Monday, November 21, 2011

Spitting Image

Wow! Motherhood is a couple of full time jobs!! I can't believe how much this little guy needs all the time, and yet sleeps all the time, too. I am overwhelmed by nursing that takes over every two hours of every day. I am exhausted by the lack of sleep and endless wandering the open spaces of our small home, pacing to keep the little one from crying once I sit down. I am certain that I am wearing a path by my scuffling across the hardwood floors. I have little time to remember to eat and shower, let alone write a blog. So, without making too many excuses, I say that I am a new mom learning this new role and simply have not had a chance to update this blog as I would like. But, I have been mentally writing this post for weeks.

From the moment I learned I was having a boy this pregnancy, I wondered if he would resemble my Ethan. I didn't think too much of it because of course they would be full blooded brothers and most certainly would look somewhat similar. But, when I saw my little boy and really looked him over good, I was in awe. This child is the spitting image of his late brother, Ethan. Aside from hair color and an entire pound weight difference at birth (Ethan was 8#9, and Liam was 7#9), the two could be twins. I shared this sentiment with all of you before and continue to share with people when they ask who Liam looks like; he looks exactly like his handsome daddy and is a spitting image of his brother.

While I was in the hospital, I did not have my photo album of Ethan handy to compare and quite frankly was drugged and sleep deprived too much to really care to compare. But, when we came home from the hospital and I had time to think a little more clearly, I began to investigate this further.

"Shaun, don't you think Liam looks like Ethan?" I asked when Liam was a week old and while Shaun was holding his 7 pound body chest to chest.

"Well, they are brothers, so yeah, I guess, a little."

"I am serious. They look so much alike," I tell him as I get the photo album that contains hundreds of photos of our firstborn, despite the five short days of his life. "Look here," I point to the poloroid taken moments after Ethan's birth. "Can you see it now?"

I was leaning over the arm of the overstuffed chair my husband was sitting in, displaying the album next to him. Shaun turned his head and seemed upset. I hadn't meant to upset him, I just thought it was so cool how the boys looked so much alike. He handed me the baby, while I watched tears stream down his face, "I can't do this," he squeaked out.

Shaun left the room. I felt bad. I certainly had grieved and mourned and allowed God to heal my heart over the last 5 and 3/4 years since Ethan had lived and died. And, I thought my husband had too. We spent many hours in counseling, many hours in prayer, and many hours analyzing our grief process. I hadn't imagined that looking at Ethan's picture would illicit such an emotional response from my 6'4", 255 pound mostly stoic macho man.

A few minutes later, Shaun returned to the living room and picked the album up. "I am sorry I left the room," he said, "but, it just occurred to me that I am doing something I was never able to do with Ethan. We were never able to bring Ethan home and see him grow up, and now we are going to watch what we have been missing out on for so long."

He was right, and I reminded him of what our pastor who had counseled us so many years ago had said, "you can grieve and mourn and try to get over what you have lost, but there will still be moments and times you will be blindsided. And you will have to grieve again as a situation comes about that you haven't experienced before, like the birth of a subsequent baby."

We looked through the photo album together, sitting in the overstuffed chair side by side with Liam, our second-born son, snuggled against my chest. They both bore their mother's unattached earlobes and ears. They both had the same "Plato" forehead. They both had the same shaped face, complete with Shaun's nose, brow bone, eyelids, and unique lip structure. Our two sons have the same long fingers and toes, and a broad puffed out chest. Both have daddy's long healthy fingernails and a curly little toe. Ethan's hair was a light brown with red tint, while Liam has long dark brown hair, but on the top when the light hits it just right a bit of auburn shines through. It's uncanny to me the resemblance. Both of them have tense shoulders like their mom, and Ethan didn't even have any central nervous control! We looked through the album remembering what once was and what might have been and then looked at our little living breathing son we got to take home and fell even more in love. Our God truly was proving that He was in control and was redeeming our loss. We are humbly blessed. Thank you, Jesus.

I don't think these pics do it justice, but here is a glimpse: Ethan's first pic is in the middle, and Liam is on the top and bottom. I also have another pic of Ethan in my profile if you want to try to compare for yourselves. You all may not be able to see it, but trust me...SPITTING IMAGE!!

Sometimes the sleep deprivation gets to me at the 3:30am feedings. I find myself nodding off and then look down at the profile of Liam, lying on a boppy pillow, sleeping in my arms. At least twice I have been transported to the moments before Ethan's death. We knew we had to let Ethan die by removing him from life support, but wanted our friends and family to say goodbye first. That day dragged on and when Shaun's dad was the last person to hold him, just shy of 11pm, Ethan's color turned blue and his pulse ox was declining quickly. The nurse rushed in and said that he was about to die and asked me if I wanted to hold him while he did. I immediately traded places with the grandpa and everyone except Shaun and I were in the private room. Ethan felt so nice in arms, curled up in the fetal position, with his head facing my chest, and while I rubbed his cheeks with my hand. It took about 20 minutes for Ethan's heart to stop beating, even though the tubes were still intact. I caressed him and sobbed as he drifted out of my arms and into the Lord's.

I found myself back into the present with my living son, Liam in my arms, curled up in the fetal position, with his head facing my chest, while I rubbed his cheeks with my hand. The tears dripped from my eyes. I miss my Ethan. I miss the baby he was and the potential he had. I miss the person he was to become. Sometimes it stings and sometimes it burns and sometimes I cry. Yes, I have grieved and mourned and moved on, but there are time when you can't grieve unless you have been there. I wonder how many other situations I am going to find myself in missing my boy who died in my arms.

Thank you Lord for blessing me with a son who looks an awful lot like his brother. I praise you that we all are fearfully and wonderfully made and that you knit us all together in our mother's wombs. I praise you that you are a God of redemption, of finding what was once lost, of restoring what was once broken and healing what was once hurt. I ask you Lord to continue to show me glimpses of your glory by revealing these sorts of things to me at the perfect times. I ask that you continue to bless us, so that we may be a blessing to others. I ask for peace for our souls and our families. I ask that you bless the women reading this blog that are currently pregnant after loss and awaiting news of a healthy baby. I pray that you reach out to them, give them peace and strength and hope for the future. I KNOW it is hard to think about what the positive outcome will be, but I ask you Lord to show them something to let them endure the rest of their pregnancies and births without fear. I ask all this and so much more, in Jesus' name, AMEN!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Delivery Day!!!

The birth of Liam Alexander Plato 10.13.11: In memory of his brother
Ethan Amari Plato 1.14.06 - 1.19.06

On Thursday, October 13, 2011, I woke up early and prepared for what should be the most life-changing day of my existence. Fearful at some level, but overjoyed at another to meet my little man I have been growing for 38 weeks, I showered, dressed myself, and applied makeup to my face. It was the day I had been longing for since I was in high school, and most recently since I had to send my firstborn son, Ethan, back to Heaven, 5 and 3/4 years ago. I was over packed for my 3-4 day stay in the hospital: a diaper bag full of newborn and 0-3 month sized clothes (I wasn't sure what he might fit in), a large suitcase full of maternity nightgowns and some options for clothing to go home in (I wasn't sure what I might fit in...hehe), a boppy pillow, a manual breast pump, a small suitcase filled with Shaun's clothes, a toiletry bag, a bag full of magazines, books, breastfeeding manuals and other reading material I thought I might have time to catch up on (ha! what was I thinking???!!!), a blanket and a pillow for my hubby, and my aromatherapy to help alleviate some of my anxiety.

We drove the 45 minute drive to the hospital and arrived almost two hours early as requested by the nurse who called the night before to give me pre-operation instructions. I was quickly taken back to the OR recovery room and asked to put on a hospital gown and was hooked up to the contraction and baby heart rate monitors. Shaun had the lavender in a plastic bag, which was for me to smell when I felt anxious. And the peppermint oil in another plastic bag for me to smell when I felt nauseous. I did a lot of deep breathing of hospital air, lavender and peppermint oil. The nurse asked me a lot of questions about my histories, my medication, my current pregnancy and other get to know me questions. Once she was completed with my questions, she inserted an IV, and my doctor came to talk to me. My surgery was scheduled for 12:15pm and it was now 11:30am.

Dr. W. sat at the edge of my bed and asked me how I was doing. I sucked back some tears and told her I would be better in an hour when I returned here with my healthy baby in my arms. She smiled and rubbed my legs. "It's almost time, Sunshine," she said, "hang in there. Do you have your aromatherapy?"

I told her I did and she let me know that I was the first patient she had her of who took aromatherapy into the c-section, but there was no hospital policy to prevent it, so she said, go for it. She walked away from the bed, but sat in a cubicle where I could see her, while we waited for the anesthesiologist to come to talk to me. Moments later, my doctor returned to my bedside, and while she pouted her lip, she said, "Ugh, we have been bumped!"

I sighed and asked if she knew how long. She stated she hadn't been told how long, just that an emergency case had taken precedent and she would call the OR to find out. She did and told us that it would probably be 30 minutes. Shaun's parents had arrived to the hospital at this point. The plan was for them to wait in the lobby while I had surgery and then come into the recovery room once the baby and I were stable. Because of my anxiety, I had previously asked that they not come back to see me until after the surgery was complete. Shaun texted them and let them know of the delay.

My anxiety was heightened, but I pushed through it, lowering the lights, listening to my iPod full of great worship music, and inhaling my scents. Over 30 minutes later, a nurse, whom I had met previously at an NST, came out of the OR, squeezed my hand and said, "It won't be too much longer now, Sunshine. You are next, but we have to take care of this surgery first." She grabbed some supplies and returned to the OR. My doctor came back and told us she was going to grab some lunch and hopefully they will be ready for us when she comes back. This doctor is also pregnant, so I knew she needed to eat.

We continued to wait. Shaun texted my friend, Martha, who is like a mother figure to me, that we were delayed. She had planned on coming up to the hospital about 3pm, after our son was to be born. He texted that we were bumped and didn't know when we would go into the OR.

I prayed for the lady and her child who was in the OR. I understood what it meant to have an emergency c-section and just hoped that they were both ok. Realizing that they had been in surgery for almost 2 hours, I wondered if either of them were ok.

The anesthesiologist came out to talk to me and asked some basic questions. I let him know that I was scared to death of what he was about to do and to be gentle with me. He shrugged his shoulders and basically said, I would be fine and it wouldn't be much longer now. I knew that meant I was soon to be going into surgery, but then the nurse who had came out earlier, came out again and again grabbed my hand and said, "I am so sorry, but you will be going back soon, I promise. Hang in there." I was beginning to hate the nurses and doctors who kept telling me it was about to happen, and then here we were still sitting there.

At 3pm, Shaun received a text saying that my dad and step-mom were in the waiting room. This was such a surprise to me as I had invited them and told them that Liam would be born before 2pm and if they wanted to come they could. I didn't get a response from them, so I assumed that they wouldn't be coming. It was a long drive and not something they typically do. So when I found out that they were in the waiting room, I was so happy and shocked. Moments later, my friend Martha arrived. We welcomed her, telling her what was going on as she didn't check her phone for the text we had sent. She brought me in some flowers and said she would wait for us. Within moments, the nurse anesthetist spoke with me and said we were going back now, and was I ready. I told him, no, but take me back. Martha prayed over me and agreed to go into the lobby and let the parents know that I was just going back in for the surgery and should be out within the hour. We knew that Shaun's dad would be upset that Martha had come in to see me, but risked telling him hoping that he would be excited that I was finally being sent into surgery.

I was wheeled into the OR by a team of doctors and nurses. My doctor W. was waiting for me and helped to curl me into a position to get the spinal anesthesia into my spine. I was shaking all over and told her that I didn't want to be paralyzed. She assured me that my shaking was minimal and would not interfere with the placement of the needle. She held me and put the bag of lavender in front of my nose and told me to inhale deeply. I did and laughed thinking how crazy this aromatherapy thing must seem to everyone. She didn't miss a beat. The nurse grabbed my hand and explained what was happening. "Remember I told you that it would hurt less than the IV did and you will only feel the numbing medication go in."

I felt a poke and another and some cold fluid drain into my back. It burned for about 5 seconds. And then I began to shake again. The nurse looked at me in the eyes and said, "and this part, where he is placing the spinal, you are not going to feel a poke at all. You will feel him touching your spine with pressure, and you will think it is going to be painful, but you will feel nothing at all. There, it is done." She was right, I didn't feel the spinal, but I felt my chest and belly and then finally my legs go cold. The team helped me to lie on my back and began draping the blue paper over me.

Within moments, my hubby came in the room, dressed in a marshmallow suit, complete with blue booties, hair net and mask. He sat beside me and I looked in his direction. Behind him was a glass cabinet and I could see my belly reflecting off of it. "Uh, do y'all realize I can see myself in that cabinet?" The nurse said only a few women report that they can see here and asked me if I wanted it covered up. I did.

My doctor and the nurse anesthetist talked me through the entire thing. I had previously told the NA about my cousin who had a heart attack in her c-section and he let me know that he had nitro nearby if necessary, but I was a young, healthy woman and had nothing to worry about. Just then, I told him I felt like I was about to pass out and looked over to the monitor where it showed my blood pressure as 70/30. He said, "nope, I won't let you," and pushed some meds into my IV which caused the pressure to rise to 100/50.

My doctor said she was starting the incision and asked if I mind if she cut a new incision since my scar from the last c-section was really, really low. I told her to do whatever she felt was the safest thing to do, so she said she was going to make an incision an inch above the other one and it would be shorter in length. Once she got through the skin, she told me that my rectus muscles were strong, and difficult to cut through. I must be doing a lot of sit-ups, she said. I chuckled, thinking to myself, are you stinking kidding me? I do not do sit-ups!

She let me know when she was through the muscles and reached the uterus. "WOW," she said, "you have a beautifully healed uterus, I see no indication of a scar or scar tissue from your previous surgery. You have amazing organs, Sunshine." At that point, I was feeling a bit creeped out by this.

The nurse came around and asked me if I wanted pictures of Liam coming out. I agreed and she took the camera from Shaun. She took a picture of him and me before, and then stepped around to where the surgery was in progress. "Ok, Sunshine, the baby is going to be covered in white vernix since he is being born a couple of weeks early," the doctor told me as I heard a faint whimper of what I thought might be my child. "Shaun, do you want to watch as I lift your son out?" He bounced up and then I heard my baby cry softly beyond the blue drape. I began to tear, but just thanked Jesus, out loud. And then told the doctor, "I think I might be able to do this again."

She laughed and said, "did you hear that, dad? She wants to do this again!"

The doctor showed me my slightly blue baby boy and then they whisked him over to the incubator where the NICU team was evaluating him. The doctor told me that in all c-sections here there was a NICU team of doctors and not to be alarmed by their presence. I could hear him crying, and told Shaun it would be ok for him to go be with Liam while they closed me up. He kissed me on the forehead, tearing up a little and went to be with our son on the other side of the room. Soon after I felt a cramping like pain in my right shoulder/neck area. I told the NA. He said I could move my arm now and undid the strap holding it out. That made it worse. I asked him if it was my carotid artery and he chuckled, telling me it was probably referred pain from my uterus being cut. He shared that this often happens and it was not a sign of any heart problem.

And then I felt dizzy again. I think he had to give me more meds to increase my BP again. The doctor continued to tell me what she was doing as she was doing it. At this point she was examining my organs and continued to praise them saying how beautiful they all were. Then she said she was irrigating the organs and my abdominal cavity. It was then that I felt like I couldn't breathe. I kept coughing, huffing, trying to catch my breath. The NA leaned in and told me that what I was feeling was normal while I was being irrigated. It was soon over and I could breathe again.

I was told my baby boy was born at 3:59pm, when Shaun brought over the camera and showed me the pictures of him. He showed me a picture when Liam was on the scale and it said, 7 lbs, 8.6 oz, and then another picture with his foot touching a tape measure at 49. Shaun said, he is 49 inches long. I just about died laughing and asked my doctor if she heard that one. She said, "didn't you hear me chuckle over here, too?" Shaun gave me a look and the doctor said, "what a long baby, especially since your wife is only 59 inches tall." I told Shaun that was in centimeters and asked the nurse what the length was in inches. She said it was 19 inches long. He didn't seem to find the humor in it. The NA asked me what his name was and I told him Liam, but he didn't have a middle name yet. I said, "since you were such a help through the surgery, I might name his middle name after you. What is your name?"

"Gerard," he said.

"Um, maybe not." I giggled and he did, too.

"We are putting you all back together again," said the resident doctor assisting my doctor. "Like Humpty Dumpty," I said. She retorted. "All the kings horses and men could NOT put Humpty Dumpty together again. We are GOING to put you back together," she said. And soon my doctor told me she was doing a running stitch and was placing steri-strips (little strips of tape) criss-crossed over my stitches for extra protection. I was informed that Liam had apgar scores of 8 at one minute and 8 at five minutes, and no one receives a score of 10 unless they were a pediatricians child. He was healthy and we were both ready to be taken back to the recovery room. The blue drapes were still over me when I asked if my legs were bent up, like my knee was cocked into the air. They told me no, that both were lying flat on the table, but sometimes, the spinal makes you feel like your body was in the same position that it was in when the numbing took effect. Strange, I thought.

The team placed a wheeled board under my back and transferred me to my gurney and a nurse who held my baby led us all to my recovery room cubicle. I began having a reaction to the anesthesia. I was still shaking all over. My arms and shoulders were shaking all over. I seemed to be scratching my face nonstop. The nurse laid the baby on me and I tried to get skin to skin with him. It was hard because the lights were all out and I was having trouble holding him because I was itching so badly. Shaun had left the room to tell our families and our friends that Liam had arrived and we both made it through the surgery well. Meanwhile, I was still shocked and seemed unable to enjoy my little boy because of my symptoms. A nurse gave me some liquid medication that she said would help with the itching. I didn't realize until then that it was a reaction to the meds; I thought maybe I was allergic to something.

Shaun returned and I asked him where our parents and friends were. He seemed to be hiding something. He said that he told our friends that all was well, and they both went home. I was upset, thinking Shaun had asked them to leave, saying, I wanted to see them. He said they told him to tall me congratulations and one of them would be back to see me tomorrow. Then he pulled out his phone and started to leave the room. I asked him what was going on and he said, "alright, so apparently all of our parents left. Your friend, Martha, said my dad screamed at her and the four of them left the hospital even before the surgery began." I responded with "what? where did they go? Call them and tell them to come back." He left the room and was gone a good 30 minutes. During this time, I tried hard to breast feed my little one, but he was so sleepy and I was shaking so badly that I couldn't figure anything out. I just laid there with my baby boy's body on my chest and cried. I cried that I finally had a living, breathing baby that I had dreamed of having for so long. I cried because I wished my mama was there sharing with me the joy of this little one's life, she never would have left. I cried because my body was reacting badly to the medication. I cried because I was all alone, without my husband, without my parents or in laws, without my friends to support me in what was supposed to be the best and most wonderful day of my life. I cried because I couldn't possibly understand why all of Liam's living grandparents would abandon him and his mother during what was the most stressful and most joyful moments of their lives. I cried and sobbed so hard that the monitor kept beeping. I asked the nurse what was wrong with me and she said my pulse ox kept going down whenever I was crying hard because I couldn't catch my breath, but it went up whenever I breathed in again. She asked me if I was ok. I told her yes. I guess she assumed that I was crying because of the emotions from my previous loss. I don't think she caught on to the drama that was happening outside of those walls.

Shaun again returned and read to me the text message he received from his step-mom. The gist of it was his father was hurt that I allowed my friend to visit me before the surgery and because of that the parents all decided that they were going home and were not coming back. Shaun stated that he had called and left voice messages on both sets of parents' cell phones and several text messages were left with both sets. Neither responded except for the one message. And while he was gone, his brother who lives Florida called Shaun and said he had heard about the drama. I was overwhelmed with grief. On what I had envisioned as a day that would have no more grief, I suffered a new loss. The loss of support from both sets of parents. I cried so hard that night. I could barely look at my new little person because I was so ashamed that his birth had caused so much drama.

At 7pm, I was released from recovery and was allowed to go to the mother-baby unit. We received flowers and balloon from my parents, who apparently left them at the desk before they left for the night. We sat in the room, the three of us and stared at one another. While we were elated that we were holding our newest living addition to our family, we were mourning the emptiness of our hospital room. This was supposed to be a day of rejoicing, and here we were weeping. I was quickly transported back to the day Ethan was born. I couldn't stop thinking about the experience and comparing everything that had happened.

I was in awe at how much he looked like his older brother. Spitting image of our firstborn. I remember being so tired. I remember hearing Shaun shouting into his cell phone. I heard him tell the person on the other end of the phone that this was going to be a hard thing to forgive and they needed to come back up to the hospital tonight. All I could think of was how the nurses outside that room could hear us and how I thought there was no way that they were believing that my husband was not abusive. I heard swear words that I had not heard in several years. I heard "you're selfish" and "you abandoned us" and then I heard silence. Shaun had hung up and it was over. They aren't coming back, he said. I cried some more. The rest of the night seemed to be a blur. I was overcome with shock and shame and just couldn't enjoy this little precious baby boy I had in my arms. And my nursing staff were 60+ years old and I didn't relate much to them at all. I wished I could go back and redo the entire day. I so wanted to look at my baby and love him for who he was but all I could see was this poor child was abandoned by his grandparents on the first day of his life because of who his mother was. I WAS DEVASTATED.

I sobbed most of the night while my hubby was on the phone trying to sort out what had happened. We were exhausted and I wasn't even allowed to eat that evening. Only ice chips. For 32 hours I went without food. Only ice chips. I think I chewed 4 gallons of ice that night. Liam was taken to the nursery to have his bath, newborn screening blood and hearing tests done and it was established that all was well with him. I finally could look at this boy and saw the face of his father, some long skinny fingers and toes, with a little toe that curled in. Thick, straight, black hair that if it were not on a newborn, would warrant a good haircut in the back. My baby boy was here and he seemed content.

We were able to get a little sleep that first night, but I was ready for my breakfast in the morning. A resident doctor came in early to check my incision and ripped the bandaged off of my belly. It was so sore, but he said it looked good. Also, that morning Liam had his circumcision. The poor baby. We were challenged nursing as he had been very sleepy after having tylenol for the circumcision, plus I was drained from the emotional day we had just had. We welcomed dear friends as visitors throughout the day and I was finally able to get into the shower and freshen up. I was swollen from my lower back down to my toes and was told this was normal. My hemoglobin was low, so I had to take iron supplements. In the evening, a nurse checked my incision and said she believed I was getting an infection and there was skin peeled from where the doctor ripped the bandage off earlier. She ordered antibiotic cream and said the doctor would be in to check it in the morning.

Saturday morning, a doctor doing rounds came in to look at my incision. He said it looked red and inflamed and told me to be sure to wash it a couple times a day and put on the ointment and he would check it again in the morning. Shaun was still trying to piece together what had happened with his parents and he was unable to get a hold of my parents. We were so consumed with trying to figure out what happened that we didn't call all of the people we had intended to call. I was so upset about the situation that I was in tears most of the time I was in the hospital. It was difficult to talk to anyone when they came into the room to visit or when they called up to the hospital. I was sucking back the snot because I still was in shock by it all. I still tried hard to connect with Liam, but he was still very sleepy and nursing was still a challenge with him not latching, he and I both becoming frustrated and me not sleeping much at all.

On Sunday morning, the doctor examined my incision and said, "hmmm...I am beginning to wonder if this isn't a tape allergy. I am going to take one of the steri-strips off and see. Yes, it appears to be only red and inflamed where the strips are and where the tape was. I am going to remove all the steri-strips and see if this gets better. If you want you can go home today, but we will just need to see you in the office tomorrow to check on this. Otherwise, you can stay here overnight and we will check it tomorrow and if I am right, then it will get better. I don't think it is an infection at all. I will put in discharge orders and if you want to stay then I will discontinue them for today." I was relieved that it wasn't an infection, but thought I would be better staying in the hospital because what if he was wrong, and I didn't want to have to drive 3 hours in the next two days just to have my incision checked.

A couple of hours later, Liam was weighed and we learned that he was down to 6 lbs, 13 oz. He had lost almost 9% of his birth weight and at 10% they usually have to do major interventions. The doctor told us that I would need to supplement him with formula after each nursing session. Twenty minutes on each side and then 20 mL of formula every 2 hours. He was not jaundiced, but was just not getting enough milk from nursing. This regimen was exhausting, especially since Liam and I were having so much trouble with nursing. It seemed as though as soon as he was done with a feeding, it was time to do another because it took so long to get him to latch on.

That afternoon, Shaun's parents finally agreed to come visit, however, they did not say much to me. It was a quiet visit, and there will need to be some conversation when we get home in order for the healing to begin in me.

After they left, Shaun needed to go home and do some homework for several hours on Sunday evening and told me he was scared to leave me. I asked why, and he told me that he was worried that I wouldn't be able to feed Liam or ask for help. That was when I felt like he thought I was inadequate to be Liam's mommy. With all the stress I had had with preparing for the surgery, the delay, the drama with our parents, the emotional strain from crying for a couple days, the sleep deprivation, the unplanned fast, the inability to latch, the potential infection, etc., I felt like the break from my husband was just what I needed. On Sunday evening was when I finally met my little guy and was able to talk to him and enjoy him and that was when I decided his middle name would be Alexander.

The next morning, a resident doctor, who also assisted in my surgery arrived and looked at my incision and told me she thought the rash was clearly where the steri-strips were NOT. I asked her how that could be as the other doctor removed them and said the redness was underneath. She thought maybe it was a reaction to another adhesive substance they may or may not have used. I didn't buy it, but thought, jeez, I just may have to stay another night. Later that morning, one of the doctors from my office came in while I was showering. She said she would wait and decided she would change Liam's diaper while I was drying off. She told me he had a diaper rash. I told her that I knew, but the nurses didn't give me anything for it last night. She went out and got some cream for him, stating that he must have sensitive skin just like his mommy. She inspected my incision and said it was not what the resident had said, however, it was healing. She took a picture of it so I could see it and agreed that I would be okay to go home. I let her know that Liam had lost so much weight and I didn't know if he would be discharged, and she informed me that if he was not discharged, she would change the order for me to be able to stay with him.

I began to pack, and Liam's doctor came in to tell us that he had gained weight. He was up to 7 pounds, 0 ounces and he would be okay to go home only if I went to my pediatrician in the morning for a weight check. We agreed and the doctor said we could back off of supplementing down to every other feeding.

The following day, Liam was weighed at the doctor. Shaun removed the diaper as instructed, and Liam showed his winkie and peed a nice stream up over his head. Some of it landed on his face and we all sighed in disgust when we saw him lick his lips. GROSS! Poor child. Shaun and I really need to figure out how not to make this happen. He was again 7 pounds, 0 ounces. The doctor was not concerned and asked us to come back in a week for another weight check. He also told us to continue to use zinc ointment to take care of his diaper rash.

One week later, last Tuesday, we returned to the doctor for a weight check and he was 7#0. The nurse said, let me reset it and do it again....6#15. Ugh. The doctor again assured us that it may take him a bit longer to catch up to birth weight, so we would do another weight check in a week. He then looked at the rash that was not getting better, but was bleeding, and said it was contact dermatitis and would need hydrocortisone on it in addition to the zinc 3-4 times a day. I still felt inadequate as a mother.

Tomorrow is our next weigh in. Praying that Liam is gaining and thriving.

Father, thank you so much for the blessing of my child. I praise you that I had no major complications in the delivery and everything went as smooth as could be once the delay was over. I praise you that you allowed me to look my Liam in the eyes and see the face of my Ethan as well. Give me the guidance to be the best mother I could be to this child and help me to give all the honor and glory to you.

Lord, help me to be a godly example to my parents and my in-laws. I thank you for allowing me to talk it out with my parents and I ask that you work in my in-laws hearts so I can talk it out with them as well. Help me to forgive and let go of the hurt and anger I possess. Give me the strength to stand up for myself in a positive way and to show mercy where it is due. I ask you to show me the good you will bring of this drama when clearly Satan meant it for evil. I ask all this and so much more, in Jesus' name, AMEN!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

37 weeks, 6 days DAY BEFORE DELIVERY!!!

On Tuesday, I went to the hospital to have an NST done. So far all of these appointments have been pretty well routine. I get hooked to the monitors, I sit there for 20 minutes and Liam does all he is supposed to do and I get to go home. This time, though, not so routine.

At Tiny Purpose on Monday I was blessed with a pregnancy and infant loss ribbon temporary tattoo on my hand to promote October as its national month and to prompt conversation in the community about the memorial walk this Sunday. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the walk due to my c-section and subsequent hospitalization, but I was so thankful to have the tattoo so I can honor my other children, while giving birth to my living child.

At the NST, the first nurse asked about the tattoo, but seemed uncomfortable to talk about it. She strapped on tightly both belts onto my belly and made me lay almost flat, whereas most other NSTs I was allowed to be in a seated position. She didn't ask many questions and left the room promptly. The nurse midwife walked in the room shortly later and said she had heard about my tattoo and wanted to come see it and ask me about my losses. I shared quickly with her what it represented and she revealed to me that she too lost a 1 week old son 18 years ago while waiting for a heart transplant. She was so loving and patient with me and we shared a bond quickly. She left the room to call my doctor. The first nurse returned and noticed that my baby's heart rate was having some decelerations or lows that were a little concerning. Shortly after that the nurse midwife returned and brought in an ultrasound machine. She said, "I was just about to call the doctor when I saw these decels and I thought, I would feel better and I know you will feel better if we just check the baby over and make sure he is ok in the womb with the ultrasound. We will check his fluid levels." I told her she was right, and I would be perfectly fine to have this baby today if it is necessary and I appreciated her quick decision.

The nurse midwife was able to check my fluid level and it was about a 19, which seemed down from the 22 it was on Thursday. She said it looked fine and then saw baby making some big movements. He was grabbing and letting go of his umbilical cord. "That's probably why we are seeing some low heart rates. He is reaching to hold onto something and the cord is what it is. He should be fine and we can send you home as soon as we call the doctor." I started to feel real dizzy and my blood pressure dropped from 113/78 at the beginning of the NST to 98/59 and my pulse was racing, too. I didn't feel good and she let me finally be on my side.

I was also having some contractions, but the nurse midwife assured me that it appeared to be cramping and irregular, so probably not labor. She left to call the doctor and another nurse came in. This time, this nurse stated she had heard about my tattoo and wanted to tell me that she also had a loss at 7 months, her son, Samuel 21 years ago. She told me how brave and proud she was that I was willing to talk about it as so many people do not. She wished me the best of luck and said she would stop in on Thursday to wish me luck again. I signed the discharge papers. The nurse midwife returned and wanted me to know that she would not be there Thursday, but would be thinking about me.

After I left the hospital, I had to go to the doctor office to get the first of my Betamethasone shots to prevent prematurity of the babies lungs. I anxiously awaited the nurse to come and draw up the medicine as my fear of large needles still sometimes overcomes me. I paced the room when she came in telling her I couldn't look at the needle and asked her to be gentle with me. She was kind and made me bend over a desk and inserted the 1.5 inch needle into my glutious maximus. I felt the sting of the poke and the burn of the medicine going in and even when she said she was done, I could still feel stinging. I had to rub my ass as I was walking out of the office. She gave me a hug, wishing me luck and I said thank you.

I cried most of the way home. My behind was still aching and I called Shaun to have him help me with my anxiety. Seemed like it was all coming to a head. He wasn't very patient with me and I ended up hanging up the phone and praying instead. I wished I would have just done that first. I arrived home and shared with him how I felt he wasn't on my side and after a while he softened saying he is anxious and nervous too and it is hard for him too. I said I understood, but I needed him to be my rock for the next few days. Once I am through the surgery, he can lean on me, but for now, I needed him.

I went to work, feeling yucky. The pain in the butt was gone, but I was shaking all over and my hands especially. I had a headache and seemed consumed with nervousness, even though I didn't really feel anxiety. I was so tired.

This morning, Wednesday, I woke up feeling yucky still. My head was groggy and I just didn't feel right. I checked my fasting blood sugar and it was 111. It is supposed to be lower than 90 and I had never in both pregnancies had a HIGH on a fasting glucose test. I called the doctor to be sure that it wasn't a side effect of the drug before I took the next dose. The nurse said she was sorry that she hadn't told me but that my sugars would be high the next 2-3 days because of the drug and that is probably why I was feeling so bad. Just eat normally and take your sugars, but don't worry about the highs.

I called my friend to do my shot, and since I was still feeling anxiety from the phone call I couldn't slow down my breathing or heart beat. She finally showed up to my house around 12noon and just as she walked in, the labor and delivery called me with pre operation instructions:

I am supposed to be at the hospital at 10:15am. Nothing to eat or drink after 4:15am. No jewelry allowed. She asked about why I was having a c-section at 38 weeks and I told her because I had a placental abruption during my first pregnancy which lead to my son's death. She said, that is a good enough reason and asked me if there was anything she could do to help make this day the best day of my life. She said, with all the routine she was fairly certain that all would go well. I asked her about wearing contacts and makeup...she said both would be fine. I asked about aromatherapy and she stated that sounded very pleasant and that would be fine, too. I asked her about the 2 hours I would wait before surgery and she said I would start out in recovery and the nurse would ask a bunch of questions and do my labs and IV at that time. Then the anesthesiologist would come in to talk to me and ask more questions and prepare me for the surgery. She stated that anything I wished to have done they would try to allow me to do to make this birth experience the best it could possibly be and to make a list of what I would like and bring it with me in the morning to share with my nurse. In fact, when she hangs up, she said, she will go hand pick me out the most patient and most accommodating nurse on the schedule for the morning. And if I had any other questions she gave me her direct phone number and to call back. We hung up.

My friend got the supplies out for the shot. I was still shaking and crazy nervous. She seemed to me that she had not done that many of these types of shots as she has only been a nurse for 2 years and usually does IVs instead of IMs. I just leaned over and said get it over with. She talked me through it and I barely felt a poke and did not feel the medicine go in at all. She was sooo good!!! Thank God that was done! My friend, her 3.5 week old daughter and I celebrated at Arby's. Ironic it was as the day before she had her daughter we sat in the same booth at Arby's anxiously awaiting her baby's arrival.

Once I got home, I called the nurse back as I remembered some questions. I asked if Shaun could stay with me the entire surgery. She said they usually send him and baby back to recovery just as I am transferring gurneys to return to recovery, but if I wanted him there, then he could move into a corner. No problem, just remind them tomorrow. I asked about getting the baby to the breast as soon as possible. She said probably not in the OR, but as soon as we returned to the recovery room we could. I also asked if his blood sugar is low to get him to breast first instead of sugar water in a bottle to avoid nipple confusion. She said they would check his BS and if he needed something, only if it is below 45, we would figure it out then, but the nurses were trained in cup feeding a newborn too. She also stated that my nurse would be Becky, in the morning.

At 2pm, Shaun unexpectedly arrived at the house because he was supposed to do a double shift from 7am -- 11pm today. He brought in 2 pieces of cake and said he was "surprised" with a diaper party for him at his work and had a crap-load of diapers in his trunk. Plus, his clinical instructors gave him the afternoon off. Although, he had to go back at 3pm for work. We stuffed the 15+ boxes and bags of diapers into our closet. Looks like we are set for a while! lol

I went to work for 4 hours just to keep my mind off of things. I felt a little more calm, although, my blood sugars still were high the rest of the night. I cannot wait to see my little one in afternoon. I feel like it is Christmas when I waited up all night to see Santa, couldn't sleep, and yet still missed his arrival and found a plethora of gifts below the tree in the morning.

I came home, did some laundry and some face-booking and tried to get some packing done. I overpack. I do it all the time. I need to work on this some more. Liam is kicking me and I cannot wait to have him kick my arms instead of my ribs.

Father, I thank you for what seems to be such a successful journey to parenthood so far. However, I know all too well how blindsided I was when I was 40 weeks pregnant with Ethan and the unthinkable occurred. I ask that you make this a complete and total change from what occurred with him and restore my faith in my birthing experiences. Give me the peace that only you can give and bless me with a happy, healthy, thriving baby boy about 12 or 1pm tomorrow, October 13, 2011. I thank you that you hand-picked this day, the exact day my mother entered your arms 11 years ago. I thank you that you are going to help bring this day a celebratory day rather than a sad day that it has been for so many years. I thank you that you are wise and that you have guided me in this journey. I pray for the doctors, nurses, anesthesia team and anyone else involved in tomorrow's surgery that they are guided by you, that they know you and that they allow you to take the lead. I pray that you ease any anxiety I have and that you bring redemption 100 fold. I pray for your will to be done and that You bless all who know me because of your goodness being shown. Thank you Jesus for your gifts. In Jesus' name, AMEN!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

37 weeks, 3 days


WOW! It's almost time! Here is what you missed the last 2 weeks. I know, I am lazy, but planning for a baby takes a lot of time!

"If you are going to be used by God," writes Oswald Chambers, "he will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all; they are meant to make you useful in his hands."

On Monday, 9/26/11, at 35 weeks, 4 days, I had to have my Non-Stress Test done at St. Joe's hospital due to no nurses in the doctor office this day. The triage nurse was so kind and prepared the computer with all the necessary information she could gather from me to prepare for my surgery. She had basic information in the computer already sent over from the doctor office and was so gentle about my first pregnancy and all of its complications. "You know, your blood pressure rises every time you talk about your sweet Ethan," she said, glancing at me with a sad but affirming look. "I know," I told her, "but I have come so far in the last 6 years."

The non-stress test was reactive like it is supposed to be, baby's heartrate was in the 140's and no contractions measured at all. My blood pressure was a little higher than normal, but within range, 113/68 and I weighed in at 155 lbs. She checked my urine and all was well.

On Thursday, 9/29/11, at 36 weeks, Shaun and I went to the doctor office for a bio-physical profile and growth of the baby ultrasound. All was looking great. Here are the stats:
Placenta: looking good along the back of the uterus
Heart Rate: 144 beats per minute
Head circumference:32.4 cm
Head length (BPD): 8.86 cm
Femur length: 6.82 cm
Abdominal circumference: 33.46 cm
Amt. of amniotic fluid: plenty: 17.6 (not too much or too little)
Weight: 6lb, 9 oz
Measuring: 35 weeks, 5 days
Presentation: head down
Mom weight: 155
Mom BP: 100/58
Mom Pulse: good
Placenta is looking extremely well for a 36 week-er and it posterior!
Baby is 55% on the growth curve!!
I made the sonographer, Jacquelyn check to be sure it was still a boy! YES it is and his testicles have descended. YAY!!

I complained of cramping in my left inner thigh when I walk. Dr. Keeton seems to think it is related to not getting enough calcium or potassium in my diet. I think it is baby pressing on a nerve when I walk. I will eat some bananas and milk more often and I will walk with my legs spread out a little more, too. Cover both angles!!

I have also been having some palpitations where my heart skips a beat hear and there. She stated that this is normal in pregnancy and not to be too concerned unless it is happening very frequently, as in several times a day. Then call and they will check on it.

The doctor had us sign some paperwork for the surgery and gave us the list of risks, what to do, etc. She then said, "Did I tell you about the steroids?"


"Well, because you are delivering at 38 weeks instead of 39 weeks, there is a small chance that the baby's lungs are not fully developed. Chances are that baby has made surfactant in his lungs and he will be fully developed, but as a precaution, we could give injections of Betamethasone at 48 hours prior to surgery and again at 24 hours prior and that will cause a sequence to signal to the baby to make surfactant. There are studies that show this to be effective for earlier gestational age and some studies suggest this is worth it for this gestational age as well. The other alternative would be to do an amniocentesis and I think you would much prefer this. Am I right?"

"Um, ok."

So we decided to go ahead with the steroids. But, will need to either drive to AA on Tuesday and Wednesday or give it to myself. I decided I couldn't do an intramuscular injection myself and I most certainly would not trust my hubby to do it for me (insert chuckling here). So, I told the doctor that I would enlist one of my nursing friends to do the deed for me at home.

On Monday, 10/3/11 (36w4d) I had another NST in the office. No problems. All is looking good. Some contractions recorded. BP: 96/60, weight: 156.2 (Can this stop going up, please?)

I had a baby shower at work and was generously showered with gifts from my new sweet co-workers. What a blessing they are! The following day, Shaun went to his radiology class and was surprised by his class of 18 students and professor with a $75 gift card to Target. What a great surprise to us that was as well!!

On Thursday, 10/6/11, Shaun and I traveled to Ann Arbor and spent our gift card on baby essentials we had been lacking. We enjoyed a great lunch at Red Robin and then had our 37 weeks bio-physical profile at the doctor office. The baby did not practice breathing movements immediately like he usually does which concerned us, but the tech was not worried as he still did it within the time frame. He received a score of 8/8 again and had a heart rate of 122! A little low, but he was sound asleep, until we prodded him with the transducer through the belly. The amniotic fluid was up to 22 which indicates polyhydramnios over 20. Placenta looked over really well and shows some signs of aging (as it is supposed to at 37 weeks) but no indication of any clots or problems so to speak. BP: 100/62 and weight: 157.2

The doctor assured me that babies only practice breathing 15% of the time while in the womb, therefore the fact that we get to see it in a short 20 minutes is really good. She also assured me that my elevated fluid level could be off by 4 cms either way, and may not indicate polyhydramnios due to margin. However, since I was delivering in a week anyway, we should not be concerned that it is a sign of anything negative.

We discussed some of the anxiety hubby and I have regarding surgery and Doctor Williams told us to start visualizing a positive outcome. She told us to start focusing on things we can control. I asked her what this was. She said, breathing, whether you want the lights dimmed in the OR (this is her personal favorite, lights dimmed and only overhead lights around the surgical site), if I want music played in the background, ask anesthesia if Shaun can be in the room for the spinal, or she could personally hold me while it is being placed. Take something to do for 2 hours pre-surgery, like crossword, or magazine or ipod, etc.

We asked her about anti-anxiety meds prior to spinal. She suggested no as she didn't want baby to receive it. So, I asked about aromatherapy. She stated she would check with the hospital, but thought that would be fine. We could listen to music, enjoy the fragrance of peppermint, with our lights dimmed low and have a date in the OR awaiting the arrival of our little boy. The nurse could take pictures as he is being lifted out and Shaun could just be present in the moment with me. He would be allowed to stay in the OR while a nurse let our family know that we were ok and healthy until we were back into recovery around 1:30-2pm.

Ahhhhh! That picture sounds so good. I cannot wait. Shaun asked about stitching the incision. So technical. She will use sutures rather than glue. hehe! She reexplained the steroids and its functions and how it causes a stress response in the baby to release a hormone to produce surfactant. This concerned me as I had thought that the stress response is what caused the placental abruption. She said no. Abruptions are poorly understood and therefore we cannot say that a stress response caused it. But, steroids should not be a risk for abruption.

She told us that my NST on Monday would need to be done at the hospital again because of nursing staffing issues again. So, I took that opportunity to ask if I could come in on Tuesday and have them give me my first steroid shot and therefore I would only need the 2nd dose administered at home. The doctor agreed this would be fine and scheduled the NST on Tuesday at 11am at the hospital and then I would come over to the office to have my shot.

I scheduled my post-operation doctor appointments at 1 week past discharge from the hospital and 6 weeks post delivery. So, it's official...I will no longer be pregnant passed Thursday afternoon!!!!!

I am a little anxious. I am a little terrified. I am a little excited. But, I am big time trusting that God will be glorified no matter what. Our God is greater than any of my little quirky feelings.

I expect some praising!!!!

Father, thank you so very much for the blessing in this pregnancy. Most has gone by without any problems and I am so thankful for your provision and your dedication to use me amidst this journey to serve those around me. I ask for you to take the lead physician's chair in the delivery room and direct the procedures as you see fit. I ask that you draw attention to the earthly doctors any potential problems and help them to be wise about what do about this or that. Give Shaun and me the strength, the fortitude, the calm and peace that only You can give us as we endure the next 4 days and I pray that You also give us the joy and grace to accept Your precious gift of a living son to us on Thursday, October 13, 2011! We pray for gentleness and awe in the delivery room and the ability to manage the visitors we plan to receive. We are so humbled and grateful for what you have given us and plan to share your goodness with all those who we encounter. Father, I ask that you are with my sisters who are currently pregnant after loss and help them to ease their anxiety and put their trust in you throughout their experience. I ask that you bless them as richly or better as you did for us and I ask that you provide them with calm through their journeys so they may reach others for you too. I thank you for all the readers I have had and for those who are yet to stumble across this blog and I pray that I continue to be used by you in my future endeavors. In Jesus' name, AMEN!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

35 weeks, 3 days

Hello blog world. The countdown is on. 18 days until my scheduled c-section. I feel uncomfortable in my baby belly, so I am welcoming this transition. I am blessed, however surprising that sounds, that I am having a c-section and this tenderness in the upper belly will soon be replaced by a squirming infant along my breast and a carefully stitched wound in my lower belly. I cannot fathom the thought of it actually happening as having been down this path once before and preparing for its most common outcome, I was met with a whirlwind of unexpected happenings after the last delivery. My son was never put to my chest. He was never allowed to smell my scent. He was never given the opportunity to look his mom in the face. He was whisked away toward a traumatic experience from the words, "It's a boy," to IVs and respirators, to a coffin-like incubator traveling 50 miles away from his mother, to having to be frozen to 90* for 3 days, to "there is no more hope for him." My wound did not just cover my abdomen, but threatened my life due to the traumatic experience requiring blood products, antibiotics, anti-hypertensives. It was a five long days before I realized my real wound would take months, even years to heal. It has been five years before I realized that I may never truly heal from the wound of child loss.

And, yet I am here. Ready to experience what I have been preparing my life for since childhood. I have craved knowledge on child-rearing, being a good parent and creating a loving, healthy atmosphere for my children. I have planned and thought of all kinds of various situations I may encounter with my children and have discussed at length with my hubby about how we would handle such and such and this or that. I now just want to begin this part of my life's journey. If I had never experienced child loss, I would be ecstatic to transition. However, my tainted past has prepared me to expect the unexpected. Prepare for all eventualities. Be aware that the world may not be beginning to fall into place for us, but instead may be preparing us for a world of hurt, disappointment and disarray. Yet, my hope is in the LORD. I know that nothing happens that He hasn't allowed to happen. But, this doesn't mean that everything will be just as I want it to be. It just means I must trust in His plan. His purpose. His desire for me.

My past week has been productive. I had my NST on Monday last week and baby passed that test perfectly. No contractions during the visit and despite my recognizing a couple of decelerations in his heart rate, the nurse midwife assured me that it was normal to have during some movements and since it was not under 100 bpm, I had nothing to worry about.

On Thursday, my hubby and I went to my BPP and doctor appointment. I talked with him about some of my anxious thoughts and how I wished I was able to deliver this baby now with as uncomfortable and sick I feel because I know that he is alive and healthy, but since it was only 35 weeks, I realize that he probably has some growing to do. My hubby was irritated that I would even consider putting my anxiety at a higher priority than the baby's well-being. He insisted that I was being selfish and that he would step in if I put his son in danger. I tried to reassure him that I was just sharing some of my thoughts and concerns as I wrap up the last 3 weeks. He was having none of it. He effectively forbid me from going through with a vaginal delivery if I went into labor on my own before the surgery. And as we pulled up to the office I realized his anxiety is as high as mine, but still I walked briskly toward the door, hoping I would be able to slip into the ultrasound room before he would be able to make it in.

Fortunately, my plan failed and I was taken back to the room as Shaun was walking in the door. Naturally my blood pressure was elevated from the heated discussion. 116/60. Baby boy's heart rate was 140bpm, his amniotic fluid index was 16 and he passed his biophysical profile 8/8! Since I had been having this tender stabbing pain in my upper abdomen and Google told me that Fatty Liver of Pregnancy was a rare, but potentially fatal disease that included this symptom, I had the tech observe my liver as well. She said it looked normal, no masses, no cysts and not enlarged. Whew! Baby's cheeks are so fat and squishy and he is breathing perfectly, blowing amniotic bubbles at times. And yes, he is STILL a BOY!! hehe!

My weight is hanging at 152.6 and my pulse was 72. We asked the doctor a lot of questions regarding my anxiety. She thinks my pain in the upper belly is baby kicking or muscles stretching. She said this is a common complaint from smaller framed moms and this side pain too. I asked if I should be tested for preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome. Her answer was no. I asked if going into labor is the risk for placental abruption, then should I worry about these contractions. She said no. The going into labor isn't the concern. The breaking of the bag of waters is what is concerning when it comes to chorioamnionitis (the infection in the bag of waters that may have been a factor in the placental abruption). So as long as my bag of waters is intact, no worries for infection in the bag of waters. Shaun asked if I would be allowed to labor if I showed up with labor. She said it was entirely up to us. I of course let her know that he absolutely forbid it and she said that was fine, however if I showed up and was 8-10 centimeters dilated, it might be a safer thing to deliver vaginally as it would be difficult to pull the baby's head out of the pelvis during the c-section. She didn't think this would happen though as I am acutely aware of the signs in my body and she didn't think I would be the kind of lady who would risk laboring at home before calling the doctor. So, then I asked her to check my cervix as the contractions that I do have are sometimes painful and I wondered if my body was yet recognizing them as true contractions and dilating me. She agreed only because I insisted as it was not necessary since I was having a c-section.

My cervix was high and pointing toward my back. She said the baby's head was low and I was a slight fingertip dilated in the outside of the cervix, but the inner part was closed tight. Whew! these seemingly uncomfortable contractions are just a pain in my belly, but not a cause for concern at this time! I was given a flu shot and tested for group B strep infection. I was sent on my way until Monday. Tomorrow I will be going to the St. Joe's birth triage center for my NST as there will be no nursing staff in the office. I guess I can make a trial run, just in case I think I am in labor over the next 18 days!!!

Father, thank you for your wonderful gift of life you have blessed me with. I pray that you allow me to experience motherhood soon from the outside of my womb! I pray that you keep Liam safe, that you protect him from the dangers of pregnancy and that you bring him breathing and healthy into this earthy world. I ask that you support me and my husband as we embark on this scary journey that resulted in tragedy the last time for us and help us to feel your peace throughout this transition to parenthood. We are so blessed to have a wonderful manual to raise our children in that you have provided for us and we have a great role model of a parent from your perspective.

Thank you, Jesus, for blessing my friend last week with her baby daughter and keeping both of them safe during their delivery. I praise you because your goodness shines in all that you are and do. I ask that you continue to protect and bless those of my readers who are still expecting and grieving and give them a glimmer of hope through you as they read this blog. I ask all this in Jesus' name, AMEN!

Monday, September 12, 2011

33 weeks, 4 days

This week has went by in a hurry. I have had 3 doctor visits since my last post.

On Tuesday, Sept. 6 I had my first NST at the MFM office at St. Joe's. The non-stress test measures baby's heart rate in relation to his movements. They also monitor contractions if there are any. See August 26th's post for description of NSTs and BPPs. My baby boy is extremely active and passed this test with flying colors. Mom's weight was 150.4 and blood pressure was 116/60.

On Friday, Sept. 9 I went in for my first Biophysical profile and growth ultrasound. At 33 weeks, these are his stats:

Placenta: looking good along the back of the uterus
Heart Rate: 135 beats per minute
Head circumference:30.94 cm
Head length (BPD): 8.45 cm
Femur length: 6.46 cm
Abdominal circumference: 29.19 cm
Amt. of amniotic fluid: plenty: 21.8 (anything over 10 is good and under 24)
Weight: 4lb, 14 oz
Measuring: 33 weeks, 3 days
Presentation: head down
Mom weight: 149.6
Mom BP: 98/60
Mom Pulse: good
Placenta is looking good and it posterior!
Baby is 47% on the growth curve!!
They do not check for cervical length after 32 weeks. So, this was not necessary. I have been having a lot of braxton hicks contractions, so I worry that my cervix is opening, but they don't seem too concerned.

My BPP score was 8/8! 100% Perfect!

At this appointment I received a Tdap shot for whooping cough and I will get a flu shot in October. The nurse did a consult with me regarding labor, delivery, premature labor, postpartum depression, breastfeeding, etc. I spoke with the doctor about my high after breakfast blood sugars and at this point we are going to try to correct it with diet and wait and see. Here are the answers to some of my questions:

What is this sharp pain in my upper right abdomen: probably baby or ligament. Nothing to worry about.

How many c-sections can I have? No limit at this time, but plan on having the size family you want and we will discuss further after each subsequent pregnancy.

Do you know how much scar tissue I have and will I need a vertical incision? Will not know this until we cut in. Probably won't need a vertical incision.

How soon after baby is born should I do fertility treatments? 18 months as we want the c-section scar to heal properly.

That's a long time!? I know, but let's do this. You are breastfeeding, right? Well, then don't worry about birth control and see if you get pregnant on your own. If you don't, then at 18 months you can see the fertility specialist. (My opinion of this is NO WAY! Maybe I can wait until this boy's first birthday!!)

Can you check my heart murmur as it seemed to be louder after my delivery with Ethan. Do you think this is a problem? She listened and said it sounded like a normal pregnancy murmur.

I was told that I will have a dr. visit at 35 weeks and they will check me for group B strep at that time. Continue to go to my NSTs and BPPs and watch my diet and blood sugars.

Today I went to my NST appointment. I haven't been sleeping well due to baby kicking and contracting. I am quite uncomfortable. Sometimes I have pinching pain in my cervix and backaches. I attribute them to the growing uterus and baby and not really to labor. The nurse checked my BP, it was 100/60, and weight was 151.0. My NST was reactive the way it is supposed to be but I was having a quite a few contractions during the test. The nurse stated that the doctors were out of the office, but would be back at noon and would call me if they felt I needed to be seen in triage. I let the nurse know that I frequently ignore the contractions as I would be a mess and up at triage everyday if I counted all the contractions I felt every day. She just said to let them know when I was having changes in the contractions. I don't think I am in labor, but with all I was telling her she seemed concerned. I have had several contractions since and have not yet received a call from the doctor. I guess I am okay. Next appointment is on Thursday at 11am for a BPP!!!

Father, I pray that you are able to control everything that seems to be out of my hands. I pray that baby boy is healthy, that he comes on your timing and with a smooth transition into this life. I pray for safety and comfort for me through this journey as well.

Father, I lift my sisters who are reading this up and ask that you bless them immensely because of their faith in you. In Jesus' name, AMEN!!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

32 weeks, 3 days

I cannot believe the anxiety and excitement and yet PEACE I feel all at the same time.  Maybe I am just always a mess when it comes to identifying one feeling, as it seems as if I write about this trichotomy a lot in my blog.  But, it is a real and necessary part of my journey.  [trichotomy: division into three parts, especially the theological division of man’s nature into the body, the soul, and the spirit.]

My ANXIETY:  Will I make it to my scheduled c-section?  Or will my body decide that I need another surprise?  Will I have any more complications?  Does my few high readings of lunch time blood sugars indicate gestational diabetes?  If so, does it really make too much of a difference if I have a couple of highs here and there, or do I need to be more proactive in my diet because it increases my risk of stillbirth and macrosomia?  Is this sharp tearing pain in my upper right abdomen a torn muscle?  Baby's foot in the ribs?  An early indicator of placental abruption?  A result of my poor posture due to increased frontal weight shift?  Do I have everything for the baby after he is born?  Do I have a day care provider available when I need one?  Is this person a good fit for our family?  Will I have to quit my job so I can be a stay at home mom?  Do I want to quit my job?  Can I stand the thought of separating from my baby?  Will I choose a competent and caring pediatrician?  Am I trying to control way too much of what is ultimately out of my control?  Will my husband get the necessary time off of school and work so he can help me while I am in the hospital and afterward?  Will I have complications during delivery?  What if I start to freak out the day before my surgery?  What if my job lays me off?  What if they lay me off just before I have the baby and then I won't have medical insurance?  How will we be able to afford a baby, a car payment, a mortgage, Shaun's tuition?  How long will I be able to get off of work?  What if I can't breastfeed?  What happens if I have to have a hysterectomy?  Will I resent that I was never able to have a girl?  What happens if my spinal doesn't take?  What if my anxiety overwhelms me so much that I can't possibly think straight?  What if my hubby isn't able to alleviate my anxiety in the delivery room?  Will I feel some of the surgery like my SIL said she felt hers?  Will I have a heart attack like my cousin did?  Will I lose yet another baby Plato?  Is God pleased with how I have let others peer into my life and thoughts or does He think I am still selfish and controlling?  Will He love me even through this crazy cycle I put myself through before I pray?

My EXCITEMENT:  I am beeeeeeeeeeeYOND excited to meet my little man.  And I hope that he is just as excited as I am.  I delight in his rhythmic beats of his little feet in my belly.  I love to see his body parts peek out from the roundness of my skin.  If I weren't so modest, I would wear a bikini top all the time and just stare at the wonder of what he is doing inside of me.  I tickle the skin and gently wake him up so he knows his mama is thinking about him.  He bunches up inside of me and then we play a game.  I love to poke one part in my belly and then stop.  My little boy then tries to kick my hand.  I tickle or prod a different area and he moves his body in relationship to mine.  It's like a game of hide and seek.  Sometimes I am not sure who started it!  My discovery of his tiny body parts; knees, toes, bottom, back is so much fun.  I try to grab the parts and tell him, "I got your toes!"  [Ok, I know I am a dork, but I LOVE THIS!!]  Today in church we were singing You Are God.  The country style song isn't really my kind of tune, but the part where it says, "Life flows from God, it flows from God," was just touching my heart today.  I was tearing because of my love for my son.  So far I have been indifferent standoffish unsure about how I feel about this child.  I wanted him so badly, but feeling love for him was a kinda foreign thought for me.  Maybe it was my mind guarding itself, but today I FEEL LOVE!  Love that only flows from God.  Because Life FLOWS from God.  After all this 2.5 years of trying to get pregnant, losing 2 more babies and now expectantly waiting for his arrival, I know that as much as I wanted to control it all, MY GOD controls the universe and each individual connection within in.  I am so stinking excited to look at his little body, count his fingers and toes, peer into his eyes, sniff his baby fresh skin, cuddle with him in my arms, share my life with him, teach him to be a good man and share the love of the LORD with him.  Although, I gotta tell you that I think he has a thing or two to share with me about our LORD. ;)  I cannot wait to meet him.  39 days.  YAYYYYYY!

My PEACE:  It comes from God alone.  Just look at the sample of the crazy list of questions I worry about all the time.  It has to come from God because in all that I worry about, I feel confident that the LORD will complete this pregnancy journey with a wonderful outcome.  I feel calm most of the time.  The hourly contractions I have been having are but a small inconvenience to me instead of a fearfully trying time.  The pain in my abdomen is but an ache in the back instead of dread that I will be rushed to the hospital.  The worry last week about child care was alleviated when I prayed for His guidance over this issue and He provided (a story will follow in the coming weeks/months...God's timing is AMAZING!!!)  I just feel a great sense of PEACE that all is right in the world.  I know that God will will be done.  And I trust Him.  Period. 

I am hoping that this 5.5 weeks goes by quickly enough so I don't have to experience any more crazy cycles of the anxiety, slow enough so I can enjoy the anticipation and excitement and peaceful enough so I can trust in the journey to do it again! 

Father, I thank you for the opposing and yet real relationship between these feelings and the ability to communicate them with others.  I pray that you bless all who read this and give them a sense of your LOVE, your PEACE, and your provision.  I know, God, that I cannot live this life apart from you and ask that you forgive my shortcomings and moments where I think my way is better than yours.  I pray that you continue to bless my family and myself and give me the wisdom and courage to boldly examine my choices and decisions as you allow me the opportunity to raise one of your own.  Keep me in your arms and teach me to be a great parent and to minister to your people in the midst of my own busy life.  In Jesus name, I pray, AMEN!

Friday, August 26, 2011

31 weeks, 1 day

I cannot believe I haven't posted in 5 weeks. Shame on me!!! It has been a long 5 weeks and I am just exhausted. Here are some of the details of what has happened since I last logged in.

*I am getting fat...people are telling me that I look SOOO BIG and "there is no way you will make it to October." For the record, I am SHORT and therefore my belly sticks out farther than the average pregnant woman and I have gained within my allotted amount, so BACK OFF!!! lol

*I wake up a LOT at nighttime. I am soooo very tired all the time. And then at 4am, most nights, I wake up, wide awake and cannot get back to sleep until 6 or 7am. Good thing I work 2nd shifts as I can sleep some more in the morning. But, this means my housework is getting neglected. UGH!

*On August 6th, I switched units at my job because it made my schedule a bit better in that I don't have to do any 3rd shifts anymore and now get a two day weekend (my days off are Thursday and Friday) rather than having to come in on one of my days off for a staff meeting. The change in units has been rather challenging as I am learning some new skills and the job keeps me on my feet a lot more than the previous one. But, it became available and I had to take it when it opened up. Makes it a bit easier to return to when I return from my maternity leave.

*Since taking my new position, and subsequently moving around more frequently, I have been noticing a LOT more braxton hicks contractions. They happen ALL THE TIME...when I have to go to the bathroom, when the baby moves, when I have gas, when I switch positions in bed, when I wake up, when I lay down, etc. So, on August 9th, I went for a walk with my friend as I do a couple of times a week and I had 6 contractions in my one hour walk. She encouraged me to call the doctor. I didn't want to make a big deal about it because I had had a lot of contractions in my pregnancy with Ethan and had started to dilate about this time in his pregnancy too. I had been hooked up to the monitors several times and given anti contraction medication a couple of times and still never delivered him until 40 weeks. So after I got home from the walk, I lied down on my left side, drank a bunch of water and the contractions subsided. I called the doctor anyway and spoke with one of the nurses who talked to the doctor. They told me that some people have what is called uterine irritability, so these contractions I was having could just be normal for me. I was instructed to call if I had more than 12 in a day and more than 4-6 in an hour and they would assess it again. But, I am not worried.

On 8/18/11 I went into the doctor for my 30 week checkup and ultrasound.

Here are my notations for his growth at 30 weeks, 0 day:
Placenta: looking good along the back of the uterus
Heart Rate: 150 beats per minute
Cervical length: 3.0 mm (this is good as long as it is over 3 mm).
Head circumference: 28.49 cm
Head length (BPD): 7.64 cm
Femur length: 5.69 cm
Abdominal circumference: 26.94 cm
Amt. of amniotic fluid: plenty: 16.6 (anything over 10 is good and under 24)
Weight: 3 lb, 9 oz
Measuring: 30 weeks, 2 days
Presentation: head down
Mom weight: 150.0 (random fact: I was this weight at the beginning of Ethan's pregnancy, so hopefully I won't gain too much more as I worked hard to take off the weight after his pregnancy)
Mom BP: 100/60
Mom Pulse: good
Placenta is looking good and it posterior!

This baby has been consistently in the 55th percentile on the growth curve and is doing just great. The doctor reviewed the ultrasound and came in to tell me that she looked hard to try to find something that was off, but everything is looking just perfect!! I showed her my sugar readings and there were two that were high, so she wanted me to test more of my breakfast time sugars to be sure that was under control. I think it is fine, I just have not been following my diet very closely as I had with Ethan's pregnancy. I am eating a lot of donuts, fast food, sugared cereals, etc. So far, I am not diagnosed with gestational diabetes, so I will not be a slave to the rigidity of the diet until I have to.

We talked a long time with Dr. Keeton as she is so patient with us. She described how the c-section will go, who can be in there with me, what happens to the baby when he is born, where Shaun will be, how anesthesia will manage my care. Again she asked if I needed some counseling as I approach delivery and my anxiety increases. I let her know this is not necessary as I have dealt with the grief, anxiety, and my thoughts. I just needed specific information related to my current care and health and that is what would ease my anxiety. We talked about my cousin who had a heart attack during her c-section and the doctor assured me that this was extremely rare and shouldn't worry about that, but let the anesthesiologist know all my concerns when I get there. So I need to make a list of what I am supposed to remind the anesthesiologist on the day of the c-section. I will do that later.

I have an NST (non-stress test) scheduled for September 6th. I will be 32 weeks, 5 days then and will be at the office twice a week from then on. I will be seen 3 days later for a BPP (biophysical profile) and doctor visit and every 3-4 days the cycle will continue until I deliver.

An NST is where I will have a contraction monitor and a heart rate monitor strapped to my belly. I will mark whenever the baby moves and when a healthy baby moves, the heart rate usually goes up. If the baby moves two or more times in 20 minutes and the heart rate increases by 15 beats and stays increased for 15 seconds, then the baby is probably doing well. The contraction monitor will record how the baby's heart rate reacts to contractions as well as if there are too many contractions at one time.

A BPP is an ultrasound that looks at the baby's muscle tone and movements and checks the baby's breathing movements, the fluid around baby, and the general health of the baby. I have never had this done before, so I am not sure how it assesses health correctly. I will let you know soon enough...2 weeks from now is my first BPP.

So, we are well into the 3rd trimester. My back is aching, my hips hurt and sometimes my belly gets beat up so badly by his little feet that I go numb in some spots. In less than 7 weeks we will meet our little boy!!! I am so stinking excited!!!

Father, thank you so much for blessing our pregnancy and our marriage in this way. We praise you for who you are and what you are doing in our lives. I ask that you be with us for the next 48 days and you show your goodness to all around us!! Your love is beautiful. In Jesus' name, AMEN!

Friday, July 22, 2011

26 weeks, 1 day

Ok, I am a slacker. Sorry for the lack of report. I am quite tired lately and just haven't been feeling up to blogging.

Two weeks ago I had a checkup with the nurse so to ease some of my anxiety. It was kinda pointless. I knew he was doing well as he kicks the crap out of me daily. So, I traveled there for a blood pressure and weight and baby heart rate visit. We both were doing fantastic. No problems and all was good. So, the 2 hour drive there and back didn't seem worth the 10 minute check-up. Note to self -- you can deal with not going for 4 weeks. If you suspect a problem, have one of your nursing friends check your pulse, blood pressure, and your fellow-obsessive-mama-consultants can check baby's heart rate with their fetal heart monitors. Or call the doc and she will send you to triage. DUH!

So over the last four weeks I have been enjoying this baby. He moves all over the place, he makes my belly jump and I really don't mind maternity clothes. I have some contractions here and there, but nothing I am too concerned about. I have begun walking 3 times a week again and testing my blood sugars randomly has not been too extreme at all. I feel a bit lazy at times and don't really get much of my housework done like I should, but overall, I don't care that much about it either. I find myself waking up to go to the bathroom and often times am up for a few hours afterward. Thankfully, baby is active at this time and we can bond over the Lifetime Movie Network Shows and then we get back to sleep for a few hours. It is hard to get comfortable in bed as once I lay on one side, baby lets gravity move him all the way to the mattress. And then it starts getting uncomfortable again, so I switch sides and he floats back to the other side of the mattress. The game I play is prop a pillow under one hip, so I am not flat on my back and then try to balance him in the center of my belly. This floating made me wonder if he had too much amniotic fluid to move around in.

Yesterday, on the hottest day of the year, I had an ultrasound and doctor appointment scheduled. I haven't really been too affected by the heat as I love summer and hate to complain about something I love. But, it was a hot one! Shandra drove me to AA since I do not have air in my car. (Thanks Shandra!!) The ultrasound was first and since we had just eaten at Chili's less than an hour prior to the appointment, I decided I couldn't wait until after the ultrasound to use the restroom. So, I went and then filled up my bladder again as I am supposed to have 16 oz of water one hour prior. Once in the ultrasound, the tech told me that my bladder was really full. No need to tell me, I already know!!!!!!!!

Here are my notations for his growth at 26 weeks, 0 day:
Placenta: looking good along the back of the uterus
Heart Rate: 155 beats per minute
Cervical length: 3.7 mm (this is good as long as it is over 3 mm).
Head circumference: 21.4 cm
Head length (BPD): 6.5 cm
Femur length: 4.9 cm
Abdominal circumference: 22 cm
Amt. of amniotic fluid: plenty: 15.1 (anything over 10 is good and under 24)
Weight: 2 lb, 1 oz
Measuring due date: October 30, 2011 (within a week of the ovulation due date, so due date will remain the same -- October 27, 2011)
Mom weight: 146.2 (yikes....)
Mom BP: 100/50
Mom Pulse: 68
Placenta is looking good (I had her do a thorough look at it and use color to verify where blood enters and leaves) and his kidneys and bladder are distended like they should be. He is now head down and looked like he was punching me in the bladder!

This little boy is doing fine. No problems with amniotic fluid at all. My sugars are looking great so I will just need to check randomly. Not even as much as I have been.

I asked about a TB is fine to do during pregnancy.
I asked about being in the extreme heat especially at is fine so long as you can get cool and stay hydrated. No prolonged outdoor activities that are like Saunas.
We talked about my high risk condition and what limitations I have that is different from a normal pregnancy. She told me that so far every thing has turned out normally, but we are being overly-cautious because of the outcome of Ethan's pregnancy. No scuba diving, skydiving, horseback riding, climbing ladders, excessive heat, any activity that has the potential for falling or overheating.
We talked about vacationing and how far away I should be from home. She stated that I could travel by car just fine, but if it made me feel better that I could map out the closest big hospitals nearby before I choose a destination and if I needed to call the office for reassurance, I could do so.
We talked about the frequent nose bleeds I had been having, and she decided that I needed to have a CBC (complete blood count) done and she would check my platelets. She also wanted to get my records from Ethan's delivery and subsequent clotting factor labs that I had had done. I thought I had sent them there, but they had not arrived.

After the appointment, I scheduled almost all of the rest of the appointments up to the date of delivery. I will return in 4 weeks for a dr. appt. and ultrasound. Then 2 weeks later I will have a dr. appointment. Then I will have Non stress tests on Mondays, and bio-physical profiles on Thursdays each week until I deliver. Took us 15 minutes just to schedule all the appointments!!!

All in all, I feel great, and baby is healthy. I can't wait to meet little guy.

Father, thank you for such great reports. I praise you because you continue to astound me in your creation and how you worked the human reproduction all out. It is truly amazing and I am beyond blessed. Thank you so much for your faithfulness. AMEN!