Happy Birthday to Me: Lessons I Learned in my 30’s

Happy Birthday to Me: Lessons I Learned in my 30’s

Six Lit Birthday Candles

So, this is 40 and I could not be happier.  This time last year I feared turning 39, the age that would make me older than my mom at her passing. Subsequently, my dear husband and loved ones surprised me with a fantastic party.  Friends from all over sent well wishes and precious gifts with kindness.

I still have those days of guilt, like why did I get to live when my mom didn’t? Then, I feel extra guilty because that thought it is not fair to my girls. When I got hit with the tests that revealed that I needed a hysterectomy fast, I got very scared. I became wrapped up in getting my household ready while I was in great pain. I avoided my emotional pain through distractions that included making sure my husband knew our youngest’ therapy schedule, amongst other details.

Reflection

When I woke up in ICU after the surgery, I was filled with exhilaration. My giddiness made the staff think they gave me too much morphine.  At that time I did not know if my journey to good health would be on hold, or be okay. Some days it feels like I have lived 1000 lifetimes. If only I could go back to my 20s to teach myself then what I know now. But, would I have really been the same person today if I did?

Housekeeping

The biggest lesson I have learned in my 30’s is to rid my world of the toxic people and the Negative Nellies. I used to sweat when people would not ‘like’ me, or I would try lame attempts to be their friend. What I did not rationalize is why would I want them as friends? “Mean Girls” became Mean Moms. Life is too short to not surround myself with loved ones who see me in the good, and especially important the bad times.

Could Have/Should Have

I used to think that if I knew that I was going to be a new mom in my 30s I would have done things differently. I would have traveled more, saved more money and tried another shot at a career.  If I went through the other door, would I still of had my girls?

Do What I Love Now.

Doing what I love is the sanest and simplest way to be the best me. I began writing when my oldest was just a baby. In between naps, diapers and tantrums, writing became my vice. It did not matter if I was sleep deprived, I felt my creative self being fed constantly.  Writing has evolved to a part-time career that I can do from home.

The last lesson I learned this decade was to trust my instincts.  In my 20’s, I did not listen to my inner voice enough. This decade, I began to fine-tune my gut instinct enough to rely on it. When I steer from it, a roadblock appears. Go figure.

As I enter the Fab 40’s, I am showing more gratitude for today. It is the only one I have.

What have you liked/disliked about a certain age? Any lessons have I missed?

5 Reasons why having a Hysterectomy was a Good Thing

Champagne

Early this summer I had to go in for urgent surgery, a hysterectomy. Here is why it was the best thing for me.

Family History

For once, my family history made me a priority when my periods became erratic. I have suffered from endometriosis since I was a teen. It slowed down during my two pregnancies. Last Christmas it picked up speed painfully. It got to the point I wasn’t able to leave the house or be a present mom.

What They Found

After waiting for the best OBGYN in town for months, she sent me for test. Thankfully, I got in quickly. At that time, several fibroid tumors and one polyp was found in my uterus. Surgery was scheduled 5 weeks from the original testing date. There was no time to waste. A partial hysterectomy was scheduled quickly. (Uterus and tubes removed, ovaries were clear.)  My body took a turn for the worst fast.

Baby Factory Closed

Due to the endometriosis, I never expected to be pregnant once, let alone twice. Three doctors told me I could not conceive naturally. After meeting my girls and seeing my youngest go through her challenges with autism, my baby factory is closed. I am at peace with that. If I ever feel a baby urge, I can visit one of my friends’ newborns.

NO.MORE.PERIODS

No more late-night grocery store trips when I run out of pads. No more impossible-to-handle cramps when my girls need me. No more forgetting to stock my purse every week in case I am out when ‘Aunt Flo’ arrived.

I am here!

Because of my high-cancer risk due to a genetic disorder I have for ovarian and endometrial cancer, having the surgery reduced my risk dramatically. I am older than my mom lived. History has not repeated itself. I won’t let it. Apparently my body agrees.

I turn 40 on October 10th this year. I cannot think of a better birthday gift than being alive for my family and me.

Labour Day of the Heart: #IVF

Labour Day of the Heart: #IVF

School Supplies

Labour day means so many things to different people. It began as a day off for front-line workers. It merged into the last long weekend of the summer before kids started school. To spend lazy afternoons camping with the kids or having friends over for a BBQ is the norm these days. When I think of kids I think of the birthing day (aka THE Labour Day.) When you become pregnant, the Birthing/Labour day is the finish line. For some women, they just want to start the journey to motherhood.
Back-To-School campaigns can make some people sad. They cry on Labour Day. As kids go back to school, government returns to session. Now that the election is completed, I wonder if the government is considering in adding to the health care policy to include funding for IVF treatments.
Currently, many women transfer multiple embryos during IVF, in hopes that one will grow into a baby. Often, twins, triplets and quads end up with families that were trying to just have one baby. Multiple births can be costly over the lifetime of the children and the mother. There are many maternal health risks and health care challenges for multiples, like lifetime illnesses, disabilities and more.

As it says in this article: it can help all of us as taxpayers.There are many people trying to help moms be moms by supporting the initiative to have IVF publicly funded for them. If you are suffering from infertility, check out the site for information and support.

As I pack up for my own young daughters to get ready for school, I see how Labour Day can be hard for many women wanting to be in my shoes. I hope our province can join the many other places like Quebec and Australia who help families be born.

Do you know anyone who is suffering from infertility and trying to save up for treatments? Are they foregoing many things to help fund it? Please send them here for more information.

Back to School can mean back to Families First in this Province this fall.

Disclosure: I am a valued member of the #IVF4BC blog team. As such, I received compensation, but my opinion on this blog is my own.

Relax and Learn about Breast Cancer Prevention

Relax and Learn about Breast Cancer Prevention

Free Yoga

If you have been a reader here, you know that breast cancer stole my mom away from us when I was ten-years-old. My daughters never met their grandma. After my younger sister kicked cancer’s ass, I began to participate in the CIBC Run For A Cure as a way to give back to the gift of having her. It has now been over 13 years. Since then, I have been joined at the run by my sister, my brother-in-law, my best friend & my husband and our two daughters. I do believe that our girls will see a cure for breast cancer in their lifetime.
When I heard about the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s latest campaign to get the word out about breast health, I knew I had to help. Throughout September and part of October they will be visiting 25 campuses throughout BC, educating young women and men about ways to reduce their risk of breast cancer and empowering them with the knowledge that what they do now can impact their breast health in the future.

Don’t Forget to Check is targeted towards women and men 18-25 years old. There is a website http://www.dontforgettocheck.ca, a free iPhone and iPad app. Within these you can take a pledge, learn what to look for, set reminders to do your self checks, as well as “boob bomb” your friends. This sounds fun while having your girlfriends’ back.
Starting September 3rd, CBCF launches the “Don’t Forget to Check” college campus tours across BC. They will have information about modifiable risk factors affecting breast health including body weight, physical activity, alcohol use and smoking (harmful college life risks.) Don’t Forget To Check also encourages young women to check their breasts, know what’s normal for them, and if there are any changes, to go and see a health professional.
I have had mammograms since I was 28 years old. My mom was only 38 when she died. They only take a few minutes and can save your life. Consult your doctor or the CBCF site for more information about breast health.
How will CBCF deliver their message this year?
By hosting free yoga sessions on campus to engage in conversation with young women. While people take part in a low-impact, easy yoga session, the yoga instructor leading the class will weave messages about breast health and “don’t forget to check.”
Participation is optional. There will be the volunteers to answer questions and hand out reminders such as: bookmarks, note pads, nail files and more.
You may find them at the Student Union Building, outdoor atrium, current campus events, grassy field or high traffic areas. For locations, watch your local student newspaper, campus radio stations and posters displayed around the campuses.

For more information check out their site.

Has your life or loved ones been affected by Breast Cancer?
This year’s Run for the Cure is on October 6. Sign up here.  A new run site has been added: SURREY, BC.

The Summer I Did Not Plan

cropped-me-and-my-mom.jpg

At the beginning of summer, I had to go in for urgent surgery. Years of having bad cycles and family history, tumors invaded my reproductive system fast. So when I wrote, By The Time You Read This, I had no clue what I was facing that day. I did not know if there were more fibroids or tumors taking residence, or just what was found on the ultrasound weeks before. I have always hated the C-Word.

I was scared that I would not make it home like my mom didn’t. I had no clue which way it would go. I never wanted my mommy so badly in my life. Yet, I was not ready to meet her again.

It was the biggest relief to wake-up in ICU and realize that it was not a dream. I did not care about the pain and the itchy bandages.

It has been over 7 weeks now and I am not out of the woods. Recovery is not going well.  More tests and follow-up is needed. While the uterus and tubes are gone, the ovaries remained. Tumor Markers are not in the ‘good zone.’…yet.

So today, on the 29th anniversary of my mother’s death, I will leave my girls with a caregiver and go for more tests. By the end of this month I hope to finally celebrate with my girls and loved ones that I am okay. I have to be.

It still pains me to think of the summer I did plan back in spring. Only a few of those things, with the help of dear friends and sister, have been crossed off the list. I tried to make this summer memorable because my youngest will be starting a big milestone, kindergarten.

Whether they will remember this summer or not, I know that by being here is the most important thing. Even if that meant taking things slower.

Miss you loads, Mom. I like to think that you had something to do with my recovery. Just let me pass a few more tests. Xo

Packing for the Hospital: Keeping it Simple List

Packing for the Hospital: Keeping it Simple List

Hospital Sign

Recently, I had to go to the hospital for surgery. I kept mulling over what to pack in my hospital bag. In the past I always over packed, especially when I gave birth to my daughters. This time around, I remembered to keep it simple as I hoped that it would be for the one night.  So here is what I packed for your reference, whether you are the patient or the visitor.

  1. $5.00 in change. It came in handy to send visitors to the vending machine after the cafeteria was closed. Comfort food comes in handy at midnight sometimes. My weakness was ginger ale and chocolate.
  2. I loaded my smartphone with movies. Since you never know when the TV person comes through. Plus, I did not want the hassle of paying the one-day fee.
  3. Magazines, scratch and win tickets, pen and a small notebook. They fill the restless hours as you are trying to heal. The notebook is good for any instructions the doctor may tell you, or to write down an item you need from home.
  4. Toiletries: lip balm (hospitals can be very dry), unscented travel lotion, mouthwash and sanitary napkins (hospital fare can be pretty industrial). Also, pack a spare pair or two of underwear. Trust me.
  5. Utility pack: earplugs (in case you have a snoring neighbor), ear buds for your smartphone (helps to shut out hospital noise) and if you do bring your phone, do not forget the charger. Depending where your room is located, it could be roaming for a cell tower signal. It was great to have my phone to say goodnight and good morning to my household.

It was great to have a small care pack with me in the hospital. Comforts of home can be very healing to you as you are recovering. Best tip from me to you is not to expect to read a thick book, you body will take over your brain.

What did I miss on this list?