Miscarriage and Rainbow Babies

Prenatal Yoga Center in NYC has been monumental with my journey into and through motherhood. So, I was truly honored to be a guest on PYC owner Debra Flashenberg’s podcast Yoga Birth Babies.

In this podcast, Deb and I talked honestly about our experiences with miscarriage- something so many women go through. When I lost my twins in April I promised myself that I would always tell their story as a way of honoring them. I remember sobbing in the shower when I was in the depths of my grief and hearing the words “someday my pain will be something else.” This is the something else.

Listen here: https://prenatalyogacenter.com/blog/rainbow-babies-with-jessica-mougis/?fbclid=IwAR1SKHTe5GAR0-MxH1shmQPIMvJjDX-cfWDTJH0HOTRC6oDj1-9tTHRURlM

Raisins Saved My Dog’s Life

A few weeks ago I brought my dog Romeo for his routine wellness visit. Besides the vet informing me he could switch to “senior” dog food now that he was seven years old (what? My baby isn’t a senior!) it seemed uneventful. They did test a small cyst in his backside but I wasn’t worried

However, a few days later I received a call that the cyst came back as mast cell cancer. We would need to do a chest x-ray to check if any other tumors had developed and bloodwork to be sure he was healthy enough to undergo surgery to remove the cyst. Thankfully, all came back clear so he had surgery. A few days later we received the good news that they were able to remove all the cancer and he was bound to live a long and healthy life. Relief.

Less than a week after his surgery, I left to go pick up my two year old daughter Emmy from school. Even though I almost always remember to close the kitchen gate-to prevent Romeo from stealing food off the counter- for some reason I forgot to close the gate that day. I came back from getting my daughter to see an empty 16 oz bag of raisins empty and shredded on the floor.

Shit! Raisins are poisonous for dogs.

I called his vet immediately and they said to bring him in so they an induce vomiting. I thought that would be it, but they informed me they would have to keep him overnight on an IV to flush out his kidneys. They would do bloodwork in the morning to check his liver levels to be sure he was okay. I cried right then and there. Again? We had to leave our first baby out of our care where he was scared? My husband, Steve, and I were both very upset.

The following morning we decided to get out of the city and distract ourselves. Steve had been on the lookout for a new bigger car for our growing family and he found a good one in New Jersey. We made the drive out and test drove the car. We really liked it and decided to move forward buying it.

While waiting at the dealership I got a call from the vet informing me that Romeo was doing well. He ate a bit and went for a few walks. She suggested they keep him one more night as they wanted to monitor him for 36 hours. Another night? Well, that sucked but I wanted to be sure he would be okay so I agreed.

About two hours had passed since we arrived at the dealership and Emmy was getting antsy. Steve and I decided I would take her home, and he would stay at the dealership to finish up all the paperwork.

We had a birthday party to get to later that afternoon so my plan was the find a parking spot near our apartment, hang out at home for an hour or so, and then head over to Westchester for the party. When we arrived back in the city there were no spots to be found even after I circled for about twenty minutes. I double parked in front of our building and ran upstairs to grab the presents for the birthday girl, Emilia. We would just drive over to Westchester early and maybe stop for lunch.

In the meantime, I warned Steve my phone was dying. I’d charge it when I got to the party.

About twenty minutes into my drive with 10% battery left on my phone and no charger, I got another call from the vet.

“We have some alarming news. We ran bloodwork and while Romeo’s liver levels look normal, his red blood cells came back extremely low. We did an abdominal ultrasound and found a mass in his stomach has ruptured and he’s internally bleeding. He needs to be transported to another hospital as soon as possible for surgery.”

What???

I made a quick exit off the parkway. At this point Emmy was screaming in the back seat. “I want to go to Emilia’s party!” I have no idea where I am and I get lost. I call Steve to tell him what’s happening as my phone battery dwindles to less and less power.

My mind immediately starts racing. I have 8% battery.

I need to get directions to get home first. Then I need to figure out which hospital to bring Romeo to and where it is. I have to coordinate with Steve who is stuck without a car at the dealership while all the paperwork goes through.

I call my dad who lives in the city. I tell him what’s happening and say we need help. I’ll need help with Emmy when we get to the hospital. He’s away for the weekend but says he will call my stepmom Leslie.

5% battery.

I get the name of the hospital. I call my dad to tell him. I call Steve to tell him. Emmy is screaming, guttural screams. No doubt reacting to my high anxiety and stress. She’s confused. “I want to go Emilia’s party! NOW! I want to go NOW!”

My dad calls. “Are they bringing Romeo to the hospital or are do you have to.” I begin to say “I need to pick him up and…”

My phone dies.

Now we are on our own.

I’m on track getting back into the city. At this point Emmy is completely unhinged and trying to climb out of her car seat. I try to get her back in from the front seat but have to keep driving.

In a state of complete anxiety and panic we eventually make it to the vet. I double park in front and grab Emmy out of her seat. She has ripped of her socks and shoes. “I need hugs mama. I need hugs.” she says. My sweet girl is confused and scared. I am

too. I’m trying to breathe. I walk into the vet panicked with a thirty pound shoeless toddler in my arms.

Did I mention I’m also 18 weeks pregnant?

I manage to calm Emmy down with hugs, explanation and swaying. I get the address of the hospital from the front desk worker and within a few minutes Romeo is brought down to us. We give him huge hugs and kisses and I tell him it’s time to get in the car and go to the hospital. I tell him he’s going to be okay.

In the back of the car I have the birthday present for Emilia, who is Emmy’s age. To get Emmy back into the car I tell her she can open the presents and we can play with them at the vet. This is probably one of the biggest blessings in the shit storm we are in. Thank God for those much needed distractions at that time.

We get to the animal hospital and my stepmom Leslie is standing right at the front desk. “Is this Romeo?” the man at the desk asks. I tell him yes and within seconds they are bringing him downstairs to take a look at him. I hug Leslie. Seeing her there waiting brings me the first feeling of comfort I’ve felt since I got the call. Leslie sits with Emmy, opens the presents and they play.

The vet comes up to speak with me. “Romeo has a large mass on his spleen. It is most likely a very aggressive form of cancer. We are taking a look right now to determine the next steps. This kind of cancer typically leaves dogs 6 months to live.”

Shock. What??

Steve walks into the door minutes later. I tell him what’s happening.

We go to talk privately in another room and are in total shock. We are devastated.

The vet comes back.

“We took a look and it indeed a large tumor on his spleen. In 2/3 of cases a tumor of this size is an aggressive cancer. He could maybe have a month to live. We suggest going straight into surgery to remove it as he is bleeding internally. We will write up an estimate and bring it up as soon as possible.”

While she delivered this news with the utmost warmth and compassion it was a horrible horrible shock.

We asked the vet what she would do if it were her dog. “In this case, I would go forward with the surgery. I wish it weren’t this expensive but it is. I totally understand having a family and if this isn’t an option for you I would understand why you’d want to euthanize.”

We just bought a car. We just paid for another surgery but if there’s a chance he could survive this and we get more time, we had to move forward. We signed the paperwork. Do the surgery.

We eventually head home and wait for word that he’s prepped for surgery. He goes under and surgery goes forward. I get a call that he’s stable and awake, though very out of it.

The next day is the NYC Marathon. My sister in law is running in it. I want to see her at the finish line. Meanwhile we wait for word on Romeo. Can we pick him up?

We finally hear in the late afternoon after a brutal day of waiting that we can pick him up. The hospital is near the finish line of the marathon and there’s tons of traffic. I don’t care. I’m going to get my boy.

As I sit in traffic I track my sister in law on the NYC marathon app on my phone. She’s crossing the finish line as I park my car to pick up Romeo. I’ve got tears in my eyes of pride for her and fear for my boy.

He comes out with a huge cone on his head. Obviously confused and out of it but calm as always.

The first night and day home are the hardest. He’s in pain. He won’t eat. He won’t move. He lets our little whimpers every now and then. I feel so helpless watching him suffer.

With each day he improves a bit more until we see the normal Romeo again. The one who is within inches of you every time you have a snack. The one who quietly follows you around so he’s always unassumingly close by. Our sweet sweet boy.

It takes a few days, and a scare where his incision opens up a bit and bleeds bringing ANOTHER visit to the vet, but we eventually get back the results.

Romeo has beat the odds and his SOFTBALL

sized tumor has come back benign.

He is part of the 1/3 who survive this kind of thing. He is going to be okay.

After the emotional roller coaster of it all, we are left now digesting this traumatic and scary incident.

As I write this I wonder how the hell raisins managed to save his life. Had he not eaten those, his tumor would have eventually quietly burst inside of him and we would have never known. It would have been too late once we realized he was sick. We would have lost him.

I’ve not much more to say besides God works in mysterious mysterious ways. And what can look like an utter shitty and hopeless series of events can lead to a saved dog, a grateful family, and a whole lot of appreciation for this precious, fragile life.

Toddlers

Toddlers are insane. Toddlers are irrational and volatile. They are sneaky ninjas. They are menaces and maniacs.

Toddlers are amazing. Toddlers are spirited and enthusiastic. They are vibrant and alive. They are passionate, curious and constantly yearn to explore. They are my heroes.

My name is Jessica, and I’m am exhausted toddler mom.

I know I’ve made claims in past posts about dealing with toddlerhood, but I had no idea what I was talking about. I thought that was part was challenging, but boy oh boy, it gets harder.

Before I elaborate, I just want to send a shout out to all the parents out there. I am amazed by parents of multiple children because I find raising one child to be a great challenge. I am amazed by single parents doing it on their own because I have tons of support and am still struggling. I am just amazed by you.

As a toddler mama, it is my job to trust. It is my job to protect my daughter when she needs protecting, and to support her when she wants to explore. It is my job to reflect back to her the very wonderful girl she is on the inside. This means sometimes saying no, and other times saying yes. I am always close to her because sometimes toddlers hit or fall or get scared. I am there. I am present with her. And doing all this? It’s not always easy. And it’s definitely not perfect.

Last week, Emmy declared a nap strike. The way we had been approaching nap time was no longer tolerated, and she vigorously protested. She even climbed out of her crib, opened her door, walked out and said, “NO sleep.” At 21 months I was pretty shocked by this. Damn, girl’s got opinions, and strong ones at that!

So began the Nap Strike of ’17. And mama was at a loss.

After 8 days of struggles with her nap, I finally took a break and my husband took over. It took him a few hours but he reset the nap time ritual so that her stuffed animals are now involved. We call it a “nice nap” and we talk about how she is a big girl because she takes said “nice nap.”  Since the dada reset, things have been doing pretty well. *Knock on wood!

What did I learn? I learned my daughter is strong-willed and when she has an opinion she’s going to let me know it very clearly. (You go girl, and also I’m tired.) I learned I need a break or else I will indeed burn out.  I also learned what it means to make a decision for my child that she really hates, but I know is best for her.

I’m writing this as she naps with the following: a stuffed animal dinosaur, cookie monster, broccoli, hippo, turtle and two baby dolls. She asked for more but I had to draw the line somewhere, right? Emmy Duck

 

 

 

 

My Own Thing

I’ve been talking about starting up my own kids yoga class for over a year now. I have come up with about a thousand excuses for why I wasn’t going to. Then it hit me. What am I waiting for? So finally, I took the initiative to start a kids yoga class this summer at Gymboree, Emily’s favorite place. The best news? She could take the class too!

It is absolutely terrifying to put myself out there and say- this is what I want to do. I’ve never done anything completely on my own. In the past few weeks a lot of experiences have made me realize that even if I fail, it doesn’t matter. The important part is that I listen to that inner voice that’s saying. “Just give it a try.”

Story Time Yoga .PNG

A Deep Exhale

Yesterday Em and I had a busy and stressful (for me) day. We had a follow up appointment with an orthopedist concerning Em’s hips. Being that she was a frank breech baby she was born with a risk of having hip dysplasia. For that reason, she was given an ultrasound on her hips at 6 weeks old and 3 months old.

We had a bit of a scare about her hips when she was six weeks old which left me a bit traumatized. You can read the back story here.

Our appointment was way across town which meant trekking across the city in the cold. I felt tense but breathed deeply and Em handled it like a champ.

We got there a half hour early. I know people say once you have a kid you’re always late but I haven’t found that (yet). Being late for something makes me SO anxious that I’m usually ridiculously early, even with my baby. I’m not saying this is a good thing. It’s just what always happens!

Being so early made me panic a bit wondering what the heck we would do for a half hour; however, The Hospital for Special Surgery happens to be amazing and very child-friendly. 

There was a woman playing ukulele in the waiting area! She asked for requests and gave Em her own show. She sang Itsy Bitsy Spider and I’m a Little Teapot. Em was entranced and so was I. When she sang “You Are My Sunshine” and changed the words of the first verse to be happier (like I do) I cried.

We got called in early and met with the lovely doctor who said Em’s hips looked great but they would do an x-ray just to be sure. When I asked how safe an x-ray was he explained it would be the same amount of radiation as a plane ride to California. We did that plane ride with Em so using that analogy soothed my worries.

We went across the hallway to get her x-ray and Em said “hi!” to everyone we saw. The receptionist. The 10 year old boy wearing headphones and watching a show on his phone. The mom waiting with him. The technician who walked by. She also pulled out my ponytail, snuggled into me tight and kept kissing me. Did she know I was scared? I don’t know. But she made me feel better.

As for the x-ray, I consider it a miracle moment. She laid perfectly still as we sang the ABC’s. It was shockingly easy as pie!

In the end we got confirmation that Em’s hips are developing normally and we don’t need to go back. I’m more relieved that I can explain here. The only way I could describe it is that Em having hip problems has been weighing on me since I was pregnant and learned she was breech. Now it feels like that weight is released and I am ten pounds lighter.

When we got home, I was physically and emotionally SPENT. My back was killing me from wearing 21 pound Em in the carrier all afternoon. I rolled out my mat. I rolled out Em’s mat, and this video is what happened.

I just want to say I’m so grateful for my healthy, sweet, social, communicative girl. My heart explodes every single day and I’m a way better person because of her.

Dingleberry 

I am going to bypass the story of the rude woman on the street today (I think you’ve probably heard enough of those) and go straight to the dingleberry story.

Today after we returned from Romeo’s morning walk we were chillaxing. I sipped by lukewarm coffee that I had been trying to drink for two hours (hello motherhood). Romeo lay on his special spot on the couch. Emily was being adorable chatting to herself and playing with her Daniel Tiger figurines.

From across the room I heard. “Cookie!” Emily is fascinated by Romeo’s treats or “cookies” as we call them. Hmm interesting, I thought. How did she get a cookie? So I walked over. I saw her holding what looked like a cookie in her hand. “Coooookie?” she said as she shoved it in Romeo’s face.

I looked closer.

Good God. That’s not a cookie. It’s a turd! It must have somehow stuck to Romeo and there it was in its fully glory.

I grabbed the small piece of poo from Emily’s hand and put it in a tissue. We then washed our hands THOROUGHLY.

Then I couldn’t stop laughing and texted friends and family to share the story. Most of them had a good laugh too!

Anyway what gets me the most about this all is the purity and innocence of it all. Emily had the best intentions. She was so damn cute in her enthusiasm “coooookie?” And then to imagine what Romeo was thinking. “Um, no thanks little lady.”

I hope that’s my first and only dingleberry story. 

Looking In Awe

Our Christmas tree has been up for a few weeks, and Emily isn’t over its beauty. In fact, she seems to appreciate it more and more each day.

She points to it and says, “Hi!” and “Oooh!” She looks at it whenever we say “Christmas tree.” She loves to look at each ornament and even loves the pine needles. She’s been persistent in her efforts to eat the pine needles so she is definitely keeping us on our toes!

Each night we say goodnight to the tree, and each morning we say good morning to it when she wakes up. It really is beautiful all lit up in the morning before the sun has come up. Even when I’m not quite ready for the day yet, I can appreciate it!

Today I was watching her look at the tree as if it was the first time she saw it, and I thought, wow. What if we lived that way as adults? What if we saw beauty every single day in the things that are always around us?

Then I realized there is a place I always look to in absolute awe. I never get over the feeling of consuming love, and it gets stronger every day. It’s when I look at Emily.

A good friend just had her baby girl last night, and she told me she can’t stop watching her sleep. It felt like an obsession. I told her that feeling never goes away.

This holiday season I am so grateful for the love I have for Emily. It’s a love that has me asking things everyday like- Where did you come from?? Who made you? Did I really grow you in my belly? How can you possibly be THIS cute??

It is a love of which I will forever be in awe.