My Week in Review Nov 20 - Nov 26 - It ain't pretty. In fact it's downright depressing.

I feel I should start off with a warning

My Week in Review Blogs are usually happy blogs - reflecting on the positive people/events/whatHaveYous that have happened during the week. This week was such a struggle to stay afloat, that it was incredibly difficult to find much that put a smile on my face.

For starters, Sunday morning I got a difficult call. My beloved Grandmother - Matriarch of a huge family - was in the hospital having suffered a stroke. At that point that was all I knew. I have enough medical knowledge to know what causes strokes and what the damage could be. I also knew it wouldn't be pleasant. On top of the stroke, my Grandmother has dementia, which of it's own accord, has been causing brain damage. She's been in a long term care facility since May, just a few short weeks after our Wise Ole Grandpa passed away from cancer in March.

Yes, 2016 SUCKS.

Not long after hanging up the phone, I flipped through FB. I've been closely monitoring one particular page - THE FIGHT OF OUR LIVES - a long time friend, whom I worked with back in my late teens, was fighting for his life. He was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer in the Fall of 2014. Spend anytime reading his page and it's easy to see what kind of a guy he was. I knew he was in the final stages of his battle. Sadly, he was losing. Sunday morning at 10:35, he lost, and so did we all. 
My 35 year old friend gone. My 87 year old grandma practically gone. It was a lot of information to take in within 90 short minutes. 

I cried. I sobbed. I hugged my children. It was an incredible tough day. But the week wasn't finished with me yet. 

I worked on Monday, in a total zombie-like fog. Although thankful for being at work, and happy for the mental distraction, I shouldn't have been there. That night, I took a sleep aid and had the best sleep in probably two months. So I'm thankful for that magic pill as it allowed me to feel more in control of my emotions on Tuesday. However, by Wednesday I was a wreck again. 

The team of doctors in charge of my grandma declared the damage done to her already dementia-weakened brain - was SEVERE. She was blind in her right eye, deaf in her right ear and limited mobility to her right side. Unresponsive, she'd look at you but look through you. According to family, she was no longer there. She was already gone. The doctors don't give her much time. Could be tomorrow. Could be Christmas Day. More likely somewhere in between. 

Merry F-ing Christmas to our family. It wasn't hard enough knowing Grandpa wasn't going to be there, now it's exceptionally likely Grandma won't be either. Awesome. (insert raging sarcasm)

Whether I needed to see Grandma's damage myself, whether I needed to sit with her and hold her close, or whatever he reason was, I needed to see her. Now. Maybe to make peace with where the future was going? I don't know. But it was almost hard getting "approval" to see her. And approval is the wrong word. She's my grandma and no one would dare stop me from going. But I don't want to ruffle feathers from her children either. 

So Friday morning, I went to her. I was alone, and I was okay with that. I held her hand. I rubbed her back. I told her everything I wanted to tell her. I told her how much I loved her. I cried. I snuggled with her. And when I finished praying over her, I said goodbye. And saying goodbye to someone who's body is there but the mind is gone is one of the hardest things I've ever done. 

I'm thankful for that time together. She was my grandma and will always hold a special place in my heart. 
It's been a trying week, and the end of her pain and suffering is near. For all of us. Watching her fall has been hard and painful, but seeing her suffer in her stroke controlled world is hell. 
So forgive me if I seem less chipper than usual. I know in time, the grief will hurt less and the sting will subside, but the hole will still be there. 

As always, thanks for reading. :) Hug your loved one and hold them close. 

My Journey to Parenthood Part 3

To get caught up, you can read Part 1 and Part 2

My Journey to Parenthood Part 3 

Well, finally, nine days after my estimated due date of November 11, I was having contractions.

They began at ten am Saturday morning, and were intense on and off all day long. And night. And into the next morning. They were not regular, but enough to catch my breath and occupy my thoughts. They kept me awake, and hubs on occasion, when they were too painful to deal with alone. But as much as they commanded my attention, they hadn't slipped into that nice easy pattern the Labour & Delivery nurses wanted.

Sunday we timed them as we were seeing that glorious rhythm - every nine to ten minutes, roughly forty-five seconds long. According to our labour cheat sheet - we were in labour. Yahoo. Finally.

We walked; we rested; we checked in with the hospital. Because the contractions were not close enough together, if we came in for an assessment, we'd just be sent home. Not what we wanted or needed, so we tried napping since I hadn't slept much. The nap proved impossible. For us both.

We walked around some more - it didn't help. We played games - I lost. We rested.
We chatted with family and the in-laws who were now in town to visit the first grandbaby, eagerly awaiting grandbaby #2, because you know, I was holding out. Haha.

Nothing brought the contractions closer together, but they weren't far enough apart to really rest from them either. Every seven to eight minutes is not a rest.

That evening we went out for supper with my parents and hubs' parents. I couldn't eat. Enough was enough. I needed to know what the hell was going on. I had been labouring for 34 hours by time we finished supper and arrived at the hospital, and it was about that long since I'd slept. A tired, cranky, prodromal labouring mom who's way overdue and can't eat is not the poster child for happiness.

In the assessment room, the on-call OB deemed I was in actual labour (insert angry eye-roll - I could've told them that) and I would be staying until my baby was born. Which, foolishly, I figured had to be soon. It had now been 36 hours.

Haha. They checked me - I was 4 cm.


I'd been in labour for 36 hours and my cervix was open 4 measly centimeters. (Goal is 10 cm, if you didn't know). Nothing like that devastation in the midst of labour. (For reference I was three cms at a doctors appointment a few days prior). I was exhausted, frustrated and feeling as if I were broken all over again. A nice way to book end the pregnancy. Rough start, easy middle, nightmareish end. If I only knew that the nightmare was just beginning.

I'll spare you all the details and sum up with this: I had back labour. Excruciating back pain that never fully disappears between contractions. This went on all through the night. By seven am, with another check that had me at 4 cm still - I was done. Cue hot tears, crushing disappointment and a touch a internal rage because I felt like I couldn't get pregnant on my own, and now 41+ weeks later, I wasn't able to give birth either. Yep, my fatigue and mental exhaustion pushed me over the edge. I was ready to check out and go home. Forget this!

There were whisperings between the nurses about the labour. How things were stalling. Plans to get things moving. I tried to tune them out, but it was impossible. I knew what they were suggesting.

I gave in to my fears and agreed to an epidural. A giant needle would be inserted between two vertabre in my back to numb the pain, as maybe my fear of the pain was what was holding me back from allowing my body to do what was instinctual. And yes, fear can do that.
The epidural was finally going after FOUR attempts, and I was hooked up to an oxytocin drip to get things moving along.

By noon, I was checked again (8 cm - HUGE improvement) BUT the whispers were louder now. The baby had not descended into my pelvis properly but yet the head was already starting to cone. Bad sign. Plus, there were blood clots present the on-call OB didn't like. She'd be coming back in twenty minutes to reassess.

And as promised, she came back. Thinking that breaking the water would likely open my cervix completely as the baby's head applied direct pressure, that's what she did. What she didn't expect (or at least never said anything with earshot) was the amount of blood that poured out with the amniotic fluid. An order of "get her into OR now" silenced the space for a heartbeat. She disappeared and the room became a tornado of activity as papers were signed, my bed was moved and hubs was given scrubs.

In the cold operating room, I was strapped to the table, tears falling from my eyes. Had we come this far only to lose out in the end? I begged the neonatologist to save my child, as we had no idea was was going on. No one was talking to us, and we didn't understand what they were saying to each other. My epidural was topped up quickly. My hubs ran in. My baby was born at 12:38pm - less than twenty minutes after breaking the water.
My Beautiful Baby - hours old

A soft cry filled the room. My baby was alive, but the cry sounded as if it came from thirty feet away instead of an arm's length. The anesthetist asked if she could announce the sex of the baby because someone needed to. It was her that announced, "It's a BOY!"

After a quick kiss on my baby's forehead, he was whisked away to the NICU (neo-natal intensive care unit). I did not get to hold him or see him, but I sent my husband to stay with him. Once I was out of recovery (three hours later), I was wheeled past his temporary home, where I did finally hold him - for literally all of three minutes - before they took him back. It was only hours later, nearly 6 pm, when I got my son back in my arms permanently. (My had some minor breathing issues but had recovered beautifully.)

This journey - albeit a rough one - thankfully had an incredible happy ending. As it turned out, we were mere minutes away from losing our baby. The placenta was 90% detached, and his life, unknown to hubs or I, was in danger. The quick thinking and actions of the hospital staff saved us both. For that, I am incredibly grateful.

Every day with my son has been a gift. He turns 14 (ack - getting his Learner's License for driving!!!) on the 22nd of November. And for him, I'd do it all over again! Happy birthday JellyBean!

The birth of our second baby is quite a bit different - and if interested, you can read that story here.

My Journey to Parenthood Part 2

Part 1 is here, in case you missed the lead up. :)

My Journey to Parenthood Part 2

I drove to hubbie's work, and called him on the way telling him in tears he needed to meet me outside. Poor guy thought I'd been hurt or in some kind of minor accident, but I couldn't wait until the end of the day to tell him. I pulled up and before I could even say hi I was waving around the positive pregnancy test. He was so happy, he cried.

Not 100% believing the pregnancy test, I called the OBs office to book some blood work ASAP, and she faxed over a rec to the lab. Relief settled over me when I got the confirmation call back the next day - we were pregnant! Freshly pregnant. My HCG levels were very low. Another blood test a week later and our HCG levels had risen nicely.

It was really hard to sit tight and not share this with anyone. Really hard. We'd been waiting for so long, we wanted to shout it from the rooftops.

As luck would have it, we got a three-way call from my hub's brother. He'd set it up to share HIS good news with his parents and us. They were expecting their first bundle of joy on Nov 19th. We didn't want to 'rain on their parade', but felt it best to also share since we were talking to the in-laws long distance. We also announced our amazing news, and our estimated birth date of November 10th. To say my in-laws were over the moon is a mild understatement. They weren't getting their first grandbaby in November, they would be getting TWO, and within a possible ten days of each.

In the sense of fairness, we now needed to tell my parents. It was late by time my dad finished work and we drove out to their house in the boonies. Of course, this was strange behavior for us to come over so late. It was nearly 10 pm on a weeknight. Back then, there were no neat ways of announcing a pregnancy, or at least we didn't search them out, but I had a pretty good line.

"Hey Mom, Dad. Tonight we found out some good news. Hubs brother and sister in law are expecting a baby November 19... nine days after us."

It took a second or two for that news to register - but I still remember the smiles on my parent's faces. They were going to be grandparents!
After sharing the good news with my brother and his fiancee the next day, it was a free for all. I had a six week ultrasound to date the pregnancy, which gave us November 11th. We would be the first to give hubs' side and my side a grandbaby. Oh how I laugh now about that.

If getting pregnant was hard, then the blessing was an easy pregnancy. I had no complaints about the growing baby we affectionately called JellyBean. Sure there were a lot of personal issues going on:

  • Hubs was studying for his CMA final.
  • I got fired from my job in April. It was uber nasty and ended up going to the labour board for dispute and lawyers got involved. Fun times - but we eventually settled when I was eight months pregnant. Needless to say, after that incident, I found out who my friends were (and weren't). 
  • Hubs passed his CMA exam. 
  • My brother got married and I officiated the wedding. Yes, I wanted to do it Princess Bride style, but held back. Maybe for their 20th anniversary. 
  • I started a temp job but because of the missing weeks due to the firing, it greatly affected my mat leave and mat pay. :( 
Then November rolled around. All baby clothes were gender neutral, washed and a couple packed in the bag. We attended baby prep classes and labour prep classes. The crib was set up. November 11 came and went. So did the 12th. And 13th. And 14th. 

The afternoon of the 19th, my brother-in-law called and announced I was an aunt. My niece was born that morning. Yes and damn! We were supposed to be first. Oh well. That night I held my niece and told my unborn child it was him/her I wanted to be holding and anytime would be great to go into labour. 

Lo and behold, the next morning I woke up and started having contractions. 

To be continued... My Journey to Parenthood Part 3.

My Journey to Parenthood Part 1

Seventeen years ago, after three years of wedded bliss, hubs and I thought it was the right time to start building a family. After a year of trying, we were unsuccessful. Another year passed by and still no pregnancy. We hadn't told anyone we were trying, because there's nothing quite like everyone asking all the time when would we get pregnant. We were already asked often enough without announcing our intentions!

After another six months of trying, we bit the bullet and I booked an appointment with my doctor. Having dealt with ovarian cysts since I was sixteen, I suspected something was up. That appointment with my family doctor yielded no surprises, but I now had a consultation with an OB. Always one to be prepared for that appointment - six months down the line - I read everything I could. The best book I read was called Taking Charge of Your Fertility. I joined an online group on Fertility Friend and connected with dozens of people going through similar problems.

My life suddenly became very medical. I charted my morning temp, my cervical fluids, my cycle. I charted everything. When I went to the OB she dismissed all my hard work and effort. I offered up my charts from the past few months, I suggested testing she could do (because there was a medical reason I wasn't pregnant yet, right?) She wrote me a prescription and walked out of the office. Angry at her lack of compassion, I stormed out and never went back. I called my family doctor and explained, and got a referral to a new OB. Again another six month wait.

Not my chart - for the record - this compliments of Google
By now I had a year's worth of charts to help me proceed. Our first appointment I got a serious workup (yeah me!) and hubs was sent for testing. A quick rule out on him being the problem. Cue lots of internal guilt. It was me. My body was broken even though I knew it inside out (literally) and backwards.

After a few more tests and the majority of my blood drained in blood work, Dr. New OB thought the best course of action was to first try six months on Clomid. Now, anyone who's ever been hormonal (raise your hands ladies), has nothing on the emotional/physical roller coaster that is Clomid. I'm happy to say I don't miss that drug. Nor does my husband. LOL.

The first unsuccessful six months I was on one dose. No pregnancy. Just sadness. It was about that time Always came out with their "Have a Happy Period" commercials. Not for me - every month was a reminder my body was broken. There was no 'happy period'; every period was a sob fest.

Back to the OB, who upped the dosage. Oh, good lord. Fun times ahead. The first month was hell. The second month - well, I'm surprised hubs even wanted sex. Raging hormones are no fun.

A weekend away presented itself in the form of a family wedding. By that point we had decided to stop trying for a bit, as hubs was finishing up his CMA school work and had a huge exam in a few months. Plus, we didn't need the pressure of sexing every two days; a side effect no one tells you about when you're infertile and trying for a baby. You lose the joy of lovemaking when it needs to be scheduled. It becomes sex and that's it. Awesome, right? So, we needed this break desperately and we took it. We danced and drank and enjoyed being a couple. Not a couple desperate for a baby.

A couple of weeks later, I joined my family for a ski weekend. While sitting with a trusted family friend and her little baby (she had gone through something similar), I unloaded on her. I also told her that I was feeling off, but blamed the fact hubs was at home studying and I was out having fun. She suspected otherwise and suggested I take a pregnancy test. But I couldn't do it.

A couple of days later, I was late. And I'm never late. Remember, I charted? I knew my cycle. But because I had 'slacked off' with the wedding and the weekend away, I wasn't as diligent that month in accurately taking and recording my daily temperature, my cervical mucus, my OPKs.

It was March 2004. Days away from our sixth wedding anniversary. But I needed to know. I took a test as I was getting ready for work but covered with a tissue because I felt guilty hubs wasn't there. But I had to know. I uncovered it and screamed. A long dream stared back at me. There were two lines on the test! :)

To be continued...
My Journey to Parenthood Part 2

Thank you to all of you...

Here's a list of all the blogs that helped me promote Ask Me Again between November 1 - 15 to help raise funds for the SAIF Society. The final totals are still being updated, but when I get them all sorted out, I'll update here. 

Firstly a HUGE shoutout and THANK YOU to Tasty Book Tours, who graciously donated a book tour for the cause. The owner and operator - Lisa Filipe - is nothing shy of an angel. She worked tirelessly to get all the information, and dealt with my endless emails. So THANK YOU!


A thank you goes out to every blogger below who participated in the Charity Book Tour. 

A big thank you to Sage's Blog Tour, and the following blog hosts she got together for the book tour.

Thank you to everyone who retweeted, liked, or otherwise engaged with me during this campaign. Your support means the world to me.

Shander's Shenanigans A Week in Review: Nov 13 - 19th

It's been quite the week. I'm mentally exhausted. I have a blog post coming about feeling invisible because I've been battling that. Then today I got two pieces of terrible news, one only slightly worse than the first. Cancer claimed an amazing guy today. :( However, in his spirit, I'm trying to stay positive. But it's so damn hard. This one is for you, Colin. 

  • For Parent-Teacher interviews. Since I don't work at the school my eldest child attends, it's nice to be able to sit down with them and discuss my child. It's also a blessing to hear he's a good kid. :)
  • For walks to the park, to escape the stress and embrace the playfulness as a family. Our second night, the snow started and it was wonderful to stand under the shelter and watch it fall.
  • For book club. Attended my first ever event, and it was just the librarian and I, but still really awesome. We discussed Terry Fallis' Poles Apart at length for over and hour. I took away some great tips for my own writing.
  • For pedicures. My mom planned a morning around my crazy schedule (thanks, Mom) and we joined my aunt and cousin. It was fun - especially watching my cousin with super ticklish feet have someone scrub them. Oh, and the massage chairs - the settings never tell you where you can feel one of the nubs.  And yes, that highlighted dot under the person hots exactly where you think it does.Yeah. I felt violated. 

    • And finally, for crossing a few people off our Christmas shopping list. Yeah!! It narrows down out list, which in itself is a huge relief. We got seven people done, leaving roughly ten left to shop for (although two of these are major ones- my brother-in-law and his wife, and my parents.) Any cool gift ideas? 

      As always, thanks for reading. Thanks for the personal messages or comments.
      Have yourselves a FANTASTIC week. 

    Shander's Shenanigan's A Week in Review: Nov 6 -12

    A quiet week in comparison to some, but still there is lots to be thankful for.

    • For baking my Family Famous Chocolate Chip muffins. I've altered the recipe so much over the years, it's hardly recognizable. It's a healthy muffin made with no sugar (applesauce instead), whole wheat flour and flax seed. My kids eat them up, and I'm happy with the good stuff they're ingesting. 
    • For an evening at the park. We spent the day adding kms to our PokeWalks, battling in gyms (for the record I suck so bad, I still need 36 revives to help my fainted pokemons), and collecting pokestops. After a nice supper, we headed over to the park and played, climbing and running and swinging. The temperatures outside are still unbelievably warm (today was +8C) so we need to make the most of what we get. 
    • For finishing up my first book for Book Club at our local library branch. I'm so excited to have finished and I get to share my opinions and thoughts with others. I'm stoked. The book wasn't too bad either. 
    • For my oldest to have had a PD (professional development day) day at school, as that meant he got to come to work with me, since my school did not have a PD Day. He had the option of going outside at recess, but said he'd rather stay inside with me. Aww... 
    • For finding the perfect birthday present for my oldest. And it's not LEGO - his favourite, but he's going to LOVE it and I can't wait until the 22nd of November to give it to him. 
    • And also... hehe... for getting this blog post done on the Friday night, instead of Sunday morning. :) :) 

    Working blurb(s) for That Summer

    Okay - readers of my blog & my lovely followers on social media.

    I've written two blurbs for an upcoming novella but I can't decide which one to choose, if any - maybe I need to go back to the drawing board?

    Here are the choices:

    Blurb 1

    All Aurora wants is a happy-ever-after with Nate.

    But a teeny-tiny problem stands in her way. She’s terrified of vehicles, and fights daily with staying clean from a prescription drug abuse problem. Plus, her and Nate broke up. Upon learning of his planned retirement, she believes it’s all because of her. 

    Nate can’t leave his love for her, and she’s refuses to let it happen. She needs to conquer her fears, and push herself harder than ever before. In order to succeed, she needs to believe in herself. Of her body and her mind. It’s a scary battle between determination and terror. And she has nine weeks. 

    Stepping out of her comfort zone, she enlists help from the one man she trusts implicitly. 

    Lucas has a special skill set to help her. He's a race car driver, her best friend and Nate’s younger brother. Drill Sargent, cheerleader, and shoulder to cry on, he wants nothing more than to watch her succeed. However strong emotions surface during training sessions that scare Aurora and threaten her friendship with Lucas. 

    Is it too much? How will she beat her darkest fears and get her happy ever after? 

    That Summer is the expanded portion of Duly Noted readers want to read. A story of love and courage, but most importantly, the beautiful story between two lost souls. 

    Blurb 2

    Aurora MacIntyre – a former prescription drug abuser hanging on to the last threads of PTSD – is reeling from a heart-wrenching breakup with Nate. Needing and wanting to be back in his arms, she must first learn to believe in herself – of her heart and mind. A scary battle between determination and terror brews as she resolves to win him back.

    With only nine weeks to get her shit together, she enlists help from the only man she trusts with her life. Lucas Johnson.

    He’s empathetic to Aurora’s drive, and is her biggest cheerleader. He’s a race car driver and Nate’s younger brother. And through it all, he’s become her best friend.

    As she uncovers and faces her fears, she starts to learn who she is, and who she wants to be. But strong emotions push through, scaring Aurora and threatening to unravel everything she’s fought to overcome. How will she beat her darkest fears and achieve her happy ever after? Is it even possible?

    That Summer is the expanded portion of Duly Noted readers craved. A story of love and courage. A story of a beautiful friendship between two lost souls. 

    Which one do you like more? Which one would you read and say I need to know more? I need to read this book? Or should I scrap them both and start fresh? Thoughts?

    Shander's Shenanigans: A Week in Review Oct 30 - Nov 5

    It's been a fun and busy week, but there's always something to be thankful for. This week I'm thankful for the following, in no particular order:
    • How my brother and youngest child texted back and forth discussing breakfast foods. It was really amazing to watch the interactions from one side anyway. I hope my kids have a life long relationship with my baby brother. 
    • For amazing Twitter interactions this week. It's nice to make 'friends' over social media, especially when you've got something in common. 
    • For four mornings out of five with no disagreements over who gets to toast their waffles first, or who's going to use the bathroom first. If you're a parent, you understand what I'm talking about. An 80% happy morning start is win-win for us all. 
    • My favourite black pants. There is nothing special about them; they're a black velvet type material that fit really well. Everything goes with them, and when I wear them, I feel super confident... And I'm sad that they're wearing out. :( Boo. 
    • A lunch date with my forever friend. Between our two busy schedules, we never meet as often as we'd like, but it's great fun when we do. Lots of laughter and discussion on books (and a lot on my books because she's always wanting more info)
    • Getting a new printer at work. Well, it's new to me. It's been around the school for quite some time, but as tempermental as it is, it works. I no longer need to send my docs to a staff member in the office to print off. Truly, this was the most exciting thing to happen at work. 
    But there's a lot going on behind the scenes too... some things I've been struggling with. I seem to be wearing my coat of invisibility lately and it's wearing me down (I'm sure I'll blog about that soon). So I've been working extra hard to find the positives in life and do a daily good deed.
    Thanks for reading and stay positive. :)