Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Living with Diastasis Recti

I've mentioned here before that I suffer from diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles) which in my case, is as a result of my triplet pregnancy.  I actually had some separation from my pregnancy with Abigail, which was pointed out to me by my doctor when I was pregnant with the triplets.  Apparently, the separation was unusually wide for a singleton pregnancy.  That ended up being a moot point because, well, triplets.

My midsection now, almost eight years after giving birth, is a mess, partly due to the diastasis recti and partly due to my skin being stretched to infinity and beyond.  I weighed 105 pounds on day zero and carried the girls to 35 weeks, 6 days.  Their total combined birth weight was 3 ounces shy of 15 pounds.  I realize how incredibly lucky I am and what an impressive feat was undertaken by my body.  I remember, with weeks and weeks left, not believing that I could possibly grow any more enormous and my nurse told me that our bodies can do amazing things. She was right.

So besides unpleasant visual changes to my body (I probably won't ever see my belly button again), what does it mean to live with diastasis recti?  Well, it can cause a slew of physical issues but in my case, the only one that I have to deal with on a daily basis is back pain.  I think most of us know that a strong core (abdomen) leads to a strong back and with a weak core, I have a weak back.  It mainly bothers me when I'm standing.  Doing basic household chores, such as washing dishes and laundry can be painful.  Standing on the train holding my work bag can be torturous.

Someone stumbled onto my blog last week via a Google search for "getting abs after triplets."  I'm assuming the searcher meant "abs back into shape" or something along those lines because otherwise, ouch. Life without abdominal muscles would be pretty painful, I'm sure.  Anyway, I decided to search the internet myself to see what invaluable advise would come my way.  It was actually a bit depressing.  According to the internet, my options are:
  1. To lose weight (I don't need to)
  2. Wear spanx (Um, no)
  3. Undergo surgery (Nope)
I have fully accepted that my body is what it is.  I'm a mom.  I had triplets.  I wouldn't change how long I carried them, even for a belly button.  But I still hold on to the thought that if I could only get back into kick ass shape, I could possibly look/feel much better.  I know that when I've been able to consistently run, I've seen the very tip of change.  But alas, that is proving to be very difficult right now.  I returned to work full time (from a four day work week) about ten months ago and finding time hasn't been easy.

I've learned to stop google searching diastasis recti because I always end up annoyed.  Everybody is different.  Everybody's situation is different.  It's all different and I need to figure out what works best for me. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

This and That

So this happened last week . . .


Albeit wobbly, the tooth was there that morning.  Due to my dentist appointment and timing and trains that don't run when they should, I happened to pick the girls up from school that day.  By happenstance, Allie and Emily were together in line and as they bounced over to me, I thought wow, they look so much alike today.  I told them so and even called them "twinsies."  Yeah, so we abuse the definition of "twin" just like people are don't have/aren't twins do.  It didn't hit me until after we had threaded our way through the crowd and I looked down to see Allie looking up at me with a big smile on her face.  OMG! When did you lose your tooth!


The snow continues here but we have finally seen some temperatures "near normal" so there has been a little bit of melting.  Let's keep our fingers crossed that it doesn't warm up enough to rain because that would surely result in flooded basements.  So normally a day or two after it snows, the snow doesn't look nice.  It's gritty and grimy along roadways and the top has that melted/frozen/melted look to it.  This year, it has snowed so much (some days, just a dusting) that it looks fresh most days.  I'm happy that March is finally here.  February was no friend.


Kidney beans = a new favorite food for Allie and Emily.  They are all really open to trying new foods so a few weeks ago I made chickpea patties.  My first mistake was using garlic and my second mistake was serving the patties on sandwiches.  The patties and the bread had the same texture and the garlic was too much for the kids.  They each ate half a sandwich but kept saying that it tasted too strong.  I had one too and it was definitely the garlic.


Back to the '80s.


Allie and I were reading in my bed one afternoon and then we both fell asleep.




Allie cracked me up tonight.  She was telling me about her math homework and how she had needed some help.  When I asked if it was done or did she need to finish it, she responded with, "It was a bit of a struggle but I got through it after dance while sissies were yelling and screaming.  They were playing train station."

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Answers To Disney Photography Questions

I periodically check the stats for my blog, including keyword searches that lead to hits.  Over the past month or so, there's been quite a few searches related to Disney photography so I thought I would answer some of your (or someone's) questions here.

Which DSLR is the best for Disney?

In my opinion, the best DSLR for photographing your Disney (or any) vacation, is the one you own.  I don't think it's a good idea to purchase a new camera just for vacation and even worse, trying to use a brand new camera during vacation.  Even if you are staying with the same brand and just upgrading, there is still a bit of a learning curve involved and the last thing I would want to be doing during my vacation is learning my new camera.  Now, if you just plan to turn the dial to Auto and leave it there (and it's perfectly okay to do so) then it probably doesn't matter which DSLR you purchase.  I would suggest staying with entry level models.

I've read arguments via online forums suggesting that certain brands (think Nikon versus Canon) are better for specific types of photography.  For example, Nikon is better for landscape photography.  I think that's a bunch of poo poo.  I could see these arguments maybe when digital cameras were new and lenses were limited but not now and especially not for mainstream photographers, which is what we all are.

Do I need a wide angle zoom lens for Disney?

Well, this depends on what you are planning to photograph, what other lenses you'll have with you and your shooting preferences.  I shot our last three Disney trips with a crop sensor and I found my wide angle lens (Tokina 11-16m, f/2.8) to be invaluable for character meet and greet photos, especially in the restaurants.  I like to use prime lenses and my 35mm was just too tight in the restaurants and even sometimes outside.


I like landscape type photography and for me, a wide angle lens preferred.  Again, this goes to personal preferences and what you are planning to photograph.



What focal length lens is best for Disney parades?

As I've researched Disney, I've discovered that a lot of people like to photograph the Disney parades.  I tend to watch my kids' reactions to the floats and characters so the parades are less of a photography draw for me.  I do take a few photos and I've found that my 35mm lens (on a crop sensor) is sufficient.  If I was really going to photograph a parade, I think a zoom lens, such as a 28-75mm would be best but you can definitely get away with make do with what you have.



Which lens is best for photographing a Disney vacation?

Ask ten different Disney vacation photographers and you'll get ten different answers.  Lens choice can be such a personal decision.  Do you prefer prime lenses or zoom?  What is your budget?  How much gear to you want to haul around with you all day?  Which lenses do you currently own and why do you feel that they won't be adequate?  There's a lot that goes into deciding which lens(es) are best for you.


Click here to read my post Photographing your (Disney) vacation - A lens discussion

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Have triplets, want to travel

Sorry I've been a bit MIA this week.  I've been fighting a losing battle with this sore throat/congestion illness for almost two weeks now.  I thought I was on the road to recovery last week and then I ended up waiting outside one night for my train at South Station for an hour in the extreme cold (15 degrees) and a few days later, this all came back.  Hi, nice to see you again.

So not only has Boston been slammed with snow, it has been absolutely freezing cold.  Yes, it's winter but around these parts, we usually don't see these low temperatures for weeks on end without a break.  It's relentless.  To add insult to injury, I spent about five hours commuting on Friday.  It took me over three hours to get home Friday night.

After my arctic walk to work Friday morning


I began dreaming, almost obsessively, of a tropical vacation. I think my top choice right now is Grand Cayman.  Rich and I had the Cayman Islands on our travel wish list many, many years ago, before Hurricane Ivan but then we had babies and the travel wish list was tucked away.

In 2000, my friend, Carrie, and I vacationed in Maui as part of a group through a Texas radio station.  Looking back, it was such a bargain.  I think we each paid $1,000.  That covered airfare, our shared beachfront hotel room at the Westin, rental car and entertainment.  These days, roundtrip airfare from Boston can run you $1,000 (or close to it.)


Rich and I managed to squeeze in a few tropical vacations before we were married:
  • Florida Keys, mainly Key West
  • Marco Island
  • Bahamas
  • Cruise to Mexico       




We honeymooned on Maui and Hawaii (the Big Island.)


I would love a return trip to Hawaii with the girls some day.  They would have to be older though. That's a long trip from the east coast and I'd want them to remember the trip.  For now, we're snowed in.  I did desperately search for cheap airfare to Florida for March/April and while I found some good deals, I don't want to pull the girls out of school for vacation again and we have medical appointments booked for school vacation week.  I just want to feel a hot sun on my face.  

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Bladder and Kidneys Update

After a restless night of sleep a few months ago, I no longer tell Anna of her urology appointments until the morning of.  There's no reason to stress her out unnecessarily.  She had her urodynamic study two weeks ago and then an ultrasound and follow-up with her urologist last week.

Good news:  There hasn't been scarring or damage to her kidneys.

Bad news:  The VCUG in August showed a return of the reflux to the right kidney.

Because she is catheterized, Anna is at a higher risk for infections.  The risk with reflux is that infected urine could back up into the right kidney and cause a kidney infection which could lead to damage to the kidney.  We briefly saw her urologist during the urodynamic study and he mentioned the return of the reflux and that he would discuss "treatment" during the follow-up appointment.  I spent a week fearing that he was going to rush us into the operating room to correct it.

During the follow-up, her urologist outlined the three options available to treat reflux:
  1. Injections at the site of the reflux.  Unfortunately, this doesn't usually work for those with neurogenic bladders.
  2. Surgery
  3. Mother Nature
I really don't want to subject Anna to surgery.  I'm optimistic because her VCUG in 2011 showed no reflux.  Thankfully, her urologist is on the same page.  He wants to re-run the VCUG while also doing different testing of bladder capacity.  They want to ensure that her bladder isn't shrinking. Anna takes ditropan 3 times a day to keep her bladder soft and expandable.  

Anna's urine had been looking sketchy to us but she hadn't had any fevers and it just wasn't following what we had seen when she's had infections in the past.  The focus is always on fevers so without one, I was having trouble believing that she had an infection.  I asked them to test her urine at the appointment two weeks ago and of course, it came back positive for an asymptomatic bacteria, which means bacteria without any symptoms.  I had no idea that this was possible.  So now we know.

Anna's been a trouper through all of this.  The appointment last week was especially brutal for her.  It took us more than two hours to drive in and then we had to wait an hour for the ultrasound.  She was exhausted by the time we headed home and fell asleep in the car, which never happens.  She also hates the taste of the different antibiotic they have her on to clear up the bacteria in her urine.  The next step is a test similar to a VCUG without the radiation, a bladder capacity scan and a repeat VCUG.  I asked if we could wait until April vacation week so she wouldn't have to miss school and to give the kid a break.  He was fine with that.

One night last week I peeked in on Anna after I had tucked her in.  She had not yet fallen asleep and was snuggled on her side hugging Zebe.  A row of stuffed animals lined the pillow next to her.  My heart broke a little.

You can read more about spina bifida and bladder/kidney issues here.