Friday, August 18, 2006

The First Month...

...was spent in the NICU at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. BB3 and I were transferred there, if you remember, because our local NICU couldn't handle babies smaller than 32 weeks.

According to the nurses and Neonatologists, most 30 week preemies can be expected to be in the NICU until right before their due date. This means that, had it been true for us, BB3 would have been in there for 2 months and one week, or 10 weeks. Instead, she was in there for 27 days. The first 8 days were spent in the actualy intensive care unit, and the next 19 days were spent in the Satellite Nursery, which is where babies are sent to learn to eat and gain weight. Only the most stable of babies get to be there, and it means that going home is imminent.

When she was born, she immediately breathed on her own, and kept doing so for the entirety of her stay in the NICU. She never received any help breathing, or any blood transfusions to solve apnea of prematurity, as is so common. She had a little bit of apnea, mostly while eating or trying to nurse, and a few bradychardic episodes, but for the most part just needed to grow.

Right after she was born, PB followed her down to the NICU and saw her get all tucked in to her space, and watched while she was weighed and measured again and her second Apgar was taken. Meanwhile, I was dealing with the incredibly fun afterbirth portion of my morning, and two doctors who were talking each other through the process of sewing me up. Seriously, I had been so trusting of their abilities up until that point, but the whole "Okay, so I put a stitch here, right?" just threw that out the window.

When PB came back and the "team" had all cleared out and left us alone, I didn't feel like I'd had a baby. I mean, I knew I'd delivered a baby, I knew I'd been through labor, I just didn't feel like I deserved to be honored with the title of "mother" in this instance, because I honestly couldn't believe that I had a baby. PB went to see her several times that morning, and I stayed in my room, feigning exhaustion after being up for almost 3 days straight. In all actuality though, I didn't want to see her, and have only recently admitted that to PB. I didn't feel like I deserved it, and I also felt that if I got in the wheelchair and allowed PB to take me to the NICU, I would be admitting to myself and everyone else that I had failed. Most importantly, I didn't want BB3 to know that I had failed before we even got a chance to know each other.

I still have a huge amount of guilt and anger towards myself and our experience, and sometimes when I look at her and remember how tiny and helpless she was in the beginning, I can't help but break down, because I STILL feel like I somehow caused this. Somehow, I did something along the way to cause my perfectly normal, uneventful pregnancy to go terribly, terribly wrong. Believe me, I'm not saying I'm not grateful, because I am. I know how lucky we are that I didn't have to have a c-section, and she never needed major medical treatment, and was home in four weeks, and that she's growing like a weed. I just wish there was an easy way to get over all of these emotions. I mean, for crying out loud, I feel guilty for feeling guilty, because I know our situation could have been so much worse.

They say having a baby is like watching your heart walk around in someone else's body. When BB3 was born, and immediately taken away from me, and then I saw her in that plastic box, so tiny and defenseless and covered in monitors and IVs, I felt like my heart was gone. I didn't recognize my own child, and that killed me. All I wanted to do was hug her sisters, because I knew that I couldn't screw them up. That even though I didn't get to give birth to them, they were safe with me, and I couldn't hurt them. I felt like all I could do was hurt BB3, because my body rejected her so early.

Clearly, after 4 months, I'm not over it. I probably never will be. Having a preemie, and/or being a NICU parent is something that will forever shape my life and influence my decisions when it comes to taking care of my kids. I know now exactly how precious life is. It really puts it in perspective when you see that your spouse's wedding band could be a bangle bracelet on your child.

No wonder so many preemie moms and dads end up with post traumatic stress disorder. It truly is hell on earth, and even coming through it with a healthy child doesn't help, because you saw so many parents who left the hospital without their children, or were trying to plan funeral arrangements for one twin while silently rejoicing that the other was still with them. If only therapy were covered by insurance. I could probably use some. Instead, I kiss my daughter and rub my stomach and promise to be better next time. Even though I know it's a promise I could never keep.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Samantha's Birth Story

Labor, Take 1, Monday April 3:
I went to work that morning and noticed while sitting at my desk that I could time my contractions (I thought they were Braxton Hicks) and they were about every 5-6 minutes apart. I called my OB who suggested I go home and lie down, and then called me back when I was on my way home and said he'd rather I stop by just in case. I got to the office, was checked, and the OB sat up, patted my knees and said, "Sweetie, I'm so sorry, but you're in labor. You're going to the hospital." I was given a shot of something I can't remember the name of to stop my contractions, and then was taken to the hospital by one of the nurse midwives in the practice. On the way, I called Papa Bear and Portia, as well as my parents and SIL to let them know what was going on. I was 27w6d pregnant, which was WAY too soon. Once at the hospital an IV was started with magnesium sulfate, which, for those of you who have never experienced it, is like liquid evil. It is a full body muscle relaxant, but more than that, it just makes you sore and nauseous. Your entire body aches from head to toe while on the garbage. Anyway, PB showed up with a bag full of clothes (turns out he just emptied a drawer of my dresser, not realizing I keep my tops and bottoms in separate drawers. All I had was one pair of pants and 8 shirts.) and some food, as I hadn't eaten since 7am, and then we waited for word about the ambulance transport. I had to be moved to the University of Maryland Medical Center because our local hospital could not handle babies born before 32 weeks. I was given a shot of steroids for BB3's lungs, and was told the shot would be repeated again in the next 24 hours. Once at UMC, I was finally admitted to a bed and settled in. I was on the magnesium for 48 hours, until I had been contraction/dilation free for 24 hours. At that point, they stopped the mag, observed me a little longer, and proclaimed me fit to go home on bedrest with bathroom priviledges. While in the hospital for three days, I missed BB2's birthday.

Labor, Take 2, Thursday April 13:
29w2d now. I went in for my normal checkup and was found to have dialated another centimeter while on bedrest, even though I'd had no contractions in the week I'd been home. The bag of waters was also now ballooning out of my cervix, and I was told it could break at any time. Back to the local hospital I went, hooked up to the mag IV again, except this time I was flying solo. PB was in a meeting in the next city over and I couldn't get ahold of him. I left him a message and he met me at the hospital. Instead of waiting for an ambulance this time, they decided to just put me in the helicopter and fly me over to the hospital, just in case my water broke en route. They wanted it to take half and hour to get there instead of close to an hour and a half, I guess. Once at the hospital, I was met by the same nurses who discharged me a week previously, and ushered in to a huge room on the postpartum/antepartum floor. It's tough to hear healthy newborns crying to be fed as their wheeled from the nursery to their mom's rooms, while you're laying there praying that your baby survives outside the womb. This is also the floor most hospitals put women who have just had miscarriages. But I digress. I was told in no uncertain terms that I would be in the hospital until I delivered, hopefully not for at least 2 more weeks so that I could at least be transferred home. Another 48 hours on the mag, and then 12 hours fighting for my right to use the restroom. When the attending OB finally came in one morning, I said, "Look...I understand you're trying to keep me prone as much as possible to prevent exertion that would push me in to labor, right?" "Right." "Then explain to me how much sense it makes for me to be climbing on and off this damn bedpan to relieve myself, which by the way is about every 2 hours given the amount of water I'm being told to drink." "Oh. Good point...*scribble scribble* right! All done...feel free to use the restroom as much as you want. You can even shower!" "Thanks." My labor had stopped for the time being. This time, I missed Easter while in the hospital.

Labor, Take 3, Tuesday April 18:
I had gone a whole 5 days with no contractions, so the "team" decided it would be a good idea to test me for gestational diabetes. You know, because it would matter a whole hell of a lot, what with me being in the hospital and all. So, they brought the glucose solution for me to drink (another tool of Satan) and BAM! within three minutes of ingesting the god-awful stuff, I was in hard, fast, active labor. The words "I'm in labor" bring TONS of people running in a hospital! Even better than "FIRE!" in a movie theater, I'd imagine. The nurses wheeled me downstairs to the labor and delivery floor while I called my mother to let her know that I would not be in my room when she got there for her scheduled visit. I was put back on the mag AGAIN to try and stop my labor for the last time. I was already 5cm by the time the doc got through the hubbub to check me, and was 100% effaced with a 0 station. At 11am Wednesday the contractions had still not stopped (although they'd slowed) so they turned the mag off and just let me go. I called PB, who got out of a sales meeting (yay!) and headed over.

PB got there around 1pm and we settled in. I had been flat on my back for close to 48 hours, and was in a lot of pain, but was not allowed out of bed for fear my water would, hello? I'm in labor anyway, isn't the water breaking kind of the point? Things progressed fairly quickly, and the jerk anesthesiologist kept coming in to ask if I wanted to "give up this silly natural labor idea and get an epidural. After all, labor is really hard, and I just don't think you can do it." It was all I could do to not tell the twit to bite me and watch.

At hour 31 I hadn't slept in two days and was nearing my breaking point, and was also nearing transition. I was 7cm and progressing fast, and asked for something to take the edge off so that I could doze off between contractions. I was given one miligram of Stadol, which really did just take the edge off (thankfully immediately) and then stopped working with a jolt about 20 mintues later. That 20 minutes got me from 7-9cm. At about 2:45am Thursday, I was fully effaced and dialated, and my water still hadn't broken. The OB said she was going to break my water and then come back to check on me in about 10 minutes. She broke my water, turned around to put the hook down, turned back around to stand up, and screamed "HEAD!" out the door. The team came running in to get down to business. Our nurse (totally fantastic, btw) said, "Sarah honey, how you feeling?" "I'm in labor, and I'm starving. How you feelin?" At which point she called me a smartass and got down to business. On the next contraction, my body pushed (even though they were screaming at me not to while they rushed to get gloves and gowns on) and BB3 was here. It took both docs to catch her.

The NICU team rushed in and grabbed her, and PB ran after them to take pictures and keep an eye on her. She weighed in at a safe 3lb, 5oz and was 17" with Apgar scores of 9 and 9. She was born at 30weeks, 2 days, and was breathing on her own from the very beginning.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

I'm back!

I know it's been a ridiculously long time since I updated, and for the two of you who read this blog anyway, I'm sorry. There's just been a bit going on.

Since I stopped posting in mid-March, several things have happened...
1) I delivered BB3 10 weeks early on 4/20/06 and she subsequently spent 27 days in the NICU 90 miles from home
2) My brother moved in to our house for the summer in order to work and save money for school/his apartment
3) I had to quit my job and have been desperately searching for work from home ever since. Just when we hit absolute rock bottom, I got a job!
4) We got pregnant again. Yes, again. We got pregnant four weeks after BB3 was born, and are due on 2/22/07, so we will have a 7 year old, a 4 year old, a 10 month old, and a newborn. Multi-tasking, here we come!

I promise I will update more frequently and get you caught up on pictures, and all the various goings-on around here. Really! Hopefully I'll be posting BB3's birth story some time tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

And what's with the...

Has anyone else noticed that people say truly asinine things?

Behold the stupidity:

Person A: Hey! It's so good to see you! It's been ages! What's new?
Person B: Well, I actually just got engaged! We're getting married next August.
Person A: (chuckling) Well, you know, it's not too late to back out now! You can still save yourself!


A: Hey! I heard you just got married!
B: Yes, we did. We're lovin it!
A: Well of course you are! This is the honeymoon phase, after all. Be careful though, the first year is hell.

A: So, you still married?

A: Congratulations on your far along are you?
B: Just over 6 months now, actually.
A: Wow! You're not that big at all...I never would have guessed you were that far along! (in conspiratorial whisper) *Good job!*

Okay, so seriously? Why is it that the most life-changing, joyous events are met with such derision? Is it just a general inability to comprehend that someone may actually *want* to spend their life with their best friend? Or is the divorce rate so high in our country that people just assume all marriages will fail? And what about pregnancy? Honestly, we women have absolutely no control over what happens to our bodies during pregnancy, and most of us are self conscious enough about all the changes we're going through, without some random person telling us how proud we should be for staying small. Now, I'm worried that my baby isn't healthy. Thanks loads.

So, to recap. Yes, we're still married. It'll be a year in May. This year has been the easiest of our entire relationship. There was no awkward adjustment period, there haven't been any late night fights, or threats to jump ship. We have bickered *less* since the wedding, because, while we have stress and life is anything but easy most days, we have figured out how to deal with it as a team. Isn't that what marriage is supposed to be? A team effort? I always thought you were supposed to marry your best friend, in order to avoid serious conflict. And we do get to avoid most conflict, because we respect the hell out of each other, and always talk. That and the 48 hour rule - if one of us does something to upset the other (like emptying one's razor in to the sink and NOT RINSING IT!) then we have 48 hours to get it off of our chest. Past that, and it's no longer viable argument fodder. This helps avoid the whole "Well in 1976 you forgot to put gas in the car twice!" drama.

And yes, I am just over 6 months pregnant. To me, this belly doesn't look tiny. It looks like it could fit a box of tissues in it, which is how big our baby is now. Yep, she weighs a pound and a half and is as big as a box of tissues. Two weeks ago she was a banana. That's some serious growth. I'm just doing what I can to ensure that my baby and I come through this healthy and sane, and if that means that I don't have a belly the size of a Volkswagen right now, then so be it. My body is doin what it has to in order to create a healthy baby. That's all I need to know.

Honestly, folks. Just let it go, already! Stop saying stupid things to people, and just accept that maybe, just maybe, there are people out there who are making decisions based on what is best for them and for their families, and don't give a rat's ass what you think about it.

Beware the power of stupid people in large groups.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Week 25 (almost)

Wow. Time flies when you're, um, pregnant. Hard to believe we get to meet our baby girl in 15 weeks! Awesome!

There is a whole world of crazy boobness going on here in Pregnancy Land, and in all honesty, if they get any larger I fear for my balance. It's ridiculous enough that I went up an entire cup size in a week and a half. Then, I realized that it wasn't swelling, but that my boobs had, in fact, grown that much that quickly. Freaky. Now though, I'm noticing that they're not stopping. I stopped being able to see my feet by the 8th week of this pregnancy, and it wasn't 'cause of the belly. Now being just past the 6 month mark, you'd think that my belly would protrude further than my boobs. Nope! The boobs, they're still winning. I can't afford to go bra shopping *again*, so instead I'm relying on tank tops with "shelf bras" and warm breezes to keep me sane until they stop (will they ever?) their unceasing growth.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, things are moving along swimmingly. I have had a very angry uterine occupant for the last two or three days, but she seems to be calming down a bit now. She literally spent almost every waking moment of the last several days punching, kicking, or arching her back in protest. I know she was arching her back, because she was facing out towards my belly button at the time, and the arching forced her head back against my, well, back, and it felt all kinds of weird. So yes, she's angry. Portia says she's exercising. Nah, she's just my kid, and is/was in a pissy mood. I was looking through a cookbook the other night, and had the book propped on my belly, 'cause, you know, it's there. B happened to be looking over at the exact moment that Little Angel kicked so ferociously as to knock the book out of my hands. Seriously. My abs still hurt from that little stretch. So, apparently Mama isn't allowed to read for the next 15 weeks. Awesome. I keep reminding her she has to stay in there for 3 more months, and she keeps kicking my hip and punching my colon. Glad we straightened that out.

In exciting news, my parental units are bringing down furniture (!) on Saturday for BB3's room. Theoretically, they are bringing a cradle, a crib, and a dresser. They are definitely bringing the cradle, but the dresser needs to be painted (so says mom, and I'm okay with it as long as it's done here) as does the crib, because the paint is "badly chipped" on the end. Okay, fine. Then please, please, in the name of all that is holy, bring all the furniture here, and come visit to paint it. Otherwise, our child will be sleeping in bed with us, because she won't have any furniture, and her clothing will be spread out in stacks in her (empty save for a rocking chair) room. We'll see how much furniture we actually get. If worse comes to worse, we will most definitely be getting the cradle, and will have to purchase a mattress for it, as it is the cradle that my grandfather built for my father when he was a little one (my father was the little one, not my grandfather...that would be weird) and the mattress has disappeared in the 19 or so years since it was used for my brother. BB3 will have somewhere to sleep from the get-go.

I had my six month checkup last Wednesday, and everything is moving along just fine. I see a "regular" doctor, as well as a direct-entry midwife, because I am participating in what is known as "shadow care." I live in one of the few states where homebirth is illegal, and as I am adamant that I not have this baby in a hospital where I will be treated like an incubator, I have sought the help of a direct-entry midwife for the birth, but am continuing to go to my regular appointments with the ob-gyn/nurse midwife practice in town. At my doctor's appointments (not to be confused with my midwife) I am weighed, fundal height is measured, heart rate is checked, and we generally get to take a look at the little one through ultrasound. According to every once-pregnant woman I know, this is a very strange thing, because most of them received two ultrasounds during their entire pregnancy. So far I've had at least one at every appointment. I like it that way. I have to go a week between seeing my other two kids, which is hard enough. It's almost excruciating to only see our third child once a month.

The newest addition of my doctor's appointments has been to warn me of the dangers of pre-term labor. Thanks, guys, 'cause I'm not freaking out enough at the thought of my hips spreading *more* and not sleeping, and am I getting enough nutrients, and dear Jesus I took three Tylenol instead of two for my migraine the other day. Apparently, it is entirely possible that I will go in to labor Any.Second. and must be extra super-duper careful to not "aggravate" my uterus. Okay, so that means what exactly? According to the doc, that means no strenuous exercise (yeah, i'm doing any strenuous exercise...this is the one time in my life i'm totally expected to sit on my butt) no cleaning of bathrooms or kitchen floors, I shouldn't do too much bending and stooping, which means not too much laundry, etc. So, if I understand correctly, I am to let my house go completely to rot around me while I sit on my butt and watch? Um, no. Now don't get me wrong, PB does his more-than-fair share of housework, but he is also putting in 70-80 hours a weeks at the office in the hopes that we will be able to pay the bills and I won't have to immediately go back to work, so he's usually completely whipped by the time he gets home around 8 or 9pm, knowing he has to get us between 4 and 5 the next morning. I called my nurse midwife (we'll call her KC from now on, to differentiate) who told me in no uncertain terms that I was to pretty much completely forget everything the fire and brimstone doc had told me and was to live my life normally. I'm pregnant, not ill. My tests have all come back normal, every time, and I have textbook good blood pressure. I am not anemic, I do not have a problem cervix, nor is my baby's growth being stunted. I am to live my life, and listen to my body. If I feel like I need to take a nap, take a nap. If I feel motivated (like I did the other day) to clean out an entire room and make 8 trips up to the attic, I should do it. I am in no way to feel obligated to perform (or not perform, as the case may be) certain tasks simply because I am pregnant. My body will tell me if I am working too hard. I love her. She has a very, "we are woman, leave us alone to gestate in peace" attitude.

And did I mention that PB is planning to train for the JFK Memorial Marathon? That's a 50K, people. That's a lot. Luckily, he's got until November '07 to train for it, but still. That's just crazy. As someone who has spent her entire life trying *not* to run, unless chased of course, I just can not understand the appeal of pounding up and down pavement for 30 something miles. Seriously? Just drive if you need to get there that bad. But I totally support him doing it, and training at the butt-crack of dawn, when he'll take BB3 in the stroller so that Mama can get at least an hour or two of uninterrupted sleep, is an added bonus. Yay!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Week 24

Or, the point in the pregnancy at which I smother PB in his sleep, because he WON'T STOP SNORING!

Now then. PB is sick/getting sick/faking it to try and get sympathy. The disease he is working on is a lovely combination of a stomach virus, the flu, and, apparently, The Plague. 7 people I know have been out of work almost all week with this illness. PB's office consists of about a dozen people, half of whom have been home sick at least half the week. And these people get to take medicine to fight disease! We pregnant types are not quite so lucky. I can take Robitussin (gag me) or suffer through. As long as my fever doesn't go above 100.4 -this seems to be the magical temperature at which everything is okay...above that, and I will cook my baby to death-I'm fine. Above that, and I have to be hospitalized. Awesome choices, folks. So, more than likely I will commence with the sick any day now. Or, I'll get lucky for the first time e-ver and won't. Nothin like a good 'old fashioned crap shoot to make my otherwise dull life interesting! And when PB is sick, he snores, a lot. So much so that I woke up at 2am on Thursday, and just stayed awake. There was really no point in trying to doze off again, because I had only been sleeping intermittently at best since he came to bed. Last night was slightly better, in that I think I got about 4 hours of sleep. Honestly though, if I don't get a good night's sleep soon, I'll kill him. Slowly.

And now on to normal life news:

This week of the pregnancy has brought with it new and fun ways for BB3 to torture me. For instance, she is laying in my womb in such a way that her head is tucked near my left hip, and her feet are near my right hip, and her back is against my belly. Since she is my child, she apparently enjoys sleeping with her butt stuck up in the air. This explains why the only stretch mark I have is to the right of my belly button. Now, I'm not complaining about having a stretch mark, because it could be SO much worse, and I'm well aware of this. I am, however, a little peeved that this tiny little creature is making my belly lopsided. Seriously. I will try and get a good picture of it in the next week or so, 'cause it's absolutely priceless. Also, in this position, she is apparently only capable of punching me in the colon. While this doesn't really hurt, it's one of the weirdest friggin feelings on the planet. The other night I was sitting on the couch watching TV, and had a blanket laying across my lap, covering my belly. She kicked so violently that the blanket flipped off of my belly. It didn't slide, it didn't shift imperceptibly, it looked like I had taken the edge of the thing and ripped it off of myself. Not so much. That kick hurt a bit.

Also, with the magical 6 month mark in the pregnancy, came an odd pain in my hips. It's not like when you sleep on your hip and it gets sore, it's more internal. Like I can feel my hips spreading, which, may I just say, is TOTALLY not fair! I have been labeled "Holster Hips" since middle school. The last thing I need is wider hips. Seriously. She's got plenty of room in there. She does NOT need to be pushing my hips apart. You hear me in there? Knock it off, or you're coming out grounded!

Last weekend was a tough one with BB1 and BB2. There were some fun moments, but the majority of the time was spent with PB and I scratching our heads at why our normally well behaved and fairly obedient children were, in all reality, blowing us off.

Saturday, a deal was made that if they cleaned up their playroom a little bit (it was so bad they didn't have room to sit on the floor without sitting on a pile of crap) they could stay up late after dinner and watch a movie. "No problem" they said, "a movie? Yay!" they said. Uh huh. They were to clean the playroom before lunch and subsequent naps, and when PB asked them if they had accomplished this, they stared at him with their big blue eyes, saying, "Of course, Daddy. How could you possibly think we wouldn't do *exactly* what you asked of us?" Yep. After naps, they went up to the playroom to play, and I went upstairs just to check on them, take part in their activity, be a mom, whatever. Upon peeking my head around the corner, I realized that not only had they not cleaned the playroom, they had made it worse. The shelves that PB had so lovingly built for them to place all of their large toys on were completely bare, meaning the large toys were strewn all over the floor. So, no more movie. I told them that since they had not only not done what was asked of them, but had also blatantly lied to their father's face, they wouldn't get to watch the movie after all. BB1 shrugged and said, "that's okay, I don't mind." BB2 did the same. Okay, fine.

Sunday morning, I asked the girls to please stop pushing each other around on the stairs, because someone was going to fall, and I really didn't feel like driving to the hospital. After the third time, I sent them to separate corners to calm down for a few minutes. When I went in to talk to BB1 and ask why, all of a sudden, she and her sister had decided that PB and I weren't worth listening to, she replied with, "Well, it doesn't really matter how you punish us, 'cause it's not like we have to stay at your house very long anyway." She's 6. That slap in the face stung for hours. It also got her a day in her room, because as PB rationalized with her, if they're not at the house long enough for it to matter what we do *to* them, then it also doesn't matter what she wants us to do *with* them, and from here on out she can spend her time at our house in her room. Pretty sure that got the point across. I know that it comes with the territory that your kids will say things to make you cry, and will totally not mean to hurt you. I know that it doesn't mean they don't love us, they're just being logical. And she's right. Any punishment we dish out can only last as long as they're in our house (that is until they're teenagers and we can ground them for consecutive visits to the house if need be), but it doesn't make it any easier to hear.

And unfortunately now I must work. I have been having printer issues all morning, so the work that I am usually able to start at about 8:15 is just getting started now. And I HAVE to leave here at exactly 4 o'clock in order to get home, change, do my hair and makeup, and then drive an hour up to my hometown with my good friend from college in order to meet a high school friend for dinner and then go see a show. Whew! And we must leave my house no later than 5:00 to meet for a 6:00 dinner, to be out in time for the 8:00 show. Fabulous. So excited for a girl's night!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

I know it's a little late, but...

Does anyone else find it to be a sign of the Apocalypse that we went from a pope who grew up in Nazi-dominated Poland, and watched his family and friends get forced in to concentration camps, to a pope who was a member of the Hitler youth?

The mind reels.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Irrational Fears

The pregnancy ticker is cute, huh? For all you sports fans keeping track at home, that's how long we have left. That's it!

I work in accounting, and as such, the first week of every month is absolutely insane for me, because I'm trying to reconcile accounts from the previous month, set up the accounts for the new month, enter all account balances in to the master spreadsheet, and make sure that my account balances have all been printed, signed, stapled to the appropriate backup, and sent out to the managers of the respective accounts to be approved. Then, I have three weeks and this whole process starts over again. I realized this morning that including this month-end, I only have three left before BB3 gets here.

We only get to see BB1 and BB2 every other weekend. That means we will only have 8 more weekends with them until BB3 gets here. Seriously? That's SO soon. Wow.

Kinda starting to freak out a little. I've been *around* newborns (my neice), and babysat dozens of kids, plus my girls are 6 and almost 4, and I've known them since BB2 was 18 months, so I've gotten tons of big baby practice. I have not, however, ever been completely and totally responsible for every action of another human being. I know I will have PB there to help, and for that I am eternally grateful, but I will, for all intents and purposes, be on my own from 7am to about 5 or 6pm, every day. And while I desperately want to be able to stay home with my baby every day, so that I don't miss one single thing she does, I am so scared that I am somehow going to irrevocably screw her up. I know all parents joke that we're all gonna screw our kids up anyway, that it's in the book, listed under Job Duties of Parents, but seriously, what if I hurt her? I lay her down for a nap and she never wakes up. I give her a bath and she squirms away from me and falls on the floor. Hell, what if I drop her? I am so not the nervous parent type with my other two kids, but they have always been so damned independent, and like I said, I wasn't there in the beginning when they were completely helpless. They could both tell me what they needed, and how to get it for them from Day 1. She won't be able to do that. I will spend an entire year not knowing. How the hell do people deal with this?

And I haven't even started thinking about the childbirth part of it, because I know damn well that no matter how hard I try and prepare myself for it, it's not going to be like anything I've ever experienced in my life. My friend with babies keep asking me if I'm taking lamaze classes, or any kind of childbirth prep. On hearing that we've decided to forego that aspect of preparation, they're all supportive. "Not worth the time." "You've got more important things to do for the next 4 sleep!" "Once you're in the throes, you forget everything they tried to teach you anyway." "There's NO WAY to prepare for this." That last one was from a woman who is just barely 5', about a size 4, and gave birth to a 21.5", 10lb baby boy. With no drugs, because she dialated too fast for them to get the epidural in. And people who do not have kids keep asking me if I'm nervous about the childbirth part of it. My friends with kids understand that you do not ask a pregnant woman that question, because she's freaking out about every other aspect of her life, like why her favorite bra fit last week, but doesn't fit this week, or the fact that her dog does not love her anymore because said dog refused to go upstairs and go to sleep in the pregnant woman's room while her husband was out of town. Honestly though, I'm really not worried about the childbirth part of it, because every woman I know who's been through it has lived to talk about it, and even says she'd do it again (except the one with the 10lb baby...she's pretty much done). Besides, it's not like it lasts forever. Now, I'm sure I'll feel differently when I'm in hour 23 with no drugs, but as of right this minute, I can totally do this. Really.

I completely understand now why women say they're so grateful to have their moms around them through this whole process. And I really desperately wish that I felt that way. I wish I had the kind of relationship where I felt comfortable leaning on her for support, and didn't think she'd ignore me, or blow me off, or just forget to be there. In all reality though, I'm more afraid she'd let me down that I am to go through this alone. How sad is that?

Monday, February 27, 2006

Friday, February 24, 2006

22 Weeks

Yes, I know, I suck.

This updating thing is hard. I just forget. That, and there really hasn't been that much going on lately that felt good enough to report.

Last week, I took a much-needed vacation and flew down to Nashville to spend a few days with my wonderful sister, Portia. The flight was mostly uneventful on the way down, although I did come to the painful conclusion that BB3 hates flying. She started kicking pretty ferociously as soon as they began to pressurize the cabin, and continued kicking until we had reached cruising altitude. Ordinarily I wouldn't mind so much, as the kicking is actually kind of fun and feels very cuddly and intimate, but BB3 was positioned in such a way that her tiny little feet were exactly against my lungs, so that is where her kicks landed, repeatedly, in startlingly quick succession. As I said though, she calmed down when we started cruising, and was quiet for most of the rest of the night. Friday I woke up with a nasty stomach virus, and spent most of the day in bed. Every time I got out of bed to make my way to the restroom, BB3 started kicking and flipping around wildly, fearing for what was coming next. Can't say as I blame her, that must be a hell of a ride. Then, when I made it back to the bed, she'd lay very very still, and try not to move for fear it would trigger me to get out of bed again. I felt sorry for the kid, really. Saturday was better, and we made it to the grandparent's for the fabulous Unholiday Party, where I got to see about half of my cousins, whom I usually only see once a year, as well as my uncles and grandparents. And my mother. Yeah.

Sunday, Portia and I went to church to hear my niece, LP sing, and then took her to the bookstore (her Mecca) to spend her gift cards from Christmas. Honestly, LP in a bookstore is like a pregnant woman in a grocery store. *Everything* looks good, and is exactly what she wants...for about 5 minutes, and then decisions are rethought, and selections changed. It was an incredibly entertaining experience. After our important book buying, we headed back to the grandparent's for "brunch." Now, I'm not exactly dumb, and had hinted to my sister several months ago that it would be great if they had a shower for me while I was down there, since I wouldn't get to see any of the Tennessee contingent until after the baby was born. Then, the matter was promptly dropped, until Friday night, when, at Portia's birthday party, a friend of hers said that he'd love to throw me an impromptu baby shower while I was in town, at which point Portia's eyes bugged out of her beautiful drunken head, and she said, "Don't you think (he) should talk to me first?!" And then of course, there was the phone call with PB on Saturday, during which he asked if they'd had my shower yet. Portia has learned an important lesson from this whole experience. If one is trying to plan a surprise of any kind for me, the best way to make sure it stays a secret is to NOT tell PB. He's an airhead, and forgets that it's a secret, even if the word "secret" is written in boldfaced capital letters in 50 point font. Doesn't matter, he'll still let it slip. And that is why I love him. He just can't help himself, and wants to tell me everything. Awww. So anyway, we had a shower, and it was lovely and heartfelt and we got some great stuff, including the incredibly beautiful baby bedding that was totally out of our budget and was our "wouldn't it be great if...?" item. All awesome.

Monday morning, Portia took me back to the airport, at a truly painful hour, (6:45...seriously, I was on vacation!) so that I would have the luxury of a direct flight, which, given BB3's propensity for kicking the crap out of me while flying, I am eternally grateful for. The flight was overbooked and completely packed, because the Powers That Be had cancelled several flights the night before due to inclement weather. I was very grateful to get off the ground, and even more grateful to get home. I miss my sister terribly, but this was the first time that I really wasn't that sad to leave. I have a home now that I am more than happy to go back to, and a husband who tells me everyday how much he missed me, but how glad he was that I got to spend that time with my sis. It's really the best of all possible worlds. But I do wish Portia and I lived closer to each other. Maybe some day.

In prego news, I met with the midwife who will be delivering BB3, and she said everything looks wonderful and is moving along nicely. There is a very strong heartbeat, and she said that I will, theoretically have the kind of belly most women envy. In other words, small. Then I pointed out that I have hips that most woman wouldn't dream to have, and she said, "Well, it's all a trade off." She's very kind, and very good, and has been doing this for many, many years, which makes PB feel better. He's only ever known the "traditional" hospital birthing method, and I am very against that. Once he accepted the fact that I really am in good health, and that BB3 will be totally fine, and that the midwife is trained to handle touchy situations, he felt a bit better, although, admittedly, he's still a little queasy about the whole afterbirth issue. He's totally fine with holding a freshly born, pre-bath infant, just not keen on being around for the afterbirth. I promised him that he'd have to leave the room to "get me something" during that part of the process. He was fine with that.

Got my first pregnancy stretchmark, a little tiny one to the right of my belly button. Not really worried about the whole stretchmark thing. They fade eventually. The position of the mark shows that she's growing straight out, which is good, 'cause I was a little worried about the "allover" pregnant belly thing. I'd much rather have a potbelly than be wearing an inner tube.

Things are starting to get a bit uncomfortable in my back. I've had a nagging pain between my shoulder blades for about 5 days now, and the only thing that helps is having PB pop my back. Unfortunately, it's not really convenient for him to do that while I'm sitting in my office, so we try and get it done before going to bed, but he's been working 'til 8 or 9 every night this week, and getting up at 4 or 5, so that is tough too. Then again, if my only true complaint thus far is a little back pain, I can totally handle that.

Only 18 weeks to go! And almost in the third trimester. Awesome. :)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Week 19

There she is, Miss Samantha (maybe) Grace (definitely)!

Yeah, so it's a girl, not a boy like everyone (including myself, Portia, and our grandmother-who-is-never-wrong) thought. Apparently Dirt knew all along, because as his text message so eloquently put it, "I freaking told you!" After the initial shock wore off that we were going to be having our *third* girl, I was pretty psyched. First of all, girl clothes are just so incredibly cute it makes you wanna hurl, and plus you get to buy all the bows, and ribbons, and cute little hair clippies that boys tend to squirm away from. Then you realize that everyone says girl toddlers are easier than boy toddlers, so that's a plus. Also, already having two girls makes it easy to guess whats gonna happen with a third. If you turn a blind eye to the fact that we now have a third wedding/committment ceremony/flower child love ritual to pay for, and that another woman in the house means the need for oodles more storage to house all the beauty/health/hygiene products, and that PB is now totally outnumbered on all household votes (not like he wasn't before...hi, he's married) then we're in for tons of fun!

I had quite a bit of concern about having a girl. There are scads of increasingly unpleasant birth defects that run in my family, ranging from nerve-less hips to never-ending bladder and kidney problems, that only seem to effect women. So, I was worried. However, my mind was put at ease yesterday after seeing her dance around on the monitor, and hearing the doctor tell me that, thanks to advances in modern medicine over the last 18 years, she will not be subjected to 5 years of agonizing over whether or not going to the bathroom would make her cry. Instead, she would only have to deal with it for 18 months, at most. Honestly, I can remember willing myself to never pee again, for the simple fact that I was terrified of the mind-numbing, burning pain associated with that particular bodily function. Our little girl will, hopefully, not receive that birth defect from Mama, and instead will get totally normal plumbing from Daddy. Here's hoping!

What we know so far:
She does not have spina bifida, scoliosis, a heart defect, a cleft palate, intestines growing in a pouch outside of her abdominal cavity, or linebacker-esque shoulders. She does have complete hip sockets (woohoo for nerves!) and a bladder and kidneys that are the proper size and shape. She has very long, shapely legs (PB is 6'2") and long fingers (from me...I have man hands). She has my nose, and BB2's cheeks, which makes me fear for the health of my diabetic father, what with all the incredibly sweet cuteness infesting his world. All in all, she's lookin pretty darn cute. Still bald, but that's to be expected at this stage of the game, from what I understand. Between her father and I, I find it hard to believe that I'm not going to give birth to Cousin It.

I guess I should probably get used to lots of pink, since that's pretty much all we'll be receiving in the next year or so, right?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

PB Plunges

Last year, PB signed up to participate in the Polar Bear Plunge to support Special Olympics. His company was one of the corporate sponsors, and a whopping two employees showed up to participate. The air temperature was about 28 degrees, and the water temperature in the bay was 32...and a half...degrees. The coordinators of the event had to go out with huge ice picks to break up the ice covering the bay so that all of the crazy people could actually jump in to water, and not slide belly first across ice. THIS year however, circumstances were much better. There were almost 2 dozen employees from the company present, and the water was 6 degrees warmer. The air temperature, likewise, was 60 this year, which is a huge improvement. The event raised over $1 mil, and there were several thousand people in attendance to jump in to the (almost) freezing cold water for the good of charity. It's a neat thing to see, and a very heart-warming event.

While PB plunged, I waited beneath the huge scaffolding holding the speakers that were blasting rock music across the beach. Namely, Pinball Wizard and Paradise City. This is how we came to find out that BB3 likes rock. A lot.

And may I just say, it is incredibly weird to feel something dancing *inside* your belly. Really, really weird in fact. But totally awesome, too.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Week 18

I have wanted to be pregnant pretty much ever since I met my husband over two years ago. I knew that I wanted kids when my niece was born almost 11 years ago, and ever since then I've just been waiting for the right person. Once I met my husband, I didn't really see any reason to wait any longer. However, we were trying to wait at least a few more years, since I just went back to school. Apparently, I'm in that 1% of the female population for whom the pill does not work. Go figure. Now that we are actually pregnant, I'm trying to enjoy every minute of it. I'm sure, that like most pregnant women, there will come a day about 18 weeks from now when I will no longer want to be pregnant, and would really like to see my feet again. Until then however, I'm trying to live it up and treasure all of the insane things that are happening to my body.

To recap:
I knew I was pregnant before I got a positive test result, because my boobs were so sore I could barely take my shirt off. Then they *really* started to hurt. The first few weeks were by far the worst, as they grew an entire cup size in about a week and a half. I lost the ability to see my feet much earlier than most pregnant women, but my loss was because of the boobs, not the belly. I still barely have a belly. At the height of the soreness, standing in front of the open refrigerator in a t-shirt made them hurt. PB had to walk slowly past me, for fear that he would stir a breeze that would make me wince in pain. They're great to look at, but man, do they hurt. And I hear it gets worse once milk comes in. Woohoo!

Around 9 weeks the nausea started. I couldn't leave the house in the morning without getting sick. It was part of my getting ready for work ritual. Wake up, shower, urp, brush teeth, get dressed, urp, brush teeth again, makeup, hair, leave. Good times. Then, I would spend the rest of the day feeling incredibly nauseous and unable to eat anything with any real flavor. I lived on rice, grits, and wheat thins for about three weeks. Around week 14, the nausea subsided, and was replaced by an intense, gnawing pain in the pit of my stomach if I didn't eat every hour and a half or so. That didn't mean eating full meals, it meant a few crackers, maybe a dozen grapes, and then I was full again. I didn't get to eat a full meal until about two weeks ago, and even that comes and goes.

The fatigue that forced me to get up and walk around every half hour between 1 and 4pm, for fear that I would fall asleep while working at my desk went away around week 14 as well. It was replaced, immediately, by the inability to sleep through the night. Granted this is not entirely due to the pregnancy. When we moved in to our house, we were greeted by our neighbor's dogs barking almost incessantly from midnight to 3am, and the volunteer fire company siren going off at all hours of the night. I adore living in a small town, because it's beautiful and quaint and all that crap, but seriously...get the firemen pagers or something, like normal people.

I finally started noticing serious baby bump last week about 2 weeks ago. I was blessed/cursed with some serious birthing hips, and as such, will probably not look *really* pregnant for about another 4-6 weeks. So I'm stuck in that intermediary stage, where my regular clothes are too tight on my belly, but I have to keep hiking up my maternity pants because my belly doesn't fill them out. I have noticed quite a bit of growth in the last week though, so hopefully things will start progressing. I totally want the belly. My body is handling this pregnancy thing much better than it handles most changes, which is a pleasant surprise. I was sure that I would balloon up the minute I found out I was pregnant, but instead I get grilled by my doctor as to whether or not I'm eating, because I gained a whopping half a pound in the first 15 weeks. There's apparently just plenty of wiggle room for baby. Seriously lucky on that front.

I started feeling real movement this week, as in, I no longer wonder if it's just gas bubbles. There are certain times of day when BB3 is more active, mostly around mealtime and, natch, bedtime. However, if loud noises occur, or if someone is yelling in my vicinity, BB3 goes bonkers and starts flipping around and punching. Not exactly comfy. This is the best part though. BBs 1&2 are greatly looking forward to feeling BB3 move around and kick, as BB1 loves the story about how she used to lay her head on her mom's stomach and get kicked in the cheek by BB2. BB2, in turn, wants to get kicked in the face. We're totally raising masochists. I can't wait until we can hear the heartbeat using our fetal monitor, or watch BB3 move across my stomach.

Can't wait to see what happens next.

Fun With Pregnancy

As I mentioned before, I am, in fact, pregnant.

My poor, poor husband.

I have been, to put it mildly, a complete and total emotional basket case ever since "the stick turned blue" as they say. PB knew I was pregnant before we got a positive result, because while making breakfast one morning, I dropped half of my bagel on to the floor and promptly burst in to tears. I didn't even really want the bagel. Being the highly intelligent man that PB is, he said and did nothing, but simply acted as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening. So, when I did in fact get a positive result on the pregnancy test, he wasn't exactly shocked.

Ever since that first fateful bagel morning, I have been up and down more times than an elevator in a 50 story building. One minute I'm laughing hysterically, and then I'm sobbing and can't stop. I think that above everything else involved with pregnancy, the emotional side effects have been the hardest to deal with. My family has a bit of a history with mental health issues, so acting like a crazy person is not exactly cool with me. PB was brushing his hair one night before bed, and noticed that his hairline was receding. He has the thickest head of hair I've seen on any man, next to Dirt (who's almost 20), and by receding I don't mean it was a noticeable bald patch, I mean that he had maybe three fewer hairs at his temple than he had a year ago. Not exactly look-in-to-hair plugs worthy, but nevertheless, I burst in to tears and spent the next 5 minutes trying to stifle the racking sobs that were pouring out of me. Apparently, I really, really like his hair.

PB came up with the fantastic idea last night that he would create a Pregnant Bear doll. This doll would have one big button in the middle of her pregnant belly, and the fun part would come when you pushed the button, because you never knew what kind of reaction you would get. Could be good, could be bad, could be nothing at all. This, my friends, is what my hubby has been dealing with for the last 18 weeks, and has the pleasure of dealing with for the next 18-22 weeks.

I'm pretty sure he's even more anxious to meet our baby than I am, as it will theoretically mean that I will go back to being the fairly rational, mostly stable woman he married.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Getting to Know You

I am new to this blogging thing, but come from a long line of writers and have two blogger siblings, so I am at least not a complete stranger to the concept. That said, I have never considered myself to be even remotely as adept with words as either of my siblings, or my father. They are just too good. I will, however, make every effort to make posts interesting, entertaining, and intelligible.

Here goes nothin!

A few people I will refer to frequently in this blog are as follows:
portia: my older sister
dirt: my younger brother
m: mom
d: dad
PapaBear (or PB if I'm feeling lazy) : My husband
BabyBear1 (BB1) : My oldest daughter (technically step-daughter)
BabyBear2 (BB2) : Younger daughter (also technically step)
BB3 : Our as yet unnamed future progeny, expected in late June.

I am 22 years old, and have been married for about 8 months. My husband and I "eloped" to the county courthouse in May '05, because I was going back to school and needed financial aid ( not to mention the instant health insurance). At that time I was 21, and therefore not deemed old enough to be considered financially independent of my parents by the powers that think they be, which meant I was set to receive close to $16,000 less in financial aid. Hence the getting hitched. On September 24, 2005, we had The Wedding for family and friends, and did the white dress and all. Most everyone knew we were already married, but I'm pretty sure we held up the illusion well. It was very real for us, and a fancy-schmancy vow renewal of sorts. October 18, we found out we were expecting. Needless to say, this is a honeymoon baby. We are ecstatic, but a bit freaked out to say the least.

So, we frantically started searching for larger digs - we had been living in a very small two bedroom apartment up until that point, which was really only manageable because BB1 and BB2 are not with us full time - and a new vehicle for me, as a Saturn SL2 was not going to accomodate a family of 5, especially when three of those 5 members will have to be in car seats of some kind for the next 2, 4 and 8 years, respectively. Two months later, we had signed a lease and were moving in to a 4 bedroom house with a fenced in back yard and mostly finished attic, which meant we could keep our dog and have a separate play room for the kiddos, thus enabling their bedroom to stay somewhat clutter free. Talk about lucking out. Then, about two weeks ago, my amazing in-laws (I seriously hit the jackpot in that department) offered to sell us their SUV, as they are planning to take off in their RV come fall, and need a vehicle with lower mileage and more features for all of their cross-country motoring around they'll be doing. So again with the lucking out.

And here we are. We're about 5 1/2 months away from meeting BB3, 1 week away from finding out if we get to shop for pink or blue onesies, and living in a real house. Life is, as they say, pretty schweet.

Sometimes it's hard to believe I actually get to live this every day. Talk about blessed.