Monday, September 28, 2015

So Much Life Going On

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. Dangerous, I know. I feel like I've fallen into this bad cycle of my priorities getting out of whack and needing to get back on track. IN an effort to resolve this, I've distanced myself greatly from social media. Sure, I post pictures of Chase, pregnancy updates, and opinions on things or random thoughts of the small day-to-day happenings, but the meat of what's going on in my life, the changes taking place and plans in motion- no. I've kept that all to myself.
Social media encourages us to over share. The problem with oversharing is it makes every little detail subject to other people's opinions. The problem for me with that is I start to care too much about what people think. Then I over think, over worry, and over stress.
It's been refreshing. We've been under contract on selling our house and are set to close in just a couple of days. We've moved into a different house and are in that weird transition phase where we are still back and forth and all our dogs aren't here yet (awaiting fencing) but we are settling in and it's slowly but surely becoming home. We've had a litter of puppies that will be 4 weeks old tomorrow. And all of this, we've done without the opinion of anyone. And it's been delightful!
It has really helped me refocus on the things and people who matter most: family, friends who might as well be family, and personal goals. The rest just kind of falls away. The entire experience actually has me contemplating eliminating my cell phone from my life as well, but that's a subject for another day. We already have absolutely no signal at the new house, and rely on very, very poor internet service to get messages. Usually when we leave home our phones explode with notifications that weren't able to come through at home. This isn't so much an issue for Jon as he leaves the house every day but I can be home for days at a time!
My pregnancy has been anything but smooth. Just when I think I am doing so well something else comes up. Max has measured small the entire time, which isn't a surprise to me; neither Jon or I are very large statured people and Chase was always small as well. He's been proportionate and consistent in his growth, though, until this point. I hadn't gained anything in the last month. In fact, I lost nearly 10lbs. I mentioned it at my appointment Friday and my doctor suggested we just take a closer look at Max and take some measurements. We usually take a peek at him when they check cervical length but nothing in depth. His abdomen and femur measurements hadn't really changed in the last month, though his head is still measuring on track for his growth so far. There's just SO much room for error in these measurements. They can cause concern when there is none, be overlooked when there SHOULD be concern- you just don't know how accurate they may or may not be so the possibilities are endless. Down syndrome or other chromosome disorders have been mentioned. IUGR has been mentioned. I go back to MFM in Provo on Wednesday to maybe start getting some answers. Whatever we are looking at we will deal with, of course, but I don't think I will be at ease until we know a bit more about it. So, until Wednesday- we wait. And wait. And wait.
I'm enjoying life. I'm LIVING my life. I have things to look forward to and be excited about. I'm happy with that. Life never really slows down. Jon has mentioned several times he can't wait to just get "back to normal life" when this period of absolute chaos passes. Me? I'm not sure what "normal life" is because it seems like there's always something big going on. What is normal?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Trucking Along

The reality that this is just not going to be smooth-sailing pregnancy that results in a full-term VBAC has sunk in. After more ultrasounds and cervical checks (did I mention yet that those are my FAVORITE and totally not mortifying at all?! *sarcasm*)

After a follow up with the Maternal Fetal Specialists I had lost nearly all of my cervical length and was scheduled for a cerclage the next day, by which time I had even dilated. The procedure didn't go as smoothly as we had hoped but they were satisfied with the end result. And now we wait.
That was three weeks ago today. I am now 24 weeks, 2 days. That means I've passed that magical date of viability where Max would stand a fighting chance outside the womb with a lot of medical intervention, should it happen. Each day is important, and the statistics do move rapidly at this point. I'm just thankful he's staying put for now.
I think what I have the hardest time with is having to decide every day which of my sons I will take care of: Chase, who just wants mama to come play outside, and walk to the park, and go swimming, and do all the cool fun stuff that Summertime and toddlerhood call for.... or Max, who needs me to be still, to be patient, to be quiet.  I struggle each day to bring myself to be social but the truth is, my mind is so busy with all the things that need to get done still before Max arrives I find myself most at ease when I simply recluse. Keep to myself. It's how I cope and how I process, and in general how I handle really crappy situations. The added pressure to socialize and try to pretend everything is OK stresses me out nearly as much as the situation itself. But it makes other people feel bad. And then I feel guilty. And then the issue is compounded with the issue of feeling guilty for not taking care of Chase, or trying to take care of Chase and as a result not taking care of Max. I feel as though I can't really win, and we impose on everyone else around us because I can't do everything for Chase and I like I normally would.
I'm feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place. I feel scared, every minute of every day. I kind of expected that when I realized this was not going to be the make-up-for-last-time pregnancy I was hoping for. What I didn't expect is so much anger. I feel angry.... almost every day. Angry that this is how things are. Angry that Jon is stretched SO very thin and it feels like my fault. Angry that we are imposing on other people so much. Angry that my house is SUCH a mess. Angry that my poor Chase is so lost with what's going on. Why can't mommy go to the park? In the midst of everything.... there's just this ball of anger I can't shake. I'm pissed. This isn't fair.
But I'm also thankful. People have helped us out a lot. My mom has watched Chase a couple of times, Jon's mom and sister made the whole trek from Vegas to help out for a few days, Jeannene actually brought us dinner on a night I was near tears at the thought of take out AGAIN. I'm thankful to even BE pregnant, when so many can not.
So. There it is. I'm scared, angry, and thankful all the time.
Talk about conflicted.
But one thing I know: He's worth it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

No dignity here

We've had a few new developments since Friday. My followup check at Maternal Fetal Medicine on Monday didn't go so well. My cervix had gone back to tunneling pretty severely, leaving only 3mm closed. Just for reference anything under 25mm is considered not good, and when you start considering a cerclage. On Friday I had 24mm at my second check, so really borderline. 3mm, not so good.
A "be cautious and see" approach is no longer safe or reasonable at that point and we decided it's absolutely necessary to go ahead and do he cerclage, that the risks are indeed high, and the success rates this late aren't nearly as impressive as we wish they were, but it's the only thing we could do at this point and the alternative was looking more and more like Max isn't going to stay put on his own until the magical week 24- widely accepted as when a baby is viable outside the womb. So, cerclage it is.
My appointment was made for this morning. I was not allowed to eat or drink anything after midnight which sounds like no big deal but at about 12:17am I was pretty convinced I was going to starve or dehydrate to death, or both. Funny how that works considering I don't usually eat that late anyway. Until someone tells me I can't, apparently.
My mom watched Chase for me, and Jon took most of the day off of work to come be at the hospital. I got checked in and taken off to prep for the procedure. I have zero fear of surgery under general anesthesia. Man, knock me the heck out and do whatever needs to be done, nooooo problem. Doesn't stress me out one bit. Being awake for surgery? Oh. Hell. No. I was, admittedly, quite nervous.... not only for the possibility of something going wrong, but just the procedure itself.
Once wheeled into the OR they prepped me for an epidural- which is really the only option for total numbing, as general was not an option for Max's sake. The nurses were all incredibly friendly and really did their best to make me as comfortable as possible. They mentioned several times it really was unfair I had to be aware and alert for all this and validated the fact though I was keeping my cool and refusing to break down, I was so nervous my legs were trembling. They warned me that the first shot would burn- and they weren't lying, but I knew that's what was supposed to stand between me feeling the giant needle headed towards my spine in a few moments, soooooo I will take a little burning. Except it didn't work the way it was supposed to. I felt the weird pressure of the epidural needle and then was caught completely off guard by what I can only explain as an overwhelming searing pain that shot up my spine to my neck, and radiated through my hips. I yelped fairly loudly, having been caught off guard. "You can feel that?!" Um, yes, I felt that. It knocked the breath out of me. They gave me another numbing shot, ow, and went for it again. Same thing. By this time my body was shaking uncontrollably from the searing pain and they couldn't proceed for several moments until I was able to relax. They poked around my lower back asking me if I could feel it, and gave me a third numbing shot- which I didn't feel nearly as much as the first two. Epidural successful, finally! I felt my feet and legs start to feel heavy and numb about the time my OB's partner- who is just a little more experienced in this procedure- came in to assist. He introduced himself to me though we've met once before (he was brought in Friday when the group of specialists were trying to figure out my case) and said he was just there to be an extra set of hands and direct/ assist. I said "Great, I love extra sets of hands on my cervix!" The room of nurses laughed and I was relieved they weren't too uptight to appreciate some comical relief unlike to folks in Provo Friday who seemed offended that I would even make jokes.
Having a  cerclage put in place is a procedure that strips you of any last shred of dignity that you may have woken up with that morning. Skip this paragraph if you'd prefer not to have the description. While awake and aware (but numb) of everything going on, my feet were placed in stirrups set far above me and wide apart. Unlike a normal pelvic exam where you can kind of close your knees in on each other while they aren't actively doing anything, this left no room to have any bit of decency. Then a device is used to hold the vaginal canal open and give the OB access to the cervix, and the bed is tilted to an angle to use gravity to encourage baby and membranes to move away from the cervix. A single long stitch, weaving in and out of the cervix in a circle is put in place, and then pulled shut. Imagine the drawstring on a bag that can be cinched closed. Well, that's how it was SUPPOSED to go. Except, to the surprise of everyone, I was already dilated to 2-3cm. A cerclage is considered much higher risk, and much less effective when the cervix has already began dilating and though that amount is not very much, it's a lot for being 21weeks along, and it's a lot of space to force closed. I was asked to give permission for photos and video to be taken to send to the specialist in provo to see if it was in our best interest to even proceed. After a mortifying 10 minutes of just hanging out in ALLLL my glory, it was explained to me that the risk of pROM, infection, preterm labor, fetal distress, and bleeding were much higher, and that the effectiveness of the procedure were much lower, BUT still our best and really only option to keep Max baking. If we do nothing, he was on his way. It was in my favor that my cervix had not thinned, they were confident they could perform a good stitch, and it is in my favor that I am not experiencing any contractions. (If I were, they couldn't do it) I was overwhelmed with emotions, and didn't know what to think or feel. I started crying, and not just kind of misty-eyed crying.... I'm talking full on, platypus lipped, ugly face, snot nosed crying. (Mind you, I'm still hanging at a solid 45 degree angle completely exposed. I'm sure I was super, super attractive.) We decided to proceed. The alternative was a whole lot scarier, and I am not ready to throw in the towel.
They had to tilt the bed nearly a full 90degrees to get the membranes to fall back into place, as they had hourglassed outside of the now-open cervix, and use a balloon catheter to push and hold them out of the funnel they were stitching closed. Once they got started it didn't take long.
In recovery, I was feeling quite a bit of cramping, which is normal. However, my back pain was intense, when it should have been mild. It was intense enough I had a hard time talking through it. They kept me for a while to make sure it wasn't the onset of labor and determined it was likely from the rough epidural. I had NO contractions while waiting.
I'm on very strict bed rest. The next three weeks are fragile. But all that can be done is done, and now.... we wait. And hopefully we wait for a long time. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A scare

Pregnancy after a preemie is a different experience, especially when we're just not really sure why Chase was early in the first place, it just kind of happened. As much as I love the idea of a natural home birth, our gut instincts told us it wasn't the right path this time, either, and I have been under the care of a competent OB since my first trimester, and a few high risk fetal specialists for equally long. My prenatal appointments are frequent, mostly impersonal, and not enjoyable like they were with my midwife the first time around. But, I still feel like it's what needs to be done to get Max here as safely as possible so it's what we do.
Part of my specialist care has been having cervical length checked every other week. Let me tell you what a boatload of fun THAT process is. The appointments are the same every time. Go in. Pee in a cup. Strip from the waist down, including every last shred of dignity that I have, and hop on the table, feet in the stirrups where I proceed to have an awkward small talk chat with a nurse I've probably never met before about if we know gender or have started thinking about names yet as she probes my crotch. BOATLOADS of fun, guys. Boatloads. Then I get a lovely, burning shot of progesterone in my hip, wait for the actual doctor to come in and tell me everything looks fine. Then I get dressed and go home, to repeat the process in a week or two.
Except this week was a little different. I knew looking at the screen something was off. I've had enough of these checks by now I'm halfway decent at knowing what I'm looking at and it's not all just a mass of black and gray on the screen anymore. I knew my cervix looked way, way off. And when the nurse went silent it was confirmed. This wasn't going to be like every appointment the weeks before. She proceeded to do a couple of checks and measurements on Max- something we don't always do at these appointments- and assured me HE looked great, and the doctor would be in to talk about me.
I like my doctor. He's quiet, humble, kind, and listens to my concerns. He seems to be pretty understanding of the anxieties I (and Jon, too!) has surrounding all of this based on our experience with Chase. He isn't pushy and actually talks to us like we are educated human beings, which is honestly more than I can say about a lot of the specialists we have dealt with.
He pulled out the images from the ultrasound and started going on about dilation and "funneling" and using words like cerclage, preterm labor, viability,  and miscarriage. His deep concern was obvious and I was nervous. I kept asking what all of this mean for Max, and he explained that a cerclage (stitching the cervix closed) may help keep him in longer- at least until viability- but that if I was in preterm labor or contracting that it would be too dangerous to do, and we would lose him. He explained my cervix was funneling, which means in side side was opening but the end closest to the outside of my body was closed- for now- and we needed to know how gradual this was happening.
There I was, alone, (Jon usually goes to be supportive but we decided together that he wouldn't this time because it was juuuuuuuuust like all the other appointments nothing ever happens at and he was better off staying home so Chase could get a much needed nap.) It was about 4:30 on Friday afternoon and my doctor said it couldn't wait until Monday, and he wanted me to leave there and go straight to Provo for the night, to be monitored for 12 hours and make sure it was safe to have a cerclage done first thing in the morning. If I contracted even somewhat regularly they would not be able to perform the procedure.
Not one, two or three but FOUR cervical exams later, another ultrasound, two hours of monitoring, and a team of five doctors later we came to a few very interesting conclusions.
First, we all know what the initial ultrasound showed and there's no mistaking it. But when I had another just a few short hours later, while it was not perfectly normal there was NO funneling to be seen. It is short, it is softer than it should be, and I am slightly dilated. None of these are good things, but none of them are as dire and scary as what the image that sat before us, showing extreme funneling was showing. The specialist herself even said it was one of the "probably the scariest 20 week cervixes she's seen, and she sees a lot of cervixes." We watched, for 5 minutes. Nothing changed. Medically, it makes no sense. She explained how angles, pressure, etc. can change or skew measurements and images slightly, but was baffled, ABSOLUTELY baffled at the difference. Baffled enough to have several other doctors brought in on the case. (yayyyyyy more exams!)
The cerclage is less effective the later it is performed and they stop performing them near 24 weeks. I comes with a lot of risks, and is done as an absolute last resort.
This entire team of doctors, and myself and Jon, decided that because we have things to worry about but the situation has shifted to not AS intense as before, to not have the cerclage done just yet. I am on very, very strict bed rest this weekend and will go back first thing Monday morning again. ANY changes in an unfavorable direction and we will be performing the procedure immediately, and hospital bed rest may be a reality until viability. That is to be determined then.
They recommended we stay the weekend but said it wasn't unreasonable to go home with the commitment to honor the bed rest bit. It's not that we don't take it seriously, we do, but I much preferred to be at home with Chase for now. Expecially as the liklihood of another go in NICU seems to grow day by day, I want to soak my little buddy up as much as I can now.

I am immensely thankful for the medical interventions that help keep these babies baking. I've had a few well-meaning comments about how glad people are we aren't attempting "the whole home birth thing" again, and I do want to make a few things clear:
I am NOT planning a home birth this time for one very simple reason: I'm not a good candidate. I still aaaaaaaaaaabsolutely believe it is a WONDERFUL, dare I say superior, option for low-risk, healthy women without a history of these complications. For reasons I may never know or understand, my body doesn't do this gracefully. But I know this is the EXCEPTION, not the RULE and that birth is USUALLY beautiful, safe, and not complicated. Things can change, and when I went into labor early with Chase, I was not filling up the bath tub and starting the hypnobabies tracks while Jon lit candles and started the tea. No, we went to the hospital. Where early labor belongs. I have so much gratitude for the knowledge of all of the doctors who are on our team. I also have so much respect for the reproductive process, and what it means to me. I'm thankful for the knowledge *I* have so I can make choices for myself and Max with confidence, and not be blindly following doctor's advice.
So we press on. 21 weeks tomorrow. I think I will get to know Netflix a bit better. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dear Albert

Dear Albert,
I thought of you this morning, just as I still do most every day. I laid there wondering if you're around, or what important task the Lord has you working on right now. I know it's selfish of me, but I just wished you were here. It's hard for me to fathom there's any place more important you could be than here with us on Earth, helping us find the way. I know you're around, I know you still care, I know this is how it's supposed to be right now, but I can't understand. I can't understand how we are supposed to navigate all that's going on without your support, encouragement, and words of wisdom. I'd give anything to just be able to pick up the phone and call again, I have so many questions and so few answers right now.
Grandpa, where do I put each thing in my garden to make it grow best? The water pressure in my sink is so low, how can we fix it? And Grandpa, Jon's truck gives us trouble- the brakes are still loud, what should we do? And while we are at it, Grandpa, who should I call about a quote on our windows, they're drafty and I'd like to move Chase to his bedroom soon but can't until it's fixed. Please Grandpa, we are thinking of moving and need your advice, I just know you know best, and I'm feeling so lost. I miss your guidance and times now are tough.
It's been nearly a year, and some days are good. I find comfort in knowing there's life after death, but sometimes life without you is brutal and I find myself doubting every decision without your input.  I'd give anything for just one more conversation, just a bit more advice. To drive to your house on that hill and know you'd be there, in your big leather chair, with a listening ear and endless advice.
I miss you Grandpa, I miss you so much. I'm trying, I am, to accept what can not be changed, to remember the eternal perspective and keep priorities straight. But it's hard to do, on days I just really need you. 


I participate in a few online groups somewhat regularly and last week a question was asked that has been on my mind a lot this week.

What makes you feel successful? 

I read through the responses, all very valid. A promotion at work. Finishing a project. Buying a house. But it made me think of how differently we all define success, and how only our own personal definitions matter. 
So all week I've thought: what makes me feel successful? 
It's funny, because by the world's standards, Jon and I are wildly successful for our age. 
At 20 & 23, we bought half of a small business. 
Shortly after, we purchased the other half. 
At 21 & 24 we bought our first home. 
At 22 & 25 we purchased our first boat. 
Jon got his degree in Forensics and landed a job working in a lab within a reasonable amount of time. 

I do consider us successful, but not for these reasons. When I think of the successes in my life, it's a different set of reasons.
I don't care about business. Sure, yes, I have a passion for animals and am incredibly blessed to have our doggy daycare in my life. Without it, there is NO WAY that we would be able to support ourselves AND me be a full-time stay at home mom to Chase. Being his mama is the biggest blessing in my life, it gives me purpose, enjoyment, fulfillment, and I wouldn't change it for the world. I am so so glad that Ruff House is a successful business, not because I dream of being a successful businesswoman but because I care to be home and present for Chase and any future babies to come. As much as I wish our economy was such that a family could make ends meet by one adult being the college-educated provider and one being the nurturer and homemaker, it's not that simple. We need supplemental income to Jon's job and business ownership has made that possible without the requirement of me going to work out of our home on a daily basis. 
Being a stay-at-home, present mother makes me feel successful. 

When buying or selling property there's a lot of talk about value, equity, profit, loss, value, etc. I don't care about any of that. I am just thankful to have a safe place to call home and a place I am comfortable raising my babies. Equity doesn't matter. It's our home. The comfort and peace that comes from that is not measurable by dollars. Owning it allows me to explore my passion for ethical dog breeding, something I could not do renting. 
Having a place to call home makes me feel successful. 

Days I feel most successful are when my husband comes home to a clean house, my baby is happy, and I can get healthy, home cooked food on the table. It doesn't always happen, in fact, it hardly ever all happens on the same day, but it's what I aim for. It is important to me to fulfill the role I feel I was put here to do. I feel successful when I fulfill my duties as the homemaker in our family.

I find things get in the way of what's important to me. I get sucked into technology and spend too much time looking at a screen when I should be looking at my sweet little boy who is growing up way too fast. The definition of success and what makes someone feel that way is not universal but I am pleased to have found what does it for me in my life.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Disney World

We planned for months and months and our family trip to Disney World has come and gone. Funny how time works. Unfortunately Mitch's family wasn't able to come along due to an unfortunate death in Jeannene's family, but we were able to go and have a fun trip even so.
Can I just say that 5 hours on a plane with a baby isn't the most fun I've ever had? Thankfully Chase was pretty good for the flight there, and he did nap for a small part of it. We took the red eye so I had hoped he would sleep the whole way but no such luck.
I could probably write pages upon pages about the eleven day trip. But I won't. It was nice to be away with family, and we made some good memories. I am happy to have had an opportunity to go once, I think it's something everyone should go do once in a lifetime! I was a little bit afraid that after experiencing Disney World in Florida that Disneyland wouldn't be as neat anymore but thank goodness the opposite is true! I like Disneyland quite a bit better, for a laundry list of reasons. None of which matter. Crowds aren't really my thing- anyone who knows me knows this- but I had a lot of fun watching Chase discover more of the world around him. He won't remember this as he grows up but we took lots of pictures. His age bracket made it easy for Jon and I to still have fun doing things we wanted to because little man didn't care about meeting characters or anything like that. He's one. We did meet Mickey, which is the *only* animated character he's taken any kind of liking to, and he was pretty amused by that. We don't really do TV in our house, not that we are above it by any means, there's just no time and Chase has no interest unless there's music involved. But he likes Mickey, therefore I like Mickey.
It's funny how things change in different chapters of life. I have never been one to attach emotions to items, so I have never been a souviner person. I just don't like stuff for the sake of stuff and prefer to keep life simple and not excessive. I have found clutter in my house tend to equate to clutter in my mind and I don't like that. I didn't care to buy anything for me, but when Chase would light up at the sight of something- that's a different ballgame, so he did indeed come home with a build a bear Dinosaur. When I asked him what he wanted to name it, he said "Albert" which I am refusing to believe has anything to do with the fact that's one of the two words he even knows. So Albert came home with us and is now Chase;s absolute favorite toy in the whole world, and that makes it worth it.
I love my family, and I am thankful that we were able to make this trip happen. I wish so much that Mitch & Jeannene's family could have been there with us, but that just means we need to plan something else in the near future! I am thankful that we have opportunities to make memories like this together and recognize that not everyone is so lucky. Even so, we don't need the flashy trips to have an appreciation for one another, and I think that is what makes it even better. I am so, SO glad my Grandma was able to be there as well. How lucky are we, FOUR generations on one trip! And she was a trooper. Despite a bruised hip she went on just about every single ride those parks had to offer and kept up with everyone. She really is a rockstar in my eyes.
But like all good things do, our trip came to an end. Our flight home didn't go quite as smoothly as our flight there. Chase began cutting molars and not being able to understand the pain and discomfort in his mouth meant an unhappy boy, but we made it home and back to reality.