Sunday, June 28, 2009

Vacation! All I Ever Wanted

We recently flew to Huntington Beach, California to visit Rosie's favorite uncle, Josh. We all decided to celebrate our anniversary with some moderately good Seaside Mexican food on the snazzy little HB main street. Rosie made eating out just as adventurous as ever with the screaming, the spills, and suddenly proclaiming "all done" before the beers were half gone. Kris and I have come to accept that for the next 18 years, we are essentially banned from restaurants which serve meals over $9.99, because it seems that fancy people don't appreciate the occasional lemonade bath for their Jimmy Choos. But since Josh is still childless and fancy free, this weekend has been a crash course in parenthood. If only we could be better stewards for his journey since being prepared takes 97.2% of the stress out of outings with children. But as it is, we rarely remember to bring snacks, sippy cups, or diaper wipes along with us.

Once we were back home from dinner we started the bed time dance where we insist that it's late, and Rose is tired, and she in turn assures us that she's fine and it's time to play. Being taller and slightly smarter, Kris and I eventually prevailed, but less than an hour later Rosie woke up screaming. I almost left her to work it out for herself, but I figured she probably didn't remember where she was, so I went up to comfort her.

Once I got the door open I heard gagging and coughing interspersed with the screaming, and instantly started panicking. Rosie started to throw up a little so I scooped her up, ran down the hall to the bathroom, and held her over the sink. "I need help! Rosie is choking!" I screamed.

Kris and Josh came bounding up the stairs. Kris assessed the growing pile of pink puke in the sink, and the pathetic gagging sound Rose was making. We watched her gag and cough and cry for a moment, feeling completely useless. When I could no longer take it I halfheartedly stuck my finger in her mouth to see what was in there. Finding nothing, I looked up at Kris with sheer panic on my face. He took Rosie from my arms, and one triumphant finger sweep later, the puke fountain flowed freely. Gobs of stinky pink and white goo filled the sink. I suddenly realized it shouldn't go down the drain so I tried to hold it back with one hand while picking up chunks to identify what could have made her sick. As the puke oozed through my fingers, I remembered that Josh was also standing there, and could go get some paper towel. I glanced through the doorway and saw Josh's wide-eyed face completely drained of color and washed in horror. Above all else, Josh was concerned for Rosie, but combine the puking with the crying all night, waking up at 5am, inconvenient napping and generally stickiness and it has become clear that we have set back any future Lander cousins another few years.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Happy 8th Anniversary Love!

The last 12 years have been amazing. I feel so lucky to be married to the sweetest man, and the best father I know. Thank you so much!!

California here we come...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

We'll Say "Hi" to The Compound For You, Somer :)

We're going to the beach! Kris, Rosie, and I will leave tomorrow evening for Huntington Beach to visit Josh. We couldn't be more excited! Here's a few pics from our trip to Newport last year. Rosie was just about ten months old and took her first wobbly steps at the beach house. She didn't walk on her own for a few more weeks, but it was fun that the whole fam was there to witness her genius.

Rosie in her Aunt Billie and Uncle Mike's pool in Vegas

Wearing our commemorative "Hot Sake" shirts to celebrate Ricki's line in Iron Man.

Swimming in the buff in her sombrero-shaped beer cooler. Ultimate embarrassing baby picture, right? I'm pulling this one out on prom night.


So little!

Monday, June 22, 2009


My parents said that I was practically born with tonsillitis, but the doctors waited until I was four to take them out. Apparently, I would wake up at night gasping for air, my throat too swollen to breathe.

The first time I realized something bad was going to happen to me, my dad had taken me to a movie, and kept apologizing over and over. “I'm sorry you have to have a tonsillectomy,” he said. The lect-to-me part and all the guilt in his voice made me think it was his fault. I had no idea what it meant, but I thought about it for the whole movie. My mom apologized all the time too. I started to think my parents were plotting against me. If they were both so sorry, couldn't they just not lect-to-me my tonsils?

Most of my childhood was marked with constant confusion. My sister recently found a picture of me from when I was about five. “Look at your face!” she said. In the picture I was trying to smile, but my eyes were huge and radiating fear. It was enclosed in a frame made of cardboard and a few remnants of macaroni and gold spray paint. “I must have been at Sunday School. I never really understood Sunday School,” I said, peeling off a loose noodle. People should explain things to kids better.

It became clear to me that I would have to stay overnight at the hospital when my mom took me to K-Mart to pick out my own pair of hospital jammies. They had purple, pink, and orange tulips on them and ruffles at my feet like clown pants. I couldn't wait to wear them. I would lay them on my bed, straighten the tiny purple bows, and dream about the day that I would finally get to wear them. In retrospect I was clearly being manipulated.

When the big day finally came, I got to go on a tour of the hospital. I had my jammies in a bag over my shoulder and the promise of endless ice cream and popsicles filled my mind. The nurse gave each child on the tour a plastic medicine bag. In it was either that weird mirror thing doctors strap to their heads in movies, or a pointed nurses cap with a big red cross on it. All of the boys got to be doctors, and the girls were nurses. I handed my medicine bag back to the lady, once again confused about why she thought I wanted to be a nurse. “I want to be a doctor,” I informed her. I was thinking big and bucking stereotypical gender roles at age four. I often wonder what happened to that gumption. I had the surgery and felt pretty miserable for about a week. Soon I could breathe and swallow like a champ, but at the end of all of my suffering I learned the cruelest lesson of them all: life is not fair and when you're not paying attention your sister will eat all of your ice cream.

So about six months ago at one of Rosie's checkups, I was complaing that she was sick ALL THE TIME and wouldn't eat or sleep. Our doctor pried open Rosie's mouth and said, "Oh my!" as if she couldn't control herself. Once she had gathered her thoughts, she added in a much calmer voice, "Rosie's tonsils are simply huge."

They were swabbed for strep, but showed no infection. Her tonsils had just grown to be too large-- known as kissing tonsils. The Doctor explained that they were making it too hard for her to breathe at night, so she woke up all the time. And they were so big that she couldn't swallow enough food to nourish herself, which is why she hadn't gained any weight for almost six months. Feeling like THE WORST MOTHER, EVER, I promptly made an appointment with an ENT who droned on about having to wait to do the surgery until kids are at least two, so they can be reasoned with if they refuse to drink fluids. I thought in my head that we could be waiting for years, in Rosie's case, since she's as stubborn as the dykes are tall in her native Netherland home. But as soon as the doctor caught sight of the tonsils in question, he said, "my, that's an impressive presentation," and told us to schedule surgery immediately. He also said we could put tubes in her ears at the same time to help with her constant ear infections.

So I took my poor baby (who couldn't breathe, eat, or hear) home and waited nearly a month for the surgeon's schedule to clear up. It was agonizing. I spent most of the time playing out in my head what it would feel like to hand my baby over to a stranger and watch her get carried into an Operating Room where I couldn't comfort her.

When the day finally came, Kris's parents surprised us at the hospital, and waited through the whole morning with us. It was such a relief! Between the copious toys in every corner of Primary Children's Hospital, and the nurses who blew bubbles and sang, Rose was fascinated with the whole process. When the Surgeon came to take Rosie away he even let her take her monkey and her blankey with her, so somehow, it felt a little easier.

The surgery was over in just a half hour, so one of us got to go back to recovery sooner than we had ever imagined. Kris is the best dad, ever, so I knew he would be aching to comfort Rosie. He practically ran down the hall to go get her. I had to wait another 30 minutes before I got to see her. When I finally got to go back I expected to see a beautiful reunification of father and daughter, but instead Kris had a mix of heartache and terror on his face, and was covered in the blood that Rosie had coughed up. She was still choking on her sobs. Kris said that Rose was so mad she would focus very her on deliberately pinching him between all the screaming.

It got better from there, though, with only a few more traumatic moments. Once we figured out that the IV in her foot was making her miserable, and adjusted it for her, all was well again. We all got a little sleep, but Rosie woke up at about 3:00am convinced that it was time to play. Kris and I pulled her through the halls of the hospital in a wagon for hours. We watched Bambi, which only made her giggle and yell, "bunny!!" rather than lulling her back to sleep. By 5:00am, the nurse said we could just go home.

After another day of rest and occasional bouts of the grumps, Rosie was a new woman! Now she can breathe, eat and is starting to put some chub back on her tiny bones. I feel so lucky that one of the best children's hospitals in the country is just up the street from my house. This whole experience could have been so much worse than it was.

While I'm very excited to stop explaining why my 21 month old baby is barely the size of an average one year old, the best result of the whole experience is that Rosie giggles all the time now. A laugh from Rose used to be a very rare treat. She was always pretty happy, just doing the best with what she had, but I think she felt too sick to giggle and play like a normal kid. I just hope we can get the next kid's inevitable case of Tonsillitis nipped in the bud even sooner.

Friday, June 19, 2009


I have been feeling really guilty about forgetting almost the entire Spanish language, so I jumped at the chance to put a Word-A-Day gadget on my google homepage. Here is the list I saw this evening:

Between my in depth analysis of my unique pain-causing anatomy, my mother's death, and my attempts to understand it all, this vocab list is like a synopsis of my book! (except the hardware store-- I have no idea where that came from.)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Caution: poop story (it had to happen eventually... this is 33.3% mommy blog)

"Did you poop?" I asked Rosie.

"No!" scamper scamper scamper.

But she totally did. She went in the bathroom and shut the door and everything. If only she would sit on the potty instead of costing me .30 cents every time she craps life would be easier to deal with right now. I have always been afraid of potty training, but much like a 42 week pregnant lady who may have once been afraid to give birth, I say - let's do this now!!

Anywho, there I am holding Rosie's feet in one hand, and wiping her poopy bum with the other. I was mentally chanting, "don't puke, don't puke," since I wouldn't have a hand free to catch it and would have ended up with a much bigger mess. I glanced at the wall cube which holds the world's Most Random Collection of Stuff, but occasionally also holds diapers, to find that it was bare. There were none in the drawer. The diaper bag. The stroller. No. Diapers.

It was then that the poo smell overwhelmed my tender gag reflex. I didn't actually puke since my teeth hurt too much to chew food, so there was nothing to come up, but yucky heaves shook my body.

Rosie said, "bwess you mommy."

Feeling (almost) instantly better I snatched a swim diaper from the closet and declared the problem solved.

Rosie with her friends Eli and Emerson Ashton

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rosie has been a little late in saying her own name according to her grandma. I wasn't terribly worried considering she seems to know the names of EVERYTHING else.

Since I was attending a baby shower last Saturday, I decided to wear my R necklace made in Rosabella's honor. Fun and yummy food was had by all at Ashley and Lily's shower. The world is ready... come on out baby!

When I got home, Rosie pointed to my pendant with interest. I told her that it has an "R for Rosie," as I poked her tummy. She smiled and said, "for Rodie," and patted her tummy.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


A bride asked me at a show back in January, "do you work with feathers."

"Of course I do!" I said. Not true, but how hard could it be?

It turns out it was a lot more challenging than I expected to even find pretty feathers rather than the cheapo bag at the craft store. But once I found those, it was actually kind of fun.

New self discovery: I'm allergic to feathers.

A Baby Story

Yesterday I was listening to Rosie and her dad playing in the basement. He was trying to fix a computer for a friend, and just as he was downloading the last update, Rosie pushed the power button. He was understandably irritated, and told her "NO!"

She crawled her way upstairs and found me hard at work on my rewrites. Her face was very serious and she proceeded to tell me the story. "Dada. Button. No."

Friday, June 5, 2009

Rosie dances with Mr. Xavier

Originally uploaded by lissabird

Peace II

I have vowed to single-handedly sell out The Depot on August 15th 2009 when Xavier Rudd will once again grace Salt Lake with his presence. I want to make sure that he comes back every year! We first stumbled upon his music at a show in San Francisco. When we moved back home, I was worried that we would never see him again.

This is a story from my book about traveling to Denver a few years ago just to see him one more time. It goes like this.

Peace, Part II

I had been in a snit for the previous month or two or six. Kris and I were supposed to climb Mt. Whitney with friends. We had made all of the plans long before we knew about the baby, but in a flash my whole life was changed forever and I felt a little picked on. I couldn't go be with my friends and see a little more of the world. My life felt small. My tummy felt sick. My future felt lonely- Kris was still planning to go.
I suggested a trip to Denver to see one of my favorite musicians- Xavier Rudd. He was playing a show on our wedding anniversary, and Salt Lake wasn't on his tour schedule at all, so Denver was our only chance to see him. He's amazing. He plays the guitar, the didgeridoo, and a slew of drums and other noisy things all at the same time. I sent Kris a text about the show. "We should save our money" was the message I received back. Note to self: Don't discuss things in text messages when they are really important to me.
I let it stew in my head for a few weeks. I didn't know how to explain my feelings without sounding crazy. But the thoughts sat around in my pregnancy-enhanced brain for so long that they got huge and dripping like giant anime monsters from the sea which came pouring out of my mouth one night.
"You would rather go spend precious vacation days from work with random people than spend them with me! You would rather spend money on that, but there's a trip to Denver we could go on together and you say we have to save money!" Of course, this is what I meant to say, but when I get upset I cry. Sobs interrupted my brilliant argument. Kris and I hadn't had a fight for a good year or more so we were due. There was yelling, more crying and in the end Kris informed me that I was crazy. Wasn't that obvious, I wondered. Did he not notice that I was pregnant? I thought I had a free pass for crazy.
A few weeks later on Mother's Day, I got plane tickets to Denver to see Xavier without a single mention of my temper tantrum. On the day of the flight I woke up to terrible pain in my feet. Most days I had been feeling like my body was being held together with used cellophane tape covered in paper fuzzies. I tried to convince myself that I was strong-- wrapped up in duct tape, or at least masking tape, but I knew it was going to be a bad day.
I had been trying not to think about the pain complicating my pregnancy. So far it hadn't been too bad, but I felt as if I were losing my balance on the edge of a cliff. What was it going to be like tomorrow? Next month? There could be a genetic predisposition to chronic uncontrollable pain, so the biggest question of all is: will my baby ever be in pain like this? No one could tell me answers to any of my questions. I feel selfish for wanting to have my own children knowing they could end up like me. These fears still swirl through my head on a daily basis no matter how hard I try not to think about them.
I bundled my crazy thoughts, suppressed them the best I could, and got out of bed. We had to be to the airport soon, and my less than stellar walking was only going to slow us down.
As we took off on our flight my feet just got worse. They became more and more swollen and tender as the day went on. We were trying to see the sights in Denver before the show that night, so we went to the art museum. It was huge and amazing. We walked one floor of it. Kris walked, and I hobbled from bench to bench craning my neck to see the art without standing. Each step to the next bench was like walking on five inch red-hot nails. They pierced clean through my feet and sent pain screaming up my legs. It was too much. I wanted to quit. I wanted to go home, but I didn't go all that way to sit in hotel room. I knew I had to make a choice that I had been putting off for years.
I went by myself to the customer service desk trying to build up the courage to ask for a wheel chair. The line was too long and my pride was too strong. It took a second trip with Kris by my side. When I asked him to go with me, he reflexively said, "you don't need a wheelchair- you're so tough!" But he studied my face for a moment and then helped over to the customer service.
The man brought out an old crooked chair with a broken left foot rest. My heart sank as I inched my way into the chair. The brown vinyl folds swallowed my body, and my self respect. It had been 19 years since the accident and 17 years of walking on my own despite any challenge. All brought to a whimpering vinyl-clad halt.
Kris pushed me from wall to wall through the galleries. We struggled with doors and corners but eventually we got it down. People stared. I made a mental note to call my best friend, Bree who has been paralyzed for about 10 years. She wants to tape a sign to her chair that says "Pictures with gimp $3.00" to stop people from staring at her.
I made it through the museum with a little less pride than when I started, but I got to see all of the lovely art all the way up to the top floor. I was still worried about the concert though. I knew I couldn't stand for hours at the show no matter how much the rest in the wheelchair had helped. As the start of the concert drew near, I felt heavy, like a weight bringing Kris down and anyone near me. When we got there, the club was packed. We figured if we had to stand- we might as well stand in front so we elbowed our way to the stage and waited.
I started my search for a place to sit. I do it without thought. When there isn't a bench handy, I seek out corners where I won't get stepped on in shopping malls, or empty displays in grocery stores. I always envy the old people who have a chair built right into their walkers. I spied a cinder block by the stairs and took a seat.
Mr. Security said I couldn't sit there, I was blocking the stairs. Kris was quick to my defense, "she's pregnant man, give her a break." I pointed to my belly swollen with 7 months of baby. To our surprise Mr. security said, "Why don't you sit over there then?" and pointed to the crowd barrier in front of the stage. I swear angels were singing and a spotlight from heaven shone down on the little bench built right on the front of the crowd barrier. I was so embarrassed, but I couldn't pass up the best seat in the house. I took my seat right in front of the stage and tried to blend in.

Soon Xavier walked out with bare, tattooed feet, and crazy surfer hair that looked fresh from the oceans of his native Australia. He greeted the crowd and soaked in our good will before he sat down. He gave me the warmest smile I have ever seen.
He took a seat behind about 20 different drums, a kick box, a keyboard, and three didgeridoos. They were suspended around him in some sort of frame so that he could play them all at the same time. He picked up his guitar, started a rhythm on the drums, and blew out the first low, shaking notes on the didge. Baby girl started kicking harder than I had ever felt her before.
Song after song we danced together. The stress and indignity of my day vanished as I bounced in my seat with my hands on my belly. Baby girl twisted and kicked almost in rhythm.
A woman dancing near me leanded over to say that Kris and I were beautiful. She admired me for taking my baby out to hear the music and take in the energy of the crowd. "Live your life," she said and kissed my cheek. It was surreal. Live my life indeed.
At the end of the set Xavier walked to the edge of the stage, knelt down and reached out for my belly. He touched my tummy, and I touched his hands. I wanted to say come to Utah next time, but I was speechless. When he came back for an encore, he dedicated the song to me. "This is for the girl with beautiful healthy pregnant cheeks.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Body Project: Epilogue

Oh my, I have had a bad week. I knew it was coming though, and it is my own fault. I speak, of course, of withdrawal. My first taste of Cymbalta withdrawal came when I ran out of pills a few months ago, and I didn't make it to my doctor's office to pick up more before they closed on a Thursday. I thought it wouldn't matter if I missed just one dose, and then ran in to the doctor on Friday morning.

I woke up in a cold sweat. My jammies and sheets were soaked and I was freezing. I couldn't see, but this is normal for me in the morning. But even after I put in my contacts I still couldn't see a thing. It was like my brain and my eyes were failing to communicate. Every time I moved it felt like I was swimming in Jell-o and leaving trails of sparkling tracers in my path. My body was buzzing with an electrical charge, and waves of simultaneous nausea and pleasure were fogging my brain into near-inactivity. The best part is that with the flood of Serotonin and Norepinephrine I wasn't feeling an ounce of pain, however I was way too sick to appreciate it.

All of this would have been fine if I could have just slept the day away, except that I had to take care of my child and drive myself to the doctor. I don't know what I was thinking when I got in my car! I clearly wasn't thinking straight, but I felt compelled to go and get another dose of Cymbalta just to end the withdrawal circus. I drove as carefully as I could, and eventually I made it. I dragged myself and my squirmy baby to the top floor office (who puts a pain clinic on the third floor?!) only to find the lights off and the door locked. That's right. I had forgotten that the office was closed on Fridays. I could not figure out what I was supposed to do as I pondered the idea of spending the entire weekend in such a state.

I fumbled through the rest of my day somehow, and was attempting to attend my friend's birthday party, and pretend I wasn't all strung out when my sister called me on the phone.

"Why don't you just call the after-hours number?" she said.

Of course that was the right idea, and of course I hadn't thought of it. It had required immense amounts of concentration just to put my sandals on.

So there I was, begging the inept PA to call in a prescription for three pills. I would have to pay out of pocket, since he had not completed my Prior Authorization forms for the insurance yet, but by that point I was willing to pay, or do anything for another dose. I have never felt more like a junkie.

After handing over more than $6 per pill, I finally took another dose and fell asleep. All was right with the world again the next morning.

A week later I stepped down to half the dose, and got to spend another day at the withdrawal circus, but it was not as bad.

Back to the present: I have been going off all of my pills one at a time as I prepare for the Baby Project. Dropping the magic Fibro-Response Vitamin was the hardest, because without it, the Lyrica doesn't work at all (the vitamin by itself does not work either. There must be something about the combination.)

Being in pain again after experiencing relief for the first time in 20 years has been cruel. Since I was only 10 years old when the pain started I was actually able to form my adult life around the pain. I was not an athlete forced to give up my passions. I learned how to be a college student with the pain, instead of feeling ambushed in the middle of my studies by sudden illness. I rarely felt like I had lost anything to pain, but rather that I lived my life in spite of it. I would never turn down an invitation or a challenge because otherwise, I would never get to do anything. I felt like I had overcome so much and was able to live a rich life.

Then the pain went away most of the time. I could act without thinking about the pain consequences I would face later that night. I had boundless energy-- even enough to enjoy evenings out with friends and family. I had NEVER realized how easy life is without pain. Now that the pain is back, I have lost my ability to cope with it. When I try to go out in the evenings with friends, I barely have the energy to speak anymore. I have finally realized how much of my life the pain has taken from me, because I got to live without it for 8 weeks.

I have been left to wonder who I am. Am I the quiet, withdrawn person I have been for most of my life... that is when I am not making a Herculean effort to fake enthusiasm. Or am I really the girl who was funny, charming, and brimming with energy? Was that dose of personality just a side effect of medication, or was it my true self finally able to surface from the murky ocean of pain? But enough about my hyperbole-enriched identity crisis...

In case you are new around here, I have to stop all of my medication because I am planning to get pregnant again soon, and I obviously can't take them. Kicking the Lyrica was a snap-- I didn't even notice it was gone. I left the Cymbalta for last. The Cybalta alone was not providing any relief at all. The pain and my mood were both terrible. I think that means that my energy level and mood have more to to do with pain level than a separate case of depression. I have been excited to get it out of my system since it wasn't helping, and I really don't like putting useless chemicals in my body. But I have also been dreading the withdrawal.

It has been really bad, but I think I'm almost done with it. I have been perusing google lately, and have found several sad stories of people who desperately want to stop taking Cymbalta, but cannot face the withdrawal. They feel trapped, and like me, they had no idea it would happen before they started taking it. I am going to contact the FDA about my experience. If they get enough complaints, they will be forced to investigate. Perhaps Lilly (Big Pharma) will be forced to tell doctors about the severe withdrawal symptoms, so patients can make an informed choice before taking the drug.

I have put a lot of thought into adoption or using a surrogate so I could continue my medication, but I simply do not have enough money. I think it is cruel that the system has made it so hard for people who cannot have their own children to adopt, when there are lots of babies that need homes.

If I can get pregnant quickly, then I will hopefully be able to enjoy the remission of RSD and FMS that often comes with pregnancy. The theory is that they are both autoimmune disorders. Since the immune system is suppressed during pregnancy so that the body will not reject the baby, the symptoms are also suppressed. (This is why the RA drug Enbrel might help RSD, but I have yet to find a doctor who will prescribe it for me. I think I will make that my next body project after the baby.)

I hope that I can find an affordable source of donated breast milk, so that I could go back on the meds right after the birth. After all, I can't imagine taking care of a toddler, an infant, and dealing with the pain. But that is a bridge I will have to cross later. I am confident that I will get to the other side with flying colors because that's how I roll.

I know it will all be worth it.