Sunday, September 30, 2012

The end of September

I can't believe that after today September will be over.

For some reason, September still screams summer to me.  I know the first day of fall has passed, but, even after it passed, we experienced temperatures in the upper 90s.  And that does not scream fall to me.  Something about just knowing it's October says that the end of the year is on it's way.  Fall is here, hot or not.  It's time for pumpkins and baking and warm snuggly nights.  I cannot wait.  It also means that in less than 11 weeks we will welcome our fourth child into the family.  There is just one more season until our family officially grows again.

Holy Moly.

September has been busy.  I've developed a love/hate relationship with my sewing machine and am just a couple of projects away from putting it up for a bit and taking a break from trying to squeeze behind it.  I've completed a wedding renewal dress, 2 baby blankets, one cotton and minky and one silky and minky, 2 nursing covers, 4 pinafores for Samantha, 2 skirts for Kaitlyn, Samantha's birthday shirt, a tie onesie, a cape, a pretty onesie for Charlotte, a couple of "Knights" shirts for cheer, and I'm working on some Halloween outfits for the girls.  I'm debating if I want to attempt a new type of quilt for Charlotte.  In reality, the last thing we need around here is another blanket, but I think I really want to try this method...

Kaitlyn has completed a full month of school, a full month of cheer with games, and found her "stride" her in schedule.  We've been working a lot on empathy and honesty.  We've been trying to remind her of what I feel is one of the most important lesson I think everyone in the world should know: "You can never control the actions of others, you can only control your reaction."  And, as she enters the world of third graders the whole "keep your mouth shut until you could to ten and then speak" rule.

Samantha has grown by leaps in bounds this month.  She is stinking hysterical.  She gets mad and crosses her arms and sticks out her bottom lip.  Or, she throws something and then crosses her arms.  She is a screecher.  If you do not react fast enough she will screech it to you.  She's terrified of most things Halloween, which has me worried for Halloween this year. 

This week is going to be busy, and most likely fly by.  I have a couple of doctor's appointments, cheer is going to start earlier this week, we have a home game and are hoping to watch our niece's home game as well, I need to take the girls' pictures for their invitations, print them and get them mailed.  And pick up any last minute things I need for those parties.  This year, they are way scaled back. 

While I have no desire at all to decorate for fall, I am so anxious to start decorating for Christmas.  Samantha's room transformation to just her room to Samantha and Charlotte's room is nearly complete. 

Good-bye Summer, Hello Fall!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Due Dates, 27 weeks and staying busy

Sunday was the day Matthew should have been born.  Or somewhere close to it.  This past weekend or the one coming up we should have had a birthday party for a rambunctious 5 year old.  We should have had balloons, cupcakes, candy, singing and laughter shared by good friends.  We had some of that, at a birthday party for another little boy turning 5, but it wasn't for our little boy.  Instead, we celebrated his 5th birthday 7 weeks ago by releasing balloons at a cemetery, surrounded by loved ones and wondering how it's possible that he isn't here with us.

I've had the pleasure of experiencing 3 live births.  In all 3 babies were born crying.  In one birth, a little girl was born after an hour and a half of pushing with all my might.  With another, he was born in a few quick moments after being cut in half, time wasn't wasted on getting anything prepped or ready.  It was a rush and a blur.  The last was born in the OR, hours after her scheduled time, after being too stubborn to be pushed out.  1 was born 3 days past her due date, 1 was born 4 days before her due date and 1 was born 7 weeks sooner than he should have been. 

Both girls were born full term.  They never left the side of me or their daddy.  They nursed in their first hour.  They pooped like they were supposed to and they were held and cuddled by friends and family alike.  Our one son was born prematurely.  He was whisked away moments after birth.  He was put on a vent.  5 days passed before I, his own mother, was allowed to hold him.  He was fed pumped milk through a tube that passed through his nose.  He was poked and prodded.  I'm sure his first few days and couple of weeks were just plain miserable.

Our full term girls are living and breathing today.  One is attempting to destroy by sewing area and throwing bobbins of thread through the playroom.  The other is at cheerleading practice.  And if she has her way, she's flying in the air tonight, depending on other 7-8 year olds to hold her steady and catch her.  Our premature baby is able to watch down on both of them from Heaven.  He left us far too soon.  In less than 3 weeks, he will have been an angel for 5 years. 

Our experience with prematurity did not have a positive outcome.  It had a better outcome than many others have had, we were blessed with 10 weeks, or 70 days with our little man.  We were blessed with cuddles and snuggles and story telling.  We were given time to study every part of his face, every hair on his head, every wrinkle in his arms and legs and every sound he could make.  But, it wasn't enough.

Obviously, prematurity scares the crap out of me.  I do not want to experience another premature birth.  I want to get to at least 38 weeks.  I find myself looking at the survival rates for whatever week I'm in, then I wonder, why do I bother.  At 33 weeks, the survival rate exceeds 95%.  Which seems like a HUGE number, until you're on the other side of it. 

Today, I am 27 weeks pregnant.  A week shy of the second big goal I was given.  A week shy of 7 months, a week shy of the third trimester (depending on who you ask), and a week shy of hitting the gestational age where the survival rate without major disabilities is 80%. 

I've hit the point where my bladder feels like the size of a pea, where you can see her hiccups and movements from outside my belly, the point where I'm starving all the time, but can only fit a few bites in before feeling like I'm going to explode, the time where I start to get uncomfortable and just blah feeling. 

I have most of Charlotte's things ready.  I've sorted all the baby clothes, organized the ones past 3 months in size in bins in the storage room, washed and put away all the itty bitty stuff.  I just need to get her car seat and stroller and that's it.  We're down to under 90 days before we should be here, and down to only 8 more shots of p17, including tomorrow.  We have one more scheduled u/s for next Tuesday and then we may be released from the care of the perinatologist office.

We're getting there.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

26 Weeks

Today was utterly exhausting.  EXHAUSTING.

I decided to bring in all of Samantha's clothes that she's outgrown and sort what we're going to keep for Charlotte and what we're not.  I brought in a lot of bins.  There are 2 more not pictured and 1 more bin of baby "things" in the shed to go through.

I was determined to not only clear out at least half of Samantha's closet, but also half of the tall dresser. 

Samantha's closet has a kit in there with three racks.  I put Samantha's in the top and the bottom since we also have the dresser in there to save room space.  Charlotte is going to get the middle rack for now. 

The dresser has 5 drawers.  They are going to share the top one, which is hats, socks and bibs.  Then, they each get two.

I went through all those clothes and am SOO exhausted from it.  I weeded it out by half.  Now, the newborn and 0-3 month clothes are in the dryer and the washer.  There is a bin for 3-6 months, 6-12 months, 12-18 months and 24+ month clothes.  I also went through Kaitlyn's winter clothes to divide what will fit and what won't. 

Tomorrow I want to finish all the clothes.  I'm not planning on finishing it up though.  It took several more hours than I had planned on so far.  I also need to get the shoes put away, bring in the swaddling blankets and burp rags and find a home for them.  I am going to make a space in their room for dress up clothes, so I may take a break and head to Home Depot too...

In between all of that, I had my bi-weekly appointment with the perinatologist.  It was frustrating. 

They ran late.  Which, I only recently started hating because my bladder seems to have decreased in size by at least half.  Every other appointment is just a "check" up on baby and a cervix check.  The others do all the measurements, blood flow and that good stuff.  This was a "check" up on baby appointment. 

The first part of the appointment went rather quickly.  Charlotte looked good, cooperated and hated the ultrasound probe.  I got to see her for a minute in 3D, but for some reason the tech didn't print a picture.  I discovered that one of the reasons we have problems getting clear pictures of her face is because she insists on using the placenta as a pillow.... 

She then checked my cervix.  She measured it at 2.1 cm.  Normal cervical length at this point of pregnancy is 3.5 - 4 cm.  Last appointment I was at 3.8 cm.  2.1 would be not good.  She brushed it off and then spent about 45 minutes looking at her heart.  The first 5 minutes were like a normal ultrasound, then she switched to a fetal echocardiogram for nearly 40 minutes.  At least 3 times I asked her if everything was normal and she just nodded.  Her supervisor came in next.  She asked what my cervix was last time and then did that part herself.  She measured it at 3.45.  She then taught the tech how to properly do it.  I asked her if everything looked ok with her heart, you know, since she spent so much time on it.  She said everything looked fine and the tech was new and just wanted to practice on a sleeping baby.  Um.  Shouldn't you ask first, or enlighten the patient, who is likely hormonal, overly sensitive, paranoid and incredibly fearful of anything being wrong?

Throw in pick up and drop offs for school, cheer practice, dinner, Samantha teething and Dusty having a migraine and I'm ready for bed...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Consent for Sterilization

Yesterday, I went to my injection appointment to receive my p17 injection, just like I do every Wednesday.

When I was being led back, my normal nurse informed me that they were working on training the new nurse who transferred over from L&D, whom she mentioned last week.  She also mentioned that my doctor wanted to discuss my tubal with me.

I deliver at a Catholic hospital.  Which, I do love.  I love everything about the hospital, except for the ER.  But, I'm sure it has a lot to do with it being one of the most hectic, popular and crazy places in the area.  The drawback of our hospital being a Catholic hospital is that they frown upon some things that go against the Catholic religion.  One of those being birth control.  Originally, I had requested a tubal ligation during my pregnancy with Matthew.  Once I was in the hospital and learned all the risks of future pregnancies, I decided to have them tied then.  My request went before the panel and was denied.  At my 6 week post-op, I talked with my doctor about it again and having it done at the surgery center.  He suggested we wait until Matthew was a year because of the SIDS risk.  Since I had already had SIDS nightmares, I obviously burst into tears when I got home.  I never had it done a year later, obviously. 

With the complications I've experienced this time around, my doctor started recommending a tubal ligation while I was in the first trimester.  He wanted to submit my request at 20 weeks and go from there.  Because of the hospital, he had to submit reasons why I needed a form of permanent birth control.  He said the list was long and future pregnancies would continue to put the mother's life in jeopardy as well as a baby.  At 25 weeks, they approved it.

He wanted my consent signed as soon as possible.  He wanted a copy for his records and a copy for me to carry with me at all times.  Evidently, even though the hospital will approve you, they make it very difficult to actually go through with.  They constantly "lose" paperwork and having a copy on you makes it clear that they have to do it.

He explained the procedure, after Charlotte is born and the uterus is stitched back up, the top and bottom of each tube is tied off.  The space in the middle is cut out and disposed of.  Each end near the tie is then burned.  The risk of future pregnancies are .3-1%

This is a forever decision.  This means we will never again experience child birth.  This means we are for sure only raising 3 little girls.  This means after this baby, I no longer need our baby things, maternity clothes or anything of that nature.

Pregnancies are not only physically exhausting for me, but emotionally draining.  Several times through each and every day, I worry about what I would do if my water broke right then.  I make sure all the laundry is washed and put away every night so bags for extended stays would be easy to pack.  All the dishes are done so there is nothing sitting in the sink getting nasty in case I wake up in a puddle of water.  And until the last couple of weeks, I wasn't entirely convinced that this baby, the one that does summersaults and flips in my tummy, the one that punches my belly button and who seems to only want to kick when I want to sleep, would even come home with us. 

Dusty and I talked about it last night.  As much as I love our kids, as much as I love having babies, I do not think I could emotionally handle another pregnancy.  I don't see that changing.  But, it is still such a hard decision.  I think it might be different if we were having a boy this time around, but I just don't know.  In 5 years, Kaitlyn will be a teenager, Samantha and Charlotte will be in school and I will add "advanced maternal age" to my list of pregnancies stresses.

We will have to confirm our decision again during pre-op the day Charlotte is born and again right before he does the procedure after she's been born, but I really don't think either of us will change our minds. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

25 weeks

If born today, Charlotte would have a 50% chance of survival.  Her eyes can open, her hands can reach, she is able to have memories and find familiarity in voices she hears often and she is fattening up.  She is growing.

And so am I.  As of last week, I was up to 22 lbs in 24 weeks.  Which, really isn't bad.  I typically gain about a pound a week until 36 weeks then stop or even start to lose.  So, that would put me at 34 pounds.  With Kaitlyn I gained 25, with Matthew I gained over 50, with Samantha I gained over 40.  And in post partum, I need all the help with fat retention that I can get.

My symptoms remain mostly the same: heartburn galore, tired, some nausea and then all the basic aches and pains one would expect.  I passed my glucose test (woo-hoo, that was almost a shock to me!) and I passed my anemia screening.  I get my p17 injection tomorrow and then I will only have 9 more after that!!!  (The new train of thought is to stop them at 34 weeks)

On Friday night, I started having some pain and discomfort with a UTI.  I hate UTI's.  I know the risks.  I know with UTI's your risk of preterm labor, pPROM, kidney infection and so on increase.  So, I drank a lot of water and put off going to the ER.  I knew they would transfer me to L&D and I really did not want to go unless I had to.  I had a goal of not going at all until it was time to have her.  I went to bed, woke up a half dozen times to pee and got up early for Kaitlyn's cheer game on Saturday.

Kaitlyn had to be at the field at 10:30.  They combined the Junior Pee Wee and Pee Wee teams to make it easier for them to compete as one team in competitions.  But, the football teams are obviously still separate and still need to be cheered for.  So, the goal is for them to cheer for the second half of the Jr Pee Wee game, the first half of the Pee Wee game and both half times.

They practice before the games and get "ready."  Do you know what it means when the game runs late starting?  Or in between runs late?  It means that your little girl who hates being hot is stuck out on black tar, in a black uniform sweating until 2:30 in the afternoon.  It means that her mom and sister are out in blazing hot stands cheering her on as the burning hot sun reflects off the metal stands for four hours.  We were joined for a while by her grandma, aunt, nana, another aunt, uncle and cousin.  But, I don't blame them for wanting to escape the sun, and I was frustrated with myself for not bringing an umbrella.  And mister.  Samantha did have her big cousin teach her all the wonders of a snow cone though.

Kaitlyn lasted most of it being brave.  By the second half of the first quarter of the second game, she couldn't do it anymore.  She got a headache, a nosebleed and burst into tears.  After a couple bottles of ice cold water, she recovered and joined her team.

After, we had smoothies.  And air conditioning.  And never wanted to leave the house.  Although we did for a birthday party!

And the UTI symptoms continued and started to worsen.  But, by the time we got home, it was well after 8.  And I didn't want to go and sit in the ER or L&D.  And I was worried I would be too sleepy to drive home.  So, I waited. 

Sunday morning, it was worse.  I woke up, got Kaitlyn breakfast as Samantha slept, took a shower and took a drive.  I was so glad that the ER only had 2 people in it.  Anyone that's been to this ER knows that is a rarity.  I asked the front desk if I should be seen there or L&D.  She said for a UTI, I would be seen there.

Within moments, I was in triage.  Where they told me I had a history of premature delivery and had to have a UTI treated in L&D.  UGH!  And that I couldn't just walk up there.  They had to call L&D and they had to come "get" me.  With a wheelchair.  Double Ugh.

So, I was seated in the hallway outside of the triage, right outside of the ER rooms while they called up.  While they were calling, the nurse from triage came busting through the door in a panic.  There was a woman who didn't know she was pregnant in active labor.

Um.  What?  It was a real life version of "I Didn't Know I was Pregnant."  Within moments a larger woman was being pushed through in a wheelchair followed by two other women.  She was older.  I think.  And the friends smelled really strongly of cigarette smoke.  Yuck.  Yuck. 

They took her into the room right next to me.  She was crying hysterically.  My heart broke for her.  She was in so much pain, she didn't know she was pregnant, she had no prenatal care, has two other children born by cesarean and has been drinking, smoking and doing drugs through this pregnancy. The staff still didn't believe she was pregnant.  Then, they checked her.  She was 5 cm dilated.  She was having a baby.  They could feel the baby up high, but could not pick up on fetal heart tones on their doppler.  It didn't seem like they checked long before rushing her up to L&D.  Which they got lost on the way too since I left long after her and arrived at least 3-4 minutes before.  I prayed and prayed so hard for that poor little baby.  I prayed that despite it all, it was healthy, it was full term and it had a chance at a good life.

I went through the fun of L&D, being monitored (just slight contractions without a pattern), a urine sample and all of that good stuff.  The bright and shining star was my nurse.  Amy.  Amy and Priscilla were my main nurses when I was there forever with Matthew.  She didn't recognize me until I told her who I was.  She said I looked older, more mature and less like a little girl.  She showed me the picture of Matthew that is still in their break room.  She told me that she still thought of us often and it broke her heart to know that despite all we went through we still lost him.  When I told her about Samantha, she said had goosebumps.  She wants our doctor to let her know when we officially schedule Charlotte so she can be there.  And possibly Priscilla.  It meant a lot.

After about 5 hours of being monitored, I went home with instructions to call my doctor for meds.  The infection was so small, the on call doctor didn't feel comfortable prescribing anything when we could likely flush it out with a lot of water and juice.

I rarely leave Samantha alone, so when I got home, that kid ran up to me like I was Santa (who she recognizes now!) on Christmas.

Last week was crazy.  Filled with so much creating, designing, printing, cutting, delivery, doctor's appointments, going to the movies with the girls (we finally saw Brave, girls loved it!), sewing, sewing, pinning, practices and falling so behind on everything else.  So far, this week has been making up for it.

I absolutely love being an aunt.  One of my favorite niece's is having a birthday tomorrow, and after struggling with finding the perfect gift, I think I may have come up with it.  Check me out next week for a tutorial of something now Kaitlyn is begging for.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Viability Day

Today, I am 24 weeks pregnant with Charlotte.  24 weeks is a HUGE deal to me.

For starters, I've been pregnant 7 times, and of those I've only gotten to 24 weeks without my water breaking twice before.  I've actually only been this pregnant 3 times before.  To reach viability during a pregnancy that has already been plagued by so much uncertainty is just a true blessing. 

24 weeks means that if my water broke today and labor could not be stopped, we would not be asked over and over again if we wanted heroic measures to be taken.  Heroic measures would be taken.  She would have a 50% chance of survival.  And a chance of surviving without life long disabilities.  I would take that any day of the week over the alternative.  With Matthew, I almost felt as though we were being judged for wanting heroic measures taken with him if he were born when my water broke.  As though we were being selfish for wanting what could be uncomfortable or painful procedures done in the hopes he would be part of the small group that survived.  I just couldn't wrap my head around the idea of not giving him every possible chance.

We are having a baby.  Hopefully she will wait another 15 weeks and 3 days.  Hopefully she will be as stubborn about having to leave her cushy home as her sisters were.  Every day is more hope that she will be.

This is a big week.  We had a perinatologist appointment and ultrasound today.  Today's appointment went as good as it possibly could.  My uterus has shifted my placenta out of the way, so the placenta previa has corrected itself.  Woo-Hoo!  Which means I shouldn't have to worry about a hysterectomy at delivery.  There was also no sign of the SCH, which is also good.  And, while my cervix is beginning to go posterior (normal at this stage of pregnancy and as baby grows), it's still a strong 3.8, even when bearing down.

Miss Charlotte likes to hang out really low.  Like, for every single ultrasound (and where I feel her the most) her head is behind my hip bone.  To get my ultrasound today, I had to have the table on full recline where my head was almost touching the ground and my feet facing the ceiling.  She still didn't move.  She's stubborn.  So, we haven't been able to get a single decent or remotely clear image of her face yet.  Considering that Samantha was never low, and always hung out as high as she could, it just goes to show how different pregnancies can be.  The baby is weighing in at 1 lb and 8 oz, which is right on track for her gestational age.

Because of the good results, I get to have some of my restrictions lifted.  I can do more walking, lift up to 20 lbs and travel up to 3 hours away.  I just have to pay attention to my body, look out for contractions and be prepared to rest whenever anything is different.

Tomorrow is an OB appointment followed by an injection.  I should find out my gestational diabetes results tomorrow.  I don't necessarily have a good feeling about the results, but here's hoping that I passed and can continue to pin desserts like crazy on pinterest.

The only thing I have left to get for this little one is her stroller.  I've had such a hard time deciding. I know that I need a double stroller, I still use a stroller for Samantha just about every single day.  Typically, she decides to nap when I go to pick Kaitlyn up from school.  And even when she isn't, she is too fascinated with the little things and with a campus of 800 kids, there are just too many people for me to not either hold her or push her.  I do not expect her to outgrow that in 4 months.  However, I am a big believer in very limited stroller usage after the age of three. 

I went and tested strollers.  I looked at a couple of Gracos, the Chicco, the Bob, the City Select and the Peg Perego.  My problem is, I don't like bulky, I like easy to fold, car seat adaptable, I like lightweight, I like storage space and I like options.  And, I'm on the taller side, since I push it every day, it has to be tall enough for me.  In the end, it left me with the Peg Perego and the City Select by Baby Jogger.  Both are tall enough, both are easy to steer, both are on the lighter side.  But, there is about a $300 difference between the two (after buying all the accessories).  The Peg Perego is a side by side.  While it is narrow, we would probably need to use it for a year or so.  It seemed like a lot of money to spend to use for a year.  The City Select has so many more options, it is a single that converts to a double, that you can add a standing board to and make into a triple, or remove the second seat and make it like a sit and stand.  It just has the most options.  I am 99% sure it's the winner.  And I'm pretty sure what I'm going to do is just get the stroller for now, with the car seat adapter and the brackets for the second seat and use it with the car seat for the first 6-7 months.  If Samantha is still using the stroller at that point, I can get her the second seat and if not, I save the money on it!

Last week, Samantha got to return to the doctor for constipation.  Again.  A month after her disimpaction and colonoscopy.  It became bad when she stopped eating again.  A call to the GI revealed she was way overwhelmed and couldn't book her until JANUARY!  Um, she's not pooping or eating, that's not ok.  So, off to her ped we went.  She has lost 2 lbs since the end of July, which brings her down to 21 lbs.  Which brings her from previously being in the 75% for weight to under 5% for weight.  Ugh.  So, we repeated the X-ray which showed some constipation.  That, earned her a referral to the pediatric GI at UCD.  We're just waiting for an appointment.  In the meantime, I've started giving her the pediatric pedia-lax fiber gummies, pediasure with fiber and continuing with the miralax.  I think she's closer to being cleared out, our goal is to get her to not feel any pain when she's pooping, so she will keep pooping and keep eating.

Samantha's sleep has also been disrupted.  Dusty was out of town last week Monday through Thursday, and I think it messed with her.  Before, it would be hard to get her to sleep, but once she was asleep, she stayed that way.  Not anymore.  Last night, she was up until after 11, after not taking a nap for the day, woke up at 2:30 and stayed up until 5:30.  She's napping now.  Hopefully she gets back to normal soon.

Kaitlyn had her first game on Saturday and did really good.  She didn't whine or complain once about standing and cheering for 2 hours, she gave it her all for most of the time and did a good job.  She has her pictures on Thursday and has been practicing how to give the right amount of attitude while still smiling. 

Hope everyone is doing well and looking forward to some nice fall weather as much as I am!