Thursday, January 31, 2008

Even MORE great news.. and I prepare for battle

Charlie is a champ. Even if he takes a step or two backward now, I know he's a champ. He had reached the point that they were dropping humidity every 12 hours. Well, he was handling the drops so well, and was already on room air, that they have removed him from his incubator and put him in a regular isolette! He also is getting 31cc of milk a feeding (that's a touch over an ounce) and holding it down well. Lastly, he has gained another 10 grams! The nurse said tonight that she was really hoping for a big poop to prove that everything is "flowing" well but he's just doing awesome.

So, this also means that the battle for milk delivery is upon us. Will I breastfeed? Will I bottle feed? I have encountered "whatever" nurses on this debate already, and I have had an adamant breastfeeding nurse already. I will tell you, gentle readers, that I did agree to try breast "non-nutrietive sucking" so I could make an educated and informed decision on whether I would breast or bottle feed. I had not planned to breastfeed at all; since he's so little, I agreed to pump. This next jump, I just wasn't sure. So I tried it for 2 days and I need to admit, I'm not 100% into the idea... which I feel I need to be, or it's just not going to be worth it. So I did tell the nurse today that I've decided to bottlefeed while I'm pumping... I also told the lactation consultant who stopped by to see if I had questions. She was pretty nice about it... but the nurse-breast-Nazi is on this weekend, so I'm going to have to stay strong to tell her NO.

When I'm holding Charlie and he's all bundled up and looking at me with those big blue eyes, I don't feel any more motherly or connected to him if he's at my breast or if I'm holding a bottle. And with that being said, they also may try bottle-feeding for real tomorrow to see if he can figure out how to suck/swallow/breathe, which if you think about it, is awfully complicated for a 32-1/2 weeker. Which is another funny thing I've noticed - They still refer to Charlie by his "in the womb" age. And we're going to have to practice "adjusted age" speak. Meaning, Charlie may be 8 months old but "adjusted age" would be 5-1/2 months. What a challenge for non-math people like me.

And Roman is funny. While his world has turned upside down, he still is proud to be a big brother!

Good news yesterday

Charlie got his IV taken out on Wednesday afternoon! They felt he was digesting and gaining well enough that they could try him without. Notice the word try; it's always possible he'll need it again. But it was great to make that kind of progress - and be there to see it! Here he is, with no IV on his arms or legs:

They have also begun "non-nutrietive sucking," which I simply call "practice." Just to see if he knows what to do to get food in his mouth. He starts out strong but then gets kind of tired and just sits there; and that is pretty normal too. He will keep the tube in his nose (I was corrected and told it was a gavage (guh-vahge) tube, not a nasogastric tube) until they are confident he is sucking and doing everything properly, which could be a couple weeks or more. Then the nurse panicked me by saying, "...and the earliest he could go home is about 2-1/2 weeks!" Yikes! Still not prepared for that! I was also talking to a couple yesterday that was being discharged with twins, and they said they got one day's notice when their kids were being discharged - another couple were told the same day. So we better get crackin' at gathering the necessities.

My parents-in-law are here for a couple days, and so our house is going to be clean again and groceries bought. What great parents we both have. I'm keeping Roman home today just so he can "chill." Now if we could just practice picking up the house and putting things away, we'd be ahead of the game. This last picture is of me practicing different holds yesterday - it's supposed to be the football hold but Charlie really likes laying on his side. While we were doing that, I put my finger in the palm of his teeny hand and for the first time, he grabbed onto it and held. So sweet!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

very tired, very emotional

I am tired. I've been trying to get up to pump at night, but last night I didn't even make it. My eyes opened, and apparently I just went right to sleep. I paid for it in the morning, however, with some pretty sore... anyway, I did catch a 45-minute nap this afternoon and it helped me power through the evening. I'm exhausted, though. All that's happened in the past week is really starting to take its toll.

Being tired also makes me more emotional, if that's possible. I have held it together pretty well the past few days, just a few tears here and there. Well, until tonight. I'm just overwhelmed with "perceived" things to do, phone calls I think I have to return the same day, thank-you notes to write, and oh yeah, Charlie to see, Roman to raise, and a husband to have a conversation with once in awhile. And visiting Charlie is wonderful, but it's also very taxing on my emotions. I try to get some things done at the hospital but between pumping and holding him and grabbing some time for myself to eat or take a break, it's hard to carve out time to do anything else.

So today that's it. I'm just tired and emotional and going to bed. Family update:
Doug: Hanging in there. Getting frustrated with Roman's behavior (see below).
Roman: Barely hanging in there. Very whiney and cries hysterically at the drop of a hat. Very tired. Is beginning a behavioral chart at his preschool tomorrow.
Amy: See above.
Charlie: Doing well. Is taking 20cc per feeding today. We're reaching the point where they had to cut him off food last week, so the next couple days will be interesting. He's pooping and peeing well. He has gained a smidge of a few ounces, and has just passed his birthweight and weighs 1608 grams. Yeah, nice hospital measurements, huh? He was exactly 1600 at birth.
Rebekka: Saw Rebekka today. She's doing okay. I still can't blog about that situation without crying, so you'll have to wait a few more days for that update.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Slipping back into my life

Today a lady from church, Susie, drove me to the hospital. This was nice because I usually chat with her on Wednesday evenings and have missed it. Both her boys are adopted (teens, now) and so we had a great talk about that. My friend Wendy, also from church but now also a good neighbor, picked me up and we had a great time catching up. She has been a rock through all this, picking up Roman from preschool on the night Charlie was born, and being such a support in general. Talked to a coworker tonight on the phone, too, who is going to give me a ride up to the hospital on Wednesday. So I feel like I'm reconnecting with people and "surfacing" from this quagmire called hospital bedrest & c-section.

Charlie is doing well. Taking half an ounce at each feeding (16cc) and finally began pooping again last night, so digestively he's working. I am noticing that he's beginning to fill out his skin, he looks more like a real baby. His skin is a nice tone, too. He just smells adorable and I kiss the top of his head lots and lots when I hold him, which was another 1-1/2 hours today. He actually begins to anticipate his feedings, waking up about 30 minutes beforehand and stretching, wiggling, pushing, you name it. He actually pushed his head off my chest & into the crook of my elbow twice today!

Roman is still very, very tired and trying desperately to control some aspect of his life. I think it helped that I put him to bed tonight, we had another nice chat. Not about much of anything, but just letting him talk and me listening. He falls apart in hysterical sobs when he does not get what he wants.

Daddy is holding it together too. I don't talk about him as often as I should, but I think he's glad that I'm not calling with an emergency every few days now! Of course, he had to take half a day off tomorrow to take me to my dr. appt., but this should be the end of the drama. We sent the Aztek to the shop to have some stuff fixed under warranty - why not, since I'm not driving - and we should get it back Wednesday or Thursday. That will be very, very nice.

As for me? My feet are deflating, finally. My ankles are still swollen, but my toes and top of my feet are almost normal again. My belly has decreased too, I now look like I did at 5 months pregnant. It's strange to go backward in maternity clothes.
I still am overdoing it with my c-section incision - I know because I don't take any pain pills and then out of the blue, it starts really hurting. Pumping milk isn't bad but I do it anywhere from 3-5 hours (I just can't do the 2-3 hours; I have a life too), and what I'd really like is to sleep through the night while I still can. But it's not to be, as I wake up around 3 or 4am to pump. Grr. Tomorrow I spend a very long day at the hospital. No pictures today, perhaps tomorrow.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Roman says...

This afternoon I got to spend some time with Roman. We played some Star Wars Legos, had dinner while watching a video (a treat for him), and then I gave the bath and let it be a really long one with toys and fizzies (these really cool drops you put in the water and they change color - tonight was purple). Anyway, he was really beginning to push, trying to "make deals" as we call it for bedtime, and all and all be a real brat. He was clearly tired. He got in my lap to hug and kiss goodnight and I asked if we could spend a minute or so talking. He immediately began to rock back and forth in my lap, so I told him to lean against me and we'd chat. He did, and we rocked.

We talked a little about Charlie, and spending time together, and then I will never forget this next statement. Roman said, "You cannot spend any time with me." What?! I said. "You have to keep Charlie's company now," was his answer. I started crying, because I figured that's what his little 4-year-old mind had done. He had made a statement a few weeks ago that Daddy was in charge of Roman, and I would be in charge of Charlie. I think he truly believed that, and now that Charlie was here, he and I couldn't spend time together anymore.

Roman voiced other concerns, like sharing ("I have to share you and Daddy, but you won't share me, right?"). Luckily, in that 4-year-old world of his, I only had to make a simple statement. "I plan on keeping Charlie's company during the day, and coming home and being with you around dinnertime and bedtime." "Oh!" said Roman as his little face lit up. "Okay." Daddy then assured Roman that I was not leaving to stay in the hospital like I did before - I would be home every night now. These two statements seemed to make him feel loads better. So tonight, gentle readers, you get a picture of both of my boys - a great closeup of Charlie without tubes or wires (they're just hidden!), and a picture of Roman from a couple days ago, dancing like a silly boy in our dining room.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Reflections on the last week (& pictures)

Doug is holding Charlie right now and humming the Olympics theme song to him. Just finished the 3pm feeding and so now is holding time! We have Nurse Amy back with us this weekend, she was on last weekend too. I have only encountered one nurse I have not liked so far. The nurses I enjoy are ones that tend to have a sense of humor or are really lighthearted about touching Charlie. Nurses Kelly, Julia, and Amy I like the best.

We were encouraged to NOT buy preemie things; maybe an outfit or two for "showing off" when he gets home, but not to get a lot of devices or home monitors that aren't necessary. He's in newborn diapers already, and we were told if we get newborn-size gowns that he can grow in we'll be all set. Doug did research on our carseat and it's good for 5 lbs and up, and the nurses suspect he will weigh close to that when he goes home. They also do a carseat inspection before we're allowed to leave the hospital with Charlie, and that makes me feel better.

The neighboring room has a girl named London in it, and she is not happy most of the time. We've noticed that nurses check on her a lot and hold her a lot. I mentioned to Nurse Amy that I liked that nurses comforted them, and she said it was common. Although I have mixed feelings, you know - I want to be the one comforting Charlie all the time! Parents are the only ones allowed to Kangaroo though. They tell us that Charlie will be booted from this single room as soon as a sicker baby comes and they need the room; he's stable enough and not on oxygen, so he could be in a multi-pod room. He's up to 8cc today at each feeding, good boy.

I find I get to craving Charlie's nearness. Once I get to the hospital I can't wait to get up to his room and smell him. Yes, smell him. He's so little and sweet, and he smells of baby powder scent and his own specialness. I love it. It's also an amazing phenomena that I pump more milk after holding him. When he's on my chest he will actually push his head until it's right over my heart. He has been taking to his Daddy, too, which I am glad to see. Loves being on him just as much.

Roman. Now, there's an interesting week. He really overall is handling the extra stress, driving, hospital visits, and longer days at preschool well. He gets highly emotional some days and I know it's just because he's tired. However, he has been having behavior problems at preschool that we've constantly been talking to him about - not listening to his teachers, getting obnoxious with a couple buddies - and apparently his new teacher has had enough. Which is good, but she also sent a note home asking one of us to call to discuss Roman's behavior. Argh. We don't feel they follow through on discipline enough, although maybe that's what she wants to talk about. I'll call on Monday and see, I guess.

Rebekka. From all reports from her social worker, she's doing okay at her mom's. We are trying to set up a meeting next week where Rebekka and Sarah are going to come up to the hospital to see me, see Charlie, and then Doug will meet up with us with Roman and we'll have a general talk about how things are going. She was pulled so quickly from our house, and I've only talked to her once since then, so I'm anxious to see her.

I am trying to put my emotions in order, but it feels like the days are flying by and I can barely grasp getting through the days. I am trying to kick the Vicodin so I'm not so sleepy (or dependent) and just use my rx of Motrin. It's also difficult when I can't drive, because I'm dependent on others and I also think it makes it harder for Doug. I mean, I can find rides to the hospital but Doug has to get Roman, and then come all the way over here to get me in the evening. Makes for long days. That will only happen this week on Monday, I believe.

I still replay that afternoon of the c-section over in my mind. It was not as scary as my first morning in the ER/transfer, but it happened so fast. I slept most the day because I had been up all night the night before with a headache. I ate something at 11am and then slept. I woke up at 4pm and that horrible epigastric pain was back. I knew that if I said something, it was all going to be over. I didn't want to, but it wasn't going away either. I finally said to the nurse, "I don't want to tell you this, but...." She called my OB in immediately and his comment was, "You had the steroid shots, right?" I knew right then that I was going to have a c-section in the near future. For the first time, I was scared for myself.

Throughout this whole thing I worried about Charlie - being too small, developmental problems, all that. People had to keep reminding me that preeclampsia is the mother's problem - stroke and seizure are the main issues, but left unchecked it can turn into HELLP syndrome, an even more dire situation. The fact that we had reached the point that to treat me, they felt it was necessary to deliver Charlie - good God. Even before this I was beginning to feel helpless; the pain the week before, the week of bedrest, and then this week, moving so slow and not being able to drive. I'm getting really tired of needing people. I have a dr. appt. on Tuesday and I'm going to beg him to let me drive.

Someone said (in a caring way) that even before Charlie was born I seemed only concerned about Roman - like I wasn't Charlie's mom. I have to admit, folks, I didn't feel like Charlie's mom even when I accepted that I was pregnant. Because, I think, I didn't fully accept that I was pregnant. It never was a joy-filled revelation, and thank goodness I had a pretty easy pregnancy. Every time I went to the doctor I expected them to look at me quizzically and ask "why are you here? There's no heartbeat here, you're not pregnant." In fact, I even had a crazy brief thought as they wheeled me into the OR that they're going to slice open my uterus and there's going to be nothing there. I honestly never fully grasped or connected with Charlie. I think that's partly why God introduced him to the world early. It took me about a day of Kangarooing and I was head over heels for this little guy. This is God's way of getting me to bond with him before he comes home. (By the way, as I type this, Doug is snoring away with Charlie on his chest, and I bet if Charlie was able, he'd be snoring too!)

It took me by surprise that I could love Charlie as fiercely and equally as I do Roman. Now, logic and every parent says of course you love them all. The capacity for me to feel so protective and "heart bursting" as I do, for both of them, is just about enough to make me explode. I go from tiny, vulnerable, feisty little Charlie to my funny, adorable, smart Roman and nothing else in the world matters. I suspect I will crave adults soon enough, but for now all my boys are enough to make me content. Well, that and being able to drive again.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Daddy Kangaroo

A quick blog tonight because it's been a very long day - pictures tomorrow. I spent a good portion of the day at the hospital today, which made me happy. My parents have returned to their home after a week of my Mom supporting us, of which I am so darn grateful for (the support, not them returning home!). Doug's parents came for a short visit this afternoon and then took Roman to their house for the weekend, so Doug and I can have a couple days to rest & digest all that has happened. There are lots of funny small stories that I'd like to blog, along with lots of feelings to wrestle with (and share with the world, of course), so I'm hoping to have some quiet time to do that.

Charlie began taking milk again at noon, and had 2 more subsequently. Only 4cc but it's a start. He kangaroo'd with me twice and was awake for part of that time, so that was neat - to know that he was awake and hearing me. Tonight after Roman and his grandparents took off, Doug and I went back to the hospital, where Daddy finally got to hold his second son. We also had our first "family portrait" taken of the three of us. Like I said, pictures tomorrow. Do you find it interesting that both family portraits, with Roman and with Charlie, were taken in a hospital? There were both born on a Thursday, too. Hmm.

We got to talk with Dr. Magdalena (her last name is foreign and complicated), the resident in charge of Charlie, and complimented her in front of the head of Neonatology when she did her rounds presentation this evening. Dr. Magdalena is Polish & German, but grew up mostly in West Germany. We had a nice chat with her this evening and got to know her a little bit. I have a feeling a lot of these drs. and especially nurses will become pretty good acquaintances before this adventure is over.

Anyway, we're both pretty exhausted and looking forward to sleeping in - or what counts for sleeping in when you have to pump every 3 hours or so. More tomorrow.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A small step backward

Here's Charlie relaxing while waiting for me to change his diaper again tonight. What a cool dude, huh? The wrap is because Charlie apparently thinks he can escape, and likes to push himself to the top of the incubator. The nurses are trying to keep him in one spot...

Did I mention that I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop with Charlie? I've emailed people and talked to so many people on the phone, I forget what I say. Well, I had been thinking that things are going so well that something should go wrong. We did have a minor setback today. They had raised his feedings this morning to 30cc and were going to take the IV out this afternoon. Well, when they went to check his stomach contents at the 2pm feeding, he still had a bit of greenish liquid in there - enough to say that his tummy isn't digesting everything and needs a break. So they halted his milk feedings for the rest of the day and he remains on IV fluids until Friday, when they will try again. Nurse Julia said that this is common, and it's just a matter of his tummy learning to digest everything - they did do an x-ray and there's no blockages in his digestive system, so maybe his tummy just needs some time. No biggie, but a little step backward.

Charlie is starting to show preference for being kangaroo'd on me. It's just a wonder that he recognizes me in the first place, I think, but he gets mad now when he's pulled away to go back in his incubator. He has a favorite position he assumes, right ear on my heart, legs kicked off to the side, left hand up by his face. Tonight when the nurse picked him up, he squawked and then actually seemed to hiss - made this weird breathing sound like, "damn you, woman!" It takes him a few minutes when put back in the incubator to settle down. Nurses said this is common too, which makes me happy. He squawks when taken out of his incubator too, but the minute his head touches my chest he stops. It's truly awesome.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Eat, sleep, & poop

Very important things, those three. Charlie is doing well at all of them. They raised his intake to 28cc today, almost an ounce a feeding. I got to "kangaroo" him twice today, late morning before lunch, then again in the afternoon. At 2pm was a big deal - I turned him over from tummy to back for the first time myself (so tiny! so fragile!), and then I changed his teeny tiny diaper! See evidence:

Then I "kangaroo'd" for about 1-1/2 hours. Charlie is getting very squirmy, trying to move his head, stretching, getting more comfortable while on me. And he's just adorable, and cute, and little, and sweet. He still weighs just about 3.7-ish pounds. The nurse said that he probably won't "grow" much more before he comes homes, but he will fill out and add weight. So we definitely will have to start looking at preemie-adaptation devices for bassinet, carseat, etc.

The funniest part about today? Charlie pooped on me. It's been awhile since I've fastened a diaper (about 1-1/2 years, truly) and changing Charlie's made me nervous, so it was much looser around the legs than it should have been. While holding him, my Mom and I could hear him pooping and I immediately worried... and sure enough, he blasted out the side of the diaper onto my shirt. Well, Doug's shirt, to be exact, as it was a button-down. But nurse said it was all good - if he keeps taking bigger meals and having big poops, they will look to remove the IV Thursday or Friday. Then they'll start work teaching him the whole suck-swallow-breathe mechanics so he can feed from a bottle. Here's us kangaroo-ing (before application of the warm cozy blanket):

Roman asked this morning if he could have as many brothers as he wanted. I explained that meant Daddy and I would have to have more kids, which isn't something we wanted to do. I finally got out of him that he was hoping for a brother that he could play with. Obviously Charlie isn't the picture-perfect brother of Roman's dreams! I assured Roman that instead of a brother to play with, he had his buddies at preschool & would meet more friends in the neighborhood once he went to kindergarten. He seemed okay with that, but the poor boy... I think he was hoping Charlie would come out ready to play Star Wars.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Update & pictures of Charlie

While there are a lot of emotions going on with myself that I will blog about eventually, I will just give a quick update on Charlie today to answer frequently asked questions. And, of course, post a few pictures.

To answer the most frequently asked FAQ, we have no idea when he will be allowed home. At the earliest, 4-5 weeks; they won't even have him out of the humidity in the incubator until January 30th. He needs to learn to regulate his own body temperature, as well as eat, digest, & poop on a regular basis. Once he can do all of this, as well as show growth, then they will consider sending him home. Most the nurses tell us "close to the due date" is what we should shoot for.

He is continuing to do well; they increased his feedings to 18cc, which is a little over half-an-ounce per feeding. He is not sucking out of a bottle, but through an NG tube. However, the nurse said as they increase his feedings they will be decreasing the IV fluids; if he continues to take the feedings and digest them, they will be able to drop the IV within a few days. THAT would be cool.

I only saw him an hour today, but that's because we let Roman stay home and celebrate being with Mama. Tomorrow Roman is back to Red Bell and my Mom and I plan to spend much longer with Charlie. I found my Mom could not drive fast enough once we got in the car, and I was very anxious to get in the room. I really needed to be with Charlie. It's hard to leave, but Doug compares it much to Roman's adoption - only allowed small visits, building up to the point when we can bring him home. In that way, I guess, we're more prepared than most NICU parents in how to deal with this situation.

Now, to describe the pictures. Monday afternoon's visit when Charlie was awake (that's my hand on his head); Roman taking his first cautious reaches into the incubator; and Charlie under the "jaundice lamp" with cool sunglasses (the pacifier is a newborn-size, to get an idea of his size).

Monday, January 21, 2008

I'm home, and the world keeps turning

First, news on Charlie: He has lost a couple ounces, which is normal. But, he was on the "jaundice lamp" Sunday and already taken off Monday because his levels went down. He also is feeding well (through a nasogastric tube) so they upped his feedings to 10cc each time. Today was great because Doug and I spent the afternoon together with Charlie. I got to Kangaroo hold him for 1-1/2 hours and Daddy was told he could start holding Charlie too (although he is waiting until later this week - he's still used to being "errand man" while I'm holding Charlie). Tomorrow I will be starting to change diapers and take his temperature, a couple of the only things parents can do in caring for him. Charlie spent almost 30 minutes awake while Doug and I cupped him and talked to him... just a powerful afternoon with our baby.

God continues to solve my internal dilemmas and debates in one fell swoop, although it's not quite the way I want things resolved necessarily. Take these: with bedrest and early delivery
1. Our dilemma with Rebekka was solved (ready to go home or not?)
2. My fear of giving birth to a 10 pound baby was resolved (emergency c-section at 30 weeks tends to do that)
3. My secret desire for more time off work was granted (again, not in the way I had hoped)

Now there is a fourth resolution, again not in the way I expected. I had asked my grad school professors if it was possible to continue to do the paperwork and readings for my classes although I would not necessarily be able to complete all the observations (since I was on bedrest at the time). Both teachers have acknowledged my difficulties but have refused to allow me to do this; after talking with Doug after Charlie's birth, I certainly am not going to spend my Monday evenings in class when my mind is clearly somewhere else - and needs to be.

So, I have to regretfully withdraw from the Masters program. These two classes are only offered one semester a year, and there's no way I can complete my end-of-degree project this year either. And I'm already on the one-year extension. In truth, the only thing it doesn't allow is a nice raise through my school district. I'm not devastated that I can't finish, because my family is more important to me. And it's a relief not to worry about it anymore. It just... is one more thing. I don't know that I can keep taking all these "resolutions." I thought that bed rest would be my world-stopping act, but it appears to be the one thing that is making the rest of my life fall apart!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Monday - a new chapter starts

Today was a good day overall. I slept a lot - you can tell I must be tired since I slept on my back all night, and I'm a side-sleeper! I saw Charlie twice today, and in the afternoon I got to hold him again - from here on out known as "Kangaroo Care" when he just lays on my chest. My Mom spent an hour or so with Roman so Doug and I could be together with Charlie - the first time since Friday afternoon, really. My incision got to hurting quite a bit this afternoon, I think I overdid it a little. My Dad went home for a few a days but my Mom is going to play driver, cook, and cleaner this week to help me get back on my feet. The following week we're hoping Doug's parents can fill that role, and by then I can probably drive again. If not, I think I'll be calling in all those offers to help and turning them into driving me to the hospital. But we'll see.

Roman is still hanging in there. He was very tired today, and he expressed many times today he was very happy to hear I'm coming home. We think my discharge will be Monday afternoon, so Doug's taking the day off because there is a lot to organize. I've technically been AWOL from work since I never did get a note faxed in to state why I'm absent! We need to arrange for a breast pump too (too many details, gentle readers?) and hope that insurance will cover it; meanwhile, I've got to keep that going every 2-3 hours. Also the emotional fallout of leaving Charlie... it's been comforting to know he's just a floor below me, and I could see him whenever I wanted (even if I didn't go, I still had that option). To leave him "behind" will be awkward tomorrow.

Well, I'm falling asleep writing this, so I'm signing off. Big day tomorrow, and of course I'll keep updating at least once a day!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

What a day.

So I had to dictate to Doug last night, I was so exhausted. Making me walk. Who do the fool doctors think they are, slicing open my abdomen and then telling me to get up on my own out of bed to go to the bathroom? For crying out loud. Pain is mostly under control with alternating Tylenol #3 and Motrin, hoping tomorrow I can just operate on one or the other. I've also been told to drink 3 big jugs a day of water. Whew!

Roman is doing fine as a big brother. Yesterday he was too afraid to touch Charlie in the incubator; today he put both his hands in and "cupped" him (one hand on head, one hand at feet). That was really neat to see. I spent about 1-1/2 hours just holding Charlie on my chest, in "skin to skin" contact as they call it, so he can hear my heartbeat and voice. The nurse said he was very stable, just small, so I can come up anytime and hold him. I still vary between wanting to nurse my own wounds and just hold him all day. I suspect they will kick me out of this fine establishment on Monday, but Doug is hoping for Tuesday.

This morning was a pretty rough one; having been transferred late on Friday evening, and then Doug went home to be with Roman, it was a strange place and strange situation. The nurse came in and kind of looked around... they hadn't read my "case" and I'm sure she was wondering where the heck my husband and baby was. When she asked, I said in the NICU, and then she was all very supportive... but just that answer drained me. She then asked if someone was coming "to be with me" and of course they were... but I lost it, started crying. I didn't even have the phone number to the NICU to call and ask how Charlie was doing... all this before 7am is not pretty. Especially when crying hurts an incision. So my Mom & Dad quick came from the house and spent the morning with me, while Doug and Ro spent some boy-time together. Much better this afternoon, and I'm hoping for a somewhat-restful night's sleep... because tomorrow, I should shower. And that won't be pretty either!

Friday, January 18, 2008

I had a baby!

Dr decided on Thursday that Charlie was "better out than in." So, after another round of hurried phone calls, I was prepped for emergency C-Section and Charlie was born at 7:23pm! He cried after being pulled out and his scores were all normal. We only saw him briefly through the porthole and they whisked him off to the NICU (Neonatal Intesive Care Unit.)

Friday they put me on the Magnesium drip again because I am still considered pre-eclampsic and will continue to be for the next few days. Doug was able to see Charlie right away as did Roman and all Grandparents. I was able to see him this afternoon when they brought him down for five minutes. They layed Charlie and me "skin to skin." It just brought a big smile to my face and he calmed right down. Guess there is some truth to that bonding feeling!

Charlie was on a CPAP (continous positive airway pressure) for about 12 hours but he's been pulled off and he is breathing on his own. He's been getting IV fluids but we are going to try bottle fluids on Saturday. He's got a head full of strawberry blond hair and very long fingers! He appears to be a fighter having pulled out his CPAP twice and attempting the various IV's as well!

I've been moved (finally!) to a post-partum room where I will be until discharged early to mid next week. I also walked for the first time this evening. They are still watching my blood pressure to make sure my pre-eclampsia doesn't worsen. The next few days will be hit or miss as I plan on spending lots of time with Charlie in the NICU. So don't panic if I don't answer the phone or don't write e-mails.

This blog was dictated by Amy to Doug as she is in a bit of a fog right now!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

New doctors, new meds

My regular OB came around this afternoon to tell me that my urine protein continues to go up; I'm now at 2500+, and in his words the "go to" number (when they'd take the baby no matter what) is 5000+. Doug, upon hearing this information, immediately began to plot my numbers in a graph to see when I'll give birth, assuming my body functions like a linear equation. What a guy, my favorite engineer! Based on numbers and what the OB said in code, it's looking like our best bet is to hold out another couple weeks. So it may be a January birthday after all.

My OB then explained their desire to transfer me to the OB docs here, and also refer me to a high-risk "maternal fetal medicine" doctor. The new OB came to see me this evening around 6:15 and after a conference with me, and then a call to the high risk dr., decided to put me on Procardia for my bp. This was expected, but she tells me that 80% of patients on Procardia experience headaches. Great. Like a bed-headache isn't bad enough. Of course, I suppose a 10-week-early preemie is bad, too.

OB did reassure me that I'm still considered a "mild" case of preeclampsia. She also asked what my home situation is, in case they thought they could transfer me to bedrest at home. I told her it wasn't a good idea; I wouldn't sit still, and I have a 4-year-old. She agreed with me.

In good news for today, I did get a heat pack for my aching neck muscles and it was AWESOME. I really underestimated heat packs, but no more. And my pizza for dinner was a "personal pan" size so I'm not hungry, which is good too. So I'm going to cruise some online scrapbooking sites and attempt to get to sleep before 10pm tonight.

Morning routine, Wednesday

My days have more of a rhythm now. It's 6:45am and the nurses usually start in around 6am. The mystery doctor, I think, is from the OB staff here at the hospital. She also pushes on my belly when she visits. She comes in around 6am, followed by the blood pressure brigade. Today they wanted to weigh me, too. Then Dietary comes in around 7am with my menu to select for the next day. Today I am sneaking a peek at the Internet before breakfast, which comes around 7:30 or 8am.

I am trying to have a new goal each day. For example, yesterday was to play "Civilization II" on the laptop, which it took me awhile to remember how to move my guys, but I did. Today I have to write to my grad class professors and ask if I can still do the journal work for credit. I asked my advisor on Monday but he said to ask them directly first.

As for my vitals, I should get results of my blood & urine tests back today. My bp is creeping again, this time my lower (diastolic?) number. I've been checking in around mid-150s/110 or so, which they don't like. This morning I was back to 146/89. But I have no other symptoms except for slight puffiness in the ankles, so they're just "watching." I have a muscular cramp in the right side of my neck from twisting around - I think because I keep all my stuff to the left of me in bed. Wish they had a masseuse on staff.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Preparing for the long haul

I'm moving in, requesting things from Doug from home; pillows, personal hygiene stuff, clothes. It's nice I can wear my regular clothes here. The social worker came to visit me today - I liked her alot, better than the one we talked to this weekend.She was funny, said she knew right away I was a planner and a worrier. I didn't think it was that obvious, but she said she could tell from my job - any teacher is a planner and worrier! She gave me an overview of what to expect for myself and immediate family over the next few days, and suggestions on coping.

First, she suggested journaling - which I obviously do. She said besides my own feelings, however, I have to start journaling TO Charlie. This was an idea i hadn't gotten to yet, but she said a lot of women will get angry with the fetus over this situation and therefore not bond later (another topic I've been thinking on for awhile) so she encouraged me to write to Charlie. I told her I scrapbooked too, and we talked about making a little album like through Shutterfly or something, of my situation here. She said especially if I'm here awhile, it's part of the journey I need to accept.
She also asked about Doug's and my relationship, and encouraged us to set a "date night" if at all possible. She said this was another thing that women will do - continue to focus on the kids at home, the job on hold, the baby to hold in, but not the relationship with husband. She even went so far to mention that there have been romantic dinners known to happen in these rooms - bring in some carryout, turn the lights down, and make a little "do not disturb" sign (for an hour or so) just to have some alone time. This sounded so good to me I almost started crying. Which, she reassured me, they are totally used to weepy women on this floor.

Other things they have here at the hospital are a concierge service for me. I have to pay mileage and cost of whatever they're getting, but I can send a concierge out to get me anything I want. Can you imagine?! She said often it's just magazines, or whatever, but I can send them to CVS, the Coney Island around the corner, whatever I want. They are continuing to try to find ways to keep us bedridden women in control. I also requested a price list for the "Beaumont Spa," as they do pedicures and I'm pretty excited about that. I've also been thinking about online shopping... but we won't mention that to Doug just yet. :)
So all in all, this may be easier on me than it is for Doug. I'm working on ideas to relieve him for periods of time, but not to keep shipping Roman off to other people, either. It's tricky for the next week or two, I think, to balance what we all need. And Roman is still the most important, in my opinion.

Monday, January 14, 2008


There's a mystery doctor that checks in every night around 2 or 3am. I have no idea who she is or why she's stopping by. She asks me a couple questions, pokes my ankles, and then leaves. Weird.
My regular OB came around today, the same one who was on call when I went to the hospital on Friday. I'm kind of sad that they probably won't be delivering Charlie, since I like a couple of them very much now. She told me frankly that she truly believed I was going to have to deliver this weekend, and she was pleased to see I proved her wrong. She said whatever it was that made me go to the hospital, it was a blessing. Thank goodness for that!
The neonatologist also came by to see me today and present "worst case scenarios." Doug and I are both that way, though - give us the worst, and we'll be pleased when things aren't bad. Most of it was unsurprising (lung, eye, and brain issues with a preemie) but a couple things we'll have to talk about - breastfeeding, for example. I hadn't planned on doing it, but for a preemie needing my antibodies, I suppose I might try it, distasteful as it seems to me. Something I'll have to think on.
I have a parade of nurses at my beck and call, which I do not take advantage of yet. I try to wait until they are in the room and then ask a favor like closing my blinds, refilling my water pitcher with ice, etc. I don't want to be "that woman in that room" especially if I'm here as long as I should be.
There are lots of things in my brain I'm starting to think on to write about. Just trying to get a rhythm for my days first. I had a coworker stop by with cards from staff & kids, which was fun to see. I can imagine there are a lot of parents in Plymouth explaining preeclampsia & birth to their kids right about now. Which makes me kind of giggle. I mean, a lot of the parents didn't even know officially I was pregnant...

Monday morning business

I was glad to have a "to do" list this morning. Had to contact Madonna about my grad classes, and then school/Board Office to arrange my absence, do some other things. Had a phone call from a friend in Ireland, even, which buoyed my spirits. Mornings are hard, I wake up pretty weepy knowing that the world is going on without me and I can't contact people before 8am. Of course, the breakfast tray at 7:30am makes me feel a bit better.

It's been nice having so many phone calls, as I'm sure as the days go by I'll get less and less. They are doing construction around here and I can hear the sound of metal being snaked through pipes above my room.

As for tests, they are running the urine screen again, and along with that came a blood draw at 7:00am. Then my dr. apparently asked for other blood screenings, so she had to come back and take more. I am doing my own work for the urine tests, have to pour it into a jug. "Earning my keep," as Doug said. My bp is checked every 4 hours and Charlie on monitor was just fine this morning. I was able to take an almost-human shower, got shampoo in my hair for the first time since Thursday morning. That was wonderful. Got tired, though, so I had to stop there. Lunch is arriving soon and I'm proud to say I only watched about 30 min. of TV news today, otherwise have just read a book, showered, talked on the phone, and attempted this blog. So far, so good.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bedside report, day #2

Another day in the belly is a good day. My bp has been creeping up, which they are watching, but my mind doesn't like to rest (and neither does my appetite), which I think can account for the high numbers. My urine test from Friday came back; they like to see protein between 0-300+, and I was at 1650+. So they are going to redo it starting Monday a.m. to make sure it's not getting worse.

Charlie is doing just fine on the monitor, no big deal. I'm not having contractions anymore, which is good too. So I get tricked into thinking everything is fine. The dr. and nurse reassured me today, however, that half of the worry is me - if my bp keeps going up high I am at risk for stroke, seizure, and all kinds of fun things. So they've been taking it, oh, probably every 4 hours. I may have to actually pay attention to that tomorrow.

Both Roman and Doug have been troopers but are also exhausted. Roman was in bed by 6:45pm tonight and asleep by 7pm, from what I was told; that was as Doug informed me he was going to bed by 9:30pm. I am signing off too after I finish this update.

Again, everyone has been so great and supportive with offers to help; I'm sure as things calm down and we fall into a routine, then we may begin to call on those offers. Hopefully I'm here a long time and we can use up everyone's goodwill. Dr. said having baby now guarantees 2 months in the NICU, so I have decided that I will stay here and play "oven" for awhile.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Preeclampsia & bed rest

So. Many of you know the drama of the last couple days, but here it is to fill everyone in. I am in the hospital under bed rest orders until the baby comes. We are hoping to get to 34 weeks (I'm 291/2) but as my dr. said, each day in the belly is worth 4 in the NICU, so we'll just take it one day at a time.

I had growing backaches the last week - nothing unusual, I figured, for Charlie gaining weight. Then I felt chest burning and pain - heartburn, I figured, nothing unusual since Charlie's growing and smushing up my organs. But the chest burning got worse. And worse. And by Thursday night, nothing could stop the pain. So at my normal 4am wakeup, I thought, I'm going to the ER, get me some pain medicine, and I'll be back in time for Doug to go to work. Luckily I had already called a sub for Friday and had planned on staying home with Roman.

Drove myself, and I got to the hospital and started crying at registration because the pain was so bad. Because of the pregnancy, they called down the maternity people and decided to observe me on the maternity floor instead of ER. They checked my urine immediately, checked my blood pressure, and said, "we need to run labs." Weird, I thought, since I just have heartburn. Then they asked if I had high bp. I never ever do. Always too low, in fact. Well, my protein in my urine was up to 3+, my liver labs were high, and my bp was through the roof: 185/something, when I'm normally between 115-120. Only took 2 hours for the diagnosis: preeclampsia, have to be transferred to Beaumont right away because they have the NICU. Um. Yeah. They told me the earliest I may have to deliver is Sunday. Um. Yeah.

I called Doug, who took Roman to preschool, called my parents to come over, called his parents to inform, and he came to the hospital and then followed the ambulance to Beaumont. I was put in a labor and delivery room for "caution" in case I had to deliver immediately. My goal on Friday was to get out of the L&D room and into the antepartum rooms, which meant they would not induce. That's all I knew. After a crazy day of phone calls, Doug going back and forth, my parents arriving, and more phone calls, this is what happened, essentially: My placenta wants to stop cooking Charlie and deliver him. My body began to do the necessary things to prepare for it (apparently I was having contractions every 3-4 minutes at one point). But because my cervix is closed, all this does is cause trauma for baby and Mama - things like swelling ankles, backaches due to contractions, high blood pressure, & epigastric pain. Hm. All things that were bothering me last week.

So after 24 hours of magnesium and monitoring, an ultrasound and blood labs, as well as a catheter, I was finally unplugged from everything this morning and allowed to go to an antepartum room ("holding room"), where I will be on strict bed rest until the baby needs/has to be delivered. Dr. would like that to be between 34-36 weeks. I go back and forth between what God/dr. wants, and getting me the heck out of here because Roman needs his Mama.

We have had an amazing outpouring of love & offers to help, and we're working on making things normal for Roman and easiest on Doug. Rebekka has been removed back to her mom's house (another post for another day) but we're in touch with her. I am available by email (hooray for wireless in a hospital!). As soon as Doug has a chance to load my new camera's software onto the computer, I'll post some pictures of my new "apartment." And I guess all you can do is pray for God's timing to happen, cuz I can't decide for myself if I want Charlie out now or lay here in a bed for 4-5 weeks.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Adoption vs. Birth - Roman finally asks questions

We had dinner at church tonight. I mentioned off-hand that someone else's kids were adopted. Roman asked, "When will the baby be adopted?" Now, I figured eventually he would get to asking questions, but I didn't expect it in this form! Here's how the conversation went:
Roman: "When will the baby be adopted?"
Doug: "It won't be, honey."
Amy: "It doesn't get to be that lucky."
Roman: "Because I came from someone else's tummy."
Amy: "Yes, that's true. And she couldn't take care of you, so she allowed you to be adopted."
Roman: "Why not?"
(Doug and Amy meet eyes, take deep breaths... this is really the first time he's asked.)
Amy: "She did not have a lot of money. She could not afford to buy you toys, or buy a lot of food, or make sure you had nice things. And she wanted you to have toys & nice things. So she decided you should live with a family who could give you those things, and they called us."
Roman: "What was my Daddy's phone number?"
Doug: "I had the same phone number that I do now. So they knew how to get ahold of me."
Roman: "Can I have dessert now?"

In retrospect, experts say not to give more information than the kid asks for, and I suppose I could have ended the conversation with "yes, you came from someone else's tummy." However, I also reflect on my own growing up and knowledge of adoption and I always knew all these kinds of details, so I must have learned them early on. So I don't mind having pushed a bit farther, especially since Roman brought it up.

In baby-birthing news, I spoke with a midwife at church tonight and asked her if she truly felt it necessary to go through Lamaze. She stared at me and said, "would you go to the Olympics without any training?" I stammered well, I thought the whole breathing thing was probably not helpful and doesn't it happen naturally? She laughed out loud and said, "It will last, on average, about 16 hours, like running a marathon. Birth will be the greatest physical activity you EVER do." So... I think we'll probably sign up for a birthing class. The midwife offered a private class with her if we're interested, but recommended we try our hospital of choice first.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Fatigue - it runs in the family

I have had an interesting slide into the last trimester. My stomach has seemed to shrink overnight. Like Saturday I couldn't stop eating, and Sunday I couldn't eat a thing. It has been that way since, unfortunately - I am not hungry anymore, generally. I'm supposed to drink a lot of water, but there's no room for it in my stomach OR my bladder. And that old friend fatigue has come back to visit for good, I fear. I wake up about three times a night; around 1 or 1:30, around 4:00, and then again around 5 or 5:30, only a half hour before the alarm is going to go off. The only time I go to the bathroom is 4am, however; the other times are position changes.

Charlie is really rock-and-rolling in my belly now. Visual "waves" are noticeable; in fact, as I just finished that last paragraph, he moved around enough to make the laptop bounce on my lap. The kids at school make no bones about checking out my belly now - who wouldn't, when the great white whale is making her way through the classroom? They're pretty tolerant of me asking them to pick things up, or come up to me to answer questions instead of me wandering around the classroom as is my usual habit. I also have discovered upon return to work that I have to take almost twice as long to get anywhere. I used to jaunt down to my classroom with a minute or two before the bell rings; now I have to leave about 5 minutes earlier!

We started a new schedule here at the house that will only go for 3 weeks, fortunately. Rebekka has begun driver's training from 7-9pm, and I have started grad classes again on Mondays until 1opm, so Roman ends up staying up late to pick up Bekka. It took its toll on him already, he fell apart tonight when it was bedtime. Sobbing uncontrollably over nothing, really. It was odd. I don't think he even knew what was up or down by the time he brushed teeth. Luckily Bekka is only doing training for 3 weeks.

My grad classes are going to kick my butt. Well, only one of them. Talk about a ton of work! I tried to sign up for presentations and the like early on while I still have some energy, but I don't know how it will flow. That idea of getting my doctors to write me a note for work stoppage in early March is sounding better and better, although most things have to be done in February. I know what I'll be doing every weekend between now and middle of March!

I am taking Friday off work so one of the candidates for long-term subbing can be in my classroom. That's good, since we haven't put anything away since we got home from this past weekend (visits with my Dad's side of the family on Saturday and friends on Sunday). The house truly looks like the contents exploded. Between generous family, friends, and a coworker, we have some infant outfits, swaddling cloths, bath towels and washcloths, blankets, a floor gym, a mobile, a few toys, a swing, and a baby carrier/backpack, with a highchair & infant tub coming in March. Oh yeah, and a glider (sans ottoman) we bought off some other friends that will go in the living room eventually. Between the things we have packed away that we need to get out, and things that we loaned that are coming back our way by the end of the month, we'll be okay, I think.

Lastly and the best, is that Doug has agreed I have suffered long enough and I get to have a prenatal massage next week. Was recommended a lady (daughter of a secretary at school, actually) who does home visits in the evening. So she'll be coming over at 8pm on Tuesday, massage table in hand, for an hour of bliss. My back can't wait!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

2008 will bring...

As the new year came upon us, one of the thoughts forefront in our brains was - "oh my gosh, we're having a baby this year." As I mentioned earlier, we truly were not planning or buying or really, even thinking about the arrival of the infant. Well, now we have to. So for us, 2008 will bring a new life into our home - and changes that are going to begin today, as I go basement-picking at a friend's house for "baby stuff" and start lugging home a highchair, a Boppy pillow, a floor-gym, and various other gear that she may have.

For Roman, 2008 will bring just as many changes. A new life into our family means he will really have to share his Mama & Daddy. Even with Rebekka, our focus rarely changes from what's best for Roman and he typically still gets at least one parent's attention. With Charlie coming, Roman is going to learn the meaning of family - as in sharing time, space, and attention. However, 2008 will also bring a HUGE new stage for Roman - he will begin Kindergarten in the Fall. Some days I thought it wouldn't come fast enough, and now I can't believe he's that big.

We had been hoping to do a family vacation in 2008, but it appears that a couple weekend getaways for camping is about all we're going to squeeze out. I had also hoped to arrange a weekend just for Doug and I (as we know no family members are willing to take on an infant to weekend-sit!) before Charlie arrives, but Rebekka has succeeded in getting overnight passes pulled away from her so we don't believe we'll get away now. Ah, well. We'll have to make her babysit a few evenings instead.

In baby-growing news, I have reached the start of my last trimester - I'm 7 months now. All is the same, really - constant swollen feet, shoulder & backaches, numbness in my thumb and first 2 digits of both hands - makes for fun days. Rebekka has pointed out that I am close to waddling now - but that's more because my feet & ankles hurt. Because of the crazy hours around New Year's Eve, I was up until 1 or 1:30 a couple nights this week and noticed Charlie really going to town in my belly - tap dancing, I believe. Every couple days I appear to have grown outward, too. Emotionally I have gotten worse - drama on television or books is now off-limits because I don't just tear up, I sob. Very soon any decisions will have to be off-limits too!