Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy holidays

Hello there everyone,

Sorry folks. I didn't have a chance to write a blog post this week.

Please enjoy some holiday music in a lame attempt to make up for it. Check out Blossom (currently on The Big Bang Theory) and President Obama in the Maccabeats' rendition of Matisyahu's song Miracle.


Monday, December 12, 2011

505 and the calmness of a deep blue lake

I have not forgotten about this blog! That I promise you. I truly enjoy writing, and I love the conversations that this blog generates with all of you. I am finding it challenging though to write every week and take care of Ethan and Aria, who are all but seven months old. So, I have decided to start blogging every other week rather than weekly, with posts still on Mondays. Enjoy! - Ophir

505 and the calmness of a deep blue lake

I didn’t write last Monday for one simple reason: My blood sugar went all the way up to 505. It was scary. Not only because I care about my health and my diabetes, but also because I have the babies to think about. And high sugars like that could land me in the emergency room if not treated immediately.

Numbers like those happen to me very rarely, but I have my "Back to Normal BGs" strategy down to a science. The kids were napping, and so I changed my pump site immediately. The culprit was clear: A faulty infusion set. The canula was bent. I injected a correction bolus with a syringe and even threw away the old vial of insulin just in case. I changed infusion sites, also just in case.

And then I freaked. Usually I lay on the couch and rest drinking diet ginger ale while I wait for my sugars to go back to normal. The last time this happened was 2008, and so I didn’t have ginger ale lying around the house. And I also had no chance of resting on the couch for more than 15 minutes.

And in the midst of all of my panic on what to do and how to find help, I also thought about this blog. And how another week would go by without a posting. Without me writing about, ironically enough, living with diabetes consciously, in a balanced, healthy way.

I had been debating that morning about a blog topic. I knew I wanted to write about a Buddhist meditation on the deep blue lake and was looking for my own real life example. The gist of the meditation: Wind, rain, storm, or sun, the depths of a lake are still, unwavering, and serene despite what is happening on the surface. According to Buddhism, that stillness - deep inside - is a metaphor for your spirit.

I was trying to think of my own story to tie into the meditation when I went to check my sugar. And boom, there it was 505. At the time, I didn’t see it as a writing opportunity. I was not calm and serene like a deep blue lake. I was crying. I was crying that I couldn’t think of who to call for help that lived close by. And I was ready to move next door to my parents like in Everybody Loves Raymond. Or, to Allentown, PA (which is really not my style and yes, it's very far away from us) to be near where my husband works.

But rather than pack my bags, I did have enough wits about me to call my husband and a friend of mine to brainstorm a solution. I wound up calling a friend who left work to help me. She brought me two cases of diet ginger ale. I don’t know why. But it helps me. And I called my neighbor who came over within seconds to help me with the kids. She and I sat for a few hours and had a lovely conversation, and she told me to always feel free to pick up the phone and call her. The kids had a great time with her. And she even brought over some music CDs for the kids to play along to. My sugar dropped back to normal within a few hours. And everything wound up being more than okay.

By the end of the day, I realized that I had my real life example for this blog. It was clearly not an example of how to implement the meditation effectively. But rather, an example of a time when it could have helped. I had allowed the stuff on the surface get the better of me when things were rough. Rather than tap into the stillness of the lake for a bit of calm despite the craziness.

You see, the stuff on the surface changes all the time. One minute, the weather might be rainy and the next sunny without a cloud in the sky. But the depths of the lake always remain the same. Just like our inner spirits. We should all tap into that stillness when things on the surface get rough. It helps the stuff on the outside go much smoother, much easier, because it comes from a place of peace and acceptance.

I’ll see you all again in two weeks.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Busy with mommy-hood

Hey there everyone,

I will have to take a break from blogging this week as I have my hands full today (ummm, maybe that's every day). Please check back next week.

Hope you had a good Thanksgiving,

Monday, November 21, 2011

Turning perfectionism into optimalism

I’ve always been a bit of an idealist and a dreamer, and now my daughter is teaching me that what I thought was dreamy and romantic has always been perfectionism in disguise.

My perfectionism permeates every part of my life. And when it comes to health and living with diabetes, I have grand expectations of myself. I will go to great lengths to cure my body, live in perfect health, and have amazing blood sugars. But then, I get completely frustrated after pricking my finger and seeing a high or low sugar. I think about how I exercised and ate just right, counted my carbs and yet my sugars don’t always hit the perfect mark. And then whatever joy I had in what I was doing or whomever I was with at the time disappears and turns to stress and anxiety. And well, unhappiness.

I didn’t really think that I was such a big-time perfectionist though until I was watching my baby daughter Aria play, and I saw some of my own traits in her. That’s when the light bulb went off.

I was trying to figure out her frustrations. Babies nowadays are given tummy time since they sleep on their backs all night. And they sleep for something like sixteen hours a day. That’s a lot of time on your back! Time on their tummies is precious as it helps them learn a bunch of things like crawling and rolling over. Sounds nice huh? Yeah, well, because they spend much of their time on the backs, they don’t really like being on their tummies. And boy do they complain about it.

Aria has slowly gotten used to being on her tummy as she’s gotten stronger. And she has been rolling from her back to her tummy for over a month now. But after a few minutes on her tummy, she gets very frustrated and starts to scream. I figured she just didn’t like it, and so I showed her how to roll back. But then she’d roll back to her tummy again five seconds later. An automatic reflex? Probably. Babies tend to try to do things until they’ve mastered it. But then my husband noticed that she would make motions with her hands on the floor, kick her legs, and that she was staring straight ahead as though on a quest to get somewhere else. My husband realized immediately that she was trying to crawl.

I was amazed that she was even trying to crawl because she’s only six and a half months old. Actually she’s five and a half months old if you calculate her corrected age (which you do when a baby is born premature). And crawling is a nine-month old baby milestone. And then I realized – she was trying really hard to do something unrealistic for her age. It could very well be normal baby behavior, although my son doesn’t act that way. Each baby does develop differently. But what gets me is how frustrated she gets that she can’t do it yet. Where did she learn that from? Of course I first assumed that she had learned it from my husband. But then I realized: Had she learned to be a perfectionist like me?

I wasn’t searching for an answer when I found it. I was randomly reading a selection entitled “Perfectionism and Optimalism” from Even Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar, positive psychologist and the teacher of the most popular course at Harvard.

“The key difference,” between the perfectionist and optimalist, Ben-Shahar writes, is that “the former essentially rejects reality while the latter accepts it.” He says that the perfectionist expects “her path toward any goal – and indeed, her entire journey through life-to be direct, smooth, and free of obstacles.” And when things don’t turn out as a perfectionist had planned, she is extremely frustrated and has difficulty coping. And that could describe my daughter’s bout with trying to crawl at five and a half months of age – and my, well, entire approach to life - to a tee.

An even happier way to approach life is as an optimalist – a person who accepts obstacles as a natural part of life’s journey. “She understands that failure to get the job she wanted or getting into a fight with her spouse is part and parcel of a full and fulfilling life; she learns what she can from these experiences and emerges stronger and more resilient.”

Ben-Shahar tells us that perfectionists pay a high emotional price. Their rejection of failure leads to anxiety. They tend to set unrealistic standards for success. And because they never meet these standards, they “are constantly plagued by feelings of frustration and inadequacy.”

Optimalists on the other hand derive great emotional benefit, according to Ben-Shahar, and are able to lead rich and very fulfilling lives by accepting that failure is natural. “They experience less performance anxiety and derive more enjoyment from their activities.” They set goals they can actually attain because they are aware of their limitations.

I would like to learn to be more like an optimalist. Not only for my daughter’s sake, but for mine as well. Ben-Shahar suggests a mindful approach to turning perfectionism into optimalism, such as journaling on areas where you are a perfectionist and areas where you tend to be more like an optimalist.

I can say that I’m a perfectionist when it comes to art and design, and I am an optimalist when I write. Which may be why I write, but don’t paint or draw even though I want to. I can’t help but wonder: What would I be doing if perfectionism – or fear of failure – wasn’t holding me back?

I heard myself saying to Aria the other day, “You can do it. Keep practicing. Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Perhaps I should take the words I use to encourage my daughter – for myself.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fall detox gone....bad?

I have been looking for ways to clear the inflammation and pain in my right hip (I lost range of motion after a c-section in May), and I got my inspiration to try an Ayurvedic fall detox from wellness coach and stage 4 breast cancer survivor Kris Carr last week while reading the October edition of Yoga Journal.

“Inflammation is stress that comes from what you’re eating, drinking, and thinking, and it’s a root cause of chronic disease.” She promotes plant-based diets in her interview to balance your body’s pH, while decreasing acidic foods like animal products, processed sugars, and starches. “But it’s not just what we’re eating that affects our health; it’s also what’s eating us – how well we sleep, sweat, and love, and whether or not we’re committing to our Down Dogs.”

I grappled. I couldn’t see myself adopting a plant-based, vegan diet as a lifestyle. I like steak, yogurt, cakes, and cookies. Oh yeah, she also says to ditch the dairy (animal product). I have no problem with doing yoga, meditating, or loving. I never had a problem with sleep until I got pregnant, but I’m sure I can get that back again once the kids sleep through the night without a peep – hopefully that’ll be some time soon. But no animal products or starches? Yikes.

I thought I’d do a detox instead since it might bring me the peace and balance that I am looking for, and hopefully reduce the inflammation in my hip. But it’s not a permanent life change, although could inspire some changes.

The Ayurvedic fall detox, also found in the October edition, has a few steps: 1. Slowing down – purposefully; 2. The Detox diet; 3. Cleansing daily yoga; 4. Self-study/reflection.

I didn’t have any appointments scheduled last week, and so I thought it was the perfect time to give it a go. The diet consists of ginger tea, carrot-ginger soup, beans, and a dish called Kitchari, made of rice and mung beans made throughout Asia to purify the body. I asked my husband, a great cook, to make enough for four days, and I bought organic brands of the rest. Yoga Journal provides daily yoga videos on-line, and I scheduled a babysitter so that I could sit for an hour on Wednesday and meditate in nature and journal on finding peace and balance.

Determined to find “the answer” to everything that is challenging me these days, I set out on the detox religiously. I ate the kitchari twice a day as advised and drank unsweetened ginger tea and did the yoga videos. At first I didn’t notice any difference, but by the end of the first day, I noticed that my day flowed so easily. I was, dare I say, happy. I felt less encumbered by silly mind ramblings and rants. The kids were happier too. They were eating well, sleeping hard, and playing happily. I was writing better and finding time to do everything I had in mind for the day without stressing about it. I began to organize things around the house and even cleaned a bit. By the second day, I set out to conquer a fear of mine. This may sound silly, but I took my six month old twins out all on my own to run some errands despite some really, really bad experiences doing so in the past.

By the third day, I was more focused on how hungry I was than on peace and a flexible hip. And the kitchari, well to be polite, is not my taste. Okay, let’s just be blunt: It’s really nasty and bland. I added salt. Not very mindfully detox of me. But I added salt, and it still tasted nasty and bland. I reflected by the river that morning, and got the answers I was looking for. I felt like I had done what I needed to do. And so by the end of day three, I made myself eggs and toast for dinner. By day four, I had re-introduced yogurt and had salmon for dinner. By day five, I was eating meat again and didn’t even do yoga that morning. By day six, my hip was bothering me again. I even had a bad episode over the weekend and started complaining again about stress.

How did my fall detox go...bad? Well, you could just say that the kitchari was nasty and I was hungry. But I’m pretty sure there’s more to it than that. Perhaps a bit of self-sabotage? What would I do with my life...what would I think about....if I was actually happy, at peace, and balanced? Bottom line: I bolted. And there's always a reason, a lesson, when we self-sabotage. When we reach for a cookie when we're on a diet, or when we don't finish a project we know will be good for us and others.

So what’s a girl to do? Accept that life is not all roses. Challenges are a part of life. And to be mindful that sometimes we stray. And learn the lesson.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Keeping up with the milestones

Does your baby roll over yet? Sleep through the night? Eat solids? How much does your kid weigh? How much tummy time do you give your baby?

I have been thinking a lot about weight gain and milestones lately. Mainly because just about every pediatric doctor, specialist, and physical therapist that I have encountered has made a point of me thinking about it. And, to be totally honest, because a few friends of mine have given birth to healthy babies, full term ones, around the same time that Ethan and Aria were born. And so I’ve been stressing about catching up my kids to the other full-term babies. On top of that, the doctors give me homework to do with my almost six month old kids and instructions and follow-up appointments. And not to divulge too much, but we see quite a number of doctors and physical therapists as a result of Ethan’s pre-maturity and being born very small.

So now I’m constantly tracking their corrected age in relation to their developmental stages, and then calculating it in relation to their chronological age. And plotting their weights on growth charts. And waiting for a doctor not to say, “We need to catch him up.” But rather, “He’s exactly where he should be.” Let alone, "Wow, your child is a genius. You better start saving for Harvard now!"

I do not take E’s and A’s development lightly. At all. I appreciate modern medicine – A LOT. And I appreciate the experience that our children’s healthcare team bring to the table. But won’t my children learn to sit even if I don’t buy some special sitter? Does it really matter if they roll over at seven months instead of at six months?

We’re in this constant state of playing catch up that I eagerly want to resolve itself. I'm sick of the doctors, as helpful and supportive as they are. I'm sick of the pressure, the worry, the stress. I'm sick of fretting before each appointment over what they will say and have me do this time.

I'd much rather prefer allowing the journey to unfold naturally, going with the flow, but it’s really hard to do when you have a slew of people checking in with you on your child’s development a few times a week.

Here's the lesson I'm grappling with: I am learning to accept the journey - all of it.

Acceptance doesn't mean resigning yourself to your life situation, according to author of Power of Now Eckhart Tolle. You obviously need to do something about it when faced with challenging situations. Acceptance means facing whatever is happening to you - internally and externally. This can apply to any of life's situations - career, relationships, health/diabetes.

And in my case these days, it's about allowing my children to develop at their own pace. When they’re ready to move to the next step (which happens so fast anyway). And I suppose the doctors are a part of that journey too. As are the moms of full-term babies. The appointments, the homework, the activities, and the letting them be who they are.

There's a lesson in all of it. On living life to the fullest. On not resisting what life hands you and your loved ones. On facing what happens to you, accepting it, and doing something about it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ending the war on feeding issues

Ethan and Aria were born five and a half months ago, and food and feeding issues have re-arisen to the top of my things to think about. And conquer.

Feeding takes on an entirely new meaning when you have two little people totally dependent on you for sustenance. And along with the obvious – meaning feed them - comes how to help them feel better when they have feeding issues like gas or needs a diaper change or bigger concerns.

Aria has taught me quite a bit about eating healthy. She knows exactly what she needs to eat to gain exactly the right amount of weight. While with Ethan, we have gone through an incredibly frustrating and grueling five or so months of trying to figure out why he isn’t eating what he needs to gain a healthy weight and catch up to others his age (he was born premature and very small). We are pretty sure that we’ve figured it out: Turns out that he’s a lactose intolerant foodie who likes to snack sometimes.

But ending the war on feeding issues isn’t only about the kids. My relationship with food has long been an issue for me, as I believe it has been for just about everyone on the planet whether they’re aware of it or not. The babies’ relationship with food, and the need to think about it more than I ever would for myself, has brought to light my own relationship with food. And I’m the better for it. Because now I can declare, I have ended my own war with feeding issues and my body.

Geneen Roth, author of Women, Food, and God says it best. We all have a relationship with food and eating that is reflective of how we approach life and our values.

I’ll share with you a smidgen of my own saga. Food has been the bane of my existence and also my savior, a source for strength and comfort, and a passion. I love food, especially really good food, and I also feel guilty because of food, like I’m never quite eating just right. Diabetes and celiac comes with restrictions and rules. You need to eat just the right amounts and right kinds or your body goes haywire. I know this, and I want to be fit and healthy. I feel better when I am. But when I see a beautiful meal, I can’t help but indulge a bit. And like many people, I also see food as love and family. I socialize around it. Holiday dinners revolve around food. I try to be conscious of what I’m eating, and yet somehow, it never turns out quite right. A sugar goes high, the weight doesn’t go down, but I also want to sit around the table with family and friends and enjoy. And then the guilt enters, the feeling bad about myself, the perfectionist that is me.

Alright, so how did I get from there to now? The end of my own personal war with food?

I was obsessing over Ethan’s feeding issues. I cannot even begin to describe to you how difficult dealing with an infant’s feeding issues is. Babies can’t really tell you what’s bothering them, and days are filled with crying and discomfort. So you have to observe closely, read the signs and symptoms, and try things out. We tried a lot of things out – from gas drops to tests and medications for reflux. But I’ll talk more about that another time. The point is: We needed it to be resolved. For his health. And for our health. And all of our sanity. Bottom line: He wasn’t reaching his potential because he wasn’t getting the proper nutrition, and it weighed down on all of us.

I would pray, meditate, journal, talk about it, talk about it again, then cry about it, pray some more, do some yoga, journal. And then I asked for spiritual guidance. Which I tend to do under these kinds of circumstances. And I got it.

First, his feeding issues are his journey, and I can’t control it. I need to go with the flow, and listen closely to my intuition.

And, I can use the opportunity to learn what I can about my own issues with food. I decided to re-visit Geneen Roth’s book in audio form.

Then the answers started coming regarding Ethan. We tried a lactose free formula. There are a number of them, and quite frankly they really stink. I mean they smell really bad. And he didn’t like them. We tried three until we found one that he likes. And bingo, he’s eating like a champ.

And as the answers were coming to us about Ethan, the answers were coming to me as well. I went to the mall one day for a break.

I was so tired from the sleepless nights and very long, tiring days. I asked for spiritual guidance again. Not about me or my own feeding issues. Just a general, I need help. Please. Now. I begged for a cleaner and two live-in nannies. To win the lottery. To have a house large enough for the live-in nannies. To have my life back again.

I was wandering aimlessly around Barnes and Noble thinking about these two amazing kids, but not really figuring out where I should go or what I should do. And I remembered something my doctor said to me, the OB/GYN who delivered the twins. He told me that we had been through so much, and it’s my job now to transform all of the fear of losing him and everything we went through with him at the NICU for three and a half months - to joy. He said, "What's the point of having kids if you aren't going to feel joy?"

That statement stuck with me. Why was I having such trouble transforming it to joy? And I realized that I’ve always been like this though, haven’t I? Never quite satisfied, always looking for trouble and obsessing over fixing it.

I walked out into the main part of the mall and sat on a bench for a moment to rest. And then I looked up and saw a large sign in one of the store windows: Get over it.

Those words stuck with me, but still didn’t quite penetrate. The hint hadn’t quite sunk in yet. Not until I left the mall and went out to my car to go home. I put on the audio CD of Geneen Roth’s Women, Food, and God, and sure enough, the first words I heard were, “Chapter Two: Ending the war.”

I didn’t need to hear anything else. What am I fighting for? I can choose my own battles with myself. And I choose peace of mind. I had been searching for some magical antidote. A message like: Go to five sessions of reiki and all of your problems will be solved. It doesn’t quite work like that though. And to be honest, I wasn’t even thinking about my relationship with food or my body, even though I was listening to a book about Women, Food, and God. I was actually listening to it more for an epiphany regarding Ethan – not me.

I decided that day to end the war. I wasn’t sure exactly which war. But it was going to end. I decided to stop battling with myself.

A few days later, I realized that I actually love my body. I hadn’t been searching for that. And I realized that it felt really good to feel that way for the first time in my life. Alas, the war has ended.

Monday, October 31, 2011

This week's blog will be up tomorrow

Hey everyone,

This week's Monday blog will be posted tomorrow.

Have a great evening,

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cooling the flames

I woke up one morning around six years ago and had lost the range of motion in my left hip. It was quite a long road getting my hip back again, but I was able to do it. Well, here we go again – only on the right side.

It started a couple of weeks after my c-section. I was doing yoga one morning, and noticed that I had lost quite a lot of range of motion. To make matters worse, I noticed that if I move it a little bit funny, I am in excruciating pain.

The good news is that I already know what to do since I’ve been through this before. I know that it’s osteoarthritis. I know that it’s a result of inflammation. I know that inflammation is stress-induced. And I also know that alternative medical treatments work much better than traditional Western ones in this case.

Last time, I was sent to an orthopedist, then to physical therapy, x-rays, MRIs, and a rheumatologist. I wound up treating it though with a mix of chiropractic care, yoga, proper diet and sleep, ginger tea, and stress reducing meditation. I visualized myself with a fully functioning, flexible, pain-free hip. I also did body work meditation, which basically means that after quieting the mind through deep breathing, you go to the point in the body where the pain is and ask if there’s a message. I have gained many insights into stress that I have suppressed in my body, and I find that once I’m aware of it, I’m able to work out the tension helping my body feel better. By the way, you can also do this through yoga. Just ask for insights on a particular question, and then let your body do the work. Messages will come to you while practicing the various poses and/or at the end when lying in shavasana or corpse pose.

I have already started, but am finding it harder this time to implement my treatment since having twins. Okay, for one, I don’t really get to decide how much sleep I get on any given night. I’m always tired. Two, I also don’t always get to decide when I do yoga and when I don’t or when and if I get to finish a routine. I don’t go to the chiropractor quite as often. I meditate occasionally. And sometimes I eat whatever is handy – including pizza, pasta, and tortilla chips. I have managed to cut out artificial sweeteners and started drinking ginger tea though.

So what do I do? Well, I can’t change the fact that I have twins, and that I need to take care of them. Nor do I want to. But I can find a way to be more forgiving of myself, to look at what I am doing for myself and focus on that. I am managing to do yoga on some days. I am managing to meditate on some days. And I am managing to still eat vegetables every day. I have already visualized both of my hips as flexible, fit, and agile. And I know that the hip will heal. Now it's about time, patience, and forgiveness.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Relief from suffering and pain and my kids’ vomiting

Have you ever seen a baby vomit? I apologize for the goriness, but Ethan has been vomiting frequently. (More on this in a later blog, but we’re working on figuring out the cause.) Aria vomits too, but not nearly as often.

I was quite traumatized the first time I saw each vomit until I mastered the whole process. But I still worry and stress over the what’s, why’s, who’s, etc. What’s causing it? Why is it happening? How can I make it stop? Who do I turn to for help? And so on. A couple of trips to the pediatrician later, and we now know that Aria’s is nothing to worry about, and we’re still working on figuring out Ethan’s.

As for the process, Aria’s vomit just kind of happens. There’s no prelude or warnings. She vomits, and then looks stunned for half a second. I take her to clean her up and change clothes, and sure enough, she’s laughing and kicking around within seconds.

It’s more or less the same thing with Ethan. Only with him, there’s warning. We run to the sink. He gags and vomits. Sometimes he just gags. He looks as though he’s in pain. He vomits. Maybe a second or third time. He cries. We calm him and soothe him. And then we take him to get cleaned up and changed. And he’s smiling and kicking around again after a few minutes. And that’s pretty much it.

The pain is temporary. Lasts a millisecond with Aria and maybe a few minutes with Ethan. They move on. They’re ready to play again. All smiles.

But not with me. I see the vomit coming. I run for dear life to make sure that minimal damage is done to the house. I’ve had to clean the couches, carpets, my clothing, and their chairs way too many times for my liking at this point. And then there’s the stress of leaving one of them downstairs alone – sometimes in the middle of a feeding - while I take the other upstairs to clean and change. I try to rush to make sure that no one is traumatized or in hysterics because they were left alone while moments before they were enjoying a bottle. And then I think for days about what could have caused the vomit. I speak with the pediatrician and my husband, and we go over all of the scenarios over and over again. To be honest, I don’t even bother calling anymore. I check for temperature sometimes. Nope, no signs of illness. My husband wants to build an excel spreadsheet to pinpoint trends and try to diagnose it. And I pray to God every morning, “Let this be a vomit-free day.”

It totally stresses me out... and they’re playing.

Just to state the obvious: Babies’ brains aren’t as developed as ours; their ego minds haven’t developed at this stage. And so what may seem to be a worrisome event to us is just another blip in time for them. And as a mother who worries – a lot about everything – I am trying to come to some kind of emotional peace with this. I don’t know if I can spend the remainder of my life freaking out all the time about their health. Or perhaps more realistically, I can at least find a way to tone it down. Have some relative peace of mind.

I was thinking about the peace I'm seeking the other day, and I had this gut feeling to Google the word “control” on And sure enough, I found a really great article by Martha Beck, “Get a New Leash on Life” from the August 2002 edition of Oprah Magazine, which I strongly recommend reading.

In it, Beck looks at different kinds of pain and how we can find some solace. She writes that psychologists call my kind of suffering “dirty” pain. In the case of the vomiting, the kids have “clean” pain, which is what we feel when something hurtful happens to us. That blip in time.

She explains, “Dirty pain is the result of our thoughts about how wrong this is, how it proves we-and life- are bad.” Such as the anguish of why the vomit happened, how we can change it, the should’s and could’s. I must confess that I have turned the vomiting in my mind into a really, really big deal. It may in fact be a symptom of something greater – like reflux or a food allergy – but my thoughts and worry around it does not help.

Beck’s article continues, “The two kinds of suffering occupy different sections of the brain: One part simply registers events, while another creates a continuous stream of thoughts about those events. The vast majority of our unhappiness comes from this secondary response – not from painful reality but from painful thoughts about reality.”

When we dwell, discuss, stress about, create stories that may have no basis in reality. Beck tells us that this happens when we try to control – through our thoughts – what we really can’t control.

This doesn’t only apply to physical pain, but also to emotional pain like from a job lay off, a bad breakup, the stress before a surgery or after you’ve already recuperated, the angst when trying to make a big decision, or fretting over a fight with a loved one. The event itself only lasts a few seconds. But the feelings about it will last as long as you let it.

Buddhists, Kabbalists, new age followers, and yogis have been saying for years, suffering ends when we learn to detach from thinking mind. The way to do that is to realize that our thoughts aren’t the truth. It’s what we’ve created, a story we’ve told ourselves. And the way to detach from those thoughts is through presence – such as focusing on your breath, listening to your heartbeat, observing your thoughts, or observing what’s right in front of you. Is there anything wrong at this very moment? Probably not.

Beck goes on to say that even experiences we once feared and hated may become opportunities to awaken our capacity for joy. Because once you become comfortable with uncertainty, the world opens.

Is this was a long way to go from my children’s vomiting? I don't think so. It's these every day events that show us our true selves and also show us where there's work to be done in living life to the fullest. It’s just another example of how we, how I, create thoughts that aren’t necessarily true.

I’m getting better at handling the vomit. I’m taking it as it comes and dealing with it, although still praying to God every morning for vomit-free days. We’re doing everything we can to help Ethan move past it and feel better. And hey, this could be an opportunity to get some new couches. One thing I'm learning for sure is that the world really does open up once you let go of control.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Balancing health and newfound motherhood

I had a rough morning today. I woke up at around 5:30 in the morning ready to exercise, get my insulin pack together with all of my vitamins, blood sugar checking paraphernalia, and insulin pump stuff, and eat breakfast before the kids woke up. You probably guessed from the title of this blog entry, things didn’t turn out exactly the way I had planned.

I did manage to get the insulin pack together, but that was only because my husband went to get Aria who had also woken up at 5:30 along with her mother and father. I fed her. She played a bit. I decided to swaddle her up and let her watch me exercise. Yes, that actually interests a newborn child, and I figure I’m teaching them to take care of their health while taking care of mine too. She fell asleep while I was warming up. I was well on my way to getting fit and strong, when fifteen minutes into it, Ethan woke up ready to eat and play. I had stop.

And that’s pretty much how my morning went. One would wake up to eat while the other one napped, and then as soon as one was ready to nap, the other would wake up to eat.

I get frustrated when these types of mornings happen. I want to get stuff done, and I hate being interrupted or feeling obliged to change my course. But it’s not like I’m an evil mother because of this. I’m trying to actually take care of my health. This is a good thing. And I tried really hard all morning long to finish the routine. I put Ethan in the swing and let him watch me, but then he started screaming. He was hungry. He finally went to sleep – after many maneuvers on my part. I figured I could finish the routine, and then Aria woke up. I took her upstairs to put the laundry in the washer. She wanted to play, and so I put her under her mobile, and she kicked around in her crib.

Here’s my surprising bit of news. Despite all of the juggling, I do somehow manage to take care of myself. I do manage to exercise most days of the week and eat healthy meals. I do check my sugars. Sometimes I’m holding a bottle and pricking my finger at the same time, but it gets done.

I think it’s because I’ve made healthy living a priority. But it’s not only that. I am trying really hard not to get hung up on plans. This is really hard for me by the way. I have always been a planner. My children are teaching me to go with the flow. Make adjustments when necessary and figure out how to still get it done. So I didn’t get to exercise in the morning, but I did do another 15 minutes of that routine later in the day. It may not be the ideal way to work out, but hey, I did something.

I know I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed with things to do. I keep hearing from friends and family about the amount of stuff on their plates. I am not proposing that everyone become to-do list addicts. But one thing I’ve learned as a mom of five month old twins is that there’s always stuff to do. And the only way to balance it all is to prioritize and then go with the flow, moment by moment, day by day.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Stressed out and loving it

What’s stressing me out, you may ask? Well, besides being totally tired from taking care of our newborn twins Ethan and Aria, I am also dealing with my own health issues since having the babies (nothing serious, but still not something you wish for; more on this later), Ethan’s health needs resulting from his very low birth weight (and the team of doctors that we need to see), the economic situation (otherwise known as, “now it’s my turn”), getting stuff done (i.e., the bane of my existence: to-do lists), and still adjusting to this whole thing we call motherhood (and figuring out how to remain sane).

I was telling my husband about it, crying and complaining like crazy. I even made a list of all the things that are stressing me out and sent it to him by e-mail – just to show him how really stressed out I really am.

His response: “Everything will be okay. Things always work out. Look at where we are now. We live a good life.”

That of course is the perfect answer. What else would you tell someone when they’re totally losing it? “Uh, yeah, it’ll only get worse.”

But then he pointed out to me all the things that ARE going well in our lives. And he pointed out to me how we’ve been through tough times in the past, and everything always worked out for the best. And everything always works out at the right pace and at the right time.

I listened to his words, and felt inspired to work out my stress through yoga a few minutes later – remembering how therapeutic it is for me. I believe from my own experiences that we hold stress in our bodies which if unattended to can turn to illness. Yoga is the perfect way to let it go. Stretching, sweating, building strength and balance. Yoga gently moves you to become present.

And that’s when it hit me: I am the creator of my stress. Me and only me. My list of stressors really has no meaning. I attach the meaning to it. I choose how to perceive the stress in my life. I could revolutionize the whole way I perceive stress, and look at the same things that are stressing me out as adventurous and exciting. As opportunities to grow, learn, and live life more fully.

I have these amazing kids who are just so much fun. I have always worked out my health issues in the past, and I will this time too. And career/economic situation – totally an opportunity to re-invent myself and follow my dreams.

As for the health stuff, it really deserves its own blog. But to make it brief: I have some health stuff that came around after the twins were born – mostly inflammation in my joints. I’ve had this before, and I know how to take care of it. I’ve overcome inflammation in the past through yoga, diet, and meditation. I can do it again.

Everyone goes through stress in one way or another. Use it. Take advantage of it. Awareness of your stress is a way to learn more about yourself, what makes you tick, and then turn it around to live more fully. It’s up to me and only me to turn my stress around. Here we go...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Savoring each moment

Twins are a challenge to raise. I love them dearly (goes without saying), but I have to admit that I have been obsessively wondering: When does this get easier? When does raising newborn twins, while also trying to somehow take care of myself, a house, and the rest of life, get easier?

I take this question very seriously. I refuse to just give in and be a blithering, tired mom for the next however many years. So I decided to search for the answer.

I started a few months ago (while I was still pregnant) by reading parenting books in search for clear directions on parenting success – and even more so, parenting twins sanely. I read (and am still reading) the oracle of parenting: “What to Expect the First Year,” as well as other books like “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child,” by Marc Weissbluth (sleep is a big deal for newborns and their parents) and “Having Twins,” by Elizabeth Noble, among many more. But alas, even those incredibly popular books gave lots of options and choices without one real true definitive path to sane twin parenting.

I have implemented many of the suggestions, the ones that make sense, and yet, I am still completely and absolutely worn out. And actually, I just read last night in "Having Twins" that things will only get tougher once the kids are eating solids and moving. Solids are tough because it's more work and messy. Moving is tough because they just move in different directions and not know yet that certain things are dangerous. That obviously did not make me feel better.

So I turned to friends and relatives, especially other parents of twins. I received many different answers to the “When does it get easier” question. Some told me that it gets easier when children reach three or four years old when they are less physically dependent, but then the same people told me that at that age, the physical stress turns to emotional stuff. Some say it all gets easier when you start sleeping through the night when children reach two or three years old. Some say when they’re 18 and leave the house for college. While others say when they get married and then it becomes someone else’s problem.

So basically we're talking anywhere from three to eighteen to twenty plus years from today. And I don't think I'll last that long!

I was feeding the twins (at the same time) when the answer hit me: I wasn’t asking the right question. What I should be asking is: How do I make this moment easier?
I keep trying to rush past all of this, and amazingly enough, it’s one of the most fulfilling and joyful times of my life. I’m trying to jump eighteen years ahead instead of simply savoring the moment I’m in.

The twins are growing and developing each day. And this is it. This is my chance to experience what it’s like to be raising these amazing four and a half month old babies. Life is transient. And soon they’ll be five months old, and I won’t be able to go back again to this day. So, I’d better savor it. I’d better live for the moment.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Getting over “oh poor baby”

Worried sick. That’s what I’ve been. Picking him up at every whimper to coddle him. He needs extra loving care. He is traumatized by everything that’s happened to him. Oh, poor baby.

Those are definitely the thoughts and language that I’ve been using when talking about Ethan since he stopped growing in utero at 26 weeks and was born very, very, very small. And then spent three and a half months in the NICU (newborn intensive care unit).

He’s doing great now. He’s been home for three weeks and thriving. Yet, I have definitely had those “oh poor baby” thoughts despite all of this. Despite the doctors telling me that he looks great. Despite the dramatic improvement in how our son interacts with us and his sister.

I came to realize that the “oh poor baby” mentality is not fair to him, or his sister for that matter, this weekend when he was crying hysterically.

Well not to confuse everybody, but the "ah ha" moment actually started because of Aria. (I'll get back to Ethan's freak-out session in a minute.) She's been really fussy lately. Rebelling, perhaps? And I was wondering what's going on with her. Is it normal baby stuff like gas, hunger of tiredness? Or is she wondering why she's not the sole center of attention anymore? So I asked Lior, "Am I treating them differently?"

I realized that I was. When Aria is fussy and needs to be held, I say to myself, "Oh she needs a swaddle and a pacifier. I'll pick her up and hold her." When Ethan cries, I frantically wonder "Oh my God, what's wrong with him? I don't know what to do. Is he okay? What do I do? What do I do?"

And in that moment when I was freaking out because Ethan was freaking out (and Aria was burying herself in her swaddle to drown out the noise), I realized that I wasn't helping him by freaking out and imposing on him the "oh poor baby" mentality. "He needs to be treated differently."

It dawned on me that I am really not helping him (or myself) emotionally either. I'm the mom. He is four months old. He needs me, just as she does, to take control of the situation and figure out how to help him. And not to freak out, because then they will freak out. A cough is just a cough. A sneeze is just a sneeze. A vomit is just a vomit. And a cry is just a cry. Just as I treat Aria when she's upset. Like a normal baby. That's all.

With that moment of clarity, I reached for a pacifier and a swaddle, and I picked him up. And I realized that I am judging him unfairly - and unjustly for that matter. Babies are incredibly attuned to the energy we send them. I see this unfold every single day. The babies read my energy and respond in turn. And my own insecure thoughts, and even worse, the "oh poor baby" ones, can hinder his ability to thrive. To become self-sufficient. To grow and develop.

And it's not fair to Aria either. She's been telling me this for weeks now.

I realized that I needed to process everything that had happened with the pregnancy, the birth, and the post-partum period, accept it, and let it go. I believe I’m there now, and I am already seeing changes - big changes - over the weekend and this morning.

Here’s how I am doing it: First, I became aware and mindful that I was projecting judgmental thoughts and feelings. I didn’t blame myself or feel bad about it. I simply became aware and set an intention to change it, to turn it around. Next, I meditated on changing my thought patterns. I consciously became aware of my thoughts while feeding both Aria and Ethan. And I mindfully focused on non-judgment. I kept repeating the words: “Non-judgment, non-judgment, non-judgment.” And I automatically, you could even say intuitively, became present. I began focusing on my breath and on how grateful I am. I felt this incredibly healing, positive energy come over me. And I exhaled. It was great. A moment to savor. They were both eating vigorously, and they both looked content.

And then suddenly, with my mind clear of clutter, I began to notice a change in him. He was growing before my eyes, smiling, eating more, crying less. I saw that he is thriving. He could very well have been doing this all along, but I finally saw my son – as he is – for the first time. A healthy, thriving baby.

I am going to continue practicing presence and gratitude with both Ethan and Aria, especially while feeding them. And I will continue to be mindful of not judging them. Accepting them for who they are.

And I’m starting to realize that my children are teaching me incredibly valuable lessons that are helping me grow in my relationship with myself and with others. Perhaps if I begin to perceive myself with non-judgment, I will thrive more and more. I will see myself for who I really am and live my authentic self more naturally. And perhaps by practicing non-judgment with myself, it will be easier to practice non-judgment with others, and then those relationships will flourish and people will have the space to feel like they can be truly authentic with me.

I'd say that that’s a pretty good goal. Be with myself and others in non-judgment, with presence. I have a feeling that this isn't the last of the lessons that Ethan and Aria will teach me over the years. But I'm savoring this one for now.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

How I’m adjusting to being a mom of twins

I totally freaked out last week. It was my first week alone with Ethan and Aria, who are now four months old. I was curled up on the couch this past Wednesday afternoon much like a newborn baby, whining to a friend on the phone, crying hysterically, and wondering if I’ll ever, ever, ever feel better – make that sane – again.

I am finding a lot of joy in having children, but it’s totally normal to say that raising twins is physically exhausting and emotionally trying. It’s a tall order for just about anyone, and needless to say that having Type 1 diabetes adds a whole other component. On top of taking care of them – which is a pretty big job – I also need to keep the house together, have some semblance of a career, and let’s not forget that I also need to take care of myself.

I’m finding it challenging to make the basics happen: taking a shower, eating, checking my sugars, exercising, sleeping, and going to doctors/filling prescriptions. My days have been starting at 4 or 4:30 am and ending at around 10 to 10:30 pm. And it’s pretty much non-stop. When they rest, I run around and try to get things done before one of them wakes up.

Then there’s the taking care of them part. I have been experimenting with feeding them at the same time, but that can sometimes go really, really bad really, really fast. Hysterical cries, formula all over the place (and vomit on the family room couches), neither child really getting my full attention (which I felt guilty about and was part of the couch hysterics). On top of that, I had to take them to two doctors’ appointments this past week – of course carrying two infant car seats in the pouring rain to and from the car way too many times for my liking. Each of them vomited for two days in a row on different days. And somewhere in there, they vomited on me too. Needless to say, lots of laundry has been done.

I’m not the only one adjusting here of course. The whole family is, and that adds to it all. Aria had to get used to having a brother and not as much of our attention (still working on that one, but getting much better than it was). And of course Ethan was adjusting to being in a totally new environment and routine, not knowing what to expect, and feeling at home and comfortable. Our remedy has been to fill them with a lot of love and consistency. It seems to be working, and they seem to be adjusting nicely so far.

What I realized as I thought about today's blog topic is that the Wednesday curled up on the couch freak-out was a wake-up call. I need to get my act together. I am the boss of this house, at least when Lior's not home. I need to be in control. I need to stay balanced and keep a calm mind. I need to stay present and not make matters worse with my griping. I need to love myself and be confident in what I’m doing. I have no other choice. I need to take care of myself or else who will?

And that’s when things started turning.

During those crazy moments when Ethan, Aria, and I are on edge, I had an epiphany that I should sing songs, which seems to put a smile on everyone’s face at any given moment despite my being a really lousy singer. I have learned to make shorter to-do lists, and I have also learned to let a lot go (a clean and orderly house being one of the more challenging things to let go of, but super hard to get done). I am also streamlining – I found an endocrinologist closer to home and have my first appointment booked. Lior and I have established a bedtime routine that seems to be working really well. Lior and I also spent the first week that Ethan was home organizing and figuring out who would be in charge of what and how we would prioritize stuff to do at home. So that makes things much better.

I have been mindful of savoring the amazing moments - the cuddling, the smiles and coos, and watching them grow and learn. The other day when I was singing songs – to calm the room – Aria started singing with me in her own way. She was smiling and kicking her legs in her chair. Ethan used to cry when we changed his diaper, and now he smiles from ear to ear and calmly waits while I take care of whatever I need to do. How amazing is that?

Also, I'm learning that it’s okay if babies cry. It’s loud, causes stress, and breaks my heart, but it’s still okay if they cry until I can get to them. Yes, I can go take a shower, and if one of them cries, well, they’ll wait for me to get out to take care of whatever is bothering them. Of course, once one starts crying, the other one sometimes does as well, and then it takes me quite some time to calm them down. I suppose this will help them build character. But still, my point is that I can go take a shower whether or not they cry while I'm away.

“Me time” has taken on new meaning. It’s composed of a few hours a week, rather than most of the time. And what that has forced me to do is think really carefully about what I want to spend that “me” time doing. I want to spend that time exercising, spending time with family and friends, writing, reading, and pampering (like getting a haircut or a pedicure).

I have learned to savor the “me time” moments in a whole new way. Lior and I watched a movie together last night! It was only interrupted once, and we watched it together until the end. And I actually took a walk by myself yesterday for thirty minutes, and it was so peaceful. I have learned to appreciate things I used to take for granted in a whole new way.

This whole experience is a real life lesson. Actually it’s all of life’s lessons rolled into one super intense immersion course in accepting what life hands us and making the best of it. And in this case, that means learning the lesson.

Monday, August 29, 2011

So long, NICU…Welcome home Ethan!

Ethan is home! We are all thrilled, and yes, utterly exhausted.

Ethan came home today after a week of final preparations at the hospital for his discharge. Despite an earthquake and a hurricane, we were able to leave the hospital only a day later than originally planned.

There is a lot to say about this entire journey, and I’m sure I’m still processing much of it. There has been a lot to learn - from a medical perspective, as a new parent and a new parent of twins and a new parent of twins who also has Type 1 diabetes, and lots and lots of spiritual/emotional lessons. I have been reflecting for quite some time now on what I can learn from this experience, and here’s what comes to mind as my top five:

5) Be mindful of facts and feelings – at the right time. It’s good to be mindful of one’s emotions, accept and process them. But sometimes, those emotions need to be checked at the door when the time isn’t right. I’m a better listener – and a better mother - when I just listen to the facts, not the feelings, when discussing matters that require my undivided attention – such as a meeting with a doctor. That’s probably true for everyone.

4) The power of prayer. It’s remarkable. But always be mindful of what it is you are praying for, and you will receive abundance in return.

3) Be thankful. Savor each wonderful moment life hands you – and even the not so wonderful ones – and be thankful for them. And be sure to thank God after receiving something you’ve prayed for.

2) Listen to and trust your intuition. I don’t know how many times I left the NICU crying because the doctors painted a dismal picture. But my gut kept telling me that Ethan is just fine or a specific direction to take or a good question to ask. Always trust your gut feelings. They are more often true than not.

1) Trust God/the Universe/or however you may call it. When you trust that the Universe is working in your best interest, forces are moved and set in motion to deliver the best possible outcome to you. It’s true. Really, I mean it. I have found time and time again – during the best and worst of times – that when I trust the Universe, every need I have is delivered in the most efficient and best way possible.

Ethan and Aria are asleep right now. We have music playing in the background. Lior is taking a nap. And I can’t help but think that it’s time to move on and forward. To process everything and finally relax into it. Take a vacation, enjoy life and our kids. We’ll see what the Universe has in mind for us next.

Monday, August 22, 2011

blog break

Hello everyone,

There's a lot going on in the world of the NICU, and I am unable to post a new blog today. I am already working on next week's post though! Please stay tuned....

Warm regards,

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lessons from the NICU: Getting over the Type 1 diabetic guilt, anger, and other related feelings

It’s time to address the elephant in the room. Is my newborn son Ethan in the NICU (it’s been almost 14 weeks now) because I have Type 1 diabetes? Which I’ve had for over 36 years, very well controlled now but not always so. And I was pregnant with twins; Aria is his sister. And I had them at an “advanced maternal age” as those high risk doctors call it.

If you ask me, the answer is partially yes, but no one will say that definitively. The reason that Ethan is in the NICU is because he was born very, very, very small, and is working on recuperating from things associated with that. He stopped growing at 26 weeks in utero because of negative diastolic flow – which means that the blood and nutrients were flowing out of his placenta rather than into it.

Why did this happen? No one can say for sure. I asked one high risk doctor, and he said: It could be diabetes, but there could be other reasons as well. “We don’t know.” Another high risk doctor told me that it is most likely due to the diabetes and the fact that I was pregnant with twins. It’s quite a lot for a Type 1 diabetic body – who has had the disease for quite some time - to handle, she said.

To be honest, the diabetes theory makes the most sense to me and is the prevailing one in my book.

So that leads us to the emotional side of diabetes and pregnancy: The guilt. The anger. The feeling that life just isn’t fair sometimes. The feeling of responsibility for putting him in the situation he is now. Starting his life out in a hospital with beeping monitors, pricks and prods, tests galore, strangers feeding you in shifts every 12 hours, the whole shebang. He’s just a baby. The nurses try to make it comforting, like home. They hold him, talk to him, and let him play. But still, it’s a hospital. Away from the home he still hasn’t gotten to know and love. Or the family he sees a few hours a week.

This is not what I dreamed of or hoped for. I dreamed of bonding, walks in the park, cute little outfits, and lots of cuddling time. I’ve had all of those things with Aria, and barely with Ethan - only with nurses, doctors, and monitors in the same room.

How do I let go of that? How do I become at peace with what has happened?

Fred Luskin, author of Forgive for Good and cofounder and director of the Stanford Forgiveness Project, says that mindfulness and focusing on gratitude and kindness are the antidote, as told in Letting Go found in the May 2011 issue of Oprah Magazine. Luskin says that these concepts apply to any disappointment or hurt that any of us has experienced. It does not have to be as traumatic as a newborn child in the NICU. It could be as simple as someone taking your spot in a crowded parking lot.

I did my best to make my pregnancy a healthy one. And it was. My A1C’s varied between 5.8 and 6.1. I exercised as doctors prescribed. I gained a healthy amount of weight. I monitored my sugars and calculated carbohydrates. I visited doctors and listened to what they said. I came out of this pregnancy healthy. Aria came out of this pregnancy healthy as well. We’re thriving.

And Ethan – who was predicted to not even make it – came out of it with some feeding issues, a little small, and a few other things which he has already outgrown. He’ll outgrow the feeding issues as well, and of course, he’ll outgrow being small.

I willingly chose to have children, to get pregnant, despite the diabetes and my age, fully knowing all the risks involved. It’s a decision I made that I do not – and never will – regret. I have two beautiful children, and I love being a mom. I cannot feel guilty for that. And I don’t. Just the opposite: I’m grateful.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Becoming a NICU Warrior Mom

Ethan and Aria were born prematurely thirteen weeks ago. Ethan has been at the NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit) since he was born. I have decided to devote the next few blogs to sharing the lessons I am learning from the NICU experience.

I have been transformed into a warrior mom during my son’s journey at the NICU.

In the beginning of Ethan’s stay, I was quite the opposite of a warrior mom. I was completely overwhelmed the first few weeks actually. I was recovering from a c-section and had a newborn at home on top of having a child in the NICU. I was sleep-deprived, and my body was going through a huge hormonal transformation. I was overwhelmed with guilt regarding both children, feeling torn between them, and in the meanwhile, not taking as good care of myself as I needed. I missed Ethan terribly, but wanted to be fair to Aria as well. My feelings of guilt have not gone away, BUT I have come to accept that we’re doing the best we can with the situation we’ve been given.

That feeling of acceptance of the situation took a while. And in the beginning of his stay, all of those feelings I just mentioned were distracting me from the matter at hand – providing Ethan with the best, most loving care possible.

I listened to what the doctors said about my son and his care. I asked questions, but I didn’t question. I didn’t want to upset any of the nurses since they were with my son, caring for him, much more than I was.

Then issues began to transpire. I was not happy with some of the directions that were being taken regarding his care.

One of the issues that concerned us (and still does) was consistent care and the passing on of information: The doctors work on rotations. The nurses work in shifts. The residents are there on a monthly basis. We found that each doctor has their own approach, and plans would change constantly. People are human, sometimes details get lost when passed from one person to the next, and messages were not necessarily being passed on from nurse to nurse effectively.

What this means is that our son was being passed from one hand to the next, and not receiving the same care. So he became inconsistent. For example, eating really well one day, and not the next. Growth and eating healthy are very crucial parts to a baby's well-being. My husband and I were the only consistency in his life, and we couldn’t be there all the time.

Time was passing. I wasn’t at the stage where I could see what was going on clearly. And I couldn’t understand why my son was still there or what was keeping him there. What still had to be done to get him home?

I really didn’t know who to speak with about the issues, and it was hard for me to put a handle on what was bothering me exactly. I was more emotional than effective. So I would speak with the nurses. I developed relationships with many of them. And as I spoke to them more and more – and spent more and more time at the NICU, I began learning how things work around there.

One of the nurses suggested that we ask for a family meeting to discuss a plan for discharge with the doctor. My husband took a day off from work. We brought Aria with us. And we sat with a team of doctors involved in his care, along with a nurse Ethan had never seen before and one of the residents.

We asked about the plan for discharge, or the plan for getting him ready for discharge. The doctors seemed to have a different agenda for our meeting though. They wanted to talk about their search for an answer to the BIG question: Why did my son stop growing in utero at 26 weeks? Is there something else going on besides being a small, premature baby?

The doctors told us about a series of tests they had run and were going to run. And their theories as to what could be happening. And I was overwhelmed with emotions once again: Oh no, what are they going to tell me that my son has? I thought we were going to talk about my son coming home. I knew they were running tests, but I hadn’t given them much thought. (In the meanwhile, all of the tests have come back normal.)

It hit me a week after that meeting, after I had gotten hold of my emotions. If he has something, we'll deal with it. That's not keeping him in the NICU though. Right now, our focus and our main goal is to get him home. I had been distracted by other things rather than doing everything I can to get him discharged. My son needed me to be more involved. Like super duper, above and beyond involved. I needed to be clear-headed, understanding, prepared, smart and intuitive. I needed to speak up when I didn’t understand or was unsure of a treatment. I needed to be on top of things. I wanted to know about every test, every feeding, every prick, and every poop.

My husband and I began doing research. Asking questions. I began speaking to the doctor every day, and I still call the nurses several times a day to ask for updates. I started taking notes and tracking his progress. I wrote down the names of all the tests and asked for reports. I want to know EVERYTHING. I learned how they calculated certain measurements, and I began calculating them too. We complained to the NICU bosses regarding consistency in care, and sure enough, notes began appearing on our son’s crib with plans of care. And when something doesn’t go the way I think it should go or am confused about how it should go: I speak to the doctor, the nurse manager, or the patient relations representative (depending on the situation) and things get taken care of immediately.

I really don’t care if people like me or not. This is my son’s care we’re talking about. Yes, it is more effective if I approach practitioners in a user-friendly way, and I do my best to stay calm, clear, and understanding. That’s for sure. But that doesn’t mean that I have to go out of my way to please them if I see a problem either.

In the meanwhile, I have come to realize that the NICU staff – from the doctors to the nurses to the secretaries – really, really, really do care about our son’s well-being. And they will do whatever they can to help him. I know that for sure.

We’re all human. We all try our best. And our best might change at any given moment. And that’s why I’ve decided to become as clear as I can be of emotions that hold me back, and to transform into a warrior mom.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Parenting as a lesson in presence

“Why didn’t I have kids when I was younger? I am too old for this! Too old! There’s a reason why people have kids when they’re younger!!!!!”

Yup, I said it. I actually cried those exact words at 4 am about two months ago.
Aria was about three weeks old, and she had woken up to be 3 am. Well, she had also wanted to be fed at 9 pm, 11:30 pm, and now at 3 am. She would probably wake up again at 5:30 am, her favorite morning wake-up time.

I stumbled around the house to get her bottle, and fed her as I always do in the middle of the night. Somewhat zombie like. She is a really good eater, a champion, but back in those days, she had trouble going back to sleep after a feeding.

I felt helpless trying to figure out how to get her to sleep.

We thought she may have day/night confusion. It very well could have been. We spoke with nurses and doctors. I read books about healthy sleep for baby. She would cry and cry and cry. We thought it may be colic. But she was fine as long as either Lior or I held her.

I didn’t know all the ins and outs of newborns yet. I didn’t realize that gas and poop actually hurts them and can keep them awake until it passes. I didn’t realize that babies need swaddling, swaying, soothing, sucking, and sounds to help them fall asleep. I didn’t realize that they need to be held and loved to sleep soundly. I was a newcomer to the world of parenting, and my mind was not letting me ease into it gracefully.

And I really, really, really wanted to go to sleep! No, wait, it’s more like I needed to go to sleep. Not only is sleep important for all humankind, but I also needed to keep some level of sanity during a very stressful time. We have one newborn at home and the other at the NICU (Newborn ICU). I was also recovering from a c-section, managing Type 1 diabetes, and adjusting to a big change in lifestyle. I was really losing it, and I needed sleep to help keep my inner peace.

The next night after the “I’m too old” cry, I prayed. Boy did I ever pray. I prayed for sleep. And then I heard the words: Presence. Be present with her.

So I tried it out. I swaddled her tightly after her 3 am feeding (in a Velcro swaddle, a parent must-have), held her, rocked her, and placed a pacifier in her mouth. And I watched her. Smiled at her. And did my best to be present with her.

And she smiled in return.

I asked her: Aria, what do you need to fall asleep? And I heard a little voice inside my heart say: Love.

I rocked her for ten or fifteen minutes, and I was present with her. And she fell soundly asleep and has been every night after the 3 am feeding ever since.

Newborns are so pure. Their minds have not been encumbered by the world yet, by our mind’s chattering. And Aria constantly reflects back to me whatever she can sense in me. If I’m frustrated or angry, she cries. If I’m upset, she’s upset. If I’m smiling and loving, she is too. Newborns are a mirror to our own souls, our own hopes and fears. And they are an incredible lesson in presence, mindfulness, and intention setting.

This lesson is definitely one that translates to relationships with other people as well – adults and kids included. People want to be heard, and they can sense when they’re not. Or when you are judging, frustrated, happy, and/or loving. I have often felt that when I enter a conversation with someone else that I bring my energy, my sense of self, my intentions, and my state of mind at that moment. If I bring clarity and compassion, then I find that the person across from me responds in a similar way. If I smile, they smile. If I am agitated, they become agitated or become even more so.

I set an intention before Aria and Ethan were born to be present with them, to listen to them, smile at them, and to let them know they are loved and they are heard. I do the best I can, and I’m not always there. Sometimes they remind me with a whimper, a smile, a coo, or a cry. And then I remember that the best I can do is be there with them – through it all.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Twin delivery at 34 weeks – a mother’s intuition

I haven’t written in a while. A lot has been going on. Yes, that’s right. I have BIG news. Baby boy Ethan Joseph Busel and baby girl Aria Jordan Busel were born on May 11, 2011 at 9:23 and 9:24 am respectively.

And here’s why I haven’t written since April...

My pregnancy became complicated at around week 26. I am fine. Diabetes is fine. Actually, I saw my endocrinologist last week and he said, “Your diabetes is so well-controlled that you are on auto-pilot despite being completely pre-occupied.” My last A1C was 6.1, and my blood pressure and other tests are fantastic. Yay for me.

The kids, actually Ethan, were having problems though. Ethan’s placenta had negative Doppler flow, which means that blood and nutrients were flowing out rather than in. His growth stopped at week 26. He was born very small. I mean very, very, very small.

We were told he wouldn’t make it. And we had a decision to make: deliver early in an attempt to save him – putting them both at risk - or prolong the pregnancy as long as possible hopefully giving her a better chance. He would be at risk for survival no matter what, according to the doctors.

We were told the risks of delivering at different stages during the pregnancy. If we delivered anywhere before 32 weeks, they would both be at serious risk for brain, heart, and lung malfunctions.

The day we found out that Ethan might not make it, we cried. Oh did we ever cry. The decision was really difficult. When should we deliver? What is the best date so they both make it? Healthy???

After a lot of deliberation and meetings with doctors, multiple ultrasounds, we decided to push the pregnancy as long as possible. Lior wanted to deliver at 32 weeks. The high risk doctor tried to push us to 36 weeks. My woman’s/mother’s intuition told me 34.

I was still questioning that little voice I heard until my OB/GYN told me 34 as well. Confirming my feeling with his medical experience. A c-section was scheduled.

The little voice was really a whisper, a very clear whisper. I heard it during one of our doctors' meetings at around week 28 or so. We were talking about our options for delivery. And I heard "34" loud and clear. I know when I hear a clear intuitive whisper because it makes me stop in my tracks. I normally would have been hysterically crying, but instead, I stopped, listened, and even smiled. I knew I had been given guidance. I believe it was divine guidance, but who knows.

I was monitored very closely for the last eight weeks of my pregnancy. I went for ultrasounds two to three days a week – never knowing if there would be two heartbeats or not, but believing with all my heart and soul that there was.

And Ethan kept kicking. I could feel him moving. Actually I felt him moving more than she. He would twist and turn – pushing on my ribs, pressing on my bladder. She flittered a bit, but nothing painful. I actually started worrying about her too. The ultrasounds were reassuring me about her, and every kick and every push was a God send regarding him. It reassured me that he was going to be okay, and I felt deeply with all my heart that he would make it.

The weeks passed. My doctors decided to send me out on maternity leave – to lower the risk of delivering early.

May 11th rolled around, and I went into the c-section a nervous wreck. Not only because of the surgery, but also because of the outcome. What would happen? Will he be okay? Will she be okay? Will I be okay? Honestly, the experience was traumatic, yet thrilling. I was about to become a mom! But this wasn’t at all how I imagined it being.

The doctor was in the midst of injecting the epidural (painful), when the NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit) doctor came over to me, with her piercing blue eyes and said, “You know your son might not make it?”

“Yes, I know,” I growled.

Sheesh, what timing. I couldn’t kick her because of the effects of the epidural. They probably plan it that way. She was wearing a Jewish star around her neck though, and I couldn’t help but feel that God was on our side. I always felt that he would make it. I just knew.

I was laid down on the surgical table. Lior was brought into the room. He held my hand reassuring me that I was okay. “Remember to breathe,” he said. I asked him to say that despite not having to push through labor pains since breathing reminds me to be present, rather than making up worry-wart stories in my head.

The operating room was packed like Grand Central Station. There were five person teams of doctors and nurses for each baby, and also the anesthesiologist, three residents, the OB/GYN, the high risk doctor, OR nurses, my husband...oh yeah and me.

The operation had begun. I will spare you the details. But basically after a lot of freaking out on my part, and a lot of Lior calming me down, I heard the doctor sing, “I feel your son kicking me.”

A minute or two later (maybe it was even seconds), I heard crying. Crying. Yes, I heard crying. “That’s your son,” I heard the doctor say.

And a minute later, I heard another cry. And that was Aria. Everyone had expected her to come out first, but sure enough, he kicked his way to the front of the line.

The nurses brought both of them over for me to see. The proof was there. I am a mom of two beautiful children. And they’re both alive, breathing, and yes, crying. Lior went to check: Five fingers and five toes on each hand and foot. Forty altogether.

The room cleared out. The babies were taken to the NICU. They needed special treatment since they were premature. I was stitched up and to make a long story short, I went to work on recovering from the c-section.

Aria was in the NICU for 10 days. She was sent home on May 22. She has been an absolute joy, and it’s a load of fun watching her discover the world.

Ethan is still there. He had more work ahead of him on the road to recovery, and now we’re waiting for the finishing touches. He’s doing really well and I’m impressed with how much he’s overcome. I don’t know when he’s coming home since they tell you a day or two before the discharge. He has been there for 10 weeks though, and needless to say, it’s been a complicated and emotional journey. (more on that in future blogs)

I’ve been living in uncertainty for quite some time, and needless to say, it’s been rough. A roller coaster ride of emotions.

I am fortunate to have the support and love of family and friends. Our entire family has also been supported by a wonderful team of doctors, nurses, and professionals along the way. I have also been utilizing my usual mix of yoga, walks, journaling on gratitude and about whatever is bothering me. And honestly, I have also had sleepless nights, mad researching on the internet, lots of calls to the NICU for updates, meetings with doctors, and countless crying sessions. I’ve been allowing myself to feel whatever I need/want to feel.

But I’m okay.

This experience has been a huge lesson for me in coping with uncertainty, being present, and listening to my intuition. I have learned to put a lot of trust in the Universe’s grand design, clearing my head of the worries and fears, and listening for those whispers of clarity. I can’t say that I’ve mastered the lesson yet, but I’m working on it.

It’s a lesson in letting go of control and trusting that the Universe is on our side. As a friend of mine wrote me the other day, forces are constantly in motion around the Universe working within our best interests. Our lesson is to relinquish ourselves to that and trust it. As Eckhart Tolle said in “A New Earth,” once we become at peace with uncertainty, once we accept it and embrace presence, the world opens. And it has. I have experienced it time and time again throughout my life and most recently, with the birth of my son and daughter.

So here I am living in a holding pattern - waiting for my son to heal. But hey, he’s alive. He’s overcome SO MUCH and improves every day! He smiles, observes, learns, sleeps, plays, eats, and grows. And perhaps because I heard a whisper and listened, perhaps because I trusted the Universe, perhaps because of love, positive energy and prayer, and perhaps because of science and quality medical care. Whatever the reason: I feel at peace with the decision we made, and the Universe rewarded us with two wonderful miracles.

I’m ready to start writing again. See you next Monday.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

MIA but not for long

Hello everyone,

I have been missing in action for the last 2 or 3 blog Mondays, and I apologize for not keeping you updated. I will be back with lots of stories and inspirations on thriving with diabetes as soon as possible. Please stay tuned!!!!

All the best, Ophir

Monday, April 18, 2011

Stay tuned for next week's blog

Hello everyone, I won't be blogging today. Stay tuned for next week at 32 weeks pregnancy, Type 1 diabetes, and twins. Happy holidays, Ophir

Monday, April 11, 2011

Inspirations (and questions) on parenting as a diabetic

Among the many things on my mind at 30 weeks of pregnancy with Type 1 diabetes is what our method of parenting will be.

I think about how I was raised, and how I would like to adopt the traditions and values that my parents passed onto me – while of course creating some of our own. I’ve also been observing all of my friends with kids, taking mental notes, and quite frankly have been very impressed with them. I was also a teacher once upon a time, and learned a bit about classroom management and child/adolescent psychology, and so I’m sure those lessons will come into play as well – such as consistency, how to give constructive feedback, the stages of childhood development, and so on.

I know that we will have our own style that will probably involve building on our own experiences and beliefs mixed with learning combined with winging it.

And of course, there’s the diabetes. There is no doubt in my mind that diabetes will play an instrumental role in how I parent – whether I’m aware of it or not. It simply changes how you do things, your outlook, how you manage life.

As a T1 diabetic, I’m very structured on a day to day basis. Although my heart is that of a creative free spirit, I eat and check my sugars at certain times of the day. That’s just how it is. I had to learn to balance the demands of life with my true passions at a young age, and to be honest still struggle with it sometimes. I’ve also learned to roll with the punches. You never know when you may have a low or a high sugar, and you just have to deal with it no matter where you are or what you are doing. The good news is that I handle crisis situations pretty well – in my own way.

There are also the physical demands of diabetes that will come into play when having twins. What do I do if I have a low sugar while I’m changing or feeding them? My response: I need to handle my low sugar first. Kind of like how on an airplane the safety directions advise you to place the oxygen mask on yourself first and then on your child. It won’t be much help to the child if I’m passed out.

Another issue that comes with living with diabetes is dependence vs. independence. Type 1 diabetics are insulin-dependent. We need insulin to live. I’ve had diabetes since the age of 3, and so I was incredibly dependent on my parents not only for what normal kids are dependent on their parents for – but also for my insulin shots. Without them, I wouldn’t have survived. I was also dependent on my parents to help me when I experienced low blood sugars, to think about the types of foods I was eating, to make sure I stayed active, to check for ketones when my sugar was high and to dose the right amount of insulin.

At the same, diabetics crave independence. So many of us want so badly to take care of ourselves, show people that we can achieve anything, and not let the diabetes define us.

I know that all of this will influence how I raise the twins. I’m sure of it.

What I don’t know is what it’s like to not have diabetes. But I believe that the lessons of living with diabetes will help make me more aware of and sensitive to whatever our children experience and go through in life.

Mothers want everything to be good for their children. Life isn’t always like that though. I’m sure my parents weren’t thrilled or jumping for joy when they learned that I have diabetes. So it’s my job as a parent to not resist when bad things happen, and instead, help all of us accept that this is what life has dealt. This is a part of the journey. Now let’s see how we can make it the best it can be.

There are so many ways to do this, and my favorites typically involve learning lessons. Using the challenges in life as an opportunity.

True happiness involves discomfort, according to Harvard psychology professor Tal Ben Shachar in his book, Even Happier. “We should remember that going through difficult times can augment our capacity for pleasure: it keeps us from taking pleasure for granted, reminds us to be grateful for all the large and small pleasures in our lives. Being grateful in this way can itself be a source of real meaning and pleasure.” (p. 26)

I definitely agree with this approach, and it’s worked for me. Many people suppress when bad things happen, while I find that it helps to face it, let it out and learn from it. And then I’m able to let go.

Here’s another strategy: I was listening to an inspirational talk show called Positive Living on ION network the other day. A life coach, whose name I can’t recall, advised that when faced with challenges in our lives, observe what questions you are asking.

For example, if you are afraid that your place of employment is downsizing and that you may be a part of it, you may find yourself asking, “What am I going to do if I’m laid off?” “How will I afford things?” As a result of that way of thinking, your brain focuses on coming up with those kinds of answers. You may start thinking of unemployment or worse. And then that energy brings about those results.

Instead, he advised asking, “How can I make the most of the situation?” “What can I do to keep my job?” And then your brain will creatively think of ways to deal with those questions instead, and bring that energy to the situation.

I found this to be a real aha moment for me. It’s all in the phrasing of the question.

As I sit here thinking about becoming a parent, I ask myself, “How can I be the best parent I can be?” “How can I provide my kids with the best life possible?” “How can I manage motherhood and diabetes?” “How can I bring the positive aspects of having diabetes to my kids?”

And the answers will come.

Monday, April 4, 2011

It’s third trimester time

We’ve entered the home stretch. I am 29 weeks pregnant – with twins and Type 1 diabetes and still at ‘advanced maternal age’ – and I entered the third trimester a week or so ago at 28 weeks. Forty weeks is considered full term, and that means that I’m in the middle of my seventh month.

To be honest, I started feeling the effects of the third trimester at around week 25 or 26, when my blood sugars began to fluctuate - totally expected for a Type 1 diabetic according to my doctors. I am still monitoring, dosing insulin accordingly, etc., only now I need a lot more insulin, and blood sugar control is not as easy as it had been in the first and second trimesters when my blood sugars were stellar. But considering I’m a Type 1 diabetic, both my doctor and I are pleased with my blood sugar readings.

Other changes that have been developing: It’s harder to move around. I walk – or rather waddle – at a snail’s pace. I can’t see my toes when I’m standing. I got a cut on my ankle, which I can’t see and have to contort every which way to get to, and I have been asking Lior to put band-aids on it for me. And why must everything fall on the floor? I am dropping things left and right, and it’s getting harder for me to squat down to pick stuff up. I am pretty good at squatting from all of my yoga, but between the weight in my tummy and newfound lack of balance, it’s getting a wee bit harder to do that successfully.

Sleep just isn’t the same. I miss a really good night’s sleep. I wake up really early, and for whatever reason, I’m not tired in the evenings. And so I don’t fall asleep until later than usual. I miss my solid eight hours.

The most popular question I get asked during the third trimester is: Do you feel movement? This question always gets me, especially when it’s from people I hardly know. And what if I didn’t? Am I going to tell you about it? But yes, the babies are moving. Actually, I hardly feel the girl because she’s nestled further back, but I go through so many ultrasounds that I know that she’s right on track. The boy is very active. He kicks and jabs, and my whole tummy jolts during one of his many soccer goal attempts. He’s clearly in training for the US National Soccer Team because I don’t know why else he would kick so hard in there.

The fun parts: We’ve picked names. I’m not going to tell you what they are though. Shhh…it’s bad luck to tell you before they’re born. Isn’t that such a tease? We’ve been decorating the babies’ room. Well, now there’s just a bunch of boxes sitting there. But we’ve painted, and Lior installed lighting over the weekend. The better to see them during 3 am feedings.

Here’s the deal: No one really prepares you for all that’s involved with getting pregnant. Actually, I’m not sure that you can prepare someone for all of this. There are so many emotional and physical ups and downs. I’ve never worried so much in my entire life and been so excited at the same time. I can’t wait to meet them, but at the same time, I’m freaking out about how we’re going to handle it all. I feel like a slow-moving cow with a very big belly, but at the same time, everyone’s telling me how great I look. People see a pregnant lady and are blinded by the pregnancy glow and stop seeing clearly.

Pregnancy is like the ultimate dichotomy, the yin and yang of life, opposing forces, a Star Wars flick where good and evil battle it out. Okay, maybe I'm going a bit too far here with my metaphors.

But life isn’t black or white. Just as nothing in life is either good or bad. Everything is just what it is. So perhaps pregnancy is the ultimate lesson in acceptance and being present?

I know I feel good physically – even during this third trimester – when I’m doing yoga or sitting in the sun listening to the birds chirp. I’ve been calling both my therapy. I know that I feel my best emotionally when I’m writing. Not so coincidentally, these are also my most present moments, when I'm in the zone.

In instructor Shiva Rea’s prenatal yoga video, which I have been doing a couple times a week, she says that pregnancy and motherhood are the ultimate opportunity to practice presence. She continues by saying that being a parent is the ultimate lesson in presence - with your children. Yoga, in her view, prepares you for that. I agree with her.

Seems to me that the process of pregnancy is preparation for what’s to come, not only in getting the nursery together, picking names, and learning all you need to know to care for an infant. The third trimester is a chance to practice presence under physical and emotional duress. And I know I feel better when I do.

The lesson is figuring out when you feel present and then incorporating it into your day as often as you can. You'll be grateful you did.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Who’s in control here? Pregnancy hormones, stomach flu, and Type 1 diabetes

What a week I’ve had – a total physical and emotional roller coaster.

I came down with the stomach flu on Tuesday. Here’s the highlight reel: fever, achiness, headache, vomiting, the works. Mix on top of that pregnancy and Type 1 diabetes, and you’ve got yourself a real walk through the park.

When the flu first struck, I could not get my blood sugars above 55 for two hours. And let me tell you – I tried. While nauseous, I had 8 or 10 glucose tablets, two 4 oz glasses of orange juice, a whole banana (which would typically make my sugar soar), and two pieces of toast. And my sugar went to 63 an hour later. I put on a temp basal - which injected less insulin into my blood stream - hoping that would help. I tried not to fall asleep, but I did. The phone kept ringing every fifteen minutes thankfully – literally, I kid you not - as though someone was looking out for me from the great beyond. And so I would check my sugars at each phone call.

(Dangerously low blood sugars can cause a diabetic to lapse into a diabetic coma. Falling asleep is not the best way to deal with this, as you can fall into a coma and not realize it. Plus, there was no one else home. The phone ringing helped me stay on top of my sugars, despite the sleep.)

Two hours later, I checked my blood sugar, and it finally went up to around 105, which is normal. Then I found myself correcting higher sugars for half a day. I had to make up for that banana and well, the fever.

I felt so lousy, that a gun to the head seemed like a really great option for feeling better. I was worried about the twins. I wasn’t sleeping right. My sugars were out of control. And I’m convinced that the misery hormone takes over when you’ve got the flu.

I started feeling better on Thursday and went back to work. Lior and I watched The Office that night, and that’s when I’m sure that pregnancy hormones struck. I was crying hysterically – bawling – when Michael asked Holly to marry him. I have cried like that during a few movies/shows in my life – Pride and Prejudice, The English Patient, when Chandler asked Monica to marry him on Friends, the first Sex and the City movie, and the Lost finale. But not The Office. I mean really? But yes, I wept. I couldn’t breathe, I was crying so hard.

Then on Friday, at work, I was skipping around my real office because I got excited about labels. Well, really I was excited about wine. A volunteer for our organization found really great wine at a good price, and it got me all excited. The labels were going to go on the wine. I was running around telling everyone in the office. And yes, they were looking at me strangely. It made my day. I love wine, but in the grand scheme of things, I was thoroughly over thrilled. Perhaps taking the excitement a wee bit too far.

Hadn’t I thought of how great a revolver to the head would be two days before?

The ups and downs continued all weekend, and here we are on blog Monday talking about it. Learning from it.

I have always been the sensitive type. It’s one of my greatest strengths, and one of my greatest weaknesses. I believe that I am good at what I do because of my sensitivity to others and our globe. I get upset when an ant is killed. But I also notice things that others tend not to, because I’m so sensitive. At the same time, I’ll get upset over something menial. Sensitivity is what helps me write, be creative, be good at personal relationships, among other things. I’ve toughened up over the years, but my authentic nature is to be sensitive. And I’ve learned to manage it over the years.

But this week, I felt really out of control over my emotions. I always say that most of life is out of our control, but we can control our thoughts, actions, and words. This week, I wasn’t even able to do that most of the time.

So who’s in control here anyway? Could be the flu mixed with the diabetes. Could be the twins. What I do know is that it wasn’t me!

I can say now in hindsight that what helped me get through a tough week was repeating Eckhart Tolle’s mantra: This too shall pass.

I find his insight to be a life-changing one. His point is that everything in life is temporary and transient. Nothing in this world is either good or bad. So when something happens – whether “good” or “bad” – it is important to remember that this too shall pass, or in other words, change. Not to grasp onto it, or hold onto anything for dear life, as it will change and move on.

For people who grasp onto things that are good or who are struck by things that are bad, these changes can be devastating. But the “This too shall pass” mantra keeps it all in perspective. It never allows you to grow too attached to anything. Not to define oneself by things.

The flu passes. Pregnancy lasts around nine months. Diabetes will be with me for quite a bit longer, but blood sugars change constantly. The wine shall be drunk, and labels will come and go. So rather than try to control the situation, perhaps it’s better to observe it all as it passes us by?