Monday, March 31, 2014

Life Lately

It's raining today and I could not be happier. I know so many people struggle with feeling more depressed when it is gloomy outside but I am not one of those. I love the rain. Right outside my kitchen window I have a ton of greenery and trees. I sometimes sit and watch the rain pour down all of leaves. It's incredibly peaceful. My mom always used to call it "snuggle weather" and I can't help but to think of what it will be like when little Benny comes and I can bundle him up in feet pajamas and just cuddle him all day long.
He has been moving a lot lately. Full on ninja style, alien moving in my belly, kicks and twists and turns. In fact there have been many times he has made me jump clear out of my seat or straight up in bed. This kid is strong and super active, which makes me so very happy. It is the best part of this whole process. As I wind down for bed each night I often sit there for an hour or so just holding my hands over my belly, smiling to myself and just feeling him move around. It is truly amazing to know that my child is in there, growing and being his own little person.
I have grown a lot over the past few weeks too. I am officially 30 weeks along now and I cannot fathom how I will last another 10 weeks with this little munchkin inside of me. I already feel incredibly huge and heavy and it can be hard at times. I've been feeling better when it comes to my depression but the anxiety is still there. My asthma has been bad during pregnancy and having a baby growing up against your lungs makes it very difficult to breathe sometimes. It's a big panic inducer for me when I have those severe shortness of breath moments. I'm sure all of you mamas out there know what I mean. The third trimester really slows you down and makes you feel so out of shape!
I worry a lot about the postpartum period too. I know breastfeeding is hard and the lack of sleep is really tough but I actually think those aren't my worst fears. My worst fear is the crazy fluctuation in hormones you have after giving birth. I feel like that has been my issue this whole time... the complete lack of control over my body... physically, emotionally, and mentally it is all so unpredictable. Especially being a first time mom I just have no clue what to expect. Hopefully, the fact that my little man will finally be here and in my arms (and also able to hand over to dad when it gets to be too much) will help.

For now, I am just trying to enjoy having Benny to myself. Carrying him with me everywhere I go and feeling his little feet in my side and his hiccups in my hips... it really is so special and miraculous. Ten weeks left to savor... or survive. :)

Happy Monday Friends. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

How to Survive Night Shift Nursing

For five years I have been a night shift nurse in the ICU. I never thought I would make the transition to day shift nursing but this past month I made the leap and for me it was the best decision I have made in years. I think I forgot how wonderful it is to sleep when it is actually dark outside and my days off are now actually days off! I'm not perpetually catching up on sleep or trying to rotate my schedule to accommodate work or my pathetic attempt at a social life.

Despite the horrors that the night shift bestowed on my life I do know that for many years I was happy on nights and I think I can share a few tips for those of you venturing into the graveyard world. Being a new grad nurse almost inevitably means you will start out on nights... even a seasoned nurse who moves to a new hospital starts at the bottom of the food chain and has to usually work the night shift. So, for those of you looking for some help in surviving beyond the land of the living... here goes.

1) Your schedule has to be the most protected aspect of your life. Whether you choose to work multiple days in a row or not, this is most important. You have the choice to stay on the night shift for a stretch and then switch your sleeping to match day shift on your stretch of days off or you can work one or two days in a row and then just stay on a night shift schedule always. Most night shifters I know work 3-4 days in a row (I never recommend more than 4) and then have 3-4 days off in a row to flip their schedule and live among the land of the living for those few days.

2) Plan your meals ahead of time. Sleep is the most important part of surviving night shift and what I found to be most helpful was planning all of my meals the day before I started a long stretch at work. The less time I'm worried about packing 12 hours worth of food, the more time I get to spend in bed and that is awesome.

3) Learn to say no. Being a night shift person unfortunately means that 99% of the time people will not understand your schedule or the need to protect your sleep. Social events can be really hard to plan because sometimes people don't understand that yes 1:00 pm is in fact WAY too early for a night shift person to wake up. Especially if it is your first day off! That first day off after working a long stretch... take my advice and don't make any plans. That day is ruined... a total wash and when you need to plan something that you can't get out of either do it right after work or very late in the evening.

Being a night shift nurse is incredibly hard. I did it for five years and I know many people who have done it for their entire career. Yes, it is quieter and slower and there are less people to deal with which is nice but you also work with fewer staff and you need to have more autonomy and the ability to trust your clinical judgement. Night shift also doesn't get nearly as much recognition as day shift. In fact I received my first present from a family member this week! 5 years I have been working at my hospital and this was the first time I have been given a thank you card for taking care of  a patient. It was nice and I realize now just how glad I am to be working again in the land of the living. Still, I value the time I had on nights because I learned a lot and hopefully my tips can help someone else too!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Pregnancy and Depression

I have never been the kind of person to sugar coat anything. I am open, honest, and transparent most of the time. And yet my pregnancy has been an incredibly difficult thing to share with people. Early on in my baby journey I deleted my Facebook. I haven't done the typical "weekly bump photo" like most bloggers love to do. I thought I would too! I have limited myself to using Twitter and Instagram and even those things I rarely post anything on. I have been so very protective of my pregnancy and I think it's because my pregnancy hasn't been what I'd hoped or what others expected it to be.

Society in general has this image of pregnant women as these glowing, feminine goddesses. *GAG* oh sorry, did I just ruin it for someone? Pregnancy for me has been miserable and not just because of the usual pregnancy symptoms... because while those are horrible and I do mean horrible... they aren't the worst part. The worst parts are the moments when someone tells you that something might be seriously wrong with your baby. Or when you completely loose any attachment you ever had to the child growing inside of you. Or the moments when the antepartum depression sinks in so deeply that you truly see no reason to exist anymore.

I was talking to a friend of mine today who struggles with depression as well and I told him that I think one of the hardest things to deal with these days is that people see me as weak. They think I am overreacting or that I just don't "handle" pregnancy well. That maybe if I fought a little harder, I could beat the depression. If I were stronger then maybe I wouldn't be so miserable. As if I have a choice in it all.

But see, that is not how depression works. Depression is not a choice or a mindset that you can choose to overcome. It is not something you can pray away or give a pat on the back and expect it to disappear. It is not about mental toughness or about your will to fight. Trust me... coming from someone who has overcome so much. It is no lack of will or strength or tenacity that is getting the best of me. This friend of mine told me something today that made me smile and I even felt a little bit proud. He said,

"The thing is that the people I know with depression are some of the toughest fuckers on the planet. I would go through hell with those people. I'll take someone who battles depression and can still be a success over anybody. There's nobody tougher."

Amen friend. And thank you for reminding me of that truth.

I am thankful for people like him. People who get it. People who reach out despite the fact that I am no bowl of cherries. People who aren't afraid to include me in their life because of where I am. People who don't just ignore it or me because it is uncomfortable for them to face. I am struggling with depression and while it may not be fun and I may be different.... I am still me. I am still here. Still fighting. I still get up every single day. I go to work. I take care of myself and my baby. I clean my house. I fight to live even on the days where it feels pointless. If that isn't toughness or resilience I don't know what is.
I'm hoping that on the off chance that someone stumbles across this post and is struggling with depression... especially pregnancy related depression.... I hope you know that you are not alone. But more importantly, you should know that if you are still waking up every day and choosing to live... you should be proud. You my friend are a badass. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ireland on my mind

A few years ago I made a trip to visit two of my BFF's on the opposite side of the world. Lebanon and Ireland in one trip. It was glorious and probably one of the best things I have done outside of living in South Africa for a few months and traveling to Thailand during college.

I have been lucky to travel quite a bit in my life. I wish I could travel more but lately the thought of airplanes and packing and jet lag just sounds horrendous. Over the past two years I have settled more into home, which is why I am even more thankful that I traveled a good amount in my early/mid twenties. I have a feeling that international trips won't exist with a little one... not to mention a husband who hates the thought of traveling internationally.

He isn't big on being forced out of your comfort zone when it comes to traveling. I used to thrive off of that thrill though. The feeling that your world is so different from the one you are visiting. I think it forces you to stay humble and tolerant in a way that is unique to being immersed in another culture or country. Chris is a domestic traveler though, having been to most of the 50 states. I however have been to only a handful in comparison.

So for now, I am nostalgically thinking of the time I spent in Ireland. I have close to 2,000 photos from that trip. I remember coming home and being so overwhelmed with them all that I hardly edited any.

I took a chunk of them recently and I began exploring a bit more. Being sick this whole week has afforded me few joys.  Yet, reminiscing on this splendid trip with the best travel buddy ever made me really happy.

We decided to make a spur of the moment trip from Dublin to Belfast and up to the Giant's Causeway. I forgot how beautiful it was! I'm so glad I took so many photos and I can't wait to someday tell Bentley about my many adventures overseas. And maybe someday he and I will have some travel adventures of our very own.

Oh Ireland I heart you.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

I Wish I Knew: What Nobody Tells You About Prenatal Depression.

These days I am taking life one step at a time. I seem to be more familiar with anxiety and a lot of fear as of late. Sometimes it feels as if the isolation is drowning out so much it is hard to tell what is reality and what is the result of the hormones surging inside of me. I feel inadequate and like a complete failure a lot of the time. Instead of feeling feminine and glowing, I feel the extra weight I carried before pregnancy pushing its way out in places too visible for my own comfort. As a result I look further along than I am and people tell me I am huge. I feel self conscious about that. I am tired and winded with each step up my stairs. I am told often that it will only get harder the bigger I get. A claustrophobic's worst fear. I read people's birth and postpartum stories and I squirm in my seat, dreading what is to come with all of my being. I don't recognize myself, my body, my spirit. I wish someone had told me how hard pregnancy was. How motherhood starts from the minute that the second line appears. Despite the tiny heart beating just inches away from my own I feel incredibly alone. Scared and sad.... and so very guilty for feeling so. very. sad.

Last week, I was out with Chris running errands and the entire time I held back tears. A blank stare on my face and this hollow, soulless feeling lurking inside. When we got home, he climbed the stairs to his office and I stood in our kitchen and cried. No... I sobbed. Partially relieved to let it out but mostly devastated that I feel so alone and empty even around the ones that I love so much.

Right now I am battling a horrible case of Influenza A H1N1 coupled with a nasty rhinovirus. When we were driving into the ER last night I saw my life slowly spiraling away. My lungs tightening up and the wheezing growing so loud it almost drowned out the pounding of my rapidly beating heart. I panicked, gripping the seat belt... trying to will myself to breathe. "Just breathe. You are okay. Just breathe, Andi" I said out loud. I pictured myself collapsing and being intubated in the waiting room of the ER, ending up on a ventilator for weeks. Oddly enough, being in the hospital was incredibly comforting, heading home afterwards was again horrifying. During discharge my heart rate shot up to the 120's and they had to double check that I didn't need more fluid before leaving. The anxiety is slowly taking over and it is debilitating and depressing. 

The saddest part about struggling with prenatal depression is this tension between the life that is forming inside of you and the deep despair you feel about the whole process.  I have never loved anyone or anything so much in my entire life. The moment I knew this life was growing inside of me was a moment I will never forget. It was euphoric and terrifying and life changing. There are moments where I feel those flutters and I can't help but think that I am the luckiest woman in the world to have my son moving inside of me. To be his mother. To love that deeply... seeing those little hands waving across the screen and little feet curled up so small and yet so defined. To hear that quick heartbeat so loud and so strong, growing every day. It brings tears to my eyes... good tears. Tears of deep gratitude and awe, filled with a desire to be better than I have ever been... all for this sweet baby boy who is already redefining my entire existence. Yesterday, in the hospital I was telling Chris how scared I was that our little boy would be harmed by my virus. He told me, "He is in the eye of the storm, babe. He is just fine." What truth. Sure enough, there he was on the ultrasound swimmin' around like a champ. His heart rate truckin' along at his usual 150 beats a minute. He is my peace. My joy in all of this. My eye in the midst of the storm. My sweet Bentley.

I find myself crying out in prayer every day... begging God to make me worthy of this responsibility... of this gift. Praying that I would be enough for my child. That I could give him everything and love him in all the ways he deserves. To be strong enough to overcome my own crap and to believe in myself enough... to trust that in the midst of my mess I could be a good mom... the best mom for my precious boy.

I wish someone had told me that being pregnant isn't always joyous and wonderful and filled with that glittery glow I expected to have. Maybe they did... but I didn't hear it or understand it the way that I do now. People say rude things and your body is unkind to you and yet that same body is miraculously creating another human being all in one breath. Everything is foreign and feels scarily out of control. Pregnancy is hard. Motherhood is hard... even at this stage it is so challenging. I know I will be okay... but I really wish I was better prepared for this... that this is what making a baby turns out to be for some.

Miraculous. Frightening. Life-changing. Sad. Hard. Undoubtedly worth it... but still so very hard.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

To my sweet June Bug.

We recently discovered the most wonderful news about our munchkin. Come June 2014, we will be welcoming a sweet baby boy into the Heggem household!

He waves hello to you all!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and holiday season!
Here is to a healthy, hopeful, joyous, and safe New Year.
Happy 2014 Friends!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Life Lately

I think I am allergic to my Christmas tree. Either that or I have a yucky on the verge of becoming a horrible cold that just refuses to go away. Seriously... my nose is raw from blowing it so much. It's 1:30am right now and my husband is happily talking in his sleep while I've been desperately hoping my benadryl will kick in so I can go back to bed. On a happy note my tree is real for the first time in years and it smells wonderful and looks so happy! I even got to decorate my very own Starbucks ornament this year! My whole tree is covered with the many Starbucks ornaments I have collected over the years. Literally, I have enough to cover almost my whole tree.

This month has been interesting. Right now I am in my 15th week of pregnancy (yay for the second trimester!) and I am starting to feel huge already. It hasn't helped that people have literally told me that very thing, "You're huge! You aren't that far along. By the end you're gonna be huge!" No joke someone said that to me on Thanksgiving.     >__<     I don't know what it is about being pregnant but seriously everyone seems to think that you are like an open door to being touched or commented on... appropriate or not people will give you their opinion freely and most of the time it is with very little tact... if any at all.

This was me on Thanksgiving. Baby is definitely popping out and I guess considering that I'm barely 5'1" I don't really have anywhere to grow but out. Last week we got to do our nuchal translucency ultrasound which was so fun. Baby was probably sleeping because he/she wouldn't stretch out for us or move... except for one time when the tech was really pressing on my belly so baby got annoyed and turned his/her back to us. The fun thing was that we got a great wave during that moment. 

How cute is that?! Seriously I'm obsessed with my little June bug already. Sometimes when I stop and think about it I am in awe. I have a HUMAN growing inside of me. I'm a real life babushka doll!

The past two weeks or so have been nice because the morning sickness and throwing up has subsided. At this point I'm only puking a few times a week.... I'll take it... as compared to throwing up literally multiple times a day, every day. Also for a while I had to be on a liquid diet because all I could tolerate were foods like soup, yogurt, jello, pudding.... seriously if I never have to eat another pudding snack in my lifetime I'll be fine. 

What else? Work... oh yeah, work. Hmm a lot to say on that front but also not the energy to say it. I also feel like work needs its own post... or many. Either way I'm on vacation until Monday so I'm trying to not think about it and just enjoy the time off I have. Getting ready for Christmas is always an endeavor in this family. I spent the entire day wrapping presents yesterday!

Happy Holidays friends! I hope you are all well and joyful this season. :)