I Tried to Write This Yesterday

[I started this post on Thursday afternoon.]

I really tried.

Yesterday, I was supposed to write and post my final pregnancy post.

The plan was to get up Monday morning, send M off to work, spend one final morning with just Butter, and arrive at the hospital around two hours before my scheduled c-section.

Obviously Little Bear had other plans.

This past week has been . . . a rollercoaster. M said today that it sems like a month has past since Little Bear was born. And it really has.

So much has happened since I last wrote about our experience. Forgive me if I ramble, because it really has been A LOT.

As we approached the 48 hour initial deadline the doctors had given us for Little Bear’s release from the NICU, I got really anxious.  I was desperate to take my baby home with me. In my last post, I mentioned how I was going to get some food and head down to see Little Bear and what the doctors had to say about him.

That visit? Was not a good visit.

When I got downstairs, I saw a team of doctors huddled around my little boy. I didn’t even get to say good morning to Little Bear before they were explaining to me that he’d be going on a ventilator, and the best case scenario they could give us was that we’d be able to take him home after he finished a 7 day course of antibiotics.

It got worse from there. Mid-Friday, they realized he was trying to breathe over the vent, so they switched him to an oscillating ventilator. I think that was the day he was put on morphine to sedate him, too. I really feel like I should have written these things down as I went along.

Saturday, I was discharged. Without my baby. The fact that I made it out of the hospital without crying was a miracle. Maybe that was the day he was put on versed to keep him more sedated than usual; I don’t remember. My mother in law picked me up when I was discharged and took me to fill my prescription for Percocet, then to her house so we could all take naps. M picked me up around 5 p.m. We went back to the hospital to see Little Bear, then home.

Sunday, we wanted a family day. I was home with 2/3 of my boys. We spent a few hours at the hospital with Little Bear. My mom arrived that afternoon. At this point, we still thought Little Bear might come home as soon as Wednesday.

Sunday night/Monday morning, I got a phone call at 3:15 am that scared the crap out of me. It was one of the attendings from the hospital asking permission to put Little Bear on nitric oxide. I gave the okay [because what else could I do?] and when I hung up, I absolutely lost it. I think that’s when it hit me that things could be far more serious than I realized and we could definitely lose the little boy who’d tortured me with kicks to the ribs for so many months. I cried. I asked M what I’d done wrong during my pregnancy that caused Little Bear to be so sick. I said I didn’t even know what to say when I prayed anymore, other than to beg God to please keep my baby safe and get him home to me as soon as possible. With the nitric, things weren’t looking so good.

Monday and Tuesday were a blur of running to the hospital and being with Butter as much as I could. Until Tuesday afternoon, when I finally heard back from my OB’s office about being short of breath [seriously, walking across the garage to take the trash out winded me] and the nurse requested that I go to L&D triage, because there is always a concern that a blood clot might develop after major surgery like the one I’d just had the week before.

To be continued, because this is getting long . . . and the really good news starts late Wednesday/early Thursday. If I ever had a reason to be thankful, this was it.

Never Thought I’d Be Here

Wednesday morning, I woke up with a bad headache. I knew it was likely sinus infection related, but I wanted to check my blood pressure just in case, because something in my gut told me it might be higher than I wanted to see it.

I talked to M to let him know that I was on my way to the restaurant to get the Mommy!Van! to pick Butter up with later in the day, as M had dropped Butter off at school that morning. I remember saying, “No big deal, my head really hurts and I want to check out my blood pressure just to prove to myself it’s a sinus infection.”

It wasn’t a sinus infection. The first reading I got while in the WalMart pharmacy was 153/95. Later that afternoon, after a trip to Target to see if they had a BP cuff [they didn’t] and after picking up Mommy!Van!, I made my way to my in laws’ house, where I knew there was a blood pressure cuff my father in law uses to keep track of his own blood pressure. The last number I remember getting was 146/99.

I’d previously averaged out my pressures [roughly six readings] and sent the results to M. He begged me to call the doctor at that point [I’d told him when I picked up my van that I was going to call, but something told me to just chill out, go have lunch with my father in law, and keep track of the pressures for a bit longer]. When I finally gave M the last reading, he insisted I call. The doctors’ office was closed at noon for a meeting. I could have given my symptoms [aside from the headache and blood pressure readings, my feet were way more swollen than I remembered waking up to at all the entire pregnancy] to the answering service and had the on call doctor call me back, but I knew what she was going to tell me – go to L&D triage; do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

I finally got to triage around 3:30. My left arm read 150/96 and my right 150/97 when the nurse took my pressures. I was immediately sent to registration and back to a room to be monitored. This is where things start to get interesting.

My pressure never read more than xxx/89 the entire time I was on the monitors. The attending physician asked if I wanted anything for the headache and I told her Tylenol with Codeine hadn’t worked earlier in the week and I didn’t want percocet if there was a chance I’d be going home. All she said was she wasn’t so sure about going home. She was right. The doctor who was in for my OB’s office came in and said there was nothing to be gained from sending me home to a potential seizure.

I was having a baby, two full weeks early.

I texted M to ask him if he could make it to the hospital by 7 pm, because they weren’t going to do the surgery until between 8-9 anyway, because I’d eaten lunch around 1-1:30. My father in law had already been given the access card for Butter’s school, and the keys to my van, so he went and picked Butter up from school that afternoon. My mother in law left around 6:15 to take dinner to the guys, and around that time I was whisked away to what was basically the equivalent of pre-op holding.

I answered the same questions over and over and waiting for M to arrive. He got here around 7:30, was dressed around 8:20, and then we were rolled into surgery. The doctor had given me a fair amount of warning that the baby might not have the most mature lungs in the world and we were going to have to monitor him closely. At 9:07 pm, Little Bear entered this world with a full belly cry. He weighed 8lbs 3oz and is 20.5 inches long. He scored an 8 and 8 on his APGAR tests.

I was able to hold him the entire way back to recovery, and I got to try to feed him pretty much right away.

The pediatrician who was in on the c/s was concerned from the get go that Little Bear had fluid in his lungs.  It only made sense, because c/s babies don’t have the added benefit of being squeezed through the birth canal which helps them to get some of that excess fluid out of their lungs. When we got back to recovery, the nurse was even more concerned. She took Little Bear out of the room [M went with him] to check him over, and it was determined that he’d spend 4 hours under observation in the  NICU.

I started sobbing. No mother wants to hear that her baby has to be observed in the NICU, despite the doctor’s reassurances that these are the best doctors and nurses in the hospital. As 2 a.m. approached, it was determined that Little Bear was still breathing too fast in an effort to get the excess fluid out of his lungs, so they wanted to keep him there for 48 hours.

He’s on a CPAP machine and antibiotics because when you introduce tubes where they’re not supposed to be, you run the risk of infection. He’s had 3 chest x-rays so far, and the last one was the most concerning; the nurse said she thinks he might have pneumonia. His blood gas levels looked really good last night, though, and he’s scheduled to have another x-ray at 8 am. I’m going to go down after I eat something so I can hear the doctors’ plans for him for the day.

The positive news is that aside from breathing too fast, he’s doing really well. Everything looks perfect as far as test results go. That’s really good news. I’ve got several friends who’ve got NICU graduates to lean on when I start to get upset, and I’m so, so grateful for them.

But this is a place for me to be a tiny bit selfish, right? I’ve only been able to hold Little Bear once since he went to the NICU. M hasn’t held him at all since the night he was born. My in laws haven’t gotten to hold their grandson yet.  My parents aren’t local and will be coming in as soon as they can, but we don’t have a ton of pictures of him because I’m sure not comfortable with taking pictures of Little Bear all hooked up to tubes and wires. I tried to feed him while we were still in recovery, but he didn’t want to eat. Luckily he’s getting his nutrition through an IV right now. I’ve only been able to pump maybe a quarter of an ounce of colostrum from him. I know part of the problem is that I’m so upset when I really allow myself to think about things. I had an absolute meltdown at 6:45 yesterday morning because I wanted to see my baby so badly. One of the doctors who was there for my c/s stopped in yesterday morning and mentioned food. I told her I’d rather see my baby than eat, though I did make sure to ask for breakfast when we got back from our first visit.

I genuinely don’t know how parents of preemies do it. The thought that I might be leaving the hospital without my baby boy in my arms is absolutely killing me. I’ve got my fingers, toes, and eyes crossed, along with saying prayer after prayer for my baby’s well being.

Boys Will Be Boys [And That Might Mean They Like to Drive Barbie Jeeps]

This post is inspired by two of my favorite bloggers, Allison and K. [And let it be known I think this post is also absolutely amazing.]

Growing up, I was never a girly girl. I went through phases where I wanted to wear make up like my Mom, but I really couldn’t get into it. When I was a preschooler, I could often be found digging in the dirt with one of the neighborhood boys. I played with Barbies, too. I took dance lessons, and I studied martial arts [for much longer than I took dance, mind you]. My parents never told me I couldn’t do something because I was a girl. And for that, I thank them.

I always joked that I was going to have 3 boys when it came time to have children. I could just see my life as Jill from Tool Time. Since M and I have decided we’re done after this one, I got my 3 boys in an unconventional way – my husband and my 2 children.

That’s not what this post is supposed to be about, though. This post is about the toys Butter plays with, and Baby Boy will play with in the future.

I don’t mind if my boys want to play with rocks or dirt, or wrestle with their Pop, or any of the things little boys are “supposed” to do. I also don’t care that Butter currently has a hand-me-down Power Wheels Jeep that rocks a purple and pink Barbie paint job. He’s also got a pretty kick butt tricycle that has a Harley Davidson paint/sticker job. He plays with both of them, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The point is, if at some point one of the boys asks to play with a Barbie, I’m not going to tell him no because it’s a “girl’s” toy. In fact, the toy we plan to purchase for Butter from his brother is a kitchen. M loves to cook [far more than I do; another way in which I don’t fit the “girl” stereotype], and sees absolutely no problem with his sons playing in a kitchen. I know for a fact my mother in law plans to buy one or both of the boys an Easy Bake Oven in the future, and dealt with snide retorts of, “That’s a girl’s toy,” from her brother in law when she bought one for M. For the record, my husband loved that toy.

My boys are my boys, and I love them for it. No matter what toys they prefer to play with, I’m not going to stop them because isn’t it my job as a parent to nurture them and their interests? If they want to be cheerleaders [and I just had a flashback to 8 Simple Rules: “YELL CAPTAIN!” (fast forward to about 2:15 if you don’t want to watch the whole thing)], I’ll let them. Hey, there are college scholarships for cheerleaders, after all.

If Butter wants to walk around with a ball stuck up his shirt, pretending he’s just like Mommy, that’s fine.

No, he didn’t try to lean over, tell his belly, “Hi Brudder,” or try to kiss it. Every time it fell out of his shirt, he definitely asked, “Where did it go?”

To quote Allison: “Kids? Are kids. Can we just let them be kids? Not throw our stereotypes at them starting at birth? Not teach them our wrong beliefs?”

We should definitely let them be kids. Nothing is better than hearing your son squeal with delight as he steers his Barbie Power Wheels down a steep hill for the first time to visit a neighbor, the same way nothing beats hearing, “I did it!” when he makes a really good kick at a ball in the living room or hits a ball of a tee all by himself. [I try to discourage that kind of play from inside the house, but I swear M encourages it when I’m not around and is nearly as bad as Butter when you get right down to it. I really don’t want a broken window right now.]

Nothing is better than loving your child for who he [or she!] is and will be in the future. If I do nothing else right in this parenting thing, I will always be able to say I love Butter and Baby Boy for who they are, not who the world says they should be.