Suzi Beech and Family

This blog is about my family and my trials and tribulations as a work-from-home mom of twins.

My daughter had the dreaded H1N1 (I think) November 3, 2009

Filed under: family,Personal Stuff — Suzi Beech @ 12:16 pm
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breathing-mask-required-sign

Careful, it's contagious!

I’m sorry to report that my daughter seems to have had the dreaded H1N1 flu.  Well, at least I think it was the fearsome, extra scary flu.  I didn’t have her tested because they’re just not testing for it here anymore.  Weird, huh?  Apparently, if you get sick or your child(ren) get sick, and you have a fever, sore throat, cough and runny nose, everyone assumes you have H1N1.  Really?  Yes.  Whether it’s a normal cold or another virus, health officials will all tell you the same thing: “It’s probably H1N1, so we’re just going to say it’s H1N1.”

I talked to our pediatrician, checked their website, checked our county’s health website, checked the CDC’s website and all of them told me the same thing.  Keep her hydrated, give her Tylenol for fever, limit her contact with others, wash my hands frequently and make sure everyone, patient and housemates alike, get lots of rest.  I was instructed to bring her to the doctor or hospital only if she had trouble breathing or turned blue.  Yikes!  Thank goodness that didn’t happen!  I made the mistake of telling her she would go to the doctor if her lips or nail beds turned blue.  After that, she spent quite a bit of time alternating between looking in the mirror at her lips or staring at her fingernails.  Note to self:  don’t tell the kids scary stuff about their health anymore!

My poor little girl was a very good patient.  Her fever peaked at 103, but she remained fairly cheerful and not too demanding.  I set up the infirmary in our master bedroom.  She had a bedtray with her ever-present Propel, a rotating array of tempting snacks (including popsicles), a mug of hot tea, berry flavored throat lozenges and, of course, the tv remote.  She spent many quality hours with her laptop and we watched (and re-watched) all her favorite television shows, back-to-back.  I think it was a little like heaven to her, even though she wasn’t feeling well.

If I were to give out any advice to anyone else with sick kids it would be this:  don’t panic.  H1N1 sounds so scary, but in researching the facts, I found that it’s potential to be fatal isn’t higher than other seasonal flu varieties that come and go.  Of course, it should be taken seriously, but try not to freak out.  Keep a good eye on your little patient.  Make well sure they stay hydrated, as dehydration is one of the scariest aspects and can make their health really spiral downward.  Keep them comfortable, let them stare at the tv or computer if that makes them happy.  Remember, this too, shall pass (read – they won’t be home forever and will soon be well enough to go back to school so you can get back to your normal routine!)

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R.I.P. Yuji Beech September 28, 2009

Yuji sleeping in the sunshine

Yuji in healthier, happier times

I had to put my cat, Yuji, to sleep on Saturday.  It was a choice I had been struggling with for months and it did not come easily on Saturday, either. Yuji was a beautiful long-haired, buff colored cat.  He was very shy and skittish and had been from the moment we adopted him.  He spent his first hours at our house hiding under a shelf, hissing at us. I thought he would mellow and relax as he got used to his new surroundings, but that was basically his personality in a nut shell and it didn’t change much over the last nine years.

We adopted him during our struggle with infertility.  My cat, Kiki, had gotten sick and I’d had to put him down.  I decided that our other cat, Fritz, needed a new playmate and I needed something to mother.  I had never had an orange colored cat, so I sent out feelers to see who was available for adoption.  It was fall and there weren’t a whole lot of kittens to choose from, but I got a call about a beautiful, light orange colored kitten and arranged to meet him.  He was more blonde than orange, and very pretty.  Even though he hid and hissed at us, I was smitten and agreed to adopt him.

He became more friendly, at least toward me, as time went on.  He was never a cuddler and was extremely particular about who he chose to let near him, but I knew he loved me in his own, stand-offish way.

It was pretty clear from the get-go that Yuji didn’t want anything to do with our twins after they were born.  Our other cat at the time, Fritz, didn’t mind them petting him and crawling around after him.  Yuji freaked out and hid under the bed until the kids were safely back in their cribs.  That’s how he dealt with them for years.  He made it very clear that he didn’t like kids – not our kids, not neighbor kids, not any kids at all.  They made him very nervous and he would hiss and swipe at them if they would happen to wander into whatever room he was in.  They were much too loud and unpredictable for Yuji’s delicate sensibilities.  He mainly slept under the bed when they were around and came out at night, once they were sleeping.

Such a beautiful kitty

Such a beautiful kitty

We brought Yuji and Fritz with us when we moved from Los Angeles to Portland in 2003.  Fritz became very ill shortly afterward and had to be put down.  Yuji was an only pet for a short time, then we adopted George.  George is a kids’ cat.  He loves to be involved in their games and is tolerant of being picked up, dressed up, covered up…whatever the kids do, he rolls with it.  He just loves being included.  Yuji and George got along very well.  Yuji even did well when we adopted our dog, Nico. I was so worried he would freak out, but it turned out that he really liked the dog and tolerated her much more than the kids.

In recent months, Yuji’s physical and mental health took a turn for the worse.  He had always had a sensitive digestive tract and could only tolerate one kind of food.  This year, though, even that food didn’t agree with him and he had constant diarrhea.  I had taken him in for every test on him and his poop the vets could think of.  No bacteria or parasite was at fault.  At the same time, his mental health took a dive.  He stopped taking care of his fur and became matted and dirty.  He didn’t allow for much brushing or hair care and was looking very shabby.

Most distressing to me, was that he began peeing where he shouldn’t.  I first caught him peeing on the floor in December when he peed on the Christmas tree skirt, right in front of me.  I knew this was his way of telling me he wasn’t happy.  I took him back to the vet where he was tested for infections and kidney problems, but nothing was found.  As the months passed, he became worse and worse.  The peeing was intentional.  I tried treating him with oral anti-anxiety medication.  After the first two days, he would see me coming, growl and hide under the bed.  Oral medication wasn’t going to be an option.  His weight dropped, his behavior became worse, and I came to the end of my rope.  He wasn’t a happy cat.  He wasn’t well, although we couldn’t determine exactly what was wrong with him.  After months of struggling with what would be best for him, I decided to put him down.   My 8-year-old son said Yuji is now in a place with comfy beds that are always in the sunshine and a giant, always clean litter box just for him. I think that is exactly what Yuji’s vision of heaven would’ve been.  Quiet, sunny, solitary and clean.

Yuji is not the first cat that I’ve had to put down, but he is the youngest at age 9.  My oldest, Missy, lived to be 18.  My next oldest was Tina, who died at 17.  Then there were Al and Baby, who both died in their 15th year.  Kiki and Fritz were both around 13 when I had to let them go, although their true age wasn’t known because they came into my life as full-grown strays.  I will pick up Yuji’s remains in a couple of days.  His container of ashes will be placed with the others in our “kitty shrine.”   Rest in peace, Yuji Beech.

 

Back to school…finally! September 14, 2009

back-to-school

I have to say that, although I love my children dearly, I could not wait for school to start again!  We had a wonderful summer full of parties, swimming, camps and vacations.  While all that togetherness was great, it was a LOT of togetherness!

I am lucky that I own my own business and can set my own schedule.  At the beginning of summer I tried to schedule work in the early mornings, late nights and when the kids weren’t home.  Just a few days into it and I was tired and crabby and realizing that they sure were home an awful lot!  After stressing myself out about what I wasn’t getting done, I rethought things.  I realized that this could be one of the last years they consider me cool enough to be seen with and fun to hang out with.  I decided, for better or worse,  to take most of the summer off and spend it with them while they’d still have me.  It went well, for the most part.  We had our battles of wills and our sibling clashes, but I don’t regret a minute of it!

Now that they’re back in school (big-time 3rd graders this year), I can get back into the swing of working again.  It’s really quiet a relief!  My mom used to tell me that going to work was easy, it was staying home that was hard.  I finally understand what she was talking about!

In the back-to-school spirit, I have also taken some classes on time management and productivity.   My first order of business is to set-up a daily schedule and block my time in 60 minute increments.  From there, I’m going to build it out into a weekly schedule.  I like order and predictability.  That’s just how I am.  I know there are people who prefer to fly by the seat of their pants, but not me.  So, I’m off to begin building my schedule for the hours between 8 and 2:30, Monday through Friday.  I’ll be sure to set aside blocks of time to keep my blog up to date, as well.  I know I have a lot of summer pictures and videos that you’re just dying to see, so I’ll get them all posted very soon!

 

My twins were born 8 years ago today… July 8, 2009

My family on the kids' 8th birthday, 2009

My family on the kids' 8th birthday, 2009

If you read my post about our struggle with infertility, you know that getting pregnant took many years of tests, procedures, heartache, perseverance, tears and money.  We finally conceived on our final attempt at in vitro fertilization or IVF.  I have many stories that I will share about our roller coaster ride with infertility treatments. Today, as we celebrate the birthday of our babies, I want to reflect on the 5 weeks I spent on hospital bed-rest before they were born.

While twin pregnancies are becoming more common, they still are not without risk. I didn’t have a care-free pregnancy. I first had what’s called a subchorionic hemorrhage during my 9th week of pregnancy. That is like a blood clot that forms between the placenta and uterine wall. I started bleeding at midnight on New Years Eve, 2001. I called my doctor in a panic (that’s right at midnight on New Years Eve…and he wasn’t even mad!).   He was very reassuring and told me to lie down with my feet raised. Looking back, I’m sure this didn’t actually do anything other than give me the feeling that I was doing something! Anyway, that’s what I did. I barely moved for two days until we could get in for an ultrasound. We found both babies doing well with strong heartbeats. The blood clot dissolved on it’s own over the next couple of weeks, just as the doctor predicted and I was allowed to  resume normal activity.

From my 11th week to my 28th week, things really went along very smoothly.  A couple days into my 28th week I began having contractions.  I called the doctor who told me to meet him at the hospital.  I was given a shot of a drug called terbuteline and monitored for several hours.  I was then sent home with a prescription for “terb” in pill form to take if I felt any more contractions.  I  was also put on bed-rest, where I was allowed to spend one hour a day sitting in

Gus' Lego Explosion

Gus' Lego Explosion

an upright position, make brief trips to the bathroom, and walk as far as from the bedroom to the couch.  Basically, I was told to keep pressure off my cervix as much as possible.  Between my 29th and 30th week, I had contractions that didn’t stop after I took the terbutaline.  I spoke with my doctor and was told to go to the hospital for monitoring again.  I was given another shot of terb and had the babies monitored, along with my contractions, which slowed, then stopped.  I was sent home for more bed-rest.

Contractions started again at 31 weeks.  I took my terbutaline and called the doctor.  I was told to take another dose of terb but it did nothing to stop the contractions, which were now coming along at a steady pace.  Again, off to the hospital I went.  This time though, I was put on an intravenous drug called magnesium sulfate.  It made me feel as if I’d been hit by a truck.  I was so out of it, slow, tired and nauseous, and felt as if I were burning up from the inside.  On the upside, my contractions began to slow.  I thought they would monitor me for awhile, like the last time, then send me home.  This was definitely not the case and I didn’t step foot in my house again for another 6 weeks.  I was moved into a room where the doctor on-call told me I’d probably deliver that night.  I was given a steroid shot to help the babies lungs mature and Philip and I talked about the possibility of having tiny preemies.

Ruby, Star and Chelsea

Ruby, Star and Chelsea

Morning came and I was still holding my own.  I was being heavily monitored both for contractions and for the side-effects of the “mag” as we called it.  It is a horrible drug to take.  It makes you feel very hot and very thirsty but, ironically, makes you retain fluid so everything you ingest has to be measured as well as everything you…er…eliminate to make sure extra fluid containing magnesium isn’t being stored in your tissues.  It’s a real catch-22.  So thirsty, so little to drink!  I think mag could be used as a form of torture for prisoners of war.  I wasn’t a prisoner of war though, I was just another bedrest mommy-in-waiting at UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center.

It was a sort of “best of times, worst of times” scenario.  The best parts were that I could listen to my babies heartbeats all day long and knew I was in the right place should they or I need care.  I was also off the hook from doing any sort of housework, chore or cooking of any sort and had people around me 24/7 willing to bring me things and help me if I needed it.  There was also the glorious air conditioning.  Our house was a small, California-style bungalow without a/c.  This was summer in Los Angeles and I was hugely pregnant.  I shudder to think how miserable and puffy I would have been if I hadn’t been in a cool room!

One of the saddest things for me was that I didn’t get to finish decorating my baby nursery.  I had spent so many years listening to every else’s plans and looking at everyone else’s fnished products and here I was, missing my one and only chance to decorate a baby room of my own.  Philip and my mom had to get everything finished during the 5 weeks I was in the hospital.  They would both spend hours a day with me at the hospital.  I’m sure they were bored stiff, but they did it.  We would talk about all the progress made in the nursery – the valances were hung, the tiny clothes were washed and put away, the crib mobiles has been ordered…On day, after Philip went on a Babies ‘R Us shopping spree he went home, put up a few finishing touches and filmed a video of the babies’ room to bring to me.  Oh, how I cried when I watched it…every time.  So much so, that he threatened to take it away from me, but I cherished that video.  I still get teary-eyed when I see it.  I loved their nursery.  It was so peaceful, with the pastel polka-dots and the mobiles playing “Imagine” by John Lennon.  It was a dream realized, that’s for sure.  My own babies, living in my own house.

During the first week of July, my 35th week of pregnancy, my “Baby A” (they refer to multiples in utero by the A,B,C’s to

Ruby and Gus at their Birthday Dinner

Ruby and Gus at their Birthday Dinner

keep track of who is who) had virtually stopped growing.  “Baby B” was good sized and head down, prepared for birth, but Baby A (who we call Ruby now 🙂 ) was sitting on my cervix, blocking the door out, as it were.  My doctor decided it was time for them to come out and our C-section was scheduled for July the 8, which also happens to be my brother’s birthday.

They were born at 36 weeks gestation.  Ruby was first and weighed in at 4lbs15oz.  Gus came out a minute later and weighed in at 6lb4oz.  They were finally here, our long awaited babies, healthy, pink and screaming.  Gus spent his first

night in the regular nursery because he swallowed fluid during birth and needed monitoring.  Ruby was able to room in with us.  The Beech Family was born!

That was 8 years ago today.  Time sure has flown by!  For their birthday today they opened cards and presents then we went shopping at the mall.  Gus bought a new Star Wars Lego set and Ruby got two new Build-A-Bears.  We watched a movie and went out for our traditional birthday sushi dinner.  We took a little stroll around downtown, then headed home.  Although their actual birthday has now come and gone, the celebration will continue with their big “Survivor” themed birthday party this weekend.  It’s going to be a blast.  I am one lucky lady!

 

I’m no seamstress! July 2, 2009

I am getting ready for our Girl Scout troop to march in our neighborhood’s 4th of July Parade.  It’s going to be great fun, but there is one thing I am just dreading.  It’s probably not a big deal to most other people, but I’m just so not

The patch that took an hour to sew on

The patch that took an hour to sew on

looking forward to this one little thing…sewing badges on my daughter’s Brownie vest.  I am horrible at sewing!  The last time I sewed on a badge it took me over an hour…seriously.  One badge per hour is not a good ratio! My thread broke twice, my knots came undone and the badge ended up crooked, even though I tried to make it perfect!

Once upon a time, back when I was around 10, I took a sewing class.  I sat myself down on the rug at this class with my fabric pieces and my needle and thread. I worked so hard, concentrated, tried to get my stitches just right.  Then, when it was time to put our work into our bins for next time, I stood up and realized I had sewn my entire project to the carpet.  It was very discouraging.  I never went back to that class and my sewing is still pretty much at that level.

My pile of badges

My pile of badges

I usually save all our Girl Scout and Cub Scout badges and patches for when my mom or cousin come to visit.  They’re both expert sewers and don’t seem to mind sewing all of them onto the proper uniform.  They even do all the rest of my sewing, too, like putting buttons back on things or repairing split seams.  It certainly doesn’t take them an hour per badge, I can tell you that!

Front of Brownie Vest

Front of Brownie Vest

Our Girl Scout troop is very active.

Back of vest

Back of vest

During the year, when we’re working on all our try-its and badge-earning projects, I think it’s just great.  Now, though, looking at my pile of 19 badges that need sewing and the vest with limited space left, I’m rethinking our plans for next year!  Of course, Ruby wants the badges all on her vest for this weekend’s parade.  I don’t blame her, but I don’t know if I have 19 hours to spare getting them on there!

 

Defeating Infertility and Feeling Nostalgic June 30, 2009

Infertility Awareness

Infertility Awareness

I have been spending a lot of time thinking back about our battle with infertility and feeling very nostalgic lately. Certainly not nostalgic about infertility itself, but that solid, concrete, must-attain-goal of getting pregnant and successfully delivering a healthy child (or children as it turned out). I think it’s partly because my “miracle” babies are about to turn 8, but I know it’s also partly because I’ve been thinking a lot about goals and desires.

My struggle with infertility was an unexpected, life-changing, soul-searching roller coaster. I knew, from the time I was a little girl, that I wanted to be a mommy. That was my number one goal, my whole life’s plan. Everything else to me seemed secondary.

My husband and I met when I was 19 and started trying to get pregnant when I was 23. I wanted a bunch of kids and I wanted to have them while I was still young enough to have the energy to keep up with them all. After the first couple of months of unsuccessful trying to conceive, friends and relatives began giving their advice: gain weight; go out and get drunk; take a vacation; stop trying so hard; relax. As the years went on, the well-meaning advice slowed to a trickle and then stopped. No one really knew what to say anymore. Close relatives were afraid to tell me of their own pregnancies and friends were hesitant to invite me to their baby showers.  I was always happy for them, of course, but they were all very aware of our struggles to have a baby of our own.

I saw doctor after doctor, had many painful tests and procedures and spent thousands of dollars. During this time I went from being a student and food-server to a feature film production coordinator to a talent agent for cinematographers. I had found success in my professional life, but still hadn’t achieved my number one goal. So, while the professional part of my life was flourishing, the personal one was still stuck.

It was during this time that I happened upon one of the most supportive online communities I know of. It’s called Fertile Thoughts.  I stumbled upon the site while I was researching in vitro fertilization and endometriosis.

Fertile Thoughts

Fertile Thoughts

Finding the infertility forum was a real blessing.  I was able to talk with so many other women and men struggling with the same problems I was.  I made great friends with many courageous people.  I met some of them in real life and others were friends online only.  It was on one of those bulletin boards where I learned to apply one of my favorite sayings,  “keep your eye on the prize”, to my life. It was those six words that helped me refocus and regain perspective during what was one of the most difficult periods of my life.

I was so fortunate that I was, after eight long years of struggle and heartache, able to conceive my children and bring them into this world.  It wasn’t easy – the conceiving or the pregnancy (I will tell you all about my weeks on bedrest in another post) – but we did it.  These days, my twins are gearing up for their 8th birthday, their first time going to summer camp, their traditional California summer vacation and the 4th of July celebration.

I have been thinking long and hard about goals and achievements.  Those six words – keep your eye on the prize – are back strong in my life.  I am striving to deliver that prize once again.  Although my “prize” is different this time (I’m done trying to have babies, thankfully!), keeping my eye firmly on it is proving, once again, to be the motivation I need.

I hope you are able to focus in on your dreams and desires and continue striving to turn them into reality for yourselves.  It’s not always easy and sometimes might not seem likely, but maintaining focus is crucial to achieving all goals, no matter what they may be.

 

Six Things You Can Do to Maintain a Positive Outlook June 17, 2009

I have decided that, no matter what, I am going to maintain a positive outlook on life.  Now, I have troubles, my life hasn’t all been a bowl of cherries, but I have learned that how I react to negative factors is really all that matters.   Sure, bad things will happen, it’s a fact of life.  On the flip-side, so will good.  I believe it’s high-time I start placing all my focus on the good and let the bad slip away.  Life isn’t going to be perfect, but enjoying all the goodness will certainly help!  So, in that vein, here are six things I’ve been doing that are helping me stay positive and focused on the good.

Try to remain positive!!

Try to remain positive!!

1.  Count your blessings.  Seriously.  Wake up in the morning and, if nothing else comes to mind, be happy with the fact that you’ve woken up to another day.  It sure beats the alternative!  Today is another opportunity to feel good and accomplish positive things.

2.  Look outside.  Is it raining?  (I live in Oregon, so this is a very common occurrence!).  Think how happy all the flowers and tress will be for the rain.  Is it sunny?  Think about all the good Vitamin D you can soak up free, thanks to Mother Nature.

3.  Read something inspirational.  This is my favorite sight for quotes:  inspirational; motivational; humorous; etc.:  http://www.great-quotes.com I often browse through them!

4.  Make a list of things you are grateful for and refer to it whenever you’re feeling down.  Keep it handy!

5.  Choose to look at the silver lining.  This is NOT always easy.  It is something I have to continually and consciously make an effort to do.  I can lean toward being a pessimist and work constantly on turning my focus to the positive, optimistic point of view.  This is an ongoing process – something I work on each and every day.  Like everyone else, I am a work in progress! 😀

6.  Surround yourself with the most positive people you can.  Negativity seems to rub off.  Conversely, positivity is contagious, too.  If you notice you have more negative influences in your life, try to seek out new relationships that will bring more positive energy into the mix.

This list is a small compilation of some things I work on and think about.  In the end, I believe that maintaining a positive outlook has to come from within.  I am striving to bring out the most positive aspects of myself.  I hope you can, too!