Being re-admitted …

Up at the triage they stare at my hunched over shaking, shivering self. Nurse Kate quickly and efficiently tells them I probably have a very high fever and that I am three days postpartum.

She asks my mom if we got it from here, looks at me and squeezes my hand “good luck” and off she goes.

The triage nurses aren’t as efficient however, instead of taking me to a room they are asking me a bunch of questions that I can’t really answer in my state. I just want to lay down with a bunch of warm-no hot-blankets (where is a sauna when you need one?) and for these shakes to go away, they are seriously starting to bug me, like for real.

I wish I could be down in the NICU, healthy and strong for my baby girl, feeding her and then meeting up with the rest of my family, picking up some to-go food and sleeping in a warm cozy bed at home tonight.

I really don’t want to be in the hospital that is for sure, and I really really thought I was done dealing with hospital staff and nurses with their questions. I am too sick however to reflect much on take-out food and annoying nurses and a little too scared to want to walk up and leave, besides again, I don’t think my legs would carry me.

My mom seems even more worried than before as she keeps telling me to try to relax. I am so stiff and my muscles are already aching from shaking so much but I can barely tell due to, you guessed it, the violent shivers (it’s like my body is an earthquake refusing to stop).

When they take me into a room (finally) they have even more questions (of course they do) but as they take my vitals, they refuse to tell me anything as usual (starting to get used to this). I feel mad in between the shakes, enough is enough and I would really show my anger had I not felt that I was going to pass out any moment.

My only request was warm blankets (I know they have them these sneaky nurses, I have gotten them before, for example during my ultrasound) but they refuse to give them to me. Not until my mom, seeing her daughter suffering asks why, they tell us that it could mess up the readings on my vitals, for example my correct body temperature.

They haven’t told me yet what my temperature is but when I ask point blank the nurse tells me that it is not crazy high, around 103. I hate these Fahrenheit temperatures, they make absolutely no sense, come on, Celsius is both understandable and easy; convert already! (yes, I’m worked up, excuse me and yes I know it is not their fault I’m sick…or is it..?).

At this point I feel incredibly nauseous, I tell the nurse as my mom tells me that I will not throw up, it is just in my head, trying to calm me down. The nurse wisely gives me a little plastic thing to throw up in “just in case”. Now don’t get me started on these thingies, they are like plastic bags (more like cones though) slim and cone shaped and they do not seem like the perfect thing to vomit in. Ever heard of a bucket? I know this is beyond gross but how do you even aim? I am throwing (mostly spitting up) in my little plastic cone as my mom tries to convince me to calm down and lay back, except I can’t.

Literally I can’t, my neck is so stiff and I am still shaking so bad, I can’t tell my muscles to relax enough to lean (let alone) lay back (which also makes aiming and spitting up into this plastic thing next to impossible).

In the back of my mind I also realize three things, I have to pee really bad, I fear that they will keep me here over night and I haven’t called my husband to fill him in yet (peeing obviously being my top priority).

That being said I don’t think I can get up so instead I spit up some more, try taking my iPhone from my mom (who got it from my purse) but my hand is shaking too much to even hold it, I momentarily get mad a my headband (don’t ask, it is in my way) and finally just have my mom text my husband that I will probably be re-admitted to the hospital (yay me).

It is somewhere in the middle of this when the real vomiting starts (that is right, here comes my lunch…sorry guys). My husband keeps calling after receiveing my text but I just feel too weak to even talk to him.

We keep waiting for different nurses to come into the room, check something, mumble something to each other I hushed voices, tell us absolutely nothing and leave again.

I keep getting mad at the one nurse who stays, because I really just want to know what is wrong with me so that they can fix it and I can be on my way.

I also really don’t want to stay in the hospital another night but I am sane enough to realize that this is serious and they will not release me like this.

My mom holds my hair while I’m throwing up like I am a little kid all over again and she keeps telling me that everything will be okay and to go easy on the poor nurse (she is probably just an intake nurse who knows nothing…and I am probably acting very scary right now, not my best moment).

My mom will agree however that they give us absolutely no information and she is stunned by that (not what we are used to from back home).

Another nurse finally comes in and lets me know that the doctor is on his way. That makes me feel better, maybe he can diagnose me and tell me what is going on and finally give me some release.

I want to have some medicine but they are refusing to let me take the Vicodin I brought with me, I am in pain, I was ripped open and a baby came out of me a few days ago, remember ?? and I am being denied my pain meds hours overdue.

I am scared the doctor will “check” me as I am extremely sore and in no rush to relive the trauma from my labor (can you say ouch!!!).  I am still bleeding a lot and my stomach really really hurts. They try to convince me that he will not check me…and to try to relax (tough chance). Unfortunately, I have learned not to trust what they say however. The nurse also tells me that we have to get my fever under control because it’s now 104.6 and get me into a gown (oh green gown, how I missed you) oh and into giant see through underwear and a gigantic pad (lucky me) and I need to stop shaking (easy for them to request).

The new nurse checks my vitals again, sucks in air and exclaims “Damn”…

 

 

 

 

The shakes are back…

As we drive to the hospital to feed our brand new baby girl (I can’t wait to see her, to feel that I have her, that she is real) I feel hot and cold at the same time, the dizziness and overall discomfort won’t go away.

I feel my forehead which is warm but not hot and compare with my husband’s. Like a child I ask my mom to feel it too and she agrees, definitely warm but not alarmingly hot.

Maybe a slight temperature, but like I said before, I gave birth only a couple of days ago and I get a fever for basically everything so I’m not that worried about feeling this icky.

Except when we reach the hospital, I feel worse…

I am hotter and suddenly the shakes are creeping up on me. As we wait for our turn to get a sticker, be allowed in and wash our hands (I sent my husband to Mc Donald’s with our son to get some fries) I tell my mom to hold on.

I have to sit down because the room starts to spin and here comes my friends (more like my enemies) the shakes from last night. They get worse and worse and my mom tells me to stop shaking, like she did when we were kids when we were coughing or had the hiccups (which might sound a little brutal but actually do work).

Like a good daughter I try to listen to my mommy but I just can’t stop shaking for the life of me.

I tell my mom that I need to go the bathroom, trying to tell myself that I can control this but at the same time starting to wonder what is wrong with me, something like this has never happened to me before.

Since the restrooms by the NICU are being cleaned my mom searches for another bathroom on the first floor since I am now shaking so bad, I don’t feel that I can walk. I suggest that we ride the elevator up to the third floor where I know that there is a bathroom for sure since I just spent 2 days in recovery there (on the third floor not in the bathroom).

I really want to get away from people, I feel like they are staring at me and I really need to get a hold of myself. The trip to the bathroom didn’t help, I have to concentrate hard on walking and then there is if possible even more blood in the toilet (but still not enough to soak my pad but I’m starting to think enough to be concerned?) and the shakes are getting worse not better.

We go back down to the NICU and I can’t even focus on seeing my baby (sleeping peacefully, clenching her tiny hands).

My favorite NICU nurse, Kate is there, telling us she needs to eat in about twenty minutes (the baby not Kate that is).

I am now starting to realize that I will not be able to feed my baby, the shakes have turned violent and I am now so so cold, freezing actually.

I don’t know what I tell my mom, something about going to the bathroom again but I know she looks really worried now…

I walk as fast as the shakes will allow me to the bathroom right outside of the NICU and luckily the cleaners are all done in there. I make it in to a stall before I sink to the ground, thinking something is really wrong here…

I try several times to get to my feet but I’m shaking so much I have to make attempt after attempt, clenching my teeth as I’m hugging my body, trying to zip up my sweater further than it can go and telling myself that I need to make it back into the NICU to tell my mom we need to go home.

All I want to do is crawl into to bed with about a hundred warm blankets, fall asleep and just forget about how cold and shaky I am and hopefully wake up feeling better.

I also attempt to call my husband to come pick us up but my phone keeps sliding out of my hands and forget dialing, it is a lost cause, this is starting to get ridiculous.  

As I walk back into the NICU, I believe even more people stop and stare at me but I have a one track mind, people fade out of my vision and I can see that my mom is now looking more than concerned.

I tell her that I don’t think I can feed the baby and that I need to go home but as she tells me to stop shaking and tell her what is wrong and my eyes well up with tears as I can’t, she takes matters into her own hands. She usually lets me (and my sister) do the talking here (in the US) as she is Swedish (but quite good at English I might add) but right now she goes to find the nurse.

I don’t even know what they are saying as I become less and less aware of my surroundings, all I know is, I WANT to stop shaking and get warm. Oh why, why is it so damn cold in here, could they maybe turn off the A/C, it’s ridiculously cold for these tiny poor infants!

Nurse Kate takes one look at me and I can hear her tell mom that I must be running a seriously high fever. No I protest, it’s just the shakes (whatever that means). She leaves just to come back seconds later with a wheel chair. I do think I can walk (besides where am I going in that? I have had enough of wheelchairs for I don’t know…about a life time) but when I stand I realize that I absolutely can’t walk and am actually grateful as I sink down in the rolling chair.

Kate asks if I can direct my mom to triage (isn’t it only extremely pregnant women and women with pregnancy complications that go there? I have time to think) but she takes another look at me and apparently determines that I am in no condition to direct anybody anywhere. And off we go to the elevators and triage, Kate wheeling the chair and my mom hurrying after us.

 

 

 

Shopping delight…cut short!

We go shopping, well if you call Target and Babies r us shopping…I haven’t been out for weeks so I’m not picky.

I try to concentrate on what I really need; the problem is we need so much, at least according to me.

My mom is an expert shopper but she is more interested in things for the house (where she has been cooped up) than cute little pink baby outfits.

I still can’t believe it is real. I don’t think it will completely hit me until we get to take her home, we have a baby girl!

Finally I get to buy girl stuff, don’t get me wrong I love shopping for my son but come on, have you seen the girl stuff for babies lately?

We need some boring things as well, what we like to call “essentials” and as I walk through the aisles at Target I feel more and more tired and slightly dizzy as I’m gripping the red cart tight, leaning in to it as I’m pushing following my mom’s excited stride.

Sometimes Target has the ability to get you very tired though and I haven’t been out of bed for 4 weeks basically, so of course I feel dizzy. I decide to power through, we have Babies r us after this after all, where I’m naturally a frequent buyer with all the essential VIP and bonus cards. There is something about a store full of baby stuff (pregnant women and babies), bright colors, new beginnings and hope!

My ultimate wish growing up was always (ALWAYS) being a mom, now I get to dress real live dolls!

Suddenly I feel faint in the middle of a (I have to admit, sorry mom) home decoration (?) aisle (I think it was lamps, “we do need one for the baby’s room and one by the pool table”) and stop for a second. My mom, still talking about the wonder of being out of the house (poor woman) notices that I am not answering her and turns around, zooming in on me with her mom eyes as she exclaims “you don’t look so good”…

I’m telling her that I’m just tired and that I just gave birth a couple of days ago for crying out loud, of course I’m feeling weak in the knees and there is no way I’m cutting this outing short!!

We get the Target shopping done and I manage to hang in there. Right outside, there is as Starbucks (you can’t go many places without a Starbucks but my hospital room didn’t exactly have one close by). I am craving caffeine but since I’m worried about it getting into the milk I am pumping, I have to “settle” for the double chocolate chip frappe I got more or less addicted to during my pregnancy. Mom never says no to a coffee so we push the cart toward two available seats (it’s a very small place so space is limited) and I’ll go order our drinks.

I still look pregnant so I worry that I will have to dodge some uncomfortable questions when I feel the barista glancing curiously at my stomach (nop, kid is out, come on please don’t ask, and luckily she doesn’t…I mean who cares…well after everything I shouldn’t, but I can’t help it, I care just a tiny bit).

Soon that is the least of my problems, I suddenly feel a big gush in my underwear where I have the biggest night diaper…I mean pad ever made, and it seems like it is leaking through (sorry about the TMI here people).

I go put the drinks in front of my mother and excuse myself to run to the bathroom. Maybe this outing wasn’t such a bright idea after all, I would much rather be in the comfort of my own house than at a Target restroom.

I do have back-up pads in my purse though but I am bleeding a lot (A LOT) and I don’t remember it being this bad after my first born. A little voice whispers in my head something about soaking a pad in an hour being bad but I’m pretty sure it’s been more like two hours since we left the house and I put in a new one, besides I gave birth only three days ago…

Reassured that it is normal and cheered up by the prospect of my frappe and going to Babies r us, I leave the restroom and head back to my mom.

At babies r us though, as I stand in line a severe headache is brewing, not even the cutest baby dresses size 0-3 months can hold my attention and I start to worry that I am coming down with something…

 

The “safe zone” of pregnancy…

It’s a girl…or was a girl I guess…

They think she just stopped growing. But she was there, actually she still is there-everything that is “supposed” to be there is there- I have the picture as “proof”. The grainy baby shaped white “blob” against the black background. She looked just like the other ones. Just like the other “pictures” I saved (to some day make the kids each a baby book-like the one for my firstborn…).

Everything was perfect…but then it wasn’t. All the tests show positive right away (the pink plus signs, the two parallel lines, the word “yes” and the actual word “pregnant”) with the first drop… and continue to do so…even after…

There were no tell tale signs or bleeding and everything looked completely normal…until it didn’t.

I just never expected this…everything started like it did with my other beautiful healthy children. I have lost pregnancies before-when we were trying and then succeed…but then I ended up with a heavy bleed… but I have never been to a doctor’s appointment before where the baby had no heartbeat.

How could it be fine and all there and progressing and then not?

How could you go weeks and weeks expecting, hoping, planning- happy, excited, involved. And then the nothingness…

Lots of women go through this everyday-most before the “safe zone” of 12 weeks (1 in 4 they say), but many even further along, and then there are the few who have to suffer through the unimaginable devastation of stillborns and infant loss.

We went weeks, months actually still hoping, praying for a detectable heartbeat and growth-it was there-and then it wasn’t…

We planned room arrangements, a new car, we found out the gender…

Perhaps everything was planned prematurely but we were so close to the safety zone…

I ordered a “gender reveal” princess cake…
A cake we never picked up…

I had lots of hopes and dreams for this child…a child that will now never be…

You can argue that it was still a fetus, that there had been signs (for example there was no severe nausea in the first trimester like with the others). That there was no “baby” yet. That nature got rid of a “defected” fetus…

But try telling a pregnant momma that-a momma who has known about the pregnancy from week 5…

Then the bleeding started…so close to the second trimester and the safe week. The doctor even said light bleeding does not necessarily mean…

But I knew…

But hope is a funny thing…

I had borrowed a heart monitor from a friend…it was pink and promised that you should be able to hear your baby’s heartbeat from week 10 (but you could try from week 8). I felt pathetic trying to locate my baby girl’s heart on my own-when professionals hadn’t been able to at our last appointment…

The dread when you feel the ultrasound technician’s fear, worry and sympathy is excruciating. I like being prepared, and even though you can never prepare for something like this, I was in complete and utter shock and disbelief.

Anything but that…I just wasn’t expecting it – at all…

We were supposed to go on vacation. We had been excitingly packing…now this.

My doctor said not to loose hope-that it was still “50/50”. We planned to still go on the tropical “all inclusive” vacation. We needed it. I needed it.

We hadn’t told the kids yet (but I think our oldest might have been suspicious). We were going to tell them that weekend…before this happened.

There was no blood the day before our trip, we hadn’t told anybody…

A baby for Halloween THIS year. A baby coming with us home for Christmas-everyone who knew were excited…

I told my hairdresser the baby had stopped growing…that there was no heartbeat…

I might be walking around with something dead inside me…

I felt uncomfortable, down, awkward, sick, like a failure…

This is how being in “limbo” feels”.

She encouraged me to go, to get away, to think about something else (even though the thought of “her” were all consuming).

Everybody encouraged us to go…
The white, sandy beaches, the sun, the food the service- it would be good for me-for us.

The kids were excited, they packed their own little backpacks-everything was done and ready to go…

Then my body started to betray me- the beginning of the end of this journey started…

 

An adventurous week; difficult news

IMG_7161IMG_7160IMG_7162I can’t believe that we are back here…to the hematology department at Children’s Hospital. The flashbacks are acute and many.

I don’t know how they do it, I really don’t. I ache for them-these parents. I feel embarrassed to be here somehow and yet…I know I have to, we have to. Something IS wrong for real-just not as wrong, or as real as for most of these people here. The reality of what is going on on the third floor of this hospital for kids is devastating. I AM embarrassed to even feel sad because it seems I don’t have the right to somehow, and they don’t need my pity, and there is literally nothing I can do to help.

I praise these doctors for doing what they do, for pushing forward, for trying their very best, for smiling…
But the real heartbreak are these strong, brave little people who are just getting the toughest childhood imaginable…and their poor parents.

I have been dreading this appointment since my daughter was 18 months old. We found out when she was 11 weeks old, (just shy of 3 months) and cut her “tied tongue” to be able to breastfeed, that she had some kind of bleeding issue. She would not stop bleeding no matter what the tongue specialist, her pediatrician and the ER doctor did. She was loosing so much blood she had to have emergency surgery right away…

This tiny little preemie baby girl who had already been through so much in her very short life…
It was one of the worst days of my life. Seeing her bleed uncontrollably in the backseat when I rushed her to the ER is an image imprinted in my brain forever…

My baby girl was in surgery for hours, her little pale body and all that blood. Afterwards she was groggy and swollen in my arms. I felt awful. She wanted to eat so bad but was too hurt to feed. Seeing her in so much pain was agony.

We spent 3 days at Children’s Hospital before the 4th of July weekend and she still refused to eat. I didn’t sleep at all and was a wreck. Grandma and auntie were home with big brother because dad had to continue working (even though I’m sure that was extremely hard on him).

I remember the nurses trying to help squirting my pumped breastmilk into baby’s mouth with a syringe- it finally worked enough to get her off the IV. She was this little girl in a huge bed surrounded by rolled up baby blankets with wires and monitors…
It was utterly terrifying.

On day two we saw a couple of doctors from the hematology department. They drew a lot of blood to test our baby girl for a bleeding disorder. Since she was so tiny yet-still on the preemie scale, they couldn’t take too much blood from her little body-so we had to come back for a follow up.

The follow up was on the third floor of Children’s Hospital a week later. Baby girl had gotten her color back and she had finally started to nurse again. My mom was thankfully able to accompany us this time, having flown in on the 4th of July withstanding delays and cancelled flights. It was such a support to be able to lean on her as we entered what must be one of the most depressing places-full of sick-really, really sick kids.

My daughter had lost too much weight to be able to draw the required blood panel for the full spectrum of blood disorders so the doctor sent her home with a liquid that makes blood clot in the event of blood trauma.

The tests came back negative for any of the more severe blood disorders…and for leukemia. I have never prayed harder for these results..

Then again the unfairness of it all, seeing all the other kids and their parents. How do they do it? how do they live and breathe when their insides must be breaking.
These caregivers are incredibly strong that goes without saying but…these kids…I don’t have words, little superheroes who just deserve way better lives.

Hoping for them as I’m standing here at the hospital with my two (big brother is in school) happy, healthy (for the most part) children, is the same for them, that they will beat this, they will get better and this will all be a distant memory…

The reality though is a punch to the stomach and the embarrassment of even feeling like this when I’m fine and my kids are fine is raw and present.

This is the 4th time here seeing her hematology doctor. When we saw him when baby girl was 18 months old we still didn’t get to do all of her testing, because of her low weight. I was informed that in order to complete everything we needed to admit her to the hospital for a few days to monitor her while drawing the required amount of blood for the full panel of blood disorders. I declined these tests knowing that she didn’t have the more serious ones and signing papers that I declined treatment was really difficult-was I doing the right thing?

I promised (myself and her doctor) to keep a close eye on her, knowing full well that you can’t bubble wrap your kids (no matter how much you want to).

Fast forward until now, there is no more denial. Every time she bleeds from simple cuts and scrapes it is way too much- abnormally so. Her new pediatrician ordered more labs at her 3 year check up and testing confirmed without a doubt that our daughter does have a bleeding disorder. He sent us straight back here again…so here we are.

This has truly not been the best week..

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The magical month of July!!

How come the magical and arguably the best month of summer July,no school; end OR start, no stress, (wait was the “no stress” part before having children!?) always go so fast?. It races away in a haze.

Our July doesn’t start great with illness and almost unbearable heat. We are trying to save by not turning on the AC as much in the house but with our many large windows framing the family and living room it creates a vacuum of heat and you can hardly breathe. The kids have swimming three days a week (and are making great advances-when they listen to the swim instructor that is) and no camps. I signed my daughter up for dance Friday mornings and have the nanny come entertain my oldest (or is it the other way around?!).

I’m keeping baby girl out of the pool the first week due to some “diaper issues” (those swim diapers are not really built for holding anything, now are they) and I’m trying to save our pool (and myself from a major clean up) and my daughter from embarrassment (she totally wouldn’t care) even though she is feeling better. She is very mad that brother gets to swim and very curious about the swim instructor. We (meaning my daughter) watch brother every lesson in full on swim gear even though only toes (and feet) can go in the pool. Every time my son needs to work towards a promise of a favorite thing in order to listen to instructions (since he doesn’t like most food the options are limited and pretty much narrowed down to “Subway” , frozen yoghurt (ice cream) or a cookie at Starbucks (don’t judge). I also promised him a small toy if he will swim by the end of the four weeks. His listening skills are improved by constant reminders but he tends to forget very frequently and has been known to do “his own thing”. The instructor who apparently used to be an elite swimmer gets very frustrated-seemingly much better at swimming than dealing with small kids.

All the lessons means less social time outside of the house, especially if you add soccer Mondays and dance Fridays but we are still able to steal some ice cream dates with close friends. By the end of that first week the kids are all feeling like themselves again and I am beyond relieved to be out of the bad diapers/added laundry (gross) trenches!

I finally think the leaking of various body fluids (I know major yuck! …oddly enough less so if you are a parent of little kids…or maybe not so odd considering the frequency of said fluids..) is over. I venture out to Target. With the oldest (still recovering somewhat) safely at home with daddy (watching football) , I bring the other two.

Since I am the youngest’s walking, talking food source (and since hubby is not quite comfortable with him yet) he is coming too!
He is all smiles so it clearly (almost…eh not fully) make up for the two year old’s whining.

I know she has been sick and all and that she is tired but come on…everything is “no”.
Are you hungry, tired, need diaper change, hug…new shoes? No, no, no!
She is in full on 2 year mode, and of course everything I do is wrong-and she complains about it-loudly!!

I’m barely hanging on as I scroll down my “iPhone reminder list” of stuff we really need (and you know a few… occasional extras) as my toddler is reduced to tears after not getting a new “Peppa Pig” toy! In my head I mentally repeat “avoid the toy aisle…always always avoid the toy aisle…even if it means getting creative with diversion strategies and round about ways to get to the things you want. Even if you need something in the aisle next to the toys- do not, I repeat, do NOT pass them!!”
No shortcuts parents-this is serious mental planning. Think I should suck it up and take the whining, crying, melt down, “tantruming”?
Let me tell you many of time-I have and let’s just say it’s so not worth it, but today she spied this toy and being in the mood she is in; its all over…

I briefly distract her with some new shiny shoes but let’s face it- they are no Peppa pig’s dream house substitute…
At least the full on drama tears have subsided into heavy sobs and violent hiccups, not (barely) facing this brave mama! But here we are back to full on tantrum tears (aren’t they the most fun “people are officially starring and judging” kind”). Wait, what the heck happened now???
Oh, I see who was the complete idiot putting “Doc McStuffin’s” Lego set amongst the shoes huh, huh??

It’s clearly time to escape this place before my perfect little angel of a baby boy wakes up too- not so perfect…and far from an angel.

It’s Sunday-therefore all lines are long. When we are up next and I think we made it, guess who wakes up…?

The not so sympathetic cashier ring up my items painfully slow as both my kiddos wail, scream, yell and cry in a potpourri of scorned, disappointed, ignored, hurtful (as well as hungry) emotions. They are clearly being unfairly treated (according to everyone but me. This is when the cashier holds up a pink and purple Peppa Pig set (well…you know…) with some suspicious brown stains on them. I match her disgusted look at first genuinely confused …until I look down at the cart…and the seat occupied by my daughter…

 

 

As the last trimester approaches…

When I got to take my son home from the hospital I felt like everybody was insane- they trusted that this brand new human being would be safe with me, ME?
Yes, yes, I had some experience and loved babies and in the back of my head I knew that you didn’t have to go school, get an advanced degree or a certificate in order to procreate or to take your offspring home but yet again, maybe there SHOULD be some requirements here!!!
And there was my instructional manual, shouldn’t they after all come with one? Wasn’t that my parental right? Where were the laws for this stuff?
And the mandatory classes?

I had a faint memory of some breastfeeding class that was optional (you heard me, optional) that I had slept through in my pain killer induced haze after he was born and therefore missed, like “okay, it’s optional to keep this tiny human alive with my body…or not”.

I looked down at my first born with wonder, did they really expect me to take care of him…you know FOREVER? It’s not that I didn’t want to, because even if I didn’t exactly felt that overwhelming unconditional, all consuming love the second he was born (im terribly ashamed to admit this) red faced and screaming- him (well, let’s be honest both of us) and with 18 brand new stitches in the worst place you can think of (me, definitely me) I did now already love him with all my heart. But it was because of that love I wasn’t ready to take him home yet, he was just born YESTERDAY after all (and he had already been poked and prodded so much I already felt like I had failed in the mother department). Why wouldn’t they let me stay for at least a week or two? (Or you know a year) in case something went wrong? I mean I hadn’t even gotten my real milk in nor had I mastered diapering his tiny behind…and oh horror, don’t get me started on the all essential “swaddle”.
At least keep us in this safe environment until you are sure we can make it in the outside environment (by the way what “car seat test- the nurse barely glanced at the thing, only checking that we had it- shouldn’t they at least arrange a “ride along”?)

I know many Moms have been talking (and indeed) writing about this very topic but you certainly don’t realize how real it becomes when they wheel you out after having delivered (such a fancy word for what it really entails) that (there is now way I will describe him as “tiny” here) human through what seems to be an impossibly narrow tunnel (breaking all sort of stuff in his way) and he is laying there in your arms. Wrapped up in blue and pink, naked and glorious and completely new and you feel such pride- like “I did this, I made him” (with some slight help but that couldn’t be further from your mind because YOU did this, no one else) and everyone around you smile and some congratulate you (as they should because you just popped out a human from your very body). It’s not special it happens everyday, every moment by most women but yet it is so very VERY special- life’s biggest miracle!!!
And even though it’s messy and ugly and long and hurts like HELL, you somehow want to it again and again! (And again- damn endorphins) and right afterwards (complications and all) you swear- with an angelic smile “it wasn’t that bad!!”.

Be careful what you wish for I guess…

Because you really don’t want to stay in the hospital and you really want to take your baby home with you when you leave.

Everything was different with my second born. Everything was different with my daughter! An even though everything turned out great in the end (and she is now the most precious, sweet, charming, funny, stubborn, determined almost 2 year old little princess), it somehow wasn’t fair. To leave the hospital in day two with a perfectly healthy (well minus a collar bone) baby is something every mother should be able to experience (worries and all). Because as soon as you become a mom, you step up to the plate and you become a MOM and you should be able to take responsibility for that life you created right away (multi-colored poopy diapers, sore nipples, no sleep and all). You should NOT have to be in the hospital for weeks and weeks without your loved ones (and air) for the last trimester of your pregnancy (without the ability to even go to the bathroom… or forget about a shower). You shouldn’t have to cry and worry that there is something majorly wrong with that tiny human inside you (or check her heartbeat with a huge band around you attached to beeping monitors) around the clock, or be wheeled the bi-weekly ultrasounds (scaring you more than informing you) or be forced to eat hospital food for a grand total of 39 days. You shouldn’t have to google diagnoses and conditions and treatments options for your baby before she is even born, or meet with social workers and psychiatrists and specialists or count the days she is kept in there with joy and hope but apprehension.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for catching the fluid around the baby being low in time, I’m thankful for our hospital stay, every shot for baby’s lungs, contraction stopping medicine and blood draw (well…) every nurse and Doctor and specialist and ultrasound but most of all I’m thankful for that little baby girl being able to hang on in there for as long as she did!

The relief when she was born alive and well (finally breathing) and perfect was naturally the best day of my life. Amazing!!!

What came after with the 16 days in the hospital for baby, the monitors, the trouble breathing and eating, the beeping machines and cables, the fear and the massive weight drop- to my life-threatening infection and added hospital stay were less than amazing but we MADE it!!!

We were amongst the lucky few- this I know! Looking around at the babies who were born much earlier and/or had it much much worse and their poor parents made my heart sink and my body ache. The NICU is not a fun place whether you stay days, weeks or months but some definitely have it better than others. We were lucky for sure and just thinking about what could have happened…

I’m almost to that dreaded week 29 in my current pregnancy and I’m hoping and praying that things will be great!
It is however bringing up a lot of feelings (how could it not). I know I might make it to 41 weeks this time, that every pregnancy is different, that I’m under the best possible care and that I’m taking all sorts of preventative measures. I will be fine and so will the baby! This I feel in my heart! – but that little, tiny doubt is devastatingly real…

I’m not writing this to be negative, to seem fearful or ungrateful or to throw myself a little pity party- I’m simply writing this to be real and to share with you what I am feeling as I’m approaching my last trimester with this baby…
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Home for the Holidays

Hello, let me introduce myself; I’m …HUGE!

So we are back from our Christmas vacation in Sweden. Let’s just say that it was beyond nice to catch a break from reality and just be in the moment for a while. The moment of family, changed priorities and holiday spirit. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always difficult traveling with little kids and the days away weren’t completely free from drama BUT the added grown ups to help and the amazing service of home cooked meals, laundered clothes and set plans were so welcomed and such a huge help I didn’t even want to fly back!

Even the one bedroom (my all pink, “old romance” style girl bedroom) felt like a relief from our house with different bedrooms, beds, bedtimes and major bedtime drama. On this holiday we pretty much went to bed and woke up at the same time- together. There is something said for bed sharing even if you get little feet in your face constantly and have to suffer through major jet lag as well as stuffed noses and lack of nighttime sleep (you see I’d pick that morning sleep over night anytime).

My parents had skillfully crafted fun plans outside the house (per my request not to have my rather wild kiddos destroy my parent’s beautifully and meticulously decorated house, and mine as well as everyone else’s sanity) and let me say they did great (both my parents AND my kids).

At our Glögg (there is that word again…remember the spiced, hot and sweet traditional wine!?) mingle with extended family, uncles and aunts and cousins etc, people actually were surprised how (get this) WELL behaved our kids were (making a lier out of me…boy, shouldn’t I just be satisfied!??)

We enjoyed a Christmas food buffet aka “a real Christmas Table” complete with the traditional glögg (mulled wine), Swedish meatballs (commonly just known as “meatballs”), all kinds of herring, “Jansson’s temptation” (basically potato gratin with anchovies), cheesecake (nothing like the American counter part) with cream and jam and of course ham, cheeses, homemade hard bread, eggs with mayo and shrimp and all kinds of chocolaty desserts!

We also went out in the middle of the pitch black woods (next time we’ll make sure to bring some flashlights) in our search of the real St Nicolas. It was the day before Christmas Eve (which is the day we celebrate Christmas in Sweden) cold, dark and crisp and impossible to even see the person walking in front of you. On our way to find Santa my darling husband thought my dad was joking as he told us he had no idea where we were going. Except it was the truth and all part of the mysterious adventure. There wasn’t any signs anywhere and we were truly in the middle of nowhere. We joked that if this would have been where we live there would have been giant neon signs, stroller ramps, (or why not elevators), huge parking lots, fees for everything, souvenirs for sale as well as restrooms (or toilets, let’s call them what they are shall we!?) around every corner!
But this was truly worth every fumbling and stumbling in the darkness due to the excitement of the collective mission to find Santa. The chilled air held anticipation and our 4 year old’s excitement was palpable when we trekked through the deep woods, slipping on ice patches, roots and rocks only accompanied by the wind and the trees (oh and all the other people on the same mission). Our 20 months old wasn’t as upbeat (being carried as not to fall…and not by mommy) until she discovered the cozy cabins, the elves workshops, Santa’s sleigh and all the pretty candles that is!
we found HIM!!!

The old man “playing” Santa Claus (I mean Santa himself) is after all doing this year after year out of the goodness of his heart, only getting paid in candles!
This is one adventure I wouldn’t mind making a permanent family holiday tradition!

Christmas Eve came and went without a hitch with our very own Santa, baby acting as his very own elf, handing everyone their gifts (after the initial fright…well he did have to loose his beard…and tummy) and little boy extremely joyful about all the gifts and attention. Even the “dreaded” wolf dog (seriously), the one my brother lovingly “tricked” my parents to take care of (gave them a task during retirement after all) …behaved (he did have to go stay in the car for awhile…the wrapping paper and Christmas goodies were way too tempting). Everyone was cheerful and the warmth radiated through the house. I mean with three generations of opinions and wishes, two rowdy kids and two even rowdier dogs it’s not the easiest task. But we succeeded brilliantly!

Christmas Day was spent with extended family out in the true “country” where our son got to dig with a real tractor and operate a real crane- oh the joy. Just hanging with all the other boys (you can see how mama wasn’t part of that equation) while the girls did “girl things” inside was probably enough to keep him happy! Little girl was happily playing Barbies and “my little ponies” with my second cousin’s daughter and the adults got to talk and laugh about old times!

Other well -thought out activities included (to my husband’s excitement) an ice hockey game, shopping (actually for his work clothes), a Bamse (swedish cartoon) exhibit and the traditional family turkey dinner of course!.

Just like he got to go to the hockey game with the boys, sonny got to accompany his mom and grandma to the theatre. Even if the first act of Peter Pan was rather “expressive and theatrical” aka terrifying, the second act more than made up for it (as did the front row seats and all the candy). Overall a great evening as the snow slowly started falling outside!

Talking about snow, the kids were beside themselves as they had been waiting since we had landed. My son even had a presentation about all the snow he would play in in Sweden at preschool the day we left. Global warming didn’t help our case and neither did us begging the weather Gods but finally, finally the white fluffy stuff was here and the heavens were cooperating. There was enough for snowballs and half a snowman and tons of fun for kids and dogs alike!

We ended our perfect holiday in my homeland in our beautiful capital of Stockholm. The deep white snow was the backdrop for more adventures of the downtown “zoo” of Swedish animals, (only complaints from the two American “men” were the freezing degrees, despite borrowed Down jackets and last minutes purchased gloves… and a quick trip to the doctor with baby girl’s ears), museums, restaurants, cafes and movie night in my brother’s apartment. Him and his wife had orchestrated some great plans to round up our trip and as we left in the middle of the night in the cold, we did so with a smile!

Two years ago I was pregnant (about the same gestation) with my little girl and home for the Christmas holiday as well (my family joking that I’m always pregnant at Christmas!) and flying back to the chaos that is our reality is now bittersweet. We might move, there might be something wrong going on with this pregnancy and last time it felt like I hadn’t been back long after Christmas before being admitted to the hospital with preterm labor. I worry about the special ultrasound happening Monday, about packing up the house and all our other plans up in the air…

Let’s just say this, I’m happy and grateful about this holiday break from reality and look forward to someday introducing my country and all its traditions to my third baby!

 

Yes Sir! and old forgetful Mamas…

Of course it’s the cheery, “earthy” teacher and of course there is no lunch bunch- it’s FRIDAY!!

I’m mortified (I’ve never thrown on clothes so fast or waken my poor baby letting her tag along in pajamas and wet diaper) which I also tell the teacher as I run inside the now (almost) empty classroom. “I’m absolutely mortified”.

I did have a vision of my son getting sadder and sadder as his little friends left with their mommies one by one until he was all alone, abandoned and crying. That, however does not seem to be the case. Little man seems absolutely thrilled to be having some alone time with his loving teacher (probably nicer and a lot more patient than his mommy…and she would obviously have remembered him…obviously).

For heavens sake, I forgot my child, FORGOT!! I’m a horrible, horrible mom!

“Honey don’t be! You know these things happen”, looking like they most certainly DO NOT- not in her world (I’m feeling awful and ashamed and… Just horrible). “Just wait until you forget them when they are in high school” hmm, now, what does that even mean? Slightly confused I continue to apologize (which she lets me a serene smile on her “no make-up” face. “But we were having such a pleasant time weren’t we?” Turning to my son who smiles smugly “no lunch bunch today, it’s FRI- DAAAY mooom!!” Well, okay, hmm, could I be feeling any worse!?

I back out of the classroom hoping I’m looking remorseful enough, cranky toddler on my hip (who does not like being woken up roughly or rushed) and drag my son along. Performing a whole other walk of shame towards our car passing the perfect moms who are now (AFTER school) having perfects picnics with their perfect little offspring on the green grass, and the preschool office where the door is open and the director ask how I am? “Well” I respond “better now” as she chuckles, she is probably judging me too.
Not one of my finer mommy moments!

I take the kids to Subway and a little bit of shopping (for kids clothes only) to make (myself) everyone feel better. I still can’t let my son have a cookie before he finishes his sandwich however and when he brings up the “no lunch bunch” for the tenth time I have had enough. “I forgot, okay!? I didn’t know, this was the first Friday and I just didn’t KNOW” I can hear myself screaming and feel people starring at the mall food court. Well, I am being rather loud now, ain’t I, but I can’t seem to calm down so I only get louder “so there is no excuse for you NOT to eat your sandwich (which is just cheese-nothing else, not toasted) so just eat it or NO cookie- EVER!!!” I even stun myself and apparently my son, his reply being “Yes Sir!”

Gap kids has a sale for member only and I have calmed down as I make the honest promise to myself to be the “nicest mommy ever”… For the rest of the day. My little preschooler is being extra helpful (probably sensing an impending mommy mental break down) and runs around looking for his size “with a 4 on it”, then he looks for a 1 for the baby (no time to explain the whole month system). I even let him get some rather hideous buffalo socks! Before we pay he asks how old I am, with a grimace I half whisper “35”. “Why are you whispering mama?”
“Because mama is really old”,  he looks puzzled for a second then he announces that he will be right back. I see him from my place in line, scanning the racks of clothes, flipping the hangers, ready to abandon my place as soon as he wanders off but instead he comes skipping back handing me a dress in pink!

Size 3-5!

Perfect!

“Even old people need clothes mommy!”
Dang, isn’t he just adorable!!!

Sisterly Love and Adulthood

Last week we made (the long overdue) trip to see my little sister (in my eyes she is still 15…or more like 5…but she is not anymore..). So much has happened in her life lately and is seems like I’m missing so much. Actually we are missing so much in each other’s lives and I can’t help feeling sad about it. I mean I know that is what happens and that its natural and even a normal, healthy progression of life but it doesn’t mean it’s easy.

We were once so close and I now treasure those years that we both took for granted, looking back we seemed to have it all but of course we were then too young and dumb to realize that. We grew up close but with 4 and a half years between us, she was always so much younger. In our twenties however the gap wasn’t so big and we started enjoying the same things.

The moment my sister decided to extend her summer trip in the sun visiting me to actually starting school here and moving in with me was one of my luckiest! We had years of fun, bonding time that neither one of us will ever forget. Sure it was the heartaches and the lack of money and the exams and some hardcore studying (partying) and numerous disappointments but overall it was our years in paradise. Basically no responsibilities, we were in our prime, pretty, blonde, smart, tanned, carefree and overall happy. Our biggest problems included “when will that cute guy call?” “where should we go out tonight?” “how to ace the next test”, “what movie should we watch?” “this dress or that one?” and “what to eat for dinner?”

It’s not like we just fluttered around supported and without ambition and goals, we were both in school full time and we both worked having rent and bills and “hobbies” to pay for (with tremendous help from our parents of course). How lucky were we to have each other? Sisters who didn’t only love each other because we were family, but honestly best friends! We seriously were almost always on the same page and got along better than anyone could or would have expected. We made new friends, bought and sold cars, saved up for special shopping trips, spent holidays in a foreign country away from the rest of our family, lived on little, cooked for each other and helped each other out with everything from school work to nannying to being the “designated driver”.

I went from completing my Masters program to starting my journey towards becoming a doctor of psychology while my sister worked on completing her bachelor degree in business by both working at the school and nannying. I went from nannying to internships to actually small but legit psychology jobs. We shared everything from food to jobs to laughs and most importantly friendship (and in some cases boys… kidding…sort of…).

Now we have been a part for well over five years first surviving her moving back to Sweden for a while and then to a completely different state- very far away while I met my man (had to stay for this one…) here and put down roots-becoming an American myself and everything!

My sister has been here of course but when you work and is a horse and dog mommy (read that right: my sister is not a horse…) you have REAL responsibilities you all of a sudden can’t ignore, it gets more difficult to leave your life for constant trips back and forth. When you get married, get a house, a dog and kid(s) – forget about it. We haven’t missed the huge stuff like her moving into a new house, my firstborn’s homecoming, my bed rest as well as random celebrations of Christmas and birthdays but it’s not the same as seeing each other and being there for each other every single day!

I get sad when I know I’m about to miss some crucial milestones in her life (me being older I know I pretty much have the big ones out of the way!) I was devastated that it took us a year to introduce my sister to my baby daughter… but I know that is life. As an adult you have to work and be responsible and you can’t just drop everything at the drop of a hat. I appreciate my adult life, I really do(wouldn’t change it for the world) and as a big sister, I’m immensely proud of hers!

I’ve always felt some responsibility in being the older sister and before I had kids (and even now I must admit) I worry about my little sister a lot, and I think about her and I naturally only want what is best for her! I can’t believe she made herself into the strong, ambitious and beautiful woman that she is today. Quite the careers lady with a horse and a dog to take care of, a house and a huge white truck!

She had planned an amazing stay for us in one of  the coziest and most charming little village part of her big city, where she now lives. With boat and bus tours for the kids downtown, amazing restaurants, yummy ice cream and treats and endless entertainment. We really, truly had a wonderful time (even the kids “semi” behaved. Me and my husband joked that a couple of days are plenty and very much enough with our kids- maybe you will even still like them at the end of the stay!).
The constant diaper changes (and blow-outs), car seats and strollers, wants and needs, potty breaks (and potty humor), picky eating, toys and tantrums wear you down after a while (but it’s good practice guys!)

Asking my little sister if she was ready for babies (and don’t you just love mine!!? – as they were running like crazy at a rather fancy restaurant) she looked at me with a (very) hesitant look, taking her time to answer…
– well maybe, I think….it’s different when you have your own!

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I just hope I can be there for her now as she embarks on the journey of “real” adulthood and all the huge and great milestones that lay ahead!

Love you Sis!

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