Monday, May 27, 2013

Oh Baby

Everyone has had tragedies in their life. It's the nature of the universe, you can't have the good without the bad. Some people, myself included, manage to skate through most of life without accruing an incredible amount of traumatic experiences. However, I don't believe you can go through life without at least one experience that is so painful it changes you forever. This is that story for me. It's a sad story, but it has a happy ending.

I got married in November of 2009. Since my husband and I were both nearing 30, we wanted to try for kids right away. I was doing everything I could: staying away from alcohol, eating healthy, tracking my ovulation. Still, months went by with no results. Then in August of 2010, I was feeling kind of strange. Sometimes your body has a way of realizing something is happening - sure enough, around mid-August I found out I was pregnant! I was nervous, excited, so many emotions running through me. I called my doctor, and they told me I didn't need to come in until 10 weeks. Ten weeks?!! That's an eternity! But I summoned up all of my patience. My appointment was on September 21st, the day after my birthday.  On Labor Day weekend, when I was about 8 weeks, we decided to tell a few people. Our parents, my husband's brothers and sisters-in-law, and our best friends. That same weekend, I noticed a little bit of blood when I was going to the bathroom. Nothing big, just a couple dots. I did some internet searching, and was fairly reassured that I had nothing to worry about. Still, I had this little nagging feeling that something wasn't right.

By the time my appointment came around, I was a bundle of nerves, although for me that's really quite normal. I'm a worrier. It's just who I am. The doctor did a physical exam first. Everything looked fine. I mentioned the spotting, and she agreed it was probably nothing. Then came time to listen for the heartbeat. I wasn't sure what I was listening for, so I concentrated on watching the doctor move the Doppler around on my abdomen. After a few moments, she said she wasn't hearing anything, but it could be any number of reasons. She sent me into ultrasound so they could take a look. By this point, my heart was racing. Thankfully the ultrasound tech called me in pretty quickly. This was another first - I didn't know what to look for on the ultrasound, so I just looked at the tech's face. She had a mostly blank expression, and then she said the following sentence, which will forever be cemented in my brain:

"I'm so sorry... There's no heartbeat."

It was like I had just been hit in the chest by lightning. I didn't know what to say, what to think. Just when that first piece of news was sinking in, she dropped another bombshell, one that I never could have prepared myself for:

"It was twins."

Twins?!? What? How could this happen? How could I go from being pregnant to losing two babies in less than five minutes?

This was all too much to handle. They ushered me back into the doctor's office pretty quickly, and we discussed my options. I decided that the d&c would be the best plan. We scheduled an appointment for the next morning. By this point, I had big angry tears running down my face and I didn't even care. Once I left the doctor's office, I wasn't sure what to do. My husband was at work, and wouldn't be going to lunch for about another hour. I didn't want to drop the bomb on him while he was working. I basically drove around aimlessly for awhile. If you've never tried driving around while bawling, I really don't recommend it. I'm surprised I didn't get in an accident.

Fast forward a bit: the d&c went well, at least physically. Mentally I was a wreck. For weeks I would lay in bed at night, crying, unable to sleep. I would break down crying at work. A few people knew what was going on, but for the most part people probably thought I was crazy. I didn't care. All I wanted was for the hurting to stop.

After a couple months, we decided to start trying again. It was a frustrating time. I felt like I was never going to get pregnant again. Then in April of 2011 I started to get that strange feeling again. I was waiting for my period to start, in fact I was sure it was starting, because I had a bunch of spotting. But then after a few days the spotting continued. It never turned into a period. After a week I was really starting to get suspicious. On April 15th, which would have been my original due date, I finally took a pregnancy test. It was a faint positive. By now I was freaking out because it was a Friday night and we were leaving for Maryland the next morning. I had to wait until Monday to call my doctor, but I managed to get an appointment for that Friday. Sure, it meant cutting our vacation short, but we hadn't really planned much in advance, so it wasn't a huge deal.

When that Friday finally rolled around, I was a nervous wreck. We went into ultrasound first, and I was hoping for good news, but somehow I knew it wasn't going to be. Sure enough, the ultrasound tech told us that yes, there was a fertilized egg in there, but nothing else. No brain stem, no heartbeat. Just an empty egg sac. She tried to be optimistic and say 'it's possible your dates were wrong, maybe you just aren't that far along yet, etc etc..' I held onto that little glimmer of hope, but deep in my heart I knew that my dates were absolutely right, and no way was a baby going to develop from this egg. Another ultrasound a week later confirmed my suspicions. This was a blighted ovum. An egg had become fertilized and implanted iteself in my uterus, but there was no baby developing.

After this letdown, I decided to wait awhile before trying again. I just didn't want to deal with the pain anymore, so I wanted to take the summer to get healthy and recover both mentally and physically. I opted to go the natural route this time and let my body miscarry naturally, since there was no tissue involved. While I was waiting for my body to catch up to what I already knew, I decided to start running again. I hadn't run seriously since high school, so I had to ease into it, but from the start it was already helping me out. I was feeling better physically (exercise will do that to you!) and mentally. Somehow it was just what I needed at that time in my life. I even ran my first 5k, and finished in under 30 minutes! Because of this tumultous time in my life, running will always hold a special place in my heart. I even started training for a 10k, but sometimes life just has other plans for you.

Aside from running, I was also performing in a show that summer. I've been involved in a group called Shakespeare from the Heart since 2008. We perform Shakespeare plays outside, and donate all of our proceeds to a local charity. That year we were doing Othello, and I managed to get the lead! I was Desdemona, and I got to die on stage. It was a lot of work, but a total blast. The guy playing Othello was also my running partner. The only bad thing was that it was incredibly hot that summer. Summers in Indiana are always kind of iffy - it can be 100 degrees most of the summer, or it can be high 70s-low 80s and rainy. This summer was one of the hotter ones. During the weeks of our performances, it was incredibly hot. I was cranky and tired, but I just chalked it up to the incredible heat we'd been having. I also thought I was PMS-ing. But after that first week of performances, I realized that I was late. I was skeptical at first, but I finally convinced myself to take a pregnancy test. It was positive! Time to freak out again! I was convinced this was going to go down just like the last two. I was so nervous. I called my doctor right away, and the phone nurses told me I'd need to come in for a blood test first. They couldn't see much from an ultrasound until my Hcg levels were up to a certain number.

The next two weeks were a blur. Three blood tests, all came back with steadily rising Hcg levels. Good news! Finally they let me come in to do an ultrasound. My husband and I were tightly gripping each others' hands in anticipation. This was it. This was going to tell us whether we were finally doing this. The moment we heard the heartbeat for the first time was one of the best moments of my life. It was finally happening!

The next few months, other than a few late-night emergency room scares, were quite uneventful. I had a fairly easy pregnancy. My daughter was born on March 28th, 2012. She was perfect and I can't imagine my life without her. And I always think, if either of my first two pregnancies had been viable, I wouldn't have this baby I have right now. It doesn't make it hurt any less, but I know that she is the child I was meant to have. She truely is my sunshine.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Let's Talk About Breasts, Baby

Fair warning: I'm going to talk about boobs. More specifically, breastfeeding. If this bothers you, or you're at all squeamish/uncomfortable about this topic, you may want to sit this one out. Now, I'm not going to get all graphic, or preachy, or anything like that. I'm just going to tell y'all a story. So gather 'round, kids!

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had big plans. I was, of course, going to be the "perfect mother" who breastfed exclusively and didn't ever let nasty formula anywhere near my daughter. I went to the breastfeeding class, bought my nursing bras, all the time expecting that it would be so easy. They make it sound easy, don't they? And women have been doing this since we humans started populating the planet. Heck, if hippos can do it, so can I. Right?...

Well, all the classes, videos, and literature I had tucked under my belt never really prepared me for what was to come.

My daughter was born at 9:36 pm. I had woken up that morning around 4:30 with contractions, so by the time we were situated in our hospital room I was exhausted. I thought I would try to feed her before getting some sleep. Easy, right? Wrong. She wouldn't latch. I held her up to me, tried to get her to eat, and she just fussed. After a couple attempts, I threw in the towel. Maybe she just wasn't hungry yet? I'd try again later.

Well, later came and went and still no luck. The next afternoon her pediatrician informed us that she was getting jaundiced. The best way to get rid of the jaundice is by eating, and thus expelling all the bad enzymes. The problem? She still wouldn't eat. I did everything I could think of, worked with the lactation consultant, tried pumping (with miserable results). Finally, I was faced with a choice: give her formula or let her jaundice get worse. I broke down and gave her the formula. She drank heartily and I cried on the inside.

We left the hospital on a Friday night. After we got home and got settled in, I tried to go to bed for some much-needed rest. (Who designs those hospital beds anyway??) I couldn't sleep, however, because apparently my milk had come in. I was engorged. My breasts were HUGE, hard as rocks, and throbbing. That night, and the following morning, I tried feeding my daughter, I tried pumping, but nothing was working. I finally broke down and visited the lactation consultant at the hospital. She worked with me for over an hour and gave me a few tricks to use, but I still wasn't feeling much better. Over the next couple weeks, I continued to try nursing, and every time I ended up pumping because my daughter just wouldn't latch. I started going to a nursing moms support group where I was given a nipple shield to try. I was skeptical, but later that day I tried it at home. Success! Well, sort of. It didn't work every time, but it worked sometimes, and that was better than nothing. After having more constant success with the shield, I eventually discovered a big part of the latching problem. I discovered it completely by accident, but it was one of those d'oh! moments - she didn't like the lanolin that I was using to soothe my sore, cracking nipples. I could have screamed! It was such a simple, stupid thing, but nobody had thought of it! After that discovery, her feedings were going much more smoothly. Well, aside from all the pain. I kid you not, there were several times I would have rather gone through labor again than continued breastfeeding. If you've never had to deal with cracked nipples, yeast, and a child who takes an hour to eat (on one side), then I envy you.

Eventually, my daughter and I worked out a pretty decent system. I was never able to get her off formula completely (my supply was never big enough) , but at one point she was only getting one bottle a day. But soon I was going to have to go back to work and that meant I would only be able to pump on my lunch breaks. Rather than deal with leaky-boob syndrome at work, I decided to start cutting out the mid morning and mid afternoon feedings. After about two days of this new schedule, I woke up with a fever and a breast that felt like it might explode and shoot off my chest like a deflated balloon. Yep, that's right kids, it was mastitis! Thankfully I was able to call into my doctor's office and get it taken care of before it turned into an abscess, but after being on antibiotics for a few days, I developed yeast again. Having one or the other makes you miserable. Having both at the same time? Completely out of my skull. I was in so much pain, I couldn't even hold my daughter. And all this the week before going back to work.

Fast forward a few months: we were lucky enough to have a babysitter that was able to come to our house during the summer, but after she went back to school we had to find a daycare. We managed to find one that was not only close to our house, but not too expensive. (Every working parent's dream, right?) Pretty soon, though, the colds started. My daughter was picking up every single germ she came across, and of course she was spreading them to mom and dad. Every time I'd get whammied with a cold, I would lose my appetite and my milk supply would dwindle. And I didn't ever have enough time to recuperate between colds. Eventually I was down to just nursing my daughter twice a day: first thing in the morning and right before bed. This arrangement was working well for awhile, until I got hit hard by the baby blues. I thought it was just a funk at first but it doesn't seem to be lifting. I've never been a fan of pharmaceuticals (with the exception of things like antibiotics which, when used correctly, can be extremely helpful), and if my family history is any indication most of them wouldn't work on me anyway. So I have two choices: do nothing, or stop nursing my daughter and take the herbal supplements that have helped me in the past. I'm still teetering between these two choices, hoping something in my head will click so I can make a decision.

Whatever decision I end up making, I know this: my daughter is a beautiful, special person whom I love with all my heart. And to paraphrase an article I read recently, how you feed your child isn't as important as how you love your child. And really, how could you not love this face?

There's a lot more I could write on this subject, but in the interest of brevity I'll just say this: if you're one of those people who can breastfeed for three years, more power to you. I am not one of those people. If you decide from day one to formula feed, you won't get judgement from me. Breastfeeding is HARD. And its such a personal decision. I think we as mothers need to stop worrying about what other people are doing, stop judging each other, and just SUPPORT each other. You have to find what works for you and go with it. Every baby is different. Every mother is different. But we're all in this together.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I'm back! (sort of)

Has it really been over three months since I posted anything? Time has really been flying lately! It was always hard for me to post here before because it involved getting out my laptop, turning it on, waiting 10 minutes for it to boot up, and then I was lucky if I didn't get distracted by my husband, my daughter, my cats, etc. But now, thanks to the hubby, I have a new faster way to get online that (unlike my iPhone) will actually let me access blogger. Yep, Santa got me a new tablet for Christmas, woot woot! :) So I just wanted to check in and let everyone know I'm still alive! And while I'm here, let me leave you with a happy song to put a smile on your face. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Happy 'Orange is Terriffic' Day!

It's no secret to anyone who knows me that orange is my favorite color. Some might call it an obsession even. So several years ago I decided to turn my birthday into a "national holiday." Thus, 'Orange is Terriffic' day was born!

There's really not a lot to this holiday. You wear something orange, have a beverage of your choice (adult or otherwise), and toast to the awesomeness that is September 20th. And really, it's a great time of year (even aside from my birthday). Autumn is approaching, the air is becoming crisp and clean, and the leaves are turning... orange!

So toss on an orange shirt, raise your glass, and celebrate with me :)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Laundry, thou art a fickle bitch

My laundry and I have a rather precarious relationship. I've never actually run out of clean clothes, but I have run out of clean, folded, put-away clothes.* My normal laundry cycle is as follows:

Fill laundry basket
Wash clothes
Dry clothes
Leave clothes in dryer for about a week
Wash another load
Take first load out of dryer and put into a spare laundry basket, place basket in living room
Dry second load
Repeat until I run out of laundry baskets
Begrudgingly fold clothes
Move basket full of folded clothes into bedroom
Rummage through clean, folded clothes for about a week
Put away remaining clothes (usually about 3 pairs of underwear, some socks, and a couple shirts by this point)

I don't know why I put myself through this cycle over and over, it's just one of those things I do. It's a habit now. I know it would be so easy to just fold my clothes and put them away, but for some reason I just dread it. So I keep putting it off until my living room looks like this:

Not my actual laundry. Or my shoes. Although they are pretty fabulous.

Maybe one of these days I'll get into a better groove and actually fold and put away my laundry as soon as it's done. Or maybe when my daughter is old enough that will be her chore. ;)  Only time will tell. Until then:

*This may say more about the quantity of clothing I own than my cleaning abilities.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Things That Make Me Smile, Part 1

This commercial:

This comic:

These flowers:

This video (and every other video in the Simon's Cat series):

(It's funny because it's SO true)

And lastly (for now), this:


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

This post is brought to you by the letter P... for Pee-Yew!

Alright, kids, today we're going to talk about one of my biggest pet peeves: Air freshener. Or, as I like to call it, air "freshener." Seriously, has anyone ever walked into a bathroom and thought to themselves, "Gee, it smells like roses in here. I'm sure nobody has taken a dump in here, EVER." The answer to that is no. No they haven't. All air freshener does is mask bad smells, and it does a shitty job of that. (See what I did there?) Also, it's aggrevating for people with asthma and allergies. Oh, and it gives you cancer. All those little smell molecules just fly up your nose and start cancering your brain. (Yeah, I don't really think cancering is a word, but who cares? Isn't that what people do nowadays, make up words? I mean if vajay-jay can make its way into Webster's, I'm sure cancering can too. Let's start a movement! But I digress...)

Oh, and along those same lines, I just want to say FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PEOPLE, PLEASE STOP WEARING SO MUCH DAMN PERFUME!!! Just an FYI, if you wear the same perfume or cologne every day you start losing the ability to smell it, and thus put on more, and more, and more, until people can't walk their dogs near you because the smell wafting from you will literally kill puppies. (That last statement may have been just a tad hyperbolic. Maybe.)

If you're the type of person who skims instead of reading, here's the moral of this story: smelling a little poop won't kill you. Smelling buttloads of chemical scents might. And you don't want to take that chance, do you?