Thursday, November 1, 2012

Doctors, Midwives and Doulas, Oh My!

So if you have a doctor and you love them, congratulations! You have one less headache to worry about. But if you haven’t made your selection yet for who’s going to, you know, deliver the baby… Get on that train and make a decision ASAP. You’re going to want to have a feel for this person who’s going to be a familiar face in a medically sterile environment. Did I mention they’ll also be up close and personal in your privates any day now?
I know this is weird, but I didn’t know where to start…. so I looked on Yelp for a doctor. Call me crazy, but every woman I knew who had a doctor was either a high paid attorney (who didn’t mind dropping several grand on a new purse) or my blessed family who haven’t seen a maternity doctor in, well, years.  I wanted to see what others had to say about the top rated OB/GYN’s  in my area. I found several and one in particular who worked at Swedish Medical Center, the hospital that delivers more babies than any other in my state. She had top marks from everyone and I mean everyone. That’s a rare feat in Yelp. When EVERYONE thinks you’re the bees knees, it’s probably because you are. Unfortunately with my estimated due date, they didn’t want to over schedule her so I made my number two selection and set up an appointment.
This doctor was fabulous. She was so kind, and sincere. She answered all of my questions and made me feel right at home. Of course my husband was a little unprepared for a vaginal and breast exam that happened right there in the little room. He found himself a little horrified at the vaginal exam (they do open you up with steal tongs) and justifying the breast exam because she was pretty and that made it ok for a doctor to touch me like that (I laughed the whole way home). But in general we really loved our doctor. She was a little pricey and we had this moment where we weren’t sure if we could afford to keep her so we looked at other options.
My sister was the one who turned me onto midwives. She had both of her kids before she and I were sisters (marriage is a fabulous thing). She was young enough to not know there were options beyond a sterile room and a doctor. What is a birthing center? Well she told me. It’s just like a regular doctors office, but it costs a little less and if you so choose some midwives will even deliver in the comfort of your own home. So I looked at that very same Swedish Medical Center had a Midwifery clinic in their ever so much more chill Ballard Hospital. Win.
But I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I mean, switching from a Doctor to a midwife is a big deal. And I really, really liked my doctor.
Then the standardized testing started.
What the Halo?!
I understand there are some basic questions that you will be asked when getting to know your doctor so that they can also get to know your medical history to give you the best possible care available based on your personal biology. When was the first day of your last period? Have you ever used elicit drugs? Do you look both ways when crossing the road….?
But some of the tests are rather scary and can really put things in perspective for you. Some of these tests are there for standard medical preparation. Others are there for the comfort of the family, i.e. if you want to have as close to a perfect baby and ONLY if it’s a perfect baby, there’s a test for that. The only problem is that if you’re uncomfortable with the tests in any way, the pressure to take them can make pregnancy a burden and not the joyous time it’s supposed to be.
As I mentioned in my blog about perfect children, the choice is up to you. I still don’t entirely know what a doula is, but I’m betting you have a new age friend who can explain it to you better than I can with a Google search. Suffice it to say we chose a Midwife and haven’t looked back. They have been wonderful at Swedish Midwifery and Women’s Health.
When I compare the two, I liked my doctor, but I love my midwives (yes plural, there’s a team of them!) and I’m glad that I live in an age when choice is the staple of our time.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The All Seeing Cupcake

If you’re a first time parent with less than “traditional” parents yourself, you probably are asking a lot of questions. And you should. Lord knows I didn’t know ½ of the stuff I know now when I started. In fact when I first found out I was pregnant, I was pretty excited… about the idea of pregnancy and childbirth. I had no idea what that meant.
Among the doctors appointments, medical treatments and steps to get your body prepared to grow a parestite- er baby…. (I know mama, you hate that joke).. there’s a lot of other things to think about to. Like do we find out if it’s a boy or a girl? When and where do you ask for help preparing for things? Is is ok to register for gifts? Do I have to have a baby shower or can I just pop the kid out and call it good? I make light, but these are actually all vital steps in your mental preparation for baby.
Number one, thinking about what type of toys you want for baby can be a big statement about what kind of parent you’re hoping to be. What kind of diapers (my faves are Honest), bottles, strollers… Each of these things are essential to cultivating a young body and mind into a young person- and with any luck a responsible adult with enough humility to not brag about how awesome they are, but rather what a rad parent you were (hey, one can dream right?). So aside from knowing I was going to have a baby shower,  the next question and more immediate one that I get asked is “Do you know if it’s a boy or girl yet?”
For some, this is so they can buy pink or blue. For others, this is so they can relate to you about their experience. For me, it was just a confirmation of if we went more Pirate or more fairy with our Neverland theme.
My mother in law is the goddess of parties. We have not yet had to have an unspoken rivalry about who throws a better party, mostly because I enjoy going to hers. She also knows more about female tradition and trends than I could ever imagine. When she first told me about a baby reveal, I pictured a baby on a silver platter with a “voila!” moment. That apparently is just my active imagination.
Baby Reveal parties are the latest trend that allow expecting parents to celebrate their new bundle of joy with a party of their closest friends and family. Some people choose to have a box filled with colored balloons, pink for girl and blue for boy, others use cupcakes where the couple is the first to bite into a specialty order. I’ve since heard of specialty cocktails which I’ve decided is a really big tease and therefore NOT an option. We went with cupcakes from Seattle favorite, Cupcake Royale.
Now the Neal’s are an Irish clan. We tend to be the black sheep of the family, rarely to do things in a straight line, we opted for a party at our absolute favorite Irish Pub, the Owl n’ Thistle. Baby was after all expected to arrive on March 17th. You don’t get more officially Irish than being born on St. Patrick’s day. So continuing to celebrate our Irish roots, we also chose Irish flag cupcakes and Green for boy and Orange for girl. My husband wore his kilt and I wore a green sweater over an orange tank with the Blackwatch Tartan (because I’m the Scottish kid in the group) wrapped over my jeans.
The Neal’s are a masculine clan. I don’t know the specifics of other Neal’s, O’Neils and any other version of the name, but the Neal’s I married into have boys. I the last 14 babies and three generations starting at Grandpa Neal (not counting a divorce and remarry to a non-Neal) there was exactly one girl. One girl in over 50 years. So the deck favored another boy.
That was my bet. That was the bet of all of the cousins. That was the bet of our little nephew, my sister in law and Mama Neal. My husband had said from the moment he met me his first child would be a girl. Twin girls, to be exact. I laughed and told him to place an order with God, see how that worked out for him. Having known him now for 4 years, I’ve watched him in the face of extraordinary odds make predictions like this before- and come out right. So my faith in the Neal history was a little shaky. But he had been wrong about the twins part, so maybe he wasn’t as infallible as I thought.
Bets were laid. We designed a game based on a similar game done with champagne, blueberries and raspberries. We’re Irish, this family doesn’t do champagne, they do whiskey or ale. We asked the kitchen to give us a small side of Lemons and Limes so we could at least stick with our theme and people could declare their bet on the rim of their preferred beverage. hubby had his whiskey, I had a cranberry sprite. Le sigh.
Now Collin had cheated. After receiving some very disheartening news not three days prior he had needed a confidence booster and peeked at the little card before he took it to the bakery. So he remained silent and took a slice of each fruit. And we waited for the allotted time.
Thanks to modern technology, we were able to connect with family from far away via Google Hangouts (we take a good 20 minutes to get to the reveal, but you get the idea). My mom, my dad and stepfather connected with us from Rosalia, WA and Los Angeles, CA. My step-brother couldn’t get it to work in Chicago and my best friend couldn’t figure it out in NY but that’s alright, we posted it on YouTube on accident and decided to leave it there for them. The time had come.
We put the lap top at the far end of the table. All our friends and family that could come gathered round, cupcakes were passed out and we dramatically waited, people holding their glasses out with their predictions on the rims. I bit into my cup cake. I forgot to remove the wrapper. I looked for the filling and couldn’t see it. Then I looked again, that wasn’t Irish frosting, that was orange filling.
We have a little girl.
A beautiful, strong, fiery Irish girl ready to make her debut this coming March and I can’t wait!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Perfect Children Pt. 2

October was kind of an exciting month. We had made official announcements that we were having a baby, the first for my side and the second for my husbands if we don’t count cousins (which there are a lot of them).  October 17th was our routine exam that was to be proceeded by a standard 21 point ultrasound.  Everything was going swimmingly. Baby kicked, baby stretched, baby let us watch them fold in half and do a hand stand.  In general, baby was healthy as a horse.
But not quite. We had just been told that baby might have a cleft. We had a million questions and dark cloud had settled over our heads. We went to our follow up with doctor that very same day. 
Now, there are a list of tests that are “optional” for expecting parents designed to allow you a leg up on preparation. Some people want the whole shebang, every test available. Others would rather leave it up to God or fate or whatever they believe in, and only do medically necessary testing. For myself, I’m somewhere in between. I’d truthfully never thought about it because like many women my age, babies make us smile but we’d never considered all the things required of us to make one.
So, while the doctor had mentioned them in passing at our initial consult and handed us a stack of information packets that I sort of glanced at, we now were being pressured into tests that we had really been uninterested in before. The thing that was confusing us was that they would reassure us that there was literally nothing we could have done differently to change the outcome of a cleft. There was no history of it in either of our families.  I wasn’t drinking or smoking and we were both relatively healthy individuals. Nothing was abnormal for the first 5 weeks of pregnancy so the chances of anything environmental that had caused this we small. In fact they really don’t know what exactly causes clefts aside from lifestyle and medical history. This time, it was just chance.
Despite all that, the abject warnings about potential chromosomal abnormalities suddenly skyrocketed. Words like “down’s syndrome” and “sickle cell anemia” were tossed around like a hot potato.  Amniocentesis was optioned and pushed for as a way to determine if the baby would have any of this. These heartbreaking concepts are pushed because “we want to make sure that you have the best medical care available.” The problem with this is that these tests are very expensive and can be very inaccurate. Even under ideal circumstances they’ve had test come back clean as a whistle only to have babies born with very serious issues. So it’s a crap shoot and you’re out the money either way.
Then the real question was… well it was eluded to, without being stated. Do you want to keep this baby or not? Because that’s what it boils down to at the end of the day. If the test is negative would you keep this child?
I have always fancied myself a pro-choice individual. I’ve always consider it my body my choice, and I still do. But suddenly I faced a very real question for my own heart and soul. My husband and I are responsible adults on most days. We chose to have sex, we chose to not use any contraception. And despite all the environmental reasons in the world to have not conceived when we did… we did. Was that also chance? Would I, could I free us of a burden simply because the baby might not be “perfect” in the eyes of the world? I’d never been faced with such a question before. And it disgusted me that it was a question I had been forced to ask myself.
The more times the amniocentesis was pushed, the more I felt like that was what modern science was saying to me. If you take this test, you can get rid of it, if you don’t your stuck.
I fucking hated that thought.
I hate that it made me hate pregnancy and question every fiber of my soul because I suddenly didn’t know who I was any more. Who was this doctor to suggest that imperfection was not beautiful?
By the time we left my husband and I felt lost. But I had made up my mind. No test, in all the world, would change my mind. This child was mine, my blessing and my responsibility. So fuck your test and let me have my baby in peace.
I promptly found a new doctor.
The moral of this story is not yet over, as it is not yet written. But what I do know is that all children are beautiful in the eyes of their creator. I understand some of you may not believe that, but they are. This child, my child, will not only live, but will be as sassy as mommy, as strong as daddy and look at this world in absolute wonder. 

Prefect Children Pt. 1

This may come as a shock to some but I’m a Christian. I know, mind blowing isn’t it? I can still be in shows like HAIR and work on a horror film folks. Still the same me, just with a little faith in something greater than myself.  I am a liberal leaning Christian and my husband tends towards a more conservative Christian. So sometimes we don’t always agree on the fundamentals. We’ve had those fabulously heated arguments about the basics but because we love one another and can’t imagine a world where the other isn’t part of it, we always come to terms with our disagreement and try to see it from both sides, with mostly success.
Then along comes baby. And everything you thought you believed with every fiber of your soul is challenged. For starters, there’s a lot of things you don’t know and a lot of answers you’re expected to give without ever having known there was a question to begin with. It can be as confusing as it is overwhelming.
I feel a bit like they were making up for the first 3 months I was on set of my husbands first feature and there were all kinds of tests. Blood tests, urine tests, ultrasounds, more blood tests and on occasion a written exam… I’m kidding. Or am I?
These are a monthly part of the ritual now. Once a month you check in to make sure mama and baby are developing on target, because despite our differences there are some consistencies about every pregnancy that must be met. So October 17th I went back in for my monthly check up (I swear I’ve spent more time at the doctor in 4 months than in 6
years) preceded by a 21 point ultrasound, whatever that means.
It was the first time I really felt pregnant. This wasn’t just a little floating blob that may or may not be a fetus, but a living breathing (metaphorically) being inside of me. While the movement I felt left me feeling more gassy than anything at 18 weeks, I could really see baby for the first time. How baby loved to fully stretch out their legs from one side to the other.
Baby was sassy as could be, mouthing at us and not letting us get a clear shot of their face but distinctive poses to see a very healthy spine, legs, arms, fingers and toes. Not to mention a very strong heart.
We had already decided we wanted to know the sex of the baby, but we also wanted to make that a special moment at a reveal party, my mother-in-law’s suggestion that I loved.
So they put the information in a pretty little envelope, sealed, and then went to get the doctor.
Now this isn’t our normal doctor, it’s the doctor assigned to the unit for radiology and ultrasounds. Never met him before, he’ll never see us again. He doesn’t do more than introduce himself blithely and dive right in.
“Well your baby is healthy, but looks like they will have a bilateral cleft lip.”
Do you know what it’s like when blood freezes? It’s painful. You can’t breathe. Your whole body aches and ever muscle in your body tenses as if you’re lifting Atlas’ burden.
“Excuse me, what do you mean?” The doctor proceeds to explain that there is bulbous tissue around her mouth that is typically indicative of a cleft lip and or pallet. That it’s too early to know anything for sure but that the amount of tissue around her lips makes him suspect a bilateral cleft lip.
He asks a few personal questions about health habits of me. Do you smoke? No. Do you drink? Not since I found out. Is there a history of cleft or other birth defects in your family? No.
Well, then it’s just bad luck.
“Excuse me? Bad luck? My baby is not bad luck, you egotistical asshole! My baby is a blessing. You are the only bad luck that’s entered my life and your bedside manner is shit!” Never mind that this was inside my head and not what I voiced. I was trying too hard not to cry. I looked at my husband and he was in exactly the same place I was- ready to strangle the doctor, fighting tears.
We took our pretty little envelope with our card that revealed if baby was a boy or girl with us and somberly got back in the car. We hardly spoke.
Clefts, we had been told, were incredibly treatable and incredibly common. They are much more common among boys. That 1 in 700 children born will have it. But neither of us knew enough about them to have the slightest idea about what to do next.
So here we are, at a dark place. And the challenges to our faith and trust in God and each other were just barely about to begin.
To be Continued....

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

OMG.... Am I Really?

The multitude of things expecting mothers are never told confounds the brain. It could just be that the experience for each pregnancy is distinctly different (true to a certain extent). You would think that after the centuries of having babies someone would have mentioned a heads up to her expecting sisters.
Don’t get me wrong, my mother and my mother in-law have been quick to offer advice when solicited. But in general, some of their solutions aren’t forthcoming unless I produce a new issue. Therefore, I’ve determined that I should describe my little nuanced pregnancy in hopes that future moms-in-waiting can glean some helpful tidbits.
To start with, I discovered I was pregnant while on set for my husbands first feature narrative “The Anniversary.”  It was a pleasant little shocker because while we had been sort of trying we weren’t putting much effort into it… Well I should say we weren’t putting any conscience effort into getting pregnant. We were putting lots of physical effort into it. Lots and lots of effort. So when my husband began to suspect I was pregnant, I scoffed it off. “I’m not pregnant, Pshaw!”
About a week into filming, I’d noticed that I was gaining weight without really changing much in way of my diet or exercise. I hadn’t dipped into the liberal amounts of liquor at our cabin- though because I was convinced I wasn’t pregnant I did top off each night with a margarita- nor was I consuming an excess amounts of fats of sweets. My diet was relative to what I always eat. Lots of greens, a source of protein and a hearty morning espresso. Nothing out of the norm. I’d simply put on weight. And my boobs hurt like I’d been punched in them, as well as starting to swell to a size that was threatening to spill out of my perfectly fitted of a bra.
When I started feeling nauseous in the morning, my husband would follow it up with an immediate “You’re preggers” comment which would lead to my flat denial. I couldn’t be pregnant. He had a movie to make, dammit, and I was still recovering from a surgery. Then we decided to treat the crew to a fabulously delicious burger from Cascade Burgers in the heart of Concrete, WA where we were filming. They were the kind of burgers that you salivate for at summer barbeques, coupled with to order specialty milkshakes and a quaint dinner that wouldn’t have been out of place in Pleasantville. They even had options for my vegan and vegetarian! In short, these burgers were damn near perfect, rivaling the specialty of In ‘n Out Burger (which didn’t not agree with my tweet.)
I ate ½ of my burger and promptly returned it.
What. The. F%#k?
Clearly my tummy was upset. But it wasn’t a big deal.  Maybe it was too much grease or something. I’ve always had a sensitive tummy for things other than spice. No. First thing the next morning again, barely a bite of apple and I’d returned it. Since I was in charge of cooking to help save a few pennies on this endeavor you can be sure there were a few raised eyebrows that the cook was running to the bathroom to toss her cookies.
After much deliberation and a Sunday supply run on our day off, we decided to pick up the little pink box and take a test. Turned out we had some news to share. Our cast and crew were the first to learn about it – no it’s not contagious – just in case they were wondering. But then of course there are a thousand questions and not a lot of people around that can answer them. Thank God for the internet. became my new best friend. There was lots of helpful information because I had lots of questions like why wont my nose stop running? And what can’t I eat? This list of “don’t” however is double the size of “do” which I found super discouraging. We still hadn’t told our parents yet because we wanted it to be all of them at the same time… so I can’t ask my mom what to do. Thus my first taste of “figure it out on your own.”
In those first weeks, there’s a lot of that. Everyone seems to have an idea about it but not a lot of those people even have kids. They have friends with kids, sisters with kids, their mom told them once.  Or they’re a dude. Don’t get me wrong, my husband is an EXCELLENT listener that would do anything for me, but he’s still got a penis.  No matter how much he may tell me he’d carry the baby for me if he could… lets just remind ourselves there is a little agreement between God and Nature that says that’s just not happening. Ever.
So here are a few tips for your 1st Trimester
#1 )  Listen to Your Body First, Advisors Second.
Every woman will have similar symptoms, but every woman is different. My step-sister had morning sickness from day one until term. I on the other hand had it for about 3 weeks and figured out how to control it most of the time. I listened and my body said no beef, no pesto, and no bran muffins. Baby and body will tell you rather quickly when you’ve had something you shouldn’t, usually with a not so elegant return to sender demand. It will also cue you in when it’s time to rest. I had overwhelming urges to sleep mid day and if I didn’t I became very weak. Nothing would cure it unless I slept. Your body will tell you what it needs.
#2 )  I’m Pregnant, and That’s Beautiful
Say it with me: “I am pregnant, I am not getting fat.” This was and is one of the hardest things for me to deal with. I’m an actress for goodness sake! We take the whole woman-insecurity about body image to a whole new level. In addition, I didn’t look pregnant. I just looked like I was filling out. You want to tell everyone just in case they were about to accuse you of double dipping your Doritos’s in a cheese sauce that no really, you’re pregnant, and not fat. But make sure you tell yourself that same thing as often as possible. This is your body preparing for the next 9 months so accept that you are beautiful and will be glowing soon enough if you’re not already.
#3 You are NOT  Eating for Two.
This common misconception goes along with #2, because there are some women who embrace this then who throw all restraint to the wind. The unfortunate side effect of that is they gain more weight than they could possibly hope to reverse with one small baby being born. Doctors tend to recommend no more than 400 additional calories a day to your NORMAL eating habits. That’s a piece of whole wheat toast and some peanut butter! So while you’re not getting fat and you absolutely should not be on a diet, make sure that what you are eating is proportionate to your normal meals, and if you’re not already make sure that they are nutrient rich so that you and baby can be as healthy as possible. It’s great to remember this when you’re at work and every secretary in the building wants to bake you cookies. Politely thank them and put them in the break room. You’re not eating for two, you’re eating for you and a little bit extra.
After that, you’ll figure it out. There are a thousand other mommy blogs with advice and a thousand more “authorities” who will offer you the “must haves” and the “yes/no” lists. But if you remember these three basics, the rest will start to fall in line.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness

I am almost always blown away by random acts of kindness. Not that they happen, but by the reaction they achieve. Yesterday was a little rough for me. Not end of the world rough, but it was still high-stress and not the “I feel like I accomplished something” kind of way. I was having a bad day.
I have come to really appreciate the 5 minute break I get to go get my coffee from the Simon’s Naturally café downstairs. I find appreciating the little things can make the bigger things less heavy. So I made my way to the elevator, annoyed that I don’t have the stamina-time-or-patience to climb down the 19 flights. Get to the bottom and realized I didn’t have my awesome reusable cup. So I’m double annoyed that I have to get the disposable one or go back upstairs again. Rar.
I decided to just go, it’s too busy upstairs for me to really make two trips. I got in line and waved hello to the baristas. The man in front of me was waiting to pay as well as to order another item. He was an attorney from the firm, a reviewer for the eDat department. We chatted about what I’ve been up to and how was I liking being in the firm instead of in the café now etc. The cashier rang him in and he stepped aside but turned back.
“I’m paying for whatever she’s getting.” He tells the barista. I was visibly shocked, but I smiled and said thank you. “It’s for all those years of such excellent service. Since they wouldn’t let you have a tip jar, let me buy your coffee.” I really melted.
I thanked him again, and suddenly there was a bounce in my step. The coffee tasted amazing, as Café Vita’s blend usually does. I grinned all the way back to my office. Shared my joy with several people, and continued smiling. It fueled me through the day and allowed me to muscle through an equally grueling afternoon at the dreaded day J.O.B.
I got on the bus to travel home and people were surprisingly polite for a Tuesday. Offering seats up to the elderly without being asked, moving aside for others and *gasp* saying excuse me… and thank you to the driver! A day that could have been overwhelmingly negative and sucked the life-blood of energy out of my potential for the day was saved by a random act of kindness.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Bump in the Road Called Life.

UPDATE: at the bottom of the page 
Even when I do get personal, I tend to leave the mushy stuff out of it. Mostly, because as open and honest as I try to be, somethings are just for me. So I reached a new point this last month as I entered a new chapter of unknown in my life. It’s kind of a scary place and for the first time in my life I asked for prayer on a public forum.
I am so grateful and humbled by all the love and support I’ve been receiving from some of the most unlikely places. The people in my life I knew were there for me through thick and thin brought joy to my heart but there were several that took my breath away, both with you sincerity of concern and your above the call actions to make me feel comfortable. You know who you are and I love you for it.
So now, in case I haven’t been forthcoming of what’s going on with me medically, let me kind of give you an update.  About three weeks ago I noticed a small marble sized lump on my left hip that was painful to the touch and made sitting uncomfortable. After seeing the doctor, she thought it might be a hernia brought on from lifting heavy tables at work, as well as the possibility of a swollen lymph node. I was sent to get an ultrasound to determine if that was indeed what it might be. The exam concluded that I did have  a hernia and a swollen lymph node.  Next I was sent to consult with a surgeon. And with a rough start ala Bobcat Goldthwait answering his phone in the middle of the consult, we got a few questions answered.  His first recommendation was to get a biopsy on the lymph nodes prior to treating the hernia. He was unconcerned with the hernia because its an easy fix and not the cause of my pain. But swollen lymph nodes can be tricky.  And without trying to scare anyone,  the sudden swelling has to be determined to be benign or not. Meaning there is a possibility of Lymphoma,Hodgkin’s or not.
I went in for surgery last week and they performed a left *something I cant pronounce* biopsy.  Basically they sliced open my leg where the hip and leg bend. The surgeon told my husband Collin that it was several clusters of nodes and not just a singular one as they originally suspected, but that he was able to remove all of them and now they are testing what they removed. At our follow up the surgeon explained that they can rule out non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which is the most agressive of the Lymphomas and the more difficult to cure.
The result? … They’re sending it out for more testing and a second opinion at a new lab. The break down is thus. Its either a form of Hodgkin’s or it’s an infection specific to the lymph nodes that could be the result of an auto-immune disorder. Meaning they don’t really know. I’m confusing them because I’m too young and don’t show any symptoms what so ever of either illness. It’s always reassuring when doctors literally throw their hands in the air and shrug their shoulders with a classic “I have no idea.”
 My prayer and Collin’s is that the lymph nodes are benign and that I have something else. The GREAT news is that whatever I have, I am 100% curable so I am optimistic after a rather scary few weeks.
Please pray that this was just one rough month and I can be back up and jumping around in no time.
Love and thank you to all of you.

I got the good news today, I have nothing resembling any kind of Hodgkins or Lymphoma. *happy dance* However, I still have to evaluate what made my lymphatic system flair up like it did. But we’re in the clear as far as Hodgkin’s is concerned.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Only Gift I Have, For Mother's Day

Because I’m a starving artist, I don’t often have the means to treat my family to the wonderful things they deserve. And when holidays like Mother’s Day come up, I don’t know how to give without going even more broke.
This year an opportunity came up to write an essay with the grand prize being a day package to Olympus Day Spa.
Here is the essay I wrote. (ps. I WON! pps: You want to win with the wife/girlfriend Get her a package here)

My mother has always and ever been a fighter, and a lover. A fighter because she has an iron will to accomplish the impossible. A lover, because no amount of hardship or mountains she had to cross would ever dampen her spirit of generosity.
When I was a little girl, I lived in a fantasy world. Most children do, but mine was filled with Tigers, and Elephants and magic. My mother was a dresser for a stage show at the MGM Grand in Reno, NV. I was the stage brat running around under dancers feet and weaving in and out of the catacombs of a theater that was very much a little Neverland.
I never knew how poor we truly were.
I remember one Christmas distinctly. We had a huge roast turkey and all of the trimmings. There were presents under the tree and a fire in the hearth. She took my hand and led me and my younger brother into a homeless shelter where we spend the morning serving others. For me it was a game. And when we came home I won the prize of a wishbone. What I didn’t know that my mother had barely been able to afford the turkey, let alone any presents. We were at the bottom of the bottom for income, surviving on table scraps while she worked full time to support myself and my younger brother. But to us, it was ever an adventure. Rain or shine, she loved life and made sure we did too.
Years later I would finally understand it. How she would go without so that we could have. How she would smile so that we would know that everything was ok. I remember living in a dream world because my mother made it so. She allowed us to be kids. She allowed me to be a young girl who discovered the world on my own terms. She held me when I hurt, taught me when I was wrong, and led me to be the best person I can be.
My mother taught me to be a woman who loves first, questions second and commits to the ones I love with an undying devotion.