oh, fire!

ozfire turned two this weekend. he’s the youngest son of friends and we had wonderful time at his birthday party this morning. i brought my camera, but completely forgot to take any pictures of the beautiful people there. 

as i was remembering back to his birth it made me think about my life and wonder where we were two years ago in january of 2010…

  • i was about three months pregnant.
  • i had just found out about my tumour and on the morning of ozfire’s birth, i had my second appointment with my neurologist.
  • i was on tylenol 3’s for the headaches and feeling so guilty while thinking about my unborn babe, my wee lion.
  • i was being referred to a high risk OB at the big hospital out of town, but i was able to keep my midwives on for support… LUCKILY!!!
  • we were living in another city, anxiously saving money for a down payment for a house in the city we currently live in.
  • bear was almost two, still in diapers, learning to talk, napping in the afternoons and clueless about the baby who was coming to rock our world.
  • dear hubby was working at a fairly new job and things we’re going well. 
  • unbeknownst to us, it was the beginning of the most stressful year of our lives. 

all of the above pictures of bear were taken in january 2010.
today, in january 2012, two years since all of that, i am truly coming to terms with all of that. dear hubby and i have come to the realization that we were in a fair bit of denial with the tumour situation and the specifics of the scary birth which brought us our wee lion. although we felt the seriousness of each situation, only now are the finer details settling into our consciousness. i am reminding myself that my focus should not be on the details of the past, but instead on the details of the future. 
happy birthday sweet ozfire! we love you so, so much and are looking forward to more shared adventures with you. choo-choo fire! 

xo, mama lola

docs & tumour update.

not much to report from my big appointment the other day. i will continue to be monitored closely, as in, i will see my neurologist and endocrinologist again,  in about 6 months time. i wll have to get another MRI done and the usual round of blood work. there are no obvious concerns; in fact things look great, but because i was pregnant when all of this went down, they don’t really know what my normal hormone levels are. it’s both re-assuring and worrisome to have to go back so soon.

i just want to be done, ya know? i am ready to move on and not have to think about my tumour anymore. i want to start planning things and setting goals, especially now that i am feeling better and am headache free. plus, the kids are getting bigger so it’s a great time to start putting our family adventures into full swing. 

i don’t want to sound ungrateful, because i am very grateful to be where i am now and where we are as a family. we have had the wind knocked out of us, but we are finally on solid ground again. i am especially to eager to start preparing for the holidays, now that we are mostly healthy from that wicked flu we had. it’s going to be a busy few weeks preparing everything, but now that there is a little snow sprinkled out there it is certainly beginning to feel like christmas.

the advent calendar is a huge hit! i explained to the kids that a joulutonttu (x-mas elf) comes at night and leaves the surprise for them to discover in the morning. it was so worth it!

sweet dreams merry elves!

xo, mama lola

coming full circle.

today is finland’s independence day. we lit our two white candles, listened to the national anthem and i shed a few tears for my motherland. man, i miss that place so much.

tomorrow i have a very important date with my tumour team in the big city. it’s my annual check up: that’s right, it’s been a year since my surgery. the anniversary passed quietly on november 12th, with only a quick mention to dear hubby and some quiet thoughts on my own. it’s been a wonderful year without the debilitating migraines and the handfuls of T3’s i would eat almost daily. 
it’ll be two years ago on december 18th that my family doctor phoned me at home and told me i had a tumour in my head and had to get to an opthamologist immediately. two years ago that my life changed in a way that i never could have predicted. december 21st will be two years since my first meeting with my neurosurgeon. we discussed the possibilities of surgery, but since i was only about 3 months pregnant with lion, everyone was unsure about what to do next. that holiday season of 2009 was really surreal and filled with fear. our families didn’t even know i was pregnant until we formally announced it at each family’s christmas dinner. first we discussed the horror of the tumour and then we threw in that we were expecting. what an emotional rollercoaster!

but, we survived and are here to tell the tale. 

tomorrow’s appointment is to discuss the results of the MRI and bloodwork i had done in the fall. i am feeling hopeful and optimistic, but there is also a part of me that is terrified. so many what if’s are jumping around my head and it’s hard to remain completely rational at all times!

kiddo’s, advent calendar in it’s full glory, tree with shooting star.

it’s been a stressful few years. 
i am waiting for a calm christmas that is only made anxious by burnt cookies and pricked fingers!

xo, mama lola

falling for fall.

october has arrived in full force. the temperature has dropped dramatically and the crisp air outside is blowing fallen leaves briskly. the sun is fighting to show off its glory and every so often as the clouds race along, the warm rays shine down making for a beautiful fall day.

my kids and dear hubby were all eager to get out there and get to work. bear is the kind of kid who is not afraid of the elements or cooler temperatures, he in fact thrives in the fall/ winter months. he’s kind of like me and wilts in the heat and humidity of the summer. the poor kid has been asking for winter since june! Thus lion, whose goal in life is to be like bear, also wants to go outside and play. although he complains as we get all the layers on, he seems happy enough to be wherever bear is.  

this time of year is a reminder of the frightening storm that began two years ago. it was october when i became unexpectedly pregnant with lion and the migraines came on strong soon after. that fall i was taking a few uni courses for my women’s studies degree and i remember struggling with the readings as my head would just be pounding. i was exhausted, so exhausted that i would drag myself around town taking bear, then about 18 months to the park or play dates, grocery shopping or wherever. 

i’m off for my annual MRI tonight. gotta get it done to make sure my wee pituitary gland is tumour free. i am scared and nervous and a wreck. my friend, mamaM is a tech at the hospital and she will be doing my imaging tonight. she’s also the one who did the MRI when my tumour was first discovered. it’s nice to know a familiar and kind voice will be checking in with me as i endure the claustrophobic loud banging in that uncomfortable tube. i wont get the results until december.

fingers crossed everyone.
i am scared.

xo, mama lola

oh baby: two birth stories, kinda.

the birth of a baby is an emotional experience, no matter what the labour, no matter what the delivery. it can be 2 in the morning or it can be 2 in the afternoon, no matter what time of the day it is, it’ll be overwhelming. it doesn’t matter if the baby’s gender is a surprise or if a gender test australia has been used to determine the gender before birth. each birth is a unique and special experience.the births of my sons were so completely different from one another. during my pregnancy with bear i discovered that i was a homebirthing kinda mama and so dear hubby and i started down that path while still only weeks pregnant. in the end, neither bear’s nor lion’s birth was what we had planned for or wanted, but my choices were limited due to external circumstances.

bear was supposed to be born at home in a rented birthing tub, with dear husband and my two midwives by my side. but, unfortunately a week prior to my due date, our landlords at the time presented us with a letter from their lawyer stating they had changed their minds about allowing the tub in our third floor apartment. unfortunately, the tub was already sitting and waiting for bear’s birth. that day i cried like i’d never cried before. tears streamed down my cheeks and puddled on the floor. dear hubby, shocked by the sudden turn of events, tried to console me the best way he knew how. i felt devastated, betrayed and terrified. i had dreamed of a water birth and to change things so close to bub’s birth was difficult. my midwives were supportive and reminded us that i could still have a homebirth, even if we couldn’t use the rented tub. and so that was new plan, birth at home without the tub.

on february 12, 2008 at 6:30am my waters broke. it was almost a week past the estimated due date so i was excited to finally see some labour action. i ran (who am i kidding, i waddled!) to wake up dear hubby. he jumped up with excitement and was ready for action. unfortunately there were only very, very mild contractions, but we still decided it was best to call the midwives. they suggested we try to get more sleep and we made an appointment to see them later that morning. dear hubby and i could not imagine sleeping, but instead in our excitement chatted, made some phone calls and sent out a few emails.

well, long birth story short. after 50 hours of labouring, with intense contractions right on top of each other for two nights, and a couple of quick visits to the local hospital only to be sent back home to labour more, bear was eventually born via induction at the hospital. i pushed for about an hour and was the luckiest mama ever as all of a sudden the OB said “put your hands down and catch your baby”! so i did!!! my beautiful baby bear slid into my arms and into this world, with dear hubby grinning proudly and my midwives at my side.

i looked at one of my midwives in fear and said “but i don’t know anything about boys” to which jackie smiled and said “now you’ll learn”.

taking bear home was the best but scariest moment of my life. we were very prepared and had been on mommyhood101 reading reviews and choosing all the best products out there, but all of a sudden you get home and feel so unprepared. it’s a unique experience to say the least.

bear was perfect.

i think the initial stress of being denied the water birth by our landlords caused my body to react physically and stalled bear’s birth. also, because i laboured for so long after my waters broke and i had not taken the GBS test at 36 weeks of pregnancy, i ultimately had to be induced. when i went in for my first induction attempt i was verbally harassed by the attending OB, which was very stressful and upsetting, and i think ultimately stalled my labour even more. as we all know, stress is a very powerful reaction to countless triggers that we sense emotionally, physically, intellectually. it impacts every cell in our bodies, every thought and dream, all of our internal systems that keep us alive.

my experience with lion was completely different. first of all, he was our shocking little autumn surprise and we were thrilled to be expecting again in ’10! in my first trimester i started having terrible headaches that after some investigation were eventually linked to my pituitary gland tumour, which was discovered just days before christmas in 2009. we met with one of neurosurgeons and decided it was best to wait until after the baby was born to talk surgery for removing the tumour. this meant, to my dismay, i was labelled “high risk”. high risk meant i could still have my wonderful midwives, but only for moral support. i was sent to a fancy hospital out of town where i was under the care of a high-risk OB and an endochronologist (hormone specialist). my pregnancy was normal considering i had this huge growth in my head, so it was planned that i would have a natural birth at the fancy hospital, where they had tubs and birthing chairs for use. but, then at the end of my second trimester, my headaches got worse and after a second MRI they determined the tumour was actually growing and it was decided that i had best have a scheduled c-section at 37 weeks. i was driving home alone after the appointment during which the c-section information was revealed and i had to pull over. i was crying so hard i couldn’t see. i called dear hubby at work and he was instantly scared. not only was i having a c-section, which is major abdominal surgery, but because of the tumour i would have to be put under a general anaesthetic (instead of the usual epidural). this meant that dear hubby was NOT allowed into the delivery room and meant because i would be unconscious our wee baby boy was going to be born completely alone.

when i came to after lion’s birth dear hubby was there with terrifying news. baby lion was not breathing properly at birth and was rushed out of the operating room to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit).

well, another long birth story a bit shorter, after a week in the special care nursery lion was finally allowed to come home. bear was finally able to meet his little brother as was everyone else.

big bear and little lion meet. here, lion was about to be transferred from
the big fancy hospital to our local hospital.

i struggle with the births of my sons. to this day i carry tremendous guilt and so desperately wish i could have birthed my boys at home, in the peace and quiet of a dimly lit room, with soft music playing, and in water, with the love and support of my dear hubby and my midwives. people keep asking if we’ll have a third child, you know, to have that home birth finally. i’m not going to go for a third, just so i can TRY to have a home water birth. there are no guarantees as we have learned. also, getting pregnant and birthing again, means a whole new person would be joining our family. it’s not quite so cut and dry. all i will say is, we’ll see.

xo, mama lola

the eternal optimist

back in high school, one of my besties said she was amazed by my consistent positive outlook on things, and decided to call me the eternal optimist. i liked that description of myself and still do. but, optimism is hard to hold onto at times, even for me. over the last year and a half life has thrown some unthinkable obstacles in our way… BAM…BAM…BAM… one right after another. my optimism was truly tested. i had times of deep cynicism and days of darkness that were hard wade through, especially as a mother. there were times when there was no light at the end of the tunnel, only deep abyss and remaining hopeful was almost impossible.

it all began when, BAM, i was told i had a macro adenoma (a big tumour) growing on my pituitary gland; when i was popping prescription narcotics to help manage the migraines caused by the tumour, all the while mothering my sweet toddler bear and growing my little lion in my uterus; when, BAM,  i was told to throw away my dreams of a home waterbirth and plan for a ceaserian section, during which i would be completely under; when i was told my lion had had trouble breathing at birth and had to be intubated and then incubated as his lungs had serious problems; and then when our beloved family dog roo attacked a neighbour, again, and after crying for days we decided it was best to put him down; and finally (knock on wood) when just a few weeks ago my dear husband walked in the door and told me he had been laid off from his job. BAM!

our ferocious lion fighting at three days old.

sweet, sweet roo riggins. oh, how we miss you so.

the positive energy i carry in my self, hold in my soul and that rushes through my veins has been drained by all these events, but it has not disappeared completely. i consciously decided i can BAM back at life! life throws me a tumour? fine, but i’m not going to make lemonade with these sour lemons, but will throw them back at life as i don’t want remnants of bad times around. and since i received the all clear after my november surgery, all i see is a new chapter. BAM you life! this is my chance to better my life, our life, to do all the things we talked about doing, but got scared off by the risks. and when dear hubby was laid offf, well, again all i saw and continue to see is a new chapter. BAM you life! this is an opportunity for dear hubby to find a job with new challenges and perhaps take us on a family adventure. 

wedding day february 17, 2007

although our life has been quite stressful lately, i feel tremendously lucky. i am lucky because i have beautiful, healthy children and a kind husband. i have parents and in-laws who love to help with the kids and are forever supportive. i have amazing friends who i can depend on when there are joys to be cheered or sadness to be cried out. 

i am eternally optimistic for us.

xo, mama lola
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