Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas the final edition with maybe one more coming.

Having a 2 year old is kind of a roller coaster, you love them, and then other times well... could we just have some cooperation and quiet. All the same, I have to say I am more into the toddler stage than I was the infant stage, her quirky little personality just tends to keep me laughing all the time.

These are some of the day of Christmas pictures. We cheated a bit and let her open presents as they came, just to try and spread out some of the fun and ease on the hour of present opening that she'd get bored with. We were having a low-key Christmas here, as bed-rest is not exactly budget friendly and combine that with gestational diabetes there just wasn't a lot of the fluff and fancy of Christmas.

That said it was still an amazing time. Kate gets as excited about a new tooth brush as she did other things. Though the cat-piano, microwave, and music player are being used non-stop. I just can't help but feel excited when I watch her do something, because she is so excited. Absolutely contagious positive attitude.

How much would you pay to have that type of joy at all times? To really be excited when you got a new tooth brush in your stocking. To laugh because your dad said silly-billy and then entertain yourself by repeating it for the next 30 minutes. To have minimal expectations or what your day "should" be like, and just enjoy the stability of life around you.

Toddlers aren't perfect. Far from it. They are a lot of work, they require consistency of food, activity and lots of sleep. They tend to get frustrated quickly some days and lack the skills to tell you why. They can really be spectacular though with their live in the moment pure enthusiasm and that is what we could all use on any day. It just makes Christmas shine a bit brighter.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

More Christmas Fun... what is she thinking?

I give all my neices matching pj's and a book for Christmas, thus why the two bookends are matching. This was actually Christmas Even night, and I am just not sure what she is thinking in this series of photo's.
This one scares me, because I completely see myself in it. Yes, I make weird faces in photos but I never imagined having a child that had such a resemblance to myself. Her personality is a mix and unique, but there are times I look at her or look at a picture and I feel like I am looking at myself.
Now she is finally starting to act a bit more normal, but what is her cousin on the right up to? All I can say is we are in for it with all these girls running around in the coming years!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Eve Fun.

I am going to have to have several installments for Christmas pictures and fun because there was just so much fun (especially for the youngest member of the family). It is typical Western Washington weather and we woke up on Christmas Eve to rain, rain, and more rain. Not a problem, time for the REI rain gear and out we go for some fresh air.

This was a psuedo-present, something we've been talking about doing for awhile and just didn't get around to it until now. For five dollars, we now have a steering wheel in the upper portion of the play fort. It was both a dump truck and a garbage truck and mom's car during this play period of time. Defiantly a happy five dollars spent.

Drive on little lady.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Hard Mommy Lessons.

As we know some parts of parenting are harder than others. For me, even though I haven't had my second daughter I already feel the pull between being there for each of them when physically I can only do so much. When I have those big brown eyes with tears, and the 'momma, momma' coming from her pleading voice it truly makes me want to be and do more. I just can't do it all.

Luckily I have only been in the hospital twice thus far for this pregnancy, and neither had a very long stay. This is something that I pray for every night, that I can stay at home for as long as possible if not my entire pregnancy. Bedrest at home is one thing, but to be honest bedrest in the hospital is hell. Last time, I didn't think I would survive (my poor husband barely survived my sobbing phone calls). This time being separated from my daughter would probably break me in two.

That being said, nearly daily I have to do something different and hard for the health of our baby over the happiness of our older daughter. I haven't picked Kate up in so long, and at first she was great about it. Now it has just gotten old for both of us. We go somewhere and there is something to look at, or she has a boo-boo, or she is just tired. You can only comfort kneeling down so much. She has adapted, and has learned how to climb up into my lap, onto the bed and couch and so on. We still both miss it.

She has learned new phrases, which she comforts herself with but break my heart to hear over and over. "Mommy, go rest now", "Mommy go to doctor", "Mommy not feeling good.", "Mommy get shot", and then "Mommy, come back?". She being 2 1/2 repeats these a 100 times for their full effect, and heart breaking quality.

It might be coincidence but, we are going through another period of separation anxiety. We have had it show its ugly head a few times, but you combine it with a hormonal 8 month pregnant woman who is contracting all the time it just gets even uglier. I know the rules, I don't feed into it we keep it simple and no drama. It still breaks my heart. Last weekend if I even went into shower, there was crying and drama from the hallway.

Time after time over the last several months, I have had to choose to go lay down to ease the contractions and keep our new daughter safe while at the same time feel like I am letting down our older daughter. I know that this is a lesson that I am going to have to learn over and over being a mother of two.

Unfortunately like much of motherhood, I just didn't know how hard it would be.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

My Pregnancy the Longest Race (ever..).

For the last week, every night when I do finally sleep for a bit of time I dream of running. I have had a few dreams of running on trails, combinations of trails that I've been on and those I have only read about. One dream was somewhat a nightmare, where I was doing a track work-out at my current state. From the tight running shorts to trying to waddle my way around the track, I woke up somewhat disturbed. Last night, I was simply running down the sidewalk of where I grew up.

Obviously I miss running. I miss the freedom, and adventure. I miss the time with friends to talk (vent), and just get away for awhile. Oh, to get away from life for a few minutes, that sounds like bliss. I think I really miss believing in my body and myself too. Knowing that I can do it, that my body and inner self is strong enough to at least do what I want it to for an hour or so.

Not to even mention all those great chemicals that are released during the run and post run. Oh, and eating of goodies that don't feel so guilty to indulge in after the run. Instead I have traded those in for hormones (lots of them), and injections of more hormones, little to no activity and thus little to no feel good chemicals and very strict diet that makes me feel sick most of the time. And of a course, unfortunately too I have developed a nice sense lack of trust or respect and appreciate of myself.

There are some similarities to this pregnancy and running though. Not your average going for a quick jog, no my pregnancy could only be compared to a marathon. And for that matter it might even be an ultra-marathon. I have done four marathons, and each time I finish one I am proud, sick, hurting and asking why did I do that? I have not mastered this race by any means, in fact I still feel pretty defeated by them. I would say I feel pretty defeated by pregnancy too.

In the marathon, the first half is hard but, well not that hard. You are pretty excited, anything seems possible, and your are enjoying the view(s). You might even think, geez I don't know what everybody was talking about this is easy. And then you start on the second half, and your legs aren't feeling so fresh anymore and the thoughts are turning to how many more miles do I have to go. There aren't as many water stations around and you feel like you haven't seen friends and family for awhile.

But, you keep going. Cerclage, pain, and bedrest. I'll keep going no problem. I can do this I know I can. 17 more weeks no problem, its just a short period of time really. More pain, more infections, more hospital time. No problem. This isn't going at all how I thought it would but I am still going. I am still going.

Every marathon I have hit what is called the 'WALL'. This is dark time in the race. Defined in running circles describes a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifests itself by sudden fatigue and loss of energy. Some say it can be avoided with proper training, and nutrition during the race. I think this is a bit of bull. I have trained, I have eaten the gu and drank my water. I still hit the wall. For me this is a dark place, I am usually a bit angry (at everything) and I really want to give up. Sometimes I had to walk and cry for a bit, drink my water and eat a gummy bear before I finally start to do it again.

Post wall, the race does not get easy. It continues but, at a typically a slower pace. I start having strange negotiations with myself. If I run to the that lamp post, I can take it easy for a block. I just try to get from one mile to the next, so usually for five more miles. I will remind myself that that is the same distance as some run I do every week. Somehow I waddle on and slowly get to the last mile.

The 'WALL' period of this pregnancy seems to be here. Long and hard. Dark and bleak. The wall was brought on my getting the diagnosis of gestational diabetes. I really had to say you've got to be _______kidding me! Really?!? I have had one bad result, after another, one review of this and review of that. Appointments here and appointments there. No running, no working out, no lifting. No lifting up your daughter. No taking care of your daughter or family. Sitting, sitting, and sitting. No going to work. No seeing friends and family. Disrupted sleep to minimal sleep. Panic in the night. Desperate calls to friends and family to cover child care so you can go to the doctors, hospital or appointment that just came up because of something that happened in the night. Pills, shots, injections. Week after week after week. And now you have something else. Something that requires you to draw blood four to five times a day. A diet that takes away all the holiday goodies, all the last things you held onto to bring a smile to your face (hot chocolate, a cookie). But, really it could be worse.

I know it could be worse. Believe me, I know with every panic attack and nightmare that brings me rushing back on a medical helicopter and standing in a NICU. I know that just still being in the race is a success, and something to be proud of. I don't need anyone to remind me of that, I still look at the scars of IV lines on my daughters hands to remind me of where and what we still could face.

Eventually the miles do end. I have never quit a marathon, though I thought about it in each one. The ending is always a bitter sweet finish of tears, and food and family. A pain in your body that is unique to the race.

I know that this pregnancy will come to an end as well. Unfortunately it is not an ending that I know when is going to happen, though I know it won't be longer than 8 weeks away. For now, I need to just keep working through this wall so that I can keep working my way to the end.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Our Talker.

I worried about my quiet daughter all the time. She has always been quiet, even as an infant there were lots of smiles but not a big babbler, or chattering sounds. As we hit 2 years old, my concerns were really starting to increase. She had about 10 words, that she would use but not many more than that. I didn't hear 'momma' until about 26 months. I felt that I was constantly surrounded by other 2 year olds that talked and talked.

Of course, I discussed this with about everyone that would listen. We had at least 4 evaluations. They all said the same thing, she was behind verbally but her cognitive (ability to understand, recognize and put into concepts) of words was off the chart. We did not qualify for services, unless she continued to be non-verbal at 2 1/2.

I worried at home, read everything on speach delays. Continued to do everything we could to encourage her to talk. And we waited.
I don't know the day it happened, and really it was over a period of a week. But, one day like so much of the things I have waited for with Kate it just happened. Prior to Thanksgiving, that glorious light bulb came on and the words just started to spill out of her. Everybody had a name and all the objects were being called things. We were requesting foods, we were demanding our needs. Then the sentences started to pour out, some making sense and some not, but a constant stream of words.

She was talking while on the potty, talking while supposedly sleeping, talking in the backseat and on and on. Now we still won't talk at toddler class, and we are pretty quiet with new people and out in public. Then as soon as we get into the car, oh the words just keep coming.
Here is an example of our conversation at dinner last night:
"Kate, what do you want for Christmas?"
"I want pants."
"You want pants for Christmas?"
"Yeah, some pants... giggle, giggle."
"Kate what did you do at school today?" (dad asking)
" Sing songs."
"Sing songs? What songs did you sing?"
"Can you sing for us."
"No, no, no..." then very quietly " jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way, oh what fun in a open horse sleigh"

Now you just have envision two parents that look as if their child just received the Noble Peace Prize. The bliss of worried but finally reached milestones. My little 25 weeker, just doing things in her own special way in her own special time.

When will I ever learn that she will do it in her own time, probably when I am 90 years old.

Addendum: The following day as told to me, she had a large tantrum when the class tried to sing Jingle Bells, which included trying to take other students bells away. Oh, the success and the utter failure that is toddlers.

My Sappy Christmas Tree Story

I know before I even type this that it will be sappy, corny and maybe crazy but tis' the season. This holiday season our household has been a bit out of sorts, everyone is feeling the strain of a crazy pregnancy, unexpected hospital visits and the hopeful but ever changing possible delivery date. Being that I am pretty restricted in activity and energy level, and I am typically the organizer of all holiday in our house its a little bland and off from normal around here.

I also tend to be a bit frantic between times of rest, because I am so worried that something is going to happen and then I won't be there to make a tradition for Kate. So even though I have let go of everything that I feel isn't critical, I will decide the lights need to get up outside and they need to get up now.

And that is exactly how I was about the Christmas tree. I didn't care that it was raining, it was early in December, and my family was not jolly. We were going and we were getting a great tree so that we could then decorate it, and it would be done in case I was put in the hospital anytime soon.

Now to back this story up a bit. I tend to like symbolism, and being that I am somewhat literal I will believe that I am getting signs or good omens. I know I already said this would sound crazy so stick with me if you can. For example, when I was pregnant with Kate everywhere I went I saw cranes. It was ridiculous, I would be at an intersection on a very busy road and there in the middle of the meridian would be a crane. At the time, I didn't know that a crane is a symbol of hope and a symbol of rising out of darkness. I just thought it was weird how they seemed to be everywhere. I thought for a long time it was just a odd coincidence of that time of year, so last year when I wasn't pregnant, I looked for them everywhere. I hardly saw a single one.

Well, this year and this pregnancy has been the year of the nest. Starting last fall I was having Ed do some garden things I couldn't do, and he was cutting down this big vine for me (while I supervised) and when we got it down there was a perfect medium uninhabited nest. It was just perfect, I actually kept it and it is in the garage waiting for spring. Then a month or so later we had a big wind storm and there in the middle of the yard was perfect little nest.

Then there we were in the rain. One hysterical toddler, one tired husband and a pregnant somewhat crazy mother looking for their Christmas tree. We didn't have the energy for this, and I had not dress myself or child properly. We walked a bit into the farm, and there was a great tree not to big not to small and just right, plus not too far from the car. I walked up closer and there on the ground in front of the tree was a perfect nest.

We had found our tree!

This is a little decoration my mom gave me a month or so ago, that is sitting nicely in our tree.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More Thanksgiving and the End of the longest month...

I wrote this long post about Thanksgiving and how nice it was. I went on to talk all about how much my daughter is talking and how special it is to see her develop and bloom.
Then when I was adding the pictures and moving them around some how my page plus of writing all got deleted. REALLY! I don't have these saved anywhere else so it was just erased.
Most of the time, I can handle these little computer issues but you know what I am all tapped out and I did a nice post with positive gratitude for my blessings and then it got deleted. I will just let the pictures speak for themselves.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Amazing, that when your journey is somewhat hard the celebrations really are all the sweeter. I am so thankful this year, even after a month of medical problems I am just thrilled to be here today. So many blessings which are from the big (happy healthy family) to the small (I am still able to get up and do some simple things). Thanksgiving was one of many little goals of mine to make it to pregnant and here I am. Our baby is about 1000 grams, it took Kate a month to get to be that big. My two year old is talking non-stop, and running, jumping and I thought she would absolutely never talk (now I am pretty sure she is never going to be quiet). And I get to spend the day with my family, at home!

There will be challenges tomorrow but for today it is just sweet success.

Happy Thanksgiving to all and God Bless.

Friday, November 18, 2011

What to do for a Parent of a Preemie.

Our little 25 weeks, just a few days old with Dad's wedding ring on her itty bitty foot.
Her little hand over in mom's over her face at a few weeks old.

One in eight babies will be born before 36 weeks, in the United States this is 12.8 percent (nearly 1/2 million babies per year). The rate of premature birth has increased 36 percent since the 1980's. Though medical intervention and support at our nations excellent neonatal intensive care units (NICU's) are turning most of these premature births into success stories, many of these premature babies will never come home.

The lifelong impact of being premature, is something felt by the infant and also by the whole family. A premature baby is at risk for both major disabilities and developmental delays, as well as many other health problems. The family has to not only deal with both the long-term and short-term health complications of a fragile baby but also has to deal with trauma and stress of surviving the ordeal of a premature delivery and possible high risk pregnancy.

Though, far from an expert in how to handle the fragile family in the NICU I have more experience than many. Our daughter born at 25 weeks, spent 90 days in the NICU. After her recovery though she has done marvelous, we have spent the last 2 years in follow ups, early intervention and continued medical care. Now, having entered into the scary world of our second high risk pregnancy we have already been in and out of the hospital and know all to well where we are at in our fragile pregnancy.

I found the NICU experience to be one of the most challenging, terrifying and yet somewhat rewarding experiences of my life. I learned from a marvelous staff, on-line support groups and friends and family how to navigate my way to other side of such a traumatic birth. We have become a stronger family, better people and more courageous than we knew possible along the way.

So on today National Prematurity Awareness day, I wanted to share with you what others have done for us that made our journey easier. Its not easy for others to know what to say, or how to offer help. Often people have their own emotional history that makes it difficult for them to handle medical emergencies. I hope to just give a few helpful hints, that you can use if anyone has a premature child or a child in a medical crisis.

1. Say CONGRATULATIONS, your infant is beautiful. You are doing a wonderful job.
This sounds easy enough but at the time it might feel awkward and fake. I say who cares, fake it. The situation is awkward and difficult. This is not the chubby cheeked baby that the parent expected, or like any baby you have ever seen. There may be wires all over the place, they are most likely in an isolette or a hood, and may have either a ventilator or CPAP connected to them.
Bottom-line they are alive! That is not an easy task for something that is between 1 lb and 8 lbs, with medical complications and possibly born 4 months before they were supposed to be. And that life is beautiful, special and something this family has dreamed about for months or years.

You don't have to go overboard, and try to keep it from the heart. And if you really can't do it with some sincerity then okay don't say it. Try telling the mother or father that they did a wonderful job, heck if they are able to sit up or not cry during the first days or weeks then they are doing a wonderful job.

2. Let the parents lead in conversation, and with the details. Be a good listener, which means to be quiet and patient.

As a parent in this situation you are all over the board at any given moment. Mom's have a rush of post-partum hormones, waves of guilt, anger, depression, confusion and are often still being medicated post delivery. The medical situation changes nearly every hour. The parents have been in the hospital far to long for anybody to be sane. The baby has more doctors and specialist and nurses than you knew existed.

I know that you care, that is why you want to ask a million questions and get to the bottom of the whole thing. Unfortunately this is not the time, and may not be for months or ever. Nearly 80% of premature births are of unknown cause. Your questions will often be felt as accusations, or criticisms. They may seem very reasonable to you, but you are not the person that hasn't slept, is hormonal or in the crisis directly.

As time goes on, realize as well this parent has to talk to anywhere from 5 to 50 people everyday about the state of their child. It is exhausting, especially when the infants status can change between stable to needing to go to emergency surgery in the matter of a few hours. If a parent is quiet, grouchy, unrational it really has very little to do with you.

I always found it most comforting to just have people sit, listen, sometimes touch me and just keep trying. Sometimes I felt like sharing, other times not. I really couldn't deal with your emotions or needs, I couldn't even deal with my own. And for some parents this can be months and months of dealing with the hospital so, don't stop with this step maybe even be for years.

Don't forget about the other family members either. Mom's get a lot of the attention, and are often more vocal about their emotions and needs. They are not the only family member in the situation, don't forget about those dad's, children and others member of the immediate family that may need some one on one time. Or hey, in the world of dad's maybe they just want to watch a football game for bit, or talk about some other interest.

3. When in doubt DO some of the simple things.

As I said above, hospitals, crisis, and emotions are really difficult for a lot of people. Maybe you just can't handle talking or coming to visit. Well, don't just run away from these people that need you. There are other rather simple things that really can be done to make their lives easier.

Parents in the NICU need things, and buying something and having it delivered usually won't be to hard. I was able to recieve packages at the NICU, which was a nice surprise when I got there (call before and ask the NICU directly to make sure it is allowed.). I recieved books, cards, dvds, blankets, preemie clothes, pampering supplies, pens and food.

We received donations to the Ronald MacDonald House were I was staying. Gas money really started to add up, and we got gas cards and credit cards with money on them. We recieved money and checks from people we barely knew, but it helped with medical cost and me being out of work for so long. Somebody gave us a huge Starbucks card, that I literally lived off it for a few weeks.

Then there is everything they need help with at home. Cleaning, cooking, errands, kiddo watching, the list goes on and on. Picking up mail. People had to come mow our lawn, and vacuum our house both things my husband and I just didn't even remember needed to be done. Make casseroles and stock up the fridge, because there will be times (alot of them) when nobody has energy to cook and when even more so when the baby comes home. See if there are any home improvement project or final baby project they need done.

I suggest that you don't ask the parents about a lot of this either, just do it! I said no to about everything people offered to do. We were fine, we could handle it. No we weren't fine and no we couldn't handle it, but I also couldn't handle coming up with ways people could help. I barely remembered to feed myself everyday, so who knew what needed to be done at home.

I know that this is hard to just do things for people without them telling you its okay or what they need. I still encourage you to do it anyway. I remember there was a women I hardly knew when my daughter was in the NICU, and that lady just wouldn't back down. She would show up with cookies, with smoothies, invite me to dinner, bring me craft supplies. I know I wasn't nice and I always acted like I didn't want anything, but you better believe that later I would start to eat her cookies and drink the smoothie. I don't know why I was being so difficult, I just was. Then one day I went to leave the NICU and my car wouldn't start and of course I had to be somewhere in a set amount of time. She was the first person I called, and she came right down. Even today, I think of her as a little angel that just kept answering my unsaid prayers when I needed it most.

4. Be a friend, be yourself and just keep doing it.

Lastly, do just that be a friend. This is the time when somebody needs others to be so unselfish and caring. They need time and understanding, and compassion. It will be ugly at times and maybe even hurtful, that is what life is all about. Just don't give up on them or their situation, keep being that compassionate person that you are.

My family has lots of little living angels that helped us with the birth of our first daughter and our helping us with the birth of our second daughter. They have made my life richer and happier in ways I could never fully express to them. I am forever gratiful to all of them, and just try to pay it forward to them and others in their times of need.

Please remember to support the March of Dimes on Premature Awareness day November 17th, and all year long.

**** P.S. I know this is a day late for premature awareness day but, we had a little medical event with this pregnancy and were down at the UW hospital for a few days (all seems well for now), so I was unable to get this posted on time, so sorry but still hope it helps!****

Our big 2 1/2 year old getting ready to celebrate all that we have to be Thankful for now!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bed Rest Week #3 (and quick summary of #1 and #2).

Ironically I typed in the tittle and then hit return and it published the post with nothing written. Opps, or maybe that would be good summary of the last 3 weeks. You may have noticed that I have pretty limited personal photos for the last several weeks too. Not exactly the type of weeks you like to have photographed, and the captions would be even better. Picture yourself or someone you love, over 6 months pregnant on several different pain medications, spending days on the couch or bed under a great deal of stress. Yeah, that is what I thought, not exactly a hallmark card kind of photo opportunity.

But, here I am on the other side. In the thick of my third week of bedrest, and starting to have more days looking somewhat human rather than half alien mixed with a crazy pregnant lady. The pain has eased up and is now more typical of being pregnant and spending large amounts of time on your left side (that is the side that gives the uterus the best blood flow and circulation). Being relatively drug free, still getting my progesterone shots weekly is also very nice.

Bed-rest is an interesting place. People have all types of opinions on the subject. Shocking but not surprising because most people have not been on bed-rest before. I can see it from their eyes that it might look kind of nice, a little break from their busy lives and catching up on movies and magazines. I suggest you just give yourself a weekend to vegetate, and then be nice to all those of us that are not allowed to do anything else.

Now that I am feeling physically better, I have started to work on a few holiday projects and I try to just keep somewhat a normal schedule. Some days go faster and better than others. The mornings are the worse when everybody is at something (work, toddler class, etc). Or when everybody is really busy and I am sitting. Helpful people have endless suggestions of what I could be doing with my time, which honestly I haven't found very helpful. You have to remember that the person on bed-rest hasn't developed mad skills during there illness or medical crisis. They also have limited access to supplies and probably don't have unlimited energy. So unfortunately I will probably not be taking up beading, card cataloging all my pictures or unlimited sewing projects.

On the medical front, we still are taking it one day or week at a time. I am not having contractions. Cervix thanks to the cerclage (which is a suture holding my cervix closed), is closed. We were unable to get a length this week, just a strange ultrasound that we are repeating next week. Fetal fibronectin was negative this week so that gives me at least 2 more weeks to cook this baby, taking us up to 28 weeks. Which is huge! 3 weeks longer than Kate got, and they are very important weeks. Most likely I will get steroid shots in the next several weeks, which do wonders for preemies but I am still a little worried about when we should give them to maximize their efficiency.

My anxiety and depression over how everything is going is still pretty high (or low depending on which you are talking about). I try to spend more time on the positive than the negative, but at times feel that I am chasing something isn't going to happen. But, at the same time I just can't let it go either.

Hopefully there won't be much to update from my position on the couch for awhile but I promise pictures and more fun to come.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My State of Mind.

I've had a lot on my mind lately, and a lot of time to sit with my thoughts. To be honest I've wanted to just sit with it all for awhile and haven't felt physically very good so it was easiest to just keep it to myself. Sometimes all this time alone though really isn't helpful for keeping things in perspective. Much like the time in the NICU, there are ups and downs daily on this journey. Really the below chart is the one of the most pressing thought. I remember this chart well when we had Kate at 25 weeks.

Her doctors went over it with Ed and I during my 24th week, to let us know what we were facing ahead of us.

Odds of a Premature Baby's Survival by Length of Pregnancy

Length of PregnancyLikelihood of Survival
23 weeks17%
24 weeks39%
25 weeks50%
26 weeks80%
27 weeks90%
28-31 weeks90-95%
32-33 weeks95%
34+ weeksAlmost as likely as a full-term baby
Sources: March of Dimes, Quint Boenker Preemie Survival Foundatio

Tonight I just needed to find some of my own inspiration. I looked around and found a few things that helped lift me up tonight. I share them with you to get an idea of what inspires me and maybe it will inspire you too.
Ask my mother that one, and she will tell you about all the glitter I used in her house. I was one of these very busy-body types from elementary school on (okay, probably from birth), and thus I was always working on some sign or card or something and I love glitter. I love to think of my little girls loving dirt as much as they love glitter.
I tend to be a cup 1/2 empty kind of girl. I say it makes me a good doctor so that I can plan and expect what could go wrong and prepare for that. I am starting to realize that is a coping mechanism to try and gain control in situation(s) that you might not have much control over. It gives you a false feeling that if you are prepared for the bad, you won't be as disappointed when it happens. When I type that out I realize how silly it is, but my mind likes to think this way and I am working hard to change that.
I love Robert Frost, always have and he just says it how it is for sure.
If this isn't the truth and doesn't bring a smile to your face, you probably aren't a mother.
I admire people who do things they've never tried before. Somewhere as we grow up we stop trying new things more and more. Being on bedrest, I am having to do all types of things in a different way and you know some of them aren't that bad. I am learning all sorts of new knots for hand embroidery and they are frustrating but at the same time, when was the last time I learned something new?
This is my motto for the last year, I have it in several locations around my house. Yes, I am one of those people that has inspiring things on my mirror in the bathroom, above my desk and on the fridge. But, I just keep trying to believe that if I say it to myself enough I really will believe it!

So, more details tomorrow but I hope that maybe some of my own inspiration will find its way into your week and help you do something that you didn't know you could do either.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pity pots and my cerclage.

I am sure you've heard the saying, get off your pity pot. Or, I was just having a pity party for myself. Being the literal person I am I was thinking to myself, "Have you ever wondered what your pity pot would look like?" Its one of those expressions that is just silly, and meaningless. It probably confuses people that are learning English as a second language.

The majority of this somewhat draining week I have remained positive. I did shockingly well back in the hospital and didn't even cry, and there were some painful things going on. But, about once a day or so, I get out my pity pot and have myself a bit of pity party.

So what does my pity pot look like? Well, of course for what-ever reason a toilet comes to mind but I think that is just because of the sometimes calling of the toilet the pot. I wonder would my pity pot be pretty and red with daisies on it like the one above.

No teapots are too cute, something to be shared with a friend on a cold day. A pity party by nature is a solitary event. It is better to groan, and feel sorry for yourself with nobody around. Those family members and such will just try to cheer you up or talk about the lighter side of life. Thus my pity pot could not be that cute, or cheerful.
Well, then could I have multiple pity pots depending on the level of my self deprecating thoughts. Hmm... I like this idea, the more pots to have a pity party in. But still these are too happy and cheerful. I am not having a moment where I am planting flowers on my deck. No these are the dark moments in the day, when I just feel too heavy to open my eyes and face the reality around me.

Those are not the right pots either.

I think I finally stumbled onto the right pots for me. Notice the various colors, bright but not too cheery. RED- for the anger that I feel for being in the same situation, and for everyone else getting to have what appears to me a normal life. GREEN- which is perfectly situated next to my angry pity pot for the envy and jealousy I feel towards others. This pot is full of the why me, why my family, and why did this have to happen again feelings. White- this is a whole pot of overwhelmed and lonely, not knowing what to feel, or how to say it just feeling like it is too much to do. BLUE- which is perfect to follow white, as it is typical after all these emotions to feel blue or depressed. Sad and teary, which is always a part of my pity party. Lots of tears. And the last BLACK/BROWN-- no description needed. Just the grand conclusion, and I like how they can all fit together in a nice stack. No need to get unorganized just because we are falling apart emotionally.
Well it gives you something to think about anyway. What color would your pity pot be? Try as you might, during a difficult period of time one just sometimes has to sit and wallow with their thoughts for a bit (or even longer). I continue to try not to do it for too long or too often because I know I have the strength to get to the other side.

My cervical cerclage (which is a special type of suturing to hold my cervix closed) was placed on Wednesday night and went well, per the doctor. He is optimistic that we caught things in a preventative way. I won't have a measurement for awhile now (about 9 days) as long as I continue to feel fine. I had a lot of pain but no contractions for several days.

I can not work the rest of pregnancy, and am on bed rest with some pretty good privileges unless I start having contractions and or if my next measurement indicates otherwise. Basically we hold our breath for another week and 1/2. The big goal is 28 weeks, which is just past Thanksgiving (roughly 24 days away). But in general it is one day at a time.

I'll do my best to stay off the pity pots, but I can't make any promises. I will do my best though.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The day after... heading to the hospital.

Okay, I think I should have borrowed her hat an idea. Hiding from it all would be pretty nice, but as is life you just never know what twist (or smack upside the head) it is about to take. The day after our perfect Halloween was far from perfect.

Started out normal enough, busy at work. Got off, rested for an hour or so and then went in for a routine check at the doctors. Cervical ultrasound, and there it was... funneling. An obvious beak or funnel to my inner portion of the cervix. Under pressure, and the funnel got larger. To be blunt you'd have to a be an idiot to not see this on the ultrasound.

Crap, crap, crap.

From there, we decided I needed a cervical cerclage. This one is still classified as preventative but, I feel that is a bit of stretch. I have changes that are indicating problems, and I am somewhere between 23 and 24 weeks. Nothing about this is standard. But, on the good side my cervical length is nice and long. When I had mine with Kate, I was fully dilated with membranes protruding and cervical length less than 3 mm (right not I have cm of length).

One can't feel all that calm, even when the doctor is but you hear them in the hall way say to book a operating room as soon as possible.

So here I sit, waiting the following day to go have a cerclage placed. We are doing it as a day surgery. As long as I don't start contracting then I will be home tonight, and then on bedrest for the rest of pregnancy.

The emotions of being in such a similar experience are pretty intense, and not something I can go into on such an important day. Instead, I pulling my hat down, keeping positive and waiting for the day to pass.


Halloween was the best day, kind of a once a year kind of day. I got home from work early with my new schedule. Rested for a good amount and was feeling great. I had picked up this take-and-bake pizza that looks like a Jack-o-Lantern and it was a big hit with all.

We have these cool, but gorgeous days lately. Crisp, sun and leaves. Kate and decided we'd just play outside after getting the mail. She is so close to really riding her tricycle, and we did the slide over and over.

When Dad came home it was pizza time then, putting on the costume. She didn't mind the costume at all, and actually was hamming it up for the camera. The day before when I tried it, I got the worst reaction and a long standing tantrum. We practiced trick or treating and she was all about it.

Then we hit the streets. After about two houses she was an expert. I only went to three houses, as I am taking it easy and then went home to hand out treats. But per Dad she was just a champ. Came home happy, ate a chocolate bar and we all feel asleep exhausted and happy.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pumpkin Patch Good Times.

As promised there is more to this fall that waiting watching and worrying. Last weekend was our big annual trip to the pumpkin patch, which includes rides, animals and sometimes treats. A good time was had by all.Crazy to think last year she wasn't even walking when we came out here. This time she was all over the place. Literally better than any playground is just being outside with straw everywhere.
Of course there was some lifting of heavy objects. Luckily she did not try to eat the pumpkins like she has tried to do with my mini pumpkins a few times at home. I see the 'world's strongest toddler' contest in her future soon.
A barrel ride with her cousins. It is amazing what she will do with her cousins, if Ed and I tried to make her do this alone there would have been screaming and an epic fail. But you place her in the middle with her cousins and its all smiles. I get a little frustrated to because I will ask her to do something and she screams at me, her cousin asks her and it is all smiles. I have a bad feeling I better get used to this a bit, and also use her cousins to my advantage.
Just trying to be arty, between watching a toddler trying to jump off a hay bale.
Another thing she would never do typically but it is much fun if her cousins are doing it.
And of course it is always fun to make silly faces at Grandpa.

Last weekend, was sun and good times. This weekend is dark and rainy, with everyone at other events. Just glad we got a chance to go have some fun together.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Another week down.

I like to the think that this crew is helping me see the end of this pregnancy, or they are just openly expressing how I feel on the inside. Regardless, they make me laugh every time I look at them.

I am literally checking my owner ticker everyday to determine how close I am to hitting the 24 and 25 week mark. You'd think I would know, and I do but I think I check it constantly just in case I forgot and another day has gone by a little faster than I thought. Challenging enough even though all ultrasounds point to being 22 and 2 days, actually date calculations puts me back 3 days. When I go to my doctors they are always using the date calculation to be conservative. Don't want to give me 3 days extra, oh no we have to be conservative.

Recently I was talking to somebody who was pregnant and I asked how far along she was, and she laughed and said she stopped counting weeks a while back. I can understand that for everyone else, but I sure was envious. I am glad that people don't have to face this period of time, with the knowledge and experience that I have. I know that by medical standards I am still not to the point of viability. Prior to 24 weeks, or 25 weeks in some hospitals, the fetus is not considered viable outside the womb.

This is obviously very controversial, and I don't want to go into all that. I know there are 23 weekers, 24 weekers and so on that have gone on to thrive. The statistics for complications and survival though are bleak during this period of time. And if survival statistics are depressing enough the long term severe handicap rates are even worse. I have been here and had the dark conversations with hospital ethics members and I just don't want to do that again.

Another reason at this point I want to get to 24 weeks is so that we can start doing fetal fibronectin testing. This is the next test that we will use to try and predict any problems. I will have these every 2 weeks as well, and more if I start having contractions. The test detects the presence of a glycoprotien found in amniotic fluid, placental tissue, and the extracellular substance next to the placental intervillious space. It is though to be released through mechanical or inflammatory mediated damage to the membranes or placenta before birth. Swabs can be taken from the maternal cervix and determine with pretty good accuracy if preterm delivery will occur in the next 7-10 days.

Obviously it will be a great relief if I get a negative result. If we get a positive result though, we can also be more proactive and discuss the use of steroids for lung development, hospitalized bed rest, etc. But, here I am jumping the gun. I still have a minimum of 2 weeks before the test is even used.

Yeah, I wish I wasn't watching each day pass by. I do my best to not waste my days with worries and thoughts, and I promise to make my next post more positive with pictures of the official pumpkin patch outing. The problem mostly comes at night when its quiet, and the little sprinkle is in bed. When I am left with more rest time on the couch. More time than I could ever imagine normally. Watching another day pass.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Best Distraction.

I typically love this time of year, and despite everything I am still loving this time of year. It of course is a bit different. I knew that October and November were going to be very challenging mentally for me. These are the days and weeks that are so important medically to the pregnancy. The weeks that are defined by when I went into labor, when I was admitted to the hospital and words of viability, lung function and of course the always present cervical length and funneling.

I try hard but, I am watching each day tick slowly by and the weeks seems to be barely changing. I want so badly to be past 25 weeks, but I still have to get there one day at a time. A watched pot never boils, lets just say I am living that moment by moment.
To my great surprise, my daughter is the best distraction. Leave it to a two year old who is absolutely always in the moment to remind and distract me from my worries. These pictures are from an impromptu trip to a local farm. Not our official trip to the pumpkin patch, but a "Hey its sunny lets go out to a local farm for some fresh air!" kind of trip.

Just as in previous trips to other farms she is absolutely at home on a farm. Its like the best playground around. So much to climb on, and explore. Though it is really hard to not stick your fingers in the chicken hutch and let them peck you.

Even though she is very small still (we barely break 23 lbs on a good day), she is absolutely fearless. This is good and bad, as it makes her an accident waiting to happen. She climbs everything and will refuse any help in the process. She uses all types of things to help in her climbing, an adjacent pumpkin, a small box it doesn't matter as long as it helps her complete her task.

She also loves to carry ridiculously heavy objects. Typically something 10 lbs is not a match for her to lug towards you in a hurried fashion. This is only her second favorite lifting activity because, rearranging and moving an entire box of something from one area to another area one object at a time is big fun. Today I watched her unpack 12 soda's and place them on a counter top then move them from there to a small refrigerator. I have had to move all the apples up so they can not be moved every couple of hours as well.
She also continues to love to drive things. Tractors, fire trucks, and just about anything. Of course I over stepped in few moments later and suggested she go for a ride in a wheel barrow and full toddler screaming occurred. What was I thinking? The torture only a mother could encourage.
The days between outings are long. But, with this pregnancy I have living proof of how good the outcome can be. I know what we are working towards and why it is so important that things keep moving smoothly.
I have a living example of how wonderful 25 weeks can become!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Hospital Scare.

It doesn't take a psychologist to realize why I am up at 4 am on a Friday morning. No matter how much you tell yourself that everything is okay, and that what happened the day before is not a big deal your body and or mind seems to know more. And now even though I should be trying to sleep so that I can enjoy a big day of surgery (me being the surgeon), I am instead drinking water in our downstairs.

The day started out typical enough. I was exhausted from the previous day of non-stop medical appointments and our lovely daughter had decided that 6 am was her time to wake up somewhat grumpily. I was very busy at work, and now with a half day schedule it is like trying to get an 8 hour day slammed into a 5 hour slot. I was just starting to get to the point of being able to sit down and do paperwork and phone calls, maybe heat up my lunch.

I glanced over at my cell phone. I had a message and a missed call from the hospital. What? I then tried to listen to the message but failed due to a combination of panic and people asking me things at work. Finally after several attempts, I understood something was wrong with my ultrasound the day before and they needed to see me right away. And they don't want to see me where they saw me the day before but at the hospital. The hospital is all I heard.

I called back, and asked if this was emergent. They said the sooner the better. Okay, now I was starting to feel a bit shaky. I guess it was time to wrap things up in a hurry, which I did. Trying to stop the tears from rolling down my face and I rushed out of the clinic. My poor co-workers most think I have really lost my mind.

I call Ed on the way, who is obviously very worried now too and wanting to come down. I say to wait and I will find out more information and call. I get to the hospital and have no idea where to go, as I have never been to this hospital. I am trying to memorize things as I go so that if I need to tell Ed how to find me, or where I left my car I will know. At least my 3 plus months of being in a large hospital have made me pretty savvy for reading signs and not being totally freaked in a hospital setting.

I tell the desk, that I think I am in the right place and she says somebody will be out for me shortly. Hospital terms that is about 40 minutes later. A young woman comes and gets me and says she will be doing my scan. I am so used to having trans-vaginal scans I ask if I need a gown. She looks a bit confused at me, and I lay down for abdomen scan. She instantly starts scanning the baby.

Now I am really confused. What is going on with the baby? And are all these people mute, why is nobody telling me what is going on? I watch her do the scan, which is all of about 3 minutes. She is measuring the ventricles, the cerebellum and the nuchal fold, all fetal brain measurements. Nothing to do with my cervix or my anatomy. She says she'll be back, she is an intern and has the resident review.

This is when I start to let the tears gently flow down my cheeks. I just don't know what is going on, and I am trying not to panic but really what is going on? The next person comes in and repeats the same part of the scan, all fetal brain. They notice the stream of tears going down my face.

Oh, we just didn't get all the measurements yesterday so we need to get more today. As far as we know everything is fine though I don't have the radiologist report in front of me. Okay, we are all done now you can get up. I am a bit shell shocked, really this was just a technicality? Why did they call me at work and have me come right in? What the hell?

I go to my doctor later in the day to get my weekly progesterone shot. He has no idea why they called me in like that, it is not his office that does these anatomical ultrasounds. The preliminary report he saw looks great, and he actually seems happy (cautiously) about my cervical length at this point and even more happy that I am working fewer hours.

I guess that was it, just a pointless trip to the hospital to scare the living daylights out of me. I am not sure. I won't feel better until I have the ultrasound report in my hand telling me that baby and I are fine. Of course I googled fetal brain scans which was not a good idea (ever). And of course, I am up and blogging prior to 6 am.

Some days are still just so much harder than others. I really could use an easy week though.