About the Author · Family · Health & Wellness · What's Going On

What I’m Thankful for in 2016

While I’ve been a little MIA the past few weeks, it’s all for a good reason.  On October 26th, my husband, our son (and new big brother) Jimmy and I welcomed a new little member to our family, Martin “Marty” John Reaney at Prentice Women’s Hospital at Northwestern Medicine. Marty was so excited to meet his new family that he came into this world super fast arriving at 7:07am weighing in a 7 lb, 14 oz and 21 inches long.


As many of you are aware, I take daily blood thinners to prevent any blood clots and because of this I was induced for Marty’s arrival.  We arrived at Prentice at 1:30AM and, after checking-in and getting settled in the L&D room, my IV and Pitocin was started about 3:30AM.  After the contractions became unbearable, I asked the nurse to have the anesthesiologist issue my epidural at about 5:30AM.  About an hour into the epidural I started to think that it wasn’t working because I was having some major pains, but unbeknownst to me it was because Marty was trying to arrive on his own.  My doctor barely arrived in time to deliver the baby!  I labored from start to finish about 3 hours and barely pushed three times before he shot out of me!  Because his arrival was so quick he developed a grunting, which sounded like a soft wheezing sound, due to the amniotic fluid still in his lungs.  While we thought this sweet sound was cute for about the first hour, when it lasted more than 10 hours post-birth, the pediatric team said it was actually caused from fluid in his lungs which usually would have passed within an hour or two post-birth.

Since Marty was still making this grunting sound, the pediatric team admitted him to the NICU for observation until he was discharged from the hospital 48 hours later. While his oxygen and blood levels were completely normal, the NICU started him on two antibiotics via an IV to prevent any infection he might be fighting off, which was another possible cause of the grunting sound.  After his lab work came back all clear, he was finally released from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

We had a few more bumps in the road medically during Marty’s first weeks (i.e. tongue tie which sent us on an ENT visit to Lurie, an abnormal newborn screen blood test which required four days of isolation at home until the test results came back normal–which they did–and the return of the grunting sound which is the result of his esophagus muscles still developing which is also normal). All of these little bumps in the road had me praying a lot to God and all my angels to make sure our little “Miracle Marty” was safe and healthy, and I have also returned to regular mass attendance (which is a post for another day).


While each year I am so blessed and thankful for my family and friends, who are the best support system I could have ever imagined, this year I am truly thankful for the medical caregivers in my life.  I am so thankful my OB/GYN, my hematologist and our pediatric offices are all connected on the Northwestern system and talk to each other on a pretty regular basis.  I never have to explain my medical history because everyone seems to already know my “case” and is informed on all my medical issues.  Over the past month I have received many calls and follow-up calls directly from my doctors checking in on how I’m doing and how Marty is doing.  It has been overwhelming, and delightfully comforting, to be known as a patient in a large medical practice, not just a number.  Thank you so much to all the caregivers in my life, but especially the unnamed staff and faculty of Northwestern Lurie and Prentice hospitals who continue to give the best care to my little family.  You have made this family so very blessed!

Happy Thanksgiving to All – Love:  Colleen, John, Jimmy & Marty Reaney


About the Author · Family · Health & Wellness

When you want your child to have a sibling….

*This is a post regarding our personal journey and desire to have a second child. The purpose of the post is to educate and inform our family and friends of our journey. Note that the first par of this post was written in November of 2015. 

From the minute a couple becomes engaged the question most people ask is, “So when do you think you guys will start TRYING to have kids?” Trying – since when did that become something people talked about? Even now, I’m very cautious when talking about trying with other couples as you never know what people are going through….like my husband and me.

About two years ago, after trying for several months to conceive, my husband and I had a miscarriage, which broke our hearts terribly. At that time it was hard for us to process what we were going through.  Our doctors, however, said that we should take this event as a positive one and look at the bright side that we were able to conceive and that we should just keep trying now because I would be the most fertile after a miscarriage…and we were! I became pregnant with our son the very next month.

My pregnancy was not an easy one, not by a long shot. Because I have an undiagnosed blood clot disorder, (undiagnosed being that I’ve had two severe blood clots in my legs, DVTs, but no one really knows how or why I got them), I was put on blood thinners even before we started trying. So between the first trimester spotting episodes, the 27 weeks of constant vomiting (and peeing my pants), and rounding out my pregnancy with 24/7 heart burn and uterine contractions, I finally delivered a little boy at 40 weeks and 3 days. My labor was about 24 hours long but the delivery was less than 10 minutes (I’ll spare you the rest of the crazy labor/delivery details).

About 5 days post-delivery I passed a baseball-sized blood clot, which scared the crap out of me! I was taken back into the doctor’s office for an emergency ultrasound to make sure nothing was left over from the delivery. While only a few smaller clots remained in my uterus, the OB/GYN and ultrasound techs were 99% sure that everything was removed. That was until I didn’t stop bleeding! About every two weeks from Sept – January I was getting my period with a much heavier flow than a regular cycle. Could something be wrong? Was my once “like clockwork” period now totally out of wack? My doctor ran some tests which showed that I had precancerous cells on my cervix.  They needed to be removed and could have been causing the abnormal bleeding. Once the cells were removed, I was told, my normal 28-day cycle would return, but that didn’t work. So, after many consultations, the only remaining option was to have a D&C to reset my system. Come February, my very predictable 28 days cycle had finally returned.

That was until my husband and I started trying for our second child. We thought we would love for the kids to be two years apart in school and age, so we started trying. What was different this time around is that I’m not on blood thinners anymore. Currently with my doctor’s support I am in a trial period of being off of blood thinners, as long as I don’t have another clot. With all my doctors giving us the green light to start trying for another baby, and being in good health, I thought this would be an easy process, but in fact it has not been. Since starting the process to try for another baby, my cycles have been off having a period about every two-three weeks. This week I decided my next steps are to see my OB/GYN soon to see her thoughts and to check to make sure everything is a-okay.

At the OB/GYN, she did an exam and ran a few tests, believing my results would take a few days to get back.  The next night, however, my doctor contacted me at home to tell me that my results came back unfavorable.  My AMH levels, which measure fertility in relation to the quantity/quality of egg reserves, was a very low 0.49 (average should be about 4.0).  My doctor explained that, with a low AMH level, the chances of conceiving naturally would prove difficult.  She recommended that we seek the assistance of a fertility specialist, which we have just started to do. While the glass-half-full person in me wants to say, “so you’re telling me there a chance,” realistically, I’m aware it’s a slim one.

While this news was actually shocking and quite disappointing, my husband and I came to the realization that there is nothing we can do about it.  You cannot control nature nor should we ponder the how or why my egg reserve is low.  I’d like to still think that 37 is young, but clearly not ideal for my baby-making. After a good cry, we realized that our road to each other wasn’t easy nor was our path to parenthood, but it’s going to be okay.

But what is the most challenging part of the process is when people ask me, “So are you guys going to have any more kids?” My standard answer has always been “yes, God willing we would love to have more” but reality is starting to set in that maybe our son really is all we are going to have and we might have to be okay with only one child. Yes, my husband and I tell ourselves all the time, “if our son is the only child we ever have then we are really blessed with the best kid in the world!”

What truly breaks my heart is seeing my son wanting so desperately to play with other kids when he’s by himself. He learning how to give hugs, kisses, how to play with others and to share. With his easy-going personality he would be an excellent big brother.  I picture him in my perfect world always going with the flow of a new baby in the house, and with his crazy sleep-deprived parents.

***UPDATE as of 4/20/2016***

At the advice of our doctors we starting seeing a fertility doctor to start the process of having our best odds of becoming parents again. Everyone’s journey is a little different from this point on and with the help of some very talented doctors, it was decided that we would be best suited to try Clomid to maximize our changes of having another baby.  After two months of testing and re-testing, we were given the okay to start Clomid in February.  However, by the grace of God, we didn’t need to start the medication as we conceived a child in January all on our own!41M3p5PYnsL._SY355_

Today, I’m happy to say that I’m in the beginning of my second trimester and Baby Reaney (who we refer to as Baby T-Rex) is progressing nicely.  Just as I experienced with my first child, I’m extremely sick so I’m taking the anti-nausea medication Diclegis to try to limit the amount I am vomiting daily.  Also, to combat any troublesome blood clots that may arise due to the biological complexities of pregnancy, I’m taking a small dosage of Lovenox daily.  I’m also hoping the excessive fatigue wears off soon so I can stay awake past 8:30PM – the DVR is getting pretty full! 🙂


My husband and I are thrilled to be welcoming another little baby to our clan and we cannot wait to see Jimmy in action as the best big brother ever.  He is already practicing how to be quiet when the baby is sleeping and he gives kisses to my belly often.   This is what it is all about for me.  I knew my body would take a toll carrying another baby, but to give my son a sibling is all I have ever wanted.

About the Author · Health & Wellness

Stop the Clot- know the symptoms 

bcamsquare3March is national blood clot awareness month. I know what you’re thinking, man – there is a month for everything! And yes there is…although I haven’t seen an “I Love Jello” month yet, but I’m sure it in the works.

Anyway, blood clots are something I know far more about than I ever thought I would.  As a two-time DVT survivor (Deep Vein Thrombosis) at ages 27 and 31, I am well aware of what blood clots are and the symptoms that present when one might be on the rise. I feel, since I have this blog platform, I should share with everyone my experiences in the hopes that one day this information may help to save a life.

When I was 27, I had a lump/growth on the side of my right knee.  I went to see an orthopedic surgeon who said that it was a baker’s cyst and it would be easily removed from the leg via an outpatient surgery.  Once I awoke from the survey, he explained that it was a benign mass/tumor which had wrapped itself around my hamstring tendon, which had to be cut and re-attached in order to remove the mass.  I was going to need to stay in the hospital for a few days until I could try to walk on my own with a walker and I would need physical therapy four days a week.  Talk about totally calling an outpatient surgery wrong! 6 days post-surgery, while at physical therapy, my therapist Brian said, “um – you better watch your leg.  It’s starting to look like it’s changing color and you don’t want to throw a blood clot.”

The next morning, I could barely stand in the shower and, yes, my leg was turning completely blue.  We went to the hospital.  The color and size of my leg caused some alarm as I was rushed back to see a doctor immediately as I bypassed the info desk and paperwork.  I had no clue what was happening until after I returned from an ultrasound on my leg which explained that I had a DVT.  My entire main artery from my groin to my ankle on my right leg was completely clogged with a blood clot.  My attending doctor came out and yelled at me, “Do you know how serious this is?  You could have died!”  I then began to cry because I didn’t know what was going on nor how I was supposed to know before the doctor told me the diagnosis.

It was decided from my team of doctors that I was to have an experimental surgery in 2007 called thrombolysis where a catheter is inserted into the vein, allowing the blood clot to be surgically removed, in the hopes of saving the vein and minimizing permanent damage.  The surgery was a success and, after 24 hours in the ICU with a tPA drip running through my vein to remove any remaining clot, the vein was completely cleared out.

From the American Stroke Association’s website (explaining that the drug is often used to minimize permanent damage resulting from ischemic strokes): “Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA, also known as IV rtPA, given through an IV in the arm). tPA works by dissolving the clot and improving blood flow to the part of the brain being deprived of blood flow.”

After many, MANY doctors, hematologists, oncologists, rheumatologists, medications, at-home meters and ample blood tests later, it was ruled that I have a hypercoagulative blood disorder…but they still have not been able to diagnose it exactly.  I do not have any genetic triggers or anything in my blood that would suggest otherwise, but for what the doctors know now, my blood randomly will clot on it own for no reason. Hence, in 2010, I threw another blood clot, another DVT, in the same leg after completing the Susan G. Komen 60-Mile Breast Cancer Walk.  As frustrating as it was to go through this experience again, I am more aware of my body now and when the potential symptoms of a clot may be presenting themselves.

I reached out to a great nonprofit called the National Blood Clot Alliance which was gracious enough to allow me to use their materials in an effort to spread awareness of their organization.

NBCA-Infographic1As a young female, I was completely unaware of the risks I was under when taking birth control.  Because of my history with DVTs, I was also going to be at risk when trying to get pregnant and during my pregnancies.  Here is an inforgraphic directly related to this:


For more information on the risks associated with blood clots, please visit the National Blood Clot Alliance website.  Please also feel free to contact me and/or to share your experiences on this blog so that others may be more aware of the potential hazards, things to avoid, and survivor stories regarding blood clots.

The National Blood Clot Alliance (NBCA) is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, voluntary health organization dedicated to advancing the prevention, early diagnosis and successful treatment of life-threatening blood clots such as deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and clot-provoked stroke.

NBCA works on behalf of people who may be susceptible to blood clots, including, but not limited to, people with clotting disorders, atrial fibrillation, cancer, traumatic injury, and risks related to surgery, lengthy immobility, child birth and birth control.

NBCA accomplishes its mission through programs that build public awareness, educate patients and healthcare professionals, and promote supportive public and private sector policy.

Family · Health & Wellness

Can One Survive Flu Season?

Ah yes- the crisp fall air is fading into the background, giving way to the beautiful, snow-covered trees and, just like that, winter has arrived. As a long-time seasonal allergy sufferer, I cannot wait until the cold weather settles in to allow me a break from my daily Zyrtec. That was until the flu bug graced us with its presence in our home… Ugh!!

The flu bug hit our extended family about two weeks ago like a tornado which left my brother, sister-in-law, niece and dad in its path before it landed on our front porch last week. The first victim was my toddler son who started violently vomiting in his sleep last Monday. Hearing him waking up while getting sick was by far one of the scariest sounds and moments of our lives since he was born. After four days of throwing up, hunger strike, near dehydration, fevers and numerous doctor’s calls and one visit, our son was on the mend (that was until he starting cutting a few molars the very next day, but we’ll save that topic for another post).

As you can imagine, I’ve upped my cleaning game to disinfect everything and anything I can in the house to remove whatever bug was here. Just when I thought we were out of the woods, I came home from work today to a very sick hubby on the couch who is right now giving praise to the “Porcelain God”.  Grrrr! Just when I though it was gone, the damn flu bug strikes again. Once my husband finally got to bed, out came the cleaning products and disfencting started all over again. And to think, my son threw up all over me and I’m the only one still standing!

So we’re upping the vitamin c, increasing our beverage intake, continuing to make homemade chicken soup and washing everything I possibly can to make sure the last solider standing doesn’t fall right before Thanksgiving.

So, does anyone have any tricks for beating the flu bug before it hits you? Or more importantly, once it arrives how to fumigate your home to remove this pest? All ideas and suggestions are welcome!