Wednesday, October 14, 2015

{ The First Month List }

  1. He spent his first week in the NICU. Contrary to what the doctors predicted, he exceeded everyone's expectations and hurdled each milestone with ease. 
  2. The first few weeks at home have been a breeze. He easily sticks to a schedule and is hardly a fussy baby. 
  3. He is the picture of health, according to the pediatrician. In spite of his size and early birth, he's been perfect in every other way. 
  4. The dogs have wanted nothing to do with him. Cooper has been the jealous one, surprising us all. He sulks about and very clearly feels displaced. Georgia is fairing much better, though is bored and frustrated with the lack of stimulation. Babies are boring in her opinion. They'll come around...eventually. 
  5. He's growing! He's still so tiny, but is putting on weight like a champ. 
  6. He loves his momma, and she loves him. of course, Jeff get's his share of love in there, but what an amazing bond I'm having the privilege of forging with this precious angel. He is all sweetness and cuddles, and wants nothing more to be held and sung to. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

{ 2 Became 3 }

Finding out that I was pregnant was a shock. And it eventually it wore off and we got down to the business of getting prepared to add a third person into our life. As much of a procrastinator as I am in almost every facet of life, and to be honest, Jeff can be too, It's been a steady stream of baby since we found out, and other than the stray epiphany  of just how much life is changing, it hasn't been an unpleasant or overwhelming experience so far.

Because I already have issues with my blood pressure and come to the table with hypertension and obesity, it's something that automatically puts me in a high risk category with pregnancy. Early on I chose a doctor that showed special interest in cases like mine so that I could feel confident that this baby was going to get the best shot at making it out of my body alive, even though I've always been told my body was no place for babies.

My doctor has been fantastic. Sincerely. There's a small section of people that are reading that might understand when I say that overweight, or people with chronic conditions can sometimes run into doctors that can come across as condescending, or judgmental without even giving you an opportunity to show your own understanding about your situation. Dr. Thomas has been a breath of fresh air. He's matter of fact, but has never shamed me for being an obese woman while pregnant. It's always been about making sure symptoms and factors are  kept where they need to be in order to bake a healthy baby regardless of who's doing the cooking, and I've never been made to felt less by anyone in that office. It was the one thing I was dreading during my first visit, and has been one of the single reasons that I have felt any sort of confidence that I can make it through this scary new thing at all. He's also pushed and advocated for the best thing for me and the baby long term, even when my first instinct was to push very hard for planned surgical intervention with fears of complications out the gate.  Not to mention he and Jeff are two peas in a pod with their sense of humors, and every visit to the office ends in laughter.

As a high risk pregnancy, there is much more monitoring, and more doctor visits than average. With the way I over worry and over research, and second guess myself and my body, it has been a godsend in keeping fears at bay, having a doctor reassure and reaffirm the path, and a secret pleasure getting to see more ultrasounds of the growing life each step of the way.

Sunday morning before work, when I first suspected that my water broke, I was conflicted in feelings. I've been secretly hoping for an early delivery ( Not THIS early!) - mostly because I am eager, selfish and impatient to get him safely out WITHOUT him being a 12 lb + baby like Jeff was. I've enjoyed the experience and feeling of being pregnant, but often the worry overtakes other emotions, and I am constantly worrying on some level that we're not going to make it to the finish line. Then I was  deeply worried at the thought of leaking fluid, because of just how early it was. Too early to walk out of the hospital with him in the newborn clothing that has been purchased for him, too early to do all of the things I've read about and wanted to make part of our care like kangaroo care and exclusive breastfeeding from the start.

Sunday, after checking into the hospital with my suspicions confirmed, I was put on bed rest for 48 hours so that he could get a course of steroids to strengthen his little lungs, and antibiotics to keep infection from setting into his ruptured little universe. Those two days were torture. I've never been more bored, restrained, and out of control in a situation before in my life. I had something attached to every limb, including less pleasant things like urinary catheters to give me no reason at all to get up. Even the most comfortable bed is miserable when you're limited in how you can move and adjust, and anxiety with an already  anxious person sneaks in and burrows deep looking for moments of insecurity when your husband has to run out to the car or home for an hour, or something doesn't seem to go right with a test. You have plenty of time to think about the actuality of what is going to happen, but no point of reference to make it feel real.

Tuesday evening, after successfully making it past the 48 hour steroid window, they started to give me Pitocin in order to induce contractions. A very low dose simply to ween me into the contractions, and kick start the body into thinking it was time for labor even though it's nowhere near due. It was the first night in three that I got sleep, and even then it was less than 4 hours total.

Wednesday morning rolled around and I was refreshed enough with my cat naps and new found freedom to move around the room that the contractions were welcomed and completely tolerable. There was laughing, dance parties, bouncy medicine balls, and things seemed fantastic! Except, the little turd wasn't dropping, and I wasn't dilating.

They put in a Foley catheter into my cervix(google chinese torture device) and pumped up the Pitocin in hopes to encourage it to dilate. I have NEVER experienced something like that, and hope to never again. Contractions are happy little things that make your back and muscles hurt a little, but when combined with inflated rubber balls on either side of your cervix attached to a weight outside, slowly pulling -DEAR HEAVEN- I tapped out and opted for the nearest injectible savior. That nonsense lasted for about 2 hours until Satan's bouncy balls fell out WITHOUT dilating the cervix past 2 centimeters, not the 4 that the doctor was going for (Cervix said NO!)

With that gladly behind me, the rest of the day was spent bouncing through happy contractions and while assuring the nurses that they weren't bad enough to take anything - which I am convinced is because nothing could feel worse than the catheter from early that morning, which apparently made strong contractions seem like cotton candy. The most frustrating process of the whole day was lack of progress. A full day of contractions started off with morning torture, and at the end of the night, my optimism started to fade and I began to feel really defeated. I had been at 4 centimeters for 10ish hours, and the baby wouldn't drop. A normal delivery might be fine with this, but with our situation, time was sensitive, and there's only so long that I was aloud to go, and if the baby hadn't dropped, I didn't want an epidural that would leave me in bed unable to maneuver into positions that would help, wasting that time. When the doctor left for the night, he was still adamant ( as he has been the ENTIRE time, even when I would have been perfectly happy for a c-section as an easy way out) that as long as he saw certain milestones and the baby was hanging in there, that surgical intervention was his very last resort. He left, nurses seemed to be less optimistic. Contractions finally reached a point where they were no longer happy bouncy around 11:30 pm, and I again tapped out and gave in to inevitability and comfort of the epidural. I climbed into bed and spent the rest of the night numb, a little discouraged, and with help still maneuvered into positions to help the baby to come down.

Thursday morning, After more than 24 hours stuck at 4 centimeters, I was prepared to be crestfallen when the doctor came in to do an assessment. He started off the conversation with the first mention of conceding to c-section if things didn't progress by 2pm. THANKFULLY during this vagina punching ( because for any of you that don't know or have the experience, apparently the best way to check for the condition and progress of labor is to shove entire fists up where they don't belong, and when you're cervix is "high" , every check was frustratingly painful), He felt things finally moving along- hallelujah- and reverted back to his high hopes of pushing the baby out. He aggressively raised the Pitocin dosages, and over the next hour and a half Jeff was continually sent into the hallway to find nurses because every five minutes was an increase of pressure that I didn't know what to do with. An unfamiliar nurse came in a couple of times assuring me I wasn't there yet, and that I ought to press the pump on the epidural because it was going to be a while. 10 minutes later I sent Jeff back out into the hallway to find MY nurse and tell her that NOT pushing was no longer an option and that I had nowhere to channel the building pressure. He dutifully returned with her, she checked and agreed that we were ready to go, and started to set up. I pleadingly asked her if I was allowed to push yet, and she kind of shrugged and walked me through practice pushing... Which, after the second round of "ten second" pushes lead to the baby crowning, and an " Oh sh*t" moment, as the doctor hadn't made it in the room, nor had NICU. She made me cross a leg over ( Clearly crossing legs at this point doesn't prevent a baby * budm ching*) and as the doctor casually waltzed in, started to glove -a- hand up, Jeff pointed and said something to the effect of " Um, is it ok that he's popping out like that?" The doctor had enough time to extend the one gloved hand and practically catch the baby as he wriggled himself out ( I swear I wasn't pushing... much). Little one was expressive with his displeasure in his new surroundings, which with a premie was a welcome sound, and was quickly handed off to the NICU nurses to be cleaned up and sent off for evaluation. Hours and hours of sitting around all for less than 5 minutes of pushing.

From there it gets a little hazy in my telling, because all my body wanted to do was shut down and sleep after 4 days of a total lack thereof. Something happened with the placenta and they couldn't get it out in the room, so I was taken down to the OR for an emergency D&C. I get the impression that it was a serious thing by the facial expressions from the nurses and the frustration from the doctor, but my main memories from the event was asking if the OR staff was ok with my dozing off, or if that was something they frowned upon. Other than that, I remember making a joke about being stiff as a board and light as a feather while they moved me, and one of the guys in there being named Jeff, and the very sweet grandpa like quality of soft spoken anesthesiologist who was the most attentive and reassuring man and is an epidural giving saint.

And there you have it, the grand highlights. A whole lot of waiting, and worrying, for a very brief moment of action and excitement. I have learned I'm tougher than I thought I was, that either the machines were downplaying the intensity of contractions, or I have a higher pain tolerance than the average bear, that I'm capable of hard and scary things, and that there's just a little bit more of my mother's stubbornness in me than I thought as I pushed myself beyond the nurses and doctors expectations on what I'm ready for or recovering like.  And that from beginning to end, I could see why people are willing to do this more than once.

It's not easy having a newborn in NICU. I can't hold him like other parents do, I can't feed him, and Jeff compares it to tapping on the glass of a gold fish tank. Of all things so far, this is the most emotionally difficult. But he is a so far healthy, feisty, perfect image of his father, and I am confident in saying I'm in love with two men that make me very happy. The understanding of how blessed I am with how much scarier and harder things could and should be, as well as how well things have turned out in spite of everything is not lost on me. Life has rarely worked out according to plan, but I am never lacking in any way because of it.

Parker Earl McLemore
9-3-15 * 10:08 am * weight 4.7 lb. * 17.5 inches

Monday, August 10, 2015

{Life in Transition}

I keep trying to find words that fit together to share this new experience Jeff and I are going through this year. I keep trying to put together timelines, backstories, and explanations on why it's been such a huge deal to become pregnant. Nothing comes out coherent, and I keep starting and stopping with frustration because I simply can't convey my feelings. So, mishmash it is!

Jeff and I weren't supposed to have children. I've been told that I can't. I've been told that even if I could conceive, that it wouldn't go to term. Jeff has been told this since he met me, and married me anyway. Jeff, the man who I'm confident in saying was born to be a father. Seriously, they flock to him and his magnetic personality. He lights up and shines best around children, and it's been hard to watch his heart break a little bit each year as he's come to accept that those words of caution were taking root, and that we'd have to seek other avenues.

Finding out we were pregnant was such a shock because I had spent so much of my life trying to convince myself that I was OK with it never happening so that it wouldn't hurt as bad when it never happened. It has made it difficult to revel in other's joy, and has made me a lesser friend to those who have gone on to have children. It's become harder for me to be around both mom and baby, because although I had tried to squash it and put it in a box, there was always this terrible little green envy bug buzzing around me, upset that they had this thing that I'd never experience. I'd have vivid dreams of pregnancy, birth and children, and wake up in tears. I declined to go to showers of dear friends because I didn't want to rain on their parade. And while I wanted to adopt, I kept putting the breaks on the process when Jeff would bring it up because I felt somehow that I had failed, and wasn't ready to move on, and I couldn't articulate that with him. It put a strain on the subject, and I think by the end of last year, He gave up trying and moved on.

So you see, sincerely, NEITHER of us expected this. In fact, all the little symptoms that were there, were so easily explained away, because it was just easier to assume that it was something else. There was no hope, so there was no expectation or anticipation. And as a large girl, with plenty of insulation, I understand how there's an entire show on TV dedicated to women who never knew they were pregnant. Because when so much of your life has been irregular, and symptoms to present like they normally would with a thin woman, it's easy to dismiss.

Finding out at 19 weeks turned out to be a blessing. I simply think I would have been a nightmare of a person had I known anything was going on during the sensitive time of pregnancy. I've worried about every possible complication along the way, and aside from poor Jeff, who is just as blind-sided as I am about the entire process, who does a girl talk to about the ins and outs of daily pregnancy? Her mother! Her grandmother! So quickly the guilt set in. I had never taken this possibility seriously, that I would have children. I took both of these women and my time with them for granted. I never sat down with either of them and talked about their experiences, advice and what to expect. I never listened to the gruesome details of the stranger side of pregnancy. I've had to piece it together from the people that were around them, and thank GOD for them. I'm so blessed to have the family I do, to be able to ask them what they remember, and to fill in for the roles that were left behind. It would be so terribly lonely without them.

I'm bitterly sad that I don't have my mother and grandmother here to share in this, and that my child will not have the opportunity to know these women in his life past stories and pictures, and will not have the connection to his grandmother that I had to mine growing up. He won't get to have the memories of baking peanut butter cookies while sitting on the counter, rolling out dough for chicken noodles, or big exciting family Christmas days with cousins, aunts and uncles, Grandpa AND Grandma quite like I did. It's going to be different. It's going to be new, and there's a little bit of melancholy for him because all I have of them is the stories to tell.

For every worry I've had, for the fear that has been instilled about being overweight and the complications that are associated, I have been miraculously blessed with a smooth and uneventful pregnancy so far, one that has allowed me to enjoy just how special and unpredictable life is. I am healthy, the baby is healthy, and everything is going exactly like it's supposed to. I feel cliche in stating that I feel watched over by those women that have left me, but I do.

So, with our world turned upside down, finding out much later than everyone else usually does, and working through the myriad of emotions that have waved over us, we've begun to prepare in stages. Jeff is a masterful garage sale-er ( my mother would be proud!) and has found essential treasures in doing so, we've had supportive family and friends give us money and previously loved gifts that have made the long list of what seems necessary to stock a nursery for a child easy and painless. I've become more introverted as I've aged, and I don't seek out people as often as I should, but I've been truly grateful for the outreach from others that has made us feel loved and taken care of.

... and I guess that's all for now! Heaven help us, I have no idea what brand of child the Karma Jeff and I have accumulated through our years, cursed by the women in our family, will produce, but I'm certain life is about to get more interesting.