Tuesday, May 22, 2012

35 years, 35 weeks & 3.2 miles





On May 8th I turned 35 years old, the same week I hit the 35 week mark in my pregnancy. And though I'm now officially of "advanced maternal age", I feel better than I did when I was 35 weeks pregnant with Charlie four years ago. I'm not sure where the credit falls, maybe I just finally know who I am and am comfortable in my own skin. (as long as the varicose veins disappear after delivery!) That or perhaps the combination of running & yoga have made the weight gain a little more tolerable this pregnancy. I've vented about it to those I'm closest to, but as I near 37 weeks this Thursday I'm starting to realize I haven't done too badly this last time around.

The Geist 5K did a lot to reassure me that I haven't lost my drive to push myself & work up a good sweat. While I was a little teary watching my mom, aunt & cousin cross the start line for the half-marathon that morning, wishing I could go with them... in the end I was glad to only be doing 3.2 miles. I power walked my heart out & maintained a 14 minute mile, of which I'm pretty darn proud. When I run I can usually pull a 9-10 min mile, but this wasn't a running event for me. At least that's what my body kept trying to remind me. If you've ever run, or ever lost yourself in a challenging workout b/c the music on your iPod was so motivating & so good, you know what I mean. There are quite a few songs on my running mix that make me want to tap into every ounce of energy I have & open up on the race course. Mentally I was there on Saturday, but each time I tried to even jog my body reminded me that there were limits on this particular race day. I jogged a few times when the course took a downhill turn, but thankfully common sense won the day & I didn't put myself into labor at the finish line.




And now, after all is said & done, I'm going to give my body a break. I'll continue to walk until this sweet little girl arrives, but nothing intense. I have plenty of time & plenty of future race training ahead of me... but I will only be 9 months pregnant one last time.

Monday, April 9, 2012

An update

Today we got some great news!

After a third ultrasound, measuring what felt like every tiny centimeter of the baby's brain, head, heart & body... my doctor told me the cysts are completely gone! Our little girl is thriving, growing & definitely stretching her strong little legs. She currently weighs an estimated 2 lbs & 9 oz. and is right on track for her due date.

And even though I seem to get kicked in the ribs on a daily basis, it still brings tears to my eyes to hear her fast little heartbeat. I exhale & absorb every little beat, so thankful it's hard to fully put into words.

You would think by your third pregnancy you wouldn't worry, but you do. You know more, you've heard more & sadly you've probably had more friends & family members with losses than you did with that first baby. Each one, it seems, comes with it's own little package of concerns. But to have the biggest one erased today takes the weight of the world off of my shoulders. I'm seasoned now; I can handle sleepless nights, ear infections, acid reflux... whatever this little one dishes out. To tackle the known is easy; to consider the unknown is paralyzing. Thankfully that big unknown is gone.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Choroid plexus cysts

Two weeks ago we learned we were expecting a daughter in June. We had hoped the earlier glimpse of her at 14 weeks was correct & it turns out it was! There is definitely a beautiful little baby girl growing inside me.



But this wonderful news was clouded a bit by the discovery of two cysts growing in her brain. They are called choroid plexus cysts, typically harmless growths that eventually go away by week 28 of the pregnancy. The only reason for concern is that these cysts can sometimes be linked to a rare & serious genetic disorder called trisomy 18. Much like trisomy 21, or Downs Syndrome, trisomy 18 is when 3 chromosomes appear for #18 rather than the typical pair you would normally find. However, trisomy 18 is more severe than DS and often results in the loss of the pregnancy or stillbirth. It stunts growth, movement & causes a deformed heart.

Since I am considered "advanced maternal age", I'll be 35 when she's born, I was in the Maternal Fetal Medicine office at IU North. The staff is fantastic & were very nice during my previous scan, so when given the choice, I decided to go back to their office. This also gave us the advantage of having a high-risk obstetrician come into the u/s room & look at the baby herself.

The doctor assured us that we had "no reason to worry". But you do worry. You worry that your child might face something that you can't fix for her. Something that you didn't cause, but feel guilty over nonetheless. You start to second guess everything you put in your mouth that might affect the baby. I began to question my vitamins, my diet, the zofran I've been taking to help with vomiting & nausea... all of it. But the truth is, for a lot of babies this is a normal part of development. And thanks (or no thanks) to advanced technology we can now see these "parts" whether they be good or bad, reassuring or scary as hell.

On the way home from the ultrasound that day I convinced myself that everything was fine. Our baby did not have trisomy 18 and we didn't need to worry anyone around us either. I told Andy over & over that this is just the first of many heart attacks his daughter will give him. And of course when we got home I sat down in front of the computer & googled the ever living daylights out of these cysts to prove to myself that I was right. And you know, for once looking something medical up online actually calmed my fears. I read story after story affirming what Dr. Anita had told us. Friends told me their stories of the same ordeal, all with happy endings. We really were right in believing this would all be okay.

And for the next two weeks I was fine. Absolutely fine.

Every kick reassured me. Every hiccup proved to me this was a normal, healthy child.

But on Tuesday, the day before my regular check up with my obstetrician, I read a story online about Rick Santorum's daughter who has trisomy 18. I had thoroughly researched choroid plexus cysts, but I had never googled trisomy 18. Seeing her picture & hearing that she was 3 yrs old intrigued me. (my limited knowledge of the disability was that babies who did survive the pregnancy rarely lived more than a few weeks.) So I googled it. And all of the fear about our baby, all of the worry, all of the "what-ifs" came surging back to the surface.

I didn't sleep well that night & Wednesday morning I was a ball of nerves. I was worried my doctor would have a different opinion than the specialist. I was worried she'd call for more tests, something she only does when she is concerned. (she's not much of an alarmist) I took the boys to school & was anxious to get to my appointment.

It's really by chance that I decided to pop back into the gym for morning announcements after taking Charlie downstairs to the preschool. It happened to be the morning the whole school prayed the Rosary as part of Catholic Schools Week. If you've every prayed the Rosary, you know how often you say the Hail Mary. As I stood in the gym & repeated this prayer, through each decade of the Rosary, I found myself focusing on the phrase "and the fruit of thy womb Jesus". It hits me that we're praying to a mother. With each Hail Mary I began praying for the fruit of my womb, focusing on the cysts in her brain & visualizing them shrinking. I know medically that these cysts will very likely go away. But I also believe that prayer, deep thoughtful whole-hearted prayer, can help too. I left school that day a little teary eyed, feeling that God had put me in the right place at the right time... to pray for this very big thing I'm asking from him. To protect our little girl. To deliver her to us safely & to make those cysts go away.

My appointment an hour later ended up going very well. My doctor told me how unlikely it is that our daughter has trisomy 18. She talked about what other big issues there would have been during the ultrasound & how if our child faced this disorder, the cysts would actually be the most harmless of those signs. My doctor is also my neighbor, so I benefit from knowing her outside the office, making it easy to trust in her.

As luck would have it, I talked to my friend Lis later that afternoon. She was the person who put this whole ordeal into terms I can absolutely relate to. Lis reminded me that a windy day doesn't mean you're preparing for a hurricane. Most of the time it's just wind. She's absolutely right, making me thankful there isn't a huge storm on the horizon.

I think after these past few weeks I'll give my Google search bar a rest.

Friday, January 27, 2012

January Jinx

Our family has been jinxed this month. It didn't waste time starting either, beginning New Year's Day when Andy's Saab blew an engine spring during a quick trip to the grocery store. This began a succession of electronic & automotive failures. Our printer broke, our new garage door stopped working, our computer crashed, the van started making a horrible moaning sound every time you tried to turn the wheel, I was pushed off the road by a dump truck speeding around a corner causing an emergency trip to the local mechanic, a second engine issue followed by a flat tire on the Saab... etc. The list goes on, but you get the idea.

It seems as though we've been in a stretch of getting one thing fixed only to have another thing go that very day. It's easy to stay positive in the beginning & laugh it off as bad luck... but by the 3rd week or so of such events, the glass definitely seemed half empty.

Andy's car was probably the most concerning issue. Since Saab filed for bankruptcy last month, all of their assets have been frozen, i.e. parts. The first issue of the engine spring was fixed due to scrap pieces available. But the second issue, a vacuum hose, left our mechanic's hands tied. He's a friend of the family & urged us to get something newer. Something safe. Andy's job requires he be in places like Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Charleston, Dayton, etc. possibly all in the same week. So having him drive a car that was questionable at best in terms of safety was not a good solution. Thankfully we've spent the past few years paying off the debt we created while working in television. This made getting a loan easy & quick. Probably the first time that's happened for us. (okay, so perhaps the entire month wasn't a jinx.)



We are now an all Honda family. Andy is in a safe, very nice car & I no longer wait for his call saying he's stranded somewhere in Pennsylvania.

So all of these issues, these everyday things that just kept breaking, seemed big.

But then something amazing happened. Way more amazing than getting a car loan.

We met our daughter.


Hearing her heartbeat, watching her yawn & seeing her move made all the crap that had been weighing us down seem like nothing. Through all of that stress & "figuring out" each broken thing, this little one was doing what life does best... continuing to move forward. With each kick she reminds me to keep things in perspective.

Funny how someone who is barely 21 weeks old in the womb can teach adults what's truly important. Thanks little one.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tears & wet dog food



It sneaks up on you. The passage of time.
This week I've come to realize two major things happening in my life: my oldest child will now be in school full-time... until he's 18 & my dog is getting old.

Everyone asked me if Jackson starting kindergarten bothered me or made me sad. And for most of the summer it didn't at all. It was simply the start of a new school year, a new routine. I love the structure the school year gives us. I love hearing their stories of what they learned or did on the playground with their friends. I love the family socials, the pumpkin carving, the field trips. School, in general, has always been fun for me & I love that it seems to be turning out the same way for our kids. So no... the start of kindergarten never really hit me.

Until yesterday.

I got a little misty dropping Jackson off for school. Walking to the car it started to hit me that this was no longer preschool. It was no longer an extended day of play mixed with lessons. This is the start of elementary school. This leads to middle school... to high school... to college. Oh My God! My baby will be in college! See how it snowballs?

Still, after drop off it hadn't fully registered with me. Mostly because I was excited to spend the day with Charlie & Andy. And it was Friday. Hard to be sad on a Friday.

It wasn't until I was at Petsmart of all places that the tears started to build. I was shopping for soft dog food for Hersh... who is suddenly aging at an alarming rate. I was by myself, which is usually when the thoughts swirling in my head finally have time to register. Browsing the various cans of food, a display of dog "manuals" caught my eye. I grabbed the one for Labrador Retrievers & started flipping through it. I went right to the 7+ years section & started reading about the signs of aging & how to help ease arthritis. Then I saw it: life expectancy. 10-12 years is the max they give for these beautiful dogs. Hersh is 11 1/2.


And THAT'S when it all hits me. In the middle of the dog food aisle.

The tears start rolling down my face before I even have time to react.

My oldest started kindergarten. My youngest is starting preschool. My dog is ancient & probably dying. Where did all that time go?

I stifle the tears enough to check out, but I'm sure the guy at the register thought I was a little too emotional over canned dog food. Still, he smiled and asked if I wanted to donate to needy pets. Yes, anything. Just get me back to my car so I can have this moment.

I came home to a 5-year old who loves school & a dog who wags at the sound of my voice. He can barely see me, but he can hear & smell me. And that's enough to fill my heart.

I'll take it & cherish this time before it slips away as quickly as time tends to do.

Friday, May 6, 2011

status update

Since so many people have asked for the back story to my status update on Thursday, I thought a blog post would be the easiest way to share it.

posted yesterday on FB...

"Aly Vanek Schroeder has a new hero. To the woman who confronted the man at the post office who was verbally abusing his fiancee in front of all of us... Good for you for speaking up! I'm not sure my telling him "you're an ass" was much help... but it's good to know people like you are willing to say the right thing in a most uncomfortable situation!"


So yesterday I was addressing our mother's day cards at a little table inside the Broad Ripple post office when the guy next to me starts talking louder & louder to the woman with him.
Then the following happened:



Guy: (white guy in sweats, messy hair) just shut the f*** up, allright? You don’t know what you’re doing.


No response from girl he’s talking to. (very pretty, skinny girl with dark hair)


Guy: you’re an idiot, you know that? A f***ing idiot.


Hero: (business woman dressed to the nines) you know, you could be a little more respectful.


Guy: and you could mind your own gd business


Hero: you made it my business when you raised your voice in public.


Guy: it’s not your business. You don’t know me or know what the f*** you’re talking about. So again

lady, mind your gd business.


Hero: Listen, I don’t care who you are, you don’t speak to a woman that way. Ever.


Guy: you don’t know me. We’ve been together 10 years. She’s my fiancĂ©. I can speak to her however I want.


Hero: (now raising her voice) I have been married for 20 years and my husband has NEVER raised his voice to me. (now looking at me) you’re married. Does YOUR husband talk to you like that?


Me: Not once.


Guy: oh so now you have an opinion?


Me: you’re an ass.


Hero: (now talking to fiancĂ©) Someone needs to tell you honey that you don’t need to marry this guy. No one should ever treat you that way, especially your husband. There are better men out there. Please, please go find one.


Guy: (to hero) What are you a born again Christian? (not sure where he got this or why he felt it was an insult to the hero) Everyone should just be nice all the gd time? Mind your f***ing business and get the h*** out of my way.


Hero: I'm a decent person who can't stand by while you talk to her that way. You'd better rethink the way you're acting or she's going to wise up and leave your sorry ass.


The hero then goes to the desk & mails her stuff. As she’s doing it, the guy gets in line behind her, followed by me in line behind him. Our hero turns to walk past the line to leave and smiles at me.


In that moment I had so many different things I wanted to say to her.



“my God you’re brave!”

“The world needs more people like you”

“you may have just changed that girl’s future”

“you are amazing”


But all that comes out is “good for you. Good for you!”


We share a smile and a nod… and then she walks out of the post office.


The guy & the girl leave next. He gives me a shitty look and I am certain the tires on my van will be slashed when I get to the parking lot.


I make my way to the desk & recap the story with a now very excited clerk.

I leave feeling sad for the girl & proud of the hero... wishing I had her moxy.




Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fourth time's a charm...


I woke up craving oatmeal this morning. Something about a chilly, snowy morning made it sound even better today.

After serving the boys their requested breakfast of cereal, I started boiling the water for my oats.

Cue Charlie.
"mommy I have to go poo-poo!"

We race to the bathroom where we sit for about 10 minutes waiting for said poo-poo to arrive.

Nothing.

Suddenly I remember my water on the stove, now totally evaporated leaving behind an overcooked saucepan.

Second attempt.

My oatmeal is almost done when Charlie asks what I'm making. I tell him & he decides he'd rather have that for breakfast. So I scoop out the delicious smelling oatmeal, stir in some brown sugar & give it to Cha.

Third attempt.

Again, oatmeal is almost done. I add a little brown sugar & a bit of cinnamon when Jack notices Charlie's new breakfast item. Jack decides he would like oatmeal too. I once again scoop out the yummy oats & serve them to Jack.

Fourth attempt. (Even if I only mildly wanted oatmeal when this all started, I'm really craving it now!)

Water boils. Oats cook. so far so good...
I stir in brown sugar, cranberries & almonds.
I finally sit down to enjoy my breakfast, half looking over my shoulder for someone ready to take it away. By that time my kids were bored with the idea of oatmeal & had moved onto playing trains.

peace. quiet. oatmeal.

delicious oatmeal, I might add.

Now some of you may think I should have just started a bigger batch from the start.
Murphy's law of parenting: the most delicious food to a child is that which you are cooking for yourself.