Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hello, Third Trimester.

Poor second baby hardly gets any blog posts.  Baby 2: consider that a good thing--no major drama to report since first trimester-ish (first 16 weeks...) crumminess.

Never ever say this to a pregnant lady, but yes, we are allowed to say it ourselves.  This has gone by very quickly!  I may retract that statement once 2015 comes.  Also, being pregnant with number 2 has been a very different experience for me.  Myra is, for the most part, very easy and fun, but she still keeps me busy enough to be distracted from pregnancy plenty.  One day I offered Trevor a beer with the intention of getting one for myself, too.  He said, "yeah, but I can get it."  Oh, duh, I can't have one.  Preggo brain is a real thing.

Anyway, nothing too exciting to report.  I'm bigger than I was at this point with Myra, but not outrageously gigantic or anything.  It is getting tricky to put  my socks on and I have to literally roll out of bed, but I'm doing okay.  I started out this pregnancy at about 125-128ish pounds and last week I was 155; my doctor assures me my weight gain is perfectly fine.  I believe her, but the most I ever weighed with Myra was 161 (then lost 3 pounds, weighed 158 the day I went into labor) and my pre-pregnancy weight was the same for both.  Oh well, it's not bad, just different, and the second kid will do that to a mama.  I finally dug out all my maternity clothes and put away stuff that just isn't going to fit for a while.

My 20 week anatomy scan (in September) went well, everything looked great, but I did have a small placental lake, so my doctor wanted to do a follow up scan.  These are the random things that can happen in pregnancy no one hears about/talks about until it happens to you, like Myra's choroid plexus cysts (that were just fine, too).  Anyway, a placental lake is a pool of maternal blood in the placenta.  They are very common and hardly ever affect the baby.  The ultrasound techs here don't even mention them; some doctors do, some don't.  Baby's growth looked great at my follow up last week.  They average measurements of the head, stomach, and femur and this baby's average was three days ahead of my dates (56 percentile), so perfectly normal.  Just to be sure, I will have monthly growth scans from now on.  So much for it being too late to find out baby's sex!  While it is tempting, we still won't find out until this baby is born.  Though as much as I hate searching for baby names, it would be helpful to narrow it down!

There's the long version of "all is well in babyland."

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Potty Training at 20 Months: Week Two.

Back for more!  Click here to read Part One.  Click here for the fabulous potty training book we are mostly following.

We've had to go back down in clothing sizes without her big, fluffy cloth diapers!  Myra was in 24 month/2T pants (the photo shows 24 month) but is now back in 18 month and even some 12 month pants.

Saturday, October 18.  Day Eight.
We left the house for a decent chunk of time this morning.  Grandpa asked if Myra wanted to go feed the ducks, so that's what we did.  We timed it to give her the best chance at success, but I was still curious if she would get excited and forget about holding it.  Myra did great!  I got lunch ready and when she was in the middle of destroying some mashed potatoes and spinach, she said "poop" (which sometimes means pee).  I checked and she had a tiny little wet spot on her pants, so off to the bathroom we went.  The toilet and both of our clothes looked like they got hit with a potato/spinach tornado, but after a while of sitting, still no pee.  She asked to get down so I said okay, but it was earlier than usual so I committed to staying in the bathroom to wait this one out.  I knew it would happen eventually.  She sat on my lap and I tried to be boring, she started getting antsy, but I tried to hold off a little longer.  Once she let a little pee leak onto my pants, I plopped her on the toilet and told her to "listen" so we could hear the pee.  She really fought to stand up, which wasn't surprising because I think the combo of sitting and letting the pee go at the same time is part of her issue, but she did it! She peed on the toilet!  Not counting the little dribble on my pants, this was the first time she actually sat on the toilet and peed, rather than starting to pee on the floor and one of us rushing her to a toilet.  Yippee! (I got a little behind on the updates, and from here we are really seeing progress, so these are about to get a little shorter).  I'm totally drawing a blank on how the rest of the day went, after Myra's nap.  I'm pretty sure we had no more toilet excitement, but little to no toilet drama either.
Toilet pee count: 1.  Toilet poop count: 0.

Sunday, October 19.  Day Nine.
Thanks to pregnancy insomnia, I was awake from 4am-7am this morning.  Myra, the little angel that she is, plays quietly in her crib for a long, long time after waking up.  Trevor had gone downstairs early this morning to study and work on applications, and I ultimately fell back asleep until after 9.  This kind of threw off our whole morning "schedule" (I use that word loosely).  I got Myra up, but she didn't have her morning bottle until 9:30 or maybe even later.  Then we went to visit some friends who were in town for a wedding, no accidents or peeing while we were out.  We had one toilet pee before nap (around 2pm I think?) with some resistance, but not with actually wanting to get off the toilet.  Myra got really anxious and tensed up right before peeing, but I could tell she really let it all out once she peed.  We did our happy dance, she got to be all proud of herself then flush.  We ran downstairs to tell daddy; she really likes walking into the office and saying, "I did it!"  By the time she went down for her nap, slept, and woke up it was about 4:30.  Bedtime is 7:00, so I had her try, but didn't expect much given that pretty short time frame.  No luck, but no drama.
Toilet pee count: 1.  Toilet poop count: 0.

Monday, October 20. Day Ten.
Big progress today!  Myra did her little dance, so we went to the bathroom.  Nothing happened, she asked to get down, and I didn't fight her.  I was letting her play solo for a while, and while I was up and down stairs she pooped.  She told me "poop," so we went to the bathroom, flushed it, and changed her pants.  When she was eating lunch, she said "toot," which she sometimes says for other bodily functions, so I checked and she had a small wet spot.  I told her we were going to go to the toilet so she could finish.  Almost as soon as I sat her on the toilet, she peed! No fighting, no resistance, no freaking out or any signs of anxiety/discomfort, just a nice, big pee!  After her nap and bottle, it was a mad dash to run to Target and the grocery store.  I ended up not finding anything I was looking for at Target (yes, this can happen!) and we were on our way to the door empty handed (this, too!).  Myra said, "I did it!" and I was like "uhh...." She had a small wet spot, so I quickly got her to the bathroom and crossed my fingers.  She sat on the toilet fine, but wanted to get off pretty quickly.  I didn't want a traumatic first public bathroom experience, so I didn't push it.  It wasn't long before she started peeing on the floor, so I quickly got her on the toilet and she finished a nice, big pee with no issues.  Holy crap--did not expect a public bathroom pee this quickly, or this easily.  I had an extra pair of pants in the car so I changed her and we went to the grocery store.  Trevor got home shortly after we did, I made supper and we ate.  As we were cleaning up the kitchen, Trevor noticed Myra peeing.  He scooped her up and off to the bathroom they went.  I could hear a bit of a struggle, then she started crying "Mommy!"  I let it go, then decided it might go a little more smoothly if I were at least in the room, for now.  I slowly made my way upstairs and waited a few steps outside the bathroom door (they couldn't see me).  She was still whining, but I wasn't going to go in unless it escalated.  Before I knew it, she was peeing and all kinds of excited about it.  We got her in clean pants, played and read some books, then it was bedtime.  Funny story, when I put her diaper on at nap time, she looked right at her baby and said "sleeping...learning."  We are still telling her diapers are only for sleeping because she is still learning.  Ha!
Toilet pee count: 3.  Toilet poop count: 0.

Tuesday, October 21.  Day Eleven.
No drama to report today!  More pregnancy insomnia resulted in a morning very similar to Sunday.  I was up from 3:45-6:30/7ish and fell back asleep until 8:30 or so.  Myra was quietly playing in her crib.  Our morning was fine, I got a bunch of cleaning done, uneventful blah blah blah.  No signs of needing to pee, but around noon it was getting to be lunch time and I didn't want Myra stuck in the high chair when she had to go.  So, I went to the bathroom then told her it was her turn to pee.  I put her on the toilet, told her to pee and she did! She stopped herself, so I just asked her to do it again and she did.  Repeat x 2.  Finally, she was grunting and pushing and I had to chuckle and tell her she was probably all done.  No drama, no leaks, no wet pants, and a big pee on the toilet!  Myra took a nice, long nap then we went for a short walk.  After I had been busy cooking for a bit, I noticed a big trail of liquid on our kitchen floor and her pants were wet.  Even with my superhero pregnant lady nose, I really couldn't tell if it was pee.  I really think it was water, she was walking around with a sippy cup, "drinking" some, then letting it dribble out of her mouth everywhere.  And I'm pretty sure I would have been able to sniff out the pee.  At bedtime, I took her to the bathroom, put her on the toilet, counted to three then told her to push it out.  She peed another big one and did her happy dance, got ready for bed and that was that!  I'm hopeful this is all winding down a bit and gradually just becomes more natural for all of us.  I'll round out week two (because you're all invested in this by now...), but hoping that'll be all I've got for the big updates! 
Toilet pee count: 2.  Toilet poop count: 0.

Wednesday, October 22.  Day Twelve.
Myra got a slight curve ball today because Grandma was here.  I actually forgot to write this Wednesday night, so I'm hoping I remember this correctly.  Myra peed (not on the toilet) while Grandma was getting lunch ready, and I don't think she was in a mood to finish on the toilet at the time.  I forget how things went after her nap, but by the time I got home Myra was ready to pee.  She staggered it a bit, so she'd start and we'd get her to the toilet.  Then 10 minutes later, repeat.  By the end of the night, she for sure had one good pee on the toilet, plus a couple half pees from when Grandma was here.  I thought I had written this out last night-oops.
Toilet pee count: 1.  Toilet poop count: 0.

Thursday, October 23.  Day Thirteen.
Myra was a rock star today.  I'll keep this short and sweet.  She peed on the toilet SIX times today, kind of seven if you count the genuine attempt/possible tiny pee at bedtime.  One of the times was even at a friend's house.  Trevor and I had my volunteer appreciation dinner for Big Brothers Big Sisters, which was awesome by the way, so Myra go to go play with her gal pals.  She didn't pee at all while we were gone, but she gave me a nice, big one when I tried with her there.  She didn't fight me at all any of the times at home, and only very briefly at our friend's.  I put her on their regular toilet though, without a smaller, toddler insert seat or anything.  She's definitely got the "sleeping...learning..." figured out when we put the diaper on her for naps/bedtime and she likes to make her babies pee after she does.
Toilet pee count: 6.  Toilet poop count: 0.

Friday, October 24.  Day Fourteen.

Well, folks.  This will be the last of my daily pee updates.  Myra had school today, so we went a little early so she could pee before her class started.  She sat on the toilet no problem, gave it a good effort, but nothing.  Her class starts with free play time, then circle time, then separating from the parents time.  So, towards the end of the free play time, I took her to try again...pee!  She went again on the toilet at home twice before her nap.  Between nap and bedtime she went on the toilet two more times.  No resistance, no accidents, no leaking, no drama!  That's a nice little wrap up to the last two weeks!
Toilet pee count: 5.  Toilet poop count: 0.

Update: Saturday, November 1.  Day Twenty Two.

I said I was done, but I thought if any of you made it this far, you'd like one more update.  Myra has been rockin it!  In the time I haven't been documenting, she has only had one accident and I blame myself and basically knew it was coming.  I took her grocery shopping after a 5oz bottle and should have had her go after we paid for our groceries, but I didn't.  Instead, I pushed it and went home to drop off the groceries (leaving her in the car), then went to my dad's.  When we got to my dad's, she had peed in her car seat.  I had a feeling that would happen but took the risk anyway.  Besides that, we have done so many things and she hasn't had one accident!  She has been grocery shopping, to school, spent a day in the combine with Trevor's parents (edit: twice!), Trick-or-Treating, walks, etc. with no issues at all.  She will stop what she is doing and tell me she has to pee.  She's still going commando just because it's working, but I think I could easily do underwear at this point.  She is still wearing a diaper for naps and night time, but has woken up dry from naps maybe 1/3 of the time and that is improving now that she's getting better and better with it all.

Update: Sunday, November 9.  Day Thirty.
Not much to report here, still going great!  At some point, we moved from being boring and frank about "you peed" to giving the girl some excitement.  She still thinks it's fun and when she's done peeing she says, "I did it!"  She even told me, "you did it!" after I peed once (LOLOLOL).  Diapers for naps and night, and Myra still reminds us, "sleeping...learning..."  We'll see if she works that out herself, otherwise deal with it later since she still gets so much liquid in her diet.  She has always pooped at naps, so we haven't had a ton of luck with pooping on the toilet yet, but overall she is doing awesome.  She pees on regular toilets anywhere, even large, scary public restrooms.  So glad this is out of the way before we have a newborn! I never thought I would have two in bottles (even if new baby doesn't get them often), but not in diapers.  Now I have no excuse to buy more cute cloth diapers for this baby ;)

Potty Training at 20 Months: Week One.

Well, if that isn't a loaded blog post title...

For those of you who couldn't care less about potty training children, these two posts might not be for you.  There is literally nothing else in these posts (part 1 and 2).  You've been warned.

We've kept this pretty hush hush because, honestly, we didn't want to hear the opinions of the world on when/how/why we should potty train or not.  As with many things parenting, everyone (okay, maybe not everyone, but it sure can seem that way) has an opinion (and those opinions come with unsolicited advice).  We knew Myra was up for it (a few specific signs of being capable like going away for privacy to poop, able to communicate wants and needs, and she often shivered when she peed=aware), we were up for it, so we did it.  We wanted to do it without the commentary and eye rolls, so we did.  While I am proud of Myra showing the toilet who's boss (and proud of us for sticking it out, me sans wine...), I didn't write this to brag.  I wrote this for my own precious memories (you're welcome, Myra) and so others know it does get better.  That resistance phase is tough and I can totally see why people would quit then, but it does get better then life gets easier.  If you're currently going through it and want to commiserate, you've come to the right place.  Plus, some of the problems we ran into might be fairly common and maybe our ideas could help someone else get through it with their sanity in tact.

We followed Jamie Glowacki's "method" as detailed in her ebook "Oh Crap. Potty Training."  I'm not going to rewrite her book here (i.e. plagiarize), but trust me when I say it's phenomenal and well worth the $15.  It was even an entertaining read.  She talks about beer and uses the s word.

Here's the summary.  I thought about breaking this up into separate posts, but figured if anyone is interested enough to read about this, it would likely be easiest to have it all in once place.  (Edit: I ended up journaling for two weeks and separated it into two posts, link for week two at the bottom.)  We started on Saturday, October 11, 2014 when Myra was 20.5 months old.  I quit using months a long time ago, but for this purpose it is relevant.  We chose this day because we would have a nice, long stretch without anywhere to be and we could just focus on potty training.  Myra has school on Fridays, but there was no school that following Friday, October 17.  She showed Jamie's signs of being capable (she doesn't use "ready" and it makes sense why).  We have a very simple Baby Bjorn potty chair (which is what I will be calling the "toilet" or "toilet chair"), no bells and whistles, easy to clean.  Edit: a few days in, we got a new toilet seat for our actual toilet.  It has a built in toddler size seat that stays up via magnet unless it's needed.  It also has a slow close lid, so Myra can close it herself without slamming the thing shut.

If I could go back in time and give myself advice the day before we went for it, this is what I would say: You know Myra is capable of this, but seriously, she really, truly is-do NOT give up.  Enjoy the first few days of "doing nothing but watching your child."  Seriously, have fun with it.  No distractions, just play and do fun stuff while watching her.  This experience will make you two closer.  She will be proud of herself and realize she's becoming a big kid (as will you!), but she will find other ways to need you and that will give you warm and fuzzies.  And, hello, you will be able to run out the door quickly with your keys and wallet, nothing more.  But, before you start, get yourself some ice cream or something since you can't drink booze.

Saturday, October 11.  Day One.
We started the day off by saying "bye bye" to the diapers and put them away in her closet (cloth diapering, so no throwing those away!).  I talked about this part the last couple days, how we were going to be all done with diapers and she would pee on the toilet like a big kid.  Myra spent the day bottomless. 

I spent the entire day literally just watching (any playing with, reading to...) Myra.  No phone, computer, cooking, cleaning, nothing except watching her.  I was watching for her to pee so I could rush her to the "toilet chair" as we decided to call it as well as see what sort of signals she would show us prior to peeing.  Myra realizing she had peed would be progress.  I quickly realized she was waiting for any moment of privacy to pee.  I really did watch her the entire day, but if I looked away for a second, that's when she would pee.  There's a section about this in the book.  Myra wanting privacy to pee was a good thing, progress--just made my job a little trickier.  When I could catch her in the act, it all happened so fast and she was done (or would stop herself) by the time I could pick her up and get her to the toilet.  She pooped on the floor and I was able to get her to the toilet where she finished pooping which was pretty darn exciting.  I was calm and told her "you did it, you pooped on the toilet," and we flushed it together and said "bye bye poop."  For now, she will still be in diapers for naps and night time, especially since so much of her diet is liquid.  For the rest of the day, we didn't get anything else into the potty, but she definitely vocalized when she had peed/was peeing and was debatably giving us some warning when she had to pee.  This is definitely progress!  Also, she seemed totally comfortable sitting on the toilet naked, also progress!  Even though I didn't "do" anything today and it went very well, this is all very mentally draining (for all of us) and I'm tired!
Toilet pee count: 0.  Toilet poop count: 1.

Sunday, October 12.  Day Two.
Back at it again, bottomless for another day.  Trevor missed anything even a little bit exciting yesterday, so he decided he would stay upstairs (rather than go study) until the first pee happened.  Day One taught us Myra is already aware of her desire for privacy with bathroom matters.  Day Two quickly taught us Myra is also a pee camel.  Similar to the privacy thing, it is a good sign of progress, just makes things a little trickier.  From the time Myra woke up and had her morning bottle, she held her pee over three hours!  Not a drop!  I'm not sure if this will be a trend for her, or if it is part of the "common day two resistance" discussed in the book-we'll find out.  We both agreed we can see why people would think it means they're not "ready" or just give up because it's frustrating.  Again, the Oh Crap book is fabulous and not only warned me about this part, but also encouraged us to carry on.  Myra was still comfortable sitting on the toilet, but when we really started to get the feeling she needed to pee, she resisted.  She peed a little standing up, and we cleaned it up together.  She sat on my lap (we were right in front of her toilet chair), peed a little more, then I quickly got her onto the chair.  She immediately started crying.  I knew she had more pee in her and my gut told me the crying was out of frustration or maybe a certain level of uncomfortable with letting her pee go into the chair.  It all happened really fast and I still don't know what the expert advice would be, but I was firm in her staying on the potty chair.  I offered her a hug, and she hugged me while crying then peed more and I quickly got her back onto the chair.  I didn't want to hold her down and she was much more into hugging me than usual, so I hugged her while she sat on the chair and cried.  Trevor was hearing all this commotion and came upstairs just in time to see her take a big, giant pee on her toilet!  Cue the angels singing!  Again, we tried not to overdo the enthusiasm and fanfare, but we wanted to be very encouraging after the stressful dance we had just done.  And, heck, we were thrilled!  Once she started peeing, the crying had stopped, which made me feel like it was more the newness of letting her pee go into the toilet.  Myra did start with some tears again when she was done peeing, but we quickly drew her attention to what she had accomplished.  We showed her the pee in the toilet, told her "you did it-you peed in your toilet," and took her to the bathroom to flush it and say "bye bye, pee!"  She got hugs and a couple reinforcing "you did it. you peed in your toilet." and we carried on with our day.  I fed her lunch then put her down for her nap.  Naptime/bedtime will be my new favorite time for a while as it is the only time I can sit and do anything but look at Myra.  I know this is an investment that will be well worth it, so I'm totally on board still, it's just strange how draining it is.  Thus, my lunch:

After her nap, we were back to Myra being bottomless and me staring at her.  To clarify, I try to engage her and just be near her rather than be creepy stalker from the table.  The book references how much pressure we put on the kids (whether we realize it or not) and that they can definitely feel it.  I quickly realized I (we?) was likely doing this.  So, I just played with her and kept a close watch while trying to just have fun and do normal things like read books and play with blocks.  Myra decided to go for pee camel round two and went almost FOUR HOURS without peeing.  She started getting whiny and "leave me alone-y" (swinging arms and being generally feisty) which I try to respect while still somehow sticking to the plan (thus, tricky).  We got through supper without her peeing then bedtime was approaching.  Trevor and I discussed how we thought it should go at that point.  We didn't want to be too forceful because we were not considering this a "behavior" issue on day two and she was already showing progress and meeting some of the milestones outlined in the book.  We didn't want to turn this into a bad experience for her.  On the flip side, we wanted to make this whole day worthwhile.  I was dreading Myra peeing in her diaper as soon as we put it on for bedtime after all that time I spent watching her this afternoon.  I really did want to give her an opportunity to do it because I knew she could.  I realized I had been physically putting her on the toilet for each attempt (only once every hour or so, but still) rather than just verbally prompting her.  Looking back, I probably should save that physical act for when I catch her peeing and at least try to stick to verbal prompts, if anything, in between.  So, I thought I would give it a try.  I just told her "it's time to sit on your toilet chair now."  When she did just that, I would then tell her "it's time to pee in the toilet now.  I want to hear you pee." And nothing.  She would get up, sit on my lap, go get a book, whatever.  I would let it go, then prompt again.  She definitely had pee in her.  Again, I don't know what the "right" thing to do here would have been, but we were just going with it.  I wasn't going to be too pushy, but I wanted to give it a good try.  She got on, then off, the toilet many times after being prompted, but no pee.  Then she started the whiny stuff again.  

We both encouraged her saying "you can do it," which is what we say about other things, too.  She started crying while sitting on the toilet and I gave her a hug again.  Then, BOOM, peeing on the potty.  Same song and dance, "you did it. you peed on the toilet.  look at your pee in the toilet. let's go flush it away now." ... "bye bye, pee!" Then back to normal routine, which at this time was pajamas, bottle, brushing teeth, books, song, bed.  Annnnnnd Mom and Dad can breathe again.  Trevor and I were pretty pumped about that last one, and Myra was, too.  We could just feel her pride, nothing incredibly dramatic, but it was there.  Again with the mentally draining.  I do not want to be writing all this out right now, but I will want to read it later (and hopefully it is useful to others!), so here I am.
Toilet pee count: 2.  Toilet poop count: 0. 

Monday, October 13. Day Three.
Kind of a blur, more "resistance" phase. Myra is consistent in that she can hold it a long time and wants privacy. She held it for 3 hours this morning then peed in the two seconds I looked away to put the scissors out of her reach. This is mentally draining! When she napped, I nap. She plays very well, and quietly, alone in her crib when she wakes up so I ended up sleeping for almost two more hours after she was already awake. Oops. By then, I knew she could hold her pee until bedtime so I didn't expect much afterwards. She did her pee signals (wiggle, grabbing and holding, getting feisty, and saying "pee") but refused to sit on her toilet. She's not afraid of the toilet as an object itself. She will play around it, point to it/touch it when I ask her where it is, say "hi" to the bear on it (Baby Bjorn logo). When we tell her baby it's time for baby to pee, she does exactly what we wish Myra would do: puts baby on the toilet, waits, then sometimes even tells her, "you did it!" So, she also knows how this works. Our conclusion is this is pure resistance with maybe a little awkward/uncomfortable feeling about letting her pee go while sitting. 
At bedtime, she peed just a little on the floor, so we knew there had to be more. We didn't want to physically force Myra to sit on the toilet, so we tried to just tell her, "it looks like you have to pee-there's you're toilet." She wasn't having it. I thought she would probably have to go very soon based on how she was acting and figured maybe some privacy would help. We brought her toilet into the actual bathroom, where she's seen me pee and it's not so open. Nope, no pee. We talked about where her pee is (in her body, pointed specifically) and where it needs to go (toilet). We were boring and tried not to stare at her, nope. Finally, an hour past bedtime we decided to call it a night. We didn't want to push her into the realm of over tired. This was a mental battle for us because we don't want her to think she can just hold it til nap/bedtime then pee in her diaper, but neither of us had the energy to keep this up much longer and neither of us could really argue that would be best in the long run either.
So, no pees or poops on the potty today. Grandma is coming tomorrow so hopefully the change of pace is good all around!
Toilet pee count: 0.  Toilet poop count: 0.

Tuesday, October 14. Day Four.
Today was a breath of fresh air, not because of any one particular reason, but a few bits and pieces combined. First and foremost, it was Grandma Day! Trevor's mom comes once a week to hang out, play, have tea parties, and the like while I do the bulk of my week's work all at once. We gave her the run down then I left and crossed my fingers. Myra had no problem instructing her giant pink teddy bear and her baby how to use the toilet, but still wouldn't sit on it herself. She did, however, pee on the floor less than two hours after waking up. This is good news in that she let go of just holding it all morning, at least we can work with that. We told her pee doesn't go on the floor and had her clean it up. 
I posted about the specific issues we're having (privacy+holding+too cool to sit on the chair) in a wonderful parenting group on Facebook and along with some needed words of encouragement I got a couple tips. Number one: hang in there. Number two: try the normal toilet, probably with an insert thing. A couple people suggested replacing our current toilet seat with a toddler seat built into it, in between the regular seat and the lid.  The toddler seat stays up in the lid with a magnet unless we pull it down.  Bonus, it's a slow close lid, so Myra can shut it herself without slamming it down. 

I liked that idea best so I picked one up today. When I got home with it, Myra sat on it on the floor no problem. I swapped out our old seat for this one, with Myra's help, and had her show her doll how to use it. Then, I helped her up and it wasn't love but she wasn't actually resisting. I pointed out my bottle of lotion with a baby and an angel on it (which she loves) and that calmed her down. We sang Twinkle Twinkle then she said "all done" and I helped her down. No pee, but still progress! We ate supper then she got a bath. After her bath, I figured I would try again. She got up there and we sang two songs while she laughed and danced, then said "all done" and I helped her down. No pee but a much better attitude about the toilet! All of that plus the fact that I got to step away from it all for a while has me feeling refreshed again. I was just drained yesterday!
Toilet pee count: 0. Toilet poop count: 0.

Wednesday, October 15. Day Five.
Well, today we had some good and bad, to be expected at this point I imagine.  She was fine sitting on the toilet this morning and singing a song, but when I could tell she really had to go later, no dice.  I tried convincing and distracting (fine line of helping her through it and creating a traumatic experience here...) and nothing.  So, I let it go.  She wore pants today, no diaper or underwear though.  We played and danced and had a good day, much more relaxed overall (much more my issue than hers).  I noticed she actually peed her pants a little so I got her up to the toilet and she wasn't happy.  I probably pushed it more than I should have (hoping I don't regret that...), but I literally just walked away.  I was partially giving her privacy, partially just done with it.  She had to pee and was bothered by the fact that she had to pee, but wouldn't do it.  So, whatever, work it out, girl.  She followed me downstairs and was a hot mess-we were definitely pushing it on nap time by then, too.  She let a big ole pee go onto the floor and I scooped her up and plopped her on the little toilet chair still in our kitchen area.  She had mostly stopped, maybe even mostly emptied by then, but did pee a little bit on her little chair.  WOO!  We had been going with not-over-the-top-but-more-neutral praise, but I threw that out the window after all the back and forth.  Lots of "woo hoo! you did it! there's your pee!" and Myra was still whimpering and waved at her pee and said "bye bye!" So, I invited her to help me "put it away" in the big toilet and we ceremonially said goodbye to her urine.  Then lunch, then NAP.  I forgot to finish this last night, but I know we left the house briefly for a 1 mile walk and no pee.  I honestly think she held it all afternoon (late-ish nap) and I/we decided not to push it at bedtime.  Myra sat on the toilet, happily, but didn't pee.  At this point, we were okay with leaving it at that.
Toilet pee count: 1. Toilet poop count: 0.

Thursday, October 16. Day Six.

Today was pretty good!  Myra held it for a couple hours in the morning, then I saw she had a very small wet spot on her pants so off to the toilet we went.  She got on just fine and we sang some songs (I'm not going to start bribing her with STUFF, but I'm down with a little "twinkle twinkle" if it does the trick).  She got antsy and frustrated, started crying, then would distract herself, repeat.  We have a skylight in our bathroom so she loves to look at that, otherwise she will just snap out of her mood and point stuff out, "soap!" or "lotion!"  Anyway, she was fighting it a bit and not thrilled, but not actually fighting ME and generally doing better than previous days.  She peed and we made a deal about it, even interrupted Trevor's studying to share the news, "I did it!"  We went back to our day, but Myra was quickly grabbing and squatting again so we went back to the bathroom.  It still took her a bit, but not quite as long and she peed a little more.  Same response, praise, high five, bye bye pee, and flush.  Lunch, NAP.  After her nap I was all ready to head out the door.  Our realtor's office (from when we bought our house) had a fun open house thing with face painting, free pumpkins, photos, and more this afternoon.  It was our first real "outing" since we started potty training.  As soon as Myra woke up and had her bottle, we were out the door so we could hopefully get back before she had to pee.  Everything went well, we got home, ate supper, read some books, and she sat on the toilet twice but no pee.  Again, we're just going with it for now and I didn't push it.  Knowing she can, and will, consistently hold it plus my break away from all of this and the new toilet seat has made me a lot more relaxed.  I have even let her play in our carpeted upstairs living room while I cook and clean and I don't worry too much.  I know I need to watch more closely as she passes the two hour mark and especially closer to three or more hours.  And I have to remind myself of the progress we've made and that it hasn't even been a week yet.  This is a big change and we're off to a good start!
Toilet pee count: 2. Toilet poop count: 0.

Friday, October 17.  Day Seven.
You guys get the short version for this one.  You can thank me later.  I didn't feel like sitting at the computer last night, so I didn't.  This would have been a school day for Myra, but it's MEA so nope.  This was the reason for choosing to potty train now (plus we had no weekend plans and she was showing us she was up for the challenge).  Grandpa came to visit around noon and Myra had just finished pooping on the potty!  She was doing her usual signs a bit earlier than usual (hooray!) so we went and hung out in the bathroom for a while.  She sat there and was whiny/crying off and on, but didn't fight me to get off the toilet so I left that part alone.  We hugged it out quite a bit, but she didn't show she wanted to get off for quite a while.  When she did, I let her, but we stayed in the bathroom.  Once she got really obvious with her signs again, I put her back on.  She started stressing out, but we pushed through.  I can tell when something is actually about to happen, but this time I noticed her belly was really tight--poop!  We celebrated and said "bye bye poop!" as it was flushed away.  About two minutes later, Grandpa got here.  Our bedtime attempt didn't go so well, but she was still okay with sitting on the toilet.  She had started to pee her pants, so Trevor grabbed her and they hung out in the bathroom for a while.  No luck though.  And that's the long and short of it.
Toilet pee count: 0.  Toilet poop count: 1. 

Click here to read Part Two

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Causes: National Marrow Awareness Month.

November is National Marrow Awareness Month.  I have personally seen the impact marrow donation can make for individuals and families alike.  This story belongs to Mary, the wonderful and strong mother of my good friend, Adam.  It seems that blood donation is common knowledge (which is great, it's important!), but marrow donation is not discussed or considered nearly as often.  I would say the impact one can make by donating bone marrow is difficult to put into words, but Mary proved me wrong.  After following Mary's story and now reading this post, she sums it up well when she says, "Cancer took things from me, but it also gave me things that I never could have expected." Thank you so much to Mary for sharing this journey.  I'm resisting the urge to go on and on in this intro and I will let Mary do the talking.

When Ali asked me to write something for her blog, my first thought was I can’t do this… but how could I say no? So, please bear with me and ignore any grammar issues :)

2011 was fast approaching; I was in the midst of changing jobs, busy with the holidays, and doing the juggle act between being a wife and mother. Life was crazy busy. January came and I was feeling run down. I found myself having to take breaks during my Zumba classes because I was so short of breath. I caught a cold, with a bad cough, head ache, and low grade fevers. After much nagging from my dear husband, Ross, I made an appointment at our family clinic. 

It was Friday, January 21st, 4 pm appointment. I was seen by a resident, who after examining me thought it was most likely a sinus infection and gave me an antibiotic. He also asked me to have a blood sample drawn since I had been feeling run down. At 6 pm that evening I received a call from the resident. He explained that my blood sample showed some things that were a little worrisome, and they would like me to come in to the clinic the next morning to see a staff physician. The warning bells in my head went off. I have worked in the medical field since 1983, mostly in GI, but I knew enough to know that this was not good. I asked the physician, “what labs were they concerned about?” He told me my white count and platelets were very low. I remember saying "it’s not leukemia right, my white count would be high?” He reassured me it could be lots of things; they would need to do a little more testing to find out for sure what was going on. I remember hanging up the phone, and thinking I have CANCER. I found my darling husband, and told him about the call; he was in total shock as I told him I think I have cancer. I felt numb, I called my sister and told her, as I talked it was like I was talking about someone else. This really couldn't be happening to me. I am only 47, I have too much to do. I can’t have cancer. Saturday morning my husband and I sat and listened as another doctor told us that this looked like it could be a blood disorder, possibly cancer. He wanted us to have another blood draw on Monday morning and scheduled an appointment with oncology. Oncology…the cancer department. We were in total shock. I don’t even remember the ride home.

I come from a large family with 6 sisters, who are my go-to people, my rock. One phone call was all it took and within minutes the rest of family had been notified and the prayer chain and Google searches had begun. It was the longest weekend, waiting for Monday so we could get some answers. I didn’t cry, or break down even once. I had calmness about me, call it shock, or faith, but it got me though that awful waiting period. Ross was a wreck, hovering over me.  My symptoms were increasing fast. By Sunday evening Ross was calling the emergency nurse line because my fever had increased, I had uncontrollable shakes, and my heart rate was extremely high. They told him to continue to monitor me and to bring me to the ER if things progressed. We survived the night. Monday he dropped me off at work, I had my blood drawn. I went to work and started to clean up my work area, it was like I was in nesting mode, like when you are pregnant, and you start to organize everything to prepare for what is coming. I asked my new supervisor to meet with me. We sat in the cafeteria, and I told her I think I might have cancer. I might need to take some time off. I was in robot mode, checking things off the list, still not crying. By 10 am I was feeling awful, so Ross took me home and put me to bed. At 11 am my physician called and told me that I needed to be admitted to the hospital as soon as possible. The blood tests were back and it appeared to be Leukemia. More testing was needed. I was crashing fast, feeling extremely week, and nauseated, I could feel my pulse beating like a drum in my head. I vomited in the hospital lobby waiting room. The first person who saw me was a 1st year medical resident; he was so calming, and caring. As he was getting ready to leave the room he stopped and smiled at me, and said “do not be afraid, God takes care of those who take care of his people”. I felt this peace wash over me.

The days that followed became a blur of blood test, IV’s, medication, and a bone marrow biopsy. I developed sores in my mouth and tongue, making it hard to eat or talk. The biopsy results confirmed what we feared, Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a very fast spreading blood cancer. They explained my options: chemo alone, giving me a 20-40 percent life expectancy of 5 years; Or chemotherapy, radiation, and a stem cell transplant upping my odds to 50 percent. I remember looking over at Ross and saying well I have always been average so 50 percent sounded pretty good to me.

My chemotherapy started the next day, which consisted of 24 hours a day for 7 days. My fevers soared to 105 degrees, I was hallucinating, and my body shook uncontrollably. They moved me to the intensive care unit, putting me on an ice bed to try to bring down the fevers. My family hovered in the waiting room, praying, feeling helpless. Ross was exhausted, staying with me 24/7.

The transplant doctors were so excited to hear I had 6 sisters who could possibly be a stem cell match. Siblings offer the best chance of survival, and less chance of side effects post-transplant. All of my lovely sisters stepped up to the plate and got tested. It took about 2 weeks to get all the results, we were devastated to find out not one of them was a match. There are 10 things they look for and we needed a 10 out of 10 match. Our transplant doctor, who I think of as my guardian angel, told us not to worry. He would find a match. They contacted the Be the Match Foundation and had them run their registry to see if anyone was a match. I started to lose my hair, so I asked the nurse to shave it off. This gave me a sense of control, when everything else in my life was turning upside down. I just needed to have a say in something.

Cancer is like a snake curling though your body, eating away at you. Chemotherapy is like the Marines coming in to destroy the cancer but killing all that is in its path: The good, the bad and the ugly. It leaves you weak, bald, nauseated, vomiting, anxious, and worst of all you never know what horror to expect next. Cancer took things from me, but it also gave me things that I never could have expected. It strengthened my faith in God. It pushed me to really evaluate my life. It encouraged me to talk to people in my life with whom I needed to make amends, and also with ones that I needed to ask forgiveness from. It reminded me to tell my family and friends how much I loved them. I started to read the bible, and began to build a relationship with my creator. It deepened my relationship with my husband, and children.

Throughout this nightmare I witnessed so many good things. People from all areas of my life began donating blood, platelets, and signing up to be bone marrow donors. It introduced me to so many others fighting the same disease as me; children, teens, men, and moms just like me. Each of them taught me so much about life, courage, and love. Most of all, this experience and the people that I encountered during it taught me about faith.
Fast forward a little while, and we were given the news we were waiting for. They found the PERFECT MATCH! A 24 year old girl from Germany was my match.  We were overcome with joy.

The cancer journey is a lot like the Wizard of Oz.  You’re traveling along the yellow brick road, admiring the beautiful scenery and BAM, out of nowhere you are hit with flying monkeys, a wicked witch, and a whole lot of questions. The good old doctor informed us that he had been worried about my high antibody count and had some additional tests done on my potential donor’s blood, and mine. We were eventually told that the transplant was canceled, because the donor’s and my antibodies would not do well together. The transplant would have most likely killed me.  We felt broken. What now? The search began again for another donor. Another round of chemotherapy began.

Imagine being on a crazy roller coaster ride. That best describes the ups and downs my journey. Each time we were given a little ray of hope, we celebrated. We were excited to think we were at the end of the ride, only to have it take a crazy turn that had us free falling into another nightmare. Cancer teaches you that you really don’t control of much in this life. Those things we treasure are just those…things. Like my pastor often says you don’t ever see a hearse pulling a U-hall behind them.

Late April we were once again blessed. Another donor had been found! This time it was a 20 year old female. A truly PERFECT match. Within a month the process had begun.  The transplant was scheduled for July 15th; I would have more chemotherapy and 3 days of full body radiation prior to the transplant. This would once again kill off all my cells, and prepare me for the new stem cells. My donor would be given a growth hormone for a few days to increase her stem cell count. Once her counts were high enough they would draw the stem cells by running her blood through a machine which pulled the stem cells out, and then returned the remaining blood to her. The stem cells would be placed in an IV bag, then into a little red cooler and flown immediately to our hospital. I was feeling overwhelmed for the first time since this journey began. I worried about my donor. I kept thinking about what she had to go through.  Would I want my child to go through something like this? I worried for myself also. I was petrified of radiation. I am not really sure why, after going through chemotherapy, how bad could it be? But I was shaken; I asked everyone I knew to pray for me. Our doctor, the guardian angel, sat us down and gave us all the dirty details of the transplant. He explained that there was 25 percent rate of dying in the first 100 days. We would need to stay in a transplant house for this time period to be close to the hospital in case of an emergency. I would need 24 hour a day supervision. Ross had already been away from work since January, and his boss was putting pressure on him to come back to work.

The roller coaster of emotions was running high. My sisters rallied, and put together a list of caregivers which would allow Ross to work during the days and watch over me during the night. I felt so blessed to have such a loving group of family and friends.  At the same time I was fighting emotions of helplessness. I was always the caretaker, the server, but I had been demoted to being cared for. It was humbling.

The hospital stays, tests, medications, and not working was causing a great financial strain on my husband. Once again our friends and family rallied by putting together fundraisers to take some of the pressure off. This too was blessing, and very humbling. Over and over people stepped up to help us. Cancer has shown us there is so much good still in the world. People DO care.

We witnessed the true power of prayer. We didn't get every prayer answered with a yes, and many times we didn't understand why, but after time passed we saw that God had a better plan. This journey has taught me to trust in God’s promise that I don’t need to fear, because I will never be left alone. God will always go with me. He didn't promise life would be easy, but He did promise if I placed my faith in him He would provide me with all the strength and courage I would need to get through anything.

The evening before my first radiation treatment a peace washed over me, and I slept like a baby. Morning came; the escort wheeled me to the treatment area with my husband, son and youngest daughter in tow. As we waited, I felt so much peace.  It was as if my wheel chair was floating off the ground. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

July 15th, Transplant Day, had arrived. The skies opened, and rain poured down. The clouds were black as night, and streets began to flood. We waited, and worried the little red cooler would not be able to make the flight. My family and friends came, decorated my room with streamers and delivered a birthday cake. We waited. Around 5 pm the little red cooler arrived and the transplant began. With my husband, and 3 beautiful children present, the liquid gold was placed into me. My sisters, parents, and best friend took turns celebrating with us blowing birthday horns and singing Happy Birthday.

In June of 2012, I was blessed with the opportunity to meet my donor and her friends and family. We got a chance to thank her, and to show her what her selfless gift she had given to me and my loved ones. She had given us sweet, precious time.

I do not fear death. I believe this is earth is a stepping stone to something far greater than I can ever imagine. I am so grateful for this precious time. I have learned on this journey that in life there will always be troubles. Some are big, some are small. It is how we respond that will affect the outcomes. We each have a choice with how we react; I choose to be faithful, to live life to the fullest, and enjoy all that is given to me. I choose to make a difference on this earth with every second of time God blesses me with. I want to die with no regrets.

Here is the link to the Be The Match Foundation registry.  It only takes about 15 minutes to register. It consists of signing a consent, swabbing your mouth with a Q-tip (a kit can be sent to your home) and then having your data stored in a database. This database is used by hospitals all over to find matches for patients in need. If you are one of them, the Be the Match Foundation will contact you to see If you are willing to be a donor.  If you still are, they will schedule a set of tests to see if you qualify. If you do, you will be asked to donate stem cells or bone marrow. 75% of donations in the US are done using stem cells.  A donor is given a medication to bump up the stem cells in their blood, which can take 2-5 days. Once the magic number is reached, a clinic will harvest the stem cells. They start an IV and draw the blood which goes into a machine that pulls only the stem cells, and returns the remaining blood to the donor. This takes about 4 hours. For a bone marrow harvest, they collect the cells under anesthesia; it takes about 2-3 hours. You do not have to take the medication prior to this procedure. They insert a needle to collect the cells from your hip area. You wear a bandage for 24 hours, and may experience some aching. Overall, a small price to pay to give someone life!

Be The Match:

Click here to read the other Causes series posts

Sunday, November 2, 2014


We had a great Halloween!  Even though Trevor had drill this weekend, it was only two days (a first in a while!) so he was able to be here Friday night until after bedtime.  We didn't do a darn thing for Halloween last year--Myra was so young (and we had pulled all solid foods at the time) and we were in the middle of some other tough, hectic life stuff at the time.  This year was pretty fun, I must say.

We started the day by Myra greeting Trevor in costume which was pretty darn cute.

Then brushing our teeth together, of course.

And off to school!

After that we had just a normal day until it was time to go Trick-or-Treating with some friends.

Myra only got one piece of candy she could actually eat (Smarties), but that was okay since we had a plan.  She was also the lucky recipient of one mustard packet!

The next morning, after removing a few of our favorite candies, we brought Myra's candy to our local hospital.  They offered a really cool program where they would buy the candy for $1.50/lb then send it to troops overseas.  Myra drew on a card for them to send with the candy.  Plus, she got a goodie bag with a toothbrush, toothpaste, bottled water, and a couple other small things.  

I've always liked the idea of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), but decided this year we would actually start celebrating it with Myra.  The poor girl has been to five (at least?) funerals in her short life and we try to talk about loved ones we've lost in regular conversation.  She has pictures of them in her photo album which she thinks is pretty great these days.  Since she's so young, I decided to just head to the library and get some kids books about death and some that would help us talk about loved ones in specific, books about things those people loved.  The heroes book we got included the usual suspects (police, firefighters, ambulance workers) and some others like older siblings, teachers, and friends.  It did not, however, include service members so we had to cover that on our own.  Luckily, we are well equipped with books and photos in that department.

Our library has some pretty cool kids stations as part of a joint effort with the MN Children's Museum, so she loves playing with their market, fishing boat, and tree fort.  

We played outside for a bit, jumped on our mini trampoline, and I made some Myra friendly meatloaf which seemed to be a hit.  

Other important news from this week: I passed my gestational diabetes screening!  With Myra, I was over by 1 point so I had to do the three hour fasting test.  The one hour test was fine, but I felt like I was dying during that three hour test.  A pregnant lady chugging an incredibly sugary drink on an empty stomach then sitting there for three hours with nothing to eat or drink (and a man in the waiting room barfing into a bag) is not cool.  So, I was very excited I didn't have to go through that again...and that I don't have gestational diabetes.  They also checked my iron which was only a tiny bit low, so I just have to go to Timberlodge more often...or eat more spinach.  I had to take iron with Myra, so what all of this tells me is that this baby is already trying to get on my good side.  

Oh, and I also passed what I can only assume is the clinic's official Ebola screening... "Have you been outside the US in the last 21 days?" ... "Nope." ... PASS.  At the risk of getting all political, Ebola is not a joke, but there are so many things about which I am far more concerned than Ebola right now.  

Anyway...we hope you all had a wonderful Halloween, too!  And to all you parents especially, hopefully daylight savings is being gentle on you so far.

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