Hitchcock film?

What about the old man who is snoring while it's raining, it's pouring? "He went to bed and bumped his head and couldn't get up in the morning." The poor man is concussed and we're teaching our children to sing about it.

Why have I never noticed or thought about these things before?
And we wonder why our society is so messed up.