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Procrastination…

19 Jul

 

“Procrastination” sounds much sexier if you sing it to the tune of “Infatuation” by Rod Stewart. Just saying.

Sorry I have been MIA. Lots going on – pregnancy, bachelorette party for my sister that almost all of the like ten girls said they were coming to subsequently bailed out on/didn’t show up for, dog, life, etc. I haven’t even really been shopping for product! So you know I have been crazy.

Whatever, this stage couldn’t have handled any more sexy, anyhow.

So a very brief update – we got the MaterniT21 test results and they show to a 99% accuracy that there are NO genetic abnormalities with the baby (who is currently known as Fruit Bat). HOORAH! It’s been a long road and we still have a long way to go (it was 20 weeks Saturday) but every bit of good news helps. Thank you again for all your well wishes and kind thoughts and words! It helped immensely.

I am going to try my damnedest to get a few reviews out in the next couple days. Like, three. At least.

Hope you are all well and staying beautiful!

xoxo

 

The Truth About Cats & Dogs (& Chickens & Guinea Pigs & Mice &…)

5 Jul

Sid on the left, Snuggles on my back, and Ollie in my face.

This is a pet-related post. And a tiny tiny bit of a rant.

Right now, sitting in my lap as I write this, is my cat Boris. A few minutes ago, Boris jumped up behind me in my chair and, purring loudly, attempted to climb my back and over my shoulder to get into my lap. Boris really, really, REALLY likes to snuggle.

Four and a half years ago, in December 2007, Boris was removed from the home of a cat hoarder. He was taken from his mother a bit too early and was therefore quite scrawny. He was fostered out to gain weight, and when he was healthy, returned to the Humane Society to be adopted out. Since he was a cute little ball of black kitten fuzz, this happened quite quickly.

Boris’ new family named him “Barracuda.” They must have thought this was cute and clever. They kept him for a full year before returning him to the Humane Society, claiming he was unmanageable because he “runs away.”

I met Boris in October 2009. By this time, he’d been at the Humane Society for quite a long time. He had groomed away most of his fur from the waist down due to anxiety. Apparently, when cats groom, they get an endorphin rush. Boris took this to the extreme and groomed all the time to soothe himself. When I arrived, I already knew which cat I wanted – I had chosen him off the HS website because he was male and black, and I’d recently lost my black male cat, Piglet, to a coyote. I didn’t know about his overgrooming issue when I chose him, and although when I first saw him I was a little concerned he had the mange, when I learned the real cause I wasn’t too bothered. As soon as I arrived in the cat room and saw him, he immediately jumped into my lap, curled up, and went to sleep. I briefly expressed interest in another cat (I didn’t want to take it home – I was pretty much immediately sold on “Barracuda”), and the volunteer hurriedly told me about the other cat – a fluffy, friendly cream and orange tabby – “That’s Peaches, but she’s going to find a home right away.” I could tell from her tone of voice that Boris was  a hard sell, and by his behavior, I could assume this was based on appearance only. How sad.

Boris’ Humane Society headshot.

My cats are indoor outdoor, so the “escape” issue was never a problem for me. Boris did have about a year’s worth of “adjustment” time – my other three cats are older and his constant insistence on chasing and playing came off as very aggressive. They were not fans and he was somewhat excluded and isolated. The overgrooming continued, abating when we were home and worsening when we’d go away on vacation. After our three-week trip to get married and honeymoon, the overgrooming never stopped, even upon our return. I finally had to start medicating Boris with Prozac.

MAYBE why he needed the Prozac… Boris’ first Halloween with us.

This October, Boris will have been with us for three years. His fur is completely grown in. He is no longer on Prozac. He gets along beautifully with his brothers. He will snuggle any person who walks in this house. He likes to do things like tunnel under the bed covers, earning him the nickname Mongoose. For the first year or so, he was outside as much as he was in, often bringing us “presents” of rats, birds, and other wildlife. 😦 Now he spends about 80% of his time inside, and hunts primarily moths and houseflies. He is a different, and way cooler, cat than the one I adopted.

As a brief overview, my other three cats are, in the order I acquired them:

Sid – ~13 – adopted in Lakewood, WA, when I lived in a military neighborhood after someone abandoned him. Probably abandoned as a kitten, he was feral and I had to do a lot of work  to get him to trust me. When I finally did, I took him to the vet and had him neutered. He’s never trusted me again. KIDDING! He is my shyest kitty, but extremely loving.

Oliver – ~11 – ALSO adopted in Lakewood, WA, when I lived in a military neighborhood after someone abandoned him. Found neutered and with a badly infected ingrown claw. Has since had to have all his teeth and one eye removed for medical reasons. Most laid back kitty I have ever met, we call him “The Teddy Bear.” Only cat I have ever met you can step SQUARELY on by accident who, instead of running, looks up at you with an expression that says, “Oops. We all make mistakes.”

Sebastian (aka Snuggles) – ~12 – Guess where I got him? Yep – adopted in Lakewood, WA, when I lived in a military neighborhood after someone abandoned him. Found neutered AND DECLAWED. I had four cats at the time and had no intention of adopting him but went home for two weeks in the middle of winter and when I returned, he was still on my doorstep. I put up signs and ads but no one claimed him. He’s been mine ever since.

Let me get to the two points of this post, after all this rambling.

1. DON’T ADOPT AN ANIMAL UNLESS YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE COMMITTING TO. Animals are not presents, they are not accessories, they are RESPONSIBILITIES you take on for the life of the animal. This can be 20 years OR MORE! Agh, sorry for all the caps but seriously, how is this even still an issue? Okay, Kate, calm. Just – if you want to adopt an animal, ask yourself the following questions:

-Am I prepared to commit to this animal for 20 years, if it comes to that?
-Do I have the means (money AND time) to care for this animal properly? Keep in mind this means regular vet visits, food, clean water at all times, treats, exercise, and quality time.
-What am I going to do with this animal when I want to go out of town or stay out all night?
-Is it possible I could be allergic to this animal? What will I do if I become involved with someone who is?
-Do I have a stable place for me and this animal to live?
-Will I be able to take this animal with me if I move? Am I willing to do the work required to find animal-friendly rentals?
-If something happens to me, what will happen to my animal?

Think of adopting an animal as though you are adopting a child. It is virtually the same thing. You wouldn’t enter into the latter lightly or without a LOT of planning. Don’t enter into the former without the same.

2. YOU WILL GET OUT OF AN ANIMAL EXACTLY WHAT YOU PUT INTO IT. Yes, animals all have different personalities. You may get a high-strung dog or a very mellow cat. But in the end, the real decider is you. The older an animal when you adopt it, the more time you have to put into it, but in the end, you WILL see the fruits of your labor. My high-strung, crazy, mighty hunter of a cat, Boris, is now a lap cat who snuggles his brothers and likes nothing better than to be touched. When we first adopted him you had to feel his throat to know if he was purring or not; now you can hear him from the other side of the room. My feral kitty Sid, who literally peed on me in bed about a dozen times the first year I had him, now only uses the litter box or the great outdoors, and takes turns rubbing on my husband and me. My goldendoodle puppy, who is 6 months old, constantly amazes people with her gentle, calm demeanor and mild personality. And my hens – these are just regular old, egg-laying hens – run to me when they hear my voice, wanting to be held and snuggled. Take time EVERY DAY to bond with your pets. Respect but push their limits – if your cat doesn’t like being held, insist on holding it for 15 or 30 seconds a day, slowly building until the cat will allow itself to be held for a minute or more. It may never enjoy being held, but it should allow you to do so without a big scene. YOU are the owner, YOU are the parent, YOU make the rules, and YOU form the animal. You cannot change an animal’s inborn personality but you CAN change its behaviors and reactions – all it takes is time.

I really hope I haven’t offended anyone or come off as too preachy – it just breaks my heart to see animals constantly returned to animal shelters because of “behavioral problems” that are easily resolved with time and training. Although if you do have to get rid of an animal for ANY reason it is definitely far more humane to take him or her to a shelter than to simply abandon it in hopes someone will take it in! Domestic animals are NOT prepared for life fending for themselves – please do not make them try to figure it out!

Okay, this is by far the longest post I have ever done. I hope it’s at least somewhat informative, and I welcome any questions or comments. Have a great Thursday!

Genetic Testing Update

27 Jun

Okay, so, today we had another appointment. As you have probably already read if you have been following this saga as it develops, we got the quad screen blood test results back and they showed we had a 1:12 risk for having a baby with Down’s. I cried a lot because it’s a lot to process. I went back and forth regarding what we’ll do, how we’ll deal, etc. I am a TOTAL hope for the best but prepare for the worst personality. Between all the thinking and research, the support of my wonderful husband, and the incredible outpouring of love from my friends, family, and even acquaintances, I had come to a place where I was just kind of like, whatever the news, we’ll deal. I love children and I have worked with disabled adults and kids, and there are way worse things your baby can be born with than Down’s. It’s not optimal, it’s not what you hope for, but it’s certainly surmountable.

So we went in for the genetic counseling and they pretty much signed us in and sent us directly upstairs for an ultrasound. The ultrasound took FOREVER because they look for all these different markers that can indicate a problem (Down’s or otherwise), and Baby Jig was not cooperating. The one thing he DID cooperate with was gender – we now know we are having a little man. 🙂 Anyhow, he was on his head, chin tucked in, arms behind his head – really doing a little gymnast routine. He waited till the VERY end to finally give the tech a nice profile shot, which I will scan and post here, but currently my husband I think has all the pics in his jacket and he’s gone to work. The end result of the ultrasound was a 100% healthy-looking baby with NO markers for Down’s or any other defects. My placenta is currently blocking my cervix (praevia) but the tech and the doctor both said that this early, that is not a problem and they expect it will move as my uterus stretches (I am still barely showing). Even if it doesn’t, all this means is a C-section, which again, is not optimal BUT is certainly far from the worst thing that can happen!

So after all this we went down to see the genetic counselor. She informed us that the risk after the perfect u/s was reduced to 1:24, or 4-5%. I went in this morning thinking, I am definitely going to get an amnio. I was aware of the MaterniT21 test from all the research I’d done, but I wanted the fast results that the FISH test would provide. The days have passed very slowly since Friday and I was ready for some definitive answers. However, after learning that our risk had dropped, and feeling very confident after seeing Baby BOY Jig do his tumbling routine on the u/s, I opted instead for the MaterniT21 test. It is a new test – 7 months or so old – and the results are about 98% accurate. The main benefit is that it is noninvasive – it’s a blood test, so there is no danger to the baby. Results will take two weeks, and if they do come back positive, we will again have to consider amnio for a more definitive answer. I feel really optimistic now, though – preparing for the worst helped me cope and I feel comfortable no matter what the results are at this point. Of course I hope for a 100% perfectly healthy baby, but I am glad that he seems well and is snuggled in happily doing his thing.

One other note is based on his size, we seem to be about a week ahead of where we thought, which would move our due date to around the 24th of November. So we could be expecting a Thanksgiving baby. 🙂

Thank you AGAIN for all the love and support! Words cannot express my gratitude, appreciation, and awe at how lucky I am! xoxo

Quickie Update.

25 Jun

After much struggle, I finally got an appointment with a genetic counselor at Swedish for this Wednesday at 8am. They have scheduled me for an amnio directly following, which I can choose whether or not I want to do after meeting with the counselor.

Emotions I am feeling: scared, angry, frustrated, worried, sad – but also hopeful, loved, lucky, and a little peaceful. Thank you to all of you who have reached out to offer reassuring words, helpful/humorous anecdotes, and simply love. It matters more than you know, and I do thank God for having you all in my life. (If you have texted, fb messaged, or called me since I got the news, you are who I am talking about. THANK YOU. xoxo)

Genetic Testing, Down Syndrome, and the Unfolding Drama.

25 Jun

Heads up warning, this isn’t a beauty post – in case the title didn’t clue you in.

If you haven’t been following my reproductive misadventures and want to catch up, here are a couple blog posts:
Disaster Strikes
Good News

To summarize: We got pregnant, we lost the baby (and one of my Fallopian tubes in the process) in a big way, and then we found out we can still conceive because my other tube is a-okay. It almost seemed like this story was going to have a simple happy ending, as I am now 17 weeks pregnant, but nothing in life is simple, including this.

SO my husband was very, very insistent we get genetic testing for the baby – the non-invasive quad screen test. I really did not want to. His attitude was there’s probably nothing wrong, and if there is, knowing will give us time to prepare. My attitude was. these tests are not super accurate, and on the off-chance it shows there IS something wrong, we are going to have to go ahead and have an amniocentesis, because I am not going to spend the next five months of my pregnancy crying and wondering. The trouble with amnio is there is a chance it could harm the baby or end the pregnancy, so it’s a more risky procedure. Additionally, we aren’t planning to terminate the pregnancy regardless (although I have been waffling on this in my emotional upheaval the last few days), so that means five months of knowing the baby inside me is disabled if we had the amnio and it comes back positive.

I finally gave in to my husband and had the bloodwork and genetic ultrasound done. The first bloodwork and ultrasound came back normal, and I stupidly, stupidly let myself believe that meant everything was okay – this was a month or so ago. I had a regular prenatal appointment this past Tuesday where they took more blood for the cystic fibrosis test – I didn’t realize it was also for the second part of the genetic testing. Funny enough, they had a really, really hard time getting my blood out. I have tiny veins buried far under the surface – even experienced phlebotomists sometimes have a hard time with them. In this case, my midwife first tried my arm, then my hand, before calling in another doctor to help. I should have taken this as a sign.

Friday afternoon I got a voicemail message from my midwife’s partner stating that my blood results had come back, and I had tested positive for a 1:12 risk that my baby has Down syndrome. I listened to this message sitting in a nail salon after getting a mani pedi, and promptly began silently crying, humiliating myself in front of the nail technicians and all the other patrons. Awesome. I tried calling, texting, and emailing my husband, and could not get a response. I finally got myself under control enough to pay the bill and make it to my car, where I began hopelessly wailing. My midwife’s partner said in the voicemail that the next step was to contact a genetic counselor, who would discuss our options with us. I called the genetic counselor immediately. The first woman hung up on me. It really seemed like life was punching me in the face at this point. Oh, I haven’t even mentioned the best part – it was POURING rain. Like a hurricane. So here I am in my car, in a parking lot, sobbing uncontrollably, unable to reach my husband, rain pouring down – what a fiasco.

I finally reached someone at the perinatal unit and she was super nice and sympathetic. Unfortunately, she could not find my paperwork. In a helpful manner unlike many I have encountered in the medical world, she actually offered to call my midwife and find out where the paperwork was, then call me back. In a matter of minutes she did this, and told me that they would be faxing the paperwork over shortly and I should call back Monday to make my appointment, because a genetic counselor would need to look at the paperwork first before they could schedule me – this was around 1pm Friday.

I finally got to talk to my husband and he offered to call and try to get more information from the midwife. He also said he was going to come straight home.

After the call from my husband, my midwife’s partner called me back. She had no other real information for me. I managed to get myself together enough to drive and made it home, where I continued crying and cursing myself for being talked into doing something I knew was only going to bring bad news. I was angry not just at myself, but at God (who I’ve had a pretty tenuous relationship with anyhow since my cat, my mother-in-law, and my father all died in a 6-month period), my midwife, my husband, and the baby. I was screaming in the car in rage and fear and helplessness. It’s actually lucky I made it home okay, driving that way in such awful weather.

My husband got home within an hour and we cried together and he apologized profusely for making me get the testing, repeating again and again that he was wrong. I am angry with him, I’m not going to lie, but it’s not his fault and I can’t hold it against him. He’s optimistic and I am sure he never imagined we’d actually get bad news.

At this point, as one does, I began reading shit on the internet. I would say that 9 times out of 10 – nay, 99 times out of 100 – this is a terrible idea. Typically it just freaks you out more and brings up crazy possibilities you weren’t even aware of. In this case, however, it turned out to be very soothing. Of the anecdotes I read through online, almost all of them were women who, like me, had been told they were at increased risk for having a Downs baby and ended up having a healthy baby. Some women said their “risk” ratios were as high as 1:4, 1:3, and even 1:2 – yet they’d delivered healthy, unaffected babies. Many women railed against the quad screen test, calling it inaccurate and unnecessary. I read one article that stated that of the women who test positive for “increased risk,” NINETY PERCENT end up delivering healthy, unaffected babies. In addition, if you do the math, 1:12 comes out to about 8% – which means I have a 92% chance of having a healthy baby. All this information didn’t ease my mind completely or erase my worries, but it did help me get through the weekend.

(I realize at this point I am rambling a bit, kind of scattered, and probably overusing certain words and phrases, but this isn’t an essay, it’s a blog post, and I’m a bit scattered myself. So, apologies.)

This morning – Monday – I woke up at 7 because my hens were making a hell of a racket. Of course: I instantly thought, “Call the genetic counselor,” so there was no going back to sleep for me. I tried to call and got the voicemail stating that they opened at 8. I called at 8:05, 8:12, 8:16, 8:21, and 8:28, and each time got the voicemail stating that they were closed and opened at 8. Let me interject here and say AGGGHHHHH! This is NOT the first time this has happened to me – if you open at 8, open at 8! Good grief! Finally at 8:38 I got a person and after holding forever while she searched for my paperwork, found out that the genetic counselors STILL needed to review my case before they could make me an appointment. WTF. I realize this is their job, and they do this every day, but this is my LIFE. Have some empathy!

I asked WHEN they would call me back and was told, “sometime this morning.” At this point my husband awoke and came downstairs. I got off the phone and he asked me the details and I told him and then broke down again. I spent about fifteen minutes crying, calmed down, took a shower, and then lost it again, and cried for another half an hour. The worst part of this is I KNOW all this stress and sadness and worrying isn’t good for the baby, but I can’t stop it. I have never felt so helpless and confused in my life. I have no idea what to do, and right now there’s not much I CAN do except wait, which is totally counterintuitive.

I finally called my midwife, and she was sympathetic and understanding. She called the perinatal unit and told them to hurry up and call me back already, and they said they would do so before noon. It’s not quite 11am right now and I am just watching the minutes tick tick tick away and wondering what is next.

That’s the story as it stands. Generally I love being the center of attention – I danced burlesque, for God’s sake – and enjoy having a unique, interesting story to tell. In this case, however, I’d give pretty much everything I have to have a boring, no-drama, standard pregnancy. But I guess it’s too late for that now.

Business (Ad)Venture…

20 Jun

Soooo… I’m working from home now while I await the arrival of the little monkey. For a long time, my dream has been to open a body product/home fragrance/gift type store. I have been seriously toying with the idea for the last couple years, but I think I have finally decided that I am going to start as an internet business and if all goes well, after the baby comes, maybe consider opening an actual store as well.

I have so much to think about and do – first step is reading up on starting a business, next is finding someone to do web design, getting a business license, etc. I am excited and nervous and scared and more than a little worried I will fail, but if there’s one thing I know about, it’s cosmetics/body products/candles… well, that and music.

So anyhow, wish me luck and look for future news about the upcoming venture. It has a name, but I’m not going to share it just yet. 😉

Update!

15 Jun

I’ve been out and about, celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in the UK, sunning by the Mediterranean in Amalfi, Italy, and celebrating the recent announcement of our new little addition due December 1 (did I announce that here yet?), but I’ve not forgotten you!

Starting Monday, I’ll have a contest, a review of a terrible shampoo and conditioner, a review of an awesome tinted moisturizer, and lots more! Thanks for your patience, and I hope you’re enjoying your June!

Ciao for now!