Sunday, May 6, 2012

Now, how do I get to my blog again?

(WARNING: This is long; mostly for my benefit - posterity and all.)

Yes, I'm a slacker.

First off, allow me to apologize for delaying this long in posting - frankly, it's embarrassing. I'm sorry - for anyone still out there. I've waited far too long, so now I must set my pride aside and fill you in ;-)

On the tail of the last post, I was put on modified bed rest for 2 months. That was dreamy - with a toddler at home. I spent all day in my recliner, kicked back, with my laptop on my lap, working from home. My poor hubby had to do ALL the cooking, cleaning, daycare pick-ups and drop-offs, and childcare. I was very grateful to my church for organizing some meals for us, to at least take a little bit of the burden off of him.

Once I got to 32 weeks I relaxed a lot. Following the incident in the last post, I had 2 more bouts of contractions (all within the same week) but they were much more mild. So as the distance grew between the potential preterm labor and my expanding belly ... I felt more and more confident. By 37 weeks I was chuckling that I was worried about her coming early. My OB wanted to induce at 39 weeks, but I convinced her that 40 weeks was OK. We started non stress tests at 32 weeks just to be on the safe side. At 39 weeks, in hopes of avoiding another induction (they induced at 39w0d with Dru) I had my membranes swept and had my second round of induction encouraging acupuncture.



BIRTH STORY
It was the night of 12/23. I was 39w2d. I had had one round of minor contractions earlier in the week that warranted a call to our doula - which did not amount to any progress. Once contractions started this go-round, I wasn't sure if this was go-time. My in laws were in town and Berilac and I decided to take advantage of our more-than-likely last date night in awhile. We were seated, enjoying a DELICIOUS Vietnamese-fusion restaurant when I started feeling tightening in my abdomen. At this point, I had had so much discomfort in my pregnancy that this wasn't registering as anything of note for me. We finished dinner and decided to walk the local indoor mall (oooooh, hot night on the town). On our drive there (I was driving - the belly was too big to fit in the passenger seat, in front of Dru's rear facing car seat) I started experiencing some pretty intense contractions. Oh course, I didn't tell Berilac. I just breathed through them. We got to the mall and briskly indoors (it WAS almost Christmas and a chilly 32 degrees outside). I didn't even make it to the mall interior from the department store, when I sat on a bed and finally revealed to Berilac that I thought we needed to get home - that things were getting intense. (Honestly, we were both relieved as this was not turning into the epic night we had hoped for.) Of course, after getting home, the contractions stopped and I fell asleep (around 12:30, I'm a night owl).

I was awoken at 3:30AM with painful contractions. I tried going back to sleep - with no success. I "rested" until 7:00AM when I finally felt like I could courteously call my doula. We had the in laws take Dru next door to our neighbors house (who conveniently were traveling for the holiday and left us the keys to their place! We couldn't have planned that better!) All morning, I was walking the house, groaning, resting, eating bites of food, hydrating, and groaning some more. By 11:00AM we had the doula come over. It seemed as though anytime we spoke, and when she arrived, everything slowed down (I guess this is normal). But by 1:30PM, I was starting to feel an urge to push with contractions 2-3 mins apart - so we headed to the hospital. I did NOT know how I was going to make the 30 minute car ride to the hospital without having the baby in the car. In spite of the pain, I was with it enough to request that the hubby drive and the doula sit with me in the back of the car ... you know, in case we needed to deliver a baby back there! I like to call this next portion of my story - my kung fu panda maneuver ... I could hardly handle the pain at home, with all the freedom I wanted, how on Earth was I going to stand the pain while having to be sitting on my butt, confined to the back seat? I got into the car, I sat with my head down, and I willed the pain to go away. I was silent for 30 mins - not one cry, groan, or scream.

We arrived to the hospital and I was still pulling out the relaxation up the elevator and into my L&D room. Although the nurses worked as quickly as they could, it wasn't until 3:30PM that I was done being admitted and was finally checked. It was our goal to arrive to the hospital at 7cm dilated - in order to hopefully avoid the epidural. They checked me, I was 4.5cm dilated. I would say that I was disappointed, but instead I was relieved to be in the hospital and no longer en route. I remember one of the nurses saying - we need to staff here, this one's coming soon. And I was thinking ... what gives you this idea? The fact that I'm less than 1/2 way there? or the fact that my last active labor took over 24 hours and we were only a couple of hours into active labor? (I was entitled to my attitude - I was in labor!) I labored as best I could for an hour - the hospital smells were really bothering me. I progressed to 5.5cm. Thirty minutes later, at 5PM I was in serious pain. They checked me again and I was 6-7cm (the same place I stalled last time). I was having so much back labor that I couldn't imagine hours more of labor followed by birthing a posterior baby! (All late term ultrasounds showed a posterior presentation.) I demanded the epidural.

Because we were at a teaching hospital, we were all waiting for the attending doctor to arrive. I didn't get my epidural until 5:30 and because I told them that I had experienced a drop in blood pressure during my last epidural (at Dru's birth) they decided to start with a low and slow dose. I.was.freaking.out. The pain was incredible and having to labor on my back in a bed was NOT OK. I could feel the baby making it's way to the light, trying to escape through the exit. The pain relief did not come until 6:00PM a full HOUR after I demanded an epidural ... perhaps I should have planned better? At 6:10PM my OB encouraged me to start pushing. I pushed for less than 15 mins and at 6:24PM on Christmas Eve our beautiful daughter Dimple (not her real name but her LOTR name, like the rest of us have) was born. She was 8lbs 3oz. and 20.5 inches long. (Just shy of her brother's measurements.)



We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas in the hospital, struggling with recovery and breastfeeding. Dru did not come down and meet his sister, as he had a runny nose and they wouldn't let him in. He stayed with Nana and Papa at home and called us to check in. Dru and Dimple are 2 years and 5 days apart.



RECOVERY/MATERNITY LEAVE/BREASTFEEDING
Recovery was pretty brutal - with everything that can happen down there. But I will say that recovery this time was MUCH quicker and more tolerable. I felt back to normal by 3 weeks. I was able to lift her while moving in and out of a chair (like I wasn't able to with him 2 years prior). My milk came in earlier. Breastfeeding stopped hurting MUCH earlier (a few weeks vs. 2 months with Dru) and overall, I did not experience PPD like I had with Dru. But it didn't stop there! Dimple started sleeping 9 hours a night by 5 weeks. At almost 6 weeks we found ourselves back in the NICU with RSV (same thing happened with Dru at 7 weeks!). She was admitted for 3 days and upon release, because she dropped from 60% to 40% in weight, they asked us to wake her at 6 hrs. So she would go to bed around 5P, we'd wake her at 11P, and she'd sleep until 5A for a quick meal and then back to bed until 8A ... AND she napped 2 out of every 3 hours during the day (similar to Dru, but better) ... I'll say, I believe God knew what we could handle and based on how easy both of our kids were - the answer is - not much! So because prior to going into the hospital she was sleeping 5P-2A and then again at 5A ... we thought that perhaps it would be better for her if we just let her wake on her own in the 12 hour window between 5P and 5A ... knowing she would only get one feed, we stopped waking her at the 6 hour mark - assuming she'd wake at the 9 hr mark ... well, she didn't and that girl was sleeping 9-12 hours a night between 5-11weeks, if we didn't wake her.



At 10 weeks we realized we NEEDED to get responsible about a childcare solution for our kids. I still had 10 weeks left of leave, but I wanted to make sure we found the perfect fit for our family (especially, given the fact that in our nanny search in August of last year when we lost Dru's nanny of 14 months, we interviewed FIVE nannies and didn't find anyone even close to suitable!) We started interviewing and the second nanny we talked to - we fell in love with! The only problem is that she wanted to start employment THAT next week, when Dimple turned 11w. So we decided to cut my maternity leave short (I returned at 15w rather than 20w); we started the nanny part time at 11w, paying her full time while we accrued hours to use in the coming weeks as comp time for date nights, etc. It was that week that we started giving Dimple a second daily bottle (all other feeds were nursing) however, during that time instead of pumping, I was so excited about my new found freedom that I got caught up in being able to go to the grocery store and stuff - and I inadvertently dropped a pumping/nursing session ... needless to say, my supply plummeted. By 12w (St. Patrick's Day no less, how can I forget?) instead of sleeping 9-12hrs overnight (without waking to feed!) she woke up every 3 hours. At first I thought it was a growth spurt, but three weeks later when we were still waking up 3x/night, I was moving on to considering it the 4 month sleep regression! It wasn't until later that I started to piece together that it might have been both of those combined with a falling supply. The other thing we considered was reverse cycling; since I had started back to work and since Dimple was getting a bottle from a new caregiver - we thought perhaps she was also eating less during the day and wanting mommy at night. Over those four weeks we got desperate and decided to only give bottles overnight; we were providing bottles more frequently in hopes of tracking how much she was eating, and by the time I returned to work, she was being fed almost entirely bottles of expressed breast milk. So I was (and currently am) nearly entirely exclusively pumping (not my preference). By 16w, her longest overnight stretch turned into 6 hours and even 8 hours. We were giving her LOTS more milk in the bottles at longer intervals and she was consuming much more in a 24 hour period than she had been. We are now 19w, and although her brother was already sleeping 12hrs/night consistently by this time, we believe that because she is smaller, and because she only wakes to chug 5-6oz. immediately putting herself back to sleep (no fussing, no crying, no diaper change, etc.) we believe she definitely still needs the overnight feeds and soon she will naturally extend that longest stretch. I even think that over the past week she's upped her intake from about 24 oz/day to more like 30-32oz./day ... and I will definitely have a hard time keeping up!

She is adorable; she is rolling over from front to back and *almost* rolling over from back to front. We are still swaddling and plan to use the ba.by mer.lin ma.gic slee.psuit to help transition her from swaddle to no swaddle - but we're waiting for a string of cooler nights - those things are like mini snow suits!! She babbles and talks a ton (just like her mama ;-) she squeals and laughs and is the happiest little baby. I love when she wakes up in the morning how she talks to herself to let us know she's up. She's currently on three naps a day, her schedule looks something like this:

Don't start the day until at least 6AM.
Wake by 7:30 if she hasn't woken up on her own.
Eat, 1 hour awake time, change, down for first nap.
2-2.5 hr nap
Eat, 1 hr 15 min awake time, change, down for second nap.
1.5-2 hr nap
Eat, 1 hr 30 min awake time, change, down for third nap.
1-1.5 hr nap
Eat, 1 hr 45 min awake time, change, bedtime routine - off to bed!
Wake once or twice before the next morning.

It's weird to find ourselves in the same position, only two years later, with a little girl instead of a little boy, and having to go through the newborn stage with a toddler underfoot - although I'm exhausted, I consider myself VERY fortunate.



Dru is proving to be a great big brother. Of course, he's feeling a bit dethroned, but given how much she sleeps, he gets a lot of sole attention. I see it surface when I'm feeding Dimple, if Dru is having a rough time, he will start crying and ask to be held like Dimple. So we set her down and get in some good ol' cuddling.



Dru is doing amazing. In my opinion, he's brilliant. Today, while my husband was serving himself the last bit of tortilla chips from the bowl on the table, my son said, and I quote! ... "Daddy, can you save me some chips and save mommy some chips? Because if you eat them all, I will be sad and mommy will be sad" ... not only does that include complete sentences and multiple sentences strung together - but also cause and effect AND being in touch with his feelings!! We've been working on those ;-)

Because Dru is home (no longer in a daycare setting with his peers) we have set up some structure around social activities. We've joined a weekly playgroup that we're planning to host monthly (on the days I work from home). There is an every other week children's focused church event that we attend, complete with themed rooms and circle time. The local library is a stroller walk away with an active story time. We will get passes again to the nearby kitty amusement parks - along with other friends that are cardholders.



Being a working mom of two has proven to be quite challenging and leaves little room for me-time, much less brushing my teeth or showering (don't stand too close ;-). I am fortunate enough to have a nanny that comes into our home each day. I work from home Mon & Fri. I take the train to and from work and leave my car here (complete with properly installed rear facing car seats) for the nanny to use on adventures with the kids. I wake, nurse, eat/drink/pee/pump, pack, commute via foot/train/bus (50 mins for a 10 mile distance), eat/drink/pee/pump, work, eat/drink/pee/pump, work, eat/drink/pee/pump, commute home, unpack, take care of the kids, cook, eat/drink/pee/pump, clean, get ready for the next day, watch 20 mins of TV and hop into bed to repeat! I find that I need to eat and drink a ton to keep my supply up, and with all that consumption I'm hitting the restroom a lot. And of course, I'm pumping all the time (3 times over 7 hours in a day at work) ... I'm leashed to that pump! ... But all for good cause. Things will get better when she's sleeping through the night and when I can reduce the pumping sessions.



Now I must go to bed ... this post has taken me HOURS to write ... and it won't be long until she's up again ... rooting for some more liquid gold.

Thanks for checking in. I hope not to go so long between posts. Take care.


Friday, September 2, 2011

A call to 911, an ambulance ride, a visit to L&D ... but all is ok now.

I'm not sure if I can communicate how seriously traumatic last night was for me.

After picking up my son, around 6p, I was cooking dinner and feeling a bit dizzy and generally not well. I had some water and sat down. I let my husband finish making dinner when he got home at 6:20p. I ate dinner and had more water and told my hubby that I wasn't feeling well and that I'd be going to bed right after dinner and he asked "at 7p?" and I said "yep". I was realizing that I had been having BH contractions for like 20 mins straight with no relief. I know that you're supposed to drink water and lay down ... so I grabbed some water and headed to the bedroom.

Then I started feeling pain. I was timing things and it seemed like pain was washing over me every 8 mins, I started to wonder ... how many BH contractions do you have before you call the on-call? I called the on-call and waited for her reply. And since at that point I'd had 3, in less than 30 mins I thought ... what's the timing you should wait for if the contractions are painful and not just BH? should I be calling with these symptoms, maybe I'm overreacting? ... and then I realized ... it *wasn't* normal to have rhythmic PAINFUL contractions (it's then that I realized I was out of the realm of BH ... that took a few mins to process though) ... and then that fourth contraction was a serious doozy ... I was panting, breathing through it, I was switching positions, I called my old doula but got VM ... it felt JUST LIKE labor. It felt like back labor and I had the feeling of wanting to have a BM, I wanted to push. I knew this wasn't good. But there was no mucus plug, no bleeding ... my uterus was rock solid. It was painful to touch my uterus - that was weird. The only relief I could find was to do a hard pelvic tilt forward. But that only came with some relief.

This entire time my husband was bathing my son (on the other side of our small house) and putting him to bed - giving me time to rest ... little did he know how quickly things escalated. I tried repeatedly calling the home phone - his cell phone was next to me. He didn't answer. I yelled for him and he was shocked to learn what was going on. He tried to quickly return to handling our son, putting him down for bed, but before he could return ... I couldn't wait for the on-call to call me back nor could I wait for my husband - I couldn't imagine walking to the car and sitting for the ride to the hospital - I called 911 ... I just wasn't sure this baby would stay inside for the time it would take to be seen by a medical professional. But I prayed and I prayed and I prayed.

When the EMTs arrived it had been 10 mins since the last contraction (which was great since they were more like every 8 mins), they did the vitals and my heart rate was around 125. They took me to my hospital (about 25 mins away) ... I had two mild contractions in the ambulance and noted that I was at least feeling the baby ... I was still having BH, but the pain was all but gone.

I realized I had to pee in the ambulance - and I knew that holding pee exacerbates BH and contractions, so I asked the young EMT guy (note: he was single, no kids) if he had a diaper or pad or something ... he didn't, I told him he'd need to rig something or else I was going to pee on his gurney ... we found some chux pads and some absorbent wound dressing material and I tried as hard as I could to pee en route ... but I couldn't I guess I'm too well potty trained. I felt bad for the poor young guy ... I said - "unattractive bathroom activities ... this is what you can look forward to in marriage!" Poor guy.

When I got to the ER I demanded - who's going to help me go pee! and quickly they took me to the ER bathrooms - and I realized I was barefoot (ewwww) ... the orderly got me some skid proof socks and I tell you - I haven't peed more in my life. Then they wheeled me to L&D.

When the ER nurse who was wheeling me up to L&D asked me if I was still having contractions I told her no, that they were only BH at this point. When she dropped me off at L&D the L&D nurse asked - what is she here for? ... and the ER nurse replied "braxton hicks" ... and without delay I said, "No, painful, real contractions" ... punk.

As I mentioned, after arriving at the hospital I had no more contractions. I was seen by a fantastic L&D nurse and doctor who gave me an NST and an internal/pelvic ... I told them that I had eaten/drank just as much as I usually do and though this is usually caused by dehydration, I don't think that was the case here for me. The NST showed an irritable uterus (as usual for me - I had that with all my NSTs with Dru from 32-39w and again at my anatomy scan for this LO, they could SEE on u/s my uterus contracting!) and the baby was moving a ton :-) ... I haven't had an internal with this pregnancy (I opted out of the 10w appt) but I told her that in my last pregnancy I fell at 25w and my OB found that I had a soft cervix and she had my length checked via ultrasound - and since everything was good in that case, that perhaps a soft cervix was more normal for me. So with this exam she wasn't surprised to find that it was soft around the edges, but firm otherwise and a couple of centimeters in length with no dilation or effacement ... and high up - she said there's more centimeters inside the uterus and she was encouraged by the results. They monitored me for another hour just to make sure. She also said it was good news that: I've carried a baby to term previously, that after all those painful (seemingly progressive) contractions - the cervix was robustly in tact, and that there was pain ... she indicated that incompetent cervix usually presents with no indication, no pain. That and she said we did all the right things - that was nice to hear.

While I was there, I drank 3 cups of water and I took a fourth cup on the road. When I finished that in the car, I ate some nuts my husband had packed while the EMT guys were doing there thing and taking care of me, there wasn't much else my husband could do to help - so he packed a bag and followed behind the ambulance in the car. Anyhow, while driving home from our experience, I had an incredibly dry mouth trying to eat those almonds ... and just wanted ... needed ... more water.

I got home and during the hour it took me to get to bed, I was parched for water and drank 20 oz. Between midnight and 5A, I drank 20 more ounces ... since sleeping and drinking a ton ... I've really felt almost back to normal. Now I'm really wondering if I *was* dehydrated and just didn't know it! It was 80 degrees here yesterday and I was carrying around a smaller water bottle than I usually do and I didn't fill it up MORE times to compensate. I'm hoping I was just dehydrated ... because what the heck happened??! When I asked them this, when I was afraid to be released (because there didn't seem to be a cause and without a cause - what can you do to treat it??!) ... they said that with an irritable uterus, if the baby went through a growth spurt - this could have been caused by that ... but that doesn't provide me with any action to take to avoid this in the future. Just prayer, trust, and suppressing fear.

If you're wondering why they didn't give me an IV in L&D, it's b/c I kept telling them that I drank and ate as much as I usually do - it wasn't until leaving (and needing to drink SO MUCH more water) that I realized that maybe this was a dehydration issue.

I'm so glad that is behind me. I can't even *imagine* what it would have been like going through this in public or at work or something ... it was really scary and I felt very vulnerable. Both Berilac and I kept saying why did this have to happen this week? Why couldn't it be next week??! (I'm 23 weeks and my hospital considers viability with a baby's weight of 650g - that's the 50% for a 24 week old baby) ... I have been waiting to get past viability ... and all this happened just 6 days prior. Thank the good LORD nothing more came of this ... it could have ended very poorly.

Today, I'm drinking like a camel and maintaining my pattern of eating something every 2-3 hours ... I'm hoping this will keep that experience from recurring. I've had enough drama for one pregnancy.

Praising God and thanking all my friends that surrounded me in prayer. James 5:16

With much love and gratitude,
Polly

Friday, August 26, 2011

A milkshake to celebrate gender :-)

We didn't find out Dru's gender because we felt like there were very few good surprises in life - we wanted that experience of waiting to find out. Well, we've been there, done that ... and it was nice. But I will say that as a woman who has experienced infertility/loss, not knowing contributed to my not bonding as much as I could have with my son. I kept calling him "it" rather than knowing the gender and naming the baby early. I remember being shocked that they put a live baby on my belly at delivery - I was really shocked I actually had a baby. Now, I'm not sure that's linked to not knowing the gender, but I think we can safely say that for self preservation reasons, I'm prone to not bond with a baby developing in my uterus. So ... this time, we wanted to try finding out the gender. I wanted to call the little one our baby girl or our baby boy. I wanted to start the bonding process early ... and hopefully - be able to name the baby well before they require it before letting you out of the hospital. It took us a few days to name Dru and many friends thought we were just trying to keep them on the edges of their seats - when in fact, we entered the hospital with 100 potential names - our problem is - we like 'em all! So we were kind of hoping that by finding out, we could settle on a name before we are enroute to labor and delivery ;-)

According to Ramzi’s theory, our 8 week ultrasound showed the placenta on the right side of my uterus – which is supposed to have a 97% chance at boy. I was emotionally preparing myself for another little boy. Thinking about all the advantages and disadvantages to having two little boys. I was really marinating in the possibility of little brothers.

Then came the NT scan at 12w1d – where they analyzed the nub angle or angle of the dangle (as all fetus' at this point have protruding genetalia, the techs can sometimes use the angle of it compared to the spine/backbone to correctly guess the fetus' gender) and so at mine they guessed (with 90% certainty) that this baby would be a girl – but they encouraged us not to buy anything yet.

So I went from thinking blue to thinking pink … I thought I would be excited for something new and different - for a same gender baby – but instead, I was sad not to have a baby brother for Dru. I was really getting excited about two boys. Then I started to notice the baby's movement on the right (which, according to Ramzi is supposed to mean girl) yet most people who guessed - based on how I'm carrying, would guess BOY. And Berilac REALLY thought boy and wasn’t convinced by anyone’s guesses – with nub “proof” or not (not really proof – this theory too has a good chance of being wrong)!

The ultrasound in which we found out was a sonographer training (that’s how we got it early - 18.5 weeks – and they paid us $50 to do it! Heck yeah!) so we went into it as their subjects with the caveat that we would only participate if they told us gender – and they were more than happy to cooperate! So on our way into the scan Berilac says to me “I hope it’s a boy” and with surprise, I ask him “how come?” and he tells me …. “because if it’s a girl, we’re more likely to be done having kids, if it’s a boy, I’ll want to try for a girl” … I didn't know he wanted a girl, much less, that he was interested in having more than two kids :) after all that we've been through, I was surprised to hear his inclination.

We brought in a blank card and asked that they determine gender, write it down on our card, put in a photo and seal it up. We wanted to experience learning this information on our terms, not theirs. So, they had us close our eyes when they did it and they told us the baby cooperated and that they were able to meet our wishes.

During the ultrasound, after the gender check, they used the words “she and he” and “her and him” (look at "his" vertebrae!) but it didn't seem obvious to me what we were having … so we enjoyed the rest of the ultrasound got a really cool dvd and I asked for my cervical length out of curiosity (3.7mm, good.) and we left the hospital in all smiles. We headed directly down to a local diner to celebrate. Because I have been having milkshake cravings this pregnancy we thought it appropriate to celebrate with something the baby loves! I called in advance and found out they didn’t have blueberry shakes, so we came prepared, blueberries in tow. We tried to decide if we wanted to give them the card and have them bring out one shake (Berilac didn’t want them up in our business so that was nixed), we considered ordering one shake in each flavor and only drinking the one (but that seemed like a waste) … so eventually we settled on opening the card and letting the great news absorb while we waited for our fries and appropriately colored shake to arrive.

We prayed in thanks for the amazing gift we had been given (regardless of this precious little ones gender), we opened the card, and I cried.


Berilac said “I knew it was a girl because during the ultrasound they kept using the pronoun – SHE!” I told him that I thought I saw the bits when I think they showed us a quick glance at the potty shot while moving around (because the baby moved A TON) and my first thought was … “no penis, I’ll bet that card says girl!”

But … we both still could have been wrong. It was nice to see the pic and get the confirmation. Pretty in pink, here we come. During the ultrasound, after they had told us that they were able to tell and write down for us the gender, we asked how certain they were, if they were 100% and they laughed said - you can only be certain when they are here - and they mimiced rocking a newborn baby.
 
We've had the official 20 week ultrasound since then (last Thursday at 21w1d, today I am 22w2d) and they were able to confirm girl again. This tech said that she was 99.99% sure it was a girl and she showed us (me and my mom this time) the potty shot - complete with three lines and nothing more. We also got to review all of the organs, the cervical length, the amniotic fluid levels, and size of the baby and everything looked "unremarkable" and "normal" ... this baby is measuring in almost exactly the 50 percentile ... so a wee bit tiny-er than Dru, and for that I'm grateful. He was 8#11 at birth and I'm hoping not to exceed that this time.
 
A little girl to celebrate and less than 2 weeks until viability. Thank you Lord.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Heartbroken for another family ...

If you get a chance to head over to Sandi's blog about her precious twin boys, born in late January of this year, victims of TTTS ... one of their sweet boys, Sebastian, was released home from the NICU about a month ago ... but today their other precious boy lost his fight. He was 12 oz. when he was born at 27 weeks, he survived surgeries, tubes, nearly losing his life many times ... he had quite the fighters spirit. But today he went home to be with the Lord.

This family could use your love if you have a moment to give it.

Samuel Bradford Stambaugh
1/27/11-6/28/11

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Happy 4th

I am shocked that today marks my fourth annual blog-o-versary ... can you believe it; I've been shouting from the rooftops for all to hear ... for four years??! ... And I'm so fortunate to say that four years later, I have an amazing son and a bun in the oven - when I didn't think I would.

I'm so grateful.

In honor of that I will share my most recent belly pic :) This is me, the morning after our NT scan, 12w2d.

Check out my belly-zilla!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Extremely fortunate ...

I'm sorry it's been so long since I've checked in. Since the last post, I've been attending a parental bereavement support group on a weekly basis where I've come face to face with my broken heart. With working, and raising a toddler, life is very busy - so busy that sometimes I compartmentalize my dad's death and don't face it for days at a time. The support group provides me the space I need to take time for my grief. It's a huge blessing. I feel like I am tying loose ends, I feel so grateful.

Dru is growing by leaps and bounds. He's 18 months old now. He's got at least 100 words, he can repeat just about anything you say, so I've given up counting :-) He's been walking since the day before my Dad died. We were able to take a video to the ICU to show my dad before he passed - that was bittersweet. Dru is now running, climbing, and generally just non stop. He recently started taking 1 nap a day, and with all the chasing we do, we are grateful that that is always longer than 2 hours. He's eating four times a day, drinking 24 oz of whole milk from a sippy. He's still in diapers, but we've definitely started introducing the potty concept to him - he can tell us when he needs to pee and poo, so I don't believe we are that far off from training. I am very proud of mommy's little helper, as he carries his step stool to and from the bathroom, his high chair, and the place that it belongs - he is so independent and can do so much! It's so funny to ask him to put away his step stool - and he does! He carries his dishes to the sink, he wipes up the floor when he's spilled food, he carries his laundry to the dirty laundry bin. He puts his toys and books away and he sings along to "Clean up, clean up, everybody help!" ... we are very much so working on helping him to understand that he is part of a family and it's not all fun and games! Though we also enjoy plenty of trips to the park, many walks (with and without the stroller), sprinkler and water table activities now with the warm weather ... and we purchased three separate local amusement park season passes - so we can just jump in the car on a Saturday morning to enjoy a day out with the family! He loves those little rides :-)

My favorite story about Dru: after a minor fall or tumble, if he's crying we offer a kiss to the owie site in hopes of declaring "all better" and moving on :-) he will regularly now approach me, telling me about his owie and pointing to and saying "knee" (cause that's where the majority of them are) and I'll ask him if he wants me to kiss it and he says "kiss" ... it's very sweet. Well, the other day, we were doing some naked time as he was dealing with a pretty sensitive diaper rash (which are typically rare for us), I was laying down, playing with Dru on the diningroom floor, when he started pointing to his sweet little cheeks and declaring - "owie" as he was trying to back up into my face, all the while requesting that I "kiss" ... his hind region. My husband laughed so hard, asking me, "are you going to kiss his butt?"

And to give an update on cycles and the like ... I will tell you, after our most recent miscarriage. In January, I was pretty deflated. Combine that with the loss of my Dad and I was just crushed. Berilac and were trying to decide what to do. We knew we didn't want to travel to Colorado again (interupting our work, our families, costing a fortune) ... all to have another miscarriage. We started to consider what else was out there for us. We had some left over meds in the fridge that we didn't want going bad and we have 6 IUI's covered by our insurance that we've never used. We had nearly agreed that we would pursue the low-grade interventions of oral and injectible ovarian stimulation combined with IUI, while we investigated and prepared for embryo adoption, homestudy, fostering, and domestic adoption. I signed up for an embryo adoption website account and we were contemplating what to write in our profiles. I was calling many different agencies, including local government to learn more about adoption options. I was considering getting a homestudy that could be applied toward the many routes we were considering. I investigated my adoption benefits ... and we just soaked in as much as we could, waited, and prayed. We had hybrid cycle in February with Femera + injects + IUI and that was a BFN. We opted to take the Mar/Apr cycle off, as we needed a mental break, and that cycle would produce another Christmas baby. We instead opted to get monitored that cycle - to get an idea of what my hormonal baselines were b/c trying naturally was not something we'd actively pursued for so many cycles that I was curious where all my hormones were at at various stages of a cycle. And for the first time in 5 years, I ovulated before CD19.

I was planning on coming in on CD 17 and getting some hormone levels drawn to see what my estrogen and progesterone were doing just before LH surge, but instead I had my LH surge on CD15 (WHAT!?) and the best news was ... is that the surge disappeared as soon as it had arrived (most months my surge lasts 5-8 days ... literally, I pee on an OPK and it's positive for about a week) ... so I went in for an ultrasound, and there in my ovary was one perfect little 21mm by 21mm follicle. We gave myself a trigger shot that I had lying around (who can say they have those?) ... and my husband and I opted to ... well, DO what people trying to have babies do ;-) ... and two weeks later, I was staring at the first positive pregnancy test I had seen from a "natural" cycle in over 3 years. After Dru's birth we started trying at the 6w post partum visit, so I had tried for over a year, with a CCRM fresh IVF cycle thrown in there ... and it wasn't until 14 months later that I was looking at a positive stick.

My first beta at 14dpo was 112 (with Dru it was 108)
My second beta at 16dpo was 286 (with Dru it was 300)
My third beta at 20dpo was 1855 (we didn't do any more with Dru)
We experienced heartbeats with a perfectly measuring bean at 6w5d, 8w, 9w, and 10w.

And this past Thursday we had our NT scan and the nuchal fold was 1.3mm with a risk of DS at about 1:8000.

I am ecstatic and in utter shock.

CCRM is also in shock, they of course are very happy for me, but they really can't believe it happened. I too didn't think it would happen to me. So many embryos so few lives babies. I truly didn't think a spontaneous pregnancy could result in a healthy LO.

Sorry to have withheld this news from you. It's been a rollercoaster these last few months. It's hard to be excited and in utter joy about this baby, all while running into experiences where I miss my Dad so much it hurts. It has all been very overwhelming for me.

I am 12w5d pregnant. My next appointment is in 8 days. I'm continuing to thank God for this, and asking for protection for the little bean.

Oh ... and by the way ... this baby has a due date 3 days after Dru's 12/28 ... yet the baby was measuring 3 days large at the NT scan ... Christmas baby much? Yes, please.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The eulogy

I was honored to deliver my Dad's eulogy on 1/22 in California and 1/29 in Utah. We cremated my Dad, so the last step in this process will be spreading his ashes - that is yet to come. Below is what I shared about my Dad.

***

I am truly honored to be here today. Although the occasion is sad, it’s an honor and a privilege to represent my Dad’s life to those he cared for and loved most. My Dad was an amazing man, a descent human, a loving father, and a very involved grandfather. I don’t think words can do it justice – to consider how great my Dad was. Forgive me as words alone are inadequate.

On a normal day, if you happened to see my father on the street, the first impression that my father gave was that he was not materialistic – the furthest thing from it! He might have been climbing out of one of his many jalopies, coming directly from doing some form of manual labor – proven by the disheveled hair left on his balding head. Clothing: mismatched, oversized, spattered in paint. He’d be carrying half a cup of cold 7-11 coffee, with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He would bounce by making conversation with anyone he passed and as quickly as he appeared, he’d be heading for his next adventure – likely whistling and smiling.

Unpredictable, maybe a little scattered, and definitely eccentric, that was the man you’d see on the outside, but I’m here today to talk about the man on the inside … that we, as the closest to him, knew him truly to be.

My Dad was warm to an impractical fault: He was an old softy. You know those adorable little chicks? The cute yellow ones that are all fuzzy and cuddly? My Dad was walking through the local pet store with my then 5 year old niece when she saw these adorable little creatures. My Dad immediately went home, brought together a make shift chicken coup and returned the next day to buy my niece a couple of chicks. He nursed those chicks in the early days – keeping them in his bedroom overnight to protect them from the cold. The bright incubator light and incessant chirping robbed him of his sleep, but he didn’t care. My niece was in love with the cute fuzzy chick aspect of these animals, my Dad knew that those chicks would grow out of their adorable phase and into that awkward pin feather stage within weeks of purchase – but he wanted to give his sweet granddaughter those adorable chicks she wanted so badly, even if the long term investment paid off only for a matter of days.

My Dad was humble: Days after turning 18 I found a room to rent and I packed my bags. In the middle of the day, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, without warning, I started loading my belongings into my car – I was moving out. My Dad was sitting at the dining room table talking with one of his tenants. He was half engaged in the tenant’s complaint and half perplexed by what his daughter was doing. My Dad was crushed when he learned that I was moving out. Weeks later my Dad invited me out to lunch, asked me how he could have missed this huge transition in his daughter’s life. He humbly admitted that he’d been an uninvolved parent throughout the years. He apologized for not taking the time to get to know his daughter. We shared some hard truths that day; we shared our hurts and found forgiveness. Through tears he asked if we could start again. From that day forward our relationship blossomed into what it is today.

My Dad faced challenges with courage: We anticipated my Dad’s death. In August of last year he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. With every doctor’s appointment he wanted and asked for the truth; if he was afraid he sure didn’t show it. He took every measure, endured every treatment; he never complained, he never wanted to be a burden. When he showed up to his first oncology appointment he arrived wearing a three piece suit with dazzling suspenders and a ridiculous grey wig and top hat. My Dad was a bit of a nut case like that, but when I look back on it now I realize he was trying to make light of the situation to protect us all from the extreme gravity of his reality. He chuckled when I let him know that when the doctor ordered a brain MRI as one of the follow up screenings … an oncologist would only look for metastasized tumors in the brain if the patient were showing behavioral issues – I called the Oncologist to provide my Dad a character witness – this cute costume get up was not something out of the ordinary for my Dad – THAT, was normal. Even in his final days, he withheld from us that he was ready to go, to the very end he was protecting those he loved most. He showed courage in protecting us.

My Dad was thoughtful: The gift was not something expensive and impressive – honestly, his gifts never were. I remember right after we had our son and laundry somehow became overwhelming – just getting to it proved challenging. When Dad was helping around the house he noticed that the washing machine knob had broken off. One night, when our son went down for bed, my Dad stepped out for a bit, and upon his return he was talking about something rather benign, the traffic or the weather or something and as he chatted, he pulled out this small accessory. Discreetly he tested the knob on the washing machine. It was a little thing, but he knew that even the little things, like a working washing machine knob made the harder things in life, like caring for a newborn … just that much easier.

My Dad valued connection and relationships: My Dad and I were very close. If ever I had good news or difficult news to share, after I got off the phone with my husband Berilac, I’d call my Dad. For many years my husband and I struggled with recurrent pregnancy loss. During that time of struggle I called my Dad four times to tell him that we were miscarrying … again. And every time my Dad did not have a trite “just relax” or an almost callous “I guess it wasn’t meant to be” … instead my Dad wept with me. When we would see each other, he would just wrap his arms around me and tell me how sorry he was. He tried to keep his tears from me; he didn’t want me to see how heartbreaking the experience was for him when he knew we were carrying our own very heavy burden.

I remember the day my son was finally born. Given our journey, many people surrounded us in love and support, waiting outside the delivery room. I tell you, if my Dad were a girl – he would have been in there with me every step of the way! When Grandpa came in to finally meet his new grandson, Berilac handed him to my Dad and my Dad through alligator tears said “we’ve been waiting a long time for you”. And he had to hand him back and leave the room to rebuild his composure. The days, weeks, and months following Dru’s birth were tough. And who was there, taking the overnight shift to allow a couple of exhausted new parents to get some sleep? … my Dad. He’d jump at the chance to change a dirty diaper. He held, and rocked, and sang to Dru – comforting him in those early days – it was such a blessing. Months before he died my Dad said to me “I am so proud of you, you are such an amazing mom” … now that would have been a nice compliment coming from anyone, but it meant so much more coming from someone who knew me and knew my life – coming from my Dad, a man I love and respect.

He was filled with compassion: My Dad not only opened up his apartments to help those who needed an extra hand, but he would also take people into his home. He would meet folks on the bus, at the store, and he didn’t care what kind of complicated trouble they were in; he judged people on their heart and their character, not on their worldly belongings. He was the kind of guy who would still pick up hitch hikers, because hey they were having a rough day – with no regard for his own safety, he would help out someone in need.

The recurring theme here is of my Dad with a servant’s heart. Whether expressing his love in warmth or compassion his actions were ALWAYS surrounded in servant hood. He would drop whatever he was doing to help another in need. The stories that I’ve shared of my Dad putting other’s first was the tip of the iceberg. I am confident that if we polled everyone in here we would hear story after story of how my Dad helped them in some way. Dad was always giving out of his heart even when he didn’t have much to give materially. He was generous with his time, always willing to help, never willing to take anything in return. When I reflect back on my Dad’s life I see a man who may have struggled a bit, but still a man with Godly character. If my Dad had a life verse, it would be:
Matthew 25:40 “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”

I love my Dad, I miss my Dad; I can’t believe I have to say good bye to him … for now.

In spite of all these wonderful stories my Dad had his struggles, life wasn’t always easy for him … but when I think of my Dad and the legacy he left it is the attributes mentioned today that will reach far into his family for generations to come.

***
And because some were asking - we miscarried on January 10, 2011. Another IVF is not in our future. I will share more of our next steps when we've had more time to process them, but as of now our best "medical" chance at a biological baby is behind us.