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.