The Last 7 Months in Review

Sheesh, I took a break on a negative note last year.  Things got stressful and crazy.  Things continued to be stressful and crazy.  Yet somehow my head didn’t explode.  My goal at this point is to return to blogging with a post a week.  I have a two-month-old.  I’m not sure this is going to happen, but it’s worth a shot.

Anyway, the wee one is sleeping, so I get a chance to try to give a quick update of life events in the last 7 months.

October:

I found out we were having a girl!  She quickly receives the nickname Pony, and this is most likely what I will refer to her as on this blog.

There was a knife fight in our cul-de-sac.

I get sick while in Kansas City taking classes and need to go home.  My mother drove to get me because Mr. NaW was unable to.  Her car broke down in the garage of the hotel.  We are unable to find a car to rent to get home, because Nascar is in the city for the weekend.  My friend from the program was leaving early that evening, and we were able to hitch a ride to a distance Mr. NaW was able to pick us up.

November:

We were looking to buy a house, but were turned down for a mortgage – Not surprising considering the amount of student loan debt involved, but disappointing since we’d found a place on the outskirts of town we really, really liked that we felt we could afford.

I start feeling really sick when eating.  I realize that I most likely have gestational diabetes, but my OB didn’t seem too concerned with getting it diagnosed until further along in the pregnancy.

One night Mr. NaW and I are sitting in our living room and hear gunshots.  We call 911 after ducking for cover.  The police find unspent bullets in our front yard, because one of our (numerous) bad neighbors managed to drop them while shooting at whomever they were shooting at.

We went to Arkansas for Thanksgiving.  About ten minutes after getting home, the police are knocking on my door wanting to know if we knew anything about the burglary next door.  A week later the same thing happened.  It’s at this point that we became desperate to find another place to live.  Fast.  We’d had enough.

We found an awesome duplex for cheap with a fenced in yard and beautiful view out the back window.  Best of all, we would be surrounded by couples and widows who are all older than us.  The family that is renting it approves us without even doing a background check.

December:

I manage to get through giving a 20 minute presentation on my business plan despite being unmedicated for my social anxiety disorder.  I graduate from my ag business program.

I am still really sick from food.  I’m not shocked when I’m diagnosed around Christmas with gestational diabetes.  I end up having to go onto medication because diet was unable to control it.

We start moving across town at the end of the month.  We don’t finish until February.  We love our new place, but I will never move again while pregnant.

January:

I finally have my blood sugar under control, and am feeling better.  We’re still stressing about moving.  My blood pressure starts looking kind of strange, but it’s chalked up to my social anxiety disorder and my OB’s waiting room.

February:

About the time I start nesting at the beginning of the month, I wind up in the hospital for observation due to my blood pressure.  I get diagnosed with gestational hypertension, which means I’ll have to be induced a week earlier than my due date.  It also lands me in the full-blown high risk category for my pregnancy.  I have biophysical profiling and an appointment once a week because of it.  I also get stuck on bed rest.

The next day I go into latent labor that comes and goes for the next month.  Yes, I was technically in labor for a month.

March:

My glucose readings are no longer controlled by medication.  I have access amniotic fluid that makes me measure way beyond 42 weeks.  My blood pressure is a mess.  We bump up induction to the beginning of week 39.

I go in on a Sunday to be induced.  After 36 hours of labor with back labor that wasn’t covered by the epidural and 3 hours of pushing, Pony is born via forceps delivery.  At some point I might just write out her birth story, but I’m currently pretty traumatized by it.

5 hours after birth.

I struggle with being a mom and recovering from a third degree laceration from delivery.  They only give me 3 days worth of pain medication.  I wind up in urgent care and on blood pressure medication, because my blood pressure is completely out of control.  I go back onto preclampsia watch for a month.

My mother stays with us for two weeks helping take care of the baby.  I am absolutely terrified when she finally starts going home at night instead of staying with us, because I am drugged to the gills and dealing with blood pressure issues.  On top of this, Pony is recovering from a broken collar bone from delivery and suffering from gastrointestinal distress.

We start what end up being weekly trips to the pediatrician because she is constantly screaming from gas and spitting up large amounts of breast milk when she eats.  We get told it’s normal.  I already know at this point that it’s not.

Her body breaks out in a rash.  I, once again, get told it’s normal, but my gut tells me it’s not.

Pony starts projectile vomiting towards the end of the month, and we find ourselves dealing with an inconsolable baby who is screaming and crying up to 20 hours a day.

April:

March blends into April.  At some point we rule out pyloric stenosis via ultrasound, but the reflux Pony is suffering continues to get worse.  I’m starting to suspect a food allergy.  The doctor had already suggested I cut out “gassy food,” but didn’t really think that would help.

I cut out caffeine and obvious dairy.  Some symptoms get better.  Some continue to get worse.

The entire family comes down with a wicked RSV infection.  Pony gets her first trip to the ER at 6 weeks after breathing difficulty, but is not admitted for observation.  We spend the next 4 days wanting to die from our own illness while taking care of a miserable newborn.

Our doctor finally writes a prescription for Zantac for the reflux.  For the first time since she was born, we actually get to see a bit of Pony’s personality instead of just a baby in terrible pain.  Some things get better.  Other things continue to get worse.

Pony is breastfeeding every 45 minutes to an hour and refuses to take a bottle so I can get some rest.  I get told that if I want to breastfeed, I won’t be able to go back on medication for bipolar disorder.

By this point I’m convinced we have food allergies or sensitivities on our hands, but I can’t get a single doctor to agree with us.  Our lactation consultant, however, completely agrees with us.  She also helps us start to teach Pony to drink from a cup after a supplemental feeder wouldn’t work on Mr. NaW’s finger.  And she shows me a list of medications I can safely take if I need to for my mental heath.

I begin working on correcting an oversupply issue and an overactive let-down.

I decide to cut hidden dairy and wheat out of my diet.  Pony gets slightly better and continues to after just a few days.  I eat soy sauce.  Things get ugly.  I cut soy, too.  Things start getting better again.

May:

We still have no idea exactly what we’re dealing with in regards to our daughter’s health, but we have all the symptoms of food allergies.  She is still in pain from the reflux and gas.  She doesn’t spit up or vomit as much since cutting food out.

Two days ago we tried to start her on vitamins only to find blood in her stools and all the symptoms of an allergy come back in horrible ways.  We discontinued use and she’s doing better.  I have yet to hear back from the company about what allergen derivatives are in their vitamins, but obviously there was something.

We have her 2-month appointment this week.  I will be pressing the allergy issue more and requesting testing for Celiac Disease be done for her.  Along with appointments for me, since I’m STILL dealing with postpartum issues physically.  I won’t be tested for gluten-intolerance until after I’m done breastfeeding.  Having already cut it out, I think I’m actually starting to feel a bit better in regard to pain, but time will tell.

Say hello to Pony @ 2 months

Anyway…  That has been what I’ve been up to.  Hopefully at some point I’ll catch up on others’ blogs and see how everyone I’ve followed is doing.

Call Me Grumpy Pants If You Want…

I’ve intended to blog more lately, but silence has kind of… Well, happened. As has life.

1. Pregnancy continues with little real problems. We hit 18 weeks, and next Monday we have another ultrasound and hopefully find out the sex of the baby. I should probably plan to blog more on this subject. Basically, though, my romanticized ideas of a spiritually-centered wonderful happy time pregnancy has actually been a time filled with fatigue (Really? Still?), aversions to 99% of vegetables, feeling incredibly tiny in a giant world, wondering when I’m going to actually start to feel excited about a baby instead of swinging between downright terrified and numb, reminding myself that I want children, and listening to every woman I encounter (no matter how little I know them) inform me that I’m insane for wanting a natural childbirth (along with a healthy dose of the opposite side of the camp basically saying I will never bond with my child among other horrible things should I NOT manage to get through the entire experience sans medical intervention). Funny thing is that I never actually say that I want to try for a natural childbirth.  They just volunteer this information on their own.

Also, I’m apparently less of a woman if I don’t feel completely comfortable with the thought of breastfeeding at this point as a first-time-mother, and to make things better I have no self-esteem because I cover my hair and would never feel comfortable not having a cover for my breasts when publicly feeding my child. Seriously, ladies… Can we lay off the judgmental negativity on blogs and more importantly in real life? While I admit that I may not have the greatest self-esteem, my religious practices of dressing (semi)modestly and levels of comfort in letting body parts I consider sacred be on full display for anyone walking by to see has nothing to do with lacking in a concept of self-worth and confidence. In fact, it has everything to do with the fact that I have a personal concept of it – Just like you do. It’s just we see things differently. And yes, I belly dance. And yes, I think the female body is one of the most beautiful things the Gods created. But just like a mystery cult or what happens in the Temple of Vesta, I don’t particularly want the uninitiated knowing what’s going on, if you know what I’m saying. Think of me as a prude, but please shut up with the public judgment. If that’s what self-esteem looks like, I don’t want it.

2. I have a month-and-a-half to come up with a business plan for the classes that I’m taking. I have spent the last 4 months having no clue what I’m doing. I have few assets. I have no start-up capital. And it will be more than a year until I can even start working on said plan. Oh, and it’s for farming and I have no land… The plan was to work internships (typically unpaid and living on-farm) for a couple years, but the baby on the way has sort of thrown a wrench in that plan. I’m not really upset, because the reason for having to re-plan is a happy one. However, I found out I was pregnant a week before this program started, so I’ve not had time to regroup… Never mind how hard it is finding land to lease. Especially when you want to start urban and small.

3. We are looking to buy a house. We can no longer stand living where we do due to our neighbors constantly playing music too loudly and our property manager and police apparently not being able to (or are they just unwilling?) to help us with it. We’ve exhausted every option short of a lawsuit, and I’m just too tired to deal with that unless it’s a matter of getting out of our lease. We want to buy so we can do what we want on our property and not have to rely on others not fixing things when we could do it ourselves. (Hello leaky faucet I can’t seem to get anyone to fix but could easily do myself…)

Considering the rate this is going, we’ll be moving this next summer… And I’m seriously starting to wonder if with everything else happening (house and baby?) if we’ll be able to afford the small wedding we were planning on. I am so miserable in this duplex that I’m torn as to how I feel about it, and now I’m having to fight off the suggestion (from my fiancé of all people) to just go to the courthouse and get it done. I’m getting promised a big party when we can afford it, but I know how this goes… The party never happens. Never mind that the party isn’t the only part of a wedding to me… The, you know, ceremony part is the big deal.

So yes, gentle readers, I am stressed and unhappy at this point. And, despite my tendency to rant, I don’t feel right putting my negativity out publicly to the world day in and day out. I’m personally a little baffled as to how things can actually be going so well (these are happy situations for the most part!) and I can be simultaneously happy and unhappy or excited and unenthused. Is it pregnancy? Is it bipolar disorder? Can I write it off as being a Libra? Who the hell knows.

What I can tell you is that I’m more than willing to just keep trudging on to see where all of these things take me in the upcoming year. And I promise to let you know what our ultrasound reveals about the baby we have taken to calling Pony, because early on when asked whether we wanted a boy or girl we just replied with, “We really hope it’s a pony.”

Meet Opal!

The car ride to her new home.

Yesterday after waiting patiently for quite some time, we introduced a new member to our family.  This is Opal, who is already turning into a mama’s girl.

She is nothing short of fearless (except for big dogs, which we have none of).  And her meow is so quiet sometimes it’s almost silent.  She is also constantly purring.

I’m sure Opal’s antics and adventures will be documented here in full as she grows up.  For now she simply wanted to say hi to you.  We have to go play and take a nap now.

My First Salve!

I found an interest in herbalism at an early age, and at thirteen I started actively studying the subject.  Save for the occasional infusion, tincture, or compress, I’ve never attempted to make much else.  Either I didn’t have the ingredients needed or it just seemed too complicated.  So for the most part my studies have been purely academic and theoretical.

This winter, though, has been particularly hard on my fiancé’s hands.  The warmer weather hasn’t seemed to do much for them, either.  They are chapped to the point where they crack and bleed around the knuckles.  When the lotions we have around the house either started not being thick enough for his liking and even when the sensitive healing lotions began to hurt, I knew we needed to turn to something more therapeutic.

I decided he needed a salve.  For a while I toyed with trying to find one that I liked the ingredients in for exactly what he needed, but I was afraid that he wouldn’t like the feel of them.  Most salves are made with olive oil since the shelf life is higher than a lot of other oils.  I’ve always found olive oil to be a little heavy for daytime use on my hands.  And, being thrifty, I didn’t want to spend any more money on things he didn’t like.

Amusingly enough, though, I had grapeseed oil and beeswax just sort of sitting around here.  Being a foodie and a jewelry artist tends to keep me stocked in things like that.  I didn’t have the common herbs for skin woes, but what I did have in my cabinet was a glut of chamomile and marshmallow roots – Both anti-inflammatories and the former having anti-bacterial properties.

I didn’t have a double-burner, so I enlisted the help of a small crockpot that we never use.  I set forth with the double-burner and a silicone spatula to create an experimental salve for my sweetheart.

This is how I made it.  I’m not adding the herb measurements – Honestly they’re not my first choice and there are a dozen resources out there that will give you better ratios and suggestions than your purely academic herbalist.

  1. I placed my herbs into the crockpot.  Measuring out in a 1/2 cup, I started adding grapeseed oil until I had covered up the herbs plus about 3/4 of an inch.
  2.  I turned the heat on to Low, put the lid on, and wandered off.  Every 15 minutes or so I came back to make sure it wasn’t actually cooking and gave it a good stir.
  3. An hour-and-a-half later I carefully put three layers of cheesecloth in a bowl, and carefully pour the herb and oil mix into it.  With tongs, I held the herbs to give it a bit of a squeeze.
  4. I cleaned the remaining herb bits out with another cloth before putting the oil back into the crockpot.
  5. I took my beeswax block and cut it up in pieces.  The ratio I used was approximately 1 tsp of beeswax to 1/2 cup of oil.  I put the beeswax into the crockpot.
  6. I wandered off again, coming back every 15 minutes to give the oil and wax a stir.  It took about an hour for the liquid to become completely clear with no clumps of beeswax left.
  7. Once the liquid was clear, I poured it into some tins that I’d sterilized and completely dried – Getting water in the mixture can cause your oil to go rancid before it normally would.
  8. I wandered off again to let it cool off and solidify. 

Awesome.  I’d made a rather dreamy salve that softened but wasn’t horrendously greasy in a heavy way.  And I think I may be hooked on making it, because it was amazingly easy.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

It’s time to start planning your garden for the summer… So I’m asking today about what you grow and how you grow it. Do you grow things to eat, for spiritual purposes, or simply for the beauty? Maybe you pick certain plants and flowers to appease the fairies, or perhaps you only grow herbs that you will use in your personal spiritual experiences. – Pagan Blog Prompts’ Question for 2/17/11

This has taken me a while to get written, because every time I sit down to write it I end up getting distracted by gardening websites! It’s that time of year again, and I have been waiting eagerly for it since… Well, years. This is the first year I have space to garden! Like more than a tiny balcony that has to be used for other things! With a south-facing exposure no less! And an east and west! (And windows facing east and west to keep me happy during the non-growing seasons, but I’ll leave that to talk about in December!)

I am a happy camper. I am going to write through the spring and summer about my adventures with my first garden, wanna-be urban homesteading, and whatever whacky things come out of this. I have said before that my spirituality rests on a very practical plane and it most certainly touches even the mundane aspects of my life.

My garden reflects this. I’ve talked before on making every day and action a ritual, and gardening is an extension of this. Typically I have a specific deity to dedicate actions to or spend time talking to during my day – When I’m not spazzing out so much I overlook doing it; mindfulness, Meganne! Gardening, though, runs a full gamut for me…

1. It keeps me in contact with the Earth. Despite the fact that I have to plant in containers due to living in a rented duplex, it puts my hands in dirt. The rain will give me days off. The hottest part of summer will force me to roll out of bed to start working before it is insufferable outside. I look forward to complaining about the elements of nature like they are any other co-worker that causes me to stay in line.

2. It reminds me that my food has a spiritual source as a living thing that I should thank for its sacrifice. Plants put in a lot of time and energy just for me to come along and gobble them up, after all. Personally I think it would be kind of a bummer to be eaten. Seriously.

3. It keeps me in contact with the cycle of the year. Though I will say that the end of winter has turned into “OMG, please make the winter into spring already!!!” and I should be enjoying the season – I don’t even like the beginning of winter, so this is one to go on the We’ll Work on It list.

4. Gardening connects me to my ancestors, family, and those who have come before me. These groups are very, very important to me. I honor my mother by keeping up on houseplants and what she has taught me about them. I honor my father by planting native seeds. I honor the farmers who have put farming into my blood though I’m just one person with about 60 to 100 square feet to put containers on. Because of this, 80% or so of my plants are going to be heirlooms – Including Trail of Tear Beans, which carried taken on the path where so many died when forced from their homes. I chose these because I have ancestry there and my fiancé has Cherokee tribal membership.

5. I am feeding my soul and conscious. I truly believe that we should be eating organic, non-GMO plants. I also believe that the monoculture that large-scale farming is producing is dangerous. For a while we’ve been living on very little money, and groceries have been one of the places we’ve had to make sacrifices – The cheaper non-organic trap is horrible! It’s not healthy or health-inducing to feel like a hypocrite each time you make dinner or pick up a fork. And with that, I can do my part in making sure that plant diversity continues on, which in turn also makes me feel better because I’m dong my pro-active part to solve the problem.

6. Insert future list of deities that will be honored by gardening – Which demands a full write-up of its own.

As I was saying, I’m growing organic heirlooms in containers – Along with a few hybrids because I simply couldn’t decide on exactly what I wanted and/or they were bought for me or given as a gift. I have no idea how they will do in containers. A couple of family members have sort of expressed concern in the plan, but from what I understand as long as they plant has enough root space it will be fine… We’ll see. It’s a giant experiment! How exciting!

My Plotted Crops

Beans: Triumphe de Farcy (bush), Trail of Tears (Pole), and Dragon’s Tongue (bush)
Tomatoes: Cherokee Purple*, Mortgage Lifters*, and Green and Orange Zebra
Herbs: Catnip, German Chamomile*, Dill Bouquet, Genovese Basil, Sweet Basil*, Yarrow*
Greens: Arugula*, Tom Thumb Lettuce, Merlo Nero Spinach, Bright Lights Swiss Chard
Roots: Chantenay Red Cored Carrots, French Breakfast Radishes
Cucumbers: Straight Eight*
Eggplant: Listada de Gandia*
Luffa Gourd*
Peas: Thomas Laxton
Squash: Early Prolific Straightneck Summer*
Flowers: Candy Cane Mix Zinnias, Sunset Giant Marigolds*, and more to be decided

For those of you gardening, I really, really want to suggest keeping a journal on My Folia. It has been absolutely awesome for keeping notes for me. Also I’m attempting to fill out on herbs, cucumbers, root plants, and Bachelor Button seeds against my better judgment. I have marked swappable seeds on my list with a *. If you’d like to swap with me, leave me a comment with your email so we can talk – I have to approve all comments so I’ll delete it before it’s published! Or you can sign up on My Folia and message me that way if you’d prefer.

Life’s Simple Pleasures: The Bird-Feeder

I am in bird heaven right now.  I grew up with bird-feeders, and as a child I was quite the backyard birder.  Recently we put two seed feeders in our backyard against our patio.  I have regained my passion for watching again.  Multiple times a day you’ll find me peeking through the blinds at whoever is currently dining.  I get so excited sometimes that I call my mother specifically to tell her about what’s happening at my feeders.

Today was quite a treat for me.  Everyone thinks about baby birds in the spring, but the real excitement for me has always been the late summer and early fall when they start getting out so I can see them.  Point in case, I didn’t have one family come and visit me.  Nope.  I had three!  While a mother cardinal was still feeding a fat baby begging for food, I watched on of her other children eating on its own.  At the same time I’ve had a goldfinch family discover the feeders, so I had around ten goldfinches eating seed and sipping from time-to-time from my water garden container.  Later I was visited by the titmice, who I find absolutely adorable, and I found myself graced by them bringing their kids along.

Watching long enough has allowed me to learn each individual bird’s personality.  For instance, I have a little male chickadee that is a comical little pig.  Instead of taking a seed and flying away like his compatriots, he will sit at the feeder hanging upside to eat and only righting himself to get another sunflower heart.

Due to the fact that I have no mature trees in my yard and woods about a hundred feet away, I’ve not had to contend with squirrels.  And I haven’t seen any starlings or grackles yet.  Any of them are welcome, though, because I’m not too picky as long as they don’t mind being spied on by a nature voyeur.

Ragweed and moving to a new environment has caused me to have so many allergy problems, and I’ve yet to find a medicine that doesn’t make me sick that takes care of it.  So these last few weeks of summer are being spent indoors.  The birds have given me the greatest gift I could ask for – That of being able to connect on some level with nature.

I plan on introducing suet next.  And this next summer the hummingbirds will be getting a feeder, too.

So tell me, do you have a bird-feeder?  What sort of birds are you attracting, and do you feel like it gives you the spiritual recharge that I find mine giving me?

The Kitchen Window

For two years I lived with my windows facing the interstate. To make matters worse, the windows were facing north, which means I couldn’t line them with plants to buffer some of the sight of traffic. One day I looked out to see a deer getting hit; deer is my spirit animal. I feel like all of this is some glorious metaphor for my final years in Iowa. The final year and a half I was physically exhausting myself in a retail job where material access was witnessed daily.

Sometimes simply taking yourself out of the rut in the road shows the ground to be less bumpy. We’ve moved now to Missouri. Despite the imperfections like gigantic bugs, I find myself a lot happier already. However, back to the interstate, I no longer live with the constant hum of cars zipping by. Instead my west-facing kitchen window faces a field that is mostly wildflowers and a wooded area with a stream.

The peace of the mornings makes me feel more connected to what is around me. The energy is more grounded. Also the neighborhood kids play in that space, which fills me with so much joy. It warms my heart to see children out in nature, but it brings back so many of my happier childhood memories. I feel very blessed. I feel like some of the darker facets of my past are being healed by it all by changing the focus of memories from negative to positive.

I have more, but I’m trying to space it out so I’m not writing twenty pages every few months. Ha.

For those interested, I also have a secular blog on design and various other things up and running at My CoMo Life. I plan on having free blogger layouts, since graphic design is actually a hobby of mine.