Monday, September 24, 2012

Just a pregnancy post

How far along?  29 weeks, 3 days
Total weight gain: 19lbs according to the doctor's scale--right on track!
Maternity clothes? I really need more...I've even outgrown some of my smaller maternity stuff already!
Stretch marks? nope! Lotion, lotion, lotion.
Sleep:  It's getting a little harder when there's a 3lb person practicing ninja moves inside of me.
Best moment this week: Just making progress...getting father along and closer to meeting our girl.

Miss Anything? I wouldn't mind a beer or two.
Movement: You can see it from a few feet away--this girl is strong!
Food cravings: Bacon!
Anything making you queasy or sick: Not in a few days--yay!
Gender: I had one of those crazy vivid dreams where I pushed the baby out and the doctor said "It's a boy!" and really kind of freaked me out. I don't know what I'll do if that happens!

Labor Signs: contractions here and there and everywhere, but still just practicing
Symptoms: heartburn, back pain, fatigue...the usual.
Belly Button in or out? I think it's right on the line now...not quite out, but not really in, either.
Wedding rings on or off? on--no swelling anywhere so far.

Happy or Moody most of the time: :)
Looking forward to:  Is it too soon to start saying "the end"? Probably so, so I'll just look forward to seeing baby girl on ultrasound next week.

Here's a belly bump picture for those who can't get enough:

And, because I read this and thought it was funny, I'm passing it along. I don't necessarily feel strongly about all of these things, but most are pretty darn true. If you disagree, don't blame me--I didn't come up with it!

Guidelines for non-pregnant people:

1. The appropriate response to a couple telling you they are having a baby is ‘Congratulations!’ with enthusiasm. Any other response makes you a jerk.
2. Through the wonders of science, we now know that babies are made ONLY by the mother and father – not grandparents or anyone else. Unless the baby is in your uterus or you are the man that helped put it there, you may not ever use the phrase ‘my baby’.
3. On the same note, unless you made the baby as defined in 2, the pregnancy, birth, and raising of the child are not about you. You do not have input. No one wants to hear your opinion unless they ask for it.
4. The body of a pregnant woman should be treated the same as any other body. You would not touch the belly of a person who was not pregnant without asking, and you would not inquire into the condition of their uterus, cervix, or how they plan to use their breasts. Pregnancy does not remove all traces of privacy from a woman.
5. Likewise, no woman wants to hear comments on her weight…ever. A pregnant woman does not find it flattering that you think she is about to pop, must be having twins, looks swollen or has gained weight in her face. Telling her she looks too small only makes her worry that she is somehow starving her baby. Making such comments invite her to critique your physical appearance and you may not act offended. The only acceptable comment on appearance is ‘You look fabulous!’.
6. By the time we are 20-30 years old, most of us have picked up on the fact that the summer is hot. We are hot every summer when we are not pregnant. We don’t need you to point out that we will be miserably hot before the baby comes. Nor do we need to know how badly you will feel for us because we will be pregnant during the summer and how glad you are that YOU will not be pregnant this coming summer.
7. There is a reason that tickets to Labor & Delivery are not yet sold on Ticketmaster. Childbirth is actually not a public event. It may sound crazy, but some women really do not relish the idea of their mother, MIL, or a host of other family members seeing their bare butt and genitals. Also, some people simply feel like the birth of their child is a private and emotional moment to be shared only by the parents. You weren’t invited to be there when the baby was created, you probably won’t be invited to be there when it comes out either.
8. Like everything else in life, unless you receive an invitation, you are NOT invited. This includes doctor appointments, ultrasounds, labor, delivery, the hospital, and the parent’s home. You do not decide if you will be there for the birth or if you will move in with the new parents to ‘help out’. If your assistance is desired, rest assured that you will be asked for it.
9. If you are asked to help after the birth, this means you should clean up the house, help with cooking meals, and generally stay out of the way. Holding the baby more than the parents, interfering with breastfeeding and sleeping schedules, and making a woman who is still leaking fluid from multiple locations lift a finger in housework is not helping.
10. The only people entitled to time with the baby are the parents. Whether they choose to have you at the hospital for the birth or ask for you to wait three weeks to visit, appreciate that you are being given the privilege of seeing their child. Complaining or showing disappointment only encourages the parents to include you less.
All the Pregnant Women/New Parents in the World

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Being crafty

I've been feeling rather antsy this past week or so about getting things ready for baby Sweet T to arrive. There wasn't/isn't much to do, but I have been feeling the need to get things accomplished. Hopefully, that's no indication that she wants to join us any time too soon, but either way, stuff is getting done!

Her crib got set up last weekend (Adelyn has already generously lent a couple of her stuffed friends to help fill the space for now) and last night--thanks in large part to my wonderful friend Whitney for being way better at crafting than I, and my sweet husband who helped point out what we were doing wrong along the way--I finished her mobile.

I made Adelyn's mobile after finding the idea on Pinterest, and while it was a lot more complicated than I expected, it was totally worth it and so cute in the end.

So, I found another idea for a mobile for baby #2, and have been itching to make it since before I was even pregnant with this girl.

This is the picture of the one I modeled my plans after:

Looks simple enough, right?

So, I got supplies:

A ton of paint color samples from Lowes and Home Depot:

A styrofoam hoop, some straight pins, and fishing line:
Got some glue sticks, found a couple of raindrop templates to print and use for cutting my shapes, and then found the bag of fluff leftover from Adelyn's mobile.

First, I cut all of the paint colors into rain drop shapes of two different sizes. My fingers were killing me after about five drops, but I managed to get a lot done and then Nathan chipped in and helped me finish. Then we laid them all out to get an idea of the arrangement:
Whitney came over last night to help with the assembly, and at first we struggled with logistics and took a few minutes to get going. We initially thought we would measure exact lengths of fishing line, distances between drops, and distances between strands on the foam hoop...but we soon decided that was way too complicated, and opted to "eyeball it" instead.

So, we glued a back and front of each raindrop onto long strands of fishing line, four drops per strand. We used a coat hanger to keep all of our strands up off the ground once they were glued, and it helped us visualize things to see the drops hanging also. I have to admit, in the time it took me to do three strands, Whitney did five--she definitely kicked my butt at this whole process. Getting all eight strands done took about an hour, but they were looking great!

Next we had to decide how to make the "cloud" and in which order to do things--attach the strands to the hoop and then make it into a cloud, or flufferize it first and attach strands next. We spent a while brainstorming and trying different plans, and Nathan helped find holes in our plans. Eventually, Whitney had a vision and just started wrapping big pieces of fluff around the hoop and then tying them in place with the fishing line and adding pins as needed. Miraculously, it worked!

Once we had a nice fluffy cloud, we started tying the strands around the hoop and then added strings going up to the hook that will hang the whole mobile from the ceiling. It looked awesome and I wanted to hang it right away, but since Adelyn was sleeping, we had to find a place for it to hang out overnight--so it got to stay in our bathroom where there is conveniently a hook already in the ceiling.
It is now hanging beautifully over her bed. Now I just have one more craft to make for her wall, a lavender crib sheet to find for her bed, and a couple of drawers to stock with small diapers--then we're as ready as we'll ever be!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The story of Adelyn (Part 4)

Nathan showed up right around the time that I headed to labor and delivery. I filled him in and told him that this was definitely it--I knew I couldn't go any longer. We met our new nurse, got situated with IV's and monitors, and talked to a few family members to let them know what was happening. The contractions were showing up every 2-3 minutes and were very strong in intensity. Within the hour, I moved from pretty uncomfortable to nearly hysterical with pain. With each contraction, I felt like I was being ripped in half and burned from the inside. I tried to breathe and focus and stay calm, but I was so overwhelmed by the pain and also the fear that came with knowing these contractions were the real deal. I vomited in between contractions a few times, and prayed for relief.

Because all of my residents were away on their retreat, the attending physician, Dr. M, came with a family medicine resident who had likely spent little time in labor and delivery. She checked my cervix so slowly and painfully, and apparently had never learned to wait during contractions so as not to cause additional pain. She seemed to have no idea what she was doing, but finally pronounced my cervix closed, and I was told that I was not in true labor. Both doctors, as well as the nurse caring for me, seemed unimpressed by my pain, and Dr. M gave me a speech about how as long as I was "just contracting", baby could hold out and we were going to continue to aim for 34 weeks.

As the doctors left, I cried and told Nathan I couldn't do it...that there was just no way I could go back to my room and wait two more weeks in this unbearable pain. The nurse told me I could have pain medicine, and I quickly agreed to take anything available. She gave me Fentanyl, a very strong narcotic that I had never had before, and it quickly made me feel extremely dizzy and nauseous and uncomfortable, while barely reducing my pain. I had rated my pain a 10/10 before the medicine, and after about five minutes, gave it a 9/10, hoping that there was more relief to come. Unfortunately, that's about as good as it got, and within a few more minutes seemed to have ceased to help at all. I was told I could have more after an hour, and tried one more dose before deciding that it was not nearly worth the additional discomfort for such a minuscule reduction in pain.

A few hours went by, and again my cervix was checked for progress, and found to have made none. Nathan and I both attempted to plead with the doctors and explain that I am not usually a hysterical person, but again Dr. M told me that he only wanted what was best for my baby, as if we were not even more concerned with the very same. Finally, the shift ended and our unconcerned nurse was replaced by one who immediately seemed much kinder and more personable, as well as sympathetic to my misery. She asked if blood work had been done yet, and got an order to send some.

I never thought I would be so excited to hear the words "your white count is 14,000." That meant that infection had set in sneakily, not causing the high fever or uterine tenderness that I had been told to watch for, but rather had sent me horrific contractions. Finally, Dr. M had to re-think his plan to make me wait to deliver. He came back to talk with us, and put his hand on my abdomen, pronouncing "oh, you really ARE contracting..." as if my tears and gripping the bed rails had not been evidence enough. Still hesitantly, he said that it seemed we would have to go ahead and do a c-section after all.

At that point, things finally began to move quickly. Nathan stepped out to call our parents, while my nurse apologetically explained that putting in my catheter now before waiting until I was numb in the OR would help things go faster. I agreed, and barely noticed the sting as she expertly did what she had to do. We were all set to roll and had just unlocked the wheels to my bed when a call for the doctor to come quickly next door for an emergency was made. I'd like to say that I stopped and prayed for a safe delivery for that mom and her baby, but truthfully I think that I prayed instead that they would hurry before too many more contractions had to happen.

Just a few minutes later, that baby thankfully was safely out, and we were back on track. Nathan was escorted to get washed up and put on scrubs, while I was taken in to the OR and greeted by the anesthesiologist and his student. I told them to please hurry, and they explained the procedure for spinal anesthesia, then helped me sit on the edge of the bed while they got ready. They stopped to comment on my scoliosis, and then the anesthesiologist gave instructions to the student for what sounded like his very first time ever inserting a needle into someone's spine--yikes. I worried only briefly that I would be paralyzed by a mistake, but soon felt the quick pinch of the needle and pressure as they got it in place.

Numbness spread quickly, first down one side of my body and then the other, and brought sweet relief. I told them both that they were my new best friends, and they laughed and helped me get positioned on the bed and ready for action. I heard the nurses asking Dr. M who he wanted to assist him since the residents weren't available, and he asked for a nurse who they told him was not there that night, so he decided to go ahead on his own. Nathan came in then, followed by a nurse who said "Katie is here and said to wait--she wants to scrub in!"
"Thank God!" was my response, as Katie was one of my wonderful residents--the one with the red glasses. The other staff members laughed a little, and Dr. M mumbled "gee thanks" since I obviously didn't appreciate his many years of experience, but I didn't care--I was just so glad to know that someone I knew and trusted would be there.

She came in after a minute, and I told her I was so glad to see her, and then settled in with oxygen running and finally a slight sense of nervous anticipation over what was about to happen. Nathan took his place beside me and the doctors got started. I felt some pressure with the incision, and then more tugging and pulling. After a minute, we began to hear the two doctors discussing what they were seeing  as being strange and unusual, and saying "that explains a lot"...which made us wonder what in the world was happening. They told me that my uterus was essentially divided in half and extending only up and to the right, trapping baby girl in the position she had been in for weeks and causing my body to run out of room for her to grow. They told me it was going to take a little work to get her out, and I felt a lot of discomfort as they pushed and pulled.

At one point, Red Glasses seemed to be attempting to do a handstand on my liver, but suddenly I felt a big release of pressure and heard "Here she comes! She's peeing!" and someone telling Nathan to stand up and look. I held my breath and felt tears coming to my eyes as I waited to hear something, and finally heard the sweetest little cry I could imagine. I asked Nathan "Is she okay? Is she tiny??" as he sat back down with tears in his eyes, and he smiled and said "No, she's big! She's perfect." I breathed a big sigh of relief as he followed up his first comments with a wide-eyed "I saw your guts", making the anesthesiologists and me laugh a little.

The team from the NICU had been waiting in the wings to whisk baby girl away for immediate care, and Nathan was told to go with her. I don't remember a lot of the immediate details from the rest of the surgery because once that relief set in, I was pretty dazed and wiped out by the adrenaline from it all. They finished closing me up and sent me with my sweet nurse from L&D to a recovery room, where Nathan came after a few minutes to update me. He showed me pictures of our beautiful girl--bright red all over and perfectly beautiful, and then asked me which name I thought was best. I told him without seeing her in person, I couldn't be sure, but he told me he knew which one he wanted--Adelyn Piper. Since that had been my favorite choice all along, I gladly agreed and was happy to hear that our sweet girl was doing okay so far and even breathing a little on her own.

Here's her first picture before they got her hooked up to lots of machines:

Eventually, the doctors each came to check in on me. First, Red Glasses came and smiled as I thanked her profusely for showing up just in time. She told us that she had been out at dinner with everyone on the retreat, and something had pushed her to leave early and get back to the hospital about two hours before planned. I knew that something was God providing a bright spot for me in the midst of all the chaos, and silently thanked Him too for that blessing. She then went on to explain a bit of what they had been discussing during my surgery about my uterus, and told me that Dr. M would tell me more.

He came in next, and didn't waste time before apologizing for how he had made me feel earlier in the day. He promised the he had only intended to do what was best for Adelyn, but told me that had we not operated when we did, he felt sure that my uterus would have ruptured. He explained that I had a division coming down from the top of my uterus, separating it into essentially two halves. Adelyn had implanted on one side and only that right side had been able to stretch and grow, and had caused her to run out of room prematurely and likely cause my water to break at that point. He said that the top of my uterus was stretched so thinly that it wouldn't have taken many more contractions to rupture it, so that it was very good we got her out when we did.
This picture shows an idea of what my uterus would look like not-pregnant.

After recovery, I was moved back to my old "home" where my mom, sister, brother-in-law, and Nathan's mom and grandma were waiting. It was around midnight and they all looked tired, but welcomed me back and listened to my recap of our crazy day. I had warned them in advance that until I had gotten a chance to see Adelyn for myself, I didn't want anyone else to get to meet her first, and they understood. They each congratulated me and headed home to sleep, promising to come back soon to meet her once I had gotten the chance.

I could hardly stand the wait to see her, and kept asking my nurse when I could go. I had started being able to wiggle my toes during recovery, but still had a few hours before regaining control of my legs and being allowed up into a wheelchair. My incision was still nice and numb, so while I was weak and off balance, they carefully got me set in my chair and helped me down the hallway to the NICU. 

I felt like a kid on Christmas morning, and kept looking at each baby we passed until we finally got to the far corner and stopped in front of an isolette. I had no words as I saw her for the first time--nothing like I had imagined or expected--just a perfect little girl who was strangely unfamiliar to me. I silently took her in while her nurse explained the different things I was seeing--a "bubble CPAP" machine was covering her face, and while she was breathing on her own, it was helping keep her lungs inflated so that she wouldn't get too tired and get into distress later. She had an IV with a lot of tape around her arm that was giving her fluids and antibiotics due to the infection that had been in my uterus, and also a small tube in her mouth that would later be used for feeding.
I knew to expect all of those things, and while I wished I could better see her little face, I was thrilled just to be allowed to rest my fingers lightly on her belly and feel her soft skin, knowing she was really here, and really mine. They told us she was 3lbs 9oz, 16 inches long, and had come out with Apgar scores of 8 and 9--great scores even for a full-term baby! We got to stay with her for a little while before heading back to my room to finally unwind and get some rest.

I began working on pumping breastmilk for her right away, and spent Thursday getting my catheter out and working hard on peeing normally, as well as feeling pain begin to settle in as the anesthesia wore off gradually. Moving even slightly was very difficult and painful, but I knew I had to bounce back quickly in order to start caring for Adelyn. I was allowed to hold her for the first time that evening, and spent a few glorious minutes soaking in the feeling of having her in my arms and feeling her move on the outside of my body--such a strange thing to take in.

Over the next few days, she continued to do great and was upgraded from the CPAP machine to regular oxygen in her nose. We were frequently told by her nurses that she was "feisty", which we thought sounded like a good trait in a preemie. Normal weight loss took her down to right around 3lbs at her lowest, and jaundice set in and caused her to need to be under lights and limited how often we could hold her, but we still got some quick snuggles here and there.

The Sunday after she was born, after 40 days in the hospital, I finally got to go home. It was bittersweet leaving with empty arms, and waiting for the car next to another new mom with her baby in her arms, but I was just so thankful to be going home and knowing my girl was healthy and well. I was sore and exhausted, but never more excited to ride in a car or walk through Target than I was that day.

For five more weeks, Adelyn stayed in the NICU working on breathing, growing, staying warm, and feeding. She slowly gained weight and moved to less restrictive cribs, got rid of all oxygen support for a little while before needing it back, and learned to breastfeed like a champ. I drove to her every day to try to spend as many hours as I could at her side and get to feed her as many times as possible, while Nathan did his best to visit after work and on weekends whenever he could. We called each night to talk to her nurse before we'd go to bed, to check and make sure everything was going well and hear how much she had weighed that night.

As time went on, we were told that it wasn't really normal for babies born at 32 weeks to need oxygen like she did, but since there was no obvious reason for why she couldn't function well without it, the doctors expected her to get rid of it any day. After hearing this for many days, but knowing everything else that she needed to do to be ready to go home had happened, I finally told her doctors that I wanted to bring her home with the oxygen and monitor. They arranged for us to spend one night in a room near the NICU so that we could practice caring for her on our own while still having support close by. We survived the night and were finally allowed to bring our sweet girl home!
She seemed pretty pleased with this turn of events :)

After 10 more weeks on oxygen, Adelyn finally kicked the habit and never looked back. We were so happy to turn in the equipment and finally have a chance to experience "normal" parenting. We still had a rough several months ahead of colic, fussiness, and many nights of not sleeping at all. Thankfully, Adelyn was so cute that we were able to love her in spite of what a hard baby she was!

18 months later, she's perfectly healthy and has no issues related to prematurity. She is small for her age, but on the growth charts and meeting all of her milestones on time or even early! She has transitioned from a fussy, sleepless baby into a very well behaved toddler who delights us constantly with her sweet, funny personality. We can't even begin to thank God enough for His goodness to us in bringing us through such an ordeal with such grace.

After one more miscarriage in the fall of last year, I finally planned surgery to correct my silly-shaped uterus, and successfully conceived just one month later. I am so thankful for every ache and pain of this pregnancy (in spite of how I often complain about it), because I know that every day I am pregnant is a gift and a blessing. I can't wait to bring you all a hopefully much more peaceful and uncomplicated birth story in about 10-12 weeks!

Jump to:

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The story of Adelyn (Part 3)

As I got settled in to my new room in the mother/baby unit, Nathan and I tried to relax and come down from the adrenaline of the long day we had just experienced. My first nurse had a pretty awful personality and we could tell right away that she was a slow-moving, lazy nurse, and it worried us that we might have an emergency overnight and she would fail to respond quickly and appropriately. We prayed, enjoyed food for the first time in many hours, and updated friends and family about what was happening.

The next few days were fairly uneventful--I had a detailed ultrasound by a specialist that showed our baby girl to be approximately 1lb 14oz. The thought of a baby less than 2lbs was daunting, and we made that our first goal--grow at least two more ounces! They told us that other than being on the small side for her gestation, everything looked perfect and the only issue was that there was no measurable fluid. I learned that fluid accumulates constantly, and that babies are constantly swallowing and peeing, so the fluid levels would be constantly changing, and I would be constantly leaking fluid--yuck. They told us we would get ultrasounds every three weeks to check growth and fluid levels. Twice each day I would be hooked up to monitors to check for contractions and watch baby's heart rate for any signs of distress. I became an expert at reading the monitor strips!

We met more doctors--our team of residents all made appearances over the first few days and at first we struggled to keep them straight because they were all pretty young brunettes. We gave them nicknames to keep them straight--Red Glasses, Touchy Feely (she always sat on the bed and patted my leg or hand when she stopped by), Dippity Doo (a term she used often to describe little drops in baby's heartrate on the monitor), and Dr. M whose name we somehow picked up on right away. There were also attending physicians who popped in here and there but had less contact with us--there were so many of them!

I found out that the mother/baby units had over 80 nurses, so meeting them all took a while, but I think I got most! Some of them weren't great, but several were amazing and so instrumental in helping us through those weeks.  Sweet Melissa was on orientation with another nice nurse, and was so kind and gentle and really took time to know us. Elizabeth went out of her way to return my tray with the wrong food all the way to the cafeteria so I could have what I wanted for dinner--even though it was almost the end of her shift and she was very busy! One Alyson told me her story of pProm and how her baby was a healthy kid--so encouraging to hear! Kathie kept us entertained all day with great stories and parenting wisdom, and encouraged us spiritually as well. Lois was so experienced and wise and made us feel like we were in very good hands--and she worked all the time, so if we ever had a question we could always ask her even if she wasn't my nurse that day. Sweet Anne was so gentle and got my IV started after another nurse couldn't, and also sat and held my hand while I cried out of fear one day. Allison made me laugh and provided a Do Not Disturb sign on a morning when I had not slept all night and was really tired of all the noises and interruptions. So many more of them contributed to my comfort and helped me through long, often lonely weeks, and I learned a lot about being a great nurse by being a patient.

I was allowed a shower each day, and one wheelchair ride, which at first I did not take advantage of often. Valentine's Day was an exception, when my sweet husband surprised me with dinner from Outback and we took a "romantic" roll down to eat in the cafeteria and then sit outside. I had visitors most days--my grandpa nearly every morning would come and read Scripture to me and pray with me, and Nathan's mom and grandma made an effort to come at least a couple of times each week. Many friends brought me good food, which was SO appreciated, as I learned quickly that the food from the cafeteria was mostly all terrible and often unidentifiable. Sometimes I was lucky to get silverware, condiments, or a drink on my tray--if it was all there I was amazed!

A couple of weeks in, I was very scared to find that I was bleeding a fairly good amount after a nice visit and pizza dinner with my family. I called my nurse, who immediately hooked me up to the monitor to keep an eye on baby, and one of the doctors came down to check my cervix. Everything looked okay, and I was told that after pProm, it is extremely common for the placenta to partially detach from the wall of the uterus and cause bleeding, and that as long as I wasn't in a huge pool of blood, most likely it wouldn't be a big emergency. It happened several times, and while I knew to expect it and not panic, it was always hard not to get antsy when it happened.

At 30 weeks, we had the next ultrasound--still no fluid around, but baby had grown to 2lbs, 10oz! A small victory, but we were so happy to hear good progress, and set our sights next on a whopping three pounds. We had taken a tour of the NICU during the first few days of my stay, and seen many babies born as early as 23 weeks and weighing even less than a pound, so we knew that we were incredibly blessed to have made it so far. The doctors and nurses kept telling me how surprised they were to come back from days off and find me still pregnant, and we started to believe that the goal of 34 weeks might really be possible!

Here's a shot of me at 30 weeks, 5 days, looking about as pregnant as ever:

Around that time, I had a scary day where during my monitoring session, our baby's heartrate took a big nosedive--from around 160 down to 60-70, and it was terrifying. The alarm went off on the machine, and a couple of nurses came running in to get me to flip on my side and try to re-position the monitor to make sure it hadn't just lost the right spot. Her heart rate picked back up, but it happened again a minute later, and I earned my first trip back to a room in labor and delivery where I was given extra fluids and checked for signs of labor. After a few hours of baby behaving herself and things looking stable, I got sent back "home" to my room.

At that point, we still had not settled on a name. We had written our choices on the white-board in my room, and every time a nurse, doctor, visitor, or other person came in, we would have them vote. We wanted to decide, but I knew until I saw her I couldn't be sure, so we kept counting votes and telling everyone we would let them know when we knew. The residents joked that whoever managed to be on call when I delivered would get to choose, and I think they began to feel a little competitive over who would be the one when the time came. We loved them all and had grown to trust and respect them immensely, so we knew it would be great no matter what.

My wonderful friend Steph decided that I needed maternity pictures, in spite of the circumstances. She came to me with everything needed for the occasion, and gave me a haircut and blow-dry, did my make-up, and clothed and accessorized me. We took my wheelchair ride, and maybe stretched the limits of what I was supposed to be doing while out riding JUST a tad, but we had a great time making everyone wonder what the heck we were doing with me laying in the grass in the hospital courtyard. I didn't look nearly as pregnant as most people do at that stage, partly because of lack of fluid taking up space in my belly. I had to work hard to arch my back and stick my bump out to try to make the pictures look like I was pregnant at all! It felt ridiculous, but I am so thankful for the great pictures we got to remember that time:

I joked that after being up and out of bed so much I would probably go into labor, but didn't really expect it to be true until I started feeling some mild contractions that night. Once again, I moved over to labor and delivery and got flooded with IV fluids, and while it took the whole night to get things under control, my cervix didn't dilate and baby stayed mostly stable, so I got to head back "home" in the morning. I will confess that at one point I was so hungry that I made Nathan break the rules and sneak me some spaghetti against his will. I never even liked spaghetti before that day, but have appreciated it so much more ever since!

Back in my room, week 31 started to get hard. I was crampy and uncomfortable most of the time, and feeling really burnt out and discouraged. I wasn't sleeping well, was tired of the food, tired of needing to ask so many people to do things for me, and feeling overwhelmed by it all. I started having more contractions--mostly painless, but I could tell that my body was gearing up for something. My doctors told me it was likely that things were "brewing", Towards the end of the week, I began running a temperature between 99.0-99.5. The doctors told me that wasn't really a fever and nothing they were concerned about, but I knew it was different than my baseline, and was getting anxious about infection. Tuesday brought the change in weeks--32 weeks pregnant! I was antsy. I couldn't sit still, wanted to clean and organize my room. I was tired of looking at the same scenery, and started moving things around. Nathan kept telling me to get back in bed, but I told him I couldn't take it anymore and I had to "nest".

My residents informed me that Wednesday they would all be gone on a team-building retreat, and none of them would be back until close to midnight. They instructed me to behave and not to let anything happen without them, and I told them I'd do my best. I went to bed Tuesday night, but found myself too uncomfortable to sleep. By morning, I was in pain, exhausted, and irritated by all the noises outside my room. One of my favorite nurses, Allison, stopped by before she got off work, and put the sign on my door to keep anyone from bothering me so I could get a little more rest, and then made me promise to hang in there until she worked next over the weekend. I promised to try.

With the help of some pain medicine and that sign, I fell asleep for a couple of hours, but woke up feeling much worse and having some more intense contractions. I knew things were about to get serious. I took a long shower, shaved my legs, and then got back in bed and finally called Nathan to call out of work and head to the hospital, and my nurse to tell her I was feeling contractions and needed the monitor. She hooked me up, and within minutes the contractions were showing up prominently, and baby took a big dip in heart rate. The alarm went off long enough for my heart to feel like it had stopped forever, but finally quieted as the nurses ran in and started getting things moving. I got IV fluids running wide open, and while my nurse called the doctor and L&D to let them know I would be coming, sweet nurse Anne came and held me while I cried. Once I started, I had a lot of pent-up fear to let out, so for the few remaining minutes before getting wheeled down the hallway, she prayed with me and shed a few tears by my side, and then wished me well as I headed for my final trip to a delivery room.

To be continued...

Jump to:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 4

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The story of Adelyn (Part 2)

Once we knew we had a heartbeat, we allowed ourselves complete excitement and began sharing our news. My doctors had no explanation for why I was bleeding, but continued to monitor me with ultrasounds at seven, eight, and eleven weeks before finally saying we could relax and move forward knowing that everything looked perfect. Morning sickness had kicked in by then, and at first was mainly just nausea all day every day without actual vomiting. That soon changed, and I began vomiting a couple times a day--more after working all night, or at work if I didn't sleep enough before my shift. My doctors prescribed one medication and then another, but I saw little relief.

I hoped that as I entered the second trimester, the nausea would stop, but instead it got worse and worse and I was losing weight and feeling pretty miserable. At 16 weeks, my best friend had her baby and I spent all night by her side in the delivery room, then went home to sleep just a couple of hours and went back to spend the first night with her so she could sleep and recover from a rough labor and a c-section. By early the following morning after no sleep and many feedings and diaper changes, I was exhausted and feeling extremely nauseous. I started vomiting around 6 am, and continued to do so every 10-30 minutes for the next several hours. Finally, after getting a third prescription medicine in suppository form (yuck), my mom came and graciously drove me home while I puked in an umbrella bag while sitting in the seat beside her.

The same situation happened again at 18 weeks, 20 weeks, and various days that were less severe but still miserable. I tried every trick in the book, but was told by my doctors that some women just stay sick the whole time and it seemed I was one of those lucky ones. Thankfully, the misery of morning sickness had become balanced by the joy of feeling precious little kicks--first little flutters around 14 weeks that I doubted, but by 16 I was sure and soon after that, even Nathan could feel the movements from the outside. At 18 weeks, we found out what I had known all along, that our baby was a girl!
We were thrilled--we had pictured ourselves with lots of little girls, hopefully a boy in the mix somewhere, but we had a feeling we'd be seeing pink first.

At 23 weeks, I started feeling extremely crampy and uncomfortable. I took Tylenol, drank more water, layed on a heating pad, and took baths, but nothing helped. After two days of feeling icky, I finally gave in and made a tearful call to the on-call doctor, who very grumpily told me that he could obviously not diagnose me over the phone and if I thought I was having contractions, I should go to L&D.

I was afraid of being wrong and feeling silly, but we drove to Rex and checked in and got hooked up to the monitors. The nurse asked me if I was feeling any contractions and if so, how often. I told her maybe every 10-15 minutes, but I really wasn't sure. About an hour later, she came back and told me that sure enough I WAS contracting--every 2-3 minutes! She told me she had paged the doctor, and soon he came in to assess me. He didn't greet me or Nathan, didn't offer any explanations or reassurances--just told the nurse to give me medication to stop the contractions and call him with the results. 

I was pretty hurt--he was a doctor that I had worked with often and had seen throughout my pregnancy and really liked...but as a scared mom who was in pre-term labor and unsure the implications, I was pretty shocked not to receive any more compassion. The nurse was wonderful, and gave me the first shot of Terbutaline--the worst drug EVER! I soon had a racing, pounding heart, light-headedness, and was sweating and feeling extremely anxious. Just when I thought it couldn't get worse, I was told it was time for another dose, and that the contractions weren't slowing down yet. I thought I might have a heart attack, but finally after three doses and a few more hours of fluids, my contractions were spaced out and my cervix was still closed, so I was told that I could go home. The doctor came back and once again spoke very little to me, gave a quick order to the nurse, and left without any kind of pleasantries. My opinion of him was forever changed.

I went home on "light duty" and with instructions to follow up in a couple of days, which I did. Things stayed stable and after a couple more frequent visits to my OB office, they did a test that is supposed to predict whether you will go into labor within 14 days. Mine was negative, and I was cleared to work and carry on as usual.

15 days later, I hadn't had any contractions or cramping for a few days. I hadn't even been nauseous for a few days...I was finally feeling great! Nathan and I both had the night off of work and the following night as well, so we spent the day being lazy, talking about plans for the next few weeks before baby girl's arrival, and finally going to get a late-night milkshake from Cook-Out. We drank our milkshakes while listening to some relaxing Iron & Wine songs and talking to my belly--telling her how we'd teach her all about good music one day.

We decided to go to bed around 2am, and I went and got in while Nathan went to the kitchen to clean up a bit. Right after I got comfortable, I felt a strange gush of fluid. I hadn't had any issues with baby kicking my bladder, or "sneezy pees", or any of those types of issues that some pregnant ladies have, so I knew I hadn't peed on myself. I jumped up and went to the bathroom, where the floodgates opened and my heart sank. I yelled for Nathan, and when he came to the doorway, I said "Do you hear that? I'm not peeing..." and watched as he realized what I meant--my water had broken, big time.

I took a deep breath, asked Nathan to get me some clothes, and got up to call my doctor. I prayed for that awful doctor who had dealt so unkindly with me before not to be the one, and was so relieved to receive a quick call back from one of the doctors that I loved. I told her what had happened and that we were about half an hour away, and she told me to get there safely and that she would be ready when I arrived.

The drive to Rex was painfully slow--I kept telling Nathan not to speed, that it wouldn't help us to wreck on the way or get pulled over and waste time. There were no cars on the road for the most part, and we rode in silence mostly, holding hands and praying hard. I told him I thought we should hold off on calling everyone until we knew what was happening and where I'd be transferred. That lasted all of 30 seconds before I dialed my mom--and immediately burst into tears as soon as she answered in the worried voice she always has when answering a late-night call. "My water just broke" was all I could say, and I knew she had no idea what to say either. I finally managed to breathe enough to tell her not to come anywhere yet, but just to pray and that we'd let her know where I would be.

Finally, we arrived and Nathan dropped me off at the Women's Center entrance. I walked inside, fluid continuing to soak all the way down to my shoes. I told the security guard I needed to go upstairs, and headed for the elevator. Waiting for me in the hallway upstairs was a nurse with a kind face, who told me that when the shoes are wet, they know it's the real deal. She got me into bed and a gown quickly, and Nathan made it in just before my sweet doctor showed up. I could tell she had been sleeping, but she rubbed my leg and told me it was going to be okay, and started doing the tests needed to verify that my water had indeed broken. 

Everything came back unquestionably positive, and the monitor showed a few contractions, but thankfully my cervix was still closed and baby's heartbeat was strong and steady. My doctor explained that as long as I was stable and not about to deliver imminently, that I would be transferred to either UNC or Wake Med as soon as a bed was ready for me. I was given two IV's to get fluids running quickly, a urinary catheter, and a lot of information about what would happen next. They told me they were starting Magnesium in my IV which would help stop contractions, and also protect baby's brain from Cerebral Palsy--terrifying words that  made our minds begin to race with worry. I was then told that a bed was available at Wake Med and that we were just waiting for the transport team to get ready for me. 

As we waited, a nurse came with an oxygen mask and told me that "baby was getting a little stressed" and needed some more oxygen. I knew enough to know that was bad news, and that the type of mask she gave me was the one that delivers the most oxygen--more than "just a little". Soon, the transport team showed up, and if I were making this into a movie, this is when the 3 Stooges theme song would begin to play. They got report and told Nathan where to go, and got me rolling. I made it down the halls okay, but the first struggle began as they worked on loading me into the ambulance. They designated one of the paramedics to drive, because she was the newest and the other two needed to be in the back with me. The one leading the team was a lady I recognized from my orientation at Rex just 9 months earlier--and she was the MOST experienced of the three! They bobbled my stretcher into the back after a bit of struggle, and then spent about 10 minutes trying to figure out where to put everything and where the spare oxygen tank was since mine was nearly empty. I had a bad feeling as we pulled away, but after hitting the curb just a few times, we finally settled onto the highway and miraculously made it safely across town to Wake Med.

Once I got admitted and the nurses had gotten all my tubes and monitors transferred over, I met the first of many doctors I would get to know well. She was a cute brunette with red glasses, and looked not a day over 21. She introduced herself, began to assess me, and explained that what had happened to me was called pPROM--preterm premature rupture of membranes. She told me it was not my fault in any way, and that I was in the best place now for my baby to be cared for well. The dangers were explained--I could go into labor at any point, baby could become distressed and need to come out, the umbilical cord or another body part could slip outside my cervix, or I could get an infection in my uterus due to there not being any barrier now to bacteria. She did a quick ultrasound and found that baby was breech, and told me there was little to no chance that she would turn without fluid--meaning the natural birth I had planned was no longer an option, and I would undoubtedly require a c-section.

She then told me that most often, women in my situation deliver within 36 hours, but that the goal was to prevent all of those complications and keep me pregnant until 34 weeks, when baby would be safer on the outside than inside where the risks still existed. Next, the head of the neonatology team came in to discuss with me what would happen if I delivered right away. He told Nathan and I that at 27 weeks, our baby had a great chance of survival, but also a great chance of disability. The possibilities ranged from mild learning disabilities to severe brain damage, but he encouraged us that being in a hospital with a level 4 NICU gave us a great advantage, and that we were lucky to be pregnant with a baby girl, because girls statistically do better when born prematurely than boys, who often suffer what the NICU people call "wimpy white boy syndrome".

I got IV antibiotics running to help ward off infection, and a shot in my butt of steroids to help baby's lungs mature faster. The magnesium was still running as well, which meant that I had to keep my urinary catheter in and not get out of bed or eat until the infusion was over. After a long day in labor and delivery, I was finally deemed stable enough to get a permanent room on the mother/baby unit, and was transferred over to the place I would call home for much longer than I knew at the time...

This picture taken by my very considerate husband (and posted to facebook, grr!) a few days later shows my feelings about my new situation:

To be continued...

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Friday, September 7, 2012

The story of Adelyn (Part 1)

In light of being 27 weeks pregnant today and making it through 2am without my water breaking, I can't help but think back to all of the craziness of my pregnancy and birth with Adelyn, so I thought I'd share her story. It will be long, so this is part one and more will come soon.

It really starts in 2009, when our journey to becoming parents began. After just six months of marriage, in the midst of nursing school, Nathan and I decided that we did not like the effects and implications of birth control pills, but rather than searching out alternatives, we naively thought that the chances of getting pregnant immediately were low and opted for the not trying/not preventing route. Much to our surprise, I soon found myself two days late and looking at two pink lines. We were terrified and excited...we had been talking about having babies since we were in high school, and knew we wanted lots and wanted them soon, but this was a little more real than we expected.

Just a couple of months after telling everyone and moving from shock, fear, and amazement to excitement and planning, we found out that I had miscarried, and even worse, that it was a rare type of pregnancy that can cause serious and even fatal consequences for the mother. After severe hemorrhaging, surgery, and the worst physical and emotional pain I could imagine, it was over and we were told that we had to wait 12 months to conceive again. We were devastated.

Six months later, we decided that everything had been cleared physically, and that emotionally we were ready to try again--and nursing school was only a few months from ending. So, we began trying--casually at first--in September. By January, we were discouraged and surprised to still not be pregnant--we hadn't yet become experts on fertility and conception and the struggles that millions of people face, even at our age. I did some research and learned some of the things we could do to increase our chances, and finally in April of 2010 we found ourselves pregnant again.

I was slated to start my first nursing job at Rex in just a couple of weeks, and would be getting great insurance coverage along with that, so we waited to tell anyone or make any appointments. Unfortunately, just 10 days after the positive test, we miscarried again. This time being very early, there was much less pain, and emotionally we were more able to cope and remind each other that we were trusting God's timing...but it still hurt and raised the question of whether we would ever be able to be pregnant, and if something might be wrong with me.

I started working, and after the initial orientation period, I was on night shift, like Nathan. We were attempting to work nights and still have normal daytime lives as much as possible, so my body was totally thrown off by the crazy sleep schedule. We had gone back to trying to conceive right away, but things were a little messed up by the changes, and it took a few months to get back on track. Nathan told me he wanted to know as little as possible about the process--that it was putting too much stress and pressure on him, and he wanted to just let it happen naturally. I understood, but it was tough for me to know my body so well by then and not be able to ignore the signs, but keep it to myself when the timing was right, when I was hopeful, and when I was disappointed. I found myself praying constantly for the faith to trust my God's perfect plan and timing, and for the obedience to worship Him alone and not the idol of being a mother.

My Nana died in August, and somehow I had the feeling that we would get pregnant that month, and that it would be a just seemed right that a little piece of Nana would stay with us that way. Sure enough, just a couple weeks after her death, I took a third positive pregnancy test. Okay, maybe it was a questionably positive test. I KNEW I was pregnant, so I could see that second line, even if Nathan couldn't. He tried to tell me it wasn't there, and help cushion the blow of another month of failing to get pregnant, but I was unconvinced and tested again the next day. This time there was no doubt--two pink lines that even Nathan could see. We looked at each other and both smiled and sighed...unsure whether to let ourselves be excited. We prayed right away, and decided we were going to be hopeful and expect the best and ignore the doubt.

That got hard when just a few hours later, I started bleeding again. By this point, I had very little hope that this could mean anything but a third loss. I made an appointment for blood work as soon as the office opened the following week, and went in to check my hormone levels. The results took a day to get back, and they weren't very helpful--my hcg (pregnancy hormone) level was positive, but low. The way it works is that the number is supposed to double every 48-72 hours, so one test alone means nothing, but only the second test to see how much it has risen. So, we waited an excruciating few days to get my blood drawn again and get the results, and this time it was not too hcg had risen, but not doubled. The nurse told me we would test one more time, but not to get my hopes up too much. Finally, the third test was done and the results were in--my numbers had MORE than doubled! This time, the nurse ended the phone call with a "congratulations, you're pregnant!" and told me we would schedule an ultrasound for six weeks exactly, in hopes of seeing a heartbeat.

In the meantime, the bleeding continued, and we prayed and hoped and tried to think positively. We told our closest friends what was going on, and filled them in since they didn't know that I had even been pregnant the second time, and asked them to pray and hope with us. At six weeks, we finally had an ultrasound and saw the tiny flicker of a heart that had just begun to beat--a moment I will never forget.

Here is a lovely first look at our precious girl (with a helpful tag in case anyone couldn't figure out just what they were looking at in this shot):

To be continued...

Jump to:
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Thursday, September 6, 2012's what's for dinner.

So, I promised to return with the recipe if my Beef and Broccoli was a success, and here I am! We all decided it's definitely a keeper, with a couple more modifications next time.

The recipe originally came from Sparkpeople, which is a weight-loss/calorie counting site, so I might have known that it needed a little more salt, but if you want to keep it low sodium, it wasn't bad. The recipe says it makes 4 servings, but we ate almost all of it with two adults plus a toddler (although she ate pretty well!). I have a small container of leftovers, but it's less than a typical serving. In all honesty, we are bad at for two adults and two children, it would probably be perfect.

1lb lean stew beef (we bought a big chunk of beef and I bravely cut it into pieces instead of buying it pre-cut)
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2-3 cups water (I used 2 and it was plenty)
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce (or regular if you want more salt)
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups chopped broccoli
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/2 sliced red pepper
(optional: red pepper flakes to taste)

Brown beef with garlic in a wok or pan that is deep enough to hold meat+liquid (my beef was marinated in OJ and I poured the little bit that was in the bag into the pan).
Add water and soy sauce, and if desired, red pepper flakes to give it a kick.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cover--let simmer 2 hours.
Add flour to thicken sauce
Add carrots--cook 3 mins
Add broccoli--cook 2 minutes
Add red pepper--cook 2-3 more minutes
Serve over rice if desired (I used single serving cups of minute rice since Nathan is low-carbing right now, and it was a perfect portion for me).


Monday, September 3, 2012

Real life

How far along?  26 weeks, 3 days
Total weight gain: um, yikes...17lbs--which is making my goal weight seem a little unlikely as a stopping point. Also, everyone says my belly is tiny, which begs the question: where is all of this weight going??
Maternity clothes? definitely...all other shirts are now awkwardly too short in the front
Stretch marks? no, and I am finally in a good routine of faithfully lotioning the bump in hopes that there will be no stretch marks...
Sleep:  yes please, all the time.
Best moment this week: getting down to less than 100 days until she's here!

Miss Anything? sleeping on my belly
Movement: so much
Food cravings: finally got Jimmy Johns, so I am in good shape until the next one strikes!
Anything making you queasy or sick: it is happening a lot during meals lately, but thankfully it is fleeting and usually goes away
Gender: princess, ballerina, diva, girl.

Labor Signs: not today
Symptoms: all of them...ha. There is no doubt that I am pregnant.
Belly Button in or out? I'm afraid it's is not going to stay in there for 13-14 more weeks
Wedding rings on or off? on, no problems there

Happy or Moody most of the time: :)
Looking forward to:  Friday morning at 2am--if my water doesn't break by then, it will be a victory that I made it farther than with Adelyn

This girl is so very active, loves the sound of her daddy's voice, loves to kick/punch/headbutt my right floating rib, and is starting to seem more and more like a reality instead of a far off concept.

Nothing too exciting happening around our house...we have been working hard at meal planning/budgeting/shopping wisely, and last week we did a pretty good job. We shopped today for this week's meal plan, and spent more than we hoped, but we also bought a lot of meat that should last us through the next couple of weeks as well. I got a good printable for meal planning here and am hoping to use that to be consistent with this.
Last week I made this spiced chicken for the first time, and it was good (would have been better if I had really followed the recipe instead of "winging it"...mine was a little too spicy and salty, but it's a keeper. This week I am trying beef and broccoli which I have never made before, but we are so tired of we'll see how it goes. If it's a winner I'll share the modifications I am making to the recipe, but if you don't hear about this one again, assume it was a failure ;)

Other than that, we went to the opening game at ECU with my parents, and while it was a great game and a great victory against Appalachian State, it was also a million degrees with direct sun and no breeze. We left at halftime, still got some great sunburn, and came home totally overheated and wiped out. Go Pirates.

Adelyn did amazing for a long day being babysat by my aunt, and once again reminded us that she's actually a really good toddler. We sometimes fail to give her enough credit for how easy she is now, because she was SUCH a hard baby. My aunt said she didn't fuss once all day, and she took a two hour nap! I don't know how that happened, because as it is, she is jumping up and down in her crib saying "manamanamanamana" over and over. We must be doing something wrong at our house...

We are getting close to deployment time for Nathan, and while I can't post specifics about where/when he is going on the internet, it is getting to be soon and real and a little daunting. We have a lot of things we want to accomplish before he goes, and not nearly enough weekends/days off to make it all happen. We are working hard on our marriage, our finances, and communicating about how we are going to get through this first BIG is going to be an adventure. We also have a lot of little things to do before Baby Sweet T makes her debut in only about 3 months...eek! I'll be posting soon about the crafts I have planned to finish the girls' room. Wow, two girls. It's getting real.