I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who took the time to read my latest blog post regarding my absence from YARNutopia lately and the next chapter we are heading into with our son Nasir. I have been overwhelmed with so many emotions from the outpouring of love and supportive kind words you left on my posts, in my messages, and the texts I received all day.
There is no way for me to individually reply to all of you, but just know I read every word and took it all to heart. I appreciate all the openness you shared from your personal experiences with friends, family members, or even first-hand experiences with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I am currently educating myself on all the different types of therapies and discussing with the specialists what they advise in helping Nasir progress. We hope to see some changes in the first month of this new therapy. We are extremely hopeful.
Reading all the comments and messages that flooded in gave me so much encouragement and hope for my little guy. I know he will accomplish great things in his life, and luckily, we can be his advocates for his success.
Like most of America, and the world, I am staying home as ordered by our state officials. It is such an unusual and unprecedented time and everyday things are changing. Our situation is so fluid meaning what we hear on the news in the morning, can completely change by the evening. I don’t know about many of you, but this unsettled world has me feeling so anxious and nervous. It also puts me on high alert because, as a person with a severely compromised immune system and a long history of health issues including asthma, I am fearful of everything I am learning about this illness.
Presently, I take immuno-suppressant medications that keeps my chronic disease under control, but severely taxes my system leaving me little to fight off infection or illness. I fall into that segment of society who are at high-risk of danger if I come into contact with anything going around.
I have not left my house for over 3 weeks. I don’t know if you recall through my recent posts and videos, but Nate and I had a trip to Colorado planned for our second anniversary and Nate’s golden birthday. (He turned 30 on March 30th) We were going in early March to Denver. Everything was booked, ski-hill passes were purchased, airfare and lodging reserved and paid for, sightseeing plans and a special anniversary/dinner was in the works. Nasir was going to Grammy and Grampy’s house for the week. We were so excited.
As more and more news broke out, it became apparent that we would have to cancel our vacation. I called my doctors and they advised me NOT to travel. They had insisted that in my condition and with little to no immune system to fight, going into an airport or on a plane was too dangerous at this time. Was I sad and disheartened to cancel all our plans? Absolutely. However, I trust my doctor, and if my doctor issues a grave warning like she did, there is no way I would go against her recommendations. I have been through too much in my life not to heed her warnings.
Everything Is Canceled
So, we, like many of you, decided to retract and cancel all our plans and reservations and stay home. Glued to the TV and internet we watched everything unfold in real-time. Rapidly changing, constantly fluid and more frightening by the moment, we stayed in and were gripped by what was happening in the world and right here at home. I needed to walk away from the screens and try to salvage what I could of our “vacation” by re-inventing a plan to enjoy our anniversary and Nate’s birthday. And we did. We kept Nasir home and the three of us did a “stay-cation” in our living room. We binged Netflix shows, took a few countryside drives, walked a trail or two in isolated places, we cooked a nice dinner on our two celebrations and WE STAYED INDOORS. My extent of “leaving the house” is going into my backyard.
Nate is fortunate to have several weeks of vacation and PTO (Paid time off) that he is using up from his “essential” job. He works in a plant that has numerous employees, and from all indications, we felt that his going to work at this time was not wise because of community spread and he was able to use up his vacation to stay home so far. On the advice of my doctors, they suggest he take time off and stay home indefinitely, as to not bring anything home with him that puts me or Nas at risk.
It has been extremely stressful to work through the decisions of him returning to work versus staying home if he is able. Like many people, this serious crisis is forcing our hand to make hard choices to protect our family and none of the choices are easy. He stays home, we cut off our main income for the indefinite future. If he goes to work, then he risks exposure and bringing “it” home in a household that deals with an individual with little to no immune system to fight off any of this. I can’t tell you how scared or anxious I have been!!! I know I am not alone in saying this. ALL of us are scared.
We will find a way
As we navigate through the uncertainties and worries of this ever changing situation and confide in our doctors and families, we have been able to come up with Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. Each one comes with its own set of concerns and heartaches. Do we take no pay? Can we survive on just my income? (I have exhausted myself looking into options –FFCRA-the Families First Act or Paycheck Protection-none of which apply to us) Do we send Nate to work? Should Nas and I stay with my parents and be apart from Nate for an indefinite duration?
We, are faced with life-altering decisions while we press ahead into the unknown. At least we have what we need. At least we can manage through each plan despite the difficulties of each choice. At least we have support. I remind myself all the time of the blessings I have before me and focus upon those. Many are not so fortunate, and it hits me over and over to imagine the unimaginable. We will work this out. No matter what sacrifice we make, it is small in comparison to so many others. No matter what, we all have had to work through so many rough spots of this situation and it’s not easy.
As we move forward, sometimes slowly, sometimes at a mad pace, the least I can do to keep myself occupied is what I do best. Crochet. So for the next weeks, months, whatever it takes, I will continue to bring you what I can of my craft. I will show up. Every day. I will bring some new projects, new patterns, light, laughter and a distraction from the craziness that is swirling around us. So, join me as we keep moving forward. Bring your hooks and your yarn, and for a few minutes a day try to focus on other things that distract us from our worries, and relax with our craft. Because in a time when so much is out of control, one thing we can be in control of us the choice to take a few moments to do something we love.
“It is how we embrace the uncertainties in our lives that leads to the great transformation of our souls.”
When we reach the end of this, and we will, I hope we can all move forward with more love, patience, and understanding of one another. The lessons we learn will be immense.
I hope you all stay healthy…
P.S. A huge thank you goes out to everyone in the world who are on the front lines of this insanity. ALL the helpers. ALL the essential workers. ALL the people who risk their lives so we can be home. Our gratitude knows no limit. And for the families this may reach, I hope and pray that all of you are well and safe. I am sending every bit of goodness your way.
I don’t know who needs to hear this as I hope no one is breaking these rules, but if you are one who was told to stay home, please do. Follow the guidelines of what has been mandated so that those who are unable to be home with their families can stay as safe as possible during this time.
Sending you lots of love.
Share with us how you are getting through this difficult time.
As some of you may have noticed, I have been somewhat MIA on my social media and on my blog for a little bit. I have been posting and have been a little active, just not as much as I usually am. There’s a reason for that.
Last week, I ended up in the hospital. I was having a lot of issues with my body and baby, so I went into the Emergency Room. The doctors here in La Crosse, WI did not feel confident, and the scope of my issues were outside of the range they felt comfortable dealing with. They felt things were emergent to either med-flight or rush me to Mayo Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota.
It was decided that was going to be rushed by ambulance, but Nate could not accompany me on the ride. He came behind and my mom met us up at Mayo Hospital. I was in the hospital for nearly a week with several complications making it impossible for me to manage at home.
It was decided that upon release from the hospital, I could return home short term while a social worker from the hospital would work on a short term relocation plan for me. For these last few weeks before delivery, I will be staying in Rochester near the hospital in an extended stay apartment. This way, I will be close by the hospital in case anything emergent happens again.
What is going on?
In the recent blog where I shared my pregnancy photos, I mentioned that the doctors have taken me off of all my medications that help to keep my Crohn’s disease under control while I work towards remission. Now, off of the medication, my body has started to get weaker. I ended up with an infection and the infection put my body into a full-on flare.
Since I don’t have a large intestine, my small intestine has to learn the job of what its old companion had done. I have to draw my nourishment, vitamins, minerals, fluids, and much more from my small intestine similarly to what the body does with the large intestine. Not only do I rely on that intake, that same intake is what is helping to keep baby healthy. When I got sick last week, the function of the small intestine failed me, and my body was having a difficult time absorbing ANYTHING. This made it difficult to keep food down, my body was severely dehydrated, and some of my blood test numbers were dropping making it difficult to keep my nourishment markers where they needed to be.
Because I am pregnant, normal options for treatment aren’t always viable because they can affect the baby. There were so many limitations that the doctors could treat me with. It took some time and patience, but we were able to find a way for me to gain some control over my body without causing more stress to me or baby. At least, for now, it was enough to go home and prepare for this upcoming relocation.
What will this mean for YARNutopia?
I am home for a few days. Soon, I will transition to an apartment closer to the hospital in Minnesota. I will stay there temporarily until our baby is born. Nate will be with me on the weekends, and my mom will be coming to stay with me during the weekdays, as I can’t be alone. All my care will continue through Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
(Pictured above is a photo of my mom and me in the hospital last week)
(Pictured above is me, feeling better)
Because of this transition, I won’t be able to be as active or as present on my social media sites. I won’t be checking out completely though! No way! I love my social media! I will, however, be taking a small step back to get things under control with my health and prepare for delivery. There are LOTS of appointments, checkups, and tests to be done in these last few weeks! But don’t worry! I will do what I can, when I can! So, please keep checking the Facebook page, click on the links I share, share photos of your work. I’ll be crocheting to pass some time, and I hope to keep on keeping on. I will be sure to check in as often as I can!!
I will also try to update you as much as possible. Until baby arrives, the most I will be doing is trying to keep as healthy as I can so he can be inside growing and developing. We need him to be the strongest he can be! We are almost to his due date, so we are hoping for a not so bumpy ride to get there! Haha!
In the next few weeks, I am still hopeful to post some new blogs, a few new posts, and whatever I can do, but in the meantime, I will pull from the archives some great classic patterns, some oldies but goodies, and I will share work from my fellow designers! And once baby is here and I am recovered, I will be back better and stronger than ever!
Disclaimer: This blog contains sensitive pregnancy photos. I ask everyone to be respectful and any negative comments will be deleted. It took a lot for me to be vulnerable to share these images. With my health history, I wanted to be as transparent and open as possible with this miraculous pregnancy.
Many of you already have been following my journey and know that my health history has been plagued with illness, numerous surgeries, and plenty of setbacks. I had my colon removed in 2008 because my Crohn’s disease was so progressive. Doctors, worried about the dangerous potential of colon cancer and with fast deterioration of my colon, removed it to save my life. That journey was wrought with so many setbacks and ongoing severe illness. Chemotherapy, biologic treatments, thousands of procedures, multiple ostomies, hospitalizations, and repeated surgery had severely impacted the quality of life I was living in my late teens into my 20s. Most of my dreams were put on hold just to survive.
The one dream I held onto and hoped for was to one day be a mother. Doctors could never give a definitive answer as to whether or not pregnancy could even be possible. It was always a “wait and see” possibility. Without my large intestine or parts of my small intestine, even carrying a baby to term was a huge risk. And, it has been. This miraculous pregnancy has been filled with many issues, illness related problems, and so much worry. Yet, this sweet little boy growing inside me is a fighter. Just like me.
That is why, as we came closer to my due date, I dreamed of having pregnancy photos taken to mark this extraordinary time in our lives.
My colo-rectal surgeon told me last week, despite all the complications, try to enjoy this. “Enjoy being pregnant, Nadia.” She said, “Time goes so fast, we forget these moments. Try to remember how exciting it is to feel him moving…” And it is! This is so true! I have to appreciate everything I am going through to bring him here, and I love him so much that I don’t care how much I have to endure. This is temporary and so worth it.
Next week, I stop the last of my medications needed to keep my disease in remission, so our baby has the best chance and can be his strongest at birth. That part is very unsettling because I don’t know what my body will do without those medications. I am hoping that the last dose will sustain me through the final weeks until delivery and beyond. With that in mind, I decided now was the best time to do these photos. While I felt as good as I can expect to feel, I wanted to capture the power of this moment and the profound feelings of this health and pregnancy journey. I channeled my inner “life-giving goddess” for these powerful images!
I want to thank my mom and dad for their help in bringing my vision to life through these photos, and a huge thank you to Nate for being the most amazing husband and best friend on this journey. I couldn’t have done this without him..obviously..haha!!
“Life reveals her beauty one precious miracle at a time.” ~Flavia
I am typically pretty upbeat and positive by nature. I have had to overcome a lot in the past decade, and I have spent some of that time feeling situational depression due to battling illness, surgery, dealing with body issues from having so many scars and a permanent ileostomy. When I found out I was able to get pregnant, and subsequently carry this baby, I was over the moon! Depression wasn’t even on my radar at that time.
I Knew It Wasn’t Going To Be Easy
I am extremely high risk. I have a team of doctors and specialists across three hospitals that will be involved in bringing this baby into the world safely. Of course, I am a bit nervous, but I also have great faith and trust in this team to do everything to help bring this baby boy into the world, keeping us both healthy and happy.
Here’s where I struggle. I am supposed to be happy. I AM happy. Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to feel baby move and happy to know I will hold him in just a few short months. However, what is happening to my body is bringing me so low. I am just not feeling overall happy, and I didn’t expect that.
A Complex Medical History
Without delving too deep into the graphic details, I’ve had 14 surgeries which have left my entire abdomen full of scars. I have numerous scars running up and down, diagonally, and across my torso. Drain scars, former ostomy scars- just scars, scars, scars! Following one surgery, I had a serious infection so my abdomen had to be re-opened, and I was put on a wound vac to help heal by secondary intention. That process left my tummy full of puckered and thick scar tissue. All this scar tissue causes adhesions. As my abdomen stretches, the scar tissue is stretching and tearing both on the surface and internally. It has been challenging to deal with. This, along with changes in my ostomy with my intestine prolapsing outside my body, has left me feeling depressed over all these reminders that my body isn’t quite the same as others.
This pre-partum situational depression has hit me hard. I am struggling with my body and disease and with my hormones running amok. I have found myself in tears quite a bit lately. I am not writing to complain, NO, but to confront what is happening to me and to share this with others who may struggle with these same feelings during pregnancy or at any time. I know that this is supposed to be the most blessed and happy time of my life, so why am I feeling so blue? I don’t have the answer.
Crochet IS Therapy
During this time, my comfort and refuge is found in my craft. I am so grateful for a loving and supportive husband and the support of a fantastic family, but when I am alone, I find solace in the stitches and the repetitive nature of crochet to help distract and focus my mind on something other than these feelings and the pain from my scars.
Lately, I have been working on so many crochet projects for not only my little guy, but also for my sister-in-law who had a baby girl in January. My niece is the perfect model! These projects, alongside my work here at YARNutopia, has given me a deepened purpose, and these goals have helped me focus on more than the issues I am dealing with.
I know I’m not alone. I know that this is only temporary. I know this is a very small price to pay for bringing my baby into the world. I know I have support and love of an amazing husband, family, and community. I know all these things. I also know it is ok to feel. It is ok to be sad. It is ok to hurt. It is ok to ask for help. It is ok.
After spending a little time yesterday on self-care – I bought myself some springtime flowers to brighten my home, I did some retail therapy and bought myself a few feel-good things, I had my nails done, I took a long walk in the sunshine, a short drive and played my favorite music, and I talked for hours with my mom-I am happy to say that I feel a little better. Today has started off on a good foot and writing this has helped. Also, it has helped to be working on some crochet projects, and I went to brunch with Nate. Each day may present a challenge, but I am thankful be able to face each one in strength and resolve and overcome those challenges!
Share with us:
Please share your stories of pre-partum or post-partum depression or your struggles with feeling out of control. Share your stories of how crochet has brought you comfort during a time of need.
When I arrived in this world, I am told, I was born with a paralyzed side of my face and the inability to open my left eye. From early photos, I always was the one with the very strange expressions and an odd look on my face. My mom always told me how beautiful I am and said it didn’t matter that my eye wouldn’t open, and God made me that way so everyone would think I am giving them a *wink* and fall in love with me. That is how my mom is. She sees the bright side in things. She is looking for the good in every situation–the silver lining–no matter how difficult life could be, she taught my brothers and me the same. Imperfections and differences make you beautiful, and that same thought applies to each piece I make by adding some “imperfect” characteristic.
We never had much, but we always had enough, and we always appreciated everything my parents were able to give us and make happen for us. I was given a strong work ethic, and that is why I do what I do by pouring my heart into each stitch of every piece I create. I could easily be doing any job and the same ethic would apply because it has been instilled in us by a mother that insisted we do the work. We learned how to cook, clean, pick up after ourselves and do laundry from a young age so we could appreciate how hard it is and never take people or things for granted; to have pride in doing and completing a job right from the beginning so we didn’t have to do it again and again.
My mom has walked with me through my journey with Crohn’s disease, and with each step, she has promised that I will never be alone as long as she can draw breath. She is responsible for my love of crochet when she handed me my first crochet hook and ball of yarn and taught me this craft. Little did she know how much this would mold my life and become a lifeline and a form of therapy for long hospital stays. To have the support and love is a gift I shall always cherish. But more than that, I realize I will never be lonely with her by my side, to look for the good and positive no matter what the situation, never feel sorry for myself, and that I always have a forever friend.
My mom is not like other moms. She and I have been through so much in this life. Whenever my brothers and I have troubles or burdens, it’s easier to bring them to my mom and she takes them away and makes everything better. My mom has been by my side at every hospital stay, every doctor visit, every medical test, even when doctors couldn’t help me, she helped me get through it all. I will never be able to thank my mom enough for all that she has done, is doing, and will do for me.
My mom is my best friend.
I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for her.
My mom never gave me any idea that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do, or be who I wanted to be.
She has taught me to have appreciation in everything I have and never take anything for granted. She has taught me how to love unconditionally, and she inspires me every day to make a difference in this world, even if it’s to help few or many. She is my biggest fan, and she is the closest thing to Superwoman anybody could ever be.
Please join me in wishing her and all the other moms (and dads or role models who fill those shoes) a fantastic day! It’s a thankless job sometimes, and you deserve more than one day of recognition.