My Children’s Story!!!

For Christmas 2014, Matt and I worked hard to give gifts that were simple, thoughtful, few, and aligned with loving others.  This resulted in quite a few handmade gifts and only one toy per Olson Tiny!

I had hoped to write a book for the Tinies.  I wanted to capture some of the concepts that we are constantly trying to instill into them in a children’s book format so that reading it would reinforce the truths they hear from Matt and me.  My goal was to include concepts like community, teamwork, personal value, generosity, courage, trusting yourself, and people’s ability to change to name a few.  It was a lofty goal!

Plus, how do you write a children’s book???  How do you choose the characters and setting and make it cohesive and sensible?  I didn’t know.  So their book didn’t get done in time for Christmas.

While out shopping, I discovered a sheet of forest animal stickers on clearance.  I thought, “Ooo, these are characters I can work with!”  If I limited myself to only sticker illustrations… and used only characters from the clearance sticker sheet… and supplemented with stickers I already have at home, I had enough parameters that the project seemed doable.

I pondered this book over several months, but the actual results came together in a weekend because I was finally ready to download my brain into a tangible form!  I love the result, my kids love the result, and I hope you will too!  I have copyrighted the book, but please feel free to read it to your kids (or your friends, or your pets, or whomever :)).

All components of this book are copyrighted in 2015 by Jaime Olson.  Except as provided by the Copyright Act 2014, no part of this publication may be reproduced, store in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, Jaime Olson.

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I have wanted to enroll my children in dance ever since I had children.  I adore the concept of dance.  I think it is beautiful, strong, artistic, AND athletic.  It teaches focus and balance and creativity.  It celebrates movement and the strength of each individual exponentially multiplying a collective strength.  I LOVE dance.

I can’t dance to save my life.

In fact, my mom put me in dance as a second grader to give me something that I wasn’t good at doing.  As in, she KNEW I would be clumsy and off-beat, and intentionally chose this activity for those reasons.  It was an excellent decision on her part and I continue to be grateful for the life lessons I learned!

I don’t have to be good at everything!  I don’t have to be perfect!  I can enjoy myself even if I am a disaster.

Oh, I definitely was a disaster.  But I was the cutest tap-dancing French maid with a hot pink feather duster you have ever seen click around a recital stage, despite my lack of musicality.  (This is a lie.  My classmates were all adorable too, which is immediately evident in the video footage that of course I’m never going to let you see.  And we had very dusty knees, apparently, because we kept dusting them between our step-ball-changes).

I wanted to start the twins in dance classes at age 3 because all of the contestants who are formally trained on So You Think You Can Dance say they have been dancing since they were 3.  But we had a newborn when the twins were 3 – nope!  We pushed it off a year, but then the twins began preschool which is surprisingly expensive when you are paying for 2 children simultaneously.  New plan:  dance classes when school becomes free, i.e. KINDERGARTEN!

It is finally time.  I did my research when the twins were 2 in preparation for them turning 3.  Pregnant women get crazy about acquiring information they *might* need someday, and I max out on this tendency.  When it came time to actually start dance classes, I only remembered one thing about my previous research and didn’t remember exactly what it meant.  So I did my research again.  Heh, that’s a lie.  Actually, I polled my Fb friends, visited a few websites, had an emotional response to the recital photo of one class’s dance performance, and made a decision.  I suppose that simulates research to some extent.  But the decision was made: we were joining Art in Motion!

Art in Motion was highly praised by a billion people (actually, all 10-ish of my Fb friends with experience there were not just satisfied, they were thrilled).  The couple who runs it are wonderful, their whole family is involved, their faith informs their business decisions, they choreographed a number about hunger and homelessness (thus, the photo to which I had an emotional response).  When someone’s website makes you cry in a good way, you know this is the place for you!

We started a week ago.  I signed the kids up for Dance 1 for 4-6 year olds, in which they will receive introductory training in ballet, tap, and jazz.  Perfect!  I spent a billion dollars on the spot (another lie:  it was merely $250!) for registration fees and a month of classes and 4 pairs of dance shoes (we skipped buying the jazz shoes in order to “save money”).

Zach is the only boy in their class, which I think is a crying shame because men who can dance are so dreamy and well-rounded and fantastic!  My Matt does not dance because he does not enjoy it, but out of love for me, he has danced with me on multiple occasions, including our wedding reception!  Zach is way too young to appreciate the fun of having all of those girls around, but he does enjoy using the Men’s bathroom by himself “so no one can see my butt!”  The perks of being the only boy. 🙂  He LOVED the first class.  Rissa has been dancing for her whole life, beginning in utero when she disturbed me AND her twin brother constantly with her running/leaping/Lord of the Dance footwork.  Long and graceful, she was made for this.  Zach pretty much only did it because she talked him into it.  And yet, she HATED the first class.  I later found out that this was only because her leotard was too tight and everyone else was wearing a ballet skirt over their leotard and she wasn’t.  We rectified both of those issues for week 2, and she now LOVES it.

The studio, its owners, and the classroom instructors are just as fabulous as my friends said they would be.  I am very pleased with the entirety of our family’s entrance into dance.  My Bigs are both athletic and strong, and they needed a physical outlet.  Their already amazing brains are running at full tilt with all of the new stimuli from school/piano lessons/dance lessons!  They are exhausted when their heads hit their pillows and I am utterly exhausted from all of this chauffeur business, but we are all happy.

There is one issue…

On the whole, I work hard at being an accepting and kind person.  One of my friends once thanked me for my refusal to be a Mompetitor… she was so relieved that my general response is, “Hey!  You’re doing your best, I’m doing my best, our kids are loved, yay us!”  (I’m terrified of Mompetitors and their impossible rules to be “in” the club!)

Dance Moms totally freak me out.

Given that I have children in dance now, I suppose I am a dance mom by definition.  But I am NOT a Dance Mom.  Dance Moms remind me of Pageant Moms.  I dislike pageantry for various reasons, most importantly:  the sexualization of little girls is abhorrent.  But I will not give my soapbox speech about that at this time.  I will assume that you already know, and that you could at least join me on the soapbox if not take over and give the speech yourself.  Let’s focus on another part that is awful.  The insecurity!  There is a culture among Pageant Moms and as I’ve recently discovered, also among Dance Moms of insecurity.  (This happens elsewhere too – don’t get me started on Little League Dads!!!!)  These parents have personal hopes and dreams that they did not fulfill, so they dump the entire emotional baggage cart onto their children and push, push, push!  Achieve!  Go!  Do!  Be!  More!  Better!  It is overwhelming to these Tinies who are supposed to be there to learn self-confidence!!!!!

The Dance Moms don’t stop with their children.  As I discovered these past 2 weeks, they turn on one another outside the classrooms and parade their cleverly masked insecurities as one-uppers.  Whatever topic comes up, THEY have the most important opinion!  Everyone else is a lunatic!  Performance, performance, performance!  While their kids are in class having fun (a little TOO much fun and not enough work, I imagine), they are outdoing one another with their tales of conquering the morons who would dare have the self-confidence to try something different.

I forget to give grace to these people because they are so very ungracious to everyone else.  But behind that pushy facade is someone who fears they will never be enough.  They need grace – they need to be accepted for who they are… even though we can’t even see the real them because they have intentionally buried themselves!  And even more importantly, their kids need grace.  From others and especially from their own parents.  Their overly pushy, performance-driven parents who focus on what people can do instead of who they can be.

I wasn’t prepared for this culture – this whole “my kid has the cutest outfit/trained with the best professionals/ate the crunchiest organic granola/logged the most practice hours/on and on and ON!” competition.  And thankfully, most dance moms are not Dance Moms, at least at the studio we have joined.

Now that I have utterly denounced the crazies who get waaaaaay too into their dance competitions… I’m off to go watch the So You Think You Can Dance finale like the rabid fan that I am. 🙂  That’s a lie:  FIRST I’ll leave you with some photos of my delicious babies who look SO cute in their dance outfits while they learn confidence, agility, creative movement, and strength!  Then I’m off.

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Today is a milestone birthday!  I consider 35 to be a reminder that I have 5 more years of being young, and then I’ll rock out the middle-aged bracket.  For fun, I went through some old pictures and found photographic evidence of my personal development across the past 35 years.  (If you choose pictures from only ages that end in a 0 or a 5, you skip the entire awkward stage of junior high, as well as the awkward stage between K and 5th grade where your teeth are too big for your face and are mostly missing.  I wish I had thought of this brilliance previously!)

I thought I’d walk you through my life in 5 year increments.  I already did this on Fb, but my mom doesn’t check Fb and she birthed me, so you go the extra mile for your mom!  Mom, you are welcome.  And also, thank you!

Age 2 months: Oct. 1978. I was a tummy time rockstar!

Jaime 5,cr

Age 5: Aug. 1983. Back during that small window of time where Tim was shorter than me.

1988 Jaime,cr

Age 10: Fifth grade field trip, Aug. 1988. I LOVE that massive camera dangling from my wrist!


Age 16: High school pom squad, Aug. 1994. I was SO uncoordinated! Thank God for small schools with relaxed tryouts… dancing is not my gift, but I LOVE it! I thought this was 15, but I noticed that I don’t have braces in the photo and I definitely still had braces at 15. I had just barely gotten contacts – I think that was my 15th birthday present.

Laura and Jaime's attempts to sit in the hand fountain

Age 20: Asikawa, Hokkaido, Japan. Jun. 1998. Laura and I in the hands fountain. Ask me about this story sometime. Tomo, our Japanese guide/moral conscience was right: “Dis is NOT a very good idea!” We always hushed him and went ahead with our crazy schemes anyway.


Age 25: Skydiving, Aug. 2003. Matt asked me to marry him 2 days beforehand, just in case we died.


Age 30: Surprise birthday party, Aug. 2008 with my almost 1 year old twins!


Age 35: Birthday wake-up pounce, Aug. 2013 with my squirmy-wormy kids!

There are a few birthdays that didn’t end in a -0 or -5 that I’d like to give honorable mention:

Jaime, 2004

Age 26: First married birthday! Aug. 2004. The Wayfellows went to Chicago and I finally found out why Buca di Beppo is so fabulous.


Age 32: First birthday with Nathaniel. Aug. 2010. These sweeties took me out for ice cream… my FAVORITE!

This last picture wasn’t photo-shopped AT ALL.  This is exactly how I look, pretty much every day.  Put together, saving the world, fans blowing my hair conveniently outward into a fluffy ‘do instead of into my face to blind me, all my bidness is still this firm and sculpted… yep this is totally realistic!

Super Jaime


Recovering… Recovered?

Jaime here.  My evil overlord endometrium has been successfully ablated.  Many friends have asked how I am doing – thanks for the love!  Here’s the skinny:

I am doing great.

Friday was a crappy day for all of us.  I was STARVING all day long because I had to fast after midnight and my surgery wasn’t scheduled until 2:45 PM.  It was tortuous.  Matt always sets out a second bowl and spoon for me when he gets his breakfast, and I was somewhat surprised to find an empty counter where my breakfast provisions should have been.  So I went and got them myself… until Matt whispered, “Sweetie, you can’t eat.”  Oh yeah.  Byzity-bysmal.  I drank my 3 sips of water and convinced myself that I was not hungry.

We went grocery shopping, the kids and me.  We bought groceries for the next week.  I was a mean jerk mommy and didn’t let the kids get their usual free cookie from the Meijer bakery.  Partially because it was 9:30am and partially because I was bitter that they could eat.  They were unusually stinkerific and I realized that everyone was stressed about Mommy’s surgery.

Matt came home to feed them lunch and to send them off with Miss Kathie for a lovely afternoon of shopping, mall fun, and dinner with Mr. Frank.  When I told Nathaniel that he didn’t get a Quiet Time on Friday because he would be too busy having fun with Miss Kathie, he raised both little arms triumphantly and squealed, “Yay!”  Apparently, taking my new job based on my daily afternoon free time during Quiet Time was assuming too much; that child has napped maybe 1 out of 3 days all summer.  Before they left with Kathie, the kids piled into the red chair with me and prayed for me “to have a good time at my surgery.”  Adorable!  I knew they meant that to mean they were asking Jesus for it to go well.  But hey, if Jesus helps me have fun in the process, they aren’t complaining!

I took off all of my jewelry and toenail polish.  Then Matt took me to the hospital.  I got out of my comfy clothes and into a hospital gown and a hideous pair of socks covered entirely with white grippies so that I couldn’t fall and sue the hospital due to slippery socks.  When discussing my “outfit” earlier that day, Rissa was sad for me that the adult sizes of hospital gowns don’t have a cute koala bear on the front like the child sizes do.  That would have been preferable.  Going to my kindergarten physical in my koala bear gown would have also been preferable, but this surgery was a must-have and I was ready to do it.

I taught Matt how to text on my phone so that he could update my mom (she was on a plane headed to Europe with my dad and my aunt for a month-long jetset).  I taught him how to unlock my ipad so that he could do something with his time while I was knocked out with anesthesia.  I noticed that the anesthesia doctor was named Dr. Anast, which is only one letter away from ANESThesia.  His medical training specialty was predecided by his ancestors’ name choice, obviously!  I asked if he was going to intubate me while I was under.  He said he would.  I sighed knowingly and he raised his eyebrows that I knew about that.  This was my second general anesthesia experience and my fifth anesthesia experience.

My mom, her mom, my daughter, and myself all struggle with anesthesia.  I don’t know what the deal is, but we don’t wake up within the expected timeline.  And when we finally do, we are woozy and “out of it” for longer than expected.  When we finally regain full consciousness and can think, we realize that we are in pain even though we have pain meds pumping through our iv.  (I can only assume that Rissa experienced all of that at her 3 month old hernia repair surgery… we observed the slower wake up and the wooziness parts.  It was a huge sigh of relief for us to see our tiny girl’s eyes finally focus and to hear her angry cries that she was miserable… she was back!)  Matt knows this, having done 4 rounds of these things with me (wisdom teeth, 2 births, and now the ablation).

Despite this, the staff always freaks out.  He knows they will.  He knows I’m fine… I’ll be back soon.  He’s seen it before.  But when they gave me the Versed sedative beforehand to make me feel sleepy like “a few glasses of wine” and I fell asleep within 10 seconds and started having sleep apnea episodes and they freaked out that my blood oxygen was dropping, it’s hard to stay calm.  When I started trying to remove my IV in my sleep and he had to hold my hand in order to hold my arm down, it’s a bit… terrifying.  And then, I blinked awake for a few minutes to smile and say, “Hi!  I thought you were cuddling me!”  Because he was… snuggling with me on my gurney… until I started flinging my arm around and trying to stab myself with the IV in my efforts to get it out while asleep and “sedated.”

I tend to be our “rock” during medical issues; Matt is trained to freak out silently, stuff his emotions, and hide how he feels.  So that makes it extra hard when the medical issues are mine because I’m enduring it and unable to be his rock.  Usually, his method backfires and he falls apart a bit.  Because NO ONE can handle trauma on their own!  Once he told me everything that happened during my sedation and recovery, he felt much better about it because he didn’t have to shoulder it alone.  I know that he feels a burden of “protecting” me from the full onslaught of stress/trauma, but he can’t do that, and even if he could… that’s not what support looks like.  Support is listening and sharing and carrying it TOGETHER.  Not hiding it and trying to do it alone!  He’s lucky that I am persistent about asking, “Seriously, why are you snapping at me and acting so weird?  You are obviously struggling… TALK to me.”  And I’m lucky that he loves me so much and cares so deeply!

My doctor came and told Matt that I did beautifully and there were no complications and I would start waking up in 10-15 minutes.  Except it took an hour.  Typical Jaime/anesthesia combo.  And then they finally let him in to see me and I conked out again.  And woke up.  And back out.  I had to pee in the toilet before they could release me to go home… we were several hours past when we thought I would be discharged already due to my lengthy wake up and woozy routine.  Matt walked me to the bathroom and helped me sit down… and I could not pee.  I hadn’t eaten or drunk anything in nearly 17 hours by that point, so it’s no wonder!  But the IV fluids were supposed to help me make pee, and I couldn’t.  I was confused and pissed off.  So I got back in bed and conked back out.  And then I woke up and they took me to the bathroom again.  And I finally peed.  So they wheeled me down to the car while Matt pulled it up to the curb, and we went to get my prescription pain meds and head home.  I finally woke up at home as my kids restrained themselves from pouncing me in their delight to see me come home safe.

I dumped myself on the couch and heard Kathie and Frank putting my children in bed since it was 8pm or so.  Mochi arrived and Ellen gave me a hug and placed a snuggly bundle of sweetness near me on the couch.  Matt went back out to get me some ice cream because I finally had the presence of mind to ask for my “I’m getting a DQ Blizzard when I’m done with this!” reward.  He brought me the ice cream and I sat up and felt fine, not counting the “it always hurts a lot as the anesthesia wears off” part.  I fell asleep while we watched a show and he walked me upstairs and put me in bed after giving me my ibuprofen dose.

On Saturday, I woke up feeling like myself!  We had a lovely peaceful day… we finally showed Star Wars to the kids.  I tried my hardest to stay awake, but I crashed.  We ate lunch and I gobbled up everything Matt gave me.  I took a lovely nap with Mochi, then with Thanny who woke up early from his nap to come and check on me.  Zach and Rissa were constantly attending me and giving me kisses and gentle hugs and reminded Thanny and Mochi to be careful with my ouchie tummy.  I sat outside reading a book in the shade with Mochi in my lap while my family swam in the pool.  Mochi went home and we ate dinner and Matt bathed the kids.  It was a peaceful, nice day and I felt like Jaime.

Sunday was even better.  I didn’t feel up to the standing and sitting in church and I especially didn’t feel up to being social, so I stayed home.  When my family came back, we headed to the park for a picnic lunch (Arby’s) and lots of playground fun.  I sat in the shade and watched and smiled a LOT.  While we ate, there was an old man at a table nearby.  Rissa threw away her trash, then came over and whispered, “Mommy, come with me.  I want to show you the most beautiful picture I have EVER seen.”  I had no idea what she was talking about, but I went with her.  She brought me over to the old man, and I saw that he was painting trees and the lake on a small canvas at his table.  She pointed at him with big eyes of wonder.  I smiled at her sweetness and told him that my daughter wanted to show me “the most beautiful picture she had EVER seen” and brought me over to him.  He was cutely embarrassed and thanked Rissa for noticing him.

On Monday, I was fine!  I didn’t take any ibuprofen and the kids and I ran errands because I was allowed to drive!  I exhausted myself and spent the rest of the day on the couch relaxing.  Kathie noticed that Zach was pensive throughout the day on Friday and suggested that I talk to him.  He was so concerned for me and just didn’t know how to talk about it!  When we chatted on Monday, he said, “Well, it’s silly to be concerned anymore!  You are all healed!”  I was so glad she realized that he was internalizing his stress and concern!  I got to assure him that I was fine and that I noticed that he felt much better when he saw me on Friday evening.  And especially to thank him for loving me so much and caring about me.  He is so big, so strong, so protective… but still so little.  On Tuesday, I remembered to take some medicine and felt great.  And today, I didn’t need anything and I feel like myself.  I feel good – like a healthy version of myself!  Other than the day of surgery which was only abysmal due to my pre-existing anesthesia issues, my recovery has been fabulous.

I never feel AWARE of my uterus, so it’s hard to know how it’s doing.  Burns tend to “weep” and secrete drainage, but that only happened for 2 days.  On Monday, I had weird sensations that felt strangely like the first few times I felt a baby kick during pregnancy.  No endometriosis was found, and I’ll get the lab results from my tissue samples at my follow-up visit next week.  I tire easily… I forget that my body is devoting much of my energy to healing.

I am so hopeful.  Exhaustion might be a sometimes/rare occurrence rather than a constant.  I’m getting my life back!  Rissa said, “Mommy, those ouchies in your tummy… is that why you fall asleep all the time sometimes?”  Yep, exactly.  I don’t want to do that for one third of my life anymore… 8 out of every 24 days.  Weirdly, I’ll still get PMS because my hormones are intact (since my ovaries are intact) and I’ll still cycle hormonally.  I just won’t bleed.  Or if I do, it will be only a little bit.  Which sounds LOVELY!

I feel good and I have plans to be Jaime.  I’m turning 35 in a few weeks, and I look forward to embracing my new stage of life – working mom of school-aged kids.  And if all goes well, I’ll only see blood when I stub my toe or my kids bite each other!

Endometrial WHAT?

This post is an educational lesson about menorrhagia, or Excessive Menstrual Bleeding.  If precursory details of my menstrual cycles are TOO MUCH INFORMATION for you, please do yourself a favor and discontinue reading this post.

I have had exorbitantly horrible menstrual cycles for my entire reproductive life.  My first period came at a volleyball game and my (male) coach made some comment about how I was a woman now.  Although I had never felt particularly comfortable around him, I was certain that he was creepy after that game.  Not long after, he threw a chair at a student during band practice and I believe that was the end of his interaction with middle school children.

In high school, my period settled into heavy bleeding for 7 days and an eighth day of “regular” bleeding.  This occurred every 5-6 weeks.  (Many women experience 3-5 days of “regular” bleeding, which may or may not be followed by a “light” bleeding day at the end, usually every 4 weeks.  Given the amount of variation among women and the interplay of hormones and other systemic factors, “normal” menstruation is not very well-understood or defined.  Since I had a longer but less frequent cycle, I averaged into the normal range.  However, I recently read that most women lose about 1/4 cup of blood during their period… so I am not anywhere CLOSE to “normal,” nor have I ever been!).  After I had my period for 3 weeks straight with a 3 day intermission at age 17, my mom and I went in for my first gynecological exam to find out what the hooty-hoo was going on… in my hoo-ha. 🙂  (Truth:  I didn’t learn the term “hoo-ha” until I watched the show Scrubs many years later).  The recommended treatment was birth control to manage the timing of my cycle.

I was 17.  I was not having sex.  I was a senior at a Christian high school where pregnancy was punished with expulsion, sexual activity was seriously frowned upon, and virginity was eulogized as the epitome of Christian holiness… among girls.  I perceived that birth control was for slutty girls and flat-out refused to go on it.  How could I tell my friends?  I was sure that people would just know by looking at me… and then I’d have to defend myself and say, “But I’m not having sex, I’m not!  This is for medical reasons!” and I didn’t want to have to say anything.  (Truth:  middle- and high-school students are convinced that everyone notices every uncomfortable thing about them.  In actuality, only the cruel people notice… everyone else is too busy trying to survive and avoid being noticed to notice anyone else!)

I only had that one “3 weeks from hell” continuous period incidence.  Throughout the rest of my senior year/college/grad school, it was actually rather nice to go up to 6 weeks without a period.  I didn’t mind the heavy 8 days, since it gave me such a huge amount of time off from the hassle!

I began taking birth control at age 25 when I was engaged.  Knowing that adjusting hormonal levels can be problematic, I wanted to get that all settled and working well before starting my marriage!  I was on birth control for several years and the predictable 7 day periods once a month were DIVINE.  I felt like a “normal” girl for the first time!  Getting married and having sex with Matt was also fabulous… so everything was exciting!  (Truth:  Matt and I had a “no babies for 2 years, God-pending!” handshake agreement that we established during our engagement.  It was one of our best ideas EVER!  When pesky women at church/people in our families/nosy strangers had questions about “So… when are you going to have kids?” we could whip out the “Let me tell you all about our handshake agreement!” conversation and shut them down.  We reconsidered on our 2 year anniversary and realized we still didn’t feel ready for kids, so we gave ourselves an extension… it ended up being a “no pregnancy for 2.5 years, God-pending!” handshake agreement.)

We discovered that I have polycystic ovaries.  Sometimes I launch an egg, sometimes I launch no egg, sometimes I launch multiple eggs!  I was off of birth control due to some issues with side effects, and my period was back to its previous formation.  But now knowing about my polycystic ovaries… no wonder my period is so crazy!  It made sense to me – I had always wondered if getting pregnant was a possibility for me since my reproductive system was such a mess.  Hmm, pun intended.

The most beautiful thing about pregnancy is that your period stops.  Like, you don’t have it!  (Some women still do… I’m so sorry about that!)  I loved my 7.5 months of pregnancy with the twins and I loved my 4.8 months of breastfeeding them for lots of reasons, but no period was one of them!  My 9 months of pregnancy with Nathaniel and my 9 months of breastfeeding him were also delightful for that reason.

And then my reproductive system went CRAZY.  When my period returned after Thanny-man was born, it returned with a vengeance.  (Truth:  I would NOT watch a Bruce Willis remake of this story, no matter how many gratuitous explosions were involved).  I continued having my heavy 8 days of menstruation, but they were even heavier than before.  And now, instead of every 35 days, I was having them every 28, then every 25, then every 24, and sometimes after only 21 days.

For the past 2.5 years, I have been bleeding excessively for 8 out of every 24 days on average.  That is one third, ONE THIRD, of my life!  On average, I am bleeding excessively for 1 out of every 3 days.  One out of every 3 hours… ONE THIRD.  I have just over a week of misery, then just over 2 weeks of a break, then I’m back to misery.  It is horrendous.  Last fall, when I became Zombie Jaime and was exhausted all the time and just fell over asleep in the middle of activities and was barely functioning?  Well, that was partially because I had sleep apnea and woke up gasping for breath every 3-5 minutes while sleeping.  We corrected that with my handy-dandy CPAP machine.  But my exhaustion, ESPECIALLY during a certain 8 days, continued.  I can barely function during my period – I’m so tired.  Not so much sleepy-tired, BONE-tired.  Everything is difficult and requires more effort than I can muster, for EIGHT DAYS.  Throw in 1 day of PMS beforehand and you have a miserable, mostly nonfunctional Jaime for 9 out of every 24 days.  Guess how much sex I get to have in those other 15 days?  Not enough.  Guess how much I can accomplish in those other 15 days?  Not enough to compensate for the time missed.  It sucks at every level.

So now we know that my iron levels are a disaster.  I am not anemic, but that is because I take iron supplements like it is my JOB.  My doctor and I are constantly checking my blood levels… I just can’t ingest/maintain iron fast enough to compensate for the amount I lose during my menorrhagic menstrual cycle.  And I can’t just take a ton of iron to compensate either… it is a delicate balance with disastrous effects at too low and too high.  I’m so tired of trying to get my health to a good place.  It is literally exhausting, and I want solutions that work!

After nearly a year of trying various things, both of my primary care doctors (family practice and OB/GYN) think that I would benefit GREATLY from an endometrial ablation.  An endometrial WHAT???

There are various ways to perform this procedure, but the main goal is to destroy the endometrium, the lining inside my uterus that sheds during each menstrual cycle.  My endometrium is an evil overlord trying to destroy me/my life, so the plan is to destroy it first!

My OB/GYN will first use a hysteroscope (yep, a telescope for the uterus) to look at what’s going on.  Then she will do a D + C (dilation and curettage) to get some sample tissue from my uterus lining.  The tissue will be biopsied and checked for symptoms of any current/future issues.  Then, and this is the crazy part, she will seal my cervix and spray hot saline water into my uterus to burn and cauterize the lining off.  (The seal is so that the burning hot saline doesn’t escape and burn anything else).  It is unlikely to grow back… which means that it is unlikely to shed… which means that IT IS UNLIKELY THAT I WILL CONTINUE LOSING ALL OF MY LIFE FORCE 8 OUT OF 24 DAYS OF MY LIFE!!!!!!

I admit it, I am EXCITED.  I am desperate to be functional.  I am desperate to not have blood rushing out of me at alarming rates that trigger fear inside the survival portions of my brain.  As my family practice doctor said with a smile, “Jaime, the fact that you are so relieved to have this procedure means that this is exactly the treatment we should give you!”  Seriously!  If I am excited to receive general anesthesia and get severe burns in my uterus at the hospital and need pain medication for the weeks following my procedure… if I am willing to be rendered nonfunctional by a procedure intended to help my body regain function… things must be pretty bad!  They are.  They ARE.  So bad.  And it is going to get better.  Forty percent of women who undergo endometrial ablation have no more periods.  CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE???  Forty percent of women have light-to-normal periods after ablation.  “Light-to-normal” sounds like a dream come true for me!  Normal was previously unattainable, so YES PLEASE!  That still counts as success.  And twenty percent of ablations are unsuccessful, and the lining grows back.  After that, the options are to let it be, go with a hystercetomy (remove the uterus), or get a total hysterectomy (remove the uterus and ovaries and tubing).

I choose to believe that I will be in the 80% of success stories.  No early menopause, no more warding off anemia, no more utter exhaustion.  (Truth:  I’ll still be exhausted.  But it will be JUST from chasing my kids now, not from sleep apnea and menorrhagia!  Squee!!!!)  I have a family history of endometriosis, where the endometrium cells bust out of their uterus confinement and start growing elsewhere in the abdomen – on other organs, on the peritoneum (abdominal lining), etc.  With endometriosis, the menstrual cycle causes shedding from all of that lining all over the abdomen and LOTS more blood is lost.  In case that is happening to me, my doctor will surgically remove all of that extra lining as well.  The goal is NO endometrium – not where it is supposed to be (my uterus) and definitely not where it is not supposed to be (anywhere else).

I need to address this last part for those of you who share our delight in the 3 Olson Tinies:  no more Olson Tinies will come out of me.  I have had plenty of time to accept that, as had Matt, but for those who are just now encountering this information, we understand that you might be disappointed.  If you are, that’s totally fine and we respect your response.  But if you tell us about your disappointment, I might want to punch you.  So be disappointed if you will, but please tell someone else. 🙂  Whenever people ask me if we hope to have more kids, I still plan to say “YES!”  I’m excited about opportunities to expand our family in the future!  That doesn’t change.  We lean more towards foster care or “intentional love heaped on children who need us within our circle of influence in the same way that people heaped intentional love on tiny me and accepted me into their families” than toward adoption, but we’ll see what God asks of us.

I am not grieved to close the pregnancy/birth chapter of my life.  I have loved it!  I’m am so grateful for THREE amazing children – I was never sure I could have any!  I don’t take that lightly – I know that so many people deeply desire that God would give them a child and for reasons we cannot understand, He has not provided.  I don’t have answers for them.  I still pray that He will hear the cries of their hearts and give them beyond what they hope for, just as He did for us with Zach, Rissa, and Nathaniel.  So we are thrilled with the gifts we have in our 3 children.  And we know there are plenty of other tinies out there already, so if God wants us to love some of them up, we’re happy to do that.

Now you know (some of) the details of my reproductive system.  More than you prefer to know perhaps, but not nearly all that I could have shared!  Be grateful for the details I didn’t describe! 🙂  My procedure is on Friday afternoon later this week.  And just in time… my last period was TEN days!  AUGH!  Never again!  Miss Kathie is handling the Tinies to give them a fun day on Friday and to allow Matt to be with me for my outpatient procedure and to drive me home.  Then he’ll babysit me for the weekend while I recover and I won’t be responsible for my children on my own until Monday, when I am well sedated with pain medication.  Hmm… that sounded better in my head than it looks on my screen.  Suffice it to say, my pain from the burns should be under control before I regain my Mommy roles!  I’m so ready to do this thing!