Sunday, June 24, 2012
3 years. For 3 solid years, I've walked into doctors offices, dropped my pants, and had strangers poke and prod me in every undignified way a person can be poked and prodded.
With the exception of one more post partum medical exam in about a month, I finally get to regain ownership of my body. I don't think I realized what a toll it was taking to have so little control over simply getting to choose who would get to have access to my body every day. My body and I separated as entities, my body dragging me around from place to place that it had to get to for various appointments to be subjected to various indignities, and I waited for it to finish so it could take me someplace I actually wanted to go. But now, finally, my body is only going to go where I want it to go, and it's only going to be accessed by people of my own choosing. It belongs to me again.
Maybe that's what's really signalling the end of this particular infertility journey. I might have another one if we decide to try for another child in the future, but this journey is now over. I know, the poopy diapers and constant bottle washing should signal the end, but that's not really the case. That signals the start of a whole new journey.
Friday, June 22, 2012
You get to meet your babies and learn about them so much earlier than most people do. Most people are so bleary eyed throughout the newborn stage that they don't get to remember much of it. Our kids will be little babies much longer extending the time you get to spend with your baby as a baby.
Hands on help while you recover from pregnancy and delivery! This one is huge! I was barely able to move and I didn't have to jump in to full time parenting while in pain. I know this seems really selfish, but I was on pain medications and the thought of dropping a baby because I was on a drug that I really did need, how horrible would that be?
They come home on a schedule. That hard work is done for you.
Every day you get to ask medical professionals any question about babies that ever occurs to you. I would be freaking out with confusion and "is this normal???" if I had gone home with a baby 2 days after birth.
They will actually teach you how to do things right. Like how to hold the baby for feedings and burps, etc.
You get to know exactly how much food, sleep, etc that your specific child needs in the weeks following release.
Just a few of the things that have occurred to me. I'll probably add more to the list, but the babies are probably waking up soon while I'm in the process of falling asleep.
Gratuitous baby pic!
I'm not one to buy apps, I prefer the free selections, but this one rocks hard so we paid to have it on both of our phones. It's Baby ESP and it's saving our butts!
It started with my pain medication and pumping schedule. My pumping was every 2-3 hours and my meds were every 4 hours. I couldn't flippin keep track of why I made a mental note of 2pm, was that my last pump or my last dose of meds? I nearly overdosed a few times because I simply couldn't remember. This app allowed me to set up a reminder for each of those things, and it charts when you last did everything so you don't mess it up.
On the pumping, it tracks each breast, how much time you spend pumping it (I do both at the same time), and how much each breast yields in each pump. You can look at charts and statistics over time to see if your production is increasing well and how much you get per pump on average. Every thing you enter also has a notes section. Today I got a really good amount and I put in the notes "drank a ton of water between pumpings".
If nothing else, just the journal section of this app is worth it. While in the nicu, I was able to jot down a few thoughts (which you can pretty much read in my NICU Progress post) and even has a button for "daily photo". No time to do anything like a baby book right now so this is kind of keeping track of my thoughts and "stuff" that I might find sentimental in the future is going into a bucket to be sorted later.
Then Christina came home. We are able to track diaper changes, feedings, sleep, etc etc. I can't count how many times we refer to the app to figure out when we can expect a baby to wake up and be hungry again. Yes, you seriously do forget whether the baby fell asleep 1 or 2 hours ago.
So we got into a lovely habit of tracking everything baby before Charlotte came home. With 2, having a way of keeping track is just phenomenal. So when the doctor asks us "how much are they eating?" and my brain is going "uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh", we can look it up.
Honestly, if I had a full term, standard newborn, I probably wouldn't worry so much about these details. I'm not one to be totally anal retentive. But when you have itty bitty preemies, you really do have to keep track of exactly how much they are eating and other such details. You don't have the luxury of allowing them to lose a little weight here and there as they figure things out. Wanna know how anal retentive I've gotten? We bought a baby scale so that when I try to nurse (we're working on it), I can weigh the baby before and after to get an idea of how much they actually took in so I know approximately how much bottle to give them before they sleep again. Yeah, I know. First time mom overboard. But we also have cats with weight issues so we have another use for the scale once this initial preemie stage of baby care is over and done.
Back to the app. The other great thing - it syncs between phones. During a wake cycle, I'll track one, he'll track the other, and before long both of our phones have all of the info. It's not all on one person to do all the tracking.
The app is about $5, but you have to repurchase it for every device you put it on. We each have it on our phones and consider it among the best $10 we ever spent.
I don't even know where time is going because the problem isn't so much not having time, but not having the focus or concentration to do anything. If I'm in one room and decide to get fresh water from the kitchen, it will be three hours before I actually pour that water because on the way there, I found this to do, and that to put away, and hey that would be a good idea to make things easier later.
I'm in an endless cycle of washing and drying the stuff necessary to pump milk, pump the milk, wash and dry a variety of bottles, mix milk with calorie supplement, prepare a few feedings worth of bottles, uh oh! Babies are awake! Time to do the diaper change / feed / snuggle until sleepy cycle! Somehow the pumping schedule and the awake baby schedule never seem to collide in a convenient way. And sleep keeps getting delayed because I'll do one or two things after babies are asleep and then look at the clock and oh my, only about an hour until they wake up and start the cycle over again, kind of pointless to try to sleep for that hour.
Have I mentioned the crying yet? Not the babies. That's actually an advantage of having preemies, they generally don't cry very much (they tend to get the hiccups when stressed instead). But me actually. Sometimes it's provoked by the smallest thing (the blind girls pie in the tv competition was beautiful and crusty!) and sometimes by nothing at all, but I just need to cry. Somewhat endlessly it seems.
Prior to all the infertility stuff, I actually wondered if I was even capable of emotion. I handled bipolar disorder by basically shutting down and enduring it so I was pretty robotic. And I never grew up with the standard hormones that a women is accustomed to cycling through every month. So 3 years ago when they started pumping my body full of these hormones, it opened some flood gates that I can't seem to close. It's like when Cmdr Data gets his emotion chip and is so overwhelmed that he short circuits. I realize readers of this blog only met me as the height of my emotional overload went into effect, but please believe me when I say that this whole emotional thing is still very new and foreign to me. So the endless crying is kind of freaking us out.
And in true ADD fashion, off to put down a couple of sentences about some other blog topic!
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
The first few hours are weird as you slowly gain control again. Had this urge to flex and separate my toes but couldn't move them. Very odd to know that your brain is sending all the right signals and nothing is happening.
All that pain in pregnancy associated with having no abdominal muscles - it's still in place for several days. Rolling in bed, from lying down to sitting, from sitting to standing, if I was able to accomplish it at all, it usually hurt like hell. Getting in and out of the hospital bed was an unpleasant feat.
The longest lingering pains I'm having - abdominal skin and my feet. At first, I was interpreting the abdominal pain as the incision site burning, but I now think I was mistaken. I think the skin is so raw from being stretched out that the whole area feels like my skin is burning. And my damned feet! The swelling is potentially even worse than my final pregnancy days! Today seems to be the first day of only mild swelling.
It's a week and a half out, and I'm still waddling a little bit. Just feeling generally stiff. Occasionally getting some throbbing throughout my back. Maybe it's because I'm on my feet a lot more now than I have been in the previous months.
During this time, K was calling Baby A Charlotte and Baby B was Christina. For some reason, I kind of thought their names were the other way around. No reason why, just that somehow I had kind of named them in utero. I really tried to avoid doing that, but it was still kind of in my head that it was Christina dancing on my crotch and Charlotte chillen out by my ribs. But Charlotte means "little one" so K was calling the itty bitty baby Charlotte. We opted not to make any decisions until I could meet them. I'm sure it will come as no shock that we ultimately decided I was right. 8 days later, I think we figured out why - today I've been calling her Teeny Tiny Tina.
Though it seems to defy all logic, Charlotte has needed far more medical intervention than Christina. The theory is that Christina knew she was in distress and fought to get to term faster, whereas Charlotte was just happily relaxin, expecting to be born at 40 weeks, so she didn't speed up her development in anticipation of early delivery. Thus, even though she's itty bitty, Christina was more prepared to be born than her sister.
I'm not going to go into a lot of detail for several reasons:
- I'm not certain I've understood everything correctly
- I'm exhausted and my memory is shot anyway
- I only made cursory notes about their care while I was busy trying to figure out a pumping/sleeping/visiting schedule.
- Medical stuff is unpleasant and I'm having an emotional day already
June 11 - They tried putting Charlotte on just the breathing tube but ultimately had to put the cpap back on. Her eyes were open and she was looking around, a lot. Just fascinated with everything around her. Especially Daddy. Oh did she have eyes for Daddy!
|Blue lights make for crappy pictures|
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Teeny Tiny Tina came home yesterday. This, of course, is just wonderful. But it did spark off my first real emotional meltdown of parenting. Oh, I've shed a few tears here and there, you know, hormones and all, but this made me an absolute blubbering mess. Crap, retyping these thoughts has me blubbering again.
As we got Tina (am I officially calling her that now?) all secured in her car seat, I became acutely aware that three of us were about to walk out of that hospital room and leave Charlotte all alone. I've walked out of that room plenty. Every night, K and I have walked out of that room leaving our girls there so we could try to sleep in our own bed, and it never bothered me. But taking one with us and leaving the other behind, it was the first time I felt like I was actually walking away from my baby.
It took about a half hour for me to compose myself enough to be able to leave that room. And as we walked down the halls of the nicu, with one of the smallest babies to leave the nicu in our car seat, people are saying "congratulations" as we walk past. And I just want to correct them and say "no, we're leaving one here."
*Surprise update, since I've given up on chronological story telling anyway* K is currently at the hospital with Charlotte. They've removed her feeding tube! That means she's learned how to eat well enough that they trust she can eat enough to gain weight at the proper speed. She might be home in a couple of days! I spent a good deal of last night futzing with K's phone so when he takes a picture, it automatically uploads to a private online album that I can access. I just saw a picture of my Charlotte's full face, with no tubes or anything! I'm keeping this moment for myself. Sorry. You guys can see her later. Once I figure out how to tell pictures of her and Tina apart now that they kind of look alike. And now back to our regularly scheduled blog post.
Ok, so bringing Tina home. Ah yes, other than me blubbering away in the car about Charlotte, pretty uneventful. We stepped outside and I said "well you wanted out, so here it is! Here's out!" She didn't make a sound in the car, or when we stopped, or when we carried the car seat inside.
|That's as close as Mayday got|
We left Tina in her seat for a few minutes and introduced Mayday and Jipsee (individually) to come check out this new scent producer. Each one in term slowly approached, looked at her, slowly backed away again, and left. Since then, they have both stood up using the side of the pack and play to get a look at her, but no sign of wanting to jump in, and they are still pretty cautious about the whole idea of being near her.
Side note about Mayday. Remember how obsessed he's been with me while I'm pregnant? Yeah, has hardly looked at me since I got home. No snuggles, no wrestling matches where he insists on sleeping on my and I try to get him to at least sit next to me instead, nothing. All interest is officially lost.
Pebbles did eventually see her, but only because she wanted her mans attention and his attention was elsewhere. She kept patting his arm trying to get him to give her snuggles and he kept insisting he was busy. This displeased her, but what else is new. No actual interaction with the baby of course.
Well, Happy Father's Day K! I got you a pair of girls, size XS!
Saturday, June 16, 2012
|Pic taken 13 hours before birth|
Belly pic at 35 weeks! That expression pretty much summarizes how I'm feeling. Glad they're still cooking, but just exasperated at being the chef.
Everything status quo, still pregnant, still could go at any time, blah blah blah.
But that's not the blog post I wrote because that's not the diagnosis I got at that appointment.
We did the NST and I was doing that for more than an hour. Baby A was being especially feisty, I was getting my gut kicked left, right, and sideways. After the NST, we started the ultrasound to get their measurements.
The first measurement was Baby A's head circumference. And I saw that it was measuring 31 weeks, some odd days. Uh oh. That's not much more than it was measuring 2 weeks before, and we were now at 35 weeks. That's a SMALL head! So she's measuring again and I say "I really don't like that measurement. That's way too small and pretty much no growth from last time." She says "Yeah, I was hoping you didn't see that."
After getting the same measurement a second time, she went to fetch Dr. C. We do a few more measurements, check the growth pattern overall, and Baby A has just generally stopped growing. We think she simply had no room to get any bigger and she was showing some signs of distress (remember all that kicking I was talking about?). Dr. C declares "I'm calling it! I guess we know what we're doing today."
I'm crying of course because that's just what I do. I'm scared, both for me because I'm afraid of the being out of touch with part of my body during surgery, and of course for them because while I didn't fully understand what the problem was, I knew we were taking them out early because there was a problem.
It's 11am and they're telling me to head straight down to delivery. No going home to grab my stuff, etc etc, they have surgery scheduled for 12:30pm. I called my parents to tell them that things were happening today and stopped them right quick when she said "Ok, we're on our way." No. Don't be sitting in the waiting room. I don't know what's going to happen, when I'm going to be ready for visitors, if the girls are going to be major distress, just don't add the pressure of me having people waiting for me too. I tell them things are going to be happening around 6pm and they could come then. Yup, I lied. But it kept their butts in their own living room (a whole 5 minutes away from the hospital) so I'm fine with that.
On the less emotional side - getting shaved is really undignified. Seriously. I've been in a lot of undignified positions in the last couple of years, but there's just nowhere to hide from that "I'm naked" feeling when someone else is shaving your nether regions.
Ok, so on to the OR.
The spinal was the worst part of the whole experience. Apparently there's something funky about my back. You know those scoliosis tests they did in the Jr. High locker rooms where you bend over slowly and someone checks the curve of your spine? For some reason, people always looked at me funny after those, and I remember one where my friends said that my back is just totally fucked up and weird, but no one ever told me what they meant by "weird" or just what is different about my spine from everyone elses. It manages to keep my head above my ass so I'm usually pretty satisfied with it. But whatever the issue is appears to have come back to bite me in that same ass while getting the spinal put in. I think it took 3 tries, and I screamed a lot. The needle felt awful, may as well have been stabbed with a sword, but it was the medication kind of seeping in but not really that was the worst. It was like a vice grip on my spine that would somehow spread sideways. And Dr. C had to pull my shoulders down to keep me properly hunched over and my spine properly rounded.
I'm such a wuss. Be glad I never went into labor because holy canola, I have zero tolerance for pain. From the way I was whining and crying, you would have thought I was in the worst stage of labor!
Another side track here - one of the nurses asked if I was G's daughter. Bear in mind, I no longer have the same last name as my mother, and I have no idea how she would recognize me in connection to my mother. Apparently her mother is in chorus with my mother. Any woman over the age of 50 with any musical inclination in this area knows my mother, and by extension, has known me since I was a fetus. But wow, that was just a really odd time and place to have someone ask me about my mother (in a non-medical history way)!
My biggest fear with a c-section was losing the bottom half of my body and going into a complete claustrophobic panic. But that didn't happen. I was scared of course, and my fear became actually feeling something. But I didn't feel a damned thing. Not even sensations of movement or touch or pressure or anything. K and I had agreed beforehand that he would stay with the babies if we were separated. While the doctors started, I told him I might change my mind about that. I was just terrified that I would feel some sort of indication that a baby was removed, but I wouldn't hear a cry and people would start rushing around.
K told me later about this part. His view of the operation was about what you see on MASH, doctors, but not the actual guts they were working on. He saw Dr. C and the assisting doctor countdown from three and then they pulled as if tearing something heavy apart. As if? Why did I use that phrase? They did yank something heavy apart, my torso!
Within minutes, I'm hearing the staccato cry of a baby taking first breaths. They open a flap in the curtain that's near my face and they are holding Baby A for me to see. I wish I had said something more memorable but I think my first thought was "she's purple!" After a moment, K double checked and I told him to go with baby to where they cleaned her on the other side of the room and then came back to me in tears declaring "she's beautiful!" I'm asking him every version of the question "is she ok?" While he convinces me that she's fine, and the doctors are taking out Baby B.
I didn't really know this because I didn't feel the sensation of her being taken out, but there was a pause before Baby B cried. And when she did, she wasn't as forceful about it as Baby A. Again, they raised the flap so I could see her, and then she and K went to the other side of the room for cleaning and Apgar scores. I also remember looking over and seeing one of the babies and thinking she was gray. Don't remember which baby or where in the timeline that happened, but there ya go.
The first moment in which I actually thought they might be ok was when K came over to me holding Baby A. The fact that she was still in the room and that the various medical professionals let K hold her and bring her to me indicated that she wasn't in immediate danger. Moments after he got to me, a nurse brought over Baby B and they kept putting the babies next to my cheek, I guess for some stimulating effect to the babies, but it drove me nuts because I couldn't see them when they were that close to my face. We did all sorts of crying and reassuring each other that yes, they are really here and they are actually ok, and other various blubberings.
The babies were only able to stay by my face for a minute or so and then they and K (after confirming with me that he should go) all headed off to the Nicu while I spent the next 20-30 minutes having my surgery completed.
Baby A - Christina
Birth time: 1:11pm
Length: 17 inches (notations made later say 16.9 inches)
Head circ: 11.5 inches
Apgars: 8 @ 1 minute, 9 @ 5 minutes
Baby B - Charlotte
Birth time: Also 1:11pm
Weight: 4lbs 15oz
Length: unrecorded (notations made later say 16.5 inches)
Head circ: 12 inches
Apgars: 6 @ 1 minute, 8 @ 5 minutes
Special note to Dr. C - Just, thank you. For everything you've done to protect me and my family both medically and mentally over the last 2 years, thank you.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
I keep trying to get to the computer long enough to write the birth story and progress reports since then, but time keeps zooming by too fast to accomplish anything. Everything seems to take 10x longer than I expect it to, probably because I'm walking so slowly.
The problem is I hate typing on my phone and for what I know will be a novel length blog post, I want a keyboard. At home, I'm always dealing with some part of the pumping process, or feeding myself (and K), or trying to get some sleep because I'll need to get up to pump again in a couple of hours.... time just escapes. Then I'm at the hospital where I have time because we mostly just watch babies sleep, but no keyboard! Argh!
Basic update (I hate that the story will be written out of chronological order) -
Christina is now completely disconnected from assistance machines and is only on monitors. She's been taken out of her isolette (will spell check later) and so far appears to be maintaining her temp. If she maintains her current condition, she will come home in a couple of days.
Charlotte has been taken off breathing assistance and is in an isolette under lights for jaundice and to maintain her temp. She is likely to come home shortly after Christina. If so, we're looking at a total nicu stay of about 10 days instead of the anticipated 2-3 weeks.
Due to the lights, they have a mask on Charlotte that makes her look like a superhero. I'll upload the most normal looking pic I can get, but she's under blue lights. I took pics under various color filters hoping to battle the lights a little, so we'll see which color looks best. The pic of Christina is her on my shoulder just after eating.
And I finally slept a little last night.
Monday, June 11, 2012
Thursday, June 7, 2012
I felt certain that things would happen on June 5. And yet.....nothing. My hunches are broken I guess. As of today, I'm 35 weeks pregnant.
I have been having contractions, but nothing with rhythm and nothing more than a little "ermf". So braxton hicks, not labor. Girls are dancing quite a bit and we're just on pins and needles waiting for something to actually happen. Every place that I tend to sit is now covered with puppy pads in case my water breaks.
Assuming I don't go into labor between now and then, I should have actual information for an update tomorrow. I've got an ultrasound, NST, OB appointment, pre-admission interview, blah blah blah.
The diaper delivery that's a gift from my grandmother came today so we are now swimming in premie sized pre-folds. We have about a weeks worth of premie disposables too so we've got options. The intention is to use cloth during the day, and probably disposable at night to make night time changes as fast and easy as possible. But every plan is flexible so we'll see what actually ends up happening and purchase/order from the service accordingly.
Speaking of my grandmother, my phone call is unfortunately not the only phone call that my parents are waiting for. She and I are kind of in the same boat, just counting the minutes before we enter the next phase of existence. It's going to be sad for us survivors when she's gone, but at this point it will be a relief and a blessing to her. She's 100 years old, surrounded by family every day, and has lived more than most ever ask for. Her mind is still fully functional, sharp as ever, but her body won't allow her any daily stimulation. Her sight and her hearing are pretty much gone so she can't read, or watch tv, or listen to the radio, so she's kind of buried within her own deteriorating body.
So yeah, my entire extended family is kind of keeping the phone lines free waiting to see which phone call comes first.
I'll try to write something more interesting later. But there you have the basic update. Nothing has changed, and we're in a constant state of ready to respond when it does!
Friday, June 1, 2012
Woke up feeling like I had some gas pain which to me signals contraction. I already had an appointment for an NST and meeting with the OB in the afternoon so I didn't bother calling in to report or anything.
Got a call from my mother about an hour before my own appointment. My dad was in the hospital due to a kidney stone. So I went a bit early to visit with him before my appointment. Honestly, I kind of felt like today might be the day, so I found it really funny that things were setting themselves up like a sitcom. My dad trying to pass a kidney stone in one room, me delivering babies in another, and my mother running back and forth. But no to both. Great set-up, no payoff.
My NST confirmed that I am having contractions. Seriously, I can't feel them. That concerns me a little bit. My mother says she didn't know she was in labor until it got pretty late in the process. So here's hoping that if anything amps up, I'm able to feel it and get myself there in time to do a steroid shot and get prepped for the c-section.
Ok folks, here's the deal. I think this is likely to go down on Monday or Tuesday. They have me collecting urine for 24 hours this weekend, they've done all sorts of swabs to make sure I don't have any diseases that require antibiotics, and my blood pressure is a bit elevated along with some major foot swelling problems. We're thinking that pre-eclampsia is sneaking up on me. If my blood pressure is still elevated on Monday, we're going to take that as a yes and probably deliver the babies within a day or two. And honestly, I don't even know if I'm going to make it to Monday without going into labor naturally. I just have that hunch that this pregnancy is finishing up.
Oh, and a quick note to Bleeding Tulip - Ya know how I was all smug about my lack of hemroids and I gave you advice on how to avoid them? I hereby revoke my smugness as my husband is at the store getting me some Tucks medicated wipes.
So that's the updates! And now, belly pics and nursery pics.
|Also 34 weeks|
|Swollen feet and a cat with a foot fetish|