Blue Christmas: Part 2 “The point of no return”


As I check in at the hospital’s main admittance desk, my tears well up. I know it’s so stupid but I can’t help it. I call my beyond shocked husband telling him that I’m being admitted (feels like I’ve “been here, done that” a “few” times before). I text my mother in law, who has been such a great help through out this pregnancy, as well.

With only a few weeks before Christmas, who knows what will happen…

As I sit and wait for my hospital room to get ready, I know logically that I have to stay put, for a healthy pregnancy, a healthy me and a healthy baby! I’m still starting to entertain the thought that maybe I’ll be released in a day or two (since I’m pretty sure by now my symptoms are NOT pregnancy related) and we can STILL fly “home” to Sweden. But I heard what the PA said, I really did, and I try to turn my thoughts around (being a slight control freak and maniac planer makes that extra hard).

It wouldn’t be the worst to stay home and take it easy over Christmas. I wish I could just snap my fingers and be transferred right to my parents house though, so I can relax there, (wouldn’t that be awesome!) but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. I know the long flight would take a toll on me and my now enormous body and obviously I don’t want to jeopardize anything. The PA is right what IF something goes wrong during the flight! What IF my cyst burst with not only extreme pain following but bleeding- I would think something is wrong with the baby-and so would everyone else. And what IF it wasn’t the cyst at all and something WAS wrong with the baby…

No, definitely better not to take any chances, better safe than sorry and all that…

Not what I was hoping and planned for but…

I have been known to dislike change buuut after a shift in thought process and a clear headed analysis of the situation I have also been know to change my mind, my plans and eventually able to “roll with the punches”.

And I’m also known popularly to make the best of any given situation. This is safe and good and we will just spend a wonderful Christmas here (hopefully not in this hospital) and spend NEXT Christmas in Sweden!!

My room seems oddly familiar, it’s private and behind the nurses station, around the corner from a fridge (which I know hosts yoghurts, cranberry juice, jello and stale peanut butter crackers), a large scale and a storage room for wheelchairs. The room is rather large but the window faces a brick wall and a little bit of black roof…
Even though I’m sure (in fact I know…for a fact) that these rooms pretty much all look the same-I feel like I’ve been here before…
I feel like I “lived” here before- as in the 36 days of hospital bedrest before my daughter was born…

When the nurse comes in I immediately recognize her as well. She doesn’t seem to recognize me but as I glance at her “staff” card hanging around her neck stating her name and her credentials I greet her with a “nice to see you again Eva” in Swedish…

It’s the swedish nurse who took care of me on and off after my water broke only 29 weeks pregnant with my daughter!

I completely bombard her with questions in Swedish and by the time her shift is over we both agree that I have a nasty stomach bug (as evident by the hours of nonstop vomiting and my kid Ss beng just as sick at home) but that it’s NOT pregnancy related, (but since my condition affects the pregnancy and the baby’s condition), I should stay 24 hours for observation, (but be released to be able to re-plan the holidays with my family).

As she checks my temperature and my vitals we chat about everything from family to pregnancy to travel, to various illnesses (she is a nurse and we are in a hospital after all). Of course I see the opportunity to pick apart every part of my four pregnancies (as well as miscarriages) and my different complications (poor woman), seeking out honest, down to earth responses in my first language!
We are really bonding and she is quite interesting. She makes me “promise” not to come back before I’m at least 39 weeks, saying babies actually NEED to stay in that long to be “fully cooked”.

The night nurse seems to resent our closeness and as she is taking over AND is about to set an IV I try to connect with her as well (but no such luck).

It takes five nurses to try to set the IV (my poor arms and hands are bleeding and black and blue by the time they are done-and they still don’t succeed). They fear I’m dehydrated but as they can’t give me fluids and I’m not allowed to eat yet (unable to keep even small sips of water down) they call for the expert!

For him, I have to wait, it’s after midnight when he comes in my room. “Him” being the anesthesiologist, sets the IV like it’s nothing and tells me to call him “Doctor Hurt Less”
“Be sure to ask for ME when this baby is ready to come out, around 39 weeks” (why does everyone keep saying that!?)

I have to spend an agonizing 3 days in the hospital without my family, until my fever is down, I’m no longer dehydrated and until the baby “behaves” on the monitor (being hooked up to the machines yet again checking the baby’s heart rate, fetal kicks and movement and mama’s contractions). After 24 hours I have contractions big enough to suggest preterm labor (probably caused by dehydration) which earns me another 24 hours.

After 48 hours my blood test results come back suggesting “a severe” iron deficiency.

When I finally get release it is with stern orders not to travel, ESPECIALLY out of the country…
They set me up with iron infusions straight through an IV at the “hospital main” twice a week until my iron levels stabilize. With those appointments plus my stress tests at the doctor’s office three times a week – I’m going to need a lot of help watching my other little ones at home!

When I get back to my family and all the packed suitcases, I get sad (and spend a weepy hour Skyping my mom, even entertaining the thought that the family could go to Sweden without me) but we all regroup, talking about the summer and next Christmas.

My family and I take a short vacation to “Knott’s Berry Farm” and spend an amazing Christmas with the family we have here. Not according to plan but definitely cozy, fun, warm and memorable!

It might not be white but it still is wonderful!!

Blue Christmas (part 1)

I know I shouldn’t be upset. This is in MY best interest after all and more importantly the baby’s, but when the PA says I have to be admitted to the HOSPITAL all I feel is dread…

 

A flood of memories wash over me, are they really saying my huge bump and I could be spending the Christmas holidays in a hospital?? and what’s even worse, do they really think the baby could be at risk???
I can’t believe it, as I try to laugh it off when asking if I can still go to Sweden (I can right? Maybe they just want to keep us for a 24 hour observation) the PA (my “friend” Eva, remember her!?) gives me a stern look telling me that this isn’t funny at all but quite serious…
I’m at a loss for words, what is wrong then? I exclaim!
Baby looked great on the ultrasound. The huge doses of pregnancy hormones have wired me shut down there (with no exit in sight for our little guy) and there are no abnormal doses of protein in my urine.
This is the answer I’m given…
“You have a fever, you show signs of pre-e, you are 30 weeks pregnant with a high risk pregnancy…”
Eva hands me the thick orange envelope, sending me on my way to the hospital entrance and admittance window…
I cannot believe it as I stare at the paperwork the words “acute febrile illness”, “cyst on left ovary”, “history of pre-eclampsia”, “history of preterm labor” and “geriatric pregnancy” become blurry.
I know I’m acting like a child, I need to suck it up and take care of myself and ultimately this little innocent life inside of me but…
This pregnancy has been so bad, straight from our miscarriage, I have been feeling so ill from the very first moment, I’m so huge and so hormonal and so alone and right now so sick…
I can’t help it, even if I’m totally “geriatric” (being in my late 30s and all) and already a mother of 3, my tears spill over as I’m asking (more like pleading and begging) the PA Eva one last time…
“If this turns out to be something I ate or a stomach bug instead of pre-e and the baby and I both look good in a few days do I get to go with my family to Sweden?”.
“Honestly, NO”
what??
“You have a blood filled cyst that can rupture any moment and even if it’s unlikely you don’t want that to be on a plane”.
“You could develop pre-eclampsia especially since you had it before or your water can break despite the barrier due to your big baby and this being your fourth- you don’t want any of those or other seriously life threatening scenarios to happen thousands of miles from your doctors or thousands of miles up in the air-trust me!”
“You know, you are not flying to LA BUT Europe, being from Germany, I know just how far and what that trip entails”
Wow, how come nobody had explained it to me like that before?
I was here today under the assumption that I was “allowed” to travel to Sweden, just needing the letter to give to the airline (and my meds, syringes and letter for those).
It feels like me getting sick blew every change of me (and us) going away…
The pouty child in me gets mad at her but after my tearful FaceTime call to my mom as I walk over to the big hospital around the corner I realize that I’m under excellent care, that I should listen to the professionals and that my plans (and dreams for the holidays) and my will means nothing when all that matters is this baby’s health! (And my own since I’m the one cooking him until he is completely [hopefully] done).
Before I even reach the hospital doors, I get the text that the kids at home are throwing up…

Change of plans

Sorry readers,
I know it’s been months and months again, but as it turns out having FOUR little kids (six and under when the last one joined us) IS hard (course you know-it’s one more and he is a newborn and you still have an almost two year old “tantruming” toddler, an almost 4 year old stubborn little miss sassy pants and a very loud, wild, talkative, demanding almost seven year old).
The newborn stage is difficult with all the sleepless nights and the sore nipples, the bleeding and the crying and what not… BUT it is especially difficult when you have to keep up with three more kids. Their endless activities and school assignments, projects and schedules take on a life of its own.  ESPECIALLY when you angelic baby (the one w/o a school schedule) turns on you (to the opposite of angelic) right before you give birth to the next baby!
Rewind to December, I was 30 weeks pregnant and despite my huge (literally) discomfort I was super excited about going to my home country of Sweden for Christmas. All the plans were made, present bought and wrapped, kiddos pumped on both sides of the world! We had packed all our brand new winter clothes, (for three kids, their daddy and their very pregnant mama) hoping for snow! I was slightly nervous about the flight though, having a high risk pregnancy and my babies’ tendency to become extra difficult in the end and then show up way too soon. I also had a rather large cyst crowding the baby on my left ovary to worry about. (And the tiny detail of traveling with three crazy kids by air across the Atlantic).
I talked to my mom daily leading up to our travels. The Christmas plan was in full swing with tons of amazing (and yummy) plans for our family and with both my siblings and their families coming together as well!
My doctors were on board (not the plane but with the plan)! My cyst seemed to have shrunk, baby looked great on all ultrasounds, no signs of pre-eclampsia as of yet, I mustered up some extra energy for my prenatal appointments and all was well.
Until it wasn’t…

Second Chances…

We make it to 12 weeks and beyond and I become acutely aware of our loss yet again (not that a single day go by when I don’t think of her).
Having my parents here help me feel better and we invite the in-laws over for cheesecake and champagne, finally feeling safe enough to tell them the good news (their 20th grandchild!!)

I am grateful- of course I am but it also feels confusing and somehow surreal (despite having been through multiple pregnancies including two losses).
It’s like the constant state of illness makes it extra hard to feel joy and the joy I (we) have is still overshadowed by doubt and fear. It’s almost like I’m ashamed of this fourth pregnancy- like it’s too much somehow, that I don’t deserve it- that something WILL go wrong…

I never felt as ill as I do this summer. It rubs away memories, sunny pool days, playdates and quality time with my kids- it really does and I’m sad about that. Every day is a battle – and listen I know I’m not sick (thinking about moms with chronic illnesses and unthinkable terminal diseases I should really count my blessings)
I feel like a spoiled brat or just like a very ungrateful human being. Maybe I should just embrace this constant nausea, belly aches and pains, heartburn, fatigue and general feeling of yuck! I do try- thinking about not feeling ill in my previous pregnancy, prior to our loss-and how wrong that went. That this little boy might be trying to remind me that he is still in there-thriving! But come on-it’s so difficult-is it possible to hint in a more subtle way?
My mom and I joke that “someone up there” might be telling me something. Like God is giving me this last pregnancy but making certain it IS my very last one!!

My one and a half year old and his daddy are getting closer during the fall, this is exactly what happened when my oldest son was his little brother’s age. But this time I feel like the little one knows something is up-and it’s almost like he is punishing me for it. He is pushing me away both physically (hard) and emotionally (harder). He cries for his daddy when he is gone, talks about him (dada dada dada) all day, and they are inseparable when they are together (giving his big brother some competition for dad’s attention that he is not used to). With our daughter, I would describe her as unpredictable and up and down in her parental favoritism! I told my husband that he now has both boys, loyal to him like puppies and I have no one. He suggests darling daughter but agrees that her gifts of attention are like rare gems (and therefore very precious and extremely special). “If our boys are loyal dogs, our daughter is more like a cat” he exclaims!

The holidays are coming up and my pregnancy progresses very slowly it seems. My nausea goes beyond the typical 12-14 weeks like it never has before and I find myself complaining at every doctors’ appointment. I hate doing that (and I still keep it on the down low because of course there is little they can do about it AND I’m not a complainer by nature). The “real” nausea meds help once I’m off of the B6 and B12 (did nothing for me) and the sleep medicine I could never take (because hello drowsiness and driving kids around- eh NO!!!).

Our oldest has started first grade (I can’t believe how old he is getting) and upon seeing the mommies at school again I feel so huge, I feel like they can guess my “condition”. Nobody does but I feel like I’m at least ten weeks further along than I really am (of course I’m not and we are well aware of the exact date of conception).

As our daughter’s due date (the daughter we will never have) approaches frighteningly fast- I’m not ready for those depressing feelings to wash over me yet again. I’m definitely not ready for pumpkin patches and costumes. I remember thinking that I would “cheat” my kids out of Halloween this year by having a newborn and not have time for all the celebrations around the holiday. This makes me of course feel double the guilt since I’m without a baby but STILL don’t feel up to celebrations, organizing, planning and “doing it all” for my kids. I sure still try in a fog of sickness and sadness.

My arthritis is acting up again, I’m suffering of pelvic pain, I pee constantly, I can’t sleep, I still throw up most mornings and some afternoons and heavy, spicy and fat foods give me crazy heartburn (isn’t one of the benefits of being pregnant that you can EAT said things…??). Despite having to watch what I eat, I gain like an overweight hippo with unlimited food supply…

We survive Halloween- way beyond telling everyone the reason for my giant frame and people probably think my due date is around the corner. Telling them “February” seems like a joke!

Around the corner are the rest of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving and especially Christmas!! My only light at the end of the tunnel is that we are spending Christmas in Sweden with my family!
I cannot wait (we have planned this forever, it’s my family’s year and even if I’m not looking forward to the extremely long flights-I am looking forwards to my mom’s food and care and to just being “home”).
My doctor’s are on board so far and just knowing I will land surrounded by Christmas and love and that once we get back we can really start focusing on our forth baby coming-I feel good! I feel great! I can do this people! I can do this!!!

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!

 

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