Friday, January 25, 2013

Hey Jealousy...

Yep.  I'm jealous.  I wish I wasn't but I am.  I still am, I guess would be the more accurate way to put it.  I am beginning to suspect that I may never truly get over feeling jealous when I see/talk to/hear about a woman who "has it easy." After reading this post, you will see that my interpretation of "easy" is pretty volatile and is based largely on grief and hormones rather than logic. 

We are staying at the same little home-away-from-home where we stayed 6 years ago when I had Matthew.  We have not been back since, and I had hoped we never would.  We honestly haven't ever even driven by since then.  This whole hospital experience has been like one big PTSD flashback though, so what the hell, why not?

There's this couple across the hall.  Their little boy cries constantly, that whiny cry that is designed to grate on your nerves.  Except his parents?  They don't care what he's doing or where he is in the house, so he just wanders the hallways and cries.  He is probably 2.5 at the oldest.  His little sister is quiet as she toddles behind him dragging her blanket.  She is maybe 1.5 at the oldest.  Since this place is reserved for families in health care crises, I refrained from making any judgements about the little boy disturbing everyone's sleep, as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I mean, maybe he was sick or something, right?  You just never know.

That is until this morning when the mama decided to have a loud kitchen fight with her husband who was standing just outside an open door smoking.  She started going off on the guy screeching that she needed to get to the hospital to feed the babies and that he needed to hurry up.  Then she proceeded to light a cigarette too and go off about how hard it is to try to pump breastmilk.  All while her son paced the floors screaming and crying at the top of his lungs, ignored.

That's right folks.  Babies.  Plural.  This lovely little family has twins.  I mean, what kind of world is it anyway?  Wait, don't answer that.  Later, one of the volunteers was telling me about the woman and her 36 WEEK twins.  So don't go thinking they have extremely premature twins either.  They don't

For several hours I just couldn't get over the fact that THIS couple, THIS woman have been blessed with four children, while I fight desperately for every pregnancy, every live birth, every take-home baby.  Because I doubt this woman has any idea that one does not equal the others.  If you are lucky enough to get pregnant, there is no guarantee your baby will be born alive, and there is no guarantee you will take your baby home. Even if you take your baby home there are no guarantees. 

I was offended for all the women who have to fight to get their families.  I mean, it's just not FAIR.  Here is this awful couple, who already have two children they obviously cannot handle.  I mean just puffing away like that while talking about your babies...

I know I am still pregnant.  I know I am lucky.  But sometimes it is so hard to count my blessings when I am still so terrified about getting us all through this pregnancy.

I think this all may be slightly compounded by the fact that I was asked about 5 or 6 times while in the hospital if I wanted a tubal ligation.  I assume this is because I am having a c-section--it's such a simple procedure to perform while they're in there.  But I find it insulting to be asked.  I am 29 years old.  I feel like their asking implies that they think I suck at this childbearing thing.  Which I probably do.  My uterus is turning out to be a real asshole, anyway.  

In my heart, I really wanted a bunch of kids.  Like 4 or 5.  But after Matthew, we sort of decided that 3 living children would be awesome.  If this pregnancy ends well, that's 2.  Maybe I should just be satisfied with that.  I certainly feel more reluctant to jump on the roller coaster with each pregnancy.  

But how can I ever be done?  When we thought I would deliver a few days ago, there was a part of me that was grieving for the non-existent future children I would never get to have.  I thought, "No one will be happy to hear I'm pregnant ever again."  And I was devastated for the future baby I still desperately want, even when I've been on a mag drip for 24 hours and I can't even walk to the bathroom.  Even then I want that future 3rd living baby. 

After being asked several times, I finally confronted Dr. VBAC to make sure he wrote in my chart that I DO NOT want a tubal so that the staff might stop asking me.  I also do not want him to be foggy about my wishes while he's elbow deep in my intestines and holding a scalpel.

Whether or not we ever get to have another child, I just don't want to have to face the decision before this little guy is born safe and sound and out of the NICU (or has blessedly escaped the NICU altogether).  I feel like there is a bit of an ethical dilemma here.  I think it may be morally reprehensible to ask a 29 year old woman in preterm labor with a history of premature birth, placental abruption, and infant loss if she wants a tubal.  I think, as a nurse, I would have a problem asking that question.  

Anyway, I guess it is a bit ridiculous to be jealous of the woman with the well-behaved uterus when I am still unexpectedly, magically pregnant.  I just find I identify with people who had to fight to get their families, whether that's through infertility, loss, adoption, whatever.  6 years ago, I would've been offended by a woman wandering these halls with a big old pregnant belly while my 27-weeker fought for his life a block away.  I try to be aware of that as I navigate this strange situation I find myself in, but I hope no potential mother ever looks at me and thinks I had it easy and that I take it all for granted. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Around Tuesday morning I started to hatch a secret plan to break myself out of the hospital.  It was around the same time that I noticed that I was being largely ignored by the medical staff except during periods of contraction monitoring.

I must be some sort of freak show because I seriously contract about every 3-6 minutes.  Since Friday anyway.  I've probably been contracting way too frequently for most of this pregnancy.  I think I was about 14 or 16 weeks along when I grabbed Jerry's hand and said, "Feel how tight my belly is right now?  I wonder if these are Braxton Hicks?"  Because that's really what they feel like to me, even now.  I am not in pain.  The contractions do not cause me discomfort or take my breath away, or really bother me physically at all.  I am still dilated to 2 and have some serious cervical erosion occurring if the vaginal ultrasound I had a few days ago is telling the truth.  Yet, I feel fine.  The only reason I even checked into the rural hospital on Friday was because of the regularity of the contractions.  I wasn't even sure I was having them at all.  I thought it could easily be just me being paranoid.  I thought I would be home by 7, laughing at my own neuroses.  But alas, the contraction monitor agreed with me and here we are.

After I had to be fricking airlifted out of the rural hospital and my uterus was having regular contractions over the top of every pharmaceutical intervention they tried, I really thought I was going to have a baby when the magnesium got shut off.  But no.  My body does not do anything that's expected of it.  I'm not complaining.  It's just a fact.  I contract all the time, I have placental abruptions, I have panicky expensive plane rides just for my uterus' amusement. Tuesday I realized that because I was not in pain and felt largely fine, it was only the monitor causing the staff to panic.  I was (and am) still having constant contractions, but they were obviously not going anywhere.  So in my mind I started thinking that if I stayed off the monitors more during the day, I could perhaps convince Dr. VBAC to release me and let me stay in the city until delivery.  Obviously, I cannot go home to the Frontier right now.  But I could at least leave the hospital...

Nursing school must've sharpened my skills at bending medical personnel to my will because it worked, and the Dr agreed with me.  I got discharged yesterday!  Jerry, Roo and I are now safely settled into the hospital's "halfway house" a few blocks away from the hospital, where we will stay until this pregnancy/potential NICU stay is over.  I am so glad to be out of that hospital, I cannot even tell you.  

I'm on full bed rest, of course.  No heavy lifting.  Brief showers, etc.  Lots of laying around. I plan to modify this a bit as to how I feel.  Obviously I cannot go shopping, but I did kneel on the bathroom floor to do Kiddo's bath last night.  It feels so good to be able to take care of my daughter again.  I am likely a very bad candidate for bed rest compliance, but I'm doing my best (I did not mention this to Dr. VBAC).  I'm kind of Type A; it's difficult for me to be still and let everyone else do the work around me.  

I have so much more to post about, but this will have to be it for now.  Another post to come tomorrow!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Still Gestating

Chubby cheeks and the edge of a pregnant belly.  Mine to be specific.
Still pregnant here, though I didn't expect to be.  Magnesium was shut off at 0400 this morning after my extremely slow reflexes, muscle weakness and nausea began to alarm the nurses.  I wanted to argue for the remaining four hours I had been promised, but after a bathroom trip in which Jerry and the nurse nearly completely carried me to and from the toilet because my legs couldn't bear weight, I found I had few tools with which to argue.  When I was able to escort myself to the bathroom a couple hours later, I have to admit I was relieved to have a bit of strength back.  That stuff was definitely a bad trip.

The contractions continue, but I haven't dilated further today.  I was allowed to get up and shower, move around the room a bit.  The MFM came and spoke with me after my ultrasound regarding the remaining cervix that I have.  Apparently I still have a little bit.  He says I could go into full on labor at any time.  Or I could make it to full term contracting away like this.  

I feel so glad to still be pregnant, and I know every day counts.  I hope that by opening with that, you might forgive the inevitable complaints that I know will leak out if I have to stay in this horrible hospital room for weeks on end.  Complaints about bad nurses, disgusting food, being unable to parent my daughter.  It's been a horrendous few days, and it's a pretty sad situation when this is the ideal.  Ideally, things will go on just like this for a while longer.  Ideally, I'll keep this little guy in.  Ideally.

Speaking of the little guy...he, at least, seems pretty oblivious to the situation at hand.  He flips around cheerfully with no indication that he's received the eviction notice my uterus is trying to hand him.  It makes me feel terrible.  When I had Matthew, he was ripped out because my placenta had abrupted.  There was no safe place for him anymore.  But this little guy...I feel like I should send him a morse code message or something.  Warn him that the uterus he's camping out in is not prime real estate.  It's right on a fault line buddy, a flood plain.  I don't know....

Hello ICLW people!  This week I will probably be either the best commenter because I have lots of bored hospital bed rest time or the worst because things have gone to shit.  More updates to be posted as they come.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

You Can Plan and You Can Pray...

This post may be a bit wonkier than usual as I have been on a magnesium drip for close to 30 hours at this time and quite literally cannot see straight.   Quick update.  

Terbutaline failed to stop my contractions at the rural hospital.

Airlifted to city hospital.  Magnesium started and second betamethasone shot was given.

Continue to have contractions, though not yet dilated past 2.

My "team" and I feel it is unrealistic to believe this pregnancy will continue much longer and are prepping for a premature birth.

To say that I am frantic, would be the understatement of my life.  Frantic doesn't begin to cover it.  I had hoped to never be in this situation again, but here we are.  And now I, my family and I, have to find some way to get through.

I've spoken with the neonatologists, toured the NICU, made the arrangements for school, my dogs, and my daughter.  Oh my gosh, how I miss my daughter.  She is hanging out with her Grandma and visiting daily but I just wish I could pull her sleeping little body into bed with me and watch her.  Jerry is here.  He's been a saint, and I am so grateful for him.

Magnesium is shut off at 0800 tomorrow morning.  At which time it is anticipated that labor will progress, but I may have some time to post with a clearer head that isn't filled with Magnesium fog.  I can definitely verify that magnesium is as bad as they say.  I would stay on it for a month if that was an available option, but 24 hours after the second betamethasone shot is the limit and I already talked the MFM into an extra twelve hours.  I will try to update with posts and photos as I can. 

At midnight I will be 31 weeks pregnant.  Better than last time, not as good as full term.  In my head I know that 31 weeks with steroids is a much better scenario than a placental abruption at 27 weeks.  But my heart can feel the lurch of the car poised at the top of the roller coaster.   And we are about to go down.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Just When I Was Getting Comfortable

Well...Today I drove the hour and a half to see SmallTownMD for a 30 week checkup.  Then I did a marathon grocery shopping trip.  I had a big menu all planned out so that I could do a bunch of freezer meals for after the baby comes.  

During the marathon shopping trip I had a few contractions.  Not abnormal for me at all.  I finished my errands and got on the road towards home.  I noticed another contraction so I picked up my phone and noted the time.  I kept driving.  I had another contraction and picked up my phone to note the time.  It had been 4 minutes.  Still I kept driving, telling myself it was just the busy day catching up with me.  3 minutes later, another.  

After 6 contractions worth of telling myself it would go away, I took the closest interstate exit and turned back towards the hospital.  Towards the hospital where I had Matthew 6 years ago.  The hospital that I prayed I would NEVER return to.

I had the Kiddo with me so I quickly woke her up from her nap and explained the best I could.  I called the hospital and told them my name and that I would be arriving in about 20 minutes.  They definitely remembered me.  My nurse tonight is the nurse who checked my cervix upon my arrival 6 years ago and bolted from the room without saying a word.  I'm not in the same room, thank goodness.

I was hoping it was all in my head, but no such luck.  Regular contractions and a fingertip dilated.  SmallTownMD, bless his heart, came right in and said, "I'm guessing you'd like some steroids!"  It made me take back nearly every bad thought I've ever had about him. 

So I've had terbutaline x 2, betamethasone, a bunch of IV fluids, and 2 ambien that obviously have not kicked in yet.  

All things considered, I am doing ok.  We are doing ok.  I really do not want this little guy to come out yet, but I also know that 30.5 weeks + steroids = a better NICU situation than last time.  At least that's what the brochure says.  I'm also terrified they will decide to fly me out of this hospital because I have one too many contractions.  I don't want it to be serious enough to ship me out. 

The hardest part of today was letting my dad and his wife come get my daughter.  If you've hung around this blog a bit you know I don't have the easiest relationship with my dad and the wife.  But even more than that?  I never enjoy a separation from my baby girl.  I know she's 5 and a half.  I know she'll be ok.  But she was so worried about me.  Jerry had to pry her little arms from around his neck to put her in the car with them.  I miss my baby girl.  I hate that she has to worry in her little heart for her mama and baby brother.  I miss my dog.  I wish I could go home.

Another thing that makes me seriously anxious is how fast information travels in my family.  I called Jerry and my mom.  Then I had to call my dad when it became obvious that I wouldn't be going anywhere tonight.  Next thing I know my brother and my grandma are texting my dad, several aunts have texted me, my stepmother is out in the hall on the phone, and Jerry's mother is calling.  I just need everyone to not panic and let me be the boss of everything right now.  

It is actually progress for me to notice contractions with a pattern and come into the hospital less than 7.5 centimeters dilated.  So yay!  I guess a "fingertip dilated" is progress.

Hopefully my next post will be a boring one, but please pray for us until then. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

30 Weeks!

30 weeks is one of my favorite pregnancy landmarks.  Its so comforting to reach this point and know the odds are just so much better than they were just a few weeks ago.  I am so grateful to be going to sleep tonight knowing that, if this baby came tomorrow, I would most likely be dealing with an entirely different kind of preemie than Matthew was at 27 weeks. 

My last ultrasound was a few weeks ago at 28 weeks gestation.  Baby was estimated to be around 3lbs 4oz, up from 1lb 12oz at 24 weeks.  That puts him at about the 76th percentile.  Obviously these estimations can be off by quite a bit, but I find the steady growth pattern in each of his ultrasounds from 11 weeks on to be reassuring.  He has consistently measured a week ahead of schedule (my dates aren't off, I think he might just be a chub.) Good growth is a reassuring indication that the placenta is functioning well.  And for the first time, I noticed hair on the ultrasound.  Matthew had quite a bit of hair when he was born at 27 weeks and Roo had a full head when she was born. 

The entire appointment with Small Town MD was, for once, a positive experience.  The ultrasound tech was the same woman who had done the ultrasound 4 weeks before.  She remembered me, gave me a big hug and said she was so sorry for the way she frightened me the last time.  She made sure to do some very thorough measurements and talked with me very openly, which I considered a blessing.

I passed my glucose tolerance test, and my favorite lab guy was working so I didn't even feel the needle going in.  I love that. 

Roo has quite a fascination with medical-type stuff and always amuses people with her persistent questions during ultrasounds and dr appointments.  Jerry didn't get to come this time so I had put a new cartoon on the ipad for her to watch.  You know, buy myself some silence.  I asked her if she wanted to go behind the curtain and watch Mommy get her blood drawn or stay in the little waiting area and watch her show.  She willingly turned off the cartoon, followed me back, and proceeded to amuse the lab guy with about 20 questions regarding the composition of my blood.  She later watched me get my rhogam shot with rapt attention as well.  She definitely doesn't get this from Jerry; he gets visibly pale if anyone mentions a needle. 

Small Town MD seems to get more comfortable with my care the farther along I get and he seems to listen a bit better to how I think my care should go.  I haven't recently left his office feeling frustrated and like no one but me is willing to fight for my baby, so that's something anyway.

I had a little run-in with the medical receptionist in SmallTownMD's office prior to this appointment.  When I was confirming the appointment the week after Christmas, I realized that an ultrasound had not been scheduled.  When I requested one she says, "Well, there isn't an ultrasound ordered..." I patiently replied, "I know.  I would like you to get Small Town MD to order one."  She comes back with, "Well, okay....he isn't back in the office until next week..."  I said that was fine and I would expect to hear back the next week.  

I didn't hear anything so by Tuesday (3 days before my Friday appointment) I called and left a message stating that I would still like an ultrasound added to my appointment.  She called back an hour later and says, "Okay, Small Town MD did place orders for an ultrasound, but you should know that it isn't considered medically necessary to have one at this point..."  I did not stop to inquire as to whether this was her opinion or the doctor's.  I did not care.  I didn't bat an eye and I told her to get it scheduled and email me the confirmation.  I was really irritated, but I refused to be made to feel as though I am being panicky or unreasonable.  I can assure you, I am not.  I do not bother my doctors outside of appointment time.  I am polite and respectful even when I disagree with their opinions.  I know what pregnant women can be like.  I know it's hard to sit at a desk and take phone calls from obsessive patients all day and I try to sympathize. 

But I also have to balance my desire to be pleasant with the knowledge that, should the worst happen again and I leave this pregnancy without my baby, I have to be able to live with the decisions I've made.  I have spent hundreds of nights awake since Matthew died, dissecting every little decision we made during his pregnancy, his NICU stay, his death and the aftermath.  If something happened to this little guy and I let some irritating medical receptionist guilt me out of having an ultrasound at 28 weeks (rather than waiting until 32 weeks as was apparently Small Town MD's original plan) I would never stop questioning whether that was the appropriate decision.  For me, pregnancy is a balancing act.  I have to learn my limits, learn what I can and can't handle.  Just like I learned that ultrasound time is not share-with-family-time during this pregnancy, I am also learning the art of being cautious and guarded yet hopeful.  I didn't say any of this to the medical receptionist.  Frankly, it's none of her business and her/ Small Town MD's approval of me does not matter. 

And so, in my balancing act between caution and optimism, I have now arrived at 30 weeks.  Though it feels like pregnancy will stretch on forever, I know I am getting close to the end.  It's time to start preparing a bit.  I have picked up a few baby clothes, but I won't be taking all the tags off and washing them until Little One is actually home and in need of them.  I'm not worried about converting the office into the nursery for at least the first 6 months, but I have started to go through all the old textbooks and unnecessary stuff I've been toting around.  I won't have an office anymore after it becomes a baby room (my we are outgrowing this place---a complaint for another day, but a lovely complaint to have is it not?) so I will need to downsize.  Roo's room also needs to be painted and her new bed constructed.  I think it's only fair that her room gets done before the new baby's does anyway.  

I had gotten rid of most of the baby gear I had from Roo, and much of it was pink and girly so I am in need of a lot more baby stuff than I had originally hoped.  Bouncer, swing, infant carrier, play yard with bassinet (her old one got used a lot and has several cracks in the structure), new dresser.  Since I no longer live in a lovely large metropolitan area, I figure we should purchase these items before the birth as much as we can.  However, I will be leaving them in their boxes until the baby gets home.  I don't want to take it all out and set it all up and then have to hide it all from myself should something go wrong.  If I end up doing a massive Target run because the baby came unexpectedly and caught me off guard, so be it. 

My classes start again tomorrow.  Eek!  I am trying to work ahead by about a week because I have a bit of a heavy credit load going this session.  And also?  A baby will be born SOMETIME during this session.  So I may want to take a few days off from online schoolwork.  I have a microbiology class and a history class along with my regular nursing class this session.  The classes last for 8 weeks and can be pretty labor intensive so hopefully I'm not in over my head. 

I think that about sums it up.