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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An Adventurous Week: Day 1

Well this week started off like all weeks after a NOT so perfect Sunday; (and nothing at all like I had planned and imagined it) the dreaded Monday came (Sunday’s are usually fine but I always dread Mondays because I think it’s somehow ingrained in me- even if I don’t have school anymore or a job in that sense- I still have to get up in the morning and I do have to parent-alone).

This morning started like most others with the added loaded promise that it was just the first of many without a break. It was the unwelcoming wake-up call, the too enthusiastic 5 year old, the complete opposite whiny three year old, the hysterically crying, hungry baby, the missing shoe, the toilet paper issue, the refusing to go potty, (and brush teeth and dress), the tantrum over the lack of favorite cereal, wrong yoghurt, dress, color of underwear (and you know my face…) the too long nursing session, the lack of wipes available by the changing table, the dog stealing the last waffle, the project due NOT in the backpack…and the list goes on and on..

We are out the door (two in pjs, one still hungry, one still in pull-ups missing a shoe) only slightly late and a new day has officially started and it’s bound to be interesting because with kids it always, always is.

Picking up my oldest after school, I have already taken care of the mishaps of the morning, both little kids have “proper” clothing on (who cares if the dress and leggings don’t match and are of different sizes, if the princess crown is crocked or if she is wearing “Sofia the first” play shoes since we never did find the other shoe…thank goodness the baby still lets me dress him…well maybe boys are just always easier in that regard), the kitchen is cleaned, a “better” breakfast has been consumed, teeth brushed, underwear and sufficiently wiped butt have been taken care of. We also managed to run to the store (out of organic, no added sugar apple juice…it’s still bad for them I knooow), taken a nap (well…) and had lunch (drive thru Starbucks-my best friend as of late).

We are here and on time. Little sister having trouble walking in her too big, plastic Sofia shoes. We listen to the list of things big brother didn’t do well today and then we walk back to the car, nurse baby brother, change his disgusting diaper (seriously it is stinking up the whole car) and strap everyone in, the three year old being the biggest battle. Then we wait for all the cars to disappear so that we can get out of our parking spot and leave the school (a good 20 minutes later…I am paying major overages charges on my phone data for sitting there enjoying, gasp, the freedom of my kids unable to go anywhere, checking e-mail and social media).

Starbucks drive thru AGAIN but this time they accidentally give us cream cheese instead of butter with the plain bagels- oh the horror (you could only imagine). After school program brings its own drama where the parents have to meet to discuss something crucial and alarming and oh so important while baby boy is screaming (probably hungry again, he is always hungry…even when he just ate).

I just have this awful feeling that while big brother is learning and the little kids are playing, they will get hurt somehow (I’m telling you it felt like I just knew) so I keep waiting for it. I don’t know if it’s mom’s intuition or what but it’s certainly freaky as first my daughter falls and skins both knees (always extra alarming with her blood condition) and then…

So I put the baby boy on one of those animal swings, knowing he is too little and knowing before I do it that I shouldn’t (not sure why I still do it but I am being extra careful). I am feeling like ridiculously crazy mommy and maybe that is why I am ignoring that little voice in my head. I put his tiny hands securely on the metal bar, thinking I have things under control…when all of a sudden his little body slides away as I’m still holding his hands and fall forward and under…

And that’s it, there is blood…

His mouth is bleeding and he is crying that real “I got really hurt cry”. First I’m examining his teeth, already jumping to extremes of fallen baby teeth but after I feel better that they all seem intact, I feel embarrassed by parental stares “yes I was watching (even holding) my baby and he is STILL bleeding…”

Since I am certain his little mouth didn’t hit anything I’m confused at first about the blood, but then realized he got scared when his body lunched forward and bit his own lip…hard (as evident by the tiny tooth marks) poor little guy!

(Semi-) surviving this evening we finally get in the car, only to discover that we are out of gas…

So we get home, calling dad to go pick up dinner (he does that on Mondays  because we always get home so late and close to bed time), only he is not answering.

An hour later, still nothing. The kids all ate and are in pjs with brushed teeth as I start to worry…

The frazzled, slightly lost and confused new mom…

As I slowly walk away from my brand new kindergartener’s school, feeling empty and a little lost, baby boy starts crying on cue!

Nothing like a gut wrenching hunger scream to take you back to reality. I quickly realize that all three of us (it does feel like I’m missing one) have to go all the way back to the car so I can feed the baby before the “coffee with the school moms”. So we start walking…

The restaurant across the street is beyond full of mingling mommas. My little daughter is trying to hold on to me for dear life as I try to maneuver her and the baby in the carrier .

There is hot coffee, giggling mamas and their legs everywhere- my two year old daughter is basically being swallowed by the crowd. I don’t think this is the place for me and my young to be right now. There are no other kids here and I come to the understanding that these moms are older (not that I am exactly young) and so are their kids. I challenge myself to talk to at least three different moms. They all seem nice but very different from myself and not quite what I’m used to. I try to introduce myself, give a compliment and ask a question. The planner in me feels like I’m checking off a check list not being genuine or trying to make friends. But I do want to be genuine and I do want to make new friends. I try to get out of my comfort zone and not think “I have all the friends I need”. This is not only for me but for my kids-my oldest and the other two following him! It just feels like this crowd has a secret I’m not in on … but I should make an effort to find out what it is. Some of them are very cold and stand off-ish but I must say, most of them do seem warm and approachable.

I make my rounds and manage to talk to three different woman- all of them with older kids, their youngest being in kindergarten. Not a lot of babies or toddlers beings seen or talk about diaper brands (organic, cloth or *gasp* plastic) or potty trading tips being heard. It makes sense now that they all seem to know each other since they have other kids in the same school. I feel like a lot of new information is being thrown at me and I feel totally unprepared, unpolished, and frankly like I’m left out of some “perfect manicured mom’s club”. I am that frazzled new mom who makes the mistake of bringing her smelly, whiny little kids to a classy event. Except my littlests are totally behaved (AND they smell delicious…at least I think so but I might be biased…then I remember the leggings) and I thought this was a “come as you are, casual coffee after drop off thing”…

I’m officially exhausted after discussions school safety and security as well as the kids cafeteria menus and meal plans with mom number 3 and have to excuse myself (who am I kidding? She is so bored by my input-or lack thereof she is already seeking a more gluten/dairy free, pro huge fenced in/gated school mom after a couple of sentences from me even if I’m totally pro healthy eating and school safety!)

Trying to avoid my little girl getting trampled, our little gang (feeling totally misplaced) head for the door.

For the first couple of weeks, we are supposed to walk our brand new school kids to their classroom and drop them off and walk to their classroom to pick them up. More seasoned moms with older kids get to pick their kids up by car-stopping (more like a rolling stop) by the side walk.

I oblige and walk my son back and forth with his little sister and little brother for weeks. I park at the church the first two weeks but get by week three that if I’m early enough I can snag a parking spot at the actual school, and I won’t get stuck in the line of cars dropping off and picking up (that lines up around the school’s back parking lot-sounds confusing? That is because it is!!! The school itself call drop off and pick up “an organized chaos”…)

After the initial weeks of a lot of walking a baby who just wants to eat and sleep and hates the in an out of his car seat and a hysterically grumpy (worst little morning person ever…gets it from me…very proud) toddler who is forced to walk in a rush several times a day…my oldest son and I decide to be brave…

We decide this on the same day as our very first kindergarten play date and we are both very excited…until we are actually stuck in that school line of cars at drop off…

Between a rock and a hard [head] place!

I drive as fast as I dare, freaking myself out when I’m allowing myself to think at every stop sign and red light. After I park haphazardly across two parking spots, I grab the kiddos telling them that we have to hurry to make sure big brother is okay!

I run with my littlest bumping against my stomach (still that stubborn belly looks about four months pregnant, seriously…) in his carrier. Baby girl’s little legs can barely keep up with me and I keep squeezing her hand to follow along, but it’s like she knows this is serious so she is not whining or complaining.

When I reach the camp site I catch my breath and it’s like I can’t breathe again until I see him…

Playing …

He seems fine, running around with his friends. I stop to ask the camp leader what really happened. The story is scary really. The rock that another boy threw on my son’s head looks huge. I close my eyes for a second, thanking God that he is okay.
His leader tells me he was dizzy after the accident and had to lay down, they also iced his bump for a good half hour. At least the boy throwing the rock didn’t mean to. It was truly an accident and they were just playing (dragons apparently…). I do have time to think (which I realize is a little nuts…but I always kind of go there…) “I’m glad it wasn’t MY son throwing the rock”…

The camp director had told me to call my son’s doctor just in case, (hopefully out of genuine care and concern not only liability) because the rock was so big and it did make him fall to the ground and made him groggy afterwards.
As I collect my son (and all his stuff), my two other little ones are being really good. As we are walking with his friend and her mom (and my friend) towards the car his legs does look wobbly and he falls down when trying to play with her on the top of the hill by the parking lot. He tells me that “everything is still spinning”…
And that would be my cue to call the doctor…
Better safe than sorry for sure!

Unfortunately his doctor is out of town but another doctor will see him as soon as we are able to come, they take head injuries like that very seriously (even though his bump isn’t that big-it’s not about the bump on the outside…). We have to cancel ice cream with our friends and head straight for the doctors’ office.

The new female doctor is completely serious and has my son go through a series of tests where he has to walk in a straight line, move legs and arms certain ways and follow her fingers with his eyes. He is acting tired and tells her he feels faint so she has him laying down and we all get to wait until he feels better. I guess I make a face like “really it can’t be that bad”… Because she gives me a stern look and tells me that my son has a concussion and that I need to be very cautious as well as concerned and as long as he is feeling tired, faint and disoriented we will have to stay in the doctors’ office.
I assure her that I’m taking my son’s condition very seriously and that I AM in fact concerned…its just that it’s really hard to just “hang out” here with two other little ones…

My two years old is hungry and cranky and I’m trying to nurse the baby while she is yelling that she want to go home. My oldest is uncharacteristically quiet, laying down, which does worry me.

Two hours, a tantrum, three poopy diapers and some random spit up and clothes changing later the doctor is finally willing to let us go. Before she does so I have to sign some papers basically promising to take him straight to the ER if he starts acting funny, to keep him still (hmm) for the next week (yup; not a problem whatsoever…) and the dangers of a second blow to his head (brain bleed…ok time to get on board with the scariness of the situation). I listen to the doctor and I sign, collecting my three very, tired, hungry and whiny kids (I’m exhausted myself).

Everyone is gone for the day, the office and lobby empty, dark and quiet. I take my son “potty” (an older woman pointing out as she leaves that maybe he is old enough to go to the men’s restroom by himself…soo not the time lady…) and change the other two’s diapers before we leave the building (hoping that they will not lock us in here while we are in the bathroom). Luckily we make it out okay and head straight for Whole Foods (aka “whole paycheck” I know) buying the kids ridiculously expensive snacks and juices as well as really yummy pizza!
My son is chatting away, teasing his little sister and tickling his little brother at the table we struggled to get to outside, stroller, pizza, groceries, kids and all…
I’m just grateful he is okay!!

We are now gearing up for a quiet and really restful (!) week at home-heading for the 4th of July with tons of fun plans before daddy goes out of town for work for another week…

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Right after

 

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The day after

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Super mom and hard heads…

I love having three kids, I always, always wanted THREE!! Didn’t I mention that before, no?

But seriously this baby is so dreamy it doesn’t feel at all like the other two (can I say that…?). Yes, I might be older and more sleep deprived and I have two older ones this time around, but it’s like he knows this (taking it easy on his mama) with every toothless grin. His smiles make my heart melt every time and he smiles way more than he cries. He is still only two months old but he is quite the charmer and so easy going. I’m not comparing here (would never) but…

When we are out and about our little (big) baby just tags along. His big brother loves to love on him (this is also the kid with major boundary issues..but the biggest heart..but baby boy doesn’t seem to mind/quite the opposite…more toothless grins) and his sister wants to change, clothe and bathe him (no I don’t let her…she is two, people!) -but mostly she wants me to put him down somewhere (no smiles here), so I can carry her instead!

Everywhere I go, I get compliments. It’s very flattering really, it’s not like I have an obscene amount of kids-I mean some people have four or even more (and seem to juggle them just fine). Those moms (and/or dads) are the true heroes (my husband is one of five for example). I go to Subway (sandwich place my oldest son is particularly fond of), nursing the littlest, while trying to break off a food fight between the older two and calm down the yelling (5 year old) and the random requests turned tantrums (2 year old). This mom comes up to our table and out of nowhere she tells me I’m amazing and that she only has ONE two year whom she can barely handle. It feels nice and kinda needed.

This is one of the things I love about Americans, their ability and ease of complimenting total strangers! I mean they so don’t need to.

 

 

At Ikea the other day (represent!) a lady totally gets out of her way to tell me I should get “the mother of the year award” (as I roll a cart full of stuff as well as my two year old, baby in the carrier, preschooler in one hand-ordering hotdogs, pizza AND ice cream; hey! Don’t judge!!). A Swede (and I am one) would never (never say never) do this and I really appreciate it!

Today I drop off at camp, even though my son has received his third and final warning-hoping against all odds that they let him stay (let’s just say we BOTH need him too) and this mom tells me I’m so awesome for getting three kids ready in the morning and for still being on time (kind of). I thank her, but she probably has no idea how much this means to me. A couple of nice words can really make a difference! (Thanks again nice camp mom with the Cali hat and purple yoga pants!)
The drop off goes smoothly to all our surprise but it’s not the usual girl checking us in! The guy who does gives me strange looks as I wait around, easing my way backwards towards the car, expecting them to call me back to get my little short delinquent any moment, but nothing! Yes!

Not so fast…

I’m on the phone Skyping with my mom once I’m back home with my two little ones, when an unfamiliar Arizona number pops up on my phone. I usually don’t answer weird numbers but as soon as I miss the call I fear it might be from my son’s camp.

As I listen to the voicemail-I’m filled with dread. It’s the camp director and she is telling me to come get my son right away…

Not because he is in fact kicked out or has done anything wrong, no… quite the opposite- he is the one who is hurt…

“It’s his head mom” I yell, “he got hit, he is dizzy and laying down, telling them his tired (tired…MY son?). I have to get him right away”. As I’m  running around, changing the baby (kinda had to be down), letting the dog inside and strapping two kids into their car seats, I fear the worst-he got hit in the head and I brought him there. I brought him to this camp. I brought him there even though he had three warnings and we were told three warnings meant that you are kicked out…
Maybe it was a sign…I took him anyways…
What if this injury is way worse than they told me…

lost boy and various leakage…

 

Talking about special moments, hubby and I have started our exercise regime again (they don’t call it “working” out for nothing).
Let me tell you, it is brutal. I’m so incredible sore after doing next to nothing and it’s just so disappointing!
On top of that I seem to have completely lost my abs. They are far gone, and I worked so hard to gain them back after our princess was born. I was actually in pretty good shape after becoming pregnant with number three…
Now he is sitting there in sister’s pink baby bouncer, happy as can be with his toothless grins, while we work out, so it is impossible not to think it’s worth it (a million times over of course).
If he would only sleep more at night as to not turn mommy into a day time zombie (read; for example only shaving one leg in the shower…twice in a row…and yes, unfortunately it WAS the same leg).

I’m worried about driving my kids around in this state of acute sleep deprivation but oldest has his adventure camp! That is going okay so far but I know it’s early yet and since it’s his first week, he is still charming everyone with his big brown eyes, blond (nearly white) hair, crooked smile and smooth talking (yep, he can charm his way out of everything – until you catch on). This is totally his honeymoon phase! (Camp leaders are still smiling…I’m not about to warn them but my insides are screaming “you just wait…” While on the outside I’m also smiling, thanking them for their compliments about my son…soaking it all in-while I can!)

Today after picking him up from camp (after an early morning of getting three kids ready and a couple of hours of just having two kids-both refusing to nap with me) I have the brilliant idea of taking us all grocery shopping! (Well we are out of numerous essential, you know such as diapers and…Apple juice…my kids are “Apple juice-oholics” shush don’t tell the perfect “no juice mommies” not even the organic, “only sugar from fruit” kinds).

As I pull up to camp, both kids are sleeping (of course they are). The older one crying hysterically when I lift her out of the car brutally waking her. She is naturally refusing to walk claiming her “legs don’t work” but I need to get her little brother. As I carry her around the car, I try to explain this to her, hmm, yeah to a two-year old! I was on time, even slightly early but now I’m getting late (of course I am).

I run, half way dragging my “terrible two-er” while bouncing my little guy in the baby carrier, out of breath towards my son’s group leader. How weird, why isn’t she smiling today?
“Yes, okay, I understand, we will totally tell him about this at home and about the seriousness of staying with the group, not running away and to listen to the group leaders, yes, yes, of course, yes!”
Well, okay, hm!
As I walk, a little less bouncy back with my little loves another mom start sniffing around me announcing that somebody sure is smelly (sigh), while another mom chimes in “smelly belly” (big sigh), “someone has made a poo poo” (huge…)
Okay, I guiltily start smelling my two youngest kiddos. It’s the littlest one and I have to agree it does smell nasty (for only eating breastmilk this guy sure both poops and smells a lot).

I trek over to the restroom, only finding the men’s (oh well, while at camp!)
Of course there is no changing table and the floor is well, really dirty. I can’t go back out there with mr. Smelly pants, otherwise I would have changed him in my car (but not ready for that particular “walk of shame” at the moment).

I put my poor baby Bjorn carrier down on the bathroom floor after having wiped it off (the floor not the carrier-that WAS clean) with a wet paper towel (this is not easy mind you with three little ones in tow, infant boy hanging haphazardly while I mop the ground (not nearly good enough). Then I put the sheer dinosaur swaddle blanket on top of the carrier and finally the baby (who is not happy about this development).

Its not only a stinky one but a leaky one as well (great!) and it ends up being impossible not getting it all over the blanket…
I ask my older son if he needs to go potty, you know while we are here and sniff my daughters diaper too- but no, all good there!

Changing this diaper would go much faster if the toddler isn’t screaming in my ear while hitting her brother-who yells for me to hurry up because there are people waiting (really…) and that I really shouldn’t be in here because this is after all the MEN’S restroom (reeeaaallly)- the only thing appeasing my daughter is “to fix my hair” violently while I’m down on all fours-at a dirty men’s bathroom at a kid’s camp cleaning up poop…
Well you get it, right?

Almost all the way back to the car my oldest announces; I have to go poop!
Very pleased with himself…

We go all the way back, now finding the Women’s restroom a little closer but of course he won’t go there-oh no!
Then we wait for what seems like a really long time. How I manage to keep the little ones entertained beats me-all I know is littlest boy gets some milk and girly gets extremely muddy at the same time. I start thinking about whether I have an extra towel in the car I can put her on..and how bad she will look at the store (read dirty and neglected).

All the way back at the car, guess who smells awful?

Checking her, something brown is seeping thru her pants…and it’s NOT the mud…

The car now smells terrible because I refused to trek back to that restroom again (or any other restroom).

At the store they are all getting on my last nerve. Typically sweet and easy going baby boy has had enough, now loudly announcing that he hates the baby carrier…grocery shopping (apparently) and life in general with desperate wails and heartbreaking sobs in between, only to gain enough energy for more wails! The older kids do not want to be in the cart but drive it! – need I say more??
Such good helpers!!!

I leave my oldest son with the cart to go down the aisle to grab some rice (the good basmati kind…you know not laced with arsenic), holding my girl’s hand and trying to bounce and ignore my miserable baby at the same time.

While picking the rice I hear a store employer’s concerned voice “I’m so sorry your mom left you, we will do anything to help you find her, don’t worry my poor, sweet little man”. I have time to feel sorry for the mom, the kid probably was being a brat and ran away from her or something and this store employer is laying it on thick guilting that poor mom.

As I turn around I see that it IS my son chatting with the store worker, tears running down his face and all…

I raise my voice (scaring my two other kids)
“But I’m right here, I told you to watch the cart so I could go and get rice…
I’m in the SAME aisle”….

My face red-hot, I grab my son, mumble thanks to the confused women trying to help him, leaving the cart.

As I get my bearings, retrieving the cart, because you know we NEED those things, my breasts start to leak, spraying milk right through my dress (and it is not black), dripping down the front while I’m trying to juggle three kids AND pay for our groceries!

Triple dose of hell…

Thursday night I feel exactly like I felt before my son was born, dizzy, nauseous and achy. My stomach is upset and I feel like I’m coming down with a stomach flu. I’m up all night, throwing up and feeling particularly clammy and sweaty and quite miserable. This is it I think, this most be it!!

No other signs follow however, no mucus plug or bloody show (gross I know, sorry), no big gushes of water or contractions. Since I know I have another doctors’ appointment in the morning to check both fluid and do the stress test I make it through the night. I know that they will take good care of me at the appointment and will take every precaution if something is truly “happening”.

By the time of the appointment I feel shaky and am having what can best be described as bad menstrual cramps. They check my water first and the ultrasound technician is asking again if I’m feeling like I’m leaking?
Next up is the stress test where my contractions start coming about ten minutes apart. The nurse eventually count six in twenty minutes and has to call the doctor, scared that it is the real deal.

My doctor comes to see me from her office on the first floor. She hasn’t been wanting to do an internal exam since the beginning of my pregnancy because of several reasons. I am strep B positive which can transfer to the baby, she doesn’t want the water to completely rupture or start labor in any way. Judging by my contractions however she says that she suspect the labor process might have already begun, so she carefully checks my dilation and cervix. I am at 3 cm!

Well, the doctor announces that I probably won’t make it through the weekend. The nurse rushes to get all my paperwork in order should I need to check into the hospital before Monday and my doc reminds me when to go in; big gush of rest of/whole bag of water breaking, bleeding or feeling sick dizzy etc. Oh, I know the drill by now!

Since I’m only 36 weeks and this baby is still not considered “term”, the doctor tells me to go have another progesterone shot. If we are lucky the shot will prolong labor or stall it for another week at least. She does suggest the steroids for the baby’s lungs as well as magnesium if the contractions pick up.  She adds that if the fluid goes ANY lower this baby will be forced to vacate following my appointment next week, while the nurse whispers “you’ll never make it that far” and my doc agrees, “it’s a miracle that baby is even inside you still!”

I go downstairs for the shot and the contractions start getting uncomfortable in the elevator. I really hope this doesn’t keep getting worse or I will have no other choice than checking myself into triage.

As I reach floor one’s doctors office they want to monitor the baby again while also checking my blood pressure, pulse and vitals. Luckily the numbers have all come down to just a “slightly elevated level”.

The registered nurse taking care of me decides that since I have more progesterone left and it is usually recommended to take these shots until at least week 37, sometimes 38, she will give me what is left in hopes that this will stop the labor process right away and carry us through to full term. At this point I agree since I don’t want another premature baby and I just want us both to be okay!

I get my triple shot and as I lay on my side sipping water, I start to feel better.

It is only on the car ride home that I have time to think; well if one single dose of the shot would win us another week, what would this much do? Will I go past due instead of delivering early? Will the shot not only stop labor but also all the symptoms with it? I certainly hope so!
It is important to know that progesterone is the pure female pregnancy hormone and getting a shot of this very thick, potent “liquid” will trick your body into thinking it is pregnant- even if your pregnancy would have ended otherwise (if you hadn’t taken the shot).this is kind of the whole idea…

It works all right, the injections! If I was “iffy” before that is no longer the case. The goal you see is to PROLONG your pregnancy. The longer, the better. To fool your body with the very hormone essential for and in pregnancy. Except I am still pregnant in week 36 and I almost made the goal, won the race, made it until term when I get this “over dose” of the pregnancy hormone directly into my butt muscle, straight into my system! Yes, my contractions subside, yes things slow down…but this is the start of a very prolonged, drawn out, miserable week of labor trying to start and my body’s natural signals trying to compete with this outside intervention of the triple dose injection…

I come home to two (incredibly cute, blond) siblings fighting. They are usually the best of friends…until they are NOT! The little one adores her big brother to no end but also annoys him until he snaps and he can get quite rough with her. As I tell their father to separate them (the only cure at this point), I also add “we might have a third one before the weekend is over!!!”

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Close calls and crying wolf…

So I’m at the ultrasound, by now more worried about any abnormalities than the sinking water, since by now I’m already over 35 weeks and at every check the fluid is low but always seems to be enough!
I go through the routine of telling the ultrasound tec that “no, thanks, we are not finding out the gender” even though I have seen her before (I know she sees so many patients and she might have forgotten however) because to find out so close to meeting our little one would of course be disappointing.
She doesn’t say anything about the amniotic fluid being TOO low but does ask if I have experience increased leakage lately?
I’m not going to answer that, I know I get to see a doctor later and if she questions the fluid, I will have to go from there!

At the non stress test my baby is sleepy, they give me cold water and then juice to try to wake it up but to no avail. Nobody seems too concerned but I do keep an eye on my clock as my mom has already texted that she boarded the plane in LA and I know I need to be out of here pretty soon…

They try to stir the baby with a buzzer which does worry me a bit- not that it will hurt baby but that it’s seems so unresponsive. After an hour, I’m released and thankfully baby has started kicking! I still need to see the doctor and I officially realize that I will be late to pick my mom up. How ironic since I promised her that I had plenty of time and would be there for sure. I’m thinking about the added time of her getting out of the plane and getting luggage, keeping my fingers crossed, I will get out of here very soon!

Nop….

So, the doctor explains that she is very sorry but she feels that she has to send me on another trip to triage because my fluid IS on the border of dangerously low and of course thinking about the added infection risk and risk to baby (still not ideal delivering the little one at only 35 weeks) I have to admit to the random leaking. She thinks I will be fine if the amniotic sac is still there and full enough but she isn’t willing to take any chances, especially given my history.

I make my way over to triage again feeling somewhat defeated, I made it this far. I text my mom what’s going on, hoping she won’t worry and knowing she will understand. Then I call hubby, explaining that, sorry he has to cancel his last appointments to go pick up his mother in law!

At triage they are busy and I keep feeling bad that there are women in there with way bigger problems (and frighteningly smaller tummies) than I, some in immediate danger of delivering unimaginably early. Of course me and my huge frame, feeling fine, are not prioritized, which prolongs things.

I hope my mom turns on her phone as soon as she lands and that my darling husband will be able to locate her and help her with her bags and to the car, not that she needs any help- a seasonal traveling pro by now!
She might get slightly disappointed I’m not picking her up, thinking about the Starbucks and some mother daughter conversation I promised her but I know she will be more worried about the fact that I was sent to triage, probably or at least hopefully for no reason…

Except, there is (almost) always a reason of course, but I keep feeling that this long emotional pregnancy has been full of close calls but miraculously baby and I have made it this far. Since I still have almost 2 weeks to the safe 37 week zone (and three to the ultimate goal of full-term surviving even that week) I do worry however that if they think I’m leaking to much, thinking about the baby not having enough and the infection risk that they will put me on bed rest for the rest of my pregnancy or even (gasp!) decide to take baby out!

Not getting ahead of myself I try to calm down saving my phone battery to hear from mom and husband that she was picked up okay, hoping to be released in time to meet them both at home. I try to focus on how excited I am to be able to show mom our new house and to hopefully get a few stress free weeks of hanging out, a lot more help, yummy home cooked meals and a few outings before this baby comes!

After I have been seen by a register nurse, they monitor my contractions and baby’s heart beat while they wait on the fluid results . She checks me and tells me that, yes! My bag of water is definitely there and from what she can tell intact!
Only there is a slight problem with that…it would all be great, except I’m not like other pregnant women (what else is new…!?).
My water bag was completely intact as my water ruptured with BOTH my other pregnancies as well…

Let me explain! (If I can because it is kinda confusing). My bag was there and seemed intact both times, except it had a small (tiny) tear in the upper quadrant with sweet daughter. It also tore with a little trickle (no gush mind you OR the telltale sign of continuous leaking with darling son) but with me being 37 weeks then and things progressing naturally after a few hours, nobody worried about that. BOTH times I was certain my fluid was NOT broken. BOTH times I thought it was a case of some embarrassing urine leak (or gross; discharge). BOTH times, I didn’t want to be a bother or even mention my wet underwear, because it didn’t follow ANY rules of ruptured membranes found online (don’t even want to admit how many times I have googled this during THIS pregnancy!…talk about embarrassing!)
But I’m glad that my husband and mom urged me to mention the leaking in my previous pregnancies, especially with my daughter!

At 29 weeks, the positive results for amniotic fluid was a big deal and the seriousness of the situation of labor looming beyond real. She was and is truly a miracle, since most (over 80% go into spontaneous labor within 24-48 hours and something like 90 within three days, we were incredibly lucky). They were able to stop my labor back then with drugs (that horrid magnesium) and constant monitoring and every intervention imaginable and it DID work. She was so tiny and underdeveloped when my water broke (read; slowly, randomly trickled) I don’t even want to think about the alternatives to the amazing little girl we are so blessed with!

So as this (know-it-all…sorry I’m sure she deals with neurotic mamas all the time and is in fact very knowledgable) nurse tells me, I most likely came here for no reason, I try to tell her about the quadrants and the small tears and the trickles as well as my previous experience…

Well, that backfires and she snaps “are you trying to tell me how to do my job?”…

Okaaay….

It’s not like I WANT to be right, (actually quite the opposite) but I have so much experience with premature ruptures of membranes at this point, I could probably write a whole new dissertation on this very topic!
I know she doesn’t know this…or me…and feels offended as I ask to talk to the physician on call.
This guy is nice and at least knows what I’m talking about as I red-faced tell him about my soaked underwear and low fluid levels. He agrees about the probability of a tiny tear. I means doctor DID send me here, I’m NOT paranoid NOR crazy!
He turns serious then, since my baby is still considered a preemie he offers to do a more comprehensive test and even suggest the dreaded bed rest at the hospital if the test comes out positive. I try to deliberate with myself, knowing that I know every danger and will know if my water completely breaks, if I start developing an infection and obviously if I go into labor. I also know my mom is probably already at my house and I will be able to, with her help, relax and take it easy following all the doctor’s orders from now on and we are so so close to being okay and out of “preemie-hood”. So I deny further testing and am forced to signs consent form releasing myself from the hospital (against the doc’s recommendation of further testing) but I do (of course) agree to see my doctor the very next day- as well as every day this week to closely monitor baby and the fluid!

I can’t wait to see my mom and my family as I drive home in the darkness and we get a whole week of good days and the fluid levels as well as baby are cooperating before the next close call…

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Dream House!!

They never test my water because I fear they will hospitalize me if the test comes out positive for amniotic fluid. I know the fear of getting an infection but since I now have doctor’s appointment every single day they sure are keeping a close eye on me and I’m also carefully monitoring myself. I do feel like I know my body and of course I’m not stupid and would never put myself and baby at risk. Besides they check fluid levels three times a week (it’s really low but still okay enough not to be admitted to the hospital) I do non stress tests for baby every other day, I do weekly three dimensional ultrasounds and I get triple the dose of hormones (deeming it next to impossible to have this baby early). To get some perspective 2% of women in my situation get the single weekly dose of progesterone, me, twice as much!

The baby us not stressed (doing fine in there) but I sure am! Even if this new house is gorgeous, it’s not only fun and games moving into a bigger property, especially since parts of it is old (and has not been upgraded or maintained) and haven’t been lived in for at least a year and a half (and another year and a half before that). This house might not have the best karma either (if you believe in such thing) because several people have been forced to sell or have even gone bankrupts living here. These things are hard not to think about as everything seems to be going wrong right about now (even things that passed inspection or were fixed prior to us moving in). The four starred handyman that we picked on Yelp was such a disaster that not only did he NOT fix what was wrong he also messed up the stuff he was supposed to fix. This guy must have written his own reviews because he was late, he was loud, he was a sweaty mess and on top of that, he was expensive! Did I mention he didn’t fix a thing? I told family that the only thing he fixed of my list of stuff (things that should not have been complicated for a handyman by the way) was the dishwasher, but he had to come back twice since he ordered the wrong part. The part was a tiny spring helping the dishwasher’s door open smoothly which seems to be working now but fixing it, this joker cut himself on something leaving a blood trail in the kitchen, without cleaning it up! (Which I later put my hand in…wasn’t enough with the dog bleeding all over our new floors??)

I’m not done, even if you won’t believe me, the next day the entire dishwasher completely stopped working and the whole kitchen smelt like burned rubber…
Oh yes, the whole interior basically had to be replaced at our dime. Not even our brand new home warranty will cover it because they don’t even accept claims the first thirty days (which is stupid because this is when you discover everything that is wrong)
I’m glad we payed this handy guy top dollar. We are way too nice and naive and can’t help feeling defeated thinking we chewed off more then we can handle…

This week also included a horrible dental appointment for our son (let me just point out that I didn’t have my first cavity until after 30…and in Sweden you don’t even go to the dentist until age 7, because you know eh…before then…those are your baby teeth…). I tried to stay firm but you know they know how to convince you that your kids needs the most expensive (of course) treatment because otherwise he will be in pain (obviously) AND unless we do this it WILL affect his grown up teeth (naturally)…
So what is a mom supposed to do?
Anyways, more ants…even though we sprayed, and spiders! With our luck they’re probably all black widows and their cousins…
So more spraying, this time inside! Yes, okay the “green harmless stuff” won’t work? Go ahead a spray our house with deadly chemicals, it’s not like I’m pregnant or have two little ones and a dog or anything…
The requirement to be gone for at least six hours feels very safe!

Luckily we have great friends that we can hang with until we get to go back to our “dream house”.

Which feels good until someone mentions rodents in the yard…

A lesser issue but big none the less is this family’s sleeping arrangements. As the birth of our third is looming and getting more real by the week, (wait who is having a baby?) we really don’t have a plan yet. Hubby still sleeps with sonny and princess refuses to sleep with anyone (alone? Ha ha ha, forget it!!) but me (can you say; I’m turning 2 soon and I get my way or I’ll scream until I do…?).
This little lady can scream herself till a freaking frenzy, snot and crocodile tears, head banging, shortness of breath, blue faced mess all included! She won’t give up either, oh no mam! She will rather hurt herself (seriously) or violently throw up to prove her point, than just give up and fall asleep in her brand new pink princess room right next to her parent’s bedroom. I even ordered her a really nice, super comfy bed (of course to no avail).
She is even particular about how we sleep… I have to put my arm around her just right…or she complains…loudly…until I just give in…

Anyways, it’s on my list…
Sleeping arrangements…
(And don’t give in)

On a positive note, I made it to 32 weeks, actually feel okay and am home with my family where I belong and not in a hospital. Social media keeps sending me pictures from two years ago of me in a hospital bed which makes me sad but also feel so lucky and blessed for my daughter, proud of what she has accomplished and beyond appreciative for the outcome and the fact that with this pregnancy baby is still hanging in there (literally).

I know that even though my baby girl made it with me on constant supervision in the hospital barely able to move and under close monitoring until 34 weeks, our issues started at 29 weeks when my water broke. We were lucky that they were able to stop labor not one, but three times and that we had time for the steroid shots and magnesium drop and that we bet all odds after the water started breaking BUT certain organs like the kidneys hadn’t developed fully at birth and baby did suffer because of the lack of water and the difficulty of “practice breathing” and immaturity of lungs and underdeveloped brain function in there. We are truly blessed that she is now such an amazing, charming (stubborn), smart and thriving (right on target) almost two year old!

Hello, week 33, I’m ready for you!!

 

 

Move in Chaos and low Fluid Fears

Week 30 started with the news that I’m already 2 centimeters open (even if that is fine for weeks- this is very early) and my cervix is already thinning. The doctors discuss a procedure that is usually considered too late after 24 weeks but these specialist are willing to find a way to keep my baby in a while longer. The window is closing rapidly though and with all the extra hormones baby and I “should” be okay…
It is really up to me if I want to do something “rather drastic” or wait and continue to see them under heavy monitoring.

Continued bed rest at home is strongly emphasized but easier said than done. This is the week I choose to move in to a new bigger house with the following, not exactly recommended, workload. Escrow closes on Friday (of my 29th week of pregnancy) and we move in on Saturday the following day (living on the edge here people!)
We love our new home and are so happy it all worked out but moving a family of four and a dog is not exactly easy…(especially not during a complicated pregnancy)
Even if family helps it’s impossible not to stress and I can feel my poor heart working overtime.

I also have the under active thyroid to deal with and will continue to eat meds for that (messing with my system as I get used to them), there is still protein in my urine suggesting preeclampsia and I now have to see the cardiologist once a week to try to figure out my heart palpitations. This week they will do an ultrasound on my heart and suggest a monitor that I will have to wear for the next three weeks.

After our niece was forced to deliver twins way too early via emergency c-section last week her and the twins are all I can think about. We go and visit the tiny miracles, walking by where our daughter had her bed, getting major flashbacks. I feel all sorts of emotions and really try to offer my support without imposing on the young couple who I know have a long road ahead. The babies will have ups and downs but are in excellent hands and will get to stay in one of the best NICUs until they are ready to come home with their loving, brand new parents who have already grown up with the responsibility and are facing this unexpected challenge like pros. The twins will be okay and we are all so very proud of both babies and parents!

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Other week 30 highlights include stepping on a wasp (my foot did not need the extra swelling, trust me) when we are already late for my son’s preschool, taking care of our large goofy dog who gets stuck (head) in our new gate and hurts her paws dragging in blood all over our new floors (poor sweetie) and being forced to see my doctors every single day while figuring out childcare when my husband as well as mother in law are out of town.

The house obviously needs unpacking and we are trying to live in the midst of chaos. My son’s school is suddenly far away, I have no idea where the closest grocery store is (and hello Starbucks drive thru?) I even have to google map the hospital and doctors’ offices. Luckily I had expert help unpacking the kitchen and bedroom but it’s still difficult to get into a daily routine. Hubby’s family has been awesome but I still miss my own mom and her expert, calming advice and great organizational and “decoration-al” skills.
Even though this house and yard (loving the pool and palms) is a definite upgrade and I don’t miss our old house at all (except the memories), there are a million things to get done.
I’m starting to feel sick and tired of all the things we need to fix around here and it still feels like unfamiliar territory.

Husband leaving only days after moving in is not ideal and it feels like since I should NOT be lifting, unpacking or even walking stairs I can’t do much to make any progress in the house. I get annoyed by all the driving to school and everyday doctors appointments and while in the house all I do is directing handymen, gardeners, electricians, TV and Internet experts, pool guys and pest control people. To be honest I’m overwhelmed and worried about both my pregnancy and this move working out for the best. I know hubby stresses about all the hidden fees and payments and having him work this much to alleviate that, is not exactly easy on me.

Our dog spends her first nights whining and sad and even if the kiddos love the house, they seem frightened at night and I feel like there are hidden dangers for little kids everywhere. I drive myself crazy with all the lists I am writing of things that need to get done and am hating all the boxes everywhere. This is definitely unfamiliar territory for all of us!

I’m so glad we got this house and I know it will be our dream house after a few cleanings, fixings, screwing-s, tweaking-s changes, upgrades, (as well as getting plenty of unwelcome species to move out) but right now we are in the thick of things.

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After declining the invasive procedure and resting in the fact that I made it another week and that baby looks good and my body is staying the same I feel calmer!
As week 31 progresses and we get more stuff done, unpacking the kid’s rooms and getting accustomed to our yard, the house, the gate and the neighborhood and surrounding areas I feel better and my love and certainty of this house is getting stronger. I get to take an awesome break celebrating this new baby with amazing friends at a fancy afternoon tea at the end of the week which I love!

But the next day I feel the familiar leaking sensation and freak myself out yet again…what if my water just broke…?

What if this time the baby comes right away?
It is still way too early…

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