Mommy 4-1-1

Mommies 4 Mommies: What We Wish We’d Known

Callahan’s birth story: A long journey Sunday, December 14, 2008

At the end of my second trimester, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure by my obstetrician. He put me on partial bed rest and put me on medication. He told me if my blood pressure kept going up that I would have to be delivered early, but he was sure that the medication would help. So, for a few weeks I went twice a week to the doctor to get my blood pressure checked. Every check -up was going good, my blood pressure seemed to be under control and they told me they hoped for me to make it to 36 weeks.

On September 18, I woke up and felt like something was different. I couldn’t put my finger on it , but something was different. I had a doctor’s appointment that day, so I got ready and my mom took me ( Cade had the car that day). I went into the office feeling fine, then she took my blood pressure and told me I needed to go to the hospital right now. My blood pressure was 170/112 ( just so everyone knows normal blood pressure should be 120/80). So, they sent me to labour/delivery where they put me on stronger doses of medication and told me they wanted to monitor my blood pressure for a few days. They sent me to mother babe because antepartum was full. The next day , a Friday my blood pressure wasn’t improving and they loaded me up on more medication and decided to give me steroids to help Callahan’s lungs mature in case they needed to deliver. Dr.Cooper came in that night and told me that I would have to remain in the hospital for the rest of the pregnancy and thought we could make it to at least 34 weeks ( at this point I was 29 weeks pregnant). So, I prepared myself for a long stay. Two days later I had a major spell and my blood pressure reached 180/113. They gave me emergency doses of adalat, a second medication to the blood pressure medication I was already on. It worked but gave me wickedly painful headaches. The next day (Monday) my blood pressure was still acting up and none of the medication seemed to be working. So, the obstetrician told me he was going to deliver me via C-section that night , so Cade and I had visits from the neonatalogists talking to us about what would happen when Callahan was born and what his stay at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit might be like. So, Cade and I sat there and waited for me to be delivered , scared and feeling not ready at all. The anesthesiologist came in and started prepping me, then a different obstetrician came in and told me I was fine and the baby was fine and that he was just going to load me up with more medication. I was like alright, thank goodness.

On the Wednesday, of all things my water broke and we thought well I guess this baby really wants to come out. The nurses told me that sometimes even if your water breaks you might not go into labour for weeks. So, we sat and waited and my blood pressure was somewhat under control. The next day, my blood pressure was up again and on the ultrasound that day, they saw that the blood flow to Callahan was being effected. So, once again they tell me we are going to deliver you today at 1 pm. Cade leaves class in the middle of an exam and gets to the hospital only for us to be told once again they are not going to deliver me. Now, as much as I wanted Callahan to stay in me and grow more, I was getting so frustrated with this back and forth that the nurse took my blood pressure and laughed and said it was so high she was not going to tell me and just let me calm down. On Saturday ( it had been over a week) , I started having very irregular contractions, but then they slowed down and eventually stopped that night. Sunday, the day. I went for an ultrasound that morning and normally they don’t do ultrasounds on Sunday’s because they have to call people in, but I was a special case . I went up to my room and waited for the obstetrician with the results. The doctor was taking awhile , so Cade decided to go home have a nap, some lunch and a shower. In the meantime, the doctor came in and told me that they had tried long enough to control my blood pressure and that it was starting to affect Callahan . He told me they would induce me the next day, if Callahan had moved back into the mobile, birthing position ( the previous few days he had been lying transverse, straight across). So, I phoned my mom and Cade and told them that I would be induced the next day. A few minutes later the nurse asked me to take a urine sample , and she discovered that I was leaking huge amounts of protein and that the blood pressure was starting to affect my kidney’s. She called the obstetrician back in and he decided that he would induce me that night. He came to examine me and said that inducing would be too difficult , and that they would deliver via-emergency c-section at 4 pm. It was now 3 :15 pm , and all I had was enough time to call Cade and tell him to get back to the hospital and my mom to leave church because I was going to have a baby within the hour. Cade made it just as they were walking me to the operating room.

Inside the operating room, they prepped me with a spinal epidural but just before that they took my blood pressure and it was 195/129. It was time to deliver that baby. So, they gave me the spinal , which in all honesty I was more worried about than them cutting me open . They then strapped me to the table, put up the sheet and let Cade come in. Cade was talking to me then all of sudden they said to him , do you want to see the baby come out? I was like what ?? I didn’t even know they had cut me open. At 4:08pm Callahan was born , letting out a few cries before he had to be intubated with oxygen. His cries were the most beautiful, most reassuring sounds I could have ever heard. My little boy had come into the world screaming letting everyone know he was there, even though he came 10 weeks early. I saw him for a few moments before they whisked him away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. He weighed 3 pounds 1 ounce and was 16 inches long.

After they took him away (Cade had gone with him), they stitched me up and then wheeled me back into a recovery area, where they checked my blood pressure and put me on a drug called magnesium sulphate to keep me from having a seizure. It is an extremely strong med and you can only be on it for a very short period of time. They then wheeled my whole bed into level 3 of the NICU, where our little boy was hooked up to a ventilator and beginning his transition to what would be his home for 64 days in the NICU. It was amazing to seem him so small and tiny and that he was here, but it was also scary and extremely difficult to see my little baby hooked up to tubes and machines . After that they took me back to my room, where Cade was told he would have to go home, because I would need to have one on one care for the rest of the night. They had to wake me up every hour that night to check my blood pressure and all my vitals, and keep me moving. At one point in the middle of the night, I woke up to them putting nasal oxygen prongs in my nose, because the medication had lowered my blood pressure so much that my oxygen levels were dropping. I was so out of it though that I didn’t care, or was even that aware. The next morning I was told I could come off the Mag sulphate, and that I was ready to be moved from antepartum into the mother/babe unit for the rest of my recovery. I stayed for 5 more days before they discharged me. That was the hardest day and there were such mixed feelings. I was happy to be out of the hospital, but I was devastated that I was not leaving with my baby. Definitely not the birth experience I had expected.For the next 64 days, we spent everyday at the hospital with Callahan , watching him become stronger and progress and fight so he could come home. He had to learn so many things, that most babies develop in utero. He spent 1 and a half days on a ventilator, then 3 weeks on a C-pap machine and then four weeks on nasal prongs. He finally came off his oxygen in the middle of November and on December 1st he was discharged and finally came home with us weighing 6 pounds 8 ounces, a far cry from the 3 pounds 1 ounce he once was. He is at home , a healthy and happy boy and we are so extremely grateful.

 

Becoming a new mommy and bilingual babies! Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Filed under: Communication,New Mommas,Pregnancy — Paula G, Professor Pocket and My Pregnancy @ 8:29 pm

Hi Mommy 4-1-1,

 

I am 23 weeks pregnant with my first little one. I have to say it was a bit of a surprise to find out we were pregnant. My husband and I were in the stage of starting to talk about it when VOILA on a vacation to South Beach I realized it had already happened. We felt lucky to have been able to get pregnant so easily and I have had a wonderful pregnancy thus far. I love watching my belly grow, and the baby is getting big enough where now I can actually see my stomach bounce up when he/she (we aren’t finding out!) kicks!

 

As the months pass and the time approaches when this little baby will enter our world, my husband and I are trying to get everything prepared. By that I am not referring to what color I want to paint the baby’s room, it’s more about what kind of parents do we want to be? How will we make sure to raise a bright, curious, cultured, socially responsible child? Top on our list is to make sure the baby is bilingual.

 

I was born in the Dominican Republic and spent my childhood between Los Angeles and my hometown of Santiago. During the school year I was the Americanized version of myself, and then summer would come and my entire family would pack up and get ready for Dominican. Those summers are the greatest memories I have of my childhood and I remember almost feeling like I had two lives. I rejoined my Dominican friends and Spanish once again came naturally, so much so that by the end of the summer I was thinking and dreaming in Spanish. I loved having that special experience that none of my US friends had. I loved being able to meld completely into two entirely different worlds. I want my baby to have the same multi-cultural experience, especially in this increasingly global world in which we live. The benefits of being able to speak Spanish and English are still paying off. I have been able to travel and live in multiple countries. It has made me so curious and open to the rest of the world.

 

I am so passionate and so determined to raise my baby bilingually that my sister-in-law Nathalie and I started a company to help other parents do the same. Nathalie and my brother Carlos are already raising their two children bilingually. We launched Professor Pocket, www.professorpocket.com , in 2005 and it’s been a wonderful journey. We produce Spanish/English CDs that use a combination of very funny storytelling and catchy songs to get both parents and their children excited about learning a second language. The key is to introduce the language early on. Children are little sponges, it is amazing how quickly they absorb what they hear. As a Spanish speaker my goal is to speak to the baby only in Spanish while my husband will speak in English. It may be intimidating for parents who don’t speak another language to introduce a second language to their child, but it is possible and I wanted to share my top tips for raising bilingual children….

 

1. Don’t be afraid!

 

Even if you don’t speak the second language, look for products, like Professor Pocket, that make language learning a fun and interactive process for both parents and children. As a parent you can learn along with the child.

 

2. Be consistent!

 

Make sure your child hears the new language every day, it’s the only way they will learn. Books and audio CDs are a must as well as everyday conversation.

 

3. Make it fun!

 

If it isn’t fun for you and the child, you are less likely to be consistent in your introduction. Music and stories are a great way to keep the child engaged while they learn.

 

4. Have no fear, your child will still learn English!

 

There are so many incorrect fears that introducing multiple languages will only confuse the child and delay their development of their English language skills. This is not true! Beyond becoming bilingual your child will show superior problem solving and math skills, increased overall school performance, and better cross-cultural understanding.

 

If you are interested in this topic here are some other sites to check out…

 

Bilingual/Bicultural Family Network

www.biculturalfamily.org

 

Teaching and Learning Spanish

www.teachinglearningspanish.blogspot.com

 

www.scrambledbacon.blogspot.com

 

www.professorpocket.com

 

Enjoy!

 

Deny, Deny, Deny Saturday, June 21, 2008

Filed under: Antepartum Conditions,Pregnancy — amhinnant @ 10:10 am
My daughter, Emerson, turned 1 on May 23rd, and I am still in shock.  How did a whole year go by?  Never mind that the year included my husband changing jobs and the family moving back to the beach, it just doesn’t seem possible that Emmie should be 1.

As the days counted down to the 23rd I found myself marking the different milestones.  You see, my water broke on May 3rd, but I was blissfully ignorant of what had just happened.  When I felt dampness in my underwear on the morning of the 3rd I thought I just had a slight bladder-control issue.  As the morning wore on and I changed my underwear and shorts 3 times, I decided that this was something the doctor needed to know about.  I couldn’t just be walking around peeing all the time.  That’s just not acceptable.

Yeah, I know.  Like I said, blissfully ignorant.  Maybe total denial.

I got to the doctor and he did a fern test with the fluid he found.  Apparently amniotic fluid, as it dries on a microscope slide, forms a ferning pattern.  I was ferning all over the place.

“Get ye to the hospital,” he said.  I nearly lost my mind right then and I felt a massive shift in my sense of reality.  I was 30 weeks pregnant.

After checking in and getting a bed in Labor and Delivery my ob-gyn, a man I ADORE, and a neonatologist from the Special Care Nursery (SCN) came over to talk to me about what giving birth to a 30-weeker meant.  It wasn’t good.  Probable intubation for the baby after the birth, possible brain bleeds, a feeding tube, a 6-8 week stay in the SCN, I was terrified.  They started talking about the steroid shots they would give me.  One now, one 24 hours later, and 24 hours after that the Emerson’s lungs and blood vessels would be far more mature and things would start looking up.  They told me about those shots for an hour until I sat up and said “can we stop TALKING about the shots and actually GET one for me?  Where are the SHOTS??”

Fast forward to 48 hours later.  I was now on the regular maternity ward cooling my heels and having non-stress tests twice a day, plus whenever Emerson was too quiet and I got nervous.  My doc came in to tell me how amazed he was that I hadn’t gone into labor yet, as 85% of women go into labor within 48 hours of their membranes rupturing.  He felt like now we could probably hold on for a few more weeks.  The catch – if I went into labor they wouldn’t stop it.  The danger to the baby from infection at this point was greater than the danger of an early birth. 

I could only get out of bed to use the bathroom.  When I asked about a shower the doc hesitated, then said yes, one a day, for no longer than 5 minutes.  My husband literally stood in the doorway of the bathroom timing me with his watch.  At 4 minutes he would give me a 1 minute warning and by golly I had better be out of that shower in the next minute.  After a couple of days I was allowed one 15 minute wheelchair ride a day.  I usually got my husband to take me outside to the flower garden and koi pond.  It was May and I was missing the nicest Spring we’d had in a couple of years.

I did my best to not think about what was going on.  I was scared, but I quickly developed a pretty good coping mechanism – I just ignored the reason I was in the hospital.  The problem was I couldn’t concentrate on anything.  I couldn’t read, TV was stultifying, crossword puzzles were beyond my brain’s ability at that time and the only thing I looked forward to were visits from my parents with my 2 year old son.  He actually turned 2 while I was on bedrest.  We had a party in my room with the nurses.  Woohoo.

The strangest thing was every 3rd or 4th night, usually around 10:00 pm, I would have a mini-nervous breakdown and force the nurse to call my doc at home, email him the results of the non-stress test of the evening, and make him call me to say things were ok.  I look back on that and realize that all that denial of why I was there would build up and I would need massive reassurance that things were going alright.  He never let me down.

Bedrest is awful.  The reasons that a woman is put on bedrest means that things are NOT OK and therefore no rest is to be found.  My mind never stopped running.  I would try to sleep but my heart would race and pound so hard it would move the bedsheet. 

I held out until 33 weeks 1 day and when I went into labor I did the denial thing again.  I had been tracking my contractions the whole time I was hospitalized, but I usually had only 2 or 3 an hour.  I was supposed to call the doc if I had more than 5 in one hour.  On the morning of the 23rd I counted 11 in one hour.  Hmm, that’s interesting.  I called my husband.  He asked WHY WASN’T I CALLING THE NURSE?

Oh.  You think I’m in labor?

I had a c-section because they didn’t want to subject Emerson to the stress of a natural delivery, but I had to labor for 4 hours until the OR was ready.  The anesthesiologist was my best friend that afternoon.

Emerson was born weighing 4 lbs 4 ounces, never needed oxygen let alone intubation, ate like a champ from the beginning and came home the day she turned 35 weeks.    She is now a happy, rambunctious 1 year old and I am so thankful that it turned out the way it did.  But BOY will she hear about this when she is a teenager. 

 

Bed Rest Monday, April 21, 2008

Filed under: Antepartum Conditions,Pregnancy — Heather @ 11:04 am

When my sister-in-law was pregnant for the second time, an active blood clot formed between her placenta and uterine lining. If the clot got too big, it would separate the placenta from the wall of the uterus, effectively ending the pregnancy.  The clot would bleed whenever she moved around too much, so she was put on strict bed rest immediately. From her twelfth week of pregnancy until halfway through her seventh month, she laid in bed, using a wheelchair to go to the bathroom or doctor visits. My husband and I sent her care packages of DVDs, books, and games, and I remember thinking, “how fun that she gets to rest and watch TV all day!” I was actually jealous.

Flash forward to my pregnancy. When my water broke at 19 weeks, I was put on strict bed rest. I was only allowed to get up to go to the bathroom. I was allowed a five minute shower if I had a shower seat. I needed to lay on my side, preferably my left one, at all times. Never on my back, and I wasn’t ever supposed to sit up because that would stress my abdominal muscles. Gravity was a serious issue since I was constantly leaking amniotic fluid. Suddenly I realized that my sister-in-law’s bed rest might not have been the vacation I’d originally thought!

So many people told me, “enjoy the rest, because when the baby comes, you won’t get any.” Anyone who says that has never been on bed rest! While everyone obviously meant well, it did little to cheer me up. For me, there was nothing restful about it. I was constantly thinking about my condition. I did hours of research on the Internet about babies born to women like me. I wanted to be prepared for anything. It definitely helped once my daughter was born as I knew what to expect, but there were so many things to prepare for that it totally messed with my mind. Pregnant women are a pretty paranoid bunch these days anyway, what with all the things not to eat, do, etc. Throw in a high risk pregnancy and I can guarantee mental breakdowns! I had a lot of them. Even though I had my husband and my family and friends, I still felt like I was in solitary confinement. I started to wonder what I could have done differently. I shouldn’t have been outside over Labor Day weekend since the weather was so hot. I ran too many errands and I was on my feet too much. When you have nothing to do but think, your mind plays terrible tricks on you.

The one thing I never expected was how totally draining bed rest would be. Because all I could do was lay there, I would sleep in small bursts. Thirty minutes here, 45 minutes there. No long stretches, ever, even at night. I became very knowledgeable on the late night television schedule! I had trouble concentrating on everything. And physically, it destroyed me. I could feel my muscles twitching as they atrophied. My hips and lower back are still totally messed up from supporting all my weight. I had a pillow top mattress with a memory foam pad, and it still felt like I was laying on rough concrete. The special bed in the hospital wasn’t much better. I was scared that I wouldn’t have the endurance to go through labor or the strength to push my daughter out (which ended up not being an issue since I had a C-Section).

I had some really low moments. Times I just wanted to give up. I felt like I was going to crack and I couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t WANT to do it anymore. It was so hard, the enormity so overwhelming, that I just didn’t want to be pregnant and I didn’t CARE. I still feel guilty about that. Thank GOD I had my husband. He never judged me when I was at my most selfish, crying because I was uncomfortable or because I wouldn’t be able to do something. He never threw anything in my face. I never could have made it without him.

I taped up my ultrasound photos as motivation. I would remind myself, even during my low points, that every day I was on bed rest was a day my daughter wouldn’t have to be in the hospital. Instead of dwelling on everything I was missing out on by being on bed rest, I starting thinking about what I was gaining by laying there – my baby’s health. The sacrifices didn’t seem as big when I thought about it that way.

If you are on bed rest, I highly suggest moving your computer to your bedside. Read about your condition and get informed. Don’t dwell too much on what could go wrong. Ask your doctor if there are any stretches or easy exercises you can do in bed – you might even be able to get physical therapy. Find things to occupy your time – movies, DVDs of TV shows, books, computer games, word puzzles, anything. Above all, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I felt like such a burden to my family and friends, but they <i>wanted</i> to help me. They felt better knowing that they could do something for me, like cook or clean, and I felt better knowing that my house was still being cared for.

If you know someone on bed rest, DO NOT TELL THEM TO ENJOY THE REST!!!! It might seem like a good idea at the time, but stop and think about it for a sec – there is potentially something wrong with this pregnancy. Do you think your pregnant friend is feeling like bed rest is a vacation? She is most definitely scared out of her mind. Go over to her house, walk her dog, bring her and her husband dinner. She’ll always remember what a good friend you were to her in her time of need. I have a list a mile long of people I owe one to!

At the end of her bed rest, my sister-in-law gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy. She had the strength for a natural birth and, while her recovery was a bit longer because of her weakened condition, she was soon walking around like bed rest was a distant memory. My bed rest absolutely saved the life of my daughter. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!!

 

What to Expect When Expecting #2 Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Filed under: Delivery,Postpartum,Pregnancy — Dana @ 10:12 pm

It didn’t take as long to get pregnant with number two… Made me wonder if perhaps we weren’t a little overzealous to conceive number one. 😉

As men and women attempting conception over long periods will testify, sex can become utilitarian. (Again, I recommend the movie Maybe, Baby with Hugh Laurie.) It’s pretty inevitable that mechanics will win out over passion. But I deviate.

This story will be different coming from someone else. There’s a big difference between someone having a second child when their first is five years old and someone having a second child when their first is 2 years old. My scenario is the latter.

My second pregnancy was similar to the first except that I was much more exhausted during my first trimester. Perhaps it was because my first still woke me during the night or perhaps it was totally unrelated. Regardless, I had to take naps at work to survive. Colleagues started guessing the cause of my fatigue before I was ready to announce the news but that didn’t matter.

I didn’t gain as much weight this time even though baby was 2 oz heavier than #1. I was relieved because after you’ve had one kid, you realize the impact of getting it all off afterwards. On this note, recognize that it takes most women 6 months to a year to get rid of their “baby weight.” I carried 3 pounds over to my next pregnancy. Fortunately, this time, I’ve already attained my pre-2nd-pregnancy weight at 7-8 months postpartum. I’m hoping to get rid of those pesky 3 pounds leftover even though it won’t get rid of the stretch marks and droopy belly and breasts.

Don’t let anyone tell you that having children doesn’t change your body in one way or another. I have a friend who’s genetically-predisposed not to get stretch marks but she’s paid the price in smaller breasts. My mother gained weight during the breast-feeding period because she was always so ravenous. Breast-feeding is supposed to help you lose weight because you’re using calories to produce milk. Not everyone can afford private trainers to help get rid of pregnancy weight gain like Hollywood.

I was constantly asked what child #1 thought about having a baby around; a sibling. We didn’t bother going into great detail with our son because of his age; he had no clue what was coming. He would be turning 2 years old a couple of weeks after the baby was born. The situation may have been different had our first child been a girl. Girls love babies. 😉

The prenatal courses I took during pregnancy #1 informed you that when you start having contractions, it will probably still be quite some time before you deliver. Take your time, don’t rush to the hospital until your water has broken or you can’t handle the contractions. What they don’t really specify is that this advice doesn’t necessarily carry over to delivery #2.

I knew delivery #2 was likely to go faster. I guess once the birth canal has been breached (going outwards 😉 ), the way is paved for the rest of your deliveries. I had been having weak, random contractions for about 2 weeks. When they finally started coming more regularly, I waited for my water to break as it had with the first. The amniotic sac ruptured in a giant explosion of fluid with #1 so I was uncertain if it had really happened when the slight trickle came. When I got up and it was coming pretty steadily, I knew. My husband and I calmly prepared to go to the hospital, making necessary phone calls for care of #1, etc.

When women had told me that you forget the pain of delivery after each child, I didn’t believe them. But it’s absolutely true. It comes rushing back when you experience it again though! Every bump in the road, every turn that’s taken and every delay is agony.

Perhaps we shouldn’t have taken our sweet time getting to the hospital. I delivered within 45 minutes of arriving. Baby #1 had taken 7 hours. I had enjoyed the benefits of an epidural with number one and had planned to do the same with number two. Alas, there was no time! I felt every bit of birth #2.

Epidurals

I’m devoting a portion of this post to discuss the pros and cons of epidurals. For those unfamiliar with it, an epidural is when an anesthetist sticks a needle in between the vertebrae of your lower back for the purpose of administering blessedly numbing drugs. Depending on how good the anesthetist is, you shouldn’t feel anything from the waist down. A “patchy” epidural means you can feel a spot here or there.

During pregnancy #1, I had left the epidural option open. I was not automatically going to get one but I wasn’t adamantly opposed to it. When my first major contraction hit (right after my water broke), the first thing I said was “I’m getting an epidural!” It took awhile to get one due to no rooms being available (one of the cons of busy Canadian hospitals), but once received, I was sold. I was going to have an epidural for every subsequent delivery.

This experience in tow, I had not prepared myself for the pain of natural childbirth. In my (retrospective) opinion, this was pretty stupid. I’m not sure how one would prepare for it but because I had assumed I’d be pushing the baby into the world under the dredges of an epidural, I panicked when I could feel everything. My recommendation is to prepare!

My main memory is the impression that there was no way I was going to be able to push the baby out even though it wasn’t overly-large and I have ample birthing hips. 😉 The best advice the health providers around me gave was to divert my energy from screaming (just a little 😉 ) to pushing. It totally worked. It was, thank goodness, over quickly. I don’t even recall the famed “ring of fire,” which refers to the feeling accompanying a crowning baby.

My recovery after delivery #2 was incredible. I didn’t tear at all, though #1 had resulted in a second-degree tear. My mood was euphoric, I wanted to be discharged the same morning. After #1, recovery was slower and my mood nowhere near euphoria.

The ease of delivery #2 may have been only the result of experience but my conclusion was that epidurals aren’t necessarily the best way to go. My mom points out that she had all five of her children without. 😉 I can’t say that, given the opportunity, I wouldn’t get another epidural. Just a few things to think about, is all.

One of the pros to bringing a newborn home to a barely-two-year-old is there’s very little reaction. My son was quite indifferent to his new sister. We’ve been very lucky because he still rarely shows jealousy or malice. I’m not sure this is typical. Probably more of a personality thing.

Another pro is that child #1 entertains child #2! I recall how boring it was with one child at home. When it came to his entertainment, I was it. I’ve been lucky. My kids are usually content entertaining themselves. Still, when #2 is restless, nothing captures her attention like her big brother tearing around the house. She thinks he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. 🙂

The unfortunate thing about having two children is that they don’t sleep at the same times! When #1 goes down for a nap (once a day), #2 is either awake or has a short or interrupted nap. All you want is for them both to sleep so you can too! Eventually, this evens out a bit.

The Gender Difference

So what’s harder? Boys or girls? Since I was blessed with one of each, I will share the differences that I’ve noticed.

When it comes to diapers, I think boys are easier. Sure, poop gets into the little wrinkles of the scrotum, but the delicate tissue that makes up girly privates can tear if one isn’t gentle enough and cleaning around in there is more effort.

Girls tend to be needier than boys. Translation: They require more attention. Don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of needy boys out there too. This is a general tendency that I’ve noticed talking to other mothers.

Bonding: It took me several weeks or months to bond to my son. It took days to bond to my little girl. I told my mother about this and she told me it was the same for her. She had had a girl first and so didn’t notice the difference until after she’d had a boy and then another girl.

 I’ve written this post over the course of several days so, unfortunately, I can’t remember everything that I was planning to share. If I recall anything later, I will add it on. If you have any specific questions, feel free to comment!

 

Inauspicious Beginnings of Motherhood Friday, April 4, 2008

Everyone grows up hearing how it only takes once to get pregnant. So when you get married and eventually decide to have kids, you think you can plan when the kid’s born. I wanted a September baby. Um, no.

Well, let me clarify. I know plenty of women who are “easy knock-ups.” You know who you are. Comments like “He breathes on me and I get pregnant” and “Whoops!” take on a whole new meaning when your period keeps proving that you have failed to conceive yet again.

It took me two years to concieve our first child. This is piddly compared to plenty of other women. Let’s just say two years was enough to get me thinking.

A couple is considered infertile if the woman does not conceive a child after one year of unprotected, well-timed intercourse or she has been unable to carry a pregnancy to a live birth. (For more info on “well-timed intercourse,” I recommend the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The definitive guide to natural birth control, pregnancy achievement and reproductive health by Toni Weschler.)

  1. Is there something wrong with himSince only 25% of infertility is caused primarily by a problem in the man, it’s less likely. However, testing men for infertility is much easier and so tends to be done first to rule it out.
  2. What if we can’t have children?!? This is probably the scariest question because if you’re trying to have children, then obviously you want to have children. I told myself, as a way to cope, that if I couldn’t have children then I probably wasn’t meant to have children. Not very reassuring. I also told myself that I actually didn’t want children anyway. Hm.

When it came to the decision of having children, I didn’t think that I had taken it lightly. I was a “mature” 24-year-old 😉 but hated kids in general. But other parents had assured me it was different when they were your own. (Totally true, by the way.) Relying on this cliché piece of wisdom, I had gone over all the cons of parenting I could think of (money, no sleep, diapers, no sleep, tantrums, no sleep, teenagers, no sleep) and decided I could hack it. Let’s face it. When women are in love, they usually end up wanting to make a baby with their significant other. I did NOT think I would be one of those. I’m a recovering feminist and not the nurturing type.

Anyway, once a year or so had ticked by with no conception and the above questions had been beaten to death in my head, we started considering testing. My sister-in-law had undergone extensive testing and procedures and so I wasn’t taking this step until my husband had proved fertile and my own doubts of being a competent parent were laid to rest. A good way to learn more about testing and infertility is to watch the movie “Maybe, Baby.” It has Hugh Laurie (from the popular TV show House MD) in it. It’s good for a few laughs anyway.

We got the lab requisition for hubby-testing. Somewhere in the shuffle of life, it was misplaced. We got another one. Husbands can be quite reluctant to submit to this type of thing. It may subconsciously threaten their masculinity. Before any testing was yielded to, however, my appetite became ravenous and my period was suspiciously light.

The night before the big, official pregnancy test was the only night that I felt like I had to pee all night. I kept dreaming that I was looking for a bathroom but even when I found one, I knew I had to wait for my husband because I had to test my urine. Finally, at six in the morning, I just got up and went. The test looked pretty inconclusive. I woke my husband to confirm. He was not happy about the early hour but he agreed it looked pretty inconclusive. Was that a plus sign?? We decided to go to a walk-in clinic to make certain.

I was pregnant.

I turned out to be one of those pregnant women that other pregnant women hate. I didn’t get sick at all. Even so, pregnancy blows.

I would always have wondered what it would be like to be pregnant if I hadn’t gotten pregnant. To feel the fetus moving inside me, more than anything else. But pregnancy takes forever! Even when you feel fat and have been wearing prego clothes for a month people don’t notice. “You’re pregnant??” So what, I was this fat before or something? You hit the halfway point (all going well) and realize you’re only at the halfway point. You’re paranoid the whole time: Is the baby normal? Should the baby be kicking? What if there’s something wrong and I don’t get that feeling ? Is this that feeling??? And forget sleeping once you hit that last month or so.

Then you hit your due date. Nothing happens. Oh, come on! Let me tell you that due dates don’t mean anything! When people ask when you’re due, lie. Give them a date that’s a month later.

You consider testing multiple old wives’ tales to get that darn baby out. I didn’t do anything drastic. 😉

I delivered the day I was scheduled for induction. I opted for Gravol since I was incredibly nauseated. I had decided beforehand that I wasn’t going to receive any narcotics. There are arguments for and against epidurals, but I had one and it was awesome. (See my post What to Expect When Expecting #2 for pros and cons on epidurals.)

Even though I’d taken multiple prenatal courses, I was unprepared for how much the postpartum period would suck. I thought it was worse than the pregnancy! The body has to get rid of all that fluid it retained during pregancy. My feet and ankles looked like one giant “cankle.” Then there’re the breast-feeding induced cramps (if you nurse, it stimulates a hormone that causes your uterine to contract back to normal size–it feels like menstrual cramps), the bleeding, the peri-bottle, the frozen pads, the engorged breasts and the fact that, if you were stitched up, you don’t feel right down there! And that all is only if you had a normal vaginal delivery! Other delivery methods include vacuum and/or forceps assisted and the (usually) dreaded cesarean section (c-section) and can bring complications of their own. This is all on top of sleep deprivation.

Is it worth it? It is! Until they turn two… 😉

In retrospect, the one negative thing that I didn’t ponder much was the lack of freedom. Sure, you have a cute baby that you take everywhere with you now. No big deal. But there are no more spontaneous evenings out. You always have to plan around the little grommit’s eating schedule, sleeping schedule, cranky schedule and so on. If you’re bottle-feeding, you have a little more freedom (I will discuss breast and bottle feeding in another post).

The thing is, even though insanity is touched upon now and then, you would never give them back. That’s what love is all about.

 

PPROM

Many pregnant women have a fear of their water breaking in a public place. That’s what always happens to the pregnant women on TV and in the movies, right? I didn’t know that only about 10-15% of labors start before the onset of contractions. I was mildly nervous about my water breaking at work. All my coworkers are men, and I could see them being freaked out instead of helpful. If I’d only known that instead of being worried about where my water broke, I should have been more concerned about when. My water broke at 19 weeks gestation.

Nothing about my pregnancy had been easy or routine. I’d always had difficult periods, so I’d long had a fear that I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant. When I got pregnant after five months of trying, my husband and I were very excited. I still felt a bit uneasy, though, and wanted confirmation from my OB that everything was okay.

At nine weeks I went in for my first meeting with my obstetrician. I had the regular work ups and all of that, but my ultrasound is where things got interesting. While we could see a little blob (the baby) with a flickering heartbeat, we also discovered a bigger blob that was somewhat ominous looking. My OB wasn’t sure what it was, but suspected it was a twin that “didn’t take.” She took lots of pictures of the image, and said she’d send copies to a specialist she knew. We set an appointment for me to return two weeks later.

A few days later, my OB called me back. The specialist that she had consulted wanted more images. My OB asked me to come in sooner than scheduled, only two days later. I started to get nervous, because when does a doctor ever want you to come in sooner?

When my husband and I went in, the news wasn’t good. The bigger blob was still there. That meant it wasn’t a twin, as it would have started reabsorbing at that point. My OB ran a bunch of different scans on the mass that the specialist requested, and then tried to look at the baby. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get a good look at the baby because the mass was in the way. We could still see the little flickering heartbeat, but that was it. My OB feared that the baby wasn’t developing the way it should. She told hubby and me that she would send the images on to the specialist but that this was an abnormal pregnancy and that things didn’t look good. She told us not to get attached to the pregnancy because the odds were that I would miscarry. Obviously, we were devastated.

Two days after THAT appointment, my OB called. She said that the specialist she’d been consulting with wanted to see me in person. We were very happy about this since she is a Perinatologist, which is a OB that specializes in high-risk pregnancies. My regular OB didn’t deal with complications like mine, so we felt encouraged that we were going to get some answers about what went wrong with this pregnancy. I set my appointment with the Perinatologist for the following week.

We went in with pretty low expectations. The Perinatologist was very guarded when she started her exam but was quickly surprised when she discovered a perfectly-developed baby. We saw and heard the little heart beating, the little arms and legs, and we could also see the brain and the two tiny hemispheres that comprise it. She spent a few minutes making sure the baby looked good, and then she started looking around at the other things. She discovered that there wasn’t one mass in there, but two. One mass was inside the sac with the baby, the other was outside of the sac. After doing a bunch of different scans, she determined that the masses weren’t getting any blood flow, and that they weren’t connected to the baby or to each other. The doctor was fairly confident in her assessment that the masses were actually giant blood clots (they were about three times the size of the baby). The worry then was that the clots could attach themselves to the baby, the umbilical cord, or the placenta. If this happened, the clots could steal nutrients from the baby, and then there would be a whole new mess of problems. However, at that time, the doctor seemed encouraged by the fact that the baby was developing normally, and the clots weren’t attached to anything. She was cautious because in all the cases where she’d seen masses like this, there had only been one mass and I had two.

When we went back three weeks later, everything still looked good. The masses were definitely two large organized blood clots but they weren’t impacting the baby’s growth at all. We were so relieved that our ordeal was over. IF WE ONLY KNEW.

At 20 weeks I was scheduled to go in to find out the sex of the baby. However, I woke up in the middle of the night when I was 19 weeks to go to the bathroom. When I sat down, I realized my shorts were soaked with what I’d originally thought was sweat caused by a hot summer night, but was actually red colored. I looked in the toilet and dark reddish-brown liquid was EVERYWHERE. I called for my husband in a panic and we then called my OB. She said that since I was only 19 weeks, I should just come in in the morning. I wish we’d followed our instincts and gone into the emergency room. Instead, it was a long six hours until her practice opened. I got no sleep, and when I’d get up to go to the bathroom, reddish-brown liquid would gush out. I was so terrified I’d miscarried.

When we arrived at my OB’s office, my leaking had stopped. She couldn’t even tell there had been bleeding until she did a vaginal exam and there were small traces of blood. She said it looked like one of the blood clots had burst, but the baby and my amniotic fluid levels were fine, although she couldn’t rule out that my water had broken. She didn’t do a nitrazine test. I wish I’d known about them then. I was put on bed rest until the end of the week and sent back to the Perinatologist I’d seen at the beginning of my pregnancy. After a thorough exam, the Perinatologist was still not able to rule out amniotic leakage. She determined the fluid around the baby was slightly lower than what it should have been, and there was some blood in the fluid. The placenta was also not functioning as well as it should, so as a result, the baby’s heart was slightly enlarged from working much harder than it ought to be. I was then placed on bed rest for the duration of my pregnancy.

After that, I was seen by my OB and three other Perinatologists, including an extremely well-known Perinatologist in Los Angeles. The doctors all told us that terminating the pregnancy was something we should consider as they didn’t expect the baby to make it and if s/he did, there was a strong likelihood that he or she would have health problems.  My OB said to me, “I would be medically irresposible  not to to tell you about the option of terminating. You would be induced and deliver vaginally.” That idea horrified me. I couldn’t imagine going through that. I know some women make this choice, and I respect that. I just couldn’t do it. I’d been feeling my baby move at that point and that just wasn’t going to be an option for us. I said as much to my OB and she said back to us, “I understand. I just wanted you to know that you might not like what comes out.” I was stunned by her gall. It wasn’t like I was going to give birth to a murderous alien; I was pretty certain that a babywas going to come out. MY baby. We didnt care if she had health problems, we would love her how she came.

Her thoughtless words motivated me more than anything. I was so determined to prove her wrong, that at the end of this I would have my baby and he or she would be perfect.

We kept going with the first goal being 24 weeks. I was on extremely strict bed rest. I was only allowed to get up to use the bathroom. I could take a 5-minute shower if I sat on a stool. I had to eat 2500 calories a day to help my insufficient placenta. I drank GALLONS of water. I could feel my muscles tingle as they atrophied. My mind easily wandered.  I couldn’t concentrate on anything except my baby. I did tons of internet research, typing my symptoms into Google, and I diagnosed my condition myself – Preterm Premature Rupture of the Membranes (PPROM). I had every symptom except I hadn’t gone into labor. Most women with PPROM go into labor within a week of their water breaking. I was more depressed than I’d ever been in my whole life. My wonderful family and friends did all they could to cheer me up. My husband took amazing care of me…I never would have made it without him.

I often worried that I was being selfish, that I was potentially allowing a baby to be born that would have painful diabilities, simply because I didn’t want to go through the pain of termination. I knew that the odds were against my daughter, and she would likely not survive the whole ordeal. But my husband and I decided that we were going to give her every chance possible. I just knew that I would spend my whole life wondering “what if” had we chosen termination. As strange as it sounds, we decided we’d rather have her die after birth than make that decision for her.

When we got to 24 weeks, I had a bag packed for the hospital but my OB decided not to admit me since I was doing well at home. It was nice to be at home, but I was devastated – I really wanted to be admitted so I could be monitored. I should have insisted on it, but instead I went back to bed. I was told to limit visitors to help prevent sickness. None of the doctors could believe I hadn’t gone into labor or developed an infection. At every visit, I had the nitrazine test and it always came back negative, which was SO FRUSTRATING because I KNEW my water had broken. It came out in small bursts, smelled sweet, and had an amber tint to it. I never leaked when I was at the doctor’s.

At 26 weeks, I had another appointment with the well-known Perinatologist. He did a sonogram, and managed to get the shot that had eluded us for weeks – there was a little girl in there. We were so excited – we knew who we were fighting for.

At 26 3/7 weeks, I got the flu and my temperature started to rise. I called my OB and she said to go by the hospital to be monitored. I was attached to monitors that watched the baby’s heart rate and checked me for contractions. A nurse took an initial amount of blood to check for an elevated white blood cell count (an indicator of infection), and then they started giving me cool fluids to help hydrate me and lower my blood pressure. After what felt like a million years, the hubby and I were finally left alone to sleep at about 12:45 am.

At 3:45, I went to the bathroom and started to feel a little stomach tightness. Worried I might be having contractions, I called my nurse, who came back in and hooked me back up to the monitors. While she was there, it was FINALLY positively determined that my membranes had prematurely ruptured. Despite the 10 previous appointments I’d had since I’d woken up bloody, I hadn’t had an episode when a doctor was present – until I was in the hospital.

Once the PPROM was officially diagnosed all hell broke loose!! I was admitted for the duration of my pregnancy. My doctor was called at home, and I was suddenly getting IV antibiotics and a HUGE shot of a steroid called betamethasone. I had another shot 24 hours later.(Steroids help fetal lungs develop more quickly before being delivered preterm.) I settled in with the goal of making it to 28 weeks. My hubby stayed with me as much as possible. We were so relieved that I would now be monitored. I had a private room and I got in touch with some of the other antepartum moms, some of whom also had PPROM. We took a tour of the NICU, which I HIGHLY recommend if it can be arranged. It definitely made the place less scary.

During the time I was in the hospital, I was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I started to show the signs of pre-eclampsia (extreme headache, rising blood pressure), but never got far enough in the pregnancy for anything to be officially diagnosed.

After 28 weeks, my fluid started to take on a pink tint. The nurses and my OB were aware of the change but not overly concerned. I started to feel really uncomfortable. I’d have an occasional contraction but nothing regular. I was just miserable. Then, at 28 6/7 weeks, I leaked and when I wiped, the washcloth came back RED. I called the nurse, who took one look at it and paged my doctor. When she arrived I had a sterile speculum exam. It was the MOST PAINFUL exam I have had IN MY LIFE. It was determined that I was starting to transition towards labor, but I wasn’t dilated or effaced, so we decided to stay the course. A few hours later, I leaked and wiped away a huge bright red blood clot. I called the nurse, who paged my doctor again. For some reason, I wasn’t concerned. The exam had given me some security. I went to the bathroom while the nurse was out of the room and wiped away more clots. I flushed them, like an idiot. My husband wasn’t there but I didn’t call him. I really thought everything was fine.

While I was on the phone chatting with a friend, the nurse came back in and briskly announced I was going to have a C-Section RIGHT THEN. I went into shock! I called my husband, parents, and brother, and then I was immediately prepped for surgery. My husband got there as my epidural was being placed. I was shaking I was so scared. Since it was an emergency C-Section, I’d had lunch only a few hours before, which is normally a no-no. I was given a cup of  the nastiest antacid to help neutralize my stomach acids. The nurse told me I’d want to sip it because it was so gross, but I just tossed it back like it was a shot of fine tequila. I learned something in college.

 The C-Section didn’t take long and before I knew it, my husband and I were parents. I heard the doctors say, “she’s out,” and then I heard tiny, weak crying. Crying! It was the best thing I’d ever heard. They washed her and wrapped her up, and I was allowed a quick kiss before she was whisked to the NICU with my husband close behind. In recovery, we were euphoric. She’d cried! That meant she could breathe. Our happiness was short-lived, however, when a Neonatologist came in to see us. Our daughter was very sick, sicker than the hospital could treat, and she needed to be transferred to a teaching hospital a few miles away. We were so crushed. We knew she’d be in the NICU for a while but never anticipated she’d have to be at a different hospital than me.

I was wheeled into the hallway so I could see her little isolette roll by with the transport team. I waited in the hallway for more than an hour because the transport ventilator wasn’t providing enough air. I found out later that no one expected her to even survive the transport. She had to be hand-bagged the entire way. My husband left me to be with her. It killed me that I couldn’t go, too.  I had a lot of drugs, though, and I eventually fell asleep.

The next day, things got very bad for my daughter. My husband called and told me she wasn’t going to make it. I couldn’t stand the idea of my daughter dying without me by her side, so I checked myself out of the hospital against medical advice. The nurses were so great, they did everything they could to help get me out of the hospital as quickly as possible. I was rushed the few miles to the hospital where my daughter was, and when I arrived, she stabilized. I went back to my hospital and checked back in so I could get pain medication and a bit of sleep. The next morning, things were worse for my daughter. I checked back out of my hospital, this time for good. My OB signed my discharge form, and then, knowing that things were not looking well for my baby, said, “If you don’t nurse, bind your breasts tightly and use ice packs.” I was so pleased that her tact was the same as always.

My biggest advice to anyone going through this is to follow your instincts. Get as educated as you can so you can make informed decisions. If a doctor is advising you to do something and it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Be your own biggest advocate, and most importantly, be your baby’s advocate.  Parenthood starts with pregnancy – you would give your baby every chance if she was born, so why not do all you can before she’s born, too?

It was a long road for my daughter (which I will write about in another post) but she made it. The best day of our lives was when we took her home from the hospital after 68 long days. The second best day of my life was when I took my perfect baby to see my OB so she could see exactly what “came out.”