Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Jada Nadine

I realized right after my last post how quickly we forget.  I guess because the beginning of my pregnancy with Dilena was so difficult, and the beginning with Jada was so easy, and given her dramatic birth, I did forget some things.  I have to have something to guilt Jada with later on in life, after all.

I did lose control of my hands, they would often go numb in the middle of the night.  Being the hypochondriac I can be, of course my thought is I was having a stroke.  Carpal tunnel, pregnancy induced, and no treatment other than to wear these braces which make life with computers even more annoying and painful.  Then at 35 weeks, I found myself waking up at night to scour the palms of my hands and soles of my feet on my carpet, for hours.  I considered rubbing my belly with a steel wool pad.  If you know what PUPPPs is, I'm sorry, because you have probably had it.  If you don't, you are lucky.

AT 32 weeks, I went to see my OB because I was having contractions that would not stop.  Not painful, but rhythmic and persistent.  I was admitted for dehydration, the result of yet another fun GI bug circulating my family.  Being pregnant when you are raising a toddler germ factory isn't fun.   i was given a liter of fluid.  Still contracting 2-4 minutes apart, no pain though, this can't be real labor.  I know real labor.   Another liter.  Still contracting.  The look on Mark's face at the mention of PTL was pretty scary, he has absolutely no game face at all.  We started to think about the repercussions of having a baby so early, NICU time, all the potential complications and how unprepared we were.  Mark had to leave to pick up Di, and I was left alone.  Not dilating, but still contracting.  A shot of terb and another half liter later, and I'm slowing way down.  After 5 hours I am sent home to rest.  It is a scary reminder of how lucky I am to have full term, healthy babies.

Back to the Monday after Easter.  I was 37 weeks and 5 days pregnant.  My baby girl is as active as ever.  I was on the phone with a friend from my parenting forum, I remember it was past midnight because she lives in California and told me to hang up because I was pregnant and needed sleep and it was after midnight.  I had been sleeping on the couch as I do when I am heavily pregnant.  For one, the back support is nice, and everything Mark does annoys me at this point, the sound of his breathing keeps me awake.  I also have severe insomnia at night, so it's nice to be near the TV and computer so I can entertain myself at 3 am, when I wake up nightly during my third trimester.

I can not get comfortable for the life of me.  I decide to try the bed.  I make myself a pregnancy nest, it consists of 2 body pillows, a pregnancy wedge and 3-4 regular pillows and a throw pillow.  It is quite a process, but very nice on the big belly.  Again, I am so uncomfortable I can't sleep.  I tell Mark something feels off.  "HmmmphhhfffT".  Yeah, thanks.  Back to the couch as I am fully annoyed now.  It takes about 15 minutes to crawl out of my nest.  I remake my nest on the couch and sink in.  A bit of wetness. Hmmmm.  Now, its about to get a lot more graphic, so I will ease you in.  One of my pregnancy issues is I can't control my bladder so well.  Sneezing, coughing, jumping, running water and vomiting (which was really a fun surprise) leads to varying degrees of pants-pissing.

So I figured I had let a little go.  Don't judge me, I didnt even want to get up.  I think it will dry, right?  But I am not sleeping anyway, so I guess I'll change, maybe empty my bladder to avoid any more fun.  As I stood up, I was soaked.  Hmmm, again, very well could have been my awful bladder control, but I am suspicious now.  I wake up Mark, tell him I think my water broke.  I don't want to be one of those women who think their water broke only to realize they have in fact, pissed in their pants.  But then I am shaking, hard.  Its about 80 degrees in my house.  Sick again  I have coughed throughout my pregnancy with Jada with various colds and sinus infections, and had several rounds of a lovely GI bug, hence the experience with simultaneously emptying the contents of my stomach and bladder.

I decided to shower, if this is labor, I am really needing to shave my legs, a luxury reserved now only for doctors appointments as it takes quite a bit of contortionism to reach the necessary parts of my body.  Now I am having contractions.  Mark is back in bed.  I have to call him for 20 minutes before he comes in the bathroom "what?".  What the hell do you mean what, I just told you my water may have broke.  Does he think I am screaming his name and risking waking up my sleeping daughter just to chat?

Of course, I do wake up Di.  She is not interested in sleeping tonight, as if she knows something is brewing.  Mark is timing my contractions on his computer, which has the battery life as long as Britney Spears' marriages.   1-2 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute.  Just like Dilena.  Ok, I figure I have time.  If Dilena's birth took 14 hours, this one will take 10...maybe 8 if I am lucky.  I swipe the razor over my legs between contractions.  They get more intense.  I fill the tub now and finish shaving in there.  During contractions I sing Snuggle Puppy and Personal Penguin as loud as I can, in lieu of the obscenities I would much prefer to scream at my husband.  Dilena thinks its funny and asks for " more, more" between contractions.   I am not as amused as I think Mark is.

Finally, I have Mark call my mom and OB.  My mom just arrived home from work and has an hour long trip up.  It is a very foggy night and we live in a very dark part of the state, deep in the woods of Connecticut.  It isn't a drive you can do quickly.  Perfect for those late night emergencies.

My OB is on call tonight, I am so happy I screamed out loud.  I talk to her between contractions, breathless, panting.  She was obviously sound asleep.  "I'll be there in an hour or so, I have to wait for my mom to get here"

"OK," she is yawning.  OK.  I am going in.  This is the real deal.  Next step, getting clothes on.  It isn't easy.  By this time my contractions are so painful, standing really isn't possible.  My mother is on her way, I am exhausted already.  If I have to be in this much pain, I am going to at least rest between.  I lay on my bed, and its the most comfortable thing I have ever laid on.  During my contractions I squeeze my eyes shut, bite into my pillow and hug my arms around it so tight, that to this day it remains deformed.  I put so much tension into my face, hands and arms in an effort to relax my lower body completely, not an easy task.  At one point, I put my hand on my stomach during a contraction.  I feel Jada move, kick about and wiggle through it.  It has to be rough on her too.  I feel so connected to her in that moment, it helps me get through.

By the time my mom is by my side, I am really screaming.  I have forgotten the words to Snuggle Puppy.  I have forbidden Mark from coming in the room, he is keeping Di away.  My mom has the task of dressing me as I lay writhing in pain.  It takes 20 minutes.  As I try to stand, a raging contraction.  With absolutely no control, I find myself pushing as hard as I can.  A rush of fluid.  I stop in my tracks.  Tell my mom in a panic to call 911, I am having the baby now.  As she leaves I have a couple more contractions, no pushing.  As she dials I stop her, I feel stupid.  It's fine, I have hours, I tell myself.  I don't want to overreact.  We can make it.

As we leave, my mother, the psychic she is, I hear her tell Mark to pull over and call an ambulance if we don't make it.  I internally roll my eyes, as the pain prevents any actual movement.  She is so paranoid, I am thinking, as I have 3 contractions just walking to my car.

I stop by the door, I am looking in.  I do not want to get in the car.  The thought of sitting in that seat for the next 40 minutes reduces me to tears and hopelessness.  The only reason I get in, is the thought that I can get an epidural in 45 minutes, its enough to push me into that car.

We have a choice of an unraked dirt road, or a paved road with a dozen speed bumps.  We choose the more predictable speed bumps.  I have my body suspended over the seat by propping myself up with the armrests.  It alleviates some of the pain.  It is so foggy out, and cold.  I have the heat blasting on my feet and my head out the window, howling at the invisible moon like a dying dog.  The wetness of the fog is whipping my face, keeping me in reality, while the heat at my feet keeps my body from the racking chills I have been fighting.  More contractions, now I am pushing each time.  More fluid.  More pain.

We can barely see the road.  I have to tell Mark to slow down, as much as I am dreaming of my epidural relief, I am afraid we will run off the dark roads or hit a deer.  Thats what we need, a car accident.  Suddenly, during a contraction, I feel her head drop into my pelvis.  I can feel the roundness, the pressure.  No pain, but I know she is coming, right now.

I tell Mark to pull over.  "We're in the middle of the road".  No shit Mark, I know.  He pulls into the Cumberland Farms.

"Call 911"  I am panting, "she is coming right now".  He is on the phone with the EMS as I yank down my pants.  I am envisioning, with horror, delivering my baby in my pants and trying to untangle her body.  My feet on the dashboard, I pull my pants down to my ankles as Marks parks the car.  I feel for a head...nothing.  For a fraction of a second, I feel a slight embarrassment.  I am being paranoid again, is she really coming.  I had so expected to feel a head, anything...but I felt nothing.  It didn't last long, in the next second, the familiar pain and a push, and her head was in my hand.  So much hair, I marveled.  As I reached for her with my other hand, her body flew out in a silent, slippery motion, surrounded by waves of water.  She slipped through my hands.  So warm, wet, smooth.  I hope I forever remember that feeling.  The feeling of my daughter leaving my body.  It is the saddest, most amazing, enchanting, exhilarating feeling there is.  Our bodies, going from one to two, her life starting outside of me.  Feeling that little body that kicked me for so long, that I grew for almost a year.  The little life I have pictured, dreamed of,  My pregnancy, ending.  My belly, my beautiful round, smooth belly, reduced to a deflated balloon.  My muscles finally relaxing after the most intense and painful workout humanly possible.  My daughter's birth.  Nothing like I had ever imagined.  With no doctors, no hospital, no medication, no assistance.  Just born into the world, the way women have done it for thousands of years...minus the fluorescent lights and gas pumps.

She is so warm and wet, her seal-like body slips through my hands onto the floor of my car.  I am in shock.  Mark is on the phone with 911, he hangs up.  This is where he comes through for me.  I am a tangle of pants and shoes and umbilical cord.  I can't reach my baby.  Mark picks her up, and in a moment of pure comedy, tries to hand her to me, which isn't possible because the cord protruding from my body into hers is too short.  He then tries to thread my little needle through my legs.  Finally, we take a second, I untangle my pants from my flip-flops which have cuffed my feet together on my dashboard.  The cord is still too short to hold her on my chest, so I hunch over as much as I can to at least get her head skin-to-skin on my body.  Mark calls the ambulance back again and we see lights in the distant fog.  I have never experienced such long, thick silence.  The fog absorbs all noise, and we are in a bubble of thick cloud, the air is heavy and cold.  "We have to keep her warm".  I am able to mumble.  Mark takes off his sweatshirt and I wrap it around her body.  " is a girl, right?"  I can't think of anything else to say.  Mark looks at me funny, I don't blame him.

"I didn't check" he is looking for the ambulance.

"I have to check, I have to".  A quick peak provides me with relief, everything is pink at home.  She is so tiny.  I know in an instant she is much smaller than Dilena, I knew it as she was coming out.  She is so fragile.  I rub her back as vigorously as I dare, to stimulate her breathing.  She cries three times, a gurgley, choking cry.  I am scared she has too much fluid in her.  I know a quick delivery doesn't provide necessary squeezing required to rid her body of the fluid she has been living in.  I hold her warm body, kiss her matted hair and wait.

As the ambulance pulls in, I tell Mark to take a picture.  Again, I am robbed of my graphic delivery photo footage, but that one picture I will treasure always.

The EMS is here now, they look as shocked as I am.  "First car birth?" I manage to say with a smirk.  One young EMT looks close to losing his cookies.  I have to step out of my car, naked, from the waist down, covered in blood, mucus and a lot of other unmentionable substances, and walk a few steps to the stretcher.  It is then I notice the elderly gentleman working inside the Cumberland Farms store.

In the ambulance, the young, weary EMT is attempting to cut the cord with a scalpel.  He is shaking and almost forgets to clamp it first.  I placed my hand over my baby's body below the cord.  "I don't want to cut you" he says.  Yeah, well I don't want your shaking hand to cut my baby, buddy.  The blood sprays out, under pressure from the clamps.  My baby is free from my body.  I am still in disbelief this had happened.  We are wrapped in the silver space blanket and I hold on to my baby as the ambulance whips around corners.  They refuse to take me to my hospital, we are going to the local hospital down the street.  Unfortunately, Mark does not know that, so he drives on to Massachusetts.  This whole scenario is much funnier now.

The doors of the ambulance open, and I am greeted by dozens of nurses, doctors, pediatricians and probably a few curious janitorial members.  I feel a bit like a celebrity, people are smiling at me, laughing, clapping and surrounding Jada and I like ants on a melted popsicle.  I am clinging to her, but of course the y take her.  In the ER, I am baby-less, husbandless and alone.  I am, for the first time, afraid.  I cry a little.

I am finally pushed into a maternity room where I deliver the placenta, am examined by a hundred people, stitched up and left to wait.  Mark finally gets to the right hospital and they bring in my Jada bug.  They lay her, completely naked, on my naked body.  We stay like that for hours.  No diaper, not a piece of clothing between us.  She dabbles with nursing, but mostly, she sleeps.  She is absolutely, amazingly beautiful.  She is so small, so sweet.  She is my miracle, my strength, and everything I imagined she would be.  She is mine.  And we sleep like that, bodies melted to each other, and for a short time, we are one again.

Love like this, can heal deep hurt.  Love like this, is what I have been living for.

Jada Nadine
6 pounds, 12 oz, 20 inches at 3:43 am.  4/26/11

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pregnancy and Chemotherapy

I am newly pregnant, my mother is undergoing chemo.  We share the symptoms of nausea, metallic tastes, constipation and irritability.  My belly protrudes by about 9 weeks, and I don't fight the maternity clothes this time.

I have at this point, decided to leave my job at the cancer center.  It is by far the best, most rewarding and amazing position I have ever held.  I finally understood why some people felt so fulfilled by their jobs, because I did too.  The problem is, the people who you see the most, become the closest to, the people whose families you know and life stories you hear over and over, these are the sickest.  The ones that lose long battles after years of friendship.  The people who beat their cancers, they visit, send flowers and fruit baskets and Christmas cards, but as you should, you forget them over time and focus on your sicker patients.  It distorts your reality, you begin to feel that everyone is doomed.  It is an emotionally draining job at times, and I decided that cancer in my mom was enough cancer in my life.  I returned to my "regular" hospital job.  My safety job.  It takes less of my brain, less of my emotions, and a lot more paperwork.

This helps a bit.  I still regret and at the same time feel relieved about leaving the cancer center.  I know how close we become with our patients, I know how close my mom is with her nurses and staff at her cancer center.  I do feel like I abandoned my patients, like a mother, no one can take care of my kids the way I can.  That is the same thing I felt, do feel, about my patients.

I like being distracted though.  The baby growing in me helps tremendously.  My mom does so well with her treatment, we shop for baby clothes and pick out the perfect shade of pink for the room I am convinced will belong to two girls.  My mind won't even allow me to think I am having a boy.  To this day, Mark and I can not find a boy name we like.  We both believe we are likely destined to have all girls, which I would be ecstatic about.

This pregnancy is very different.  No bleeding, similar salt and cheese cravings, less weight gain.  I am busy helping my mom and family as much as possible, working, taking care of Dilena.  The weeks are flying back faster than I can keep track.  Our 12 week ultrasound, our bitty baby is bouncing off the walls (uterine walls, that is).  My twin sister is convinced it is a boy, because my nephew apparently was very active in utero.  No, I am convinced, she is a girl.  I buy a silly pee test, it says girl.  I stare at "nub" shots, it looks pretty boy.  I am so anxious to see what is inside me.

Jada Evangeline is the name we pick out for our second girl, long before I was pregnant with her.   During the early months of my pregnancy, I changed the middle name to Nadine, a little present for my mother, she loves word puzzles.  I find myself absolutely obsessed with having another girl, as I did later in my pregnancy with Dilena.  I hope this is a sign that I know, on some level, that she is a girl.  My mother joins us for our gender scan.  We like to keep our names a secret from everyone, until that baby is born.  My mother loves to spoil surprises and she is terrible at waiting for a surprise, so she constantly quizzes me.  Occasionally I offer her a very vague hint, but this only leads to more aggressive questioning, so mostly I shut her efforts down.

So here we are, in line to check in for my scan.  My stomach is in knots.  My mother, with her incredibly cute scarfed head, is prodding me for information about our name choices.  She tells me she has a girl name for us.  " I don't want to hear it, we have our name already", I tell her and look away, afraid I will cave.

 "But it's a good one" she is insisting.  I have a very weird feeling.  We have not so much as breathed a whisper of as to what the name will be.

But, I can't stand my own curiosity.  "Fine, tell me".

"Jada Rose".

"Why that name?"

"Jada because of you initials and your great great grandmother Ada, and Rose is an old family name".

CRAP! I can not freaking believe she guessed our name.  I mean, "knowing" Dilena's gender at 9 weeks was a bit creepy, but guessing our baby girls name before our gender scan, FREAK-Y.  I mean, she was off on the middle name, but Jada?  I could barely keep a straight face.  I simply told her that we had our name and weren't considering changing it (all true, I can't lie to my mom).

Our scan confirmed my suspicions and alleviated my all-consuming obsession.  We are having another girl.  She was jumping and flipping and dancing so much it took a long time to get a convincing shot.  Our tech is young and pretty and 19 weeks pregnant with a boy, I am 18 weeks and bigger than her.  In my fear of having another lazy, non-moving baby, I chugged a can of root beer before the ultrasound, which almost backfired as the baby was too active.  Whoops.  But healthy.  Her profile was so cute, different from Dilena's.  Her legs are long and lean, her arm shape looks like mine.  I think she has my nose ( I hope).   I am floating in my happiness and excitement.  I buy my pink paint the next day.

I am very active this pregnancy, which is also very very different from my last.  I chase Di and cook meals and garden my butt off.  I make Mark dig a hundred holes for all my fruit and nut trees, I lug garbage cans full of fresh manure all over my yard and dig trenches for my asparagus beds.  We relocate hydrangea, plant phlox and lilies and gladiolas and zinnias and dahlias.  I prep my garden and buy my seeds.  My goal is to plant it all in early May, a bit early, but it has been warm and I'm due May 11th, I figure I will be a week late, so I have time.  Ha!

Easter Sunday.  We hide eggs, we do the hunt, we eat our chocolate and color eggs that are overly hard-boiled.  I do my thing and cook and clean and continue to nest my fingers to the bone, even at other people's houses.  My baby girl is super active, always moving, always.  Again, so very different from Dilena. I love feeling her so much, I love that she jumps at loud noises, and that she hiccups daily and stretches to the point where my body looks awkwardly distorted.  Leah hennas my belly at 32 weeks, I plan to have her do it again soon, so I can have it for my delivery.  I so look forward to my delivery, I picture it, pack for it, prepare for it.  Not enough, so it would be.

We leave my parents house Monday evening and make the hour long drive back home.  I am buzzing with energy.  I talk Mark's ear off about all my plans before the baby comes.  I am planning all my sister's pre-wedding festivities and helping her with all the details.  I have much to do in the next few weeks while we are still newborn-free.

At one point over the weekend, I made a joke to my father about having the baby on their anniversary.  Mark and I were married on my mother's birthday, so I thought it would be funny if our baby's birthday was their anniversary.  Between my mother and I, we would have more psychic clients than Miss Cleo.  Because just after midnight, on April 26th, the day of my parents' 31st wedding anniversary, my water broke.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A new reality

It is a sad, scary and frustrating day when you realize your parents are mortal.  Most people will lose their parents in their lifetimes, if you don't then you are even less fortunate to pass before they do.  I always envisioned my parents living well into their 90s, as most of our family does.

The diagnosis isn't immediate.  I am at work when my mother sees her GYN.  They do ultrasounds.  Not comforting.  They do a CT scan.  Less comforting.  I hear the word "mass" used.  I am getting very concerned.  I have trouble concentrating at work.  Whatever it is, has to come out.  Her surgery is scheduled.  I have good days and bad, I cry, and I feel at times that everything is fine.  We await her operation.

That day my father brings her in.  I decided to clean her kitchen, which hasn't seen a good cleaning I'm sure since they moved in.  I am scrubbing to keep my mind off things.  4-5 hour surgery, they say, longer, if something is wrong.  She goes in at 7 am.  By 12 pm, I stop cleaning.  I call my poor father over and over.  He hasn't heard anything.  I can feel the pain in his voice.  This isn't good news.  Finally, my Dad calls me.  I am bending over the windowsill in our dining room, staring at the plastic apples and berries my mom has in a bowl.  "It is cancer".  We don't know the extent, it will be another long wait.  I hang up, numb.  I walk into the living room and give my Nana (my mother's mother) the news.  We cry, and hold each other and just try to absorb this, and reject it.  I go to the hospital then.  My mom doesn't know yet, but she tells me later she did know.  I want her to have us there for the news.

So there it is.  All my fears coming true.  Cancer, in my family, in my mother.  It certainly does and doesn't help that I work in a cancer hospital.  I begin researching, then I stop.  I learn, over time, that no amount of statistics and research will ever predict your outcome.  We go to the appointments, the second opinions.  My mother has surgery to remove her ovaries, fallopian tubes where the cancer was spreading, her uterus and a couple dozen biopsy sites.  The waiting was the most painful time I have ever experienced.  I spent three nights in the hospital, sitting in a wooden chair, because I never wanted my mother to wake up in the middle of the night alone, to realize it wasn't all a bad dream.  That she is where she is and she has what she has.  She was always there for me.  My turn.  I wouldn't let her be alone, not even for a minute.

She has a bad hospital course.  She has pain and can't eat and she vomits a lot.  She is weak and sad and pale.  I have never seen her like this.  Its horrifying, its humbling.  I go into dietitian mode and demand supplements and prealbumin levels.  She is 10 days in the hospital and not eating, with cancer and after major surgery.  She is coping with her diagnosis.  Its hard for her, for us.  My father is a mess, my sister can't hear the word "mom" without crying.  I truly never have, nor will I ever doubt the amazing strength and influence a loving family of support provides.

We get news finally that her lymph nodes are clean.  An early stage ovarian cancer.  Ovarian cancer is a rare cancer, and because its symptoms are so slight, it is often not diagnosed until it has spread enough to cause symptoms.  In my mother's case, it had caused large, fluid filled cysts to develop, which she was able to feel and prompted her to see a doctor.  I am so grateful she didn't wait.

She is offered a clinical trial, and is accepted.  She is emotionally not well before treatment, but once she started, and realized how well she handled it, her attitude and outlook became very positive.  Slowly, as she healed, we were all able to become happy again.  Something I thought would never happened again, after I heard the C word.  I thought my life was changed forever, and it was, but not in the same way.

There it was.  My worst nightmare.  And there we were, getting through it.  Once your worse fear is realized, it can't hurt you anymore.  It frees you.  My dark cloud dissipates, and I am happy again.  as cliche as it sounds, it does make you appreciate life.  I never ignore my mother's calls now, no matter what it's about.  I never rush her off the phone.  I try to see my parents at least once a week.  I listen to their advice more often, and ask for it more.  I want it.

I feel love like I never have before, I hug my Di closer.  I talk to my sisters even more.  I smell the air and make future plans.  I care less about my clean house and how much money is in the bank.  I decide that for all the reasons we have to put off having more children, none of them is a s important as spending time with your kids.  At the end of my life, I want to have had my kids in as much of it as possible.  I'm off to a good start.  Because, 9 months after my beautiful baby girl is born, I am pregnant.

The best laid plans...

Dilena was a beautiful baby, but soon after her birth we realized she wasn't typical.  I read all the books, watched videos and talked with the wonderful mothers on my parenting forum.  We took her to the pediatrician frequently.  She was diagnosed as a colicky baby.  Ha!

My Dilena was not simply colicky, she literally screamed for about 18-20 hours a day. She slept in 45 minute increments.  The advice new mothers are given to "sleep when you baby sleeps" certainly does not apply to babies like this.  I fell into a funk.  I wasn't the mother I had dreamed of being.  I wasn't the carefree, multitasking supermom I knew I would be.  Dilena screamed, I couldn't comfort her.  I would wear her in my Moby wrap all day and pace my apartment, waiting for Mark to get home.  If I stopped pacing, tried to sit or eat or change pace, she screamed.

I got sick with what I thought was a flu, but was mastitis, twice.  She screamed at the breast and I eventually began to pump milk for her which I thought, at the time, was my only option.  It was very hard work, but in our case did turn out well.  When Mark got home I would sleep, for a few hours in our bedroom.  He had a trick, taking her into the bathroom, the fan would usually calm her.  I even napped in our bathtub with her just to get some silence.  At night, I would get up and take my little Di into the bedroom and Mark slept on the couch.  I held my baby, watched silent Roseanne reruns while she screamed.  I talked to her through her cries.  Told her what we would do when she was older, how we would fish and swim and play together.  I would beg her to sleep so that we could ride unicorns together in dreamland.  Occasionally, I would get a 45 minute reprieve.  Otherwise, she would cry and I would hold her and cringe at what our neighbors were thinking.

I was lucky enough to be able to work part time after Dilena was born.  I didn't sleep at all the night before my maternity leave ended.  I begged Mark to let me stay home, I told him I couldn't leave her.  We found a great little daycare but I can't, I cant leave her with strangers.  My heart ached, I was nauseous.  All these months all I wanted was some time away from my screaming baby, but now I can;t bear the thought of leaving her even for a second.  I have never experienced this intensity of anxiety.   I drop her off, I give the sweet women a long list of very specific instructions.  I warn them I will be calling every hour...maybe more.  My heart is pounding.  I leave, prepared for big tears and then...nothing.  I go back to my job,which I love, and I feel good.  Happy, balanced, even empowered.  As I get back into my work groove, I realize I can be a mom and work.  I can balance it all.  I don't call daycare as much as I expect I would.  I miss her, but her absence doesn't consume me.  I am doing it.

Dilena starts sleeping more, crying less.  Eventually she is diagnosed with severe reflux.  Medications help.  When she starts solids foods it helps too, and she loves food.   I like being a mom now.  Mark and I buy a house in the town we had dreamed about living in for several years.  Thats when I realize that we are really parents, homeowners and adults.  Scary.

Life is settling.  Our cute house in our beautiful town.  We discuss more kids several years down the road.  We are happy, settled.  Still.  Something menacing is deep within me.  Postpartum depression?  No, it is something deeper, but something else.  I have this sense of impending doom.  I stare at my beautiful surroundings, and yet, deep within me, a sadness.  I cant pinpoint what it was, or why.  I think about my own mortality a lot.  Why?  My dark cloud looms.  We go on with life.

I visit my parents a lot.  I love them so much.  I love being friends with my parents.  Mark and I vacation with them every year.  We hang out.  I don't go very many days without talking to my mother, never have.  My mom is a small woman, active, healthy eater, non-smoker.  I have always felt protected by this bubble of longevity in our family, our spotless family medical history (save for some alcoholism) and my parents healthy lifestyle.

Then, one night, my mother says to me "Julie, feel this, what is this?".  She has a large, soft bump in her belly.  She is laying flat, and it is obvious now, but not so when she is standing.  A hernia?  It isn't painful.  A cyst?  My great-grandmother had a cyst so large she looked 6 months pregnant.  I am not too worried.  This popped up so suddenly.  It has to be nothing.

It isn't nothing.  It is something.  Something awful.  It is cancer.


It is snowing.  It is October 18th, and it is snowing.  Not flurries either.  Its big, fat, fluffly snowflakes.  Enough to cover the green grass.  I am pacing outside.  I can't bring myself to get in the car.  I am in excruciating pain, is that even accurate.  The pain is worse than excruciation.  I am being crucified, but is that similar to excruciating, I am thinking as I pace through the snow.  My mother coaxes me into the car.  My labor music is playing.  I am gripping the handles and throwing my head back and making sounds I didn't think I could make.  I scream at Mark when he slows down, when he speeds up, and for every bump along route 9.  So this is labor, this is what I waited for? This is what I so desperately wanted to feel?  What the hell was I thinking.  Suddenly I am longing for the c-section.

We make it to the hospital, I don't know how.  I have to go back to register, I can't even sign papers.  Why oh why do they make a woman in labor sit down and sign papers and answer stupid f-ing questions when I am in so much pain I don't know my own name?  I guess I freaked out the girl enough so she skipped the paperwork.

Finally in my room.  I need drugs, now.  All my hypno-birthing tapes, all my reading, all my research.  To hell with it all, I want drugs.  The sooner, the better.  The more the merrier. Now.

I change into that pale blue gown.  I turn my back to everyone and brace myself between the bed rail and the wall through my contractions.  I use the rails in the bathroom to rock myself through contractions.  I get really really pissed when I am forced to leave any position and change.  My mom attempts to drink coffee in my presence, I order her out.  The smell makes me retch.  A not-so-considerate nurse comes in with a mouthful of freshly masticated Doritoes and demonstrates proper breathing...blowing moist flecks of Cooler Ranch chunks in my face.  I will myself not to punch her teeth out, so that I can prevent further Dorito consumption.

Finally, a lovely midwife intelligently checks me and does a stretch, which instantly dilates me from one to four cm.  I have some relief.  She hypothesizes that my cervix was scarred in my miscarriage and the scar tissue was preventing dilatation, which is why my contractions were so fast and hard and painful.  They space out a bit.  four minutes apart.  I rock myself in the rocking chair and wait for my epidural.  I have no interest in a med free birth at this point.  I need relief, badly.  My doulas have not returned calls. They are absent for my birth, and I am lost.

The anesthesiologist is white haired and beautiful.  Probably not, but anyone with pain relief was beautiful then.  I have three contractions while he works.  I have never summoned so much strength as I did to keep my body still through that.  I loved the epidural.  Once it worked, I was a happy, peaceful, lovely person again.  I was hungry and laughing, looking at that disgusting giant zit popping video on YouTube.  We watched TV, updated facebook and generally had a great time.

2 am.  I am ready to push.  I feel nothing.  I know I am not pushing well, I don't know how.  I don't even know where my own ass is at the moment, I am numb.  Epidural is turned off. Sensation begins to return. There is mumbling.  They can't track the baby's heart rate.  They go inside and screw that nasty looking needle into her head and the once pleasant, horse galloping rhythm of my baby's heartbeat is now an obnoxious wooden knocker, load, harsh and unsettling.  It stops periodically.  I can't ignore it. They turn it off.  I ask if the baby is OK.  My nurse smiles sweetly and tells me, "honey, if something bad happened, you would see about 20 people run into this room".  I am relieved, briefly.  Until about 20 people, quickly, silently, enter my room.

Pushing was awkward.  I tried everything they asked me too.  Being on all fours was far too graphic for my imagination.  I know I shouldn't have, I know how normal childbirth is, but honestly, being in that position in front of all those people, it was difficult to forget that a bunch of strangers are looking at my naked, oozing body.  It did inhibit my pushing, and my enjoyment of the moment.  That and the pain.  I wanted to push on the toilet, I begged them to let me do that.  My sister and mom are crying. I know I hear them talking about a c-section now.  Good.  Bring it.  I am done.  I have been pushing for two hours, vomiting on myself between contractions and the pain is worse than before.  I am dying.  I have no concept of reality, I am not having a baby.  I am dying.  The nurse tells me I need to push for my baby, I need to get my baby out.  My baby isn't doing well and she needs to come out.  What baby, I don't even care.  The pain is all consuming.  Everything is black, are my eyes closed, or did I just block out this memmory?  I still have no idea.  All I remember is pain, blackness and all those voices.

The baby's heart rate is doing rapid decelerations.  I know this is bad, my sister, who is a nurse, knows its bad and she is crying.  My husband is a particular shade of green.  I remember digging my nails into his hands, trying to separate the tendons so that I could pull on something.  At one point the nurse forces him to sit down.  I am getting close to c-section time.  The nurse urges me to push.  No.  I am done, I refuse, I give up.  The doctor tells me she will help me, she whips out the scary looking scissors for an episiotomy and the tiny vacuum, which sounds horrific but looks innocent enough.  She attaches it to my baby's head, which hasn't moved in hours.  She pulls gently as I push and POP!  It flies off immediately.  As she fumbles to reattach it, I relax, and my baby shoots out of me entirely in one push.  No crowning, no burning, nothing.  Just baby, out, completely.  The doctor is still fumbling with the vacuum and just yells, "Julie, look!"  And I open my eyes to my baby girl, her legs just exiting my body.  Mark chokes out, "its a girl" and I am dumbfounded.  I didn't even push that time.  as if all along she would have come, when she wanted.  I should have known, my Dilena wanted to be born when she wanted to be born.  She avoided two, nearly 3 c-sections and an induction.  My baby girl was here.

The NICU team took her.  My nurse in a moment of craziness kissed me, I kissed her back.  We yelled at each other the entire labor, but now I love her.  The pain is all gone and I am amazed.  The pediatricians are silent, but I hear baby cries.  I keep asking how my baby is, no one answers.  Finally a women says "she's fine" barely looking up.

It takes an hour to sew me up.  I have 4th degree tears.  I ask to see my placenta, its quite pretty, in a strange way.  It looks like a bloody liver on one side, but has a beautiful fern, or tree -like pattern on the other side.  Neat.  I look at the floor, the nurses and doctors are slipping in puddles of blood.  Mark later told me it looked like a scene from Saving Private Ryan.  

The first time I ever saw Dilena's face, is one of those moments that is forever imprinted in my mind, with a halo of white cloud around it.  Her eyes are open, she is holding up her own head.  I know breast feeding may be difficult, because it has been so long since I gave birth and didn't do skin-to-skin or hold her.  I wasn't even the first to hold her, but I wanted her to be held by someone, even if it was not me.  My first thought was that she was so cute.  I reached for her, all bundled in those hospital blankets, her little knitted hat.  She is already opening her mouth when she sees me.  She starts eating immediately, she is sucking before I even have her on my breast.  To this day, my Dilena doesn't miss a meal.  This is my baby, my daughter.  She is perfect, she is beautiful, she is mine.  Ours.

Dilena Cecelia, 10/19/2009, 03:58; 8 pounds, 2.6 oz, 21 inches.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

when We became Three (part three)

I am very very pregnant.  My feet continue to swell, and I barely recognize myself in the mirror anymore.  I am so very grateful that I ma still pregnant, that I will be a momma, but I can't help but hate my body right now.  I have never been happy with my weight, but this was a new level of self disgust.  Part of me reveled in it, I am big because of this baby and I am not allowed to exercise at all or even move that much, so I am bored and I eat and its hot and I don't care.  Except I do.  I care even more when after 32 weeks of diligently applying my bio-oil and cocoa butter and stretch mark cream, my once beautiful, full, smooth belly crackled out in spider web like flames from my bely button out.  They ached, they itched, and they are ugly.  Still very much worth my baby, but certainly enough to induce some hormonally fueled self loathing.

I am taking my vitamins still, I add more to help with labor.  We don't have a lot of money, but I want a doula badly.  I know I will need the support to do this the right way, the way I always dreamed.  We decide to hire a student doula, so we can experience this new territory all together.  It feels good.  The first doula we hire seems wonderful, very excited to help us.  I continue to plan our birth.  I devour books on the subject, I read horrifying accounts of the first medically attended births, about chloroform and broken pelvic bones and extremely disturbing chronicles of unfortunate babies who got stuck in the birth canal.  Natural for me, for sure.  For all those women who ever suffered, I will do this my way.

A disheartening call.  Our student doula has decided to forgo our birth to take a trip to Sweden.  Our birth is only a couple months away, we have a hard time believing this was a newly scheduled trip, however we wish her well and look back to the doula school.  We find Cynthia.  A lovely girl who has attended several home births.  We meet for coffee, we talk, we click.  I like her.  We schedule follow up meetings.  Cynthia has a difficult time keeping our appointments.  Still, we like her and I have confidence she will be there when we need her.

The baby is getting very large, they tell me.  And she is still breech.  Her head is wedged up in my ribcage, her feet planted down as far as they can be.  She doesn't budge.  Finally, my wonderful OB, breaks the news.  C-section is on.  We choose October 2nd, and I am crushed.  ll my preparation, all my work...gone.  I attend my birthing classes still but only half listen.  Mark and I attend a safety and CPR class for infants.  While we are blowing into these lifelike, freaky little dolls, the girl sitting behind us gasps.  "My water just broke".  The class cheers.  A rush of excitement, then complete disappointment.  I am deflating.  I won't get that experience.  I won't have that excitement, the when, the where, the how.  I am stuck, with October 2nd.

Cynthia still plans on coming to our c-section.  I will need the support with breastfeeding and bonding and all that.  She will help me after by coming to our apartment after to assist me.  She is inexpensive as far as doulas go, so we pay her and wait for the date.

At one point, a lovely midwife tells me she feels a head near my pelvis.  I absolutely adored my time with midwives.  There are like caring aunts.  If ever I have the money and motivation to continue schooling, I would become a midwife.  I have seen so much of the end of life, I would like to see more of the beginning of it.  I want to wear a white lab coat (well, I already do that) over an eclectic, patterned dress with a long gray ponytail and big brass earrings and I want to be covered in placenta and baby goo.  That's my alternate life.

Unfortunately, that midwife wasn't so accurate, and the baby's head was still firmly planted between my ribcage.  My OB gives me an option.  She can try an external version to manually turn the baby at 37 weeks.  After 37 weeks, the baby will be too big.  The bad part is that if the version failed, I would have an emergency c-section right then and there.  My placenta had moved from covering my cervix, right up the front, so that the version could possibly abrupt my placenta.  There was no other option, try for the version, and if it failed, a c-section at 37 weeks, or a c-section at 39 weeks.  I didn't have to think long.  I wanted my baby to be in me as long as possible, I didn't want a c-section, but I certainly didn't want to risk one two weeks earlier.  So I told my bosses and prepped my apartment and made plans.  October 2nd.  My baby would be here.  Meanwhile, I was trying everything I have ever read about to get this baby to turn on her own.  Ice pack/heat pack combo, hanging upside down, music, flashlights, talking to her, begging her to move.  I felt nothing.  It felt useless, and about a week before my c-section, I gave up.  Excitement began to creep up over the disappointment and I started to gain some acceptance.

I am so very big.  I can barely eat.  I have several low blood sugars a day.  A low blood sugar is akin to being an addict going through withdrawal, you need food and sugar and carbohydrates terribly bad.  You shake, you can't see straight, you panic.  You take way more than you need.  I am still gaining weight at a pretty alarming rate.  I don't care.  I am so excited to see my baby.  I picture my baby.  I picture a girl, with a little brown hair and big eyes (actually, I picture almost exactly what my Jada looks like).  I want a girl so bad I get sick thinking about having a boy.  I must have known all along.

October 1st.  My mom and Dad and sister are up at our apartment.  I have made food for several days.  We are packed.  We have a last dinner of Mango, our favorite restaurant.  We watch TV, odd things.  I remember watching the Shakira "She Wolf" video.  I have no idea why.  I play with my cats and give the nursery a once over.  Pack the cameras and videos and computers.  We are so prepared, I feel powerful.  I barely sleep.

The way to the hospital is fuzzy.  There is a rotary right before St. Vincent's, it has strange inverted road bumps, like those on the side of the highway.  What the hell are those things called?  I remember going over these bumps thinking " I will never go over these again without being a mother, without knowing what my baby looks like".  I am amazed by what is happening.

I register and make my way down to maternity.  The nurse is a little snippy.  I am a few minutes late to maternity because registration took so long.  I was at the hospital when they asked me to be, sheesh.  My OB comes in.  Mark is gowned up in OR gear.  I have my IVs put in, my lovely pale blue hospital johnny is in place.   I am about to have major surgery, I wonder what it will be like.  I focus on my baby.  My OB wants to do a last minute ultrasound, to see the placement of the baby.  She will have to cut through my placenta, which is scary to me, I will bleed a lot.

The ultrasound wand in on and everyone is silent.  The nurse yells out, "there's the head, its down!".  My brain does not process this.  So?  "you get to go home", she says with a smile.  I burst out crying.  How could they do this, send me home babyless, when I was so sure I would be holding my baby is a few hours.  Now, once again, I have nothing but a bloated body and nothing to show for it.  They told me time and time again this baby would not move, and she did?  "Induce me" I blurt out.  "induce me today, you can't send me home".  My OB half laughs at me.  She explains to this crazy, overly pregnant woman that she can not do this for no medical reason.  I know this, I don't really want it. But I cry anyway.   The IVs come out, Mark strips of his paper garb and I change back into my clothes.  I have to face my family, in the waiting room.  I sulk back to them like a puppy who didn't quite make it outside.  I have failed, yet again.  I just can't believe this emotional ping-pong.  We go home, babyless.  I am out of work.  I am bored, anxious and completely lost.  It sounds ridiculous, but even though I know that the baby can't possibly stay in there forever, I still feel like I will never be a mother.  Two weeks of eternity. I tried everything (everything) to get her out.  Log walks, spicy food, castor oil, etc.  No so much as a cramp.

Ok, my OB schedules an induction, finally.  I don't want to be induced, but at this point I don't care anymore.  I just want my baby.  I am wasting precious maternity leave on nothing, watching A Baby Story reruns.  I want to spend my days with my baby.  I am to go in Sunday, to start the induction.  I will have the baby Monday, October 19th.  The date doesn't resonate with me, but oh well.  I want to meet my baby.

Induction day.  My mom is coming.  I am packing, cleaning etc.  I have accepted my fate.  Cynthia has not returned my calls, but she knows my induction date and has promised to be there.  She did warn us that she was having family issues, and had a back up doula for us just in case she was out of town.  Mark leaves messages, no answers.  I barely care.  I am having a baby tomorrow.  I am packing.  I am having a baby tomorrow. I am cleaning.  Having a baby tomorrow.  I keep running to the bathroom.  I am having a baby.  I keep having cramps.  I am having a baby.  My mom calls.  I AM HAVING A BABY. She hears my moans, my cries.  I am bent over the couch, on all fours in my bedroom.  I am having a baby.  I am in labor, full blown contractions, two minutes apart.  I am having a baby, right now!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

when We became Three (part two)

So here I am.   It's February.  It's cold.  I am 6 weeks pregnant, I have a tiny picture of my little sea money and her volleyball.  I am still terrified. 

8 weeks pregnant.  I have more nightmares.  I take my vitamins and aspirin and pills religiously.  I have never been so diligent with my diet.  I crave salt like I could never have imagined.  At one point, I honestly contemplated licking the dried salt off my dirty car.  It was just sitting in the parking lot of my apartment complex, all crusted over with months of road salt and sand and snow all compounded into a delicious, dirty crust, and I have to tell myself out loud not to eat it.  The non-pregnant me despises salt.  I am nauseous, but am not sure if it's the hormones or the constant worry that this wonderful thing will disappear forever again. 

3 am.  A cold Wednesday night.  I love those kind of winter nights, the kind where it's too cold to breath and all the moisture is crystalized, so that everything, from tree branches to trash bags sparkle.  And it is so quite outside that your own body seems obnoxiously noisy.  I wake up from a deep sleep with the sensation of being wet, very wet.  I bolt upright, still half asleep but all the same knowing what was happening.  Blood.  Everywhere.  All over my bed.  I stand up, run to the bathroom and turn on the light, brace myself as I turn to look in the mirror.  More blood, gushes of blood.  Its over now, no doubt.  I clean up and go sit in bed, staring out the window at this perfect winter night.  Mark wakes up and I tell him its over...I'm still staring out the window.  I don't want to look at him, I don't want him to look at me.  All I want to do is stare at the sparkles.  

I'm not crying, I'm numb.  Our dream is over, I am done.  Never again, I won't go through this again, I promised myself. 

Time passes, Mark wants to take me to the hospital.  I refuse.  Why?  So that it's real?  So that I have to hear what I already know, so that some cold doctor can tell me with the same amount of compassion that Barbie Bitch gave me that I am no longer a mother?  Not again. 

We finally go.  I start thinking I may have to think about my own health, though truthfully I couldn't give a shit at the moment.  We go.  To the ER in the very hospital where we both worked/have worked.  Mark's former co-workers are everywhere.  Of course they recognize us, of course they will probably overhear.  Of course they know something is very wrong because I am crying now and we don't talk to anyone, don't smile or nod.  This is not like us, so of course, they know.  I know they know.  I failed again.  

The doctor comes in, does an exam.  Says he can't feel anything significant.  Nice, what the hell does that mean.  They don't have an ultrasound machine here.  Well, they tell me its on maternity and they can not get it now (because maternity is an entire flight up from the ER, really?)  They don't even have a doppler to check for a heartbeat.  So that's it, I go back to my own doctor in the morning for an ultrasound...for now I am sent home...I don't sleep.  

The ride to my doctor's office is quiet...I still don't want to talk.  I still feel this strange buzz inside me, I feel my body pulsate like it never has before, and for some reason, I have hope this morning.  

Back in the room, the same ultrasound tech. I hold my breath, Mark is standing so very still.  The tech smiles and my heart just melted into my chest.  "your baby is dancing" and she turned the screen.  There was my sea monkey, though now it looks exactly like a peanut shell.  That same flicker is much more visible now.  I am staring so hard, and I see it.  Our peanut is wiggling in a slow wave.  Mark is crying now, which I never see him do.  Again, I am a mother, and I think he finally realized he was a father.  We float out of the office.  We nickname our baby Ceci, for chickpea.  

10 weeks.  More bleeding.  I am at work and I feel that horrifying, all too familiar feeling.  Back to my lovely OB.  ANother ultrasound.  Now our ceci is out of the peanut stage and looks like a tiny baby, with flipper arms and legs.  I never lost my faith that time,our baby is too strong, but I am worried.  I am fascinated by how much this little chickpea changes every two weeks.  I see my amazing doctor again.  I have a couple diagnoses.  One, a small subchorionic bleed, she shows me on the ultrasound picture gripped my hand.  My sweet Ceci's head is resting on a pillow, which she tells me is actually a pocket of blood.  But it is too small to explain my large quantities of blood and frequent bleeds.  She speculates its a placental issue.   I should take it easy, I shouldn't be upright as much as possible.  I can work but my feet need to be elevated as much as possible.  And we are advised to cancel our cruise we should be on in a couple weeks, she is so apologetic, but I don't mind much.  I would trade a cruise for a baby any day.  

12 weeks, the big ultrasound.  I have been feeling better.  No more large bleeds and we have our own doppler so we can listen to our baby's heartbeat every night.  It feels so good to hear that sound.  We see our Ceci again, who now looks even more like a little person.  She is sleeping and the tech has to push and wiggle and poke her to get measurements.  Ceci looks like a cartoon, sleeping, the rise and fall of her little body, floating.  I can't stop staring, I never want the picture to end.  

20 weeks.  Ultrasound.  Mark and I decided early on we do not want to know the gender.  Our nursery is sea life and blue and green and beautiful.  Shells from our honeymoon are nailed to the walls and piled in bowls in the room.  Books about the sea and its creatures line the shelves. I can't believe this is our child's room.  

We see Ceci again, though we can no longer call her that because she is so big.  We see her face for the first time, her legs, arms feet.  Its all too amazing.  She can't get a good face shot.  The tech is a bit rough, its painful but I want to see more.  More bad news, I have complete placenta previa.  Another explanation for my heavy bleeding.  At least I have another answer.  

In a moment of weakness I ask the tech the gender.  She manipulates my belly over and over...but the baby's legs are sealed shut.  I get up, go to the bathroom, jump up and down, drink juice...nothing.  Our lazy baby is still snoozing away.  I am crushed, I need to know.  I walk out tearful.  I show my sister the pictures and comment on how much the baby looks like Mark.  To this day she still thinks I was upset because of my child's resemblance to her father.  But I wanted to have girl now, so badly I couldn't think about anything else. 

I didnt always feel this way.  In the beginning all I could think of was having a boy.  I became rather annoyed when people said I looked to be carrying a girl.  What did they know?  I am having a boy....period.  Until one day I woke up and wanted a girl, more badly than I had wanted my boy.  I wanted to buy pink clothes and bows and snuggle my baby girl.  I am now obsessed with having a girl, and I have to know, and I can't.  Add in my pregnancy hormones and the heat and I am not a happy or pleasant person.  My mother is convinced we are having a girl, she even filled my baby's closet with pink, organic outfits she bought when I was only 9 weeks pregnant.  I think she is crazy, but try to stop my mother from buying baby clothes and you'd only encourage her more. 

I have another ultrasound at 26 weeks, placenta is still firmly in place and is very unlikely to move.  We start talking about c-sections.  Because of my history, my OB says we may have to go as early at 32 weeks if the baby is struggling.  I am as inactive as I can possibly be.  I am swelling up.  My feet, my fingers.  At one point I attempt to remove the beautiful wedding rings from my hand.  After many lotions, potions and tricks, no one is able to take it off.  My skin is raw and bleeding.  We make the trip to a jewelry store 40 minutes away to have some old man cut the rings off my fat fingers.  We shop for baby clothes while he welds the rings back together.  My doctor calls, I have borderline gestational diabetes.  I passed the big test, but not by much.  More good news.  

I research placenta previa.  It happens in 2% of pregnancies, gestational diabetes happens in 1%.  Those are some odds I am beating.  And then, some good news.  My placenta is shouldn't, but it is.  Over the next few weeks it moves little by little until finally, it is the required 3 cm away from the cervix (6 cm, actually).  C-section is off!

More ultrasounds.  I am absolutely huge.  My feet are unrecognizably swollen.  My hands and face are as well.  I am happily reading all about labor.  I want med free, hypno-birthing.  I read all about the history of birthing, autobiographies by midwives and listen to my tapes, attend my childbirth classes.  I buy special lotions and oils to help me through my labor.  I can't contain my excitement.  When will it happen? How will it happen, where will I be?  I pack, unpack and repack my bag.  Over and over.  I fold onesies and boil pacifiers and rearrange my apartment daily.  I buy birthing tapes and balls and hire a doula.  

We are getting closer.  We have known our baby was breech since 26 weeks.  We are told over and over that she will turn, we have time.  Every week, she is still breech.  I have hope, I know she will turn.  I am going natural if it kills me.  I listen to my tapes, do my pregnancy yoga and dream about the day I will meet my baby.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

when We became Three (part one)

I have a lot of initial posting to do, since this is my motherhood blog, it seems appropriate that I start the relatively long story about when I became a mother.  (isn't it always a long story?  As mothers, even if it isn't, we will make it a long story, won't we?)

Mark and I always knew we wanted children.  We were married one year to the day of our first date, on a beautiful island with only the native birds, lizards and sea turtles as wedding guests.  Not even our families knew.  It was the happiest days of my life, we had so much fun.

We talked about starting a family right away.  I had a very happy childhood and couldn't wait to replicate that with my own children.  Mark's reasons were very different.  His entire childhood, and most of adulthood, was severely stifled by the one person who should have loved him most.  Unfortunately, his mother was and is a very toxic and cruel human being who really never deserved the privilege of having such a wonderful person, people really, in her life.  I think Mark wanted to create the loving family he was never allowed to have.  And while it certainly isn't an ideal motivator, he truly is the most amazing father to our girls I could have ever asked for.  All the love he was denied by his mother, he has multiplied infinitely and bestowed on our family.  I'll never know how he found the strength to do that, or if it was just in his nature all along.

I joined a motherhood forum I am still a part of today.  I love the women I have met there, but they will get their own tribute soon enough.  We started diets, supplements.  I took my temperature, peed on several sticks a day, charted everything I could to prepare.  Our first try...nothing.  Our second try.....

Mark was at work, it was Christmas Eve.  I called Mark to yell at him.  Why had he made caffeinated coffee this morning for me, he knew we had given it up months ago.  I was shakey and wired and my heart was pounding.  I can't believe he mixed up the coffees.  I am prepared to rip him a new one (I'm in a great mood).  He assures me he is 100% positive that he made decaf, we don't even have caffeinated in our house.  Hmmmm.  I think.  I pee. I see it.  The faint, but definitely there double pink line.  My knees buckle.  My legs feel like rubber.  I can barely walk over to the phone.  I call Mark again, all I can say when he answers is "I'm pregnant".  He laughs, as Mark does when he gets really good news.  We go to our family party that night.  I can't stop smiling.  I am pregnant and its Christmas and I am so happy.  I drink ginger ale in a wine glass and we smile all night at our littlest, biggest secret.  The next day is Christmas and I show my parents and sisters my pregnancy test.  I drink cranberry juice out of a wine glass at another family party and can barely open my presents I am so happy.  Its Christmas...and I'm pregnant...

New Year's Eve I wake up sweating, upset.  I had an awful dream where I am bleeding and have lost the baby.  I am shaken up.  I go to work.  I still feel awful...something isn't right.  Halfway through the day my awful nightmare came true, I am bleeding, just like in my dream.  And just as in my dream, I lose my pregnancy.  Blood tests confirm I'm pregnant, and losing it.  All the excitement, all the happiness, ripped away.  Stolen.  This is a sadness I have never felt.  I mourn my loss of motherhood, and am convinced now that my body is incapable of carrying a pregnancy as it should.  I start the long, tedious process of searching the web for international adoption.  The rules are so strict, the expense is exorbitant.  I start paperwork anyway.

I lost my pregnancy on December January 16th, we had conceived again.  On January 26th, I had that familiar feeling as if Mark had made the regular coffee.  Only this time, I'm not angry at him.  I freeze when my heart starts to pound.  No way.  I just had a miscarriage.  I can not be pregnant.  It is impossible, right?  I go online, I search and search.  Not impossible.  The internet, and my motherhood forum, is just chock full of stories like mine....I pee again.  That familiar, light but definitely there double pink line.  I am, for the second time in 3 weeks, pregnant.

I'm only happy for a moment, and all my happiness quickly turns to fear.  I can't go through this again.  I tell Mark, I tell my mom this is it.  If I lose this baby, we will not be having biological children.  Mark is adopted, so we are both very open to raising children that don't share our genetics.  I continue the application process, though it will be many years before we can afford to take home our baby.

6 weeks pregnant, and I am bleeding.  I am not too surprised.  I call my doctor in tears.  I have a consult. She is a beautiful woman, looks like Barbie.  I want her to help me, to tell me its ok, to do an exam, anything...but she is so cold.  She is not interested in me or my pregnancy.  She tells me my previous miscarriage is common.  30 percent or more of pregnancies actually end in miscarriage, she tells me.  How comforting, thanks.  I am crying hard now.  She callously hands me a tissue box and I feel ashamed.  She proceeds to tell me that years ago women didn't have home pregnancy tests, so I would have never even know I was pregnant back then.  Great, I feel much better, thanks.  She doesn't even know I am pregnant again.  She didn't bother to look at my chart.  When I explain I am again pregnant, her only advice was "well, thats pretty fast, you should have waited".  She tells me, a woman who just lost a baby and may be losing another, that she just had her own baby, so that if my baby makes it, she won't deliver it anyway because she stays home with her baby at night.  She points to a picture on her desk.  She tells me that if I am losing this baby there is nothing anyone can do.  I am sent home to wait for it to end.  I am devastated, heartbroken, defeated.

The next day I have pain and more bleeding.  The Barbie bitch I had seen yesterday is unavailable, I have to go to another hospital, but the OB there wants to do an ultrasound.  I go.  I have the wand inside me and I turn my head.  I don't want to look at it, I know what is happening.  The tech turns the screen and tells me to look.  What type of terrible, sick person forces a person to look at her own dead baby?  I look at her...then the screen.  I cant stop myself.  I see a large black circle, and inside, a tiny little seahorse holding a volley ball.  The tech points out a faint flicker.  "That's the heartbeat".   I am shocked.  A heartbeat?  I'm still pregnant?  But its the same thing that just happened, the bleeding, the pain.  They can't explain it, but I am pregnant.  I am told to wait, the OB who ordered the ultrasound wants to see me, but she is in surgery. She comes down still dressed in her OR gear.  She is much different than Barbie bitch.  She is kind. She is patient.  She talks to me, reassures me, comforts me. She tells me she does not know why I am bleeding.  She tells me if I lose this pregnancy, she will make sure I never lose another one.  I instantly adore her, she cares, like really cares.

She became my new doctor that day.  And I became a mother.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race...

I thought I was going to the hospital today for a quick appointment.  I ended up spending 4 hours there.  I have had bilateral mastitis basically since JJ was born. I have been on several rounds of oral antibiotics with no reprieve.  My OBGYN was at a loss, none of the other OBs or midwives knew what to do either.  I was already on the strongest oral regimen.  I still have fevers and the infection is spreading.

Today I saw the infectious disease specialist, since apparently I am the only postpartum patient that this has ever happened to at this hospital.  I figured since mastitis was so common, it was no big deal, but apparently, my case of persistent, antibiotic resistant mastitis was cause for more concern than I bothered to give it.

I brought Jada with me today.  Mark met me there but had to leave before old man river walked in.  I much prefer younger to older doctors.  Older doctors tend to be too conservative, and resistant to the new age (but really, very old age) parenting ways I have adopted.  They hate co-sleeping and think breast feeding is only necessary for a few weeks.  Of course, his very first piece of advice was to quit breast feeding.  I remained calm.  I told him simply that this was in no way an option.  I think he was annoyed that his easy-way-out solution wasn't going to fly with me.  Nope, I'm just going to make you think a little bit harder than that.

The solution: a 10 day stretch of daily IV antibiotics.  Fantastic.  Because I can think of no better way to spend my summer maternity leave than to be pumped full of high dose antibiotics that will no doubt, while curing me of my painful infection, will cause some fabulous GI side effects...perhaps thrush even.  Nice.

I have my infusion, all the while trying to nurse and calm a fussy JJ without bending my left arm too much.  I await the call from my insurance company..I am just so excited for this bill!  I am set up with a home IV infusion kit and a visiting nurse.  Finally, I am allowed to go home.  Jada is sleeping peacefully for now.

I make the 45 minute trip home.  Its a lovely drive mostly, even the highway is a two lane and typically quite calm.  I am reflecting, as I do when I drive, since the option of music is out, now that I have joined the parenting club.  I now enjoy silence, I appreciate, where once I loathed it and longed to fill any gaps in noise with more noise, and noise on top of that.

I see an old truck on the side of the highway.  50  feet behind it, a man, walking on the edge of the highway, toward the truck.  He is dressed in dirty torn jeans and a cut off flannel shirt.  He has longer hair and a scruffy beard.  He is carrying a rock back toward the truck. I am momentarily annoyed at the disruption in my thoughts, because now I have to move over a lane.  I was in a driving zone, on autopilot.  I enjoy driving when you don't have to think about driving.  The lumberjack broke my non- concentration.  What the hell was he doing walking along the highway, presumably toward his truck with no evidence of tools or gasoline to fix a breakdown?  I pass him and briefly glance in my mirror to glide back into my lane, and I see it.  The man is holding that rock at an awkward angle, away from his body.  Except now, it is clearly not a rock, but a small turtle.  This man had pulled over on a busy highway, walked a hundred feet, and risked his neck to move it to safety.  And not just side-of-the-road safety, he was taking it back to his truck.  He was actually going to drive this little hitchhiker to a location more hospitable to little hard shelled reptiles.

Suddenly, my long, annoying day was over.  I am smiling at this burly man carrying his little critter friend, away from his body like he was afraid of it, a little.  And I know that this is what I want.  A world where a person like this cares enough to acknowledge that a few minutes of his time could save what some would see as a pretty insignificant creature.  A world where we are able to acknowledge that while we are the most destructive creatures who live here,  we should care about who we share our world with.  I want to live in a world where people respect each other, are remotely aware of how to cut down on damage we do here with our toxins, and poisons and destruction...and maybe try to prevent that a little.

That is the world I want to raise my children in.  I'm still smiling...

Everyone else is doing it, so why shouldn't I?

Thats not the only reason.  I have wanted to start my own blog for a long time.  Why? Well because I tend to blog my life in my head anyway.   I have been doing this in fact since I was very young, long before the word blog meant what it does today.   Back when the word may have conjured up images of digestive remains or a type of mucus ball.  Maybe that's the mother in me though, every thing is one or the other with young children.  

I also suck at journaling,  which I always wished I was able to do.  Someday, perhaps I will reflect on this blog, maybe I can share bits with my children as they grow up.  Perhaps I will use it for nostalgic reasons, to resurrect memories that might otherwise be lost in the infinite moments of life.  Even if I am the only person to ever see these words, I will certainly be grateful for that.  With my children, there are far too many wonderful moments of life I don't want to lose amongst the mundane chores of bill paying and picking bits of food from places I would have sworn it was absolutely impossible for food to be.  

I have two beautiful children, little girls.  My dream.  Di is about 20 months old, and JJ is 7 weeks old.  I plan to write about my experience with my pregnancies and births with each of them, again, mostly for myself, and for them.  I plan to use a graphic version to scare away potential boyfriends and embarrass them at cheerleading sleepovers.  But mostly, so I remember how amazing every moment of pregnancy, birth and raising my babies was, is, and will be.