Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Blurry Edges II

It didn't seem fair that Eve's birth story was relegated to an obscurely titled post that philosophized on how my past has changed me and the probability of future baby loss.

And so...(this part from the end of the original prior post)

Back to the baby loss narrative. I've got my three wonderful babies. I never wanted more than three, before Blue. I'm not even 2 weeks post-partum, so I realize there are still hormones swirling around my body and maybe a little out of control yet. But I want "just one more."

Just one more to fill that void. Just one more extra baby to balance out the missing one.

I think I mentioned before that I live in a pretty Catholic neighborhood and there are large families all around us. I see parents with four or five kids and I want to be like them. Would I then be the envy of other people like me? My birth experience was wonderful, but it would be more wonderful if Mr. E and I had been there together. It would be more wonderful to have one more chance to see in detail the miracle of what was happening, instead of the blurry edges that I remember now. I mean this literally...but I see the metaphor. Metaphors. I live my life like everything is not quite focused, not quite good enough. The experience of grieving a lost baby--the grief itself and the tears through which you see the world while grieving--also makes for blurry edges. There's a blurry edge in that feeling that not everything will ever be quite right again after a baby dies. Could just one more bring me some perspective?

But then the doubt sets in. Do I deserve another baby? Can my career handle it? Can my marriage? What if it takes me another 14 months to get pregnant? Will I still want another baby almost two years from now? What if there's something wrong with baby? Is it greedy to want another one? Will I deserve it if my fourth child has special needs? If we decide to terminate? Is it OK to end on a loss? When I wanted another baby because of how great the immediately prior birth and post-partum/neo natal experience was? And not because I always wanted four. Four sounded like a LOT of kids...until Blue died. Then nothing sounded like a lot of kids. Am I too old? I wish I didn't have to keep rushing to have my kids. Wouldn't it be nice to have some time to think about this? I'm too old, it's too risky, we should quit while we're ahead. Except of course I'm not. I'm behind in the kid count and always will be. Is this a legitimate reason to want another baby?

I finished a song recently and the last pair of lyrics I wrote is:
I can't tell, why things aren't coming into focus
I can't tell, that if they did I'd even notice

As in most other topics in my life, I am not sure where I stand.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Meet My Baby GIRL!!

Oh, hi!

Biggest news around here is that I am a proud mama to a baby girl! I knew I wanted a daughter but I didn't know just how badly until she was born. She also has an amazing birth story, but the short version is that she arrived on her own time, beautiful and perfect.

Introducing Eve Charlotte, born April 25, 2017 at 8:24 a.m. (It may have been 8:23 or even 8:22.)







(As you can see, one big brother is much more impressed than the other.)


She wasn't due until May 22, but arrived at 36 weeks, 1 day at 6 lbs, 13 oz and 20" long. She's technically a "preemie" but looks and acts like a full-term baby. I haven't worried about her prematurity for a moment--feeling so blessed and lucky about this.

I finally decided to have a midwife this pregnancy, home birth and all.

I initially saw the OB for the first few visits, had the dating ultrasound and another one around 15 weeks due to some bleeding, along with the genetic screening ultrasound and 20-week anatomy scan. After genetic ultrasound looked good I opted not to get any diagnostic testing, nor did I get the MaterniT21 test. I have to admit that less testing=less stress about the baby and I'm glad we didn't do any testing aside from the nuchal fold measurement. My mom was less glad about this, but as the MFM doctor pointed out, "she's not pregnant." So let's just also say that I didn't tell my mom that I was planning a home birth either. And I wouldn't even have had to tell her at all, though I think she eventually figured it out.

The doctors at MFM wanted to monitor my cervical length measurement, which they checked at the 20-week, then asked me to return twice for repeat measurements. I went to the first follow up, suddenly anxious about what the findings might show. My two boys were born at 38 weeks and 38 weeks, 3 days. There was no reason to believe I was at risk for early labor due to cervical insufficiency. At the follow up I asked the doctor, "what if I don't come back next week for another follow up?" I loved his response: "Well, we live in a free country...so you can do what you want." This was by happenstance about 3 days before Trump's inauguration. "Yeah, for now," I replied and we both had a laugh. The doctor who reviewed the 20-week scan also wanted me to have two growth scans, solely based on the fact that my 40th birthday is six days before Eve's due date. The midwife and I agreed that that was strictly optional.

A few weeks ago, between weeks 32 and 33, I got the stomach bug really bad. After two whole days of constant puking and diarrhea, my midwife sent me to the hospital. The maternity unit was so busy that I started to wonder how the staff there could handle all the babies being born. My triage room was near the nurses' station and I heard a lot of stuff about the mothers and babies on the unit. I found it really interesting...and I was glad I would be birthing at home. After 3 liters of fluid I was free to go, feeling much better, though I wouldn't truly feel better for two more days. After Stomach Bug 3.0 (yes, we got hit 3 times this past season), the midwife wrote me a note to cut back on work hours. Which is a joke and I told her that, but at least it gave me the opportunity to ask for a second telecommuting day each week until I delivered.

So anyway, I'd gotten the warning to cut back, reduce stress, otherwise I could have the baby too early. The extra telecommute day was nice for the two weeks in which I got to use it, but cutting down on stress was probably not going to happen. So I think I've foreshadowed this enough, plus I already told you Eve arrived 4 weeks early.

Eve was born on a Tuesday. The Friday before, my water broke. It was just a tiny leak at first. Looking back on it, it started at work, but I didn't think anything of it--a little extra tinkling sound while on the toilet. I went to a court conference in Philly and went home (my office is a little over an hour from home, and Center City is about an hour and a half or more from home, depending on traffic). At home, I felt another little something while playing with LJ. Then another something when I bent down to get something out of the fridge. I was pretty sure I was NOT peeing in my pants. Later that evening it was more obvious. I called the midwife so bummed...thinking about saying good bye to plans for a home birth. I was only 35 weeks, 4 days. She told me to rest, relax, and keep the baby in until AT LEAST 36 weeks. If we could wait until 36w3d, we could go ahead with our plans. She told me not to go to my baby "sprinkle" the next day. (Shocker--I went anyway.) The midwife came over to check me and baby every day, each time assured that everything was fine. I was not as calm about this, but I also knew that I did not want to go to the hospital and get poked and prodded and stuck with IVs and bed rest.

I was also not prepared work wise, thinking I would have at least that next week to wrap things up and pass along info to whomever would cover my work while I am out. The midwife was not pleased that I billed over 9 hours that Monday. But I pretty much sat in one place all day and when I explained that doing nothing would have been more stressful than getting that work done, I think she finally understood. On Monday she revised her assessment regarding staying home, and told me that if I could wait until Wednesday (instead of Thursday), I could birth at home. Up until then, she said, we would probably go to the hospital. By Monday afternoon however, I realized that I was feeling some cramps, in that deep down place where labor pains begin. As the evening wore on, the pains started to feel like mild contractions; nothing painful, but heading in the direction of labor. I didn't sleep well, angry at myself for working that day, for not relaxing enough to stave off labor. At 4:00 a.m. the contractions were waking me up, though they were short and not organized in any sort of linear time pattern. I tried to sleep as much as I could, and told myself I wouldn't call the midwife before 6:00. I got up at 6 with Sprout and felt a little better walking around, then at 6:30 knew it was time to make the call. The contractions were still erratic and only lasting about 30 seconds each, but they were getting intense. As I stood doubled over the kitchen counter, I thought, "owww, why am I doing this? This hurts so bad and I have so much further to go yet!" She told me I could stay home if I wanted to (the hospital with the Level 4 NICU is literally 5 minutes away), and to call her back when the contractions were one minute long and seven minutes apart. She wanted me to try to slow down the process--take a warm bath and some magnesium, along with a sleeping pill--and try to sleep. Because my membranes were ruptured for four days now, Mr. E had to clean the tub before I could get in. I decided to call the neighbor to come over to help get the boys breakfast and off to school. Mr. E didn't want me to call her, saying he could handle it. But I wasn't sure I could. This was a good call.

I had Mr. E call the midwife again just before 8:00 to tell her that the contractions were still short but were pretty regular at 5 minutes apart. She said she would be over. At 8:16 I had my neighbor call the midwife to say I felt the urge to push. We all agreed that I should not push. The midwife would be here momentarily. At 8:21 the midwife called back and spoke with the neighbor. I have no idea what transpired during this call. How could I NOT push? We called the midwife again at 8:25 to tell her that the baby was here. My neighbor and I had delivered the baby. Holy crap!!!!

The midwife was in the room about 3 minutes later. She asked if it was a boy or a girl and my neighbor and I said "we don't know!" We were like dumb and dumber trying to figure out what to do for a moment. Then I told her to put the baby on my chest and we rubbed her with the towel I had been wearing after getting out of the bath. I stared at her asking if she was OK. Then she cried just enough, and thank god I wasn't alone and that the midwife had arrived. Where was Mr. E? Dropping the boys at pre-school! The neighbor called him to tell him to come back and she would take them to school but we hadn't thought of that earlier and he was already at the school. He still got to cut the cord. Later in the day I told him I felt like I missed out because I didn't have my glasses on (I'm really blind--like when the midwife held up Eve right in front of my face I was like, I don't know, just tell me if it's a girl or a boy! In retrospect, I'm pretty sure I would have been able to identify boy parts.) He said, "how do you think I feel?" Oh.

OK, so that's that. Eve was perfect. Everything went beautifully, if not shockingly quickly. I was expecting there to be more pain. When I felt her head coming out, it didn't hurt at all. I didn't tear. The placenta delivered normally. After letting the baby nurse (more like "nurse") for two hours, I got up and took a shower while she had skin-to-skin time with dad. It was a truly wonderful experience, even considering that I labored alone for the most part. And when I told my parents what happened, I still didn't have to tell them that I had PLANNED to have the baby at home. I dunno, Mom and Dad, it just HAPPENED. They kept asking when I was going to the hospital though, so eventually I had to tell them to just cool it, everything was OK. And it was. They took the boys for the night and Mr. E and I got take out from Carraba's and opened a bottle of sparkling wine. About an hour into the night with Eve fussing and us wanting to sleep, Mr. E said, "this sucks." Lol. I was still on Cloud 9 though. What a freakin' day.




Thursday, February 9, 2017

Abortion Week

Oh, hi!
 
Let's just skip over the part where I admonish myself for not writing in this space for an actual year. 
 
I'm--surprise!--25 weeks pregnant right now, which makes this "Abortion Week." At the same time a Senate Committee in PA just confirmed a bill to limit abortions after 20 weeks and ban the D&E procedure. There was ONE woman on that committee. There were no public hearings or even any input from the medical community. Then yesterday the full Senate voted to advance the bill to the state House. Thankfully, oh so thankfully, the governor has promised to veto.
My abortion started at 25 weeks, 3 days days with Blue. I think since I am now pregnant at a different time of year, I haven't made the week-by-week comparisons. Until this week. It has really hit me, and I've also been thinking about Chris quite a bit. The origin of these thoughts is that I wonder where are the men in the fight for reproductive rights? Chris so clearly benefited from the fact that I could get an abortion at 25 weeks (I think legally that counts as 23 weeks, FYI), but does he care that this right could very easily be limited in the near future? Or that other men and women haven't been able to make the choice that we did because there was no way they could possibly have afforded a $4,500 abortion? Or they didn't live close enough to a state where the abortion wasn't yet forbidden? What would have happened to them? What will happen to them?
About Chris. I want to forgive him. A few months ago, maybe the anniversary of Blue's death and birth, I felt like I could almost forgive him. Almost...but not quite. I wonder so many things. Mainly, if he doesn't have a living child now, does he think of himself as a dad? I am curious enough about the answer to this question that I consider reaching out to him. I haven't yet.

I have been thinking of testifying before a legislative body or a court in opposition to abortion restrictions. I would really love to be a witness for this cause. I tell my story out loud to myself sometimes on my long drive to work. I fought like hell to get someone aside form a genetic counselor to talk to us after we got Blue's diagnosis. I still find this baffling and infuriating. What the hell did a genetic counselor have to say at that point? Like, we're done with that part. A doctor did step into the meeting with the genetic counselor. I don't recall now if she was a respiratory therapist (actually, that is not a doctor), pulmonologist, or what. I'm not sure I ever knew. But I remember her. What she looked like. Where she sat in the room in relation to us. The expression on her face when Chris asked her, "Does it hurt?" A question I hadn't thought to ask. She leaned her head back a bit and closed her eyes, nodded up and down slightly as she said quietly, "I think so. Because you have to breathe. And when you can't breathe, it hurts." That was it for Chris. It was so cut and dried for him. Chris' feelings, after all, were possibly the least selfish of the two of us. So I think that maybe I could, maybe I can, forgive him. For everything that happened after that. For his different path through grief. For his not being able to help me, and even for his not wanting to.

It's been over five years now since Blue was here and then not here. My feelings about him have changed so much. I don't miss him so often anymore. I don't think about him every day. I don't imagine that he should be part of this family I have now. Though I guess I never did. But the grief--the abject pain of losing my first child--is unforgettable. It still hurts now to think about how much it hurt then. . . . Yeah. I think about that pain maybe more than I think of its reason. That part I never really expected.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Universe Mocks Me

******WARNING****** period talk below. blood. tampons. jelly blobs. etc.

You guys. As you are aware I have been trying to conceive. If you've really been following along, you know that I am technically always trying to conceive. It's now been 8 months of periods with no birth control, but no pregnancy. After having cycles of 25 or 26 days, then two in a row at 23 days, I had a 30-day cycle. I tried using OPKs starting as if on a 23-day cycle, but I didn't get a surge in the first week so I took another set for another week. I never actually detected a surge, though there were 2-3 tests in a row around Day 16 that had dark lines. I considered that maybe my sample was diluted because after 3 pregnancies I have a hard time holding my pee for 4 hours in a row. I was expecting another 30-day cycle.

So. On Day 23 I started spotting. Light pink after sex. Then brown spotting for 2 more days. I thought, hmm...implantation bleeding? I took a test on the morning of Day 27. Negative. OK, it was early. That was Sunday. We had plans for a day in NYC that obviously involved drinking because when you ditch your kids and go to NYC of course there is brunch and favorite wine bar in the old neighborhood, etc. Yay, drinking.* I decided to test again on Tuesday. I woke up around 5 am because LJ was whining, and got up to pee so I figured why not? By the time I got out of the bathroom he had gone back to sleep. I wanted to go back to sleep too, because negative. Around 7 I woke up to a warm, gushing feeling. Are you kidding me? This is not the first time this has happened! I even checked the TP at 5 am before testing because this has happened before. I'm getting my period on Day 29 and it's starting out strong. With clots. (But it's still brown.) I insert a super tampon thinking I will need it.

Around mid-day I decide I need to replace the tampon. I can barely get the thing out. Which is pretty amazing after 2 (full term) deliveries. Seriously, I had to do reverse Kegels to remove it. And it had a few brown spots on it. I put it back in. By evening I took it out and haven't bled since. That was yesterday.

What is going on???!!!??? I have been trying to read up and it seems maybe I DO have fibroids? Oh, the irony! I suppose maybe I will go back to the RE (with tail between legs). Saline sonogram--let's do this! Clearly something is not going right. We know it took me at least 4 cycles to start ovulating after I started getting my period again following breastfeeding, and maybe up to 6. Then I cycled short, then suddenly 30 days, and now, like, nothing. In the back of my mind I'm thinking maybe my tests are duds. I'm so silly. But they're made in China. I don't know. Maybe they are labeled wrong and are LH tests instead of HCG tests. I made an appointment with my OB in 2 weeks and will see what he days about everything. He's way more cool about things than the RE and I really prefer that angle. Another 2-week-wait.

*I just read that the CDC recommends no drinking at all for women who aren't on birth control. WTF? I know that if you think you might be pregnant, even if the test is negative, then it doesn't actually mean "yay, drinking," but after planning a day away for the first time in at least a year and a half, I was not about to forego a couple mimosas at brunch, followed by a few glasses of wine at dinner like 2 hours later, based on a negative pregnancy test! Also, the article I read about the CDC recommendation noted that most women don't know they're pregnant until 4-6 weeks. First of all, you're not even pregnant during the first 2 weeks. Then, for at least another week the embryo is not even attached to anything. There is no way that a few drinks can invade, like, every cell in your body, including the free-floating embryo. Related: not knowing you're pregnant until 6 weeks sounds like such a luxury.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Updates, Schmupdates

Yeah, it's been a while. I just read over the last few prior posts so I can cut to the chase:

1--I have a new job and I am sort of enjoying it. I'm not pissed all the time at how terrible my workplace is, like at my old job, because it's not terrible. I have an hour and ten commute (sometimes more, sometimes less) and I don't like that. But I get a telecommute day once per week where I go to the closest downtown and work in a nice office at my dad's company. My regular office is suburban and I like that for the free and convenient parking, and also the numerous running trails nearby, but I love being in an urban environment once in a while and going to Starbucks without even having to go outside! Also one of my favorites restaurants is in the first floor of the building, though I have yet to go since starting work there. I even get a free parking spot at a nearby garage. It's pretty sweet. So I guess that's my favorite part of the new job--working alone near my home. I should lower my expectations. I mean, I'm still a practicing lawyer.

2--I am not pregnant. I got further results from the RE and there's like, nothing wrong. Prolactin levels normal, estradiol normal, FSH on the high end of normal, and I supposedly ovulated in November at least, though I think the mid-luteal phase progesterone level was still low. I was cycling every 23 days for two months in a row. I decided against any interventions, even ovulation predictor kits, because I am an arrogant jerk. After having sex a bunch of days in a row, I'm pretty sure we took like a week off, then I got my period after 30 days. What a tease. Thought I could be pregnant; turns out I wasn't even having sex during my fertile days. I used OPKs this month and I'm not sure that I got a surge. The line was never as dark as the control line, though for 2-3 tests it was almost, and was definitely darker than other test days. if that was actually a surge and my sample was just diluted or something, then I am on track for another 30-day cycle. I understand it's possible to surge and then the egg does not get released. So I don't know what's going on, I only know I am or was having some sort of ovulatory dysfunction. I didn't want to pursue treatment with the RE because she insisted on doing a saline sonogram before discussing treatment. She told me at my first visit that I didn't have to do it if I didn't want to, but when I eventually declined, the nurse at the clinic told me to call back when I was ready to move forward. So here we are almost three months later, and I haven't done anything to try to get pregnant. I just don't understand why we are still looking for other things that could be wrong, when we know that I was not ovulating and did not have a regular cycle. And when that can be fixed with really simple stuff like Clomid. Like do you really need to check my uterus for fibroids when I'm not getting pregnant for lack of ovulation? I just thought it was an unnecessary intervention at this point. And by the way it costs $750 plus whatever facility charge from the hospital. And while my insurance covers treatment for diagnosing fertility issues, it has a $2000 deductible, and then won't cover any actual fertility treatments. If I WERE ovulating regularly, then I would be okay with checking for fibroids. And I don't know what the semen analysis costs anymore because I threw away the info sheet, but I'm pretty sure we don't need a $400 or whatever SA for my 31-year-old husband with zero health issues and who has impregnated me twice on like 3-4 tries. I feel like the clinic is just looking to make money and scare me into buying more interventions than I need. And by the way, I did want to move forward, that's why I squeezed my way into a canceled appointment in November, but I don't want to with this clinic. There are two other options in town. They all get bad reviews and good reviews. If I'm not pregnant this month I'm going to go back to my OB and try the less intense route. I just seriously don't need stress in another aspect of my life. All my test results were NORMAL. I have TIME. At least some. I hate you, RE. Well, that was not a brief update at all.

3-Been thinking of Blue a lot. I don't always feel sad when I think about him lately. I'm not having as many thoughts of the utter despair I felt when he died. Nevermind, I'm tearing up. I'm still sad.

4-One of my best friends from growing up sent me a text about 6 weeks ago that she got a job here and was moving back to our (crappy) home town. The recent communications before that made it sound like she and her husband were changing their minds. I was ecstatic! She has an almost 5- and almost 3-year-old and we'd been getting the kids together when she was visiting her parents. She gives me her son's hand me downs, some of which come from an older cousin who is also named Jed. OK, so, one week before she is to start the new job, in PA, her husband has a heart attack and dies. The worst news I've had in a long time. Like four years long time. It's awful. She actually started her job only a day or two late. She is living with her parents now. What else do you do? That's been sad, too, around here.

5-Farther down the scale of sadness, I am incredibly bummed that I am such an idiot and did not make an effort to go snowboarding last Sunday after we got 30" of snow in about 24 hours, ending at 9 pm Sat night, with skies clearing into a perfect sunny day. Perfect, epic blue bird. Granted my driveway was buried, but my street was plowed and what the heck was I thinking? Literally a once in a lifetime opportunity. And I was like, I can't go snowboarding, I have these kids. Um, that is what I have a husband for--to watch my kids on an epic powder day!!! I don't deserve to ride powder.

Alright...ciao for now!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Actually, I Can Imagine

I can't imagine. I've been thinking about this expression lately. About how it's not a terrible thing to say to a friend in a terrible situation, but how it's not great either. Anyone with any degree of empathy probably CAN imagine...they just don't want to.

It's the 3-year-old version of "I can't."

Put on your shoes. I can't.

Wash your hands before supper. I can't.

Imagine having to decide whether your baby should live or die and then get an abortion at 25 weeks, after you've physically felt the life within your baby and watched your belly grow for him. I can't.

I just can't bear to do that. But I did. I had to. I mean, I had to decide whether Blue would live or die. I know that I didn't have to choose the abortion. My dad told me afterwards that had I chosen to let Blue live, my sadness would only have been delayed. Protracted. I was going to watch him die. At some point. And to think of that is fucking misery. And so I can't imagine.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Dead Orchids #Microblog Mondays

I'm not sure why I kept this dead orchid. I suppose I like the way the dried flowers hung on to the plant. My other orchids have wilted and drooped and fallen from their stems before they could dry and hold on. I bought this orchid the day I thought I miscarried LJ. I had taken an early pregnancy test and gotten a faint positive. Five days later I was bleeding a bit, right on what I had expected to be Day 1. I dragged myself to work, disappointed and sad, and bought this plant at a grocery store at lunch, hoping to cheer myself up. The bleeding did not continue throughout the day, so I took another test that night, and had a dark positive. Relief! Excitement! I had hoped for another boy. The orchid thrived in our apartment, but when we moved to the house it quickly faded. I blamed the damp conditions in the house (now fixed, thankfully). So, I guess the orchid reminds me of perseverance. The little baby that didn't die. The house that was fixed. And of course, my memory of Blue, that wilts and fades from time to time, but will never, ever die.