Cholestasis and Sciatica

Grateful I qualify for one of these! Invisible illnesses are the worst.


I’ve had sciatica the last few months. Which has been pretty debilitating, and humbling. However, the devil incarnate (Cholestasis aka liver disease) reared its’ ugly head again a few weeks ago. I’d been having symptoms on and off for a few weeks, so it took me a while to get around to notifying my OBGYN. I really hoped I had a food allergy (who hopes for food allergies? Ha) or was just unwell. The intense itching would come for several hours, and then disappear as quickly as it came so I was confused. I also lost my appetite and didn’t feel quite my ‘normal’ self, but put that down to typical third trimester blues, and not sleeping well. It was only when the itching woke me up at night and I thought my hands were on fire, that I knew something was wrong. 

I had blood work last week, which confirmed our suspicions of intrahepatic cholestasis. So yep, I’m classed as high risk again 👍🏾 The funny thing (to me anyway) is that my ALT, AST and Bile acid levels are all way higher than they were during my last pregnancy when I had this issue. Last time I itched like mad 24/7. This time the itch is always constant, but the severity changes depending on how hot or cold I get. Therefore, I guess the intensity/constancy of itchiness and other symptoms does not always correlate to how elevated the levels are in your blood. Weird. Here’s an infographic incase you’re unfamiliar with my condition:

From icp.org

 

 It is what it is. I’m not writing to complain. Just wanted to update everyone, so I can hopefully stop getting teary eyed or abruptly changing the subject when you inquire “how’s pregnancy going?”.   Because honestly, it’s not going great. I wish I were one of those pregnant ladies who ‘glow’, and can still run and play with their kids. Instead, I have limited mobility, I am weary, often in pain, and always itching to some degree. I’m going in for non stress tests and ultrasounds every week. My doctors are wonderful. But the medicine makes me nauseous. Baby is doing well as of today, but will be induced early. They won’t let me go past 37 weeks pregnant. I’m 32 right now. So maybe we’ll have another 4th of July baby, wouldn’t that be funny! ☺️ 

Have a great day everyone! And, if you ever hear a pregnant lady mention that she is itchy on her hands or feet, tell her to tell her doctor and get her liver checked! ICP is rare, but it’s real. Hopefully, the meds stop my bile acid levels rising, and baby stays healthy and cooking till 37 weeks. I really don’t want a NICU baby. Or a stillborn… Oh boy, the mere thought brings more tears to my eyes. Oh, and here’s my belly… I’ve gained 30lbs so far. Way better than the 60 odd pounds I gained last time. 

The Power of Sitting

Life has been teaching me to slow down recently. If you know me at all, you know I’m an avid over achiever. Have 10 push ups to do?  I aim for 11. Got a floor to sweep? I’ll sweep, vacuum and mop. Have a dishwasher to unload? I’ll merrily unload it, start loading it again, and probably clean the entire kitchen… you get the picture. I feel an insane amount of satisfaction that way. Call me crazy… I love getting stuff done.  

Which is why it can be so hard when my body seizes up on me. 

Daily duty #10222: Walking the dog


My sciatica has been back for almost a month. It is crippling if I’m not wearing my hip brace. But thanks to a really helpful brother in law who is an osteopath, and a diligent husband, I am not yet on crutches like I was last time *knock on wood*. My symptoms are that my hips are starting to feel loose, and by 9am everyday (my kids are up at 6), I start having  a really tight soleus and hamstring, and then my glute and back muscles seem to get rock hard, all on my left side. Then if I keep walking around (this is typically about 10am), I start to get sharp shooting pains down my left leg, which can literally take my leg out from under me. So I’m having to sit for long periods of time. Especially if I know I have to be somewhere later, like the store, or church, which will require a lot of walking/standing. And it is depressing for several reasons: 

1. My husband is often away Mon-Thurs for work. So with no one to massage my body, I seize up more, and I often end up being able to do even less.  

2. I hate sitting. 

3. If I leave my phone upstairs, it’s up there for like 6 hours. So responding to texts/calls happens even more infrequently than before.


However, be it known to all of you who may suffer like this one day, that there are some surprising positives to sitting. 

1. You read more books (providing you choose not to sit in front of the television). 

2. You listen to birds, and feel the wind on your face, and play with your children more. 

3. You start to remember there are more important things to do every day than ‘getting stuff done’. 

4. You learn to simply be. Not having your phone constantly by your side is a surprisingly healthy thing. 

There’s a great peace in just being present… plus a peace of being home with my girls. We laugh and sing and tell stories together, all of which we have always done, just we do it all way more than before my body started hurting so often. I have been known to get cabin fever… yeah, like all the time… but this whole hip thing has forced me to get over that. And I’m really humbled by it. Not that my situation is even that bad right now. My hip brace really helps with the feeling loose issue. Plus, some days I just ache and have no shooting pain. I love those days.


Grateful to live in such a beautiful part of the world. Grateful to not be neaseated/on crutches/have liver disease/have nosebleeds/have migraines like my last pregnancy. I am still loving taking classes- the thought of graduating is so scrumptious to me. I really cannot wait to do the whole cap and gown thing. Life is good, friends. There’s always going to be sorrow, pain or heart ache to some degree. But maybe my all time favorite quote, by someone AMAZING called Gordon B. Hinckley goes like this:  


I love that quote. May you all go print it out and stick it on your bathroom mirror! The word ‘cultivate’ is so rich and empowering, don’t you think? The best part of that quote is that it makes the qualities seem attainable. I, for one, have been far less prone to cynicism and sarcasm since meditating on that quote and actively trying to cultivate my attitude regarding my situation. And, I’ve been a far more pleasant wife and mother to be around as a result. 

So here’s to the power of sitting. Long may its’ influence bless my life- even after I deliver this baby and can train for marathons again… (only 17 weeks and 5 days to go… not that I’m counting or anything 😉)


Now, back to analyzing poetry for my English class. Wish me luck! ❤️

Life Update

Incase you didn’t know already, I’m pregnant. Yes. Me. Again. The one who loathes and fears pregnancy, and who once wished that her uterus had come out along with her placenta last time she gave birth… too graphic? Sorry. But I remember seriously telling people that. 

My baby belly!


So far, we have had two pleasant surprises. First, this baby was planned so I knew from day one to expect the nauseous/fatigued days of misery, BUT I haven’t had any of that at all. And two, my OBGYN, who is an angel, is really looking out for me. I’ve been going in almost every two weeks, which is a lot, yet I’ve been so grateful. No signs of life threatening illness/organ failure = Happy Tasha. So yes, besides hip pain, I’m doing surprisingly well.. Our ultrasound is this week by the way.  If baby is in the right position we will find out whether it’s a boy or a girl!

As far as diet goes, mine has changed yet again. I went from low sodium vegan to low sodium vegetarian, with meat or fish one day a week. Crazy thing is, I still haven’t had a migraine. Last migraine was maybe 6 months ago. I do feel sick if I eat processed meat/foods, and salt is still the devil because it makes my brain foggy, and my blood pressure go up.  Over time (over a year now), and much trial and error, I’ve come to learn that my diet affects the severity and frequency of my migraines and insomnia probably 90%. I still strongly endorse a plant based diet/being vegan for anyone who has health issues, but for now I’m a vegetarian. It is what it is. My pregnant body wants to eat eggs nearly everyday so I won’t deprive myself of that. 

I’m also still doing school. Always at night when my little lovelies are asleep. I love it. 

I suppose my last update is that we also got a puppy recently!

She’s not really a puppy. She’s a rescue dog from the shelter and is about 4. I love her because she is house and crate trained already, plus, she is one of the gentlest dogs I’ve ever met. We adore her. Her name is Butterscotch. 

Have a wonderful week, friends. I will try my best to blog again sooner rather than later. 

Finishing Uni

The Once and Future King , by T.H. White captures a fascinating perspective of learning and growing up. I’m sure you’re familiar with Arthur, affectionately known as ‘Wart’. Wart goes to Merlin, a little downhearted, and asks for advice on how to handle the ups and downs of life. Merlin responds “THE BEST THING FOR BEING SAD,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “IS TO LEARN SOMETHING. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then—to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you. Look at what a lot of things there are to learn—pure science, the only purity there is. You can learn astronomy in a lifetime, natural history in three, literature in six. And then after you have exhausted a milliard of lifetimes in biology and medicine and theocriticism and geography and history and economics why, you can then start to make a cartwheel out of the appropriate wood, or spend fifty years learning to begin to learn to beat your adversary at fencing. After that you can start again on mathematics, until it is time to learn to plough.” 

What a wonder the world is! I marvel whenever I take a moment to think about all that is out there to learn and do and know.

I’ve missed blogging. Things of greater import have been taking precedence. Like what? Oh, like unpacking. Like cleaning this new (to us), old, dirty house. Dust and animal hair were everywhere. Literally. Ever found a flurry of white cat hair in the hinges of your oven door before? Nope, me neither.

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Previous owners must’ve had a cat like this- courtesy of Google.com

Anyway, guess what. I have decided to finally finish university. YES. And thus, began taking classes recently. I’m loving every moment. I think that because I am being more disciplined with my time, the blessings of that are trickling down into most every facet of my life. My anxiety attacks have reduced significantly. I’m still able to work out and shower daily. I’ve even been able to paint the house after I finish studying! What a blessing. Tom, whose job is meant to have him home more, is still having him gone most weeks, Mon-Thurs. Which cuts into our time to be able to get projects done. Luckily, he loves his job, so that’s a plus.

I digress. I love that advice Merlin says to Wart. I truly believe that in my own Utopian world, I would be an eternal scholar, taking classes for fun, being surrounded by super smart people so that their genius might eventually rub off on me. That’s the dream! Hopefully, that’s what heaven is like 🙂  I’m grateful to the women around me who recently went back to school, and have been radiant examples to me that I could do it too. I’m grateful for my husband, who loves me ad infinitum, and was thrilled when I told him I wanted to spend X amount of $$ on finishing what I started so long ago. I feel extremely excited and honored. In England you can’t just take a 5 year break and then pick back up where you left off. So, thank you, America. It’s not going to be easy. I am planning on only doing school work once the girls are in bed. So, yes, it might take a while. Oddly enough, I’m not freaking out about it. It’s time you guys.I’m ready. And, when I finally graduate, y’all had better be front and center at my graduation ceremony 🙂

Image result for merlin and wart

 

Beauty In Motherhood

The definition of beauty intrigues me. To some, the word conjures a landscape: maybe a wide boulevard of crisp pollarded trees. To another, perhaps the daybreak. A breach of crimson light, erupting across the horizon. To another, the sound of a beloved voice. The smell of a rose. A spouse’s face. A bite of sweet yams. Beauty, I believe, also flows from acts of kindness and integrity.

As a beautiful moment develops, it can evolve into some sort of exquisite majesty, don’t you think? Something holy. Something so rich, it’s almost tangible. Often brief, but sometimes more lasting. Today has been a day filled with a type of lasting beauty. So much so, I had to blog about it. I prayed for patience when I rolled out of bed. Pushed aside my morning chores to tickle, sing and dance with my girls. We were relaxed. We were happy. I was happy. I soaked up every smile, kissed every tear and smoothed out every frown. We ran our errands without meltdowns. The afternoon was filled with painting, glitter, and baking. It was the first time I let my 18 month old ‘help’ in the kitchen. And, you know what? The light in her eyes was effervescent and beautiful. And, by some miracle, my patience was still in tact by dinner time. That was truly a miracle.

What a feeling of peace we had today. We played and read, danced and cuddled.

Today, motherhood was synonymous with beauty.


Amidst all the madness of selling our house, summer weddings, an often gone husband, plus taking care of our kids. I am realizing I need to slow down more. No moment is more precious than the one we have now. The best part of it all, was that I still got everything done on my To-Do list. But, instead of accomplishing everything in a hurry, it was done with a calm and peace, that I hope becomes more of a constant in my life.

Happy weekend everyone!

Cancun Trip

Funnily enough, I didn’t leave the continental U.S. for 4 years, and suddenly I left twice in 4 weeks. We went to Cancun for my husband’s birthday/our anniversary. And, did some awesome things like this:

Oh, and my fave part was this:

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Plus, a sweet impromptu photoshoot from a hotel photographer. Hence the swimsuit attire (he came and found us while we were on the beach):

We ate delicious food, stayed at an all inclusive resort, relaxed, napped, exercised and had so much fun. Definitely, a dream vacation. What a blessing in such an idyllic part of the world. Best part of all was that we spent under $800 for the whole week’s trip (flights included *fist bump*). So, we could come home and not worry about paying the mortgage 😉

Love spending time with my Love! He travels so much, and works so hard, that I tend to see him only on weekends.

Feeling blessed. ❤

What a Week

Well folks, we did it. We flew with our one year old and our two year old from California to Norway, and SURVIVED (yep, it was touch and go there for a while).

Wondering what Norway is like this time of year? Here, I’ll show you:

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Quite the antithesis of home in California! It was freezing, but fun to see ice and snow after 4 years. I have decided that Norway is a lovely place and I would like to go again. The people, food and culture are great. I can see why my brother in law moved there (besides his other half being there obviously).

I can’t lie though… The flights there and back were ROUGH. Emotionally, it was hard flying over England, knowing I was passing so close to home. I definitely shed a few silent tears as I watched the little airplane and its’ dotted line, pass over the UK on the inflight TV. Lack-of-sleep-wise, going forward in time was worse than coming back. We even gave the kids (and oursleves) many a melatonin gummy over the course of the week (ok’d by our Pediatrician and purchased at Costco if you’re concerned), BUT they only seem to work if the individual is sleepy but having trouble actually falling asleep. They do not work if the person you are trying to knock out is wide awake. Jet lag is the worst!! Especially when you are sharing a small hotel room with 2 jet lagged toddlers who want to be asleep and awake at different times to one another…

Anyway, when we finally got off the plane it was wonderful being back in Europe. Can you believe I haven’t left the US in 4 years?! Bread. Cheese. Pate. Chocolate… Need I say more? Missed the food big time. And, the people. Yep, I love (most) Americans, but boy was it refreshing being around Europeans.

Best part besides the wedding, was that our kids also got to meet their uncles and cousins for the very first time! The cousins played together great and were really sad when it was time to go home.

 

The wedding was beautiful. In fact, it was stunning. The Ceremony had that very special blessed feeling. I loved it. Right next to the water. It was gorgeous. A very well thought out and fun wedding. Unfortunately, I only managed to take a few photos before my youngest decided to get fussy. But here are a few snaps that I took:

 

So yeah, was the crazy 15 hour journey with the kids worth it? Heck, yes! Will we be doing it again anytime soon? Heck, no.

P.s. I will never again complain about the 6 hour drive to LA.

…Keep reading if you’re  interested in my 4 tips for flying with little kids.

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1. Have zero expectations of their behaviour. Then you can’t be disappointed with whatever meltdowns happen. Also, if meltdowns do happen, don’t apologize to the people around you. Who cares what they think.

2. Prep well and be willing to spend a lot of money in the airport on food and toys. If you don’t have one already, purchase a diaper bag backpack. It’s so versatile. Get a few new (quiet!) toys they’ve never seen before. Like those 6inch plastic animal figurines… Activity book… Reusable stickers…  A spare outfit for each child. Pack snacks and a sippy cup in your hand luggage. Avoid giving the kids candy. Take a Chap Stick. Consistently stow passports together in one secure place/hidden pocket all throughout your trip. If you need to spend $12 on a small box of fruit, just do it. Plane food is poison. So eat as much as you can in the restaurants or newsagents.

3. Accept that you’re not going to sleep much. And that you’ll be ok despite the fact. The human body is remarkable. I thought I would lose my mind during the first flight from San Francisco to Frankfurt. My kids were going crazy. And when my 2 year old finally fell asleep it had to be on me in a back breaking position (did I mention she’s the size of a 4 year old?). Over the week being in Norway, I slept on average 3 hours a night. But you know what? I still managed to enjoy myself, and I lived to tell the tale.

4. Be kind and positive. The travel has to happen. So, you might as well enjoy it as much as you can. Indeed, you may come across obnoxious people(like we did), who may give you mean looks or say something rude. Take for instance, on our return flight, the lady sat in front of our two year old turned around and said “please don’t let your little girl kick my seat again.” I responded “oh, sorry, but she didn’t kick your seat. I just put the table down to put her drink on for a minute.” And the lady raised her eyebrows at me, in quite a disbelieving fashion, and retorted “yeah well I haven’t slept for a looong time, and I’m really concerned about the whole kicking thing. I had little kids once too…” Wow…Cue instant knot in my stomach and angry words on the tip of my tongue. Thankfully, my kind and eloquent husband stepped in and wrapped up the conversation. I probably would have been very rude if I had answered her in that moment. Don’t worry, I soon calmed down, once I saw that it wasn’t just us, she was being rude to everyone. So, I decided she must be delirious, and I let it go. By the way, did our 2 year old ever kick her seat? NO. Not once. Her legs didn’t even reach the back of the woman’s chair! Grateful for my Better Half being a good example in my moment of weakness.

What a busy week.

Here’s a virtual non-alcoholic *cheers* to having survived. Happy to be home!

 

“Mama, I Feel Beautiful!”

A friend, while planning her Sunday school lesson, asked me earlier today “how do you think we, as women, can enjoy our lives- our womanhood- more?” Naturally, we had a little discussion. And, of course, tonight I again started thinking about that question and decided to write my thoughts. 

I believe, it boils down to how much we get in our own way. What do you think? In those daily, personal moments, we elect whether or not to progress. We elect to thrive or hinder ourselves. One of the following scenarios typically seems to happen:

A) I can’t do/be/feel……x……. because of ….y…..

B) I don’t have time to do/be/feel…x…. because of ….y…. 

Insert whatever verbs or nouns that apply to you. Some things I thought of/have heard recently have been: 

I can’t lose weight because I’m not strong enough to change my eating habits.

I can’t apply for that promotion because I’d be too embarrassed if I were turned down. 

I can’t forgive [insert name] because they should apologize to me first.

I don’t have time to do anything for me because the kids have soccer, T-ball, basketball and swim.

I  can’t ever feel confident because I hate how my fat my stomach is. 

I don’t have time to read the scriptures regularly because I’m so busy.  

Any of those apply to you? I’ve been there  fo sho. The heartbreaking thing is that all the negativity we tell ourselves, bruises us emotionally, thus impeding our ability to achieve or progress. For example, you hate how fat your stomach is, feel sorry for yourself so you go eat a big bag of chips instead of sitting down and doing ab crunches. (That was me six months ago btw.) So, back to the question: how can we enjoy our lives and womanhood more? Quit beating ourselves up. Stop getting in our own way. Tell ourselves we’re worthy, beautiful and strong, until we FINALLY  believe it; and then allow ourselves to fulfill our potential! Spiritually. Physically. Mentally. (Can you tell I’ve been watching the Biggest Loser? Ha ha. Always so inspired after that show.) 

  
P.s. Something amazing happened today. My 2.5 year old was dancing around in her yellow dress and suddenly exclaimed “Mama, I feel beautiful!” My eyes filled with proud mama tears, I picked her up, gave her a huge hug  and said “Yes! You are beautiful! Never let anyone convince you otherwise.” Words wasted on a 2 year old? No sir. Kids are seriously like sponges. They absorb everything. Especially the self conscious ones (like my little girl). If your self image is poor, they are going to mirror your insecurities. If your kids see that you don’t believe in yourself, they are definitely not going to believe you the day you tell them that they can (and should) achieve their dreams. 

In conclusion, back to the question, how can we enjoy our lives and womanhood more? 

We need to stop getting in our own way. Thrive. Allow ourselves to feel beautiful, and thrive. 

  
 

Deep Like the Rivers

I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
     flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln 
     went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy 
     bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
Langston Hughes- The Negro Speaks of Rivers

What a blessing it is to be alive, at such a time as this.  The right to education. The right to vote.  Living without slavery. The accelerated development of technology… Seriously, how  far we have come in the last few centuries. Such richness, and ease our ancestors probably never even dreamed of.

Why am I thinking about this? Well, I finally sat down for a minute; kids are in bed, husband is on a plane, my phone is off; and,in a moment of peace,I started counting my blessings. Yes. I should do this more often. Counting my blessings AND counting my successes. Yes,I completed 3 loads of laundry yesterday. Yes, it’s all folded and put away. Yes, my kids are happy and I didn’t lose my temper with them today. Yes, I’m still working out 5-6 days a week and eating healthily. I feel wonderful.

You know what I heard today on a TV show? A 7 month sober drug addict said something like this (I wish I’d recorded it)…

“…the odds are never in your favor. In fact, the statistic for my recovery was 9% but if you fight every day, to be that statistic, you’ll make it.”

Wow.

Amazing, right?  Can’t you apply that sentence to nearly everything in life? The diet you keep starting, but never finish. That destructive relationship you can never truly let go of. The shopping addiction you can’t seem to control. Let’s be honest, the odds are never in your favor. Not until you have someone fighting in your corner. And, you know what? That someone needs to be you. Anyone else is a bonus. But, the most crucial person needed to conquer the challenge is YOU. No one else can motivate or control your actions. The desire for progression has to come from within. What power comes from giving yourself permission to move on and conquer those demons!

My take home from today? Live gratefully. Aim high. Never be a victim of your circumstances. You can do it. I believe in you. God’s got your back too, and His hand is reaching out, ready to steady you on your way.

Know the rivers.

 

 

 

Finally

Hallelujah, I have finally remembered my WordPress password. Yep, I seriously haven’t blogged for months because whenever I had a minute to try log in, I would get distracted, or the reset email thing would time out before I got a chance to click on it. #MomLife

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2015 was quite the year. We had our second child, Hannah, arrive in January. Tom became a manager at work in March. Also, he flew over 120,000 miles around the world for work, isn’t that insane. I became an American citizen in November. And, my personal triumph, is that I fixed a bunch of health issues I was dealing with AND (inadvertently) lost a heck of a lot of weight along the way. Overall, in 2015 I lost  70lbs. SEVENTY. Translation: that’s almost 32 kg for my fellow Europeans. Ok, so 50lbs of that was baby weight which needed to come off anyways. However, the last 20 were never in the plan. I had accepted my size 12 post baby body, and didn’t ever plan on becoming the size 8 that I am now. Remember that the goal was solely my health. Daily headaches, moodswings, PPD, indigestion, weekly migraines… aka misery. All disappeared into thin air! No joke. I haven’t had a headache or migraine in 16 weeks. 16 weeks ago is when I decided to change my life. It began with a random liver cleanse, and evolved into an amazing lifestyle/dietary change. I feel like I should write a book. Seriously, if I did, would you read it?

So, if you have any similar problems to the above, let me know. We should talk.

Happy new year folks! Love and blessings to you all 🙂

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California Livin’- New Years 2016