Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Party Killer

Yep, that's me.  Yesterday I was grumpy and snappy on the phone with my mother until she retreated to "victim mode" and told me she'd just talk to me later.  In my defense, I was in the dressing room of a popular maternity chain store reluctantly getting fitted for a nursing bra when she called.  It was my third trip into the store--the previous two times I had left because the sales girls were all "OMG, when are you due?!!!  What are you having?!!  Are you soooo excited?!"  And I can't handle that shit.  Yesterday, on the third try, the sales lady had a nice motherly tone.  I found her tolerable and acquiesced to trying on some of the awful nursing bras that they charge way too much for.  Anyway, my mother called just after the sales lady had pinched a wad of the side-boob muffin top that was squishing out the top of my bra and gently suggested a different cup size.  Also, she kept saying she had each particular bra "in a nude tone as well."  As though it was exciting or something.  I'm telling you, not one of those bras had sequins.  I would've liked some sequins.  Just saying.  I determinedly chose two of the least horrendous ones I could find and got the hell out of there. 

Poor Roo, must be so sick of hanging out with me constantly in the "halfway house" by now.  I'm trying to be fun, but I seem fun to anyone right now (don't ask my mother)?  Today I decided the timing was perfect to introduce my daughter to the wonder that is Chuck E Cheese's.  Neither she or I had ever been.  We got there, ate our food, and were industriously shoving tokens into games.  She was freaking out about the entire atmosphere, just running around being 5.  All of a sudden, I started getting these really painful cramping sensations.  The contractions that are my normal are merely annoying, they aren't painful in the slightest.  So...I started to panic a bit and yanked her out of there without the usual 5-minute departure warning that a 5 year old needs.  She was devastated and cried the whole way back to the house. Not the bratty, tantrumy cry.  The sad, heartbroken cry.  I felt like an asshole.  She had been so excited to go and was so happy to be running around playing. 

I decided to head back to the house rather than go straight to the hospital.  Because the house is a mere two blocks from the hospital, I felt comfortable going home to further assess before rushing into L&D.  Plus, the fetus was kicking away cheerfully.  As usual, the little guy has been oblivious to the chaos.  As I suspected, laying on my left side and sipping a bit of water made the pains disappear.  I promised Roo we would try again tomorrow. 

20 days to go...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

It's a Date

Today...well, it was much better than yesterday.  It started out well.  I had to see Dr. VBAC in the morning, and we set the date for delivery:  March 18th at 0730.  You'd think this would have pleased me.  It did not.  In my head all I could think was, "What the hell am I going to do with myself for 26 more days?"  I wanted to cry but I didn't have a private moment to do so.  

I think I've made it pretty clear that I have disliked my doctor(s) this entire pregnancy.  I think he's a real jerk.  He's also a perinatologist and there aren't many to choose from in my state we are.  He's supposed to be the best, but he has the personality of a rock.  A condescending rock who pushes his own personal agenda onto his patients.  He better be as good as they say.


I spent the rest of yesterday doing some hard-core moping and bringing the moods of everyone around me down.  I know I'm being a wuss.  But I'm living in fear here.  I have horrible dreams that do not end with a take-home baby. I'm good and freaked out about the delivery.  I wonder constantly if he's okay in there.  I think about how excited my little girl is to be a big sister and how excited Jerry is to have a son, and I could just cry.  I want my happy ending.  I want my good outcome.  I've waited for it, sometimes patiently, sometimes not so patiently, but I HAVE waited.

By the time I closed my eyes last night I was really worked up.  Luckily for Jerry and Roo, I woke up in a much more relaxed mood today.  Roo and I found a great little tea set while out shopping and we had a tea party while I was supposed to be studying.  I think she could tell that the mood was lighter today because she was extra enthusiastic about shopping for  baby stuff.  Much of the joy I've derived from this pregnancy has been in seeing how much she is looking forward to having a baby too.  She'll likely want to send him back to wherever he came from a week in, but right now it's definitely sweet.

So we baby shopped.  I bought diapers, which is a big step for me.  I still haven't opened a thing or taken the tags off a single clothing item.  I tuck the tags away carefully in an organized little folder.  Just in case.  Living in Frontier Land makes it difficult to abstain from preparing beforehand.  With Roo, I bought an outfit the day we found out we were having a girl.  I told myself it was to mark the occasion, remember her by if she didn't make it.  Other than that, we went on a big shopping trip the weekend before my scheduled delivery.  I can't really do that this time, so I've tried to find a compromise where I buy things as my paranoia allows.  I have packed a baby hospital bag that I keep in the trunk of my car, and I will wash those clothes the day before.  Or if I go into labor, Jerry knows how to use the baby detergent.

Even with my extreme baby gear phobia, I have to say:  I freaking love baby gear.  Love it.  I can wander the baby aisles of any store for hours.  I adore when mommies blog about what products they love.  I will hunt and hunt for the perfect baby socks:  not too tight but they stay on little feet.  It is so scary and exciting to picture all the unused items actually being used by a baby.  

Hi ICLW folks!  I've been meaning to get a tab up that tells of my/our journey for the last 3 ICLW's, and it hasn't happened yet.  I'll try to do a brief intro here.  I'm Reese, 29, new-grad RN, currently knocked up.  My guy Jerry and I are not legally married (yet--engaged for almost 7 years now) but you will hear me refer to him as my husband here.  In our hearts we've been married for a long time, but the ceremony is still hanging out on our to-do list.  I'm not at all embarrassed to say that I am crazy about him.  There was no one else for me from the moment he entered my life.  I try not to say mushy stuff like that to his face too often.  I am so incredibly blessed to have him.  I am grateful that he and I generally find ourselves on the same page when it comes to family-building, as I don't think I would've made it through without his support.  When I say we generally agree, I am not including shopping for baby gear.  You should hear us in the Target baby section discussing swings.  It's pretty bad.  Good thing it's about as bad as we get. 

I have a little girl who is 5.5.  She is the best thing ever.  I call her Roo or Kiddo here.  

I'm not an infertile, but even before nursing school I've always been fascinated by fertility treatments.  I spent some time precepting with the first doctor in my state to take IVF patients and I can completely see my self working for a reproductive endocrinologist some day, helping to get women knocked up (and stay that way) for a living.  I also have a NICU obsession and can't decide if working in a NICU would be good or bad for my emotional well-being.  We'll see where I end up. 

My family-building difficulties come during pregnancy.  Basically, my uterus is an asshole.  My first pregnancy in 2006 ended at 27 weeks when I had a random complete placental abruption that forced my 2lb 3oz son to be born in a rural hospital that was unprepared for us.  Though Matthew was transferred to a fully capable NICU, he passed away when he was 15 days old.  He had no brain bleeds, no NEC, no heart defects, but he had crappy crappy lungs.  I have no words to describe what my life became when he left.  It's been almost 7 years, but some days it still feels like it all happened yesterday.  We miss him every day.

My uterus then decided to behave for me to have Roo 15 months later.  I had no complications, just some mandatory bed rest and an obscene amount of monitoring.

Fast forward to the present.  We are having a little boy.  My uterus decided to attempt evacuation back at 30 weeks.  I also have a wonky placenta this time.  I had to go to the same rural hospital where I had Matthew and they airlifted me out as soon as they could find a reason.  Which the uterus was more than happy to provide them with.  As of now I'm currently hanging out in the city at a hospital "halfway house" a block from the L&D unit and 3.5 hours from home.  Waiting.

I imagine that due to my history of uterine issues, preterm labor, caesareans and placental abruption, I will be lucky to actually have a choice about when I am done having babies.  If I get to choose when my uterus permanently leaves my body, I swear I'm going to have a bonfire and a uterus burning ceremony as a personal grand finale to the difficulties that have plagued my reproductive years.

I think that brings you up to speed.  Oh yeah, except that for this entire pregnancy I've been an emotional basket case.  You have been warned.

As of now I have 25 days to delivery.  

Monday, February 18, 2013

Silver Linings

If I am ever lucky/blessed/stupid enough to try this pregnancy thing again please remind me that no matter how helpful I think certain family members may be prior to the pregnancy--I am wrong.  Very wrong.  I'm writing it in stone here:  any future pregnancies will be far away from all "helpful" family members.

Now then.  Where was I?  Oh yes...silver linings.  After one of those Mondays that gives Monday its bad name, I am ready to settle in for the night and move on to Tuesday.  This post could easily turn into an itemized rant about the things that got to me today, but that's not the way I want it to go.

I complain on here a lot about people who take their blessings for granted.  Their fertility, their well-behaved uteri (apparently that's the plural form of uterus, folks), their take-home babies.  I rant about this kind of thing here because this is my place to let it all out, my soundproof room to scream in, cry my eyes out in. It's so strange to me that this blog is not actually a physical space because in my mind it is.  

I let a lot of things out here that I would never never let out anywhere else.  That's a big part of the reason why I don't invite my family members or friends to read here. Very few people in my day to day life know this place exists.  I hope to keep it that way.  I would love to post more pictures of my little family, but I know that I risk being recognized by someone, somewhere. 

And so I feel safe enough here to discuss the strange form of gratitude I have on my mind tonight. 

I am not perfect.  I am so far from perfect that sometimes at the end of the day I don't know if I would even qualify as a decent human being.  There are days when I feel like I am failing as a mother, wife, friend, daughter, and sister.  There are moments when I have wondered if my family might be better off without me.  I can't seem to get anything right and my entire future seems like it might just be a never-ending exercise in futility.

The women in my family suffer from severe depression and anxiety.  It is a very obvious and traceable pattern.  If any of my family members ever read this, I am positive they would not disagree.  I do not know about my maternal great grandmother, but my mother and her mother have it bad.  They are different in the form and presentations, but they both have it.  These are two of my favorite people in the world, but also two of the most difficult people to deal with.   This subject really deserves its own post so I'll try to keep it to the point for tonight.  Let's just say that as the years have gone by my mother, in particular, has gotten much worse and I've been forced to examine the similar traits in myself. 

Wouldn't you know it?  I have some depression and anxiety myself.  Instead of trying to deny it or medicate the shit out of it as I've observed those before me doing, I try to acknowledge it and work through it.  I don't want to be paralyzed by it.  I don't want to pretend it isn't there and let it fester.  I find that most of my tactics for dealing with the grief of Matthew's death are useful in dealing with depression and anxiety as well.  In fact, I often find grief to be indistinguishable from depression and anxiety.  I am anxious because I know grief.  I am depressed because I know grief. Fortunately, I usually find that if I just ride out the Winter, Spring will come along.  I may not always be able to "ride it out" but it's what I've been dong so far that works.

My grandmother has been making comments lately about how "lucky" I am to have my family "supporting" me through this.  She says my life is such an adventure.  She adores Roo to an extreme level.  Since I am stranded in the city that she also coincidentally lives in, she is frustrated that I don't stop by and visit every day.  I have been coming by once or twice a week, and she continuously tries to get me to let her and Grandpa have Roo for a few hours.  She is a wonderful grandma, and a wonderful great grandmother.  She is also a bit manipulative, and her moods can vary wildly from minute to minute.  She calls me constantly. 

Side story:  when Matthew was in the NICU, she would show up at the locked doors at odd times of the day with no visitor's pass and basically swindle the nurses into letting her in.  She wasn't supposed to get in.  But she seemed to get in every time.  When we thought this little guy would be coming at 30 weeks, I made sure to spread the word that because Roo wouldn't be allowed in to see her little brother, NO ONE was going to see him until she did.  When my grandmother heard this she looked at me and said, "Well, I got in to see Matthew, didn't I?"  Yep.  

My first instinct when she made the comment about how "lucky" I am to have such "supportive" people in my life was to say something pretty sarcastic and rude.  Seriously?!  If this is "supportive" please take it back.  I'm not into it.  And don't even get me started on how "lucky" I am.  But the more I think about it, the more I realize that she recognizes something about the way Jerry and I live our lives.  You see, my grandma spent much of her own children's childhoods grappling with substance abuse issues as well as emotional issues.  My mother loves to tell me all about the kind of childhood she had, and my grandmother and I have sat and talked over lunch many times about some of the regrets she has had throughout her life.  I know there are many aspects of her childrens' lives that she wishes she could go back and redo.  

 And then something strange hit me.  I don't live my life that way.  At all.  When Roo was small, we were really really poor.  Maybe it wasn't the Dave Ramsay way of doing things, but I would often spend way too much on adorable baby clothes and gear.  I figured that you never know if you will get the chance to spoil a baby girl like that again.  I might never have another baby, let alone another baby girl.  I soaked it up.  Every night I tuck my little girl into bed and I say to her, "Thanks for being my little girl."  I say other crap too, but the point is I do have gratitude.  I don't miss a bedtime because little girl bedtimes don't last forever.  I do know I am blessed or lucky or whatever you want to call it.   I don't think Matthew's death made me an amazing parent, but it did make me a grateful one.  There is not a day that goes by that I don't thank God for the daughter I have, the son He is watching over for me, and the son I am looking forward to having very soon (the one hiccuping away in my belly right now).  I fight very hard through the day-to-day toils and troubles to make sure that I am mindful of each day and present in the moment.  It's not a perfect system, but I know for a fact I kick most parents' asses at it. 

Someday, when my children are all grown, I do not expect to look back with regrets over missing the whole show.  I expect to feel sad that it all went by so fast, and I'm sure there are parenting mistakes that I will regret.  The path I have had to walk has not been an easy one, but if there ever could be a silver lining to Matthew's death, I'm sure this is it.  It's strange to me because I have spent an extensive amount of time in my adult life examining these two women in the hopes that understanding their illnesses would help me to avoid the pitfalls.  Then suddenly I find that in this aspect, at least, I can't be touched.  My pain protects me, keeps me conscious of the flow of life in front of me.  Silver linings, my friends. 

Are You a Grown-Up?

I'm just wondering because apparently I am a grown-up.  I mean, I know I'm 29 and all. I've obviously had enough life experience--joy, loss, fear, the works--to qualify.  It's just that every time there is a true crisis in my life there is a part of me that is looking around going, "Okay, who is going to make this all better for me?"  Which, let's face it, even during childhood there is only a very tiny window where Mommy or Daddy can fix all the problems.  Roo has long-since started coming to me with questions that blow my mind and little girl troubles that I can't fix.  

So why is it that I still wish that someone would come along and make the last 4 weeks of my pregnancy easier?  Help the medical bills get handled smoothly.  Reassure me that the financial, emotional, and physical strains will pay off shortly.  

I don't know why I am so reminded of this tonight.  The night Matthew died, nearly 7 years ago, it was obvious that he was doing very poorly a few hours before.  No one really wanted to make dire predictions, but there was a part of me that knew things were going to shit.  I called Jerry and made him drive back to the city several hours before the nurses told me to do so.  I remember I was locked away in one of the breastfeeding rooms in the NICU pumping.  My mom called.  I completely broke down on the phone and begged her, begged her like a small child, to make everything better.  It was not pretty. I still don't really understand why I did it, and we have never talked about it between us.  I'm sure it caused her an immeasurable amount of pain that she couldn't fix it.  Matthew died a few hours later and the rest is history. 

Obviously, I am dealing with a much milder version of worry, pain, and anxiety these days.  This is small potatoes compared to what I've been through, but the cumulative effect of everything we've been through is really getting to me lately.  It's not just grief and anxiety either.  Unfortunately, as anyone who's ever had a loss knows, the world doesn't stop for your grief.  There are still bills to be paid and situations to be dealt with and jobs to attend to.  I'm having trouble posting because all I feel like doing is whimpering and complaining.  And I don't want to come off sounding like one of those ungrateful pregnant women who don't have a clue that bad things can happen.   I wish that words weren't failing me so often lately.  I feel like if I could just get it all out on the screen, some of the weight would be lifted.  Alas. 

I don't remember being this terrified with Roo.   I know I was scared.  I know I had the same obsession with her movements and the intervals in between movements, and the doppler recordings.  But I think I still had a bit of my cloak of numbness around me because it was barely a year after Matthew and I didn't have much to lose. This time?  There's no cloak at all.  Also, I think my loss gets swept under the rug sometimes because it's been almost 7 years and people think we're over it or something bizarre like that.  It's been long enough that it's not the first thing that crosses people's minds when they see me struggling anymore.  

Tonight I gave Roo a new set of bathtub crayons for her evening bath.  She starts directing me to write various phrases on the bathtub walls.  She says, "Mommy, I want you to write that me and Mommy and Daddy love Baby Boy and Matthew."  She is just the best thing in the world.  I love the way she always remembers to include Matthew at the most random times.  We are so lucky to have her.

Since I can't resist sneaking in one physical complaint, here it is:  My feet are swollen.  This has never happened to me before, and I don't like it.  I wrongly assumed that because this is my third pregnancy, the symptoms would just be the usual ones.  Nope. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

34 Weeks and 2 Days

I feel like the days are really creeping by, but we are all doing okay.  I do not yet have a date for the section because Dr. VBAC obviously has commitment issues.  The party line at his office is no C-sections before 39 weeks, but I am eyeballing Friday, March 15th.  I'll be 38 weeks and 4 days.  I'm hoping he will go for this date because it will be easier to get my mother here to watch Roo and have Jerry and my other family here if it's right around the weekend as opposed to Monday the 18th when I am officially 39 weeks.  Also, is it so bad to not want to risk having my child born on St. Patrick's Day?  I don't want him jerked out of the womb too early, but every day that Dr. VBAC pushes me to go past about 38 weeks makes me nervous.  I fear stillbirth.  I fear it in a way that only a mother who has held her dead child in her arms can fear it.  And Jerry is hours away during the week trying to keep some semblance of normality in our lives by maintaining his work schedule.  The longer the doctor makes me wait for a scheduled section, the higher my chances of going into labor and risking Jerry missing the whole show.  I would be so sad if he missed the birth.  He would be heartbroken if he missed it.  Anyway, we will see if any of these reasons appeal to Dr.VBAC's sense of humanity.  Actually, I'm not sure he has a sense of humanity so it could be a long shot. 

The first batch of medical bills from the plane ride and hospitalization has been processed and paid by my insurance.  Now we have to fork out.  Ouch.  I've been combing the itemized bills with a fine-tooth comb and negotiating left and right.  In short, it sucks. And I am far from done.   I'm hoping to get this batch of bills taken care of before I deliver.  One less thing to stress about.  Maybe I will put up a nice long post with the breakdown of costs when I am all done. 

Being stuck in this "halfway" house having to mingle with many different kinds of people and entertain my child is driving me crazy.  Do I sound like I'm in rehab when I say "halfway house?"  If so, allow me to clarify.  I am not an addict of any kind of substance.  

But being back in the city is pure bliss.  Or at least it would be if Jerry were able to be here all the time.  I was granted permission to be on my feet for 20 minute intervals a few times a day so I have been taking advantage of the adequate shopping.  It is a bit harder to find cute things for little boys.  I've noticed the baby girl sections are larger and filled with more clothing than the baby boy sections in pretty much every store I've been to.  Since I previously only shopped in the girl's section, this never bothered me.  Still, I'm quite up to the challenge these days, and Roo and I have been making some great finds.

I have been unable thus far to take the tags off of any of the stuff.  There is a part of me that cannot fathom that we might actually get to use these baby clothes.  I did take tags off a pair of tiny pajamas a week ago, but only because Roo was in desperate need of a pair of pajamas for her doll to borrow.  Other than that?  Even the bassinet is in its box still.  And I certainly haven't opened the breast pump or done any baby laundry.  This weekend I get to go home for a day to visit my furbabies (yay!) and quickly gather supplies before heading back to the city.  I am going to pack Little Guy's bag for the hospital, but I am still waiting to take the tags off until at least the night before.  

As for the baby, he is still quite a pleasant little fetus.  He moves at frequent enough intervals that I don't worry much.  He seems to really like Roo's little voice when she talks to him.  He does have this thing he does to my bladder...all of a sudden I will feel like I am about to pee my pants out of nowhere.  Thankfully I've yet to actually lose bladder control, but it does necessitate a rapid walk to the bathroom. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

33 Weeks and 1 Day

Still here.  Still pregnant.

Please allow me to stick a disclaimer on this post before I rant.  I am glad, grateful beyond measure, that it is looking like my baby may stay in until I reach full term. I know it's a great thing.  I am not wishing for an early delivery in any way, shape, or form.  I am wishing for a life remote with a fast-forward button.  Is that so much to ask?

I am so frustrated with the way things are right now.  I am so tired of everyone around me having babies and heading home while I am most likely stuck here for another 6 weeks.  I know, 6 weeks probably doesn't sound like long to wait.  But it can last forever.  

You know those women who are all, "My body was made for this; my body knows what to do" when they are pregnant/in labor?  Yeah.  My body has no idea what it's supposed to do.  I don't want to complain too loudly about it right now (my body might hear me and unleash something truly horrible on me).  I'm just terrified because 6 weeks is a pretty large window of time for my body to think up a really fun stunt to pull.  

I know my body has carried him this far.  I know he's in there.  I know 6 weeks is just the blink of an eye compared to how long we've waited to have this little guy.  I know a baby is going to come out at some point and this won't actually go on for forever.  It just feels like it. 

I just have no reassurance that there is a happy ending at the end of this story.  I wish I had more faith.  I wish I could have just a snapshot of my little family 6 weeks and 1 day from now.  That's all it would take to get me through.

I'm not sick of being pregnant.  I'm not completely miserable in the physical sense.  I'm completely emotionally miserable and I've had more comfortable physical periods of my life if I'm being honest.   All of this is manageable, though. 

It's the immensity of trying to get through the next 6 weeks.  I miss my dogs. I want to go home.  I have things to do at home.  I don't like staying here at the little hospital "half-way" house where I have to socialize with people who are staying for 3 days before they deliver while I am stuck for 6 weeks. Or worse, the moms with babies in the NICU who have no idea I've been in their shoes before.  They look at me like the sight of my pregnant belly is causing them pain.

 I don't like staying in the city during the week and only seeing Jerry on the weekends.  We just did 15 months of this long-distance crap.  We don't want to be apart again, even though it's a much milder version and a shorter time frame.  We barely made it through the last long distance period.  Having to consistently go over a month (sometimes almost 2 months) without seeing each other can really tear you up. 

You know when you have one of those days and you have to reach deep into your little pot of optimism to pull out some hope to get you through?  My pot's been low for such a long time.  I hope I have enough left to get me through 6 more weeks.  Until I can refill.