Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas

Ivy's first Christmas was a three-day affair, and it's safe to say she's exhausted.

On Christmas eve, we left Cory home for some daddy alone time, and went to my grandma's house to visit with her, my aunt, Mom and stepdad. We were hoping to see more extended family as well, but their flight from the Bay Area arrived too late for us and we had to go home in time for bedtime. But before bedtime, we opened gifts from Cory's side of the family!

Yum, presents.

On Christmas day, the three of us packed up the car and headed to my aunt's house, and Ivy proceeded to get totally overstimulated and under-napped. I tried a few times to get her to sleep but she wasn't having it, for the most part. She also tried a lemon for the first time (it was slightly adorable but we didn't get the severe puckers we were hoping for - she liked it!) and some sweet peas.

Boxing Day was another full day. We left daddy at home again (now he's sick, the poor guy) and went back to my grandma's house so that Ivy could spend more time with her grandma before she had to go home (which is 3 hours away and over the very snowy mountains). We set up her favorite gift: a jumperoo! She had three long jumping sessions in that thing yesterday, and I'm looking forward to more time to get things done with both hands while she bounces. Naps were a little easier yesterday, but she was still so tired by the end of the day that she cried all the way home. (An emergency nursing session on a pitch-dark back road halfway home only helped until we started driving again.) I have a feeling today will be full of naps and quiet time.

I have to say, it's probably one of my favorite Christmases in recent memory, and it all has to do with my bunny. So grateful and happy and in love am I. Here's to many more happy Christmases.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

SIX MONTHS

It's hard to find a couple of minutes to blog at this time of year.

Currently, my six-month-old(!) is lying on her tummy on her play gym, kicking her feet and getting frustrated because her toys are too far away and she forgets how to roll over and doesn't know yet how to move. And also it's 4:30am; she never wakes up this early but today was an exception apparently.

We took a quick trip up to Seattle over the weekend, to visit some of Cory's family. Ivy did fantastically well on the way up, our whole time there, and halfway back home - and then she was done. I call that a success! During our time there she was passed around to all kinds of people, and barely fussed at all, which I think was great, especially for a little one who is very clingy lately.

She also had a doctor's appointment on Friday - she weighs 14 pounds 2.5 ounces and I think I remember them saying she's 26.5 inches long. So she's something like 14th percentile for weight, 7th for head circumference, and 70th for height. We have a beanpole with a bean for a head.

Last week we also started eating purees! So far in her 4 or 5 meals she's had mostly bananas, but also some avocado and egg yolk. The first couple of times she gagged a bit but she's getting much better at it. She's super interested in grabbing everything at the table now; in fact I'm getting to the point where I'm not wanting to take her to any restaurants because she's not quite ready for a high chair (she can sit up pretty well by herself but it's such a toss-up on whether high chairs will be in good enough shape for her not to slide out of them) and it's getting less and less possible to eat with her on my lap.

Yesterday we spent a long day visiting family and friends, culminating with dinner with Ivy's very-very-close-in-age friend Henry and his family. It's always a treat to see them, not only because they're awesome but also because it's really fun to compare how Henry's doing with how Ivy's doing. His mama goes to baby groups so she sees other kids his age often, but it's rare for me. As always, it wasn't a long enough visit, but I'm sure as the kids get a little older and learn to play together our visits will lengthen. Last time they saw each other, they barely acknowledged each other, but this time they were looking at each other and grabbing ears and poking faces and it was fun to see them interact.

And now for Christmas festivities! Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and that the coming year gives you all kinds of happiness.

Ribbonhead

Friday, December 4, 2015

At Least for Now

Infertility sometimes feels (at its most basic and shallow, leaving out so much of the truth) like the longest line for the best ride. You stand in the scorching sun and the freezing rain, thinking you've come to the end but then there's a switchback, thinking the doorway you're passing through means the loading zone but surprise, there's awhile other section you couldn't see before; and now you can see the people on the ride going up the first big hill, and you can hear screams of delight from those further along, and you don't know if the sounds are just echoing off the walls or if you're really almost there.

And then, if you're lucky enough to make it to the end of the never-ending line, you are whisked off on the ride so fast that you start thinking wait, I wanted to enjoy the view from the top of the first hill; wait, couldn't that loop have been taller; wait, couldn't that tunnel have been longer. But you're at the mercy of Time, sitting in that little booth with all the buttons, and he's just a carny going through the motions, thinking about his next smoke break.

Last night I laid in bed while Ivy nursed to sleep and I stroked her head, feeling the same skin I felt as she was being born, though that night it was velvety and wet and I was blind with pain and not-having-met-her-yet and last night her hair was just a bit longer and her head felt so much bigger and I could see everything because of the Christmas lights in the window and because she is mine and we share the same soul, at least for now.

I spent last night a little teary, thinking about how fast we went from those long hours in the NICU and those long hours napping and nursing through maternity leave to almost CHRISTMAS. I remember looking up at the board that the neonatal nurses updated every day, looking at Ivy's updated age and weight, thinking "wow, she's a whole day old! Wow, she's a whole WEEK old!" and now here we are almost six months. It's going too fast, the days are slipping through my fingers. But I realized time can stand still in those dark nights when we lie in bed together, drowsy and getting heavy, no place to go, no deeds to do, no promises to keep. No screens, no clocks, no distractions, just the two of us, sharing the same soul, at least for now.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Five Months



Whoops. Ivy has been a (joyous) handful these past few weeks, and it's been hard to find time to sit down and type! Five months - the age I always said was my favorite baby age. She is getting such a personality, and is changing so fast. Here are some quick bullet points:

* She is reaching for everything and putting most of them in her mouth (or just yanking/pinching)
* She's starting to pay attention to the dog and cat - and reach for them too
* She's interested in us eating and drinking: follows cups and silverware with her eyes and tries to grab them out of our hands if she's close
* Every chance she gets, when she's on her back she tries so hard to sit up. As soon as she wakes up in the morning it's the first thing she does
* She's still not that interested in rolling over but really likes sitting - and she's starting to be able to sit unassisted (except for behind her) for short periods of time
* She's starting to enjoy peekaboo, and being (gently) thrown up in the air, and her little bouncer activity thing at day care

It's Thanksgiving week, which last night I started calling The Week of Three Mondays. On (the real) Monday, the car was icy in the morning and I couldn't find the scraper, so I was ten minutes late to work. On Tuesday, I forgot to take milk to day care with me and Ivy was completely out, so I had to drive all the way home to pick it up and all the way back to day care to drop it off; and I was an hour late to work. And then last night, my day care provider texted me to let me know that she had to rush to Philadelphia to visit her ailing father, and she couldn't watch Ivy today, so I had to take the day off. Not that I'm complaining about that - I have been really enjoying spending the day with her. Just like old times, when I was on maternity leave, but more fun 'cause she's a more interesting kid now.

A couple of days ago we dressed Ivy up in a Santa suit that Cory bought last Christmas when I was pregnant, and we took photos of her for our Christmas card. She was sort of cooperative. I'll show you next month. :)

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Four Months

I am trying really hard to not say "HOW am I writing ANOTHER MONTHLY UPDATE?!" every time I write another monthly update. I don't think it's working so far.

So, FOUR MONTHS! Ivy is doing so well. She's super alert and tuned in to her surroundings lately, which is so much fun because I can show her all kinds of things. I have been taking her on walks down the street to a house that has a ton of Halloween decorations, including lights all over the house that flash to music. She has a good time watching those, especially the giant blow-up hearse that has sparkly lights in it.

Ivy's also working on her accuracy with her hands. I give her a toy and she's good at pulling it up to her mouth, and she practices switching hands and moving the toy around. She's pulling hard enough now to make the music play on her pull-toy on her play gym. She also wants to be sitting up ALWAYS. She is barely awake in the morning when she starts grimacing and lifting her head up off the bed, and lifts her feet up off the bed for longer periods of time.

Weekend napping still isn't great. A good nap for us is an hour. Part of the problem is that on the weekends we have things to do, so it's hard to get her to nap unless we happen to be in the car (which is fine, except that we don't schedule our traveling based on when she needs a nap). I'm hoping that eventually we'll be able to put her down twice or so during the day and have her actually sleep for a good chunk of time.

She's also learning to use her voice! It's fun to hear. She started using consonants (mostly G's) a few weeks ago, and is now practicing volume. In the car or in her crib, when I leave her to her own devices, she tends to start fussing but ending with talking. It makes it hard for me to figure out when it's time to go rescue her!

Smiling is happening way more than it used to, and so is tracking people's movements and turning her head when someone calls to her. Eye contact is happening for longer at a time. Rolling over from back to front isn't routine yet, even though she first did it so long ago. She has done it a few times since then but not recently and not lately (at least not at home). She does arch her back and push her butt up in the air a little bit with her feet, but that hasn't transferred yet into rolling over onto her back.

A bubbly tummy still seems to be her greatest nemesis. Just last night she half-woke-up several times with bubbles and woke me up every time. Burping tends to be easier now than it used to be; I'm sure that helps.

On Friday Ivy will enjoy some booster shots at the pediatrician. I'm not looking forward to it - I still remember in great detail her two-month shots, and the look on her face when she felt them. :( She had a quick appointment up in Portland with the surgeon last Thursday - she weighed 12 pounds 4 ounces, and they didn't measure her length but did comment on how tall she looked. Everything else looked just fine, and we don't have to go back there for another six months.

And now, to nurse!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

One Year

Yesterday marked one year since Ivy and her tiny sibling-blasocyst were transferred from their deep-freeze tank, their home for the preceding five years, into my uterus. We said goodbye to two others that afternoon, who didn't survive the thaw. Five years earlier we'd said goodbye to four of them, and all our hopes were riding on these last two tiny possibilities.

I don't have tons of time to reminisce these days, but the weather reminds me. Dark and chilly in the mornings, like the mornings we got up at 4 to drive up to Portland for blood tests. Sunny and warm-but-not-hot, like the days I spent looking for signs from the universe or pregnancy symptoms on Google, like the lunchtimes we spent in the car at the park so we didn't have to see anyone while we waited for phone calls. Trees starting to turn color, like the ones outside the window of our tiny prep-and-recovery room, that I watched as I walked back and forth, waiting for my bladder to fill.

Those days and weeks feel like yesterday and also like ancient history. Sometimes my body suddenly relives the intense nervousness of waiting all day for The Call, the surge of adrenaline of being wheeled into the transfer room. I would have given anything to know, a year ago yesterday, where I'd end up in a year. Now that I do... it still catches me off guard, how incredible it feels.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

We Survived the First Week!

Last Sunday night was pretty rough. I tried making myself into a cyclone of chores-completing to keep from melting into a puddle, and then I did anyway. It didn't help that Ivy was rolling over, and then was being the lovey-est chattiest baby ever. I couldn't bear it.

After I had my several good cries in, my nose kept running. Uh oh.

So Monday morning came, and we made the trek out to daycare. It takes half an hour to get there, as it's on the other side of the next town over. I went over the things in the diaper bag, handed off the frozen milk collected in the NICU, and nursed Ivy since we were early. I handed her off and practically ran outside to the car so I didn't have to cry in front of anyone.

Monday was actually not as hard as I thought it'd be, all things considered. Everyone was welcoming me back, and there was just enough work to keep me busy. I set up my pumping station in Cory's office (I work in a cubicle so I'm glad to be able to use his space). And then it was time to have lunch with Ivy.

I nursed while Cory ate lunch, and he cuddled her while I ate, and we watched the other kids play. I had hoped that Ivy would see me and be excited, but she was a little groggy so it wasn't a special reunion or anything. The lunch hour was over too soon, and we trudged back to work again for a few hours.

In the evening, we picked her up and brought her home, and it felt so good - but then I had to do diaper laundry and eat dinner and restock her diaper bag, and it was frustrating that my only three hours of time with her had to be shared with chores. I had also lost my voice - that runny nose was starting to progress into something worse. It was bedtime almost immediately (or so it seemed).

Monday night was rough too, but in a different way. Yes, I was emotional here and there, but I started getting chilly, and then freezing. I got up to find socks and a sweatshirt, and suffered my way through a fever for the next few hours. When it was finished, I took everything off again as I was all sweaty. Ivy slept through all of it, which is good.

Tuesday morning we rushed around like chickens with our heads cut off. We were trying to go off of mental checklists, and my fever meant I needed to take a shower, which I hadn't allotted any time for. But we made it.

The rest of the week was similar. Ivy napped like a champ there, though she hadn't done so for me. A couple of times I showed up to nurse at lunch and she'd just eaten, which made me super sad. One morning she fell asleep on the way there and didn't wake up when I dropped her off, so I couldn't say goodbye; that prompted some tears in the car. But my cold got better, my voice came back, and the week progressed. I actually even navigated negotiations for a new job (same company) that I interviewed for the previous week - that added a whole other layer of stress to this week. But now it is the weekend, two whole days of baby time!! And I fully intend not to squander them.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ready as I'll Ever Be

Everything is packed:
* The diaper bag with half a dozen diapers, change of clothes, sweatshirt, socks, hat, wet bag, diaper rash ointment, disposable diapers in case the cloths run out, pacifiers, bibs for drool, several Tommee Tippee bottles.
* My pump, with a Nalgene bottle for milk storage during the day at work and a zip-lock bag for taking pump parts home to wash in the evening.
* A bag with lunches for Cory and me for two days is in the fridge, so we can spend our lunch hours at day care and not have to worry about food.
* An insulated bag with a few dozen ounces of frozen milk is in the freezer, and one bottle of milk is thawing in the fridge so Ivy can drink it tomorrow.
* The contract, a check and other daycare-related paperwork

I've taken a shower so I don't have to do it tomorrow, and Ivy has a bath scheduled for before bed. A swaddle blanket is in our bed ready to be slept on (for the smell) and packed tomorrow morning. Ivy's medicine is measured in a small bottle and in the fridge so we can quickly feed it to her tomorrow morning. I feel like I'm forgetting something.

I wanted to end my maternity leave with a little mini-celebration, to end on a positive note, to take my mind off of this impending separation. We were going to go to Oktoberfest but there were too many people. I started thinking of things to do instead but Cory didn't feel well today, so we laid low at home. I went for a quick grocery shopping trip alone this afternoon (after misplacing my keys for twenty minutes), rushing back after texts from Cory (he hasn't spent much time alone with her and she was fussy).

I feel like I'm being dragged by Time, who is wearing a big black mask, kicking and screaming towards tomorrow. I'm trying so hard to "get my fill" of Ivy today, with frantic kisses and desperate cuddles and blinking back tears as I stare at her as hard as I can. Please don't make me do this.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Three Months

Oh my baby girl, three months sounds like such a long time, though it went by in a flash. I feel like I've known you all my life, and yet you change almost imperceptibly every day. One day last week you woke up and started to experiment with your voice, making all kinds of interesting coos and gurgles that you never made before.. Yesterday you rolled over for the first time! (You haven't done it since, but it has definitely helped me put you on your tummy more often!)

You are getting so good at holding your head up. You get upset when people who don't know you that well try to hold you lying down with your head in the crook of their elbow like a tiny baby. You're a big girl now and want to be treated like it! You're not what I'd call consistent with it; your neck isn't quite strong enough to keep your head from bobbing, and sometimes you let go of it altogether, scaring us if we're not ready. (You lunged forward last week when you were sitting on your daddy's lap at the dinner table, and though he caught you just before you face planted into the wood, it still hurt your neck and you were pretty upset about it.)

You're also learning how to arch your back, planting your feet and pushing your bottom up. You do it in your play gym and get all cattywompus with your toys dangling in your face. You do it on the changing table, and you do it in your car seat. (Usually in that case it's when I'm trying to get you out, which is a nice help!)

Breastfeeding is going fantastically well, except for a sometimes lazy latch, which is more my fault than yours. You gave me two good blisters on one side, which are starting to heal up but are still painful, especially when you fidget at the breast and slurp my nipple between your gums. Ow.

Napping, on the other hand, is going fantastically unwell. Almost nonexistent. You are a great cat-napper: you fall asleep after eating, and will stay asleep anywhere from five to twenty minutes. If I try to transfer you to your Mamaroo or your crib, you are wide awake in a flash. (In fact, you are "napping" right now, which the monitor shows as being wiggly and making small talk. I'm hoping you'll tire yourself out and shut your eyes, but it doesn't really seem to work that way.) Things may change next week when you can't sleep in as long as you want - up at 6 instead of 9 (or later!). In other news, it's amusing to me that I can spend all day watching you play, and then when you take a nap all I want to do is watch you on the monitor. (I wish I could have a monitor on you all day at daycare! But then I'd never get any work done.)

Grabbing is another new skill you're honing. I realized these past few days that I've reached the permanent ponytail portion of mommyhood: you are strong when you get a hold of my hair! You are also starting to pull whatever you grab towards your mouth. And that tongue of yours is always exploring: the mat during tummy time, shoulders, knuckles, other people's chests, hair, toys, and mama's lips when she kisses you!

You still love being naked. I bet when you're a toddler we'll have a hard time keeping clothes on you. You can be in a terrible mood and 99% of the time that I take you up to your changing table and start to unsnap your onesie, you start smiling. It's pretty cute. I usually zerbert your tummy and give you some kisses while we're there. You also like it when I dab the drool off your chin, as long as it's dainty and accompanied by a high-pitched "bee-doot doot doot!" You're starting to like baths more too, splashing around a lot. It's just no fun at the end when you're cold and I'm trying to dress you in your jammies while you're lying on the countertop.

In general, you're such a happy baby. You look serious a lot of the time, I think because you're just drinking in all the world around you. But you almost never cry from ennui, you're almost always trying to tell us something and I'm glad of that.

Happy three months, my darling. I love you so much I can barely stand it.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Final Week

Today marks the beginning of my last week of maternity leave, and I am starting to wallow. I knew before I delivered Ivy that I would have a hard time, and my few episodes of tears already this morning have confirmed it. Every time she smiles at me or makes a cute little noise, I realize she's going to be doing it to someone else next week and it slays me. I am not ready to share her!

I'm spending the day working out the things that she'll need, and starting to label the frozen breast milk (even though she's the only infant) and get pump supplies together and stuff. In a weird way it kind of distracts from the reality of it all. I also need to put together a meal plan for us and get a grocery list going, so that we can get out of the house quickly in the morning and so that I can spend my lunch breaks at the day care with Ivy. And every once in awhile I get distracted with internal rants about feminism and the decline of the one-income family and high rent prices and all the other things that mean that I can't stay at home in babymoon bliss for the rest of my days. :)

The thing that's getting me through is constantly reminding myself that it's going to be so good for Ivy. She's going to have other kids to play with and fight with and share with. She's going to have a teacher that will be way better at coaxing more tummy time out of her. She'll have a whole group of people who dote on her all day long. This is going to be way harder for me than for her.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Lab Champ

Today we woke up before the sun peeked over the horizon (it's getting easier and easier to do that - yay fall!) and hopped in the car (the windows were fogged up and we had to use the squeegee on them - yay fall!) to get some labs done at the hospital in Portland.

We always leave with lots and lots of time to spare so that we can not be worried that the rush hour traffic will make us late, so when we arrived I had time to give Ivy her morning medicine and also to run up to the surgeon's office to ask if we had two labs or just one. I'd had just one lab on my calendar but in my head there were two. The lady at the desk confirmed two labs this morning, and also a doctor appointment in October that I didn't know about. (The hospital makes appointments without consulting us; we have to just take what we can get.)

So downstairs we went, into the imaging department, which was empty when we first got there and was standing-room-only rather quickly. I'm glad we got chairs!

First up was an ultrasound of Ivy's kidneys and bladder, to make sure her renal system was working well. I laid down on the bed and Ivy laid on my chest, and she cuddled right up and was happy. And also gassy. She let out a fart that was at least five seconds long and had all of us cracking up.

After the ultrasound, we went back into the waiting room. I nursed hurriedly, in case we were summoned for the next lab, but needn't have worried because we spent about 45 minutes waiting. Ivy was very quiet, which was great. She slept on Cory's shoulder for a bit, woke up and kicked and punched on my lap for a bit, and cuddled with me for a bit. And then finally we were called back for the X-ray.

This X-ray was part checking up on Ivy's surgery site, and part baseline to see how skinny her esophagus is around the surgery site (so they can decide if she's going to have trouble eating later. We were able to go into the room this time, which was very nice - 7 days after Ivy's repair we sat in the hall outside the X-ray room, crossing our fingers that there were no leaks around the site - it was nerve wracking. Cory and I both got lead vests and collars to cover our thyroid glands, and Ivy was stripped down to her diaper. They laid her down on top of a metal plate, and I had to hold her arms up over her head, and that was the only time she cried. I think it was just because her little head was perched on the edge of the plate, which probably didn't feel so good. After a quick X-ray, the techs went to get the radiologist, so we wrapped Ivy up in a warm blanket and cuddled her to calm her down a bit.

When the radiologist came in, Ivy went back down on the table (without the plate this time) and I fed her an ounce or so of barium while they took several x-rays in quick succession. Cory watched the screen and saw her esophagus, a little skinnier in the middle than at the other ends but not bad. Then it was over, and we dressed her, found another place to nurse again, and off we skipped towards home.

Though the techs all said things looked good, it was still nice to hear from the doctor when she called as we were on our way home. Everything is fine and normal, she said! Whew!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Conception Day

Four years ago today Ivy was conceived, in the lab at OHSU, while I recovered from my egg retrieval. 32 eggs and Ivy was the champion. It's been a long four years (and also feels like it was just yesterday), and while looking back at how much heartache we suffered is hard, I feel like I'm the luckiest mama in the world.

baby i

Monday, August 17, 2015

Two Months

Ivy is two whole months old (tomorrow). Every time she does something new, I melt with simultaneous extreme love & excitement for a milestone, and extreme fear that life is moving so fast.

Ivy is such an easy baby, still. She has been sleeping "through the night" (at least 5 hours) for over a week, and has just about made it to eight for a record the other night. I tend to wake up before her a lot of the time, either because I'm uncomfortable (I try to give Cory lots of space, but we only have a queen bed, so I tend to end up in strange positions so that he can stretch out a bit without smooshing the baby) or because I think "holy cow, she can't still be asleep!" Or because she starts wiggling in her active sleep phases, which she does a lot as she starts thinking about waking up, even though it could still be almost an hour before she actually does. Then she will have some breakfast and fall back asleep, and doesn't really wake up for the day until around 11. I tend to stay either in bed, letting her sleep on me, or very close to it (like folding laundry at the foot of the bed), as she sleeps so much better when she's got her cheek on my breast or an arm flung over some part of me.

During the day, she is getting busier and more vocal. I put her in her little play gym, where she stares at the dangling toys and flaps her hands and kicks her feet. She spends a lot of time in my lap, either with her back against me, looking out at the living room, or lying down (though she barely fits anymore) with her head on my knees and her little feet up my torso, or over my shoulder, practicing holding her head up. She takes little teensy catnaps on the couch next to me, or sometimes in her MamaRoo, or there on my lap. We have lots of kissing sessions and chats. And then we go to bed at 9 or 10 and she nurses to sleep with no fussing. (Of course, earlier in the evening during the witching hour she gets a bit fussy, but it's nothing that Cory and I can't handle with a bit of dancing and walking around.)

She's also learning to smile. She's got tiny little flashes of them now, though they're not super sustained and don't happen all the time. They started on the changing table, mostly when she didn't have any diapers on, but I see them now when she's in her little play gym. Sometimes she'll coo and I'll look over and she's smiling at her toys.



I feel pretty confident with her now. I'm still a little hesitant of taking her to restaurants or other places where people might not like having a crying baby there, but I haven't had to leave any public places to soothe her yet. One thing I'm not so good at, however, is figuring out how to get anything done around the house when we're alone together. She will sleep for short bursts during the day, or be happy in her play gym or lying on the couch for a few minutes, but that's only long enough for me to make food usually. I have a whole list of things I need to do (clean out the cat box, clean the bathrooms, that kind of thing) but she can't be with me when I do them. I'm sure it'll get easier when she actually has cohesive naps rather than lots of little catnaps, but for now I have to wait for Cory to come home and hang out with her so I can do chores. And take showers and such. I'm thinking I'll try to go to the La Leche League meeting that's this Thursday evening, hopefully I can find some mamas who I can start hanging out with. Making friends is hard.

I go back to work in just a few short weeks and I'm dreading it more and more as it approaches. This morning as I laid in bed with Ivy cuddled up against me, it made me so sad to think that I won't be able to have peaceful sleepy mornings like this for much longer; I'll have to be up and getting ready to take her to daycare and me to work. Speaking of daycare, we're having a family meeting tonight to talk about our prospects. The centers are still chock-full, but two coworkers have recommended two separate in-home daycares to me, so we need to call them and set up a time to meet them. One of them has very reasonable rates but she's not as experienced as the other. I'm still having a hard time just calling the providers to inquire - I just want to stay home and take care of her myself!

Although I don't want Ivy to keep growing, I am really looking forward to this fall and winter; to share pumpkin patches and Christmas trees and family get-togethers and handmade sweaters and footie pajamas and maybe even SNOW with her. So excited.

The Cutest

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Post-op and Nursing

Last Thursday, Ivy had a quick visit with the surgeon who repaired her fistula. And it was quick: the nurse practitioner spoke with us for a couple of minutes and had us update her on how Ivy's been doing, and then the surgeon came in and looked at her incision and her IV site (they looked fine) and sent us on our way. He said that it'll take 3-6 months for both to completely heal, which is a long time but I think she'll be bandage- (and Billy Idol glove-) free much sooner than that. They also set up an appointment for us to do another swallow test and do an ultrasound to look for renal birth defects (they doubt there are any but they're just being safe) in six weeks.

We also swung by the children's hospital (which is a separate wing from where the appointment was) so that we could pick up some milk that had been left in the deep freezer (there was a ton!) and take a couple of photos at the entrance sign. It was weird being back there, like we never left and also like it was a year ago.

Breastfeeding is going better! Leaning back a bit and using pillows has made a big difference. Ivy is still taking a supplemental bottle shortly after every meal with me, which will hopefully stop eventually as she learns to eat more efficiently. She wiggles a lot and ends up popping herself off several times but she's getting better at latching back on without much help. She usually ends up just kinda lying there and nibbling after awhile, and I always think she's going to nurse herself to sleep, but she always wakes up the second I move her. I rubbed her head after her feeding at 2am last night and put her to sleep, though - it was cute.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Breastfeeding Woes

By far, the hardest part of this early-parenting thing has been trying to transition off of the bottle. I had grand plans of never letting Ivy have a pacifier, and not bottle feeding until I had to go back to work and she had to go to daycare. Of course, because of her situation, that totally did not happen. So starting in the NICU, I tried breastfeeding here and there, but never tried very hard because our top priority was gaining weight. Then we got home, and still had that priority, and then I started down a spiral of thoughts like "now there's only x weeks left of my maternity leave, so is there even a point to breastfeeding?" and "she's got nipple confusion" and "I'm tired so I'm going to go take a nap while Cory feeds her." I also had an assumption that no matter how tricky people said breastfeeding was to master at first, that I was a natural and would have no real problems. (It's a pet peeve I have for myself: I was a smart kid, and learning/school came easily to me, so I created this bravado around anything I hadn't tried yet. And then gave up in a huff and tears as soon as it didn't come easily.)

But this bottle-feed-then-pump-then-clean-bottle-and-pump-parts schedule takes an hour (which is a lot when she needs to be fed every three hours at night and I'm trying to sleep) and I would really like to be able to travel without a bottle as well as give her milk as soon as she wants it rather than having to reheat refrigerated milk. And of course there's the bonding thing, and all of the other great benefits that breastfeeding has. I'm proud that she's been able to reap the benefits of having been fed only expressed breast milk (even when she was brand new and I was having my D&C for the retained placenta; she had donated milk) but I'd really like to achieve the breastfeeding goal despite all of her setbacks.

To that end, I visited a lactation consultant at the OB's office today. I explained that Ivy has latching issues, that she would sorta latch and then spit the nipple out or come off of it several times before she got a good latch; and then she would spent maybe ten minutes (if we were lucky) on one side, reject the second side, and fall asleep - and be ready for a bottle very soon after. We timed the appointment really well, as she was just starting to get fussy out of hunger, and of course she latched on quickly and easily and made me worried that the LC wouldn't have any advice for me.

The LC went over a lot of things that I knew already, but it was really nice to hear it again and to sometimes have explanations about why/how things work. The most helpful thing she did, though, was to immediately adjust my posture. I'd been putting Ivy on my lap and hunching over her, trying to push my nipple into her mouth when she opened up. The LC had me lean back and put lots of pillows under my arms and under Ivy, bringing her way up further on my torso than I'd ever tried, and it seemed to work really well. She even latched on to the right side, which seems to be more difficult for her, after having already spent time on the left.

Then we weighed her, and she's gained 7 ounces since last Thursday. She's now 8 pounds 4 ounces - out of the 7 pounder club forever!

I left feeling pretty energized about the whole thing, and was happy when she only took 40ml of a supplemental bottle (her full feeding is around 90ml) when I got home - only to lose steam just a few hours later when I was dead tired and asked Cory to bottle feed her so I could take a nap. Gah. I can tell my downward spiral of thoughts need more uplifting than just one successful breastfeeding - that'll be the thing I have to work on the most.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

One Month Already

My little sweet pea, I have no idea how it's been a month already. It honestly seems like last week that I reached for a brand-new you, still attached to me, and said hello to you for the first time. I wish your first two weeks went a little bit differently - I wish I could remember more of our first moments, unfettered by the hemorrhage. I wish that you didn't have to know already what it's like to have strangers messing with you, to have tubes in your nose and down your throat, to hurt despite morphine. But, aside from lots of check-ups, that part of your life is done and mama won't leave you alone any more.

Our lives are much happier now that we're home. We're slowly settling into - not a routine, exactly, but a strategy. You're throwing us curve balls every once in awhile, like yesterday when (apart from a few catnaps) you stayed awake almost all day and into the night. Nursing still isn't coming naturally to us, but we have an appointment with a lactation consultant on Monday and you're at least learning to latch a little more quickly than before. (We'll get there!) You're an easy baby overall, and while there's no reason why we'd deserve that, we are very happy that now we can just enjoy you. After all the trouble you've been, from the time you were only ingredients inside of us, it's nice to have a little break.

Linus and Dexter aren't quite adjusted to you yet, but we know that will come. We, on the other hand, count our blessings every day, even through the sleepy or frustrated times. You can't know how much we adore you. Your daddy and I have settled into our orbit around your light, and there we'll stay forever.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

HOME!

Just a quick note to say that we are HOME! It was touch and go yesterday; in the morning they told us they wanted to see 48 hours of weight gain and then in the afternoon they said they wanted to see three days of weight gain. So we thought we might not be able to get out of the hospital until Monday. Cory gave both the doctor and one of the surgeons a piece of his mind yesterday afternoon, and this morning the doctor talked to the head surgeon and they decided it was OK to let us go.

And now, here we are. It has been super hot this past week, and the house has succumbed to it - it was about the same temperature inside as it was outside when we got home. We stripped Ivy down to her onesie and she has slept like the dead pretty much all day - we've had to wake her up every two hours to feed because if we wait longer we have to feed her a higher quantity of milk and we can't keep her awake to finish it. Either the drive tuckered her out, or this heat has. I've found myself almost missing the nurses and monitors (almost), just because they helped me feel more confident. I think our biggest project now is re-establishing a schedule that we can all stick to. That and establishing breastfeeding: we've been so focused on cramming milk down her gullet that I haven't had a chance to just let her feed naturally. Another best-laid plan that didn't quite work out the way I thought it would. Oh well.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Eat and sleep.

We are marking Day 13 in a much different way than we have marked days last time I posted. A few days ago, Ivy came off of all of her tubes and wires (except for the monitors which are just stuck to her chest). And she is quite a different baby now. When everything came out, we saw a little different energy, and a lot of sleeping. I think she's finally getting that deep healing sleep that she needs to really recover from the trauma of the last couple of weeks.

Today Cory is spending a few hours re-learning infant CPR, and I spent some time with the lactation consultant. Our lives now revolve around the biggest thing that needs to happen in order for us to go home: gaining weight. Ivy has a prescribed amount of milk she needs to take, and it's a chore almost every time. This is because she tends to go to sleep partway through her feeding, and we are discovering it's likely because she is still learning how to swallow and wants to protect her airway so she has figured out how to stop the threat. Or at least take a break from it, since we are working with her very closely so that she takes the amount of milk she is supposed to. We really want to get out of here. Unfortunately, the nurse relayed to me earlier that the doctor told her we aren't getting out of here tomorrow, which is what my personal goal was, but it should be by the end of the weekend. Of course, we are on Hospital Time, which could mean we go home on Monday or we could go home this afternoon, depending on what the doctor says. (Monday is more likely than this afternoon.)

Now that Ivy has got no strings, I've been feeling much better. That's only part of it though: Cory has been absolutely amazing. He has done so many of the feedings, saving me from the frustration of the volume of milk she has to take and doesn't want to. He has encouraged me to take a ton of naps, and focus on pumping, which was a huge help yesterday and has made me feel much better today. I took a postpartum depression screening test yesterday (based on how I felt in the last week) and scored an 11, and the threshold is 10, but they told me it was just because of being in the NICU and I shouldn't be worried about it. And indeed, as each tube has come out and we come that much closer to leaving, more weight is being lifted off my shoulders. I sometimes look at her little info board on the wall and see how she will be two weeks old tomorrow, and it makes me so sad that she hasn't even been home yet and our leave time is being eaten up by living in a hospital - but I can't dwell on that. Eyes on the prize, and all that.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

10 Days Old

Today marks 10 days since Ivy was born, and 8 days since I moved into this uncomfortable but private little room at Randall Children's Hospital. 

Ivy is doing really well. She was extubated on Monday the 22nd, after a very restless night for Cory and me because she would set off alarms every time she would breathe over the respirator. Which was often. They were still very cautious about us holding her, and had told us Friday, but we got a surprise OK on Wednesday the 24th. Her PICC line broke, I think on Wednesday night, so they had to remove it and give her an IV in her left hand instead. Then yesterday (the 27th) her chest tube was removed, which was huge because it was painful enough that they had to give her morphine. (In her baby book, on the page that says "What Soothes You," I included morphine. Heh.)

She was also able to start feeding yesterday. She is doing an ok job taking the bottle but it takes a long time and it's a little nerve-wracking, since our discharge date and her NG tube removal date is contingent upon her being able to take a certain amount of milk by mouth. (If she doesn't take it by mouth, so far, it goes down her NG tube.) 

I was also able to start trying to breastfeed today. It was a failure in terms of her actually latching on for more than a second; she cried for a couple of minutes and fell asleep. But in terms of introducing her to what's going to feed her later, I suppose it worked. We get to try twice a day from now on so we shall see how she progresses.

She also pooped for the first time today. We changed her when her grandparents were here and we all crowed when Cory did the big reveal. It was funny.

I'm feeling better as well. I'm able to walk a little faster and the bleeding has subsided a little. Milk production is good and getting better. Emotionally it's still a roller coaster every day - sometimes I'm elated and sometimes I feel terrible. It usually corresponds with whatever is going on with Ivy's progress, but overall I'm sure the terrible is because of hormones and that I just want to go home. We have only just begun learning what Ivy is like as a "real" baby rather than a drugged, in-pain baby, and I'm a little overwhelmed at everything going on. I'm trying to cut myself some slack but sometimes I can't quite get there. I feel like a bad mom, that I can't believe I thought things like breastfeeding and knowing what's making her cry would come naturally and perfectly to me. Even things as simple as we can't have food in the NICU makes things hard. A lactation specialist called me yesterday and I asked what kinds of foods I should be eating for breastfeeding. Thinking I was at home already, she said "things like salmon and avocado and almonds," none of which (besides the almonds) are available in the cafeteria downstairs and none of which I can eat with any regularity unless I want to go out to the room where we store our food, have a few, and call the nurses to let me back in twelve times a day. 

I'm also worried about how much money this is going to cost us, even though most of it will be covered by insurance. Of course there's nothing else that we could have done, this was a life-saving surgery, but I'm not looking forward to that additional stressor in the future.

I look back, though, and can't believe it's been ten days already. I know much later I'll look back on this hospital stay as having been a tiny little drop in the bucket of our lives together, but for now the enormity of it is sometimes hard to deal with.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

NICU Life

We have settled in to the NICU for the most part. It's weird to not yet be able to schedule around two-hour pumpings and four hour "cares" (diaper change, taking her temp, feeding her a drop of colostrum on a q-tip) - we keep having strange meal times as a result. And strange sleep patterns. But I know that's normal for any new parent.

Ivy has been doing pretty well since her surgery. Yesterday afternoon they took out the breathing tube that was holding her left lung open, which was awesome. But at 3am she needed a cannula. I guess that's normal but it scared me a little. This afternoon her lungs have cleared up pretty well, and she has been coughing and swallowing some of her gunk. Hopefully she will get to lose the cannula tomorrow but we shall see - we are trying to get used to hospital time, which is much slower than the outside world.

So the next step is for her to pass a swallow test on Friday morning. They will inject dye down her esophagus and watch it with an x-ray, and hope that none of it leaks. If it leaks, it's anger surgery to repair the hole in the suture line, and another week of recovery before another swallow test. If it doesn't leak, the fun part starts: she will get her nasal tube out (that's what's keeping us from holding her - if it gets jostled it's bad news) and we will start weaning her off her PICC line and onto breast milk, watching her for acid reflux and regurgitation that is common in TEF babies. Therapists and lactation consultants will help us learn the best way to breastfeed for her condition. But the biggest and most awesome part is that we can HOLD her. I cannot wait.

One Less Tube

Yesterday, after the breathing tube was taken out but before the cannula. She's super puffy from all of the IV liquids they'd been putting in; today that swelling has gone way down.

More photos on Flickr of course.

Apart

The next morning (Friday the 19th), Cory called to say he was at the hospital with our baby. He got to hold her for a few hours as they waited for surgery. In the meantime, my doctor came in and let me know that I needed two more units of blood because I was still pretty dangerously low, which meant I wasn't likely to be discharged until the next morning and I would miss the surgery. It was so hard to hear. But I resolved myself to get up after those two units and walk around, and show them I was good to go. Besides, Cory had heard from the nurses in Portland that nobody could hold Ivy until the next day anyway.

The day passed slowly. Family came back to keep me company and pass the time, which was great because surgery didn't start on time and took longer than we thought it would. I was on pins and needles, and I know Cory was too, and we couldn't support each other with 100 miles between us. Luckily my dad went to keep Cory company, which was a big help to him. The surgery was a success and since I would be discharged the next day and I felt so much better emotionally, I had my mom go home to get a good nights rest. Before that, though, she helped me take a bath in the big whirlpool tub, and also wheeled me to the baby class that's required of all parents before they're discharged. It was rough being in the room with three other couples and their sweet babies, while I was stuck in a wheelchair alone.

On Saturday, the doctor had more bad news: I still couldnt leave. Even though I had felt better, my numbers were still low (normal is 35 and I was at 15) and I needed another transfusion. I had one that morning, and then another that night. I just kinda laid in bed, trying to ignore how slow the time was passing and crying every time I heard a baby cry down the hall. The night was slow too, but I had a fantastic nurse who I absolutely loved. She looked at post-op photos of Ivy with me, and explained what all of the tubes and wires were that were attached. She also found me boxes for my flowers and packed extra pads for me since she knew I'd be in the hospital for a week as Ivy recovered. She took out one of my two IVs as it had failed that evening, which made for slightly more comfortable sleep.

Sunday morning, I had almost everything packed and ready to go, and then the doctor came in saying I needed another transfusion. He said my levels didn't change from before the prior transfusion, so he just wanted to "top me off" and get me on my way that afternoon. By then I had a reputation - all the nurses knew I was aching for Ivy and the blood lab ladies kept saying "you again?" when they came back. The IV tech set the blood up in my hand and left for a minute, and came back to me sobbing because it hurt so much. (Every transfusion hurt but this time was worse.) Turns out that hand had failed as well. So she put a third IV into my wrist and did it there. This time it barely hurt at all, and they pushed the blood into me twice as fast as usual.

At around 2, they finally released me. The plan was to go home with my mom and stepdad, take a shower and pack a few more things and get the house closed up, go to my grandmas house and transfer to my aunt's car and make the rest of the trek up to the hospital while my mom and stepdad drove home for the week. (They will be back once we are home.)

The ride up was agonizing and surreal. It was weird to be out in the fresh air again, it was weird to sit up straight, it was weird to know that I was finally going to see my baby girl. We got a little lost a couple of times in the neighborhood surrounding the hospital and I was on pins and needles. When we finally got into Ivy's room I dropped everything I was carrying and cried all over her. It felt so good to be there with her and so horrible to know that she was in a NICU.

The Morning After

As I was relishing the reduction in pain and the sweet little one in my arms, the midwife was still at work trying to get the placenta delivered. I didn't have the urge to push it out, but I tried anyway. At one point I thought I passed it but it was just a gush of blood. I remember the midwife telling me I had a second degree tear, and that I had lost as much blood as a c-section patient. They massaged my uterus and showed Cory how the cord had come away from the placenta. I don't remember much after that, just flashes of being wheeled into the OR, the anesthesiologist introducing himself as I moved myself off the bed and onto the operating table, and then five hours later when it was getting light I woke up in the recovery room with Ivy and Cory skin-to-skin in the rocking chair next to me.

Nobody told me how much blood I lost, but I had a unit of blood transfused at some point that day. That morning I didn't care because Ivy was nestled in my arm, her head on my shoulder, and nothing else mattered. Until the pediatrician came in and told us she wasn't breathing well and needed to go into the nursery and put on a CPAP. The next few hours were the beginning of the scary period. The pediatrician told us she thought Ivy had a tracheoesophageal fistula which needed immediate surgery and couldn't be done at our hospital. We had two options for transport: to Eugene or Portland. We chose Portland.

Around 3pm on her birthday, Ivy was packed into an insulated box surrounded by machines and wheeled into our room on a huge stretcher to say goodbye. It was hard to see. She left for the hospital in Portland and Cory went home so that he could take a quick shower and pack. I'm glad that my family came to visit me after that because as soon as I was alone I was a wreck. Cory, who had been up since the wee hours the morning that labor started and hadn't slept since, went home and took his shower but then fell into a deep sleep rather than getting to the hospital. My mom actually went to our house to wake him up because I could not get a hold of him and I was starting to worry he had gotten in a car accident or something on the way home. He made plans to finish out the night at home and go to the hospital very early the next morning to sign the consent forms for Ivy's surgery. Mom stayed the night with me for support and I started my pumping regimen, though I wasn't getting any colostrum yet.

Labor and Delivery

What a roller coaster of a few days. Let's try to sum things up as of now, in a few posts.

I went to work on Wednesday the 7th, and at about 1pm I felt a couple of small gushes which I wasn't sure about - either they were water gushes or they were just watery discharge that had been accompanying my mucus plug. This time it was enough to soak my pad, so I called the OB. The nurse said to hold tight for awhile to see what would happen, and to call them back around 8pm for an update.

Around that same time, I felt what I first thought was indigestion, but I started getting more uncomfortable so Cory and I went home. I slept for maybe an hour, until a painful contraction woke me up, and I went downstairs to labor on the ball.

Over the next five hours (though it didn't feel that long), I labored on my knees draped over the birth ball. I remember being frustrated with Cory for not being able to pack the car and time my contractions at the same time, but that was the only time I was unhappy with him. I threw up a couple of times, once in early labor and once or twice a few hours later.

A little befor 8pm when my contractions were 5 minutes apart (they say to wait until you've had them that far apart for an hour but we didn't wait), Cory called the midwife and she said to come in. Cory threw a towel down on the back seat and I sat backwards on my knees, hugging the seat back.

We checked in at Emergency as it was after hours, and had to wait for several minutes while they figured out how to fit me in upstairs. (Apparently a lot of women were here that night, not necessarily to labor but for other issues.) We went into an admitting room for a few minutes because apparently some ladies in the waiting area came to try to give me advice on how to labor, which annoyed the receptionist. I would have been annoyed too if I knew it was happening. Finally they led me upstairs (I declined a wheelchair) to a triage room, where they checked me and I was at 7cm.

I barely remember taking off my clothes and the midwife saying hello and someone saying "you started to push with that last one, didn't you?" They wheeled the entire bed to the overflow room that we had toured during our birth class when it was so busy a few weeks ago, and I started the delivery process.

I think pushing lasted about four hours. I tried being on my hands and knees, tried the squat bar, and ended up on my back with my feet on the squat bar, pulling on a knotted sheet that the midwife was putting counter pressure on. Ivy was indeed sunny side up, and though I could feel my back hurting it didn't hurt any more than anything else. I was able to feel her head a few times, and when the ring of fire came I remember thinking "I read this only lasts thirty seconds, it's been way longer!" The midwife took a bunch of photos during this time, which are pretty amazing but I won't share them here. Suddenly all the overwhelming pressure was gone as her head emerged, and pretty much immediately the rest of her body followed and they put her on my chest at 12:57 am. Cory got to help, though he couldn't catch her by himself because of her presentation. Watching her being brought up to my chest was the most amazing thing, and when Cory said hello to her she turned her head to find his face. There were almost no tears. It was magical.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Ivy is Here!

Ivy Mae was born at 12:57am on June 18. 7 pounds, 1.3 ounces; 21". We had a bit of a rough start, Ivy and me. The short version is that I hemorrhaged and had a retained placenta which needed to be surgically removed; and poor Ivy had a birth defect called an esophageal fistula, where her upper esophagus wasn't attached to the lower but the lower esophagus was attached by a fistula to the trachea. So she was aspirating her food and swallowing her air, which was causing breathing problems. She had surgery on the 19th to repair it, and so far it looks to be successful, though it will be around the 26th before we find out if it worked well and she's not leaking into her abdominal cavity. Cory was with her at the children's hospital where she was transferred, but I had to stay behind until yesterday evening because I needed five units of blood. I'm so glad to be here now with her - it was so hard to be at the hospital alone, surrounded by women and their babies. My milk is coming in and now it's just a waiting game to see how she does. She's a feisty one, the nurses say, so I think she's going to be all right. Photos soon!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Monday

Another day, another monitoring session. Everything looked fine. The OB swept my membranes again, as I was still only 1cm dilated and nothing had really happened; and this time it HURT. Oof. I had to breathe deeply and pinch my fingers, and as soon as it was over Cory came over and rubbed my back because apparently my face wasn't very pleasant. :) I've had some contractions since then but I can't remember if they're any stronger than the ones that happened as a result of the last sweep. On Thursday they should have some more firm plans for us, as they'll talk about us during their meeting tomorrow morning. She's still not all that worried about my blood pressure, which is good.

Of course, after the appointment I started getting obsessive again about looking online for statistics on the effectiveness of membrane sweeps, and found this:

"The review found that overall the intervention is associated with a 24% increase in chance of delivering within 48 hours, a 46% increase in chance of delivering within a week and a 74% reduction in likelihood of going 2 weeks over dates. (...) In summary, as a method of induction of labour, it is poor, but at the end of pregnancy, sweeping the membranes is a safe way of doubling chances of spontaneous labour over the next week."

Kinda reassuring, but I guess it's just the way you say it - "doubling chances" is kinda the same as "50% chance." Reminds me of looking up IVF success rates and agonizing over a few percentage points. I suppose you could look at it like this, though: there is a 100% chance this baby is coming out at some point. :)

I finished knitting my sixth soaker yesterday, and don't have enough yarn to make another (not to mention six is plenty), so I'm back to being a little bored (which is no fun when you also have a huge life event looming over your head and you have no idea when it's going to happen). I started reading a Dr. Sears book about breastfeeding, but I'm not sure how much information I'm retaining. I should probably just find some light fiction reading for this next little bit.

What else, what else... oh, random stuff:
* I have been eating a ton of string cheese. Not sure if it's because of the protein or what, but it's yummy.
* I'm also drinking lots of very lightly flavored sparkling water. I probably mentioned it before - the OB recommended it when I said I wasn't drinking as much water as I should. It definitely helps - it's fizzy and doesn't have any sugar or sodium or anything, just "natural flavors."
* A few weeks ago, I noticed that my fingers were swelling at night, and going down once I woke up in the morning. It's gotten worse since then, where it kind of hurts to grab the toilet tissue when I'm up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Turns out it's pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel. It's not enough to bother me much, though I can't curl my fingers under my chin which is my preferred sleeping position, but it seems like it's starting to stick around (though much less intense) during the day - my fingers feel stiff all day, especially when I try to clench my fists tightly.
* At lunch today, we were walking back to the car and stopped at a corner where a mama and her toddler were waiting for the light. The little girl pointed at my belly and said "baby!" and so as we crossed the street her mama and I chatted briefly about how far along I am and a little about the toddler's birth. It was fun to have a connection with a stranger like that.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Last Day of Yoga

Yesterday ended up being the last day of the term for prenatal yoga. For some reason I thought it ended next Friday, so I was a little surprised. There haven't really been any other regulars in the class; one lady came a little less than half the time and a lot of the sessions ended up being private (which was awesome).

Yesterday there was a drop-in - a woman whose brother was graduating today (I live in a college town) and she thought she'd drop in because she took a pregnancy test yesterday morning and it was positive.

I spent half of the meditation (without malice, just reflection) thinking about what that must be like - to take a test, be pregnant, and that's that. I looked back on my beginnings - I actually had a yoga class the night before our first blood test (and didn't take an at-home test because it wasn't as sensitive as the blood test) and spent half of the class crying quietly from the stress. We had three blood tests, none of which showed amazing doubling times. I bought a box of at-home tests and took them between the blood tests and the double lines were there, but faint. The first ultrasound showed a barely flickering heart, the baby still almost too small to see. I spent the next month (more than that, really) worried about chemical pregnancy, worried about miscarriage, worried about losing everything I laid on the line, not the least of which the thousands of dollars. And how lucky of this random woman I'm sharing a yoga studio with, to be able to take one test and think "well, that's that!" and start decorating the nursery.

I suppose we're never out of the trenches. If I'm ever lucky enough to get pregnant again (which I doubt) the first month will be filled with the same worry. I envied her a little bit yesterday for the straightness and flatness of her path through fertility, but I rested my hand on the 39-week roundness of my belly and knew that what I have is such an incredible blessing that I have never taken for granted, and will always look at it with such awe and gratitude - and that's enough for me.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

38th Week in Review

I got bored of posting every tiny detail every time I had a monitoring appointment, so I figured unless something changed drastically I'd wait and review both of the week's appointments at once.

On Monday, I asked the doctor "should I schedule any monitoring appointments past my due date?" and she said "nope, you'll have a baby by then!" and sent me off to get another just-in-case preeclampsia lab done. I didn't really ask any followup questions because I was caught off guard by that, and needed some time to process. So for the next three days I wandered through mixed feelings of being so close to D-day and overthinking about whether the doctor was thinking I was medically in need of induction, or if she was only looking at my office-visit blood pressure, or if she just knew something I didn't.

Today I feel much better! Cory came with me, and when the doctor came in I was ready with questions.

First, I asked about the weird sensations I've been getting in my right leg, which I'm not sure I've mentioned here. For a little over a week, I have had periodic upper-inner thigh (way up by my groin) pain, that kind of feels like a muscle spasm. It happens when I'm standing up, and I've been noticing it mostly in the evenings though it doesn't happen all the time. I made the mistake of reading an online forum about it, where most people said it was ligament pain and one doom-and-gloom-er said it was probably a blood clot and it should be checked out. The doctor said it was probably a ligament thing, but could also be contractions radiating down into my leg. She said it's probably exacerbated by the baby putting pressure on that side, which makes sense because her body is on my right side.

Then I asked what her plans were for this delivery. "Well, you're in a gray zone," she said, "where you're 35 and have chronic hypertension, but on the other hand your labs look good. We know that for first-time moms, when we induce it takes a long time and it is more likely to lead to a c-section, and we don't want to do that, so at this point as long as your blood pressure doesn't spike we can let you go to 41 weeks." Phew.

She did recommend trying a membrane sweep, since I'm strep b negative and it would be a more natural way to try to jump-start labor, so I went ahead and consented to that. She checked my cervix, and I'm at 70% effaced and 1cm, with an anterior-pointing cervix and "her head is down there" (she didn't say what station I was). I was kind of hoping to be a little further along than that, but I know it's my first and left to my own devices I'm almost certain I'd go over my due date. The check itself was slightly painful and of course the sweep was worse, but it was just a few seconds and that was it. She's going to do it again on Monday, and in the meantime I'll be re-researching at-home labor induction methods (though I've read that most of them don't really work - at least I can feel like I'm doing something). All the doctors in the practice discuss their high-risk patients at a roundtable on Tuesdays, so by next Thursday she may have something more definitive.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Bits & Bobs

* I was sure I was going to be put on bed rest, if not ordered to L&D, on Thursday when I went in for monitoring. My morning blood pressure has been creeping up, and while it's still in the safe zone I was pretty sure the appointment BP test would be ridiculously high. But it was lower than the last appointment, and they weren't worried, so off to work I went. (Well, they were a little worried; the doctor was frustrated with me for not drinking enough liquids, and my weight kinda jumped, so she's keeping an eye on that for the future.)

* The weather has decided to be a jerk. It was 85 on Friday and 90 on Saturday and today with a low of only 60. That makes it hard for my house to cool off, and it makes me grumpy. I'm not sure what's worse, being pregnant in the hot or having a sweaty furnace infant attached to you in the hot. And yet, my weirdo cat thinks it's cuddle time.

* Yesterday we had a great time visiting our friends who are due in THREE DAYS. We spent most of the evening out in their shady backyard, taking photos and having dinner. I stood for photos for quite awhile in the 90-degree mugginess, and by the end of the night I enjoyed my first episode of edema. Which hasn't really stopped 'cause today is just as bad. I'm off my feet most of the day today and drinking a lot, hoping it will go away. Which I doubt it will until the weather cools off a little. Or I'm not pregnant anymore. We shall see.

* Speaking of drinking a lot, why is it that I can drink a ton of water in the morning and taper off in the evening to try to avoid getting up in the middle of the night, but I barely pee during the day and I'm up 5-6 times a night to pee? Rude.

* Ivy was quite busy this afternoon as I sat knitting in my clashing-stripes pajamas. After several minutes I realized I probably ought to film her, so I caught about a minute before she stopped.

Monday, June 1, 2015

"Can you feel those?"

Last night I had a breastfeeding anxiety dream. I dreamed that I had had Ivy and was trying to feed her but I was having all kinds of trouble. Part of the trouble was that I was holding her but she wasn't really there. That didn't bother me though, except for when I'd forget to hold my arm crooked like she was in it - I was doing other things like walking or gardening and kept forgetting that I was also trying to breastfeed.

When I woke up, my blood pressure was slightly elevated but not that bad - but then when I got to the appointment it was 134/98. So they kinda freaked out and had me go do more preeclampsia labs. I showed the doctor my at-home chart but I think she wanted to be safe and had me go across to the lab anyway. (And of course it was back down to the normal range again this evening.)

The rest of the appointment was fine - Ivy was nice and busy, and everything looked good. Then the doctor said "can you feel those contractions?" and showed me a few gently sloping areas of the contraction line. I asked if they seemed to have any rhyme or reason (by which I meant "are they Braxton-Hicks?" but she just said that they were pretty far apart. Then I remembered waking up in the middle of the night because of a thunderstorm, and feeling what felt like period cramps that were stronger than what I thought I was feeling last week - these were sharper. Still not enough to hurt, though they were a little annoying. Didn't stop me from sleeping though.

So now I wait for the labs to come back. I'm pretty sure they would have called me today if my levels were up, and I didn't hear anything. I'm excited to know that things are happening, but I know that it could still be awhile before real labor starts. But next time I'm hooked up to the monitor, I'm going to be paying much more attention to that contraction line!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Nursery

We are almost completely finished with the nursery so I thought I'd give you a little tour.



A sorta-pano of the room - it's pretty small so it's hard to photograph the whole thing! The wall to the left (behind the door, so you can't see it) is the closet. We've since moved the mobile down a little bit, which you'll see in one of the photos below.



The crib, like the dresser and bookshelf, is from Ikea. My friend Nicoal made the blanket hanging on the front rail (the reverse is minky) and my grandma cross-stitched the blanket on the side. Extra sheets and mattress pads are in the drawers underneath, and the diaper pail is on the right with a basket on top that I've been using as a laundry basket but will be out of there once we start using the nursery.



The crib and bookshelf. So many cute little stuffed animals and art, some made by family members or friends. And you can see we moved the mobile down. It'll stay there until she can move around in her crib and then we'll remove it so she's not tempted to grab it.



The sunny day was blowing out my photo of the dresser/changing table, so I waited until dusk to take one. Based on several forum posts I read, I removed the straps from the changing pad, put a non-skid rug mat underneath it, and put a king-sized pillowcase on top. It's not contoured like the pad itself but it was much cheaper and works just fine. I have two, so that I can switch them out when needed. Dexter (our cat) had been sleeping on it (I don't blame him, a nice high vantage point right by the window) so lately usually either the pillowcase is off or I have things sitting on top of it so that he doesn't leave his hair all over the place.



And my favorite part of the whole room! The trees are vinyl clings that my mom found at Joss & Main. They were actually a huge pain because the wall is just textured enough that the vinyl really doesn't want to stick very well. It took several hours to put the trunks up, and in the morning one of them had fallen. I went in there and used a roller on them every day for a week, just to be sure they'd stick. The branches were much easier (though we thought they'd fall because they were so much thinner than the trunks, so less sticky surface area), and the little animals were part of the decor at one of my showers. The branch on the top left is begging for a little vinyl bird, which I will someday find on Etsy. And the stars are from one of my showers as well - when the ceiling fan is on they flutter a little, which will be interesting for Ivy to look at from her crib or the glider once she can see that far away.

The glider was a gift from a friend. It has really nice back support. The blanket was made by my cousin. The bunny light is mostly so that I don't trip over anything at night; it'll have to be moved once Ivy is old enough to play with the cord/outlets. The picture is actually a gorgeous paper cut - The woman in the middle is telling stories to her kids and the stories are in the vines around her - Bremen Town Musicians, Alice in Wonderland, etc.

The little book cart is really nice - it has tons of space for the plentiful books Ivy has, some cubbies for toys, shallow drawers, a little ledge in the back for pens (so she can pin paper up on the back and draw on it), and cloth pockets on each end. Right now the pockets on the chair side hold nursing pads and lanolin, and will probably hold a few other breastfeeding-related items the more time I spend in there.

On the back of the door, which I didn't take a picture of, are three baby carriers - one for when she's super tiny and two for when she's 15+ pounds. The front of the door has a huge blue and green styrofoam "I" that we brought back from Texas - it was part of the giant "REGISTRATION" sign that was on the back wall at Conference. It's probably three feet tall.

We have a few diapers left to get (they're on their way), and then we're pretty much done buying stuff! Of course, that doesn't mean it's not super tempting to wander around in Target, looking at everything, but I was proud that I managed to come away from there yesterday with only a package of muslin swaddlers (since it'll be so warm when she needs to be swaddled). It feels good to be pretty much done - now pretty much all that's left for us to do is wait.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday FMT

Even though I've only had a few weeks of fetal monitoring, it's already weird when I go in at a different time of day - mostly because it means Ivy's going to behave differently. This week, because of Memorial Day, I went in on a different day and at a different time than usual, and I could tell.

Today was at 1:30pm (my usual time is 8:30am). The same nurse checked me in as usual; she has been pretty quiet and not that interested in chatting or smiling until this week - I must have seen her enough that she's used to me now. Ivy moved around a decent amount, and I again had the weird jagged line from the sensor that measures contractions - I know that some of my movements are picked up and some of Ivy's as well, but I don't remember that lower line being so jagged before last Tuesday's appointment.

The OB that I was assigned to today was called in for an emergency c-section, so I was in the chair for longer than usual, and they ended up just grabbing a different OB for me instead. She commented on my blood pressure (124/82 today) and I told her that at home my tests have been on average 111/70 - it's nice to be able to tell them that because it makes me feel like they can't be that worried about inducing. (I didn't tell her that I have a log, complete with graphs and trend lines, readily available for them to peruse on my iPad. They haven't been worried enough to ask to even see my hand-written log, so I'll save my geekiness until they want it.)

I spent most of my time in the chair knitting a soaker and yawning - I'm much more tired during the afternoon - but I did start reflecting on where we are now. I read an article a month or two ago, written for soon-to-be mothers who were in this late-pregnancy limbo, having finished all their prep and all their reading and were just waiting. At the time, I'd thought "that's totally not going to happen to me. I've got all kinds of books to read to prepare, and the nursery isn't anywhere near ready, and I'm sure I'll just be busy right up until she's born!" Now I know better. I really do feel like I'm in limbo, and I'm feeling my old tendencies to obsess over details coming back. Is she dropping? Was that a Braxton-Hicks contraction? What was that twinge? I even asked the doctor when they'd start checking my cervix, just because it would be interesting to know what's going on, and she said because of the risk of infection they don't tend to check until they feel like it's really needed. It's probably just as well, because I'd just obsess over the number and want to know if there were changes every time I went in.

OH, and my Group B Strep test was negative. Yay!

It's supposed to be a nice weekend and I think Cory actually has a teensy bit of time off, so we may go find some nature to walk in, and maybe take some maternity photos. We shall see what happens. And then on Monday we will have arrived at Ivy's birthday month! Eek!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Last Ultrasound

Today was what I hope is our last monthly ultrasound. (It'd be odd to have one at 40 weeks so I'm assuming we're done.) We had our favorite sonographer, who recognized us too. ("I'm going to look at your fibroids this time; last time they didn't ask me to and I don't know why!" he said as he led us to his room.)

Everything looked good, which we expected. He said she's about 6 pounds 5 ounces right now, and smack in the middle of all the growth charts as usual. She was super active - she had the hiccups when he started, and she was grinding her head all over my bladder and moving her legs and opening her mouth and playing with her hands.





We didn't get great pictures of her this time, which I also expected, since she's getting so big. In the 2D photo she's sucking on her fist (which was really cute to see live), and the 3D was especially difficult because (as you can see in the first photo) her face was right up against the placenta. He even had me move around to try to get her away from it, but wasn't able to. At first glance of the 3D photo it looks like you can see right up a giant nostril, but I think that's either a shadow or her nose was smooshed against the placenta. It's hard to imagine what she's going to look like even with these 3D photos; last time I thought she looked more like me than Cory and now I don't see a resemblance to anyone (though if I'm looking at it right, she has my bottom lip). But you can very easily tell where all her features are this time, and her eyes are open! I can't wait to see what she REALLY looks like.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Urrrgh.

I have to grunt and groan every time I stand up or sit down, now. Fun times. It's so strange to feel so tired and stiff and sore, and not have done much of anything - you'd think that I'd remember from the first trimester but this tiredness is different - in the first trimester I was still a normal size and could sleep on my back.

I've been sleeping pretty good for the most part, though last night I was up quite often because my hips hurt. I also kept having dreams that I was showing up for doctor appointments at the wrong clinic (like the fertility clinic instead of the OB's office) and then not being able to make it to the right clinic in time for my appointment. I took naps during 2/3 of the three-day weekend, wherein I slept like the dead and didn't move. But did drool and snore. Pregnancy is sexy.

I also feel like I'm getting period cramps. But they don't feel like I can tell when they come and go, I just kind of notice them and then don't notice them. Could be Braxton-Hicks but I'm not sure - they're pretty dull and not very strong, and low-down towards my pelvic bone. Could also just be general discomfort, that's how weak they are. (Actually, I just read somewhere that it could be that I'm not drinking enough water. I know I haven't been drinking enough water, so I'm going to try to step it up a little and see if they go away, or if they're actual B-Hs.)

Today's monitoring appointment went pretty well. I was 140/86 when the nurse first measured, so she came back later and I was 124/74, which was much better. That's still higher than my at-home average of 111/70 though. I sat in a different room than usual, and I don't know if it was the fact that my appointment was at a different time than usual or that I was hooked up to a different machine, but today's graph was really different than usual. Part of it was that Ivy was having a dance party. But I noticed that sometimes she would move but her heart rate wouldn't go up to match it. I asked the midwife and she said that it looked great, though, so I'm not that worried about it.

They also did a Group B Strep swab, measured my fundal height (36), did a quick ultrasound to look at my amniotic fluid (looked great), and gave me a TDAP shot. (I've since been randomly waving my arm around, hoping that using it will help it not be so sore next time I attempt to wash my hair.)

Tomorrow is our 36-week ultrasound. Hopefully this will be the last one, and hopefully we'll get one more good look at her face (though I'm not counting on it since she's getting so cramped in there.)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Our Bags are Packed!

Yesterday marked 36 weeks, and though I really hope Ivy waits a few more weeks before she makes her debut, we are ready to go in case she wants to be a little early.



My clothes and snacks (from top left):
The bag (it's a carry-on-sized roller bag, and there's room to spare in there)
Ratty old slippers (17 years old!) and flip flops (the kind made from yoga mats) for walking the halls
See's candy to bribe thank the nurses for being so good to us during our stay
Luna bars for me and for Cory
Honey sticks
Two pairs of pajama pants to wear in the hospital, either while I'm laboring or after Ivy is born (we have been told we'll probably stay for two nights, and maybe three if we have to have a c-section)
Two nursing camisoles
Two light wrap sweaters
Two nursing bras
Light robe
Thick socks
Going-home stuff (I'll probably wear a camisole and sweater, and if I don't feel like wearing pajama pants home I'll wear this - it's a maternity skirt)

Not pictured:
Water bottle with a straw (Camelbak)
Coconut water
String cheese (if I don't eat it all before we go!)
Phone/iPad and charger (in my purse already)
Nightgown for laboring, so that I don't have to wear the hospital gown (but it's a pullover so if I end up having to have an IV or something I may have to switch to the hospital gown)




My toiletries (from left):
Pillbox with prenatals and blood pressure meds (4 of each)
Mouthwash (recommended by the birth class instructor - in case I puke)
Toothbrush
Toothpaste
Lotion
Cetaphil body wash
Deodorant
Hair tie/clip
Shampoo & conditioner

Not pictured:
Coverup (I don't wear makeup, besides a tiny bit of coverup if needed, and may not even use coverup while I'm in the hospital. We shall see.
Lip balm (it's in my purse already)




Ivy's stuff:
Cat
Diaper bag (Skip Hop)
Pajamas in various sizes (newborn and 0-3 months)
Blanket for the car seat
Baby book
Burp rags (though I don't think we'll need them)
Nursing pillow
Nail clippers/file in case she has gnarly fingernails (so she won't scratch herself)
Socks
Mittens (again for the scratching)
Hats
Nursing pads/lanolin

Not pictured:
Car seat




Cory's stuff:
Pajama pants
Sweatshirt
Cory's bag (Columbia messenger bag, though his stuff may have fit into my roller bag)
Socks
Underwear
A few shirts (he's hoping to not have to go home at all, even during the recovery time)

Not pictured:
Toiletries (deodorant, toothbrush)
Camera
Phone charger


The hospital provides a lot of stuff, and so some of what we're bringing might be overkill, but we want to be prepared. We also live less than ten minutes away from the hospital so it's not a big deal for Cory to run home if he needs to, or to send a family member out to run an errand for us.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thursday

Today's monitoring went great!

On Monday afternoon, I started using a wrist cuff to check my blood pressure twice a day, and it was giving me such low numbers (an average of 109/66 in the mornings, compared to Monday's appointment blood pressure which was 140/90) that I was worried the cuff was wrong. Either that or I had white coat hypertension. So this morning when I tested myself after the alarm went off and it was 119/76, and then 124/77 ten minutes later, I started thinking it was the latter. At the appointment, the nurse measured 136/86, and then I measured myself afterwards - and of course I didn't write it down. I remember the bottom number was the same and the top number was something like 4mm less. So that's pretty good! (Also, I tested a few minutes later while reclining and it was way down - like my normal morning measurements - so I'm thinking the relief I was feeling brought it down.)

We caught Ivy's nap today during monitoring - she had a few movements right at the beginning and then nothing until the very end when the midwife had already come in to talk to me. She looked closely at two decels, but said they didn't meet the criteria of being 15 seconds long before going back up to baseline so she wasn't worried. Then she geeked out over how much amniotic fluid she could see on the ultrasound. I showed her my BP chart and told her about the test I did with the nurse, and she told me that her husband had such bad white coat hypertension that they've been to the emergency room twice. She said that it made sense to her that my blood pressure would go up when they started talking about induction. So that made me feel much better.

After the monitoring appointment, Cory joined me and we got pre-checked-in at the hospital and then had an appointment with the Maternity Care Coordinator. She's a nurse at the hospital who goes through things like what to expect at the hospital, gives paperwork for the birth certificate, recommends classes and stuff - pretty much what the class we took did, smooshed down into an hour but with a little extra paperwork. She also started a birth plan - I brought ours so that we could go over that, but she wasn't super interested in that one; she had a form that she used instead that had spaces for who would be my support people and what kind of pain meds I wanted and whether I wanted the nurses to offer Ivy a pacifier, that kind of thing. She confirmed that the hospital's policies are pretty much what my birth plan is, which is awesome and made me feel OK about not getting to go through my birth plan with her.

She kinda rushed us through a very quick 45 minute meeting, and then we walked down to the emergency entrance to see where we'd have to check in if I go into labor after 5pm or on a weekend. The receptionist there said "don't come here! Just wait until the daytime and go to the normal hospital!" which Cory and I laughed about because the nurse had just told us that the emergency staff were afraid of laboring moms.

In work news, I think people are finally starting to get a little concerned about my impending departure. I had started training someone to do my daily paperwork but nobody was lined up yet for all the other stuff I do, until yesterday when Cory helped light a fire under some people. It's still not 100% figured out, but I'm starting to feel a little better about it now. I was telling my coworker yesterday that I have my hospital bag almost all packed and my snacks for labor purchased and ready to go, but I don't have someone to cover for me at work while I'm gone and that's no good. It's one of the last prepping-for-birth things that is stressing me out.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Monitoring and Nesting

I'm pretty sure the nesting urge has started! On Friday, our carpets were cleaned, courtesy of my very generous boss. It was really hard not to run up there as soon as I got home from work on Friday evening so that I could put everything back the way it was, but the carpet took awhile to dry (of course we hit a cool and damp few days rather than warm sunny ones) so I wasn't able to do it until Sunday.

So Sunday morning was straightening-up time. I also made some closet dividers so that I didn't have to keep checking the tags of all of Ivy's hanging clothes.





I had been thinking about running to the store and buying some $20 organization kit but I changed my mind and used a box from one of our many recent Amazon purchases, a Sharpie, and some tags that were on a gift we received at one of the baby showers. I think they turned out pretty good for being kind of thrown together, but that was part of the point - I wanted them to look rustic and extra-DIY.

I also worked on my hospital bag. I'm starting to get worried that I'll be induced before my due date, so I decided it'd be a good idea to get ready. I have almost everything packed (or at least set aside to throw into the bag when it's time) and I'll post a photo of everything once I've finished. I'm not going to load the car because we don't have a trunk (well, we do, but we have a Forester so you can see into it from outside) and I don't want anyone to be tempted. Instead, I'm hoping that if I end up going to a monitoring appointment and having to be admitted, that I can ask for an hour and pick Cory up (since he's not coming to these appointments) and run home to grab everything. Eep, it's feeling more and more real every day.

I also spent some of Sunday doing some research on chronic hypertension during late pregnancy. I wrote out a few questions for the doctor, and am going to borrow a blood pressure cuff from a coworker so that I can start logging.

This weekend also saw me take two naps. One of which ended at 8pm on Sunday night, an hour before I normally go to bed. I was worried that I'd have trouble going back to sleep but nope.

This morning was monitoring. My blood pressure was pretty high again, and after they retested once I'd been sitting for awhile it was 140/90. Which is right on the threshold of uh-oh-bad. The doctor came in and told me that she wasn't going to up my blood pressure meds, and I don't have the weight gain or swelling that they usually see pretty quickly if it's preeclampsia, but she sent me across the street for a blood and urine test just to rule that stuff out. She asked how much I'd had to drink so far that morning and I said "a cup or two of tea..." thinking she was asking about whether I'd need more water in order to provide a urine sample, but she said "ack - drink more water. That could be the reason why your blood pressure is elevated." So for the next while, I'll be taking it easy (not that I was doing any hard-core exercising to begin with) and drinking lots more water (I may go buy some watermelon and coconut water and stuff too, so that I can find other good ways to stay hydrated), and hoping that I don't get sent to L&D after the next appointment.

EDITED TO ADD: I got the cuff from my coworker and tested just for fun - and got 115/79. So either I have white coat hypertension or this cuff is calibrated wrong. In any case, I'll be testing twice a day until Thursday morning and will take the cuff with me so I can test at the same time as the nurse and see what happens.