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I am four weeks away from meeting my second child! It’s an amazing feeling knowing that we are so close, especially since this was a very long journey. With both of our boys we were not the lucky ones to conceive quickly. The first time around it took us seven months to get pregnant, while that is certainly not long compared to some people’s journeys it definitely is longer than we expected for being young and healthy. Little did we know that I had Lupus and it was playing a factor into me getting pregnant. This time around we were aware that it might take a while. But, I will say even though I thought it would take a while I did not expect it being a two-year wait.

Maternity_11I had weird symptoms for about four years off and on, but nothing that would tie anything together for the doctors to think, hmmm… maybe it’s Lupus. After my oldest was born I had a rough recovery and then around the time he was eight months old all the symptoms I had previously hit at once and more. By the time he was a year and a half I was diagnosed, finally. Truthfully, I was just glad to finally have a name, a thing, a reason for everything. I could finally know what I was working with. Getting any diagnosis is scary, especially one like Lupus since it is so mysterious and can attack any part of your body. It’s hard to predict and hard to treat. But, God gave me a peace from the beginning. My story is from Him, He has everything in control and Lupus is just part of my story and I have come to terms with that. He has plans for me!

Since I was young, one of the first things that the doctor asked was if I wanted to have anymore children. There was no question that I did, we had always talked about wanting to have a large family. But, it was going to have to wait… for the time being. Lupus patients can have safe pregnancies and healthy babies, but the best thing to do is first get it under control before putting your body through the stress of pregnancy. So that meant that I spent the next year working with the doctor to get everything controlled and to a point that I could get pregnant. That was hard, because by then in our ideal world we would have already been trying for another baby. Being told yes, but not right now is very trying…

After a year we finally got the okay from the doctor, everything looked good and we could try for our second child! Yay! And then came the next year… I honestly thought, oh it will take a while, but probably not longer than it took the last time. Well, it took exactly a year before we were pregnant. Since it was such a long wait I truthfully was in shock when I had a positive pregnancy test! You wait that long and eventually you start to think of it as a distant future thing, when it finally meets your present it’s so exciting you can’t believe it.

Fast forward a few months and I am sitting here, my oldest will be four next month and my youngest will be born within the next four weeks. It was definitely not the plan we had envisioned for our family, we had always pictured a two to three-year age gap. But, God has a much better, more beautiful plans than we can make for ourselves. Will we get to have four kids like we always imagined? I don’t know, and at first that saddened me. But now, I know that we will be given the number of children that God had planned for us from the beginning. If that means two, three or four it doesn’t matter, because whatever His plans are for me I am thankful! I am thankful to be called Mom and thankful for the two amazing little boys that God has blessed me with already.

What The Future Holds

October 7, 2013 — Leave a comment

Apparently Mars will be colonized. Seriously! In 2023 the colonists will leave with a one way tickets to Mars. Wow! My heart races as I type those words. Colonize Mars. I am certain that if I cried the last time I flew I would probably be hysterical or passed out flying through space. Ugh! That is something I have zero desire to do! I love a good adventure, in fact I am a nomad at heart. But, a one way ticket to another planet… no thanks!

blog pictureWe have all watched movie after movie of Earth colonizing other planets. It’s now not just a possibility but a reality! This is just crazy! My child is going to grow up in a world where Pluto doesn’t know whether it is a planet and people are living on Mars. WHAT? It’s a totally different world than what I grew up in. Everything will be at his fingertips, and there will be an entire population making their own world far beyond what was a possibility when I was a child. Hashtags that document life events, Facebook that has become the new family photo album, whatever question you might have answered with the tiny phone in your pocket. I have no idea what his world will look like by the time 2023 approaches and people are launching into space headed towards their new lives.

Our world is rapidly changing and what was once my world will probably look more like the dark ages to him. I can see it now,

“Mom, you know you only have to think my name and your phone will dial it. You’re making this harder than it has to be.”

“Well sweetie in my day we actually had to dial on a touch screen phone.”

“What is dialing?”

I know, I am exaggerating a little. But, the world is ever-changing and when my son is my age he will probably be having the same revolutionizing thoughts that I am having…What will the world look like in the future? What kind of world will my kids grow up in?

It’s probably safe to say that I am not the first parent or the first generation to think that the world is changing faster than I can keep up. And I am sure that I won’t be the last to feel this way.

Go On, Admit It.

September 7, 2013 — Leave a comment

This is not an easy post to write. You see it is very common for people diagnosed with any disease to struggle with depression. But, no one wants to talk about it. Why? Because if you admit to having dealt with this issue then suddenly you will be seen as an emotionally unstable basket case. At least that is what we believe others will see.

typewriterThe truth is, it’s very common to deal with depression. In fact the Lupus Foundation of America states that “between 15 and 60 percent of people with a chronic illness will experience clinical depression.” That is a significant number! So why do we fear to mention this “symptom” of our disease? Because we are scared that others will view us differently. 

I have dealt with depression. There I said it. And honestly it’s not even easy for me to admit to you right now. I am actually sitting here thinking about your response as I type this.

At first I didn’t even realize that I was dealing with depression. I thought that I was emotional for one reason or another. When I finally began to realize what I was dealing with I didn’t want to admit it out loud because saying it means that it’s a reality. The thing is I wasn’t depressed about any one thing, I would find myself crying for no reason at all and frustrated that I couldn’t figure out why. I struggled understanding what was happening because I never really had a melt down after being diagnosed. There was a peace that I felt when I heard the words Lupus. There was finally a name to the problems I was having, and I knew that everything was in God’s hands. But, what I didn’t take into account was the changes that happened days, weeks and even months ahead. Fatigue that caused our family to end a Saturday outing earlier than normal, nausea that lasted all day, painful joints that left me sitting on the couch with heating pads all evening. It could be much worse, but it was change that I didn’t see coming. I also now know that certain medications can have a side effect of depression. Eventually my emotions began to shine through and I was able to see that yes, I was dealing with depression.

I don’t believe that depression is something that can ever truly be a hurdle that you leap over and never come to again with a chronic illness. The difference is that once you know it can creep up along your path at anytime you know what to do with it. For me, I look at it as another way to help others. You see I truly believe that my Lupus is more than just an illness. It is a ministry. If I didn’t battle with the things that come with my disease then I wouldn’t be able to encourage others in the way that I can connect with them now. So I write this to you today to say that it is okay to not be perfect! It is okay to admit that our illness stinks! It is okay to admit that your having a rough day! Because then we can stand together and fight our illnesses side by side!

I really love to bake. When I was pregnant I stopped buying packaged cookies and other desserts because I had such a sweet tooth. Instead I supplied my cabinets with all things baking. When a craving would hit I had to weigh the desire of my sweet tooth to bake from scratch. Since then I have continued with this and have grown to love baking all the more, everything truly does taste better homemade!

Like I said, I really love to bake. But, I really really hate when I mess up a recipe!

You see I am a perfectionist. When it comes to baking I not only want it to taste amazing, I want it to look picturesque too.

Unfortunately there is a learning curve with everything, including baking. And that can be frustrating.

failed baking attemptI don’t really know what it is other than that silly perfectionism within me, but there is almost a sense of embarrassment or even a hint of failure when things end up a complete wash. If you are not a perfectionist then you wouldn’t understand. For some reason I feel the need to put these crazy expectations for myself. Yes, goals are a great and much-needed thing! But, there is such a thing as impractical goals. For example, after watching a marathon of Cake Boss I was going to be able to bake a gorgeous hand decorated cake all from scratch. I mean how hard could it be to use fondant? By the way I am not a fan of fondant, forget that stuff and bring on the buttercream! So I will proudly say that I failed at baking cakes, numerous times! The cake was dry, crumbly or just plain weird tasting. The icing was runny, over sugared, or I didn’t make enough. But you know what I learned through the process?

It’s OKAY to fail! WHAT? Did I really just say that?

Yes my friends, the world won’t end! With each failed attempt I got better, learned new tricks and became a little less concerned about the perfection and a lot more about making small improvements a long the way and having fun in the process.

Funny thing is what prompted this post is my second failed attempt at making a new dessert. Remember, I am not a fan of this! In case you were wondering it really is never good to try substituting condensed milk for evaporated milk or even basic milk. Nope, it’s a really bad idea actually! Instead of amazing, melt in your mouth key lime bars you end up with chunky key lime wannabes.

It’s okay to fail. Learn from this mistake if the recipe says condensed milk, it means condensed milk! 

The world seriously doesn’t care that I made an awful dessert tonight. I find it funny that something as simple as baking dessert can remind me that I’m not perfect. I wonder what my next dessert is going to tell me?

 

The following is a guest post by Mandy Karo. I first met Mandy in college when we both joined Pi Zeta Phi during college. After hearing about my diagnosis Mandy reached out to me as she is also living with Lupus. I am so thrilled to have her share her story. She has wonderful insight, show her some love! 

Middle school is a tough time for most kids. When I was in eighth grade, I was in the midst of a very difficult transition with my two best friends. We had been inseparable in fifth, sixth, and seventh grade. I remember the gym teacher saying weMandy's guest post were “joined at the hip.” But in eighth grade, they were drifting away from me and becoming a part of the popular girls group. For a young teen this felt like the ultimate abandonment and rejection. I remember feeling a lot of loneliness, stress, and anger. It was in the middle of this drama that something much worse was piled on to make my teen years even harder. I was diagnosed with Lupus.

I had been having odd symptoms for a while. In sixth grade I started having strange stomach aches. The doctors thought I might have ulcers so I had to have a stomach x-ray. It was awful—the stuff you have to drink so they can x-ray you is disgusting! There were no ulcers found so life went on. In seventh grade I began feeling tired in the afternoons. But what happened in eighth grade was what led to my diagnosis. I started getting purple spots on my feet and ankles, especially when I was upset or stressed out. My feet and ankles would also swell up. At first we thought maybe I was allergic to the laundry detergent my mom used but switching it didn’t help. The worst time was when one of my teachers accidentally ran over my ankle with a TV cart. The purple spots showed up and I got so swollen I couldn’t walk on that foot. It hurt to put shoes on.

When we showed my family doctor the spots, she was perplexed so she looked up what it could be. She named off a number of possibilities and one of them was Lupus. I really had no idea what Lupus was, but I had heard the name before, and I knew it was some sort of serious disease. I started to cry. We were sent to Children’s Hospital in Denver to see a rheumatologist. They did blood work and the doctor asked me a few questions about my symptoms. Then just like that, he told me I had Lupus, gave me some packets about it, and prescribed medications for me to take. It felt odd that it was so quick. Even my parents continued on acting normal. Didn’t they know that I was just diagnosed with an awful, potentially life-threatening disease? Shouldn’t we all be crying or yelling or something? I know that they were just trying not to freak me out. Inside they were scared too.

I’ve been diagnosed with Lupus for thirteen years now. I deal with fatigue, unexplained fever, swollen joints or muscles, sensitivity to the sun, susceptibility to sickness, and the spots (which are called purpura and are caused by bleeding underneath the skin). The medication I take has helped me in controlling the flares. I know I am actually very lucky because many people with Lupus have much worse symptoms, and thankfully my symptoms are not life threatening.

There are a lot of questions that come with having Lupus. Will my symptoms get worse? Will I be able to have a healthy pregnancy? Will I have the energy for a full time job? Will I have the energy to raise children? Will the men I date be able to handle the fact that I have Lupus or will it make them want to head for the hills? The real question becomes, what do I do with all of these fears and anxieties?

When any sort of fear comes into our lives, no matter what it is, we must remember the power of God. God is bigger and stronger than any scary thing that looms in our path. Just imagine the universe in its incredible vastness and remember that God created it! That is power. Then remember that he loves you. When something bad happens in life, we might be tempted to ask if God loves us. If God loves me, why did he allow me to get a disease? But that question is focused on the physical, and God focuses on the spiritual. Yes, bad things happen on this earth. But God allowed his son to die for us in order that we might have a new life. That is love. This world is temporary, and we must use the struggles that come with it to strengthen our relationship with God.