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…

Perfect (NOT) timing…

The Friday before we were going home to Sweden for the holidays I have my last doctor’s appointment. This appointment is very important since everything needs to look great (baby and I) for them to let me go on this long trip (and back).
I need a letter from my specialists explaining the syringes and meds I need to bring and another letter explaining that I AM allowed to travel pregnant (being high risk and all…but probably more me being 30-31 weeks but looking like at least 36!). There is rules about traveling internationally after 36 weeks after all…
Of course (and cruelly so) I wake up that Friday feeling more nauseous than ever (and here I thought I was past the worst nausea).
An hour before I have to leave for my appointment I empty out the entire content of my stomach violently, including what I just “tried” to eat, (my mandatory a.m. “grande, decaf java chip frappe” make a come back -yuck!) in the guest bathroom by the kitchen (I didn’t get any further).
My mom and I debate the reason for my sudden “sickness” in a panicky FaceTime call wondering if it could be “baby related” or not…?
As a “curtesy” (more out of fear to be honest because as we know…you never know…), I call my doctor’s office letting them know how I feel, explaining that I must have ate something or it might be a stomach bug (great timing huh!?), could they (pretty please) see me on Monday (the day before we are supposed to leave?) but all they hear is the possibility of pre-eclampsia…
Of course they tell me to “come in right away” …
I dread my appointment while I wait in the waiting room (had to call my husband to come home sooner and cancel his last appointment to rush home to stay with the kids). I really really want to go home for Christmas! It’s all I have been looking forward to for months!! All that kept me going at my sickest most uncomfortable moments (not really bad moments more like weeks-months)…
I feel extremely nauseous but trusting that my stomach is good and empty already (but locating the nearest bathroom OUTSIDE of the office just in case).
I really want to get the “go ahead” (and the letters to show at the airport/s) to go home to Sweden on Tuesday morning, that is after all why I’m here today (I was here just days ago after all).
The nurse takes one look at me before taking a giant step back (do I really look that bad?) asking “How are we feeling today”
I hesitate, do I tell her the truth? That I’m miserable….Could this be something other than “something I ate” or a stomach bug?
Could this somehow affect the baby or have anything to do with my pregnancy? (How are WE feeling might actually refer to me AND baby boy).
Obviously I can’t risk anything.
Here goes nothing… “I AM miserable (disgusting details) but I’m suuure it’s a bug”
The nurse leaves to tell the PA (Our stern German  friend Eva) what is going on …
Eva checks me and my baby- ultrasound, “in and out” she even checks my cervix for dilation (which is NOT recommended so close to a long far away trip…)…
All good, baby nice and cozy in there, exit route rock solid. I keep my fingers crossed and say a little prayer..
And then she checks my urine for protein via the nurse, I get my progesterone shot and then she checks my temperature….

Making it to 34 weeks and beyond!!!

I will be 34 weeks next week, what a milestone!!!
Most people with “regular pregnancies” would probably not understand. The truth is though that must Moms-to-be have their struggles and no pregnancy should probably be considered or thought of a “easy” or “regular”. Pregnancy for all women is a risky thing and it is probably the “biggest” thing you do in life (I know some women can’t get pregnant and some women choose not to, I’m just simply saying that it is a huge event in a mother’s life, carrying a human being inside your very body for months ending in delivery with the added risks to their own health and wellbeing as well as the baby’s).

As much as this pregnancy has not been easy (read: surprise, disbelief, extreme nausea, low fluid, step B, UTIs, low thyroid function, bed rest at home, mild to moderate preeclampsia with high blood pressure and hear palpitations, two overnights at the ER/hospital and the overhanging fear that something might go wrong at any moment or WORSE; something might be wrong with the baby), it has also taught me a lot and we made it this far, which is such a blessing. We cannot wait until this baby joins our family and as long as he or she is healthy that is all that matters.

I’m finally allowing myself to feel excited! 34 weeks feels like such a special accomplishment, somehow I never believed that I would make it. It is wrong however, somehow to see it like such a feat, like what I did (or didn’t do) last time wasn’t an accomplishment. I’ve heard preemie mom saying that they felt like failures, unable to keep their babies in long enough. Like they kind of didn’t succeed in the whole childbearing/pregnancy thing. Like they had a choice…
What a joke.

What is worse I have heard of OTHER people shaming preemie moms for delivering early! That is not only incredibly stupid but obviously ridiculous and cruel. The ignorance here is beyond words and discussion.

I have a couple of great appointments where my mother-in-law (luckily back from her trip) takes the kids. Baby is kicking and contractions are mild and irregular during my bi-weekly non-stress tests and the fluid is low but stable an manageable (I drink more water than seemingly humanly possible).

I sometimes share a room with the most neurotic of moms-to-be in the non-stress-test rooms, thinking they might go into labor any second like right then and there (I must say some of the nurses are quite amazing in dealing with these situations). But I most remember that I don’t know what these moms have been through before…

I know the drill by now, reading my book, catching up on e-mails and texts, writing or simply resting. If baby is doing excellent the test only takes about twenty minutes to get a good reading but sometimes you have to stay over an hour (not fun on your bladder let me tell you). Baby always does better than mommy, with my blood pressure issue, but luckily over the next few weeks we always get released, on step closer to our desired goal, closer to to full- term and our actual due date!

I joke with everyone that the more time goes by the more certain I become that this lil person inside me is determined to prove momma and her doctors wrong. He or she will stubbornly hang on forever and might decide to never come out. I will probably stay preggers forever!
With that many injected hormones in my body, I wouldn’t be surprised if I will give birth to a 42 week ten ponder!

I’m beyond happy that my mom is arriving in a few days. I’m starting to arrive myself soon in what I call the safe zone of pregnancy! As long as I make it another couple of weeks my baby will no longer be considered a preemie and won’t need the steroid shoots or added care (unless seething else is wrong of course) I have never made it further than 37 weeks and start to fantasize about those last weeks of pregnancy when you turn so huge that everyone says you look like you are “ready to pop”!!
I know, I know it sounds (and is) uncomfortable but as every preemie mommy knows, it is longed for, desirable and so so worth it.

Talking about preemie moms, the young couple with their babies in the NICU are staying with us and even though their little ones are doing better, I feel for them. This is such a tough time for them, full of uncertainties and I almost feel guilty for making it this far parading around with my big belly. I shouldn’t feel bad of course and I know this but it is…hard!
We decide to have a bbq with them and my mom for darling daughter’s second birthday coming up (it still blows my mind that she is almost two, TWO!!! And such an amazing little girl).

The week my mom comes I drive to more appointments than ever, having more ultrasounds in a week than I had in both my previous pregnancies.

I promise my mom to pick her up at the airport and half-jokingly to not have a baby while she is in the air or be in the hospital instead of picking her up!
She missed my son’s birth by a day, thinking she would have over two weeks with me before he was due, and she missed my daughter’s birth because she had to be home watching said son while I was giving birth! I will never be able to thank her enough for rushing to my side when I completely shocked went on hospital bed rest at week 29, two years ago (she took the next flight out…from Sweden!!!)

And now she is coming again, on a plane, ready to be there for me- for us, ready to takle anything for a with me and I am incredible thankful to have her!
Thankful also to my mother- in-law who watches the kids yet again while I head to the doctors office and my bi-weekly fluid check!
I will pick up my mom right after…

 

Quite Chaotic

Thanksgiving comes and goes in that rushed end of the year frenzy. I’m feeling calm and happy and yes, since you ask; just a little bit glowing!
I’m reaching the middle of this journey and can’t believe I made it this far and hoping that the worst is behind me; that from now on it will be an “easy” (never is, is it?) “normal” (ha), healthy adventure!

I feel hopeful and joyful and although life has taught me to be cautious I’m also allowing myself to think that maybe what people say is true; the third IS the easy one!

I feel grounded in the life plan (gift from above!?) to have another child and I feel better about my ability to do this with the help of my family and support of my friends. Yes, it will be difficult and yes I don’t have much help but I finally feel like I landed in the feeling that I can do this and that everything will be okay- good even. Kids are challenging but they are also quite awesome (I’m glad you didn’t ask me during my first trimester). I’m starting a better routine for my children and myself and start planning for a stricter (!) schedule for after the holidays and for the new year! Darling daughter will have to get a functional bedtime routine, a “big girl bed” and she will also have to sleep in it…alone…and all through the night!
Darling son will have to start eating FOOD…with real utensils…at meal times…
And drink out of a BIG boy cup (aka real glass…is anyone else out there tired of sippy cups!?)
Those are just examples and tip of the iceberg but you have to start somewhere!

Yes I know I will simultaneously have a kindergartener, a terrible two “potty trainer” AND a newborn (how is that for a plan)…so what?!? It will all be fine because it WILL- because it HAS to.

Jump forward from those very “small” concerns to the real stuff; my 20 week’s ultrasound!

My sister came as a wonderful birthday wish for a long weekend. Too bad we had to squish in some less than wonderful shoots (not the fun kind- the long needle kind) with some very unfriendly side effects (don’t ask…) and the big anatomy scan.
We are also currently in a state of chaos because someone decide to randomly put our house on the market just to “see what happens” (well we have a PLAN …sort of…) in the middle of pregnancy, a major trip to Sweden, CHRISTMAS and with two kiddos and a dog! You have no idea the work it entails to make your house ready for photos and a “virtual tour” as well as open houses! We have lived here over five years of puppyhood, babyhood, toddlerhood and preschool…eh hood!? After all…

It is a very very nice house but still the little fixes and to schedule them in the midst of cleaning, sorting and throwing while planning, hosting and attending holiday parties, dinners and functions is less than ideal. Did I tell you darling husband is out of town during this ?! Noo?? Well our planning is impeccable isn’t it! Did I also mention the trip to another continent?…and that I’m pregnant with worries such as preeclampsia, UTIs and “fluid level issues”. Yes, well okay… Maybe now you get it!? At least kind of/sort of!

Anyways I do my very best to welcome my sister “auntie” with open arms as do my children who are delighted that she is here for some fun and snuggle time. Little girl is finally ready for other arms to hold her (no more “only mommy” which is totally bittersweet) and little boy is an excited ball of energy (what else is new). We laugh, we eat and we do get some sister time to just re-connect, talk and be us which is quite amazing and totally worth the short trip (hopefully for both of us) in the middle of all the “life stuff” (we do use her as a sitter, drag her to doctor’s appointments and even to look at a house).

I’m worried about this big ultrasound, especially since no one can come with me and I feel vulnerable somehow doing it alone (I mean even my husband attended my other ones because this is the big important one where they check that everything is really okay! And sis who I would have loved to bring has to watch the kids who are not under any circumstances allowed…hmm) but shouldn’t have any reasons to. They have never seen anything (other than “IT”) before and my fluid level has been acceptable and cervix length good (again, if you don’t get it- no need to ask for clarification…no really!)
I still go in slightly anxious about it all but at the same time preoccupied with my sister being here, a house we are about to look at with great potential and all the holiday stuff (loving this time of year). Not preparing for anything our of the ordinary really…

Unfortunately it isn’t the underlying fears for what could show up at the ultrasound (as not seeing certain features or body parts clearly as my daughter’s spine or the fluid being too low) but something extremely unexpected- something a lot different…

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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