Motherhood and Beyond

To be a mom is the most rewarding job in the whole world. But it can also be the most difficult. Motherhood and Beyond is peeping into the world of being a mom, but at the same time a wife, a friend and much more. Life doesn't always go easy and some may not know it now, but there is nothing more precious than life. So I welcome you to join us. Follow in our daily routines, our special activities and just enjoy the ride!! TO MOTHERHOOD AND BEYOND!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Purrsia Ann Jones

Back in September of 2002, I was working at Sparky's in Battle Creek.  In July, Ryan had gotten me a cute little gray kitten for my birthday.  But I felt that he needed a pal while I was gone at work. I had noticed that a stray cat had given birth and there were kittens that eventually were going to be strays as well. With winter coming up, I just knew that rescuing one of them would be the best thing to do. So when the kittens were old enough, I picked out a cute little orange/white female. She was perfect!

The entire car ride home to Ida Grove (a whopping 7 miles) she purred the entire way. So we named her Purrsia. I always had called my other cat by two names, so for Purrsia, we tagged on Ann as a middle name.  Bringing her home was a new experience for all of us involved. Sway had never been around other cats, we had never had to deal with two kittens and the apartment was sure filling up quicker than we had thought it would.

We eventually moved into a house which was much bigger for the two of them to roam. They quickly became best friends, but fought like brother and sister when they didn't get along. Sway was attached to my hip and Purrsia because Ryan's little tag along.

Over the years we had moved a couple of more times, brought more family members into the family (aka we had kids LOL) and instead of just being pets, the two cats had become our family.

Sway was always my cat. He followed me around like a little puppy sometimes. It is so cute and heartwarming to come home to him every day and know he is there waiting. Purrsia had always been Ryan's favorite. Until our daughter Lili was old enough to walk. Those two became best friends, constantly together.

Lili would take her outside to play, they would go on countless walks and adventures together. And even when Lili would get hurt and begin to cry, Purrsia would come running to her aide meowing up a storm. Purrsia even slept next to Lili every night.  And when Lili got old enough to have to go to school, Purrsia was there every morning to help me wake her up.

A few months ago, we noticed that Purrsia wasn't looking like her normal self. But we figured it was just her getting older.  And then we noticed that something just wasn't right. Her nose began to turn black as did around the edges of her mouth. She wanted to get outside more, and we noticed she had began to eat less.

We took her to the local vet, who claimed she had a mass in her uterus, but that she was too weak to go through surgery. So they sent her home.  In my eyes, they sent her home to die. They didn't want to do anything. So, after a week, things got worse. Her mouth swelled, she started to drool, and she refused to eat or drink.

So we took her to another vet, who confirmed that she had cancer in her mouth and there was no saving her. On May 21st, we had to make the most difficult decision that our family has to had to make. We had to put her to sleep. My husband drove to the vet with our daughter, said their goodbyes and they put her to sleep.

My husband said it was the hardest drive home he has ever had to make. We buried her in our back yard under our daughters bedroom window so that when she woke every morning or when she went to sleep at night, she could be there with her just as she always had before.

It has now been three weeks since her passing, and not a day goes by where we don't miss her or think about her.  Even as I write this, I have teared up multiple times. It is still very hard to know that she won't be here anymore. She won't come running when I make a turkey sandwich (she always loved her lunch meats). We won't hear her meow anymore when we call her name.

Sadly, the hardest part of this entire thing has been watching my daughter lose her best friend. There isn't a moment where I can tell that she isn't thinking about her.  She will go to her grave and talk with her just as if she were right there. She constantly makes comments regarding how Purrsia used to do certain things or what they would be doing if she were still here.

We have recently adopted another cat from a shelter. She looks a bit like Purrsia, is just under a year old and has many of the same qualities that Purrsia had. We weren't looking to replace Purrsia herself, but to fill the emptiness that has plagued the house since Purrsia has been gone. My daughter is much happier now, there isn't as many tears shed over Purrsia's passing. And though we miss her every single day, we all know that it was better than for her to suffer from the pain of cancer. Putting a pet to sleep is never an easy choice. But for our family, it was much easier than to find Purrsia dead in our home. I don't want my daughter to have to remember her that way. This way, she was able to say her goodbyes, hold her and talk to her one last time. She did not see her after she had passed.

We all said our goodbyes in our own way. I think this is kind of mine. I had told her goodbye at the vet when I dropped her off, but I thought she would be coming back home. I thought maybe she could be fixed and continue to live her life with us and our family.

If anything this experience has made me realize many things. First and foremost that family is very important. No matter if it is fur family or human family. I treasure the time I have with them and do not take them for granted.  And second--that animals are just as sacred as any human person can ever be.  Many people mistreat animals, treating them as though they are nothing. But going through this made me realize that they hurt, that they can suffer and that they can die. My heart still has pangs of guilt that we didn't look into her issues earlier. That maybe if we had, it would have saved her. But I can't live my life guilty because of something that we didn't understand. If anything, it made us more aware. That the smallest things can mean something is wrong and that if someone, pet or human shows signs that something isn't right, you listen. You check. And you know that even if it costs thousands of dollars, their life is worth it. I would have paid anything to get to bring her home healthy and alive, instead of dead and in a box.

Purrsia Ann Jones this post is a memorial to you. We miss you every day and hope that you knew how much you were loved in this family.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Guest Blogger June 2012 HEATHER VON ST JAMES

Learning to Be Thankful in the Face of Mesothelioma

Have you heard the saying, “It takes a village?”  I heard it so much during my pregnancy, but I never realized just how significant this phrase would become in my life.  My daughter was born August 4, 2005.  The pregnancy was pretty uneventful, although she was delivered by emergency C-section.  My village was immediately surrounding us in congratulations.  

A C-section recovery can be challenging, and when I returned to work, I continued to feel fatigued.  I began to experience breathlessness, as well, and I made an appointment with my doctor to find out if something was wrong.  Unfortunately, it was.  My diagnosis was terrifying.  Malignant pleural mesothelioma, often caused by asbestos exposure, was at the root of my tiredness and breathlessness.

This cancer is attributed to asbestos exposure, something I unknowingly experienced in childhood.  As an adult, this nightmare was overwhelming.  I couldn’t bear the thought of Lily and my husband having to go on without me, and the grim prognosis gave me 15 months to live if I did nothing.  We opted for the most extreme treatment for possible, the removal of my left lung and all of the surrounding tissue.

The surgery took place February 2, 2006, in Boston under the care of one of the best mesothelioma doctors available.  My 18-day hospital stay was followed by a two-month recovery period.  After that, I went through chemotherapy and radiation.  The emotional roller coaster was trying, but Lily was in good hands.  My parents and their own village made sure of that.

While I was in the hospital, my parents took care of my daughter.  In my absence, she learned to eat and to scoot around.  Sometimes my parents needed caregivers to fill in so they could go to work.  It’s amazing how many people provided their assistance and support.  Church friends were ready to fill in as needed.  Children I once babysat were now available as grownups to care for my daughter.  I received pictures, often grainy photocopies, that allowed me to see the things my Lily was experiencing.  Nurses admired, struggling not to cry over the challenges I faced.  My parents’ bond with Lily is close, thanks to their time of caring for her.  While I was in Boston, she was in South Dakota, experiencing a wonderful village.

As a family, we’ve been through a lot.  It hasn’t been easy, but that was never promised.  Knowing how fragile life is, we embrace it more fully now.  I have a favorite quote, “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.”  Embrace what you face in life, knowing that things like cancer can produce a lot of good in the midst of difficulty.  I am thankful for the good in the midst of my storm.

Heather Von St James is a 43-year-old wife and mother. Upon her diagnosis of mesothelioma, she vowed to be a source of hope for other patients who found themselves with the same diagnosis. Now, over 6 years later, her story has been helping people all over the globe. She continues her advocacy and awareness work by blogging, speaking and sharing her message of hope and healing with others. Check out more of her story at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog

Guest Bloggers

Wow---it has been such while since I last posted here (almost a year!!!).  I can't believe I have slacked off for that long---however, with good reason. I am currently pregnant with twins for an amazing same-sex couple.  I have been blogging weekly on a different blog:

So check it out and follow me!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here is the NEW news-----I am introducing a guest blogger of the month. They will have access to guest blog as many posts as they want during their month. So the first is Heather. Her blog is amazing and I hope you will check her out. Her first blog post is coming up stay tuned for that!

And since the pregnancy is almost done, I plan on blogging again full time on the mommy end of things. I can't wait to get going on that again.